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, April 30, 2012

My Wish List

Replace The Bedroom Carpet, etc.

Our carpet is over 15 years old and disgusting.  We need to rip it out and replace it with laminate flooring.  A certain dachshund puppy, who shall remain nameless (cough, cough, Frida) has managed to ruin it.  It is not all her fault, however.   The three puppies who lived here before did their share as well.  Anyway, I have tried spot cleaning, and I found a great natural based cleaning system that is pretty labor intensive and didn't do the trick as well as I had hoped it would.  I think the only solution is to get rid of it.  However, this presents a dilemma:  What do we do with the furniture, and where do we sleep during the process, which I know will take more than one day, since we can't afford to hire a contractor (not that a contractor would get it done in one day).  Plus, if we rip out the carpet and put in new flooring, we might as well put in those built in bookshelves we have been planning for 20 years.  And, while we're at it, we should remove the wall between our bedroom and the closet, which the previous owners put in so they would have an adjoining baby's room (our closet still has teddy bear wall paper), and re-configure the closet, which is a big dump.  Of course, that would mean getting rid of the four drawer filing cabinet which holds a bunch of old useless papers, and a whole drawer of important human rights information about countries that don't exist anymore, from Charles' Amnesty International days, that he used on his public radio show Samizdat when Phoebe was a baby, 26 years ago.  So you see our quandry.  I suppose that moving everything into the living room would work, but since we have four adults living here, along with two dogs, one of which is still semi-house trained (cough, cough, Frida) it would be difficult.  What do people do when they remodel a bedroom and have nowhere to lay their weary heads at the end of the day?

Yes, Frida, I AM talking about you!
Re-side and Paint The House, Enclose The Shed, and Build A Porch

The siding on the weather side of the house is shot, and needs to be replaced.  Charles' studio needs to have siding put on since it has tar paper, which is an improvement over the Tyvek that was on it for the last 10 years.  The shed is a great storage area, but would be better enclosed.  We are thinking that corrugated clear fiberglass would be good.  It would block the weather, but still let the light into Charles studio.  The porch has been a dream of mine for years.  I would love to have a porch in the front for the rare nice days.  Ideally, we would take out the big window in front and install French doors.  (I can dream, can't I?).

Home, sweet home, complete with the requisite blue tarp.
Refinish the Wood Floors

Our wood floors are also a wreck.  They need to be sanded and have about a million coats of Varathane applied to them.  However, this presents the same problem as the bedroom remodel.  What do we do with the furniture, and where do we go while it is being done (or rather, while we do it ourselves, as we can't afford to hire a contractor)?  It's a puzzlement.

Bump Out The Kitchen

Our kitchen is galley-style, or as we like to call it: The Two-Ass Kitchen, since only two people can be in it at the same time, and only if the oven, dishwasher and refrigerator doors remain closed and the two cooks are standing side by side and not attempting to pass each other.  My dream is to enlarge the kitchen so it is the same depth as the laundry room (about five additional feet).  This would allow for more counter space, and perhaps an island.  More money.

Cute, and he cooks too!
Build A Cottage

At some point, we would like to build a small, handicapped accessible two bedroom cottage in our lower yard.  This would serve as a guest house, a B&B, and a future home for Charles and me when we are too old to handle the stairs and maintenance on our current house (not that we do too much maintenance anyway).  We would eventually live in the little cottage and rent out the bigger house.  It is a good plan, but it will take money to make it happen.  (Are you seeing a recurring theme here?)  At the moment, we have a Community Garden in our lower yard, which is an excellent use of the space!

Perhaps something like this?
Oh well, rather than get depressed about the lack of wherewithal to accomplish these dreams, I think I will go and polish my kitchen sink (a la The Flylady).  THAT, I can do, and it takes nothing but baking soda and elbow grease!

Have a great day, and while you're at it, say a quick prayer for my friend Cari at Clan Donaldson, that she has a safe birth and that she goes into labor today!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dipping My Toe Into the Hot Water


There has been a lot of commentary about the Vatican visitation to women's religious communities and the subsequent report and recommendations.

I think it is important to remember that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had specific concerns with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a U.S. organization of some (not all) women's religious congregations.

So maybe if everyone could read the recommendations, and examine the reasons behind them, perhaps this particular bandwagon will not be so overloaded. 

Here is a good link from Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress), with accurate information. 

Oh, and by the way, thank you to the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, who educated me from Grades 1 through 12. You did a good job.

And, finally, for your viewing enjoyment, here is a little blast from our Catholic past:

The Bells of St. Mary's, with the luminous Ingrid Bergman as Sister Benedict.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We're Back!

We are back from our California and Seattle trip.  And by "trip", I mean that I fell off a curb in Seattle and took a tumble!  No broken bones, just a bruised hip and a ton of soreness.  I slept all day today and feel much better.

Soon I will post about the trip and show you the pictures I took!

It is so good to be home!

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Happiness is getting the summer clothes out of storage for our trip to California next week, trying them on, and discovering that several items are TOO BIG!  They will be going to St. Vincent de Paul!

Happiness is trying on a dress that hasn't fit me for several years, but it is much too pretty to dispose of, and after easily slipping it on, having Charles zip it right up, and having my children exclaim: "Wow!  That looks great!"

Happiness is North Douglas Chocolate Cake with raspberries on top for Miguel's birthday (just a little piece)!

Happiness is listening to your son playing the guitar and and hearing your kids happily singing together.

Happiness is three solid weeks of sunshine in S.E. Alaska.

And finally, happiness is this beautiful treat, courtesy of Mother Nature:

           (Photo: Tommy Joseph)

Our forests are full of these beautiful blueberry blossoms - the promise of a wonderful harvest for human and ursine berry lovers!

I am off to San Francisco on Monday - I will take pictures to share when I return in a week.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Unsinkable: The 100th Anniversary of the Titanic Tragedy


             THE TITANIC

The pale moon rose in its glory
She's drifting from golden west
She told a sad, sad story,
Six hundred had gone to rest

The watchman was a-dreaming
Yes, dreaming a sad, sad dream
He dreamed the Titanic was sinking
Out on the deep blue sea

He rose and called a rich man
And told him to come to life
And try to save his baby
Also his darling wife

Cap' Smith must have been drinking
Not knowing that he done wrong
By trying to win the record
He let the Titanic go on

The band was out a-playing
Yes, playing far out on the sea
They spied the Titanic was sinking
Played "Nearer My God to Thee"

The sad news reached the city
The Titanic had gone down
There's many poor widows and orphans
A-walking all over the town

The little children were crying
For mama to come to stay
Oh, surely they'll invent something
To raise the Titanic someday
                                The Carter Family

Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner's Daughter, 
singing a slightly different version of "The Titanic".

May all those who died rest in peace.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Seven Quick Takes: What I Know About Housekeeping

(This is Martha Stewart's house, not mine)

I do not keep a perfectly orderly house.  However, I love to have people over without being embarrassed about how my house looks, so I have learned to do a quick good-enough pick up.  This usually involves putting things in my bedroom and shutting the door, wiping down surfaces, a quick vacuum job and putting mix brownies in the oven.

Recycling and composting save a lot of room in our garbage cans.  I have a recycling system that consists of six kitchen sized trash cans with lids lined up in our mud room.  They are labeled: "Paper", "Plastic", "Aluminum", "Tin", "Glass" and "Corrugated Cardboard".  Any paper that we don't recycle (junk mail/credit card invitations, old bank statements, etc, we burn in our wood stove (IMPORTANT: DO NOT RECYCLE FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS!!).  We don't have curbside recycling here, so once a week or so, I take the recycling out to the dump, which is also an opportunity to watch the eagles.  A local woman has a composting co-op here in Douglas.  On Mondays, we put out our full compost pail, and she picks it up and leaves us an empty one.  I am thinking I am going to try paper bags in our kitchen trash can instead of plastic bags, because our trash is no longer wet.

I use rags instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper ones.  I put a stack of white terry cloth rags (old washcloths) in a basket on the kitchen counter, and put the roll of paper towels in the rag bin to remind me to use rags instead of paper.    I also wash out my plastic zip lock bags and hang them to dry instead of throwing them away.

I am a terrible hoarder of magazines!  See Magazines: An Addiction And A Giveaway .  I do feel guilty about this, if that counts for anything!

I am a little obsessive about sorting laundry.  Doesn't everybody have separate hampers for "Blue/Green, Red/Orange/Purple, White/Yellow, Black/Brown/Gray?  

I am trying to eliminate commercial chemical cleaning products in my home.  We all have asthma, allergies and/or skin conditions.  I make my own laundry detergent .  I do use Spray and Wash Stain Stick for grease spots, but if I figure out how to make my own, I'll let you know!  I also make my own disinfecting cleaner  by mixing 2 tsp. borax, 4 tablespoons white vinegar and 3 C hot water.  I add a couple of drops of lavender oil to make it smell good and pour it into a spray bottle.  I use white vinegar and water to clean windows and mirrors (when I actually clean my windows and mirrors!). 

I hate scrubbing floors, but when I do, I use a rag and vinegar and water on my hands and knees.  In between times, I use my steam mop.  It feels thankless because our wood floors desperately need to be refinished, which will involve moving all the furniture, moving out and kenneling the dogs for a week.  Not to mention a lot of sanding.  Not something I am looking forward to!

(This is my house, not Martha Stewart's)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Twenty Years

Twenty years ago, I gave birth to a 9 pound 4 ounce miracle.

He was born after two miscarriages and one ectopic pregnancy.

He was so big that in my six month of pregnancy, I looked like I was full term with twins, which prompted many strangers to come up to me and make comments such as: "Ready to pop?" and "Any day now!".

After his birth, he was so hungry that my meager milk supply couldn't keep up, and we had to start him on rice cereal at four months instead of six.

He grew and grew, walked at eight months, talked at twelve months, and became more curious and inquisitive.  His favorite phrase as a child was, "I have a question."

He wasn't an early reader, but he became a voracious one.  His teachers in elementary school and high school were amazed at his vocabulary, his intelligence and his curiosity.  We were amazed at his capacity for love and compassion.

He always has been a determined individual.  When he decides to do something, he goes ahead and does it, from potty training, to moving across country, to coming back home, to learning to play the guitar (his most recent skill).

He is kind, devout, funny, talented, handsome and loving.  We are so proud of him!

Happy Birthday Miguel!  You are all that we ever hoped for, and much, much more!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Indeed He Is Truly Risen!

"We are an Easter People, and Alleluia is our song!"

                                                                                                   St. Augustine

Happy Easter to my wonderful friends, family and followers!