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Drove along Rezanof Drive this morning for a wet walk round Lake Gertrude at Fort Abercrombie. Still choked up with that cold Bill caught on the ferry and thoughtfully passed on to me.
100 yards before the turnoff, there’s a rubber boot in the middle of the road. What’s a rubber boot doing there – or is it a wellie, wellington, gumboot, or maybe (given this is Kodiak) an Alaskan Sneaker?
Wait a minute, that boot was there yesterday, in the exact same spot. What is this – a sign? a symbol? an omen? No-one missed it, didn’t come back to pick it up? Some sad person is hopping somewhere along on one foot in this lousy weather.
I get it, it belongs to a little girl whose Dad made her sit in the back of his dirty old pickup truck yesterday. Pouring rain, cold, wet, damp, water dripping off her nose. Pissed off, she removes a boot and tosses it off the rear. Who could blame her for being mad at the world. Why can’t she sit up nice and cozy with everyone else in the cab? Gets to the destination, Dad comes round the back of the truck. “What happened to your boot?” “I pitched it.” “Why?” “Coz.” What does that mean – you stupid kid. Take that. And that.” Wham. Hops into the house, crying.
Will this work for capturing odd moments for future writing projects? Only time will tell.

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It’s been many months since I last posted on this blog. A hiatus for many reasons: failed retirement (went back to work); entranced by music (piano practice); didn’t make the time; etc.  Now, I have retired again.  After 4 years of part-time, then half-time, then full-time work with my favorite Juneau non-profit (REACH), I have done what I could in the work world. It’s time to enter my final years head on.

Last week we left Juneau around noon, Tuesday, on the ferry Kennecott and after stops in Yakutat, Whittier, and little Chenega Bay, arrived in Kodiak soon after dawn.  We are here for 10 days while I contemplate my navel, detach from REACH, and figure out what’s next.  As if on cue, an old passion has resurfaced.  To the piano practice, birdwatching, hiking, reading, and cooking magnets on my mental door, a new one has appeared.  Writing stories.

I remember November, 2007.  We began the month in Morro Bay, California, and finished it in Austen, Texas. During that time, sitting at my computer in sweet Clemmie, I accepted and completed the NaNoWriMo challenge. Wrote a 50,000 + novel in 24 days.  Yes I did.  Then I put it away, unread, unreviewed, unedited.  For almost 6 years.  Ten days ago I powered up the laptop, moved the cursor ’til I found the file, clicked off the electronic dust, and printed it out. 106 pages, by golly.  Gingerly, began to read it – could barely recall the plot, certainly not one thing about how it ended.  Surrprised to find it held my interest. This is reasonably well written, I thought. Got half way through it before we got on the ferry, and left the remainder to be finished when we get home next week.

I’m going to do more writing.  Not sure how, or where.  Stay tuned.

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Be Vulnerable

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Haven’t posted for a while for several reasons.  I made a fast trip to the UK in mid-March to spend a week staying with my niece, Margaret, and her family and from their spending days at the bedside of my dying brother.  Diagnosed with brain cancer just before Xmas, ’08, I visited him in Australia last spring. He returned to the UK just before Xmas, ’09, so as to spend his last weeks closer to “home.”

Also, a fall on some icy steps in mid-February left a colleague with a nasty concussion from which she is making a very slow recuperation. I picked up some work related projects while she has been out.  And pray for her full recovery.  Be thankful for each day – you never know when it might be your last, or at least the last of being the “you” that you now are.

And, piano has become a borderline obsession.  In fact the whole subject of music has grabbed my interest in a way that I would never have dreamed.  The morning routine has now settled in to accommodate this passion and secure its hold on my day, whether or not  a work day (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and half of Thursdays.) Upon rising, there’s the immediate sit in the hot tub communing with my mountain (Mt. Juneau) and spruce trees (not to mention the heron roosting in its branches above the tub) followed by a sit in the living room with Bill, coffee, a few poems, and the newspaper. Then a bit of stretching, make the bed, get dressed, and head for the piano.  Daily practice is expanding its grip – and introducing to my life a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure at the (sometimes noticeable) progress.

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Learning a lot about Twitter, and frustrated with the feeble Twitter-feed widget that’s available through WordPress.com (the free WordPress platform upon which this blog sitteth.)  Not willing to self host through WordPress.org – been there done that, learned that keeping WordPress updated is a royal pain in the tush.  So check out the Twitter feed in real time.

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Happy New Year

The start of a new decade – with luck less disastrous for the US and the world than the last one.  Provided moral support to Rorie and the boys at the annual polar bear dip at Auke Rec. A big crowd.  Had friends and dear ones to dinner in the evening, made BiBimBap, a favorite Korean dish. Followed up with fresh pears poached in white wine and honey, with chocolate pudding (embellished by melting a bag of chocolate chips in it) and cream. Nice time, good company.  Food turned out good, a chance to use the rarely used Mandolin but coralling and serving all the food bits overwhelmed our small space.  Bill stepped up to the plate like the sweetheart he is and cleaned up.  This morning, nice hot tub under the remnants of New Year’s Eve’s blue moon.  A brisk 12 degrees F, under clear skies.  Another blocking high sitting over Juneau spreading its chilly cheer.

I’m reading The Next 50 Years, a collection of 25 essays by leading scientists.  Sounds like a strange world, not sorry I won’t see it. Reminded me that a bunch of future experts made predictions in the late 70’s of how the world would change by the end of the decade – they got about 30% of their guesses right.  Never envisaged the Internet, which of course is a bedrock (if pretty shaky) of current life. Wonder what earth-shaking invention of that magniture will show up between now and 2050.

Finally found a piano teacher, Mary Watson. I’m absolutely delighted. Discovered that the piano teachers I had when I was young probably weren’t very good. Finding amazing discoveries and insights under Mary’s tutelage and my interest and enthusiasm about progressing as a student has catapulted into high gear.  Which reminds me, it’s time to stop and go practice…..

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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:

400 AM AKST SAT NOV 14 2009

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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Home Again – and Skagway

There’s no place like home!  After a loooooooooong flight from Australia (Melbourne to Sydney, then Sydney to LA, then LA to Seattle, and Seattle to Juneau) consuming 30 plus real-time hours, but gaining 24 by crossing the international date line,  I arrived home exhausted late on Monday, May 11.  Not an easy visit, but it’s good that I went and good that it’s over.

Since then I enjoyed Juneau’s extended period of beautiful spring sunshine, adjusted to the cruise ships in harbor (5 here yesterday), did laundry, got some badly need sleep in my own comfortable bed, reconnected with our dear ones/dogs next door, went to a few Little League games,  and then left as a chaperone on a fantastic and enjoyable 4-day field trip to Skagway over Memorial Day with my younger grandson’s 4th-grade elementary school class.  Kudos to Liz, their wonderful teacher who masterminded the whole thing, to the kids, and to all the parent chaperones.  Kudos also to Skagway City School (97 students K-12), in whose gymnasium we camped out.

Itinerary as follows:

  • Great trip to Skagway on ferry Taku on Friday afternoon.
  • Day 1, a short 5.5 mile ride on the White Pass and Yukon railroad to the Denver Glacier trailhead from whence we hiked in and back out along the 3-mile one-way uphill trail – somewhat strenuous for our group but the only casualties were my beloved old hiking boots which finally let go of their soles.  Much appreciation to parent chaperone and commercial fisherman Tom who carried enough electrical and surgical tape to hold my boots together so I could safely make it back on the return to the trailhead. In hindsight I realize it was probably the stitching that attached the soles to the uppers that gave out and they could possibly have been re-cobbled.  Too late, I left them in a Skagway dumpster.
  • Day 2, our group made a trip to historic Dyea at the foot of the famed Chilkoot Pass (which I hiked in 1995) and then had a picnic in Pullen Park near the cruise-ship dock followed by a hilarious time complete with dressups at Soapy Smith’s Old Time Photo shop. [Visit the Skagway website for more about this visually-dramatic, well-worth-visiting , and history-laden little town.]
  • Day 3 we had a guided walking tour with a ranger from the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. Ended up in the excellent little Skaguay News Depot and Bookstore dropping the contents of my wallet on historical material. Then back onto the ferry Columbia for a miserable return trip.  [Saw two Wandering Tattlers on the rocks while we were waiting, a lifer for me.] Then…. Vehicle loading on the ferry was chaotic, the ferry was crowded, and the food service unbelievable inefficient and slow.  Not up to our usual enjoyable Alaska Marine Highway travel.

Now, time to clean house in preparation for Don and Carolyn’s arrival off the ferry on Monday.  They’ll be here for a week, and then Craig and Sarah arrive on the 9th for a 12-day visit.

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We’re travelling for the next few months and don’t expect to do much blogging until after we have arrived in Juneau (September 1) and settled into our house. If we can, we’ll keep our travel log/journal on the website reasonably current. Our website has taken a bit of a back seat for the last two months while I did pro bono website design and development work for The Constellations Group and Developmental Delay Resources. I’m looking forward to returning to more consistent blogging in the fall.

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