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.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Latest Project

This year I decided to make some home made Christmas ornaments.

I have always liked the look of embroidered felt, so I decided to give it a try.

Charles drew a simple bird and heart shapes for me, and I embellished them with simple stitching.

I think they are turning out pretty cute!  What do you think?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just Beautiful

The other day I was downtown running errands and I looked up and saw this:

This is what Mt. Juneau looks like on a sunny day in winter.  In the foreground are the Valentine Building, the Viking Bar and the Gross 20th Century Theater Building.

Sometimes, I am so busy with my errands and chores that I forget to look up, but I am so glad I did this time!

I was tootling around on Facebook, and found this picture snapped by Akiko Nishijiama Hotch of the view south on Sandy Beach that same day:

This is just a few blocks from my house.  I can hardly believe that I live surrounded by such beauty every day!

Then, another friend shared a photo that he took of my kids at an event honoring our new state writer laureate:

My beautiful children!

And finally, I was so proud last night to attend a screening of "How To Survive A Plague", a film commemorating the efforts of AIDS activists to develop medications that transformed AIDS from a death sentence to a chronic disease.  The event was sponsored by the Alaskan Aids Assistance Association.  Phoebe works in the local office as a case manager.  She is doing a wonderful job.  Here is a picture of her giving a talk to the audience before the film.  She was so poised, professional and confident!

I am so grateful for all of this beauty in my life!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

White Meat and Dark Meat: Take It Away!

Here is a goofy Thanksgiving greeting from one of my favorite movies!  Enjoy!

"I am a turkey.  Kill me!"

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!  I am thankful for all of you!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Slings and Arrows (Well, Slings, Anyway)

Full-thickness tear.
Not my shoulder
I went to the orthopedist yesterday (I know, I'm just falling apart, right?) to get the results of my shoulder MRI.  I have a torn rotator cuff, arthritis and some other thing that he described about my collarbone and shoulder bone that all need repair.

So, on December 5th, I will be having surgery.  I thought it was going to be a quick procedure like my knee surgery that I had a few years ago, but no such luck.  It will be a two hour surgery, but fortunately, I won't have to stay overnight in the hospital.  I will be having physical therapy starting three weeks after the surgery and will need to have my arm immobilized in a sling for 6 weeks, with  no reaching or lifting anything.  I'm right handed and of course it is my right shoulder...

Not the best way to get ready for Christmas, but we are downsizing a bit (no Christmas open house this year).

I am so grateful that I have health insurance and that this is all fixable.

I will be glad to have it done as my shoulder has been hurting me for quite a while.

Boo hoo.  Off we go on another medical (but thank God, not serious) adventure.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Memories

-turkey, turkey.

First of all, THANK YOU!!!! to the many followers who commented on my last post, which, I admit, was rather of the "poor me, quivering chin, whiny butt" variety.

It was so reassuring to hear that many of you do not receive regular comments either, but continue to post because you know that there are people who are enjoying, if not commenting on, your blogs.

So, in the spirit of gratitude, which we will be concentrating on this week (especially on Thursday), I decided to share some of my favorite Thanksgiving memories, and to ask you if you would also like to share some of yours, as well!

We always had Thanksgiving dinner at my childhood home, and everyone would come there for the feast.  Since I was the youngest of six, my older siblings were married and had children of their own when I was quite young.  As a matter of fact, I became an aunt when I was three years old.  So, of course, I was always "invited" to sit at the kids' table for Thanksgiving (and Christmas, and Easter) dinner.  I didn't mind this too much, except that I missed all the fun conversation at the grown ups' table.  I think I was about 15 when I was finally allowed to join the adults.

We always had the traditional foods for Thanksgiving: turkey, with my mother's amazing oyster stuffing, mashed potatoes, my mother's amazing giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, salad, and some sort of side vegetable like peas.  My sister Rita liked the canned jellied cranberry sauce, so my mom always bought one can just for her.  Over the years, my mom experimented with cranberry relish, but she usually just settled for making the whole cranberry sauce from scratch.  There was never a sweet potato to be found at our table.

We used to tease my mom about her gravy.  There is no better gravy in the world than the giblet gravy my mom used to make, but we would jokingly accuse her of using some product like Kitchen Bouquet to flavor her gravy.  She knew we were joking, but she would be a good sport and play along, vehemently denying the accusations.

My job was to mash the potatoes.  One thing about my mom, she always had me help with the cooking and she taught me a lot.  I would use the old wooden handled potato masher and I can still remember the clinking sound it made in the big pan she used to cook the potatoes in.   Several big knobs of butter, and some splashes of milk later, the potatoes would mash up thick and fluffy.  They would go on the back burner to stay warm while she made the gravy.

She would have one of the guys move the turkey to a platter to rest and she would pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a big saucepan.  She would drain most of the fat off of the drippings, but not all of them, because "that's where the flavor comes from".  She would heat up the drippings in the saucepan while she mixed flour and milk together.  She would pour the milk/flour mixture into the drippings, stirring it with a whisk and stir and stir and stir until it started to thicken.  She would salt it (a lot) and put in the cooled and ground up giblets (it was also my job to grind the cooked giblets with the meat grinder).  One final stir and then the gravy would be put into the "nice" gravy boat, that was part of the china that my dad had bought for her, china that became even more precious after he died when I was five.

When my mom cooked a huge dinner, everything always came out even.  The potatoes would be perfect, not gluey from warming too long, the gravy never had a hint of lumps, the turkey would be roasted golden brown and the cranberry sauce always jelled.  She had a gift!

One year, our neighbor Doris came over after dinner to show us her new puppy, Julie.  Julie made a beeline for the counter, on which the turkey platter was resting.  She jumped up and her paws caught the edge of the platter.  Down came the platter, turkey and all, shattering on the kitchen floor.  The platter was part of the aforementioned precious china set.  My mom tried to reassure Doris that it was alright, but poor Doris was completely mortified, and my mom was heartbroken.  Doris did her best to replace it, but the pattern had been discontinued.  She did replace it with another lovely platter that we used after that.

After my siblings married, they had to join their in-laws for some holidays, so they usually would do one year with us and one year with them.  My sister Rita, who was very slender, could eat like a horse, and would usually eat a full meal at the in-laws and then come and eat leftovers at our house with pumpkin pie for dessert.  She would then sigh and say that she "ate too fast" (never too much, just too fast)!

After I moved to Alaska and married Charles, we would usually have Thanksgiving with several other friends who didn't have family close by.  One year, we were invited to our friend Therese's house for dinner with her and her family, including her parents.  When it was time to make the gravy, Therese and her mom were getting things ready when Charles said: "Paula makes the BEST GRAVY in the world!"  Therese's mom, Ril said: "Oh, I'd love to know how you make your gravy - can you show me?"  I was horrified, because Ril had probably made at least 40 Thanksgiving dinners in her life and was no doubt a gravy expert, but I gamely went into the kitchen and made the gravy just like my mom did, praying that there would be no lumps and that it would thicken.  It turned out fine, but I could have killed Charles that year.

There are so many memories, but I don't want to go on too long.  What are some of your favorite memories?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We have so much to be thankful for this year!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Helloooo Out There! (With Random Old Photos)

I am so grateful to the three or four of my followers who regularly comment on Home In Douglas!

I have 54 (FIFTY-FOUR!) followers.

I know that folks are looking at my blog from looking at my statistics.

I am wondering if the lack of comments means that the content is not comment-worthy.

I started Home In Douglas mostly to share with folks about the goings-on here in our home and our community, and to share my thoughts, feelings and my "most appalling secrets" (h/t to "Little Women").

However, it is disheartening to get only a couple of comments (if any) on my posts.

I go to blogs that I follow (see the list to the right of the screen) and usually leave a comment, even if it is just "Nice post!",  just to let them know that I was there.

I go to the blogs that my followers follow, and sometimes will leave a comment, and also will become a follower if the blog looks interesting to me.

I'm not sure if I am doing things wrong, if my blog isn't interesting, if there is some rule that I'm not following, or what.  I don't subscribe to email updates or RSS feeds because I always go to my blog list to read new posts.

If you have advice, please share it with me.

And thanks for listening!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Please Join Me In Prayers for Sherri!

Here is a link to Kimberly's blog, Camp And Cottage Living, in which she asks for prayers for our fellow blogger Sherri from Little House In Paradise.  Sherri has recently been diagnosed with cancer (I hate cancer!).  Please join your prayers to Kimberly's and mine for full recovery and healing for Sherri!

Make sure you check out both of these great blogs!  It has been fun getting to know Kimberly and Sherri!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Really Matters

Election Coverage Brings 4-Year-Old to Tears

How many of you have been feeling like THIS lately?

Me too!  I am SO glad that it is over.

I have certainly found out that politics brings out the worst in people!  I have seen such hateful and extreme rhetoric on Facebook and on various blogs in the past few months, weeks, and even today, AFTER the election.  And not just by people who voted differently than I did.

It is so important to remember that we are all one nation.  Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green...it doesn't matter.  What matters, as I said to a fellow blogger and Facebook friend, is relationships.

Charles was in California these past 10 days to be with his family.  His Dad fell ill and was hospitalized a week ago Saturday.  Charles flew down that evening, overnighted in Seattle and was at his Dad's side at the hospital on Sunday morning.  Thank God we were able to afford a sudden plane ticket.  Charles was all set to come home after a week, but his Dad had a little setback on Saturday, so we changed his ticket until he could be reassured that all was well.  We are grateful for the doctors and hospital staff who cared for him, and grateful that he felt well enough to go to the polls and vote, along with Charles' Mom.

View up Franklin Street in downtown Juneau as Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel work on a fire at the Gastineau Apartments at the corner of Franklin and Front Street on Monday.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Photo: Michael Penn/Juneau Empire

On Monday night, a fire broke out in a low income housing building in downtown Juneau.  Thank God, there were no fatalities (except for a pet cat), and the injuries were minor.  All the residents were able to get out of the four-story building safely.  The air in downtown Juneau was thick with gray, toxic smoke.  I was heading to a restaurant downtown to meet a friend for dinner before choir rehearsal (I'm singing with the Bach Society).  As I got closer to downtown, I noticed how hazy it was, and as I got even closer, it was apparent that there was a major fire close by.  I parked and asked a passerby where the fire was and she told me, "The Gastineau Apartments".  My heart sank.  It is home to 50 low income, disabled and elderly tenants.  I proceeded to the restaurant for dinner and at the end of our meal, the power went out. The Fire Department had cut power so they could safely use water on the fire.  I ended up going home - just the 20 minutes that I had been outside in the smoke made me so congested and wheezy, I knew I couldn't sing at rehearsal that night.

The Red Cross set up a temporary shelter for the displaced tenants, and for the guests at the nearby Baranof Hotel, who also had to be evacuated.  The building tenants will have a difficult time finding new low cost housing.  The Gastineau Apartments were pretty shabby and run down, but as I told someone, even a sub-standard home is better than no home at all.

Our small town is rallying to help these folks.  Donations of funds, clothing and other items are pouring in for the victims of the fire.  A local movie theater is having a movie marathon to raise funds.  Local restaurants are giving them free meals.  Nobody cares what political party anyone belongs to in this situation.

So, you see, in the end, the things that make us different are less important than the things we have in common, especially those of us who share a common faith. 

Our faith in a loving, wise, just and merciful God.   Our families.  Our friends.  Our health.  Our homes.  Our communities.  These are the things that matter.  

In the days ahead, if you find yourself in a debate with someone over the outcome of the election, don't get sucked in.  Don't succumb to the temptation to hammer your point home.  It never works, and it could damage an important relationship.  Unfortunately, civil discourse appears to have gone the way of the eight track tape.  It seems to have disappeared from print, broadcast and online media.  Don't contribute to the decline of the polite conversation, especially in your homes and with your friends.  Appreciate our similarities, and pray for those who have different views.

Charles is home now, there is a fire in the wood stove, the skies are clearing, and it is time to start preparing for a busy weekend and week ahead.

And I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What Are You Doing On The Computer?


It is our right, duty and privilege as citizens of the United States of America
to VOTE today.

No matter your political beliefs, regardless of political party,  all Americans must exercise their right to VOTE.

People, many displaced by Superstorm Sandy, line up to vote  Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Burlington, N.J., at a Mobile Voting Precinct. Many victims displaced by the storm are taking advantage of offers to vote early. Photo: Mel Evans / AP
Voters displaced by Superstorm Sandy line up to vote at a mobile voting station.

If the folks in the photo can do it, so can you!  
No excuses!

So, turn off your computer,
walk out your door,

(if you have already voted, thank you!)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Feast of All Souls

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

May the souls of all the faithful departed
through the mercy of God
rest in peace.