About Me

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Douglas, Alaska, United States
I have lived in Alaska since 1978, having come to Juneau as a Jesuit Volunteer. I fell in love with Alaska and now live on Douglas Island with my husband and two dogs.

Monday, June 9, 2014

One Pound of Flesh, Pentecost and Fire and Brimstone

Well - I weighed myself day before yesterday, and I had lost exactly...one pound.  One measly pound, after going without bread, cake, cookies, pie, etc. for two and a half weeks.

So I have reconsidered the no-wheat plan and now I am going to try to eat healthy, still trying to avoid all carbs and perhaps throw in a fast day here and there.  I never have been a crash/fad diet sort of person, but I thought that the no-wheat plan was going to be a winner.  Nope.

In other news, yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, and the church was all dressed up in red and even some of the parishioners were wearing red in honor of the day (including me)!  Here is a photo that I took of one of the windows that Charles designed, painted and helped build for the Cathedral:

Our pastor was out of town, so Mass was said by another priest, who started out his homily quite well, talking about the many languages that were spoken by the apostles on Pentecost, and asked us to imagine each of us given one or more of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  And then, he took a turn for the worse and started ranting.  It was an old fashioned fire-and-brimstone homily.  It was awful to watch and to hear.   There were so many other themes he could have talked about: the joy of Pentecost, the gifts of the Holy Spirit (he so very briefly touched on this) or the birth of the Church.  But instead it was hellfire and damnation for 20 minutes.   I wanted to stand up and ask him to stop shouting at us.  He hectored and accused and scolded and went on and on and on.  I know that his style can be pedantic, but I have actually heard him give bearable (if not good) sermons over the years.  This was way over the top.

It was a real shame.  Mostly I found myself praying that this would not be an occasion of sin for me (uncharitable thoughts, etc), and cringing because we had so many visitors attending Mass that day (Juneau is a tourist town), and also musing that anyone who speaks to an assembly of the people of God this way can not be a happy man.  

So, please pray for him, folks.  I think he needs prayers, like we all do.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said...

...not to talk of many things, but for me to finally lose some weight.

I have now reached 188 pounds on a 4'9 1/2 foot frame.  I looked at a chart today and that puts me in the "Obese" category.

I am starting this new regimen by eliminating wheat from my diet.  Not because of any intolerance to gluten, no, it is more of an absolute love affair with bread, and pasta, and cake and pie and cookies.  So, if I don't eat wheat, I will not be eating any of the above.

I started the no-wheat routine on Tuesday after weighing in at 184 on Monday.  Today I weighed myself at the doctor's office and I had GAINED four pounds.  I am chalking it up to a discrepancy between scales!

I am walking more as well.  I walk twice a week with my friend Linda, and I took a long walk with Miguel on Wednesday.  I hope to walk at least three times a week in an effort to shift some of this weight.

So, here it is:  my BEFORE picture:

This is a picture of me in Spokane with my friend Sr. Josephine.  Observe the large belly, the big arms and the portly thighs (on me, not Josephine).  I need to lose the weight before some well intentioned person asks me when the baby is due (a question that should never be asked unless one actually is observing a baby emerging, by the way)!

So this is it, folks.  

The time has come.

P.S.: I had a fabulous time in Spokane, visiting my friend Jeanie, which I will write about next time!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Twelve Years Ago This June

The other evening, Charles and I went out to the Shrine of St. Therese for dinner with our bishop and the priests of the diocese, who were on retreat.

We were invited by Bishop Burns, because Bishop William Skylstad, the retired bishop of Spokane, was the retreat master, and Charles had mentioned to Bishop Burns that I would like to see Bishop Skylstad while he was here.

We had a lovely evening and I appreciated the opportunity to visit with Bishop Skylstad, who is a very kind and wise man.

I met Bishop Skylstad in Dallas in June 2002, at a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting.  How I ended up being at that meeting is a long story, one that began in August of 1969...

When I was twelve, I was molested by a seminarian, a so-called friend of our family, who was on break from school and staying at our house that summer.  I didn't disclose at the time of the abuse because I was afraid of the effect it would have on my family, especially my mother.  I kept the secret until I was 29 years old and pregnant with my first child.  My mother came up to visit me and brought Jose', the man who abused me.  As far as my mother knew, Jose was just another close family friend.   The news of their upcoming visit sent me into an emotional breakdown and I told Charles what had happened to me as a child.  I began therapy and the long process of healing.  Eventually, I told my mother and the rest of the family about my experience.  Jose' was never prosecuted for his crime, because of the statute of limitations.

I was at home on a Friday afternoon in June of 2002, helping my son clean his room, when the phone rang.  It was Fr. Clete Kiley, an official from the USCCB.  He asked if I would be willing to come to Dallas and speak to the assembled bishops about my experience.  I asked how he knew about me and he told that the (then) bishop of Juneau, Michael Warfel, had recommended me to the President of the USCCB, Bishop Wilton Gregory.  I agreed to come to Dallas and Fr. Kiley told me that the USCCB would take care of my airfare, meals and hotel costs.  I was to fly to Dallas the following Wednesday and would speak on Thursday.  He told me to try to keep the news to myself, as the USCCB was concerned that the survivors who were invited to speak would be hounded by the press before our presentations.  He told me that of course I could share the news with family and close friends.

I called my sister and asked if she could tell the rest of the family, and we told Charles' parents.  The entire meeting was going to be televised on C-Span, because of the huge impact the news of the clergy sexual abuse crisis had caused in the United States.  I was to speak before the assembled 300 bishops, the staff, and the press who would be present: a total of about 1000 people.

I called my therapist, Nancy, and my friend Jeanie and our friends and neighbors Ed and Betsy.  Ed was working for the Juneau Empire at the time and I stressed to him that I was telling him as a friend, and not a reporter.  He asked if he could put his reporter hat on and asked if, when I was done with my presentation, I could call him and give him an interview.  I promised that he would be the first interview I gave.

I flew to Dallas, accompanied by Bishop Warfel, who was kind and attentive during the trip.  We arrived in Dallas and took a shuttle to our hotel, the Dallas Fairmont, certainly the nicest and most luxurious hotel I had ever been in!

I was greeted by a lovely flower arrangement in my room from my sister Mary.   It had a note with one word written on it: "Courage".

I was so nervous, I couldn't eat.  At dinner time, I went to the dining room and looked at the menu.  The only thing that appealed to me was a small shrimp salad.   A nice bishop came and asked if he could sit with me.  He introduced himself as Bishop Michael Pfeifer from San Angelo, Texas.  He asked if that was all I was going to eat, and urged me to eat more than just a small salad.  I told him that I was so nervous about my presentation the next day that I couldn't eat any more.  He said: "How about dessert then?  Young man, (gesturing to a waiter) do you have ice cream and cake?"  I assured him that I really wasn't hungry for dessert (very unusual for me), and thanked him for his kindness.  He then gave me a small Holy Spirit medal (which I still wear today) and gave me a blessing for the next day.

The next day, I arrived in the huge conference room and Bishop Warfel met me and took me around the room to meet as many bishops as he could introduce me to.  That's when I met Bishop Skylstad.  All the bishops were very kind and encouraging.

After I gave my presentation, I took a few minutes to go to my room and recover a bit.  I called Ed and gave him the promised interview.

Then all four of the survivors who spoke were given the opportunity to speak to the press.  I was interviewed by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Dallas Morning News and by USA Today.

Then we were invited to watch the bishops as they worked on establishing the Charter For The Protection of Young People, a huge document that would become the guideline for dioceses in the United States.  At one point, a bishop was arguing against having stipulations that one offense would mean removal from the priesthood.  I was sitting in the observers section and I stood while he was speaking and remained standing until the bishops voted down his amendment, then I crossed myself and sat down.

Speaking in Dallas changed me profoundly.  I used to be afraid of speaking in front of groups of people.  I am no longer afraid.  I used to be afraid to tell people about my experience of being abused - so much so that I was hesitant to join a support group of survivors because, as I told my therapist: "I can't talk about what happened to me".  I used to feel powerless and helpless.  Now I am strong.  Speaking in Dallas was a healing experience, and while I am not happy for the reason that I was selected to speak, I am glad that I was given the opportunity to share my story.

Me, Bishop Skylstad and Charles at the Shrine of St. Therese

Sunday, March 30, 2014

What I Wore Sunday

I got a new peasant blouse from Target and I love the color, although it is so sheer, I have to wear a shell underneath it.

Sorry about the blurriness - but don't you love the color and pattern of the fabric?

I am wearing my blue glass earrings, although they are hidden in my hair.  How do you like my rebellious upper ear piercing?  I got it done for my 50th birthday and plan to get another for my 60th!

I also am happy because I am able to get into my denim skirt that didn't fit me two weeks ago.  Lent has been helpful in so many ways!

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bored Already (and it has only been 6 hours)!

Charles flew this morning to Anaheim to attend the LA Religious Education Congress, where more than 30,000 Catholics come from all over the country to hear some of the most renowned and respected Catholic theologians, writers, teachers and speakers in the United States.

I wish that I had been able to go with him, but our new austerity plan (translation: NO MONEY!) dictated that I stay home this time.  I have been amusing myself by applying for the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, in order to rectify the above situation, and also playing on the computer, which is charged for the time being, by means of borrowing Miguel's charger.

Oh what fun to be back in blogland again, catching up with some of my favorites and even finding a few new blogs to look at!

Last night, we attended our monthly Parish Night, where Charles spoke about Catholic Relief Services and where the children in our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd religious education program presented a commercial for the bean soup jars they are selling to benefit CRS during Lent.  Charles has done such a good job of catechizing the parish about CRS that even the children are on board to help the poor, disadvantaged and to quote one of our kindergarteners, "the people at risk", in the developing world.

While I think Charles is pretty cute, he is not nearly as cute as Ani, Jessica, Noah, and Jackson!  

For more info about CRS, check out the website or go to YouTube and view one of the many short videos about CRS.  Charles said last night that he thought it would be great if families viewed one of the videos every week and discussed them during dinner, with the Rice Bowl on the table!

I saw a cute picture of my blog friend Marie's little Elizabeth, sporting pig tails and told her that I was wearing braids today as well - so she urged me to take a selfie, which I am sharing with you.  Sort of mutton dressed as lamb meets Pocahontas, but here you go:

I am so glad my hair is now long enough to DO something with - I am tired of brushing it out of my face.  I have been wearing it up in a bun when I substitute teach at the School District preschools, and one little girl asked me why my ears are so big.  I told her that my grandma had big ears and gave them to me when she was done with them.

Let's see...what else?  Good news on the fuel oil front:  The oil company used to not refill the tank if the customer was carrying a balance on their account.  The new owners have changed that policy, so now we don't have to worry about our tank running dry, our pipes freezing in the winter, snowflakes on our eyelashes, and the threat of burning our furniture in the woodstove to keep warm.  This winter is almost over, and I don't foresee any big freezes (you never know, however!), but it will be nice not to have that big worry next winter.

That's all the news from the soggy North - it is raining and the ice and snow are melting from the streets, sidewalks and lawns - I can see green grass!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Farewell to the Alaska State Museum

Our beautiful State Museum, which is outdated and too small for their growing collection, closed last Friday after a wonderful Final Friday farewell celebration.  The new State Library, Archives and Museum building (already referred to as the SLAM) will open in 2016.

The farewell party was packed.  One museum volunteer told me that they expected 250 people, but there were easily twice that at the gathering.  The museum was one of Juneau's jewels - it had gallery exhibit space for art openings, natural history, Alaska history, and musical performances (including my first Alaska Folk Festival performance in 1978!) but, due to the ever growing collection of Alaska art and historical artifacts, it was just too small and had some structural problems that were not conducive to preserving our state treasures.

The new building is in the process of being constructed and the whole area around the SLAM will become a beautiful oasis for art, performance, and preservation of important artifacts and documents, not to mention the State Library collection of books and periodicals dating back since before statehood.

I took a few pictures of some of my favorite things at the museum:

Two views of the lens of the lighthouse light that was upstairs.  It is so huge they will need a crane to move it, I think!

 The eagle nest tree in the middle of the museum, with a ramp that went up and around the tree so you could see the eagles and the nest up close...

A poster from an icon exhibit that Charles did at the museum...

The brown bear (and her cub, which is hidden) at the base of the eagle tree...

Although we will miss the State Museum, which has many happy memories of visits there for our family, we look forward to the opening of the new SLAM!

Thursday, February 27, 2014


There is something up in the "It's Never Too Late To Learn Something New" Department:

I am learning to do this:

So that eventually, I can make this:

I have been a happy hooker (ahem...crocheter) for many years, but never attempted to make anything other than hats, scarves, felted mittens, blankets and a couple of cowls.  Then I met my friend Deirdre.  She is an accomplished knitter and makes it look so effortless as she dashes off sweaters, scarves, shawls and hats.  I really wanted to learn to knit, after seeing her creations.  So she offered to teach me. At first, I was all thumbs, slowly bringing the yarn around and trying, as she instructed, to make the needles do the work.

Finally, I got the hang of knitting (not purling - that will be the next lesson)!

So, she says, once I can knit and purl, I can make this sweater.  It is simply a question of knitting all the pieces and putting them together, she says.  I can do it, she says.  I hope so, because I have a whole box of blackberry colored yarn (gorgeous yarn from Knit Picks, by the way) and since Deirdre has such faith in me, I must have faith in myself.  I can't wait to get started on the sweater, but first, I must become a proficient knitter and purler.  

It is never too late to learn something new!