Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reflections of Another Time...

Today I had lunch with two high school classmates.  As I was walking away it occurred to me I should have gotten a picture but the hour flew by so fast I didn’t even think of it.  One of them, Colleen Hannon Stanley, was not only a classmate for all 12 years of school (she didn’t go to kindergarten) but a neighbor as well.  I grew up with the Hannons. Our moms were good friends.  I don’t remember ever not knowing Colleen.  She now lives in India while her husband fulfills a two year contract with the US Air force (as a civilian) and after that they may move to Dubai, on the Persian Gulf coast of the United Arab Emirates.  She doesn’t want to though; she wants to be back in the U.S. near her kids and grandkids and working towards a retirement. 
The other classmate was Kim Oudekerk Gibb.  Her family moved to Haines when she was freshman or sophomore I think so I don’t have near the history with her.  She got married right after graduation and lived in Petersburg for years but has lived in Juneau about twelve years.  I ran into her once at a boat show but I haven’t ever seen her, even in passing, since then. 
Colleen is here to play grandmother to her two year old grandson while his mom has another baby.  Pregnant women living in Haines have to come to Juneau to have their babies and have to be here for three weeks ahead of their due dates.  So she is taking the baby home to Haines while his mother remains here.  She is happy to get out of India, even though they live in officer housing on base, the world is a different place in India.  She says “Slumdog Millionare” pretty accurately portrayal of the poverty that is rampant there.  Kids begging for money in the streets, diseased and starving animals, and way too many people are all part of her daily landscape.  She doesn’t work there, getting a work visa was too much of a nightmare so she has written a book about her experiences.  Neither she or her husband are allowed to even drive, they have to have a driver from base.  She said it’s too dangerous and military advises against it.  No one slows down for anything and it’s not uncommon to run over an animal. 
Kim has been married for 37 years and has two kids and two grandchildren.  She has worked her way up in a local bank and is now a loan officer.  She wishes her parents had encouraged her to go to college.  Colleen finished her degree in public administration in 2010 after attending night school for many years.  She too, got married right out of high school and raised a family before going back to school.
The last time I saw Colleen was about 12 years ago at a high school reunion.  I haven’t spent an hour with Kim since we graduated.  It was a whirlwind catching up but so much fun.  It was interesting, the juxtaposition of our 17 year old high school days with our 54 year old current day selves.   We spent the hour discussing kids, grandkids, jobs, and retirement, peppered with a few mentions of hot flashes and colonoscopies. 
Oh, the lessons we could teach our 17 year old selves.  So many things could have been reconsidered and better thought out, crises averted and pain avoided.  In the end I guess it is all that hard stuff that got us where we are today so in that regard I wouldn’t change a thing but oh how I wish life came with a few do-overs!

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Little of This, A Little of That....

Saturday morning I got up around 7 AM.  I heard Chris’ car leaving and I had forgotten he had to work.  Notice I said I got up, not woke up.  I had a nasty kink in my neck and back from a few days prior and I was so uncomfortable Friday night I couldn’t stand it so I read until about 2 AM and then I took a pain pill.  It was outdated, don’t know if that matters but rather than put me in a deep slumber I was hoping for, it totally wired me and I’m not sure I ever fell asleep.  By 7 AM I couldn’t stand to toss and turn any longer so I got up even though my brain felt completely numb.  I was rummy and in my rumminess the first thing I did was start going through my closet.  I have had a closet full of size 0 and size 2’s that I have been hanging on to for too many years with no hope of ever fitting into them again.  Which is not to say I have no hope of ever losing weight but I know I’ll never be that small again.  If, by some miracle I find myself that size again, I will gladly fork out the bucks for some new clothes.   I ended up taking three big black garbage bags of clothes and one box of shoes to St. Vincent de Paul’s.  As well as one big box of books to Friends of the Library. 
After that I got on the treadmill for 30 minutes and then I cleaned the house.  It’s so much easier to clean the house when Chris is gone.  Then I went for a long walk and when I got home I made a pass through the garden and pulled the offending weeds and watered everything.  I can count on one hand the times I have had to water this summer.  My Livingston daisies are all blooming now and it all looks much like the picture above.  Thankfully we have been getting some sunny days so they can showcase their glory. 
When Chris got home we went grocery shopping and ran some errands.  I got some steaks marinating and then I sat down and read my book and promptly fell asleep.   I just love a good nap and I rarely take them.  That night we BBQ’d some tenderloin steaks that you could cut with a fork, so good!!   It was a great Saturday and I can’t believe how good it feels to purge my belongings.   Now it’s got me inspired to go through all my closets and cupboards and do some more. 
On Sunday I had to sit for hours with a heating pad on my back and today my kink seems a bit better.  I still can’t turn my head to the left without it hurting but it is better.  The bonus is I got a lot of my book read, a light, fun summer read called “Summer Rental”. 
And now you, dear reader, know every detail of my very uneventful weekend.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


On Monday my office had a grazing day in honor of my birthday.  We do that a lot.  Just the Friday before we had another one for a coworker that was moving on.  That one was breakfast themed with several different eggy, potato breakfast casseroles, plus we had fried sausages and a baked French toast dish that was to die for.  Mine, however, did not have a theme and people just brought what they felt like.  A coworker, Jon, brought some spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce.  IT WAS TO DIE FOR!!  There was shredded carrots and cucumbers inside rice paper with shrimp and bean-thread noodles and each roll had some fresh spinach leaves with a basil leaf and a mint leaf on top.  You dipped the whole thing into this spicy peanut sauce that had a bite to it from the chilies that were added and you had an absolute EXPLOSION of flavor……a party that just went on and on.  It was seriously the tastiest thing tp pass these lips in a very long time.  Even after you were finished eating a burp would relive the experience…a little basil, a little mint, a little spicy peanut sauce.  I’m telling you, it was absolutely scrump-deli-icious!!  Sadly, I do not even have pictures, we were all so busy eating and salivating over the spring rolls, no one thought to take a photo.  And Jon had just made up the peanut sauce so have no recipe for that either.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Delight

DOWNTOWN JUNEAU ** Pat Costello Photo



I am back to work today after having four, long, glorious, sun filled days off.  What a treat that was!! I went for early morning long walks every day, I gardened, spent quality time with the animals, I mowed, I cleaned the house, prepared for a BBQ we had Saturday night and I laid in my lawn chair and read.  I haven’t heard the official temperature yet but it was slated to be in the mid 80’s.  No matter the temperature, it was HOT!! I even managed not to get burned.  One thing I’ve discovered it sun tanning is a whole different ball game than it was when I was younger.  Then I’d slather on the baby oil or whatever other sun tan enhancing cream I had, I’d have a squirt bottle of cold water nearby and I’d lay out for HOURS on end.  It didn’t matter if I was on the verge of passing out, I refused to miss 5 minutes of sun.  Now it’s all about the sun screen.  And breaks inside.  And sitting in the shade occasionally.  The perfect solution is having my upper body in the shade and my lower body in full sun.  It was a little bit of heaven right here in Juneau, Alaska.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nature Can Be SO Cruel

He was about this size

This was the action that totally broke my heart

I had the most distressing event on Sunday.  I opened the back door and heard some awful squawking so I went to investigate in the woods by our house.  I saw two robins were making all the noise and I saw Timmy, my little cat nearby but he didn’t have anything in his mouth.  I couldn’t really identify the source of the commotion so I started walking back to the house.  The birds and Timmy seemed to follow me.  Once inside I looked up in time to see Timmy nail a bird to the ground so I ran outside again.  When I got to him I saw it was a baby robin.  I picked him up and he appeared really hungry or at least he kept opening his mouth.  He did have a scratch on his wings but otherwise seemed strong and healthy.  I don’t know if he fell out of his nest or if he ever could fly but it took two hands around him to keep him in place.  I was freaking out and mom & dad robin were absolutely frantic.  Every time baby would peep they would start afresh.  I finally got both cats inside and then baby got away from me. He could do a hop/jump combination and was pretty quick.  He ran over to my neighbor’s porch area and I figured he would at least be safe from predators there but I doubt he lasted long.  Without getting him back to his nest he didn’t have much hope.  I begged God to watch over him or at least end his suffering quickly but it haunted me all day.  Helpless baby robin beseeching me for food and safety and I let him down.   It was not a good day.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

May 15, 2010

May 15, 2012
In my last post I was lamenting the progress of my garden due to the cold and wet May we have had.  I thought it would be fun to document the source of my angst.  Pretty sad......

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Little of This, A Little of That....

An update on baby Kylie.  After the third surgery I wrote about (to put a mechanical valve in) she had a fourth one.  The last surgery was to implant a pacemaker.  On  Friday (5/11) she was released from the hospital although they are staying nearby the hospital for another week until they can come home.  She will require many follow-up visits and since Juneau doesn’t have any baby cardiologists they will have to make a trip to Anchorage several times a month.
Kylie, leaving the hospital!
A couple weeks ago her cousin organized a fundraiser dinner of Indian Tacos and about $3500 was raised.  In addition, a bank account now has about $1500 in donations and fundraiser site ( has raised $1800 and Krista still has leave donations to draw from.  Many generous people have stepped up and help support them financially and with leave donations and I am so thankful for that support, as are they I’m sure.  I can’t imagine what it is like to go through something like this but I it warms my heart to see how people gather around someone in need. 

May has been cold and wet here and my garden is suffering.  I compared a picture of one garden to how it looked two years ago and it was  pretty pathetic.  Lots of blank spots where stuff coming up has rotted and other stuff just hasn’t come in yet.  I am gathering all my yearly annuals for container baskets but it’s been too cold to go out and put them together.  I refuse to go dig in the dirt with frozen hands!
Work has been very busy lately.  I had kind of a slow winter when I thought, “this isn’t so bad after all” and then I got slammed.  Some days I can’t  even keep up on the onslaught of emails I have to answer, let alone any real work done.  I got through my first construction project though, and I’m working on a second one.  I’m soliciting for space for a new public health center in Nome and trying to reconcile the 4th quarter billings with DGS’ numbers.  Getting ready for fiscal year end as well.  I feel like I’m making progress but my boss assures me it will be a couple years before I’m really proficient.  I think I was given this job to teach me patience, which has never been among my virtues.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Springing Into Action

The last few weekends (three, to be exact)  we have spent furiously spring cleaning and painting.  So far we have accomplished this list:
Painted the dining room and the living room  ( silver springs, a light gray/bluish color)
Painted the accent wall and the baseboards  (a darker gray color)
Sanded and painted CD shelf unit to match accent wall; replaced knob
Cleaned another shelf unit and washed all the doilies and purged it of non- essentials
Washed livng room windows and cleaned blinds
Scrubbed down walls and door in entry way
Took all dishes out of the hutch and ran through dishwasher, cleaned all the glass and dusted the wood
Cleaned windows inside and out to the slider door
Cleaned all the glass covering pictures
Bought new rugs for living and dining room
Cleaned out cupboards in the kitchen
Painted kitchen walls and ceiling (bright white)
Cleaned all the countertops and stuff sitting on the countertops or on top of cupboards
Polished laminate floors
Raked the garden and yard
Changed out all the electrical covers (shiny  brass ones)
Paint ceiling in my bathroom
Now that everything else is so clean we realize we really need to paint the popcorn ceilings but then all the above would be for naught because it would make a huge mess.  I would definitely have to start over on the cleaning because every time you touch those ceilings pieces drop off.  And gardening projects are calling my name…….
One thing I’ve discovered is I love productive weekends.  I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finished projects.  I love working until I’m physically exhausted.  It’s a good thing too because next weekend (weather providing) it’s time to thatch and aerate the yard and then it will need to be raked again and then I need to spread about 30 bags of bark, and then I need to fertilize and lime.  By the next weekend it should be time to make all my containers and plant the annuals.  We have had an amazing spring so far and I sure hope it continues!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Angels Among Us

The other day I ran into a friend who is a cousin to the mother of baby Kylie.  We chitchatted for a while about the ongoing situation with the baby who, that day, was scheduled for her THIRD surgery.  The second surgery to “repair the fix” did not produce the results they had hoped for so this third surgery was to put a mechanical valve in.  This means she will have to be on blood thinners the rest of her life and get more surgeries to replace the valve as she grows.  It was an option they were hoping to avoid.  What was supposed to be a 2-3 week trip is going on week seven now and all their resources are drained, from financial to emotional.  The dad, Nick, ran out of paid leave weeks ago and Krista, the mom, is surviving on leave donations.  If she runs out of leave she loses her health insurance and, for obvious reasons, that just can’t happen.  So, her cousin mentioned possibly doing some kind of fundraiser to help come up with some money for them. 
I got back to my desk and wondered if there was something I could do.  Eventually I decided to get permission from my boss to ask my office for leave donations on Krista’s behalf.  Krista works for General  Services which is located on the 7th floor of the State Office Building.  I work for Grants & Contracts and the Grants part of my office is also located on the 7th floor of the SOB, although the contracts side, of which I am a part of, is located in the AOB.  I knew from my days at DGS that you get to know the other floor occupants from the hallways, elevators & bathrooms and I also knew if people can put a face to a plea for help they are more inclined to give.  So I obtained permission and wrote my plea to my office asking for leave donations for Krista if anyone was up for it.
The next morning I got an email from a gal over there asking me if financial donations would be appropriate.   She said if so, she and her husband would like to contribute.  So I told her yes, that would very much be appreciated and told her she could drop her donation off at DGS with Krista’s cousin.  A little while later Krista texted me that this woman, who Krista didn't even recognize by name, had dropped off a check for $800.  Krista was so astounded at her generosity it made her cry.
None of us know why things like this are allowed to happen to innocent babies.  Three open heart surgeries in the span of two months would be difficult on anyone, let alone a now 6-month old baby.  We can all imagine the horror of watching your baby suffer that way, and we can all appreciate the toll it has taken on the parents as well.  The sheer length of this family’s ordeal would be enough to make anyone snap.   They stay with the baby round the clock, taking turns sleeping in a waiting room.  They have little privacy and no sense of being settled. They worry about their 10 year old daughter in Juneau they haven’t seen in almost two months.  Meals are out of a hospital cafeteria, and probably bad coffee out of a machine.  It has not been easy.
What I know for sure is even though we can’t understand why suffering is allowed to happen, it is a chance to know and experience grace, tender mercies we've done nothing to earn.  It is a chance to see angels walking among us, like this generous coworker.  It is a time when we can all see and experience the best of human kind and to see God’s love and mercy through the actions of others. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter

This picture is taken by Pat Costello.  I absolutely love it.  The super low tide had stranded all the starfish and he was there at just the right moment.  Pat is ALWAYS there at just the right moment, he takes some amazing photos.  I am thankful for people who share their talents.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Prayer Request for baby Kylie

This baby is the daughter of some friends of mine.  She was born in October with three holes in her heart that was detected soon after she was born.  Last week she had heart surgery to repair these defects and she is not responding as hoped.  I don’t know all the details but a second surgery is a possibility.  If you are the praying kind, please say a prayer for this little girl.  And for her parents who have so much on their plates at the moment.  It really puts things in perspective to see this helpless little babe, so vulnerable and in need of a miracle. 

UPDATE:  Kylie does need to have another surgery to fix the repair on her heart valve.  As luck would have it the lead surgeon is stuck in Texas with weather issues so the surgery will happen as soon as he returns.  All kinds of prayers needed.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Breaking Up is Easy To Do........

Alaska Airlines is officially on my MAJOR pet peeve list.  I hear people complaining about them all the time and I had no doubt they operate like an company with a monopoly.  In many places in Alaska we have no other airline to rely on.  For the most part I take their gouging without putting too much thought into it.  What’s the point?  Besides, we don’t travel that often.
But recently something happened that changed my complacency.  A friend of mine (and spouse)  have to travel to Seattle to have open heart surgery performed on their  5 month old baby.  They are going through some tough times as one might imagine, both with leave usage from their jobs and travel expenses.  As anyone with major medical issues know, it all adds up fast.  I donated  some leave to her  and then Chris mentioned donating miles.  What a great idea, I thought.  He has miles he almost lost recently because he doesn’t have much activity on his account so we volunteered to donate 25,000 miles for their travel.  They were thrilled to have the miles, they have to buy opened ended tickets because their return depends on how well the baby is doing so air miles were definitely needed.  Imagine my surprise to learn it costs a lot of money to donate miles!!  $10 for every  1000 miles, to be exact, and then a $25 fee for processing.  So the cost of donating 25,000 miles came to $275.  For miles that I earned, that were MINE!! (Well, actually they were Chris’ but still……)  One might think the $25 processing fee would suffice…..why they have to charge for transferring miles from one account to another is beyond me.  It just goes to show their loyalty and appreciation for their patrons.  And how they really do gouge you at every turn.
So in conclusion…….BOO, HISS AK  Airlines.  You are no friend of mine.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Veterinary Trauma

Yesterday the vet was due to arrive at the house for shots.  In preparation for this traumatic event, I had shut all the bedroom doors so no one could find refuge under a bed or in a closet.  The only doors left open were to the office (where the litter box is) and a bathroom (where they can safely hide under the sink).  Things did not go smoothly…the vet knocked softly at the door which started Oscar thinking we were under attack and he had best alert the entire city and borough.  He is such a drama queen.  It is over with as soon as knocking people enter, but it certainly set the tone for the cats.  Thinking their world as they know it just imploded, they both went scurrying down the hallway at breakneck speed.  I wasn’t worried though, because I knew where I could find them. 
It took the vet about 10 minutes to get all set up and be ready for the first uncooperative feline.  I found Piper right where I knew he would be…under the sink in the bathroom.  Then it was Timmy’s turn.  I looked under the sink for him as well but nope…..he wasn’t there.  I looked in the bathtub.  I looked behind the shower curtain.  Okay, well that left only one other room.  The office doesn’t really have any hiding places but I looked in the bookshelves.  I looked in the desk drawers! Heck, I look at the ceiling and then I looked in the same places two or three different times.  I looked for bumps in the carpet.  I looked for holes in the wall!  I could not find this 10 pound, stark white cat with glowing eyes ANYWHERE.  The vet assured me this was not the first time this had happened and we rescheduled Timmy’s shot for another day.  Then Chris came home and we both looked high and low. In every room and cupboard, behind every door, up, down and sideways we looked.  He was gone.  I started getting really worried then although I knew he HAD to be there.  Finally a couple hours later, the missing little Timmers jumped up on my lap wanting reassurance from his scary afternoon in hiding. I still have no idea where he got to.  And this afternoon we get to do it all over again.  Hopefully I will have Oscar out in the garage and Timmy in a kennel before the vet arrives.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spring in Juneau

Spring is on it’s way. …I can FEEL it!! I have a love/hate relationship with this time of the year….we haven’t had any snow in a while and the ground is becoming barer of any remains daily.   Temperatures have soared in the high 40’s and there have been a couple days you hardly needed a coat on.  YET….I live in Alaska and I know in my heart this is simply a fleeting reprieve from winter.  It is after all, only February.  There will be more snow even though it hardly seems possible at this juncture.  But my heart remains optimistic, ready to believe THIS could be the one winter that ends early.  This could be leading up to a summer for the record books, one reminiscent of the summer of 2005.  A girl can dream.
My friend Carole and her husband were returning home last  weekend, emptying the car of groceries etc., when the sounds of crying  got their attention.  They looked across the street to see a kitten running in their direction, soaked to the bone and very thin.  So, of course, kitty has a new home.  We went over to meet him last night and my heart absolutely melted.  He is a little Siamese Blue Point kitten (just like Piper) and just the cutest thing ever.  Very  playful, very loveable.  They already have two cats but “Moose” is ruling the roost already.  There is no doubt God knew what he was doing when he made kittens and puppies so irresistible.  They were not wanting additional animals but there was never any question they were taking him in. Why don’t I ever happen along kittens looking for a new home??  For all of Chris’ protesting that we don’t need any more animals, I know if we came upon a baby under those circumstances he would cave like a little girl. 
I know I needed to post a new blog entry but if I don’t have a topic in mind I really am stretched to find something to talk about.  My two sisters are together this week in Port Angeles and I’m missing it.  All I can think about is all the fun and adventures  they will be having and I’m missing out.  I really hate that feeling.  Next year  I won’t miss it!
So 'Happy Spring' to one and all, hope yours is for real and not a fantasy.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Life in 2012

I woke up this morning and it was zero degrees.  Yikes.  It has been in the single digits for a few days but usually warms up to double digits.  The sun has been shining and it is beautiful, nonetheless, zero is about my threshold for cold weather.  I lay in bed last night and nose was a block of ice.  Chris gave himself a haircut yesterday and when he got to bed last night he wore a hat!  It was a chilly one.
I have to document my husband’s coffee machines history for prosperity’s sake.  When we got married  we had one little percolator coffee brewing pot that my mom gave me for when she came to town.  When Chris’ belongings arrived it was replaced with a coffee maker he owned.  A couple years later it quit working and about that time Kmart  was going out of business so I snagged one there for really cheap.    Really cheap never satisfies Chris, and a few weeks later he bought a nicer, way more expensive one.  The Kmart machine was relegated to the garage.  Then the coffee presses came out and he needed one of those but he also wanted a tea kettle to heat the water.  A friend of ours gave him a tea kettle but that one wasn’t good enough so he went out and purchased a new tea kettle. The old  tea kettle went in the garage.  That kept him happy for a while, many a weekend morning  was spent listening to whistling of the tea kettle.  Then  I accidentally broke the coffee press so we had to immediately replace it, which wasn’t nearly as painful as being regaled with accounts of my “crime” being, over and over to anyone who would listen.  So imagine my surprise when I woke up one morning last week and this new contraption was sitting on my counter.  Yes, the old expensive coffee maker found a new home in the garage and a Keurig Coffee System replaced it.  My garage is getting over run with Chris’ rejects.  He sure is happy though, he bought a box of coffee capsules and he is keeping track on his I pad of the ones he really likes and the ones he doesn’t.  There are also capsules for tea and hot chocolate as well.
On another note, my dad just turned 92 years old.  I really can’t imagine what it would be like to have survived that much life.  He grew up in the South and has gone from what I imagine was a very segregated upbringing to seeing a black man in the White House.  I think of all the technological advancements that have happened just in the last 20 years, let along the 72 years preceding that.  He had a 62 year old marriage and a 40 year teaching career. He has always worked hard and has explored many passions.  He is really blessed to have two people in his life that really love and care about him and are physically present in his life.  He was a difficult man to have for a dad and we each bear some scars but I am really thankful that God has provided him with Bill and Glenda.  So Happy Birthday Dad……