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Archive for the ‘At home’ Category

I’ve been thinking about why Juneau is so special – aside from the gorgeous scenery and immediate access to outdoor activity of all kinds.

I had put Juneau’s terrific sense of community and mind-blowing high level of cultural activities and involvement to the fact that it is small (30,000 souls) and roadless. If you want to go somewhere, it’s a major production involving cost and logistics associated with flying or taking the ferry.  So people stay put in a way that they don’t in places that are linked by major highways.

Laying in bed awake for a spell in the night (looking at the stars out the sliding glass doors through the branches of the spruce tree shading our deck) it dawned on me that, probably, the average commute for Juneau workers is not more than 15 minutes.  I, who walk to work, get to my place of (part-time) employment in just about that amount of time.  Likewise, the commute to the supermarket and everything else is minimal.

This means that, compared to dense urban areas where people spend up to 90 minutes or more at each end of the work day commuting to or from work, and then spend hours more each week visiting, shopping, and traveling to and from the other activities squeezed into their lives, people in Juneau have a lot more time on their hands.  They put it to good and creative use.

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In Hiatus

I seem to have (temporarily) gone off blogging.  In part because it’s so easy to keep in touch with far flung friends and family via Facebook.   In part because lately I’m totally turned off by what passes for “News.”  I read the Juneau Empire (for its good coverage of happenings in a genuine community, plus a bridge column and Dear Abby.)  Beyond that, it’s piano practice, walking the dogs, the part-time job. Am I turning inward – is that what happens in old age?

On the other hand, I might say it was winter, except we haven’t seen it since November.  It seems to have decamped to points east and left this part of Alaska bathed in a very very very early spring.

I expect I’ll be back.

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Been busy lately, forgot to post.  Bill is now home again from his month-long sun-soak in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Extremely happy to see him, we missed each other hugely.

But in the interests of maintaining some documentation about my meandering internal world (if for no-one other than myself), here goes.

First, some links that caught my interest in the last week or so:

And now a few stories/links to organizations that may explain the incredible sense of community that makes Juneau so special to me :

Tonight we have a dilemma. It’s the First Friday Art Walk (see above link) which in December each year is huge. It’s also Family Fun night at Harborview Elementary School where one grandson goes, and we have tickets to see Leading Ladies at Perseverance Theatre. Tomorrow we eat a 5-course Cuban dinner at the Canvas at REACH as a fundraiser for studio scholarships, Sunday it’s A Wonderful Life put on by Perseverance in the new (and lovely) Thunder Mountain High School theatre/auditorium. Other tickets on our desk are for Dracula (Perseverance students, including a grandson) on the 12th, The Nutcracker (Juneau Dance Unlimited) on the 13th, and The Gift of the Magi/Last Leaf (Opera to Go) on the 18th. And the best part of all of this: the admission fees are low, the performances are high quality, and we can walk to most of them…….

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Quite a storm at the moment, here’s our current weather forecast:

SOUTHERN LYNN CANAL-
400 AM AKST SAT NOV 14 2009
...GALE WARNING THROUGH TONIGHT...
.TODAY...S WIND 35 KT INCREASING TO 45 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS
9 FT. RAIN IN THE MORNING...THEN RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS IN THE
AFTERNOON.
.TONIGHT...S WIND 35 KT DIMINISHING TO 25 KT LATE. SEAS 7 FT
SUBSIDING TO 5 FT LATE. RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS.
.SUN...S WIND 20 KT. SEAS 4 FT. SNOW SHOWERS.
.SUN NIGHT...N WIND 20 KT. SEAS 4 FT. SNOW SHOWERS.
.MON...N GALE TO 35 KT. SEAS 6 FT. RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS.
.TUE...N GALE TO 35 KT. SEAS 7 FT.
.WED...N WIND 25 KT. SEAS 5 FT.

Power went out around 7:30am, so decided to go tour the area. The entire town is in the dark. A power boat had broken loose in Aurora harbour and driven by the gale had pinned an also loose sailboat to the breakwater. Found a small leak at one window frame, and the cover to the stack from the boiler blew off – retrieved for safekeeping until things are calmer. Mother nature at her most powerful. Reminds me of my childhood in Oban, Scotland – same latitude, same storms.

Power came back on at 8:30am, good job AEL&P. Be interesting to find out what was the cause, and if the additional power from the new Lake Dorothy power station reduced the need to use backup diesel generators.

After watching 60 Minutes last Sunday on Sabotaging the System about the potential for hackers to get into computer systems that run crucial elements of the world’s infrastructure, such as the power grids, water works, etc., very thankful to be “off the grid” and reliant on hydro power which, given the amount of rainfall here, is a renewable resource.

No hot tub this morning – how fortunate I am to have this as my only complaint.  The World Food Program states that, for the first time, a billion people are hungry and without food security. It has launched a campaign – a billion for a billion – to help raise funds for the starving.

Even though I believe that feeding hungry people is simply keeping them alive until the next crisis, and that such crises are nature’s way of controlling the human population explosion, from a humanitarian perspective how can one not contribute without being callous? The human dilemma: we can control neither our exploding population nor its consequences. Pass the word…… [Note: I earmarked my donations to “provide meals to more school children, especially girls, thus allowing them to stay in school.” It’s my belief that the best way to control population is by educating girls – not to mention ameliorating the over-abundance of testosterone that has produced our present climate of global violence.]

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Last spring the flowing sap triggered a desire in me to do something about our small and raggedy yard. Ideas floundered all over the map before settling on building a deck. Our lot is long and narrow, as is the house.  A short driveway shares the front with a square of open grass. (Next spring, a raised vegetable garden?) The backyard is a jungle under two giant spruce trees. A string of smaller trees and shrubs (two look like the rowans of my youth) provide some privacy from neighbors to the rear.

We were lucky to have stashed away the wherewithal to undertake a significant project, and lucky to be led to John Staub (double-bass player par excellence) as our contractor – though we had to wait a few months ’til he was free. We used the time to order and have shipped up on the barge a sliding-glass access door (6 weeks)  and hot tub (4 weeks.) And we found Patrick at the Glory Hole who labored  to make a gravel walkway along one side of the house, thus providing necessary access to the back.

Since Labor Day John has knocked out the wall from our bedroom to the back yard and  installed the access door with adjacent window (for night-time air)  Next he built a sunken pad for the hot tub and around it a roomy deck. Then 4-5 steps down from the deck on each side, and now he’s building a ten-step stairway up to the yard of our dear ones next door.  The tub was delivered a week ago, requiring a day’s work by an electrician to do magic so the thing actually works. Then we needed professional help from the tub distributor (Lyle’s Home Furnishing) to overcome our intimidation at the knobs and chemicals that came with it. Turned out to be much simpler than it appeared from reading package directions and owner’s manuals.  I think.

Last night, once dark arrived (around 8pm) Bill and I geared ourselves up and, swathed in towel, prepared to open the sliding door and sally forth for the tub’s baptismal sit. Well doggone it, there’s a frigging bear on the deck, sniffing around the tub. Next it ambled across to the (by now tightly locked) glass door to see what was up.  Thankfully the animal was fairly small but still big enough to worry about.  There have been  a few in the neighborhood lately, and one walked behind the deck last week while John was at work. Maybe the same one.  If it has become a “garbage bear” and habituated to finding urban leftovers, it may have a short life.  Decided to notify the authorities, and sent an email to the Juneau Police Department “Ask the Dispatcher” to find out who has the thankless task of removing bears and trying to get them back into the wild out the road.

Meanwhile, it’s Sunday morning and I have a hot cup of coffee in hand. Think I’ll go sit in the tub, look up through the trees, and listen to the birds.  Yesterday, aside from many robins, our back yard hosted a varied thrush, a grey-cheeked thrush, a bunch of juncos, and a pair of song sparrow.  Until now, I didn’t even know they were there.

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