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.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Octave of Christmas!

I love the Octave of Christmas - it gives us a chance to celebrate, and celebrate, and celebrate.   We remembered St. Stephen on the 26th, St. John the Evangelist on the 27th and today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today is a more somber feast.  The feast commemorates the killing by King Herod of all the little firstborn sons two years old and younger, in Bethlehem and the surrounding areas.  This was to ensure that the newborn King of the Jews would also be killed.  Fortunately for the Holy Family, they had received a warning from an angel and had escaped to Egypt.  I can't imagine the horror of this day in history.  Here is a version of the Coventry Carol, which tells the story:

Tomorrow is the feast of the Holy Family.  On the eighth day, we celebrate the feast of the Solemnity of Mary.  Lots of celebrations and remembrances packed into the week after Christmas!

I thought I would show you some of my favorite ornaments from our tree, which we finally put up on Christmas Eve.  They are all either hand made or were gifts.  No glass baubles on our tree!

Our clothespin reindeer, which we made a few years ago.

Phoebe's styrofoam bell, which she made 20 years ago, and 
a close up of one of the little trees from the banner our friend Deirdre made for us!

Miguel's eagle that he stitched in third grade.

This grumpy reindeer is saying "Watch it, bub!" to the dove.

A print of Our Lady of Guadalupe that Charles made.

The finished product!

And, as an added bonus, my snow man collection!

Have a wonderful week and the Happiest of New Years!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Death of a Good Priest

It was a sad beginning to the month.  We lost one of our priests to cancer.  Fr. Jim Blaney, OMI (Oblates of Mary Immaculate), who had been in our Diocese for over 25 years, died at the age of 76.

He had ministered in Haines and Skagway, Prince of Wales Island and Sitka during his tenure here in Southeast Alaska.

He became part of every community he lived in.  He was adopted by the Tlingit tribe and was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.  He was a chaplain for the fire department and all of this was in addition to the work of being pastor of his parish, which he loved.  His favorite quote was "Be good to God's people."  Even as he was dying, he would assure visitors that he was fine.

He comforted his sister and brother in law and his brother OMI, Fr. Pat (our pastor) by telling them: "My bags are packed and I am ready to go!  I'll see you in eternity."

Charles and I traveled to Sitka for the vigil and funeral.  Charles planned and coordinated all the liturgies, morning prayer, evening prayer, the procession and the funeral itself.  It all went like clockwork.  I was very proud of Charles (I always am)!

Here are some photos of the events.

At the vigil

The procession was led by a Coast Guard honor guard

We processed from the Church to Centennial Hall for the funeral

Arriving at Centennial Hall

The priests removed the casket from the hearse...

...and served as pallbearers.

With Fr. Jim's death, we lost 1/10 of our priests.  Please pray that we will be able to get another priest from somewhere and pray for vocations for our diocese!

For an obituary and photo of Fr. Jim please click here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

One Rung At A Time

Here is a link to a lovely post on my husband's blog, Loaves and Fishes.

I am so proud of him - I can't say it enough!

Here is a photo of St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church in Anchorage.  
Charles painted the icons for the church.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Look What I Made!

I got this kit for the little fox brooch from Mollie Makes magazine, my newest favorite.

Mollie Makes features several projects in each issue, and includes a kit for one of them!  The magazine is published in Great Britain, so it is full of fun expressions like: "We've always quite fancied..." and words are spelled the British way (of course) - for example: "fibre" and "colour".  But besides the British charm, it is chock full of great ideas.

This is going to be my next project - a pretty felt Dala horse.  They have an article about a woman who collects wooden Dala horses and talks about their history.  So I learned something new!  I love working with felt, and Mollie Makes always has a couple of felt projects to work on.

It is pretty spendy, but I am going to ask Santa for a subscription.  But, in case you are interested, here is the info about how to subscribe.  They carry the magazine at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts as well.

I didn't receive anything from Mollie Makes for this post, but if they want to give me a free subscription for the free publicity, I would accept it (Are you listening, editors?  Hint, hint!)!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why I Love My Husband

I love my husband because:

He is sweet and considerate.

He is smart.

He is funny.

He is thoughtful.

He is faithful.

He is loving.

He is good looking.

He is devoutly religious, but not stuffy.

He is talented.

He is humble about that talent.

He is kind.

He is concerned about the needs of the poor and marginalized.

He donates to charity, especially Catholic Relief Services.

He is a loving father.

He is tender.

He loves romantic movies especially the one we saw last night - About Time.

I love my husband because after we had the same fight last night that we have been having for 31 years, he got up this morning and cleaned up the kitchen, and then came over to me sitting on the couch and said he was sorry, even though the fight was (and usually is) all my fault.

I love my husband.  Just because.

Monday, November 4, 2013

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming.

I can't tell you why I haven't blogged since October 6th.  I have been busy, but not THAT busy.  I guess I lost my blogging mojo for a bit (not that everyone couldn't use a break from the "me me me" that blogging, at least, MY blogging, is).

However, I am back.

Here are some highlights from the past month:

Our parish women's group, the Martha Ministry hosted a tea in honor of the two religious sisters who serve here in Juneau.  Sister Marie serves as the Pastoral Associate at the Cathedral and Sr. Dee works part time at the AWARE Shelter, our local agency for battered women, and also has a private counseling practice.  About 40 people attended the tea, which featured homemade goodies and, of course, tea.

I made a "Works of Mercy" money tree with a branch from a handy tree and attached little clothespins to it so that folks could give a donation for the sisters.  The Marthas also presented gift certificates to the sisters to local restaurants so that they could go out for dinner.  We provided blank note cards so those attending could write notes of thanks and appreciation to Sr. Dee and Sr. Marie.  Janet, the coordinator of the event, brought several hats so that the sisters and the women hosting could each wear one.  Here are some photos:

Janet and the goodies!

The beautiful place settings

Sr. Marie and Sr. Dee

Women Wearing Hats!

The Works of Mercy Tree

It was a great event, such fun and a wonderful opportunity to honor these great women!

In other news, I have been substitute teaching.  I did a whole week at our local neighborhood elementary school, Gastineau Community School.  It was fun, but absolutely exhausting!  I worked in the preschool classroom, and also worked with special needs children and subbed in a kindergarten class.  I was pooped at the end of the week!

Charles went to Baltimore for a week for a Catholic Campaign For Human Development training.  He learned a lot and made some good connections.  He also got to see our friend Rachel, a former schoolmate of Phoebe's and one of our favorite people.  She is going to grad school in Baltimore.

Lastly, please keep my brother in law, Robert ("Kontry" to his friends and family) in your prayers.  He has been in the hospital with a serious illness.  Please pray for healing for him and strength for his family, especially for his wife, Meg, Charles' youngest sister.

That's all for now.  Thanks for sticking with me, loyal readers!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Farm Down The Street

Our neighbors have chickens and new little goats.  I am in love!  We visited Michele and Greg's house yesterday and were introduced to Ava and Liam, their new little goats, and Phoebe, Miguel and Charles met the chickens for the first time.  I love listening to them clucking - we can hear them from our house.

There is something so wonderful about chickens and goats.  They were just minding their own business, the business of clucking (chickens), climbing on top of the chicken coop and eating salmon berry leaves (goats).

For a half an hour, we were in a little bit of heaven, one block away.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

From Death to Life

Last Saturday, Phoebe, Charles and I attended the funeral of Phoebe's friend Daniel.  Phoebe and I were asked to sing for the service, and, difficult as we knew it would be, we agreed.  Over the years I have sung at many funerals, some of them for children.  This one would be Phoebe's first time singing at a funeral.   Daniel was a friend of Phoebe's since high school.  We sang only two songs, "Morning Has Broken" at the beginning of the service, and "Michael, Row The Boat Ashore" while Daniel's parents and brother and sister scattered some of his ashes into the bay.

At the reception afterwards, Karen, Daniel's mom told me that "Morning Has Broken" was a special song for her and Daniel.  She said that when he was young, she would play "Morning Has Broken" on the CD player in the car on the way to school.  He would argue that he wanted to play his own music, so they compromised.  One morning she would play her music, and the next he would play his.  She always chose "Morning Has Broken".  When he left for college, she couldn't find the Cat Stevens CD.  She asked Daniel about it and he said that he took it to Fairbanks with him so he could listen to it in the mornings.  I'm glad she told me this story AFTER Phoebe and I sang the song, because I never would have been able to get through it.

The service, which was presided over by the minister at Douglas Methodist Church, was beautiful, with many stories and tributes from Daniel's family and friends.  What a tragedy.  28 years old, with such an amazing life of adventure behind him, and such promise ahead of him as a scientist, with two important papers already published in his field of study.  To die so young and so suddenly was a blow to his friends and family.  I ask for your prayers for all of them.

And now to the new life:

Today was the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux.  To celebrate the feast of this saint, who is the patroness of our Diocese, Fr. Steve Gallagher, associate pastor at St. Paul the Apostle parish celebrated Mass at the Shrine.  When Charles and I arrived, there was only Fr. Steve, his friend John, who is visiting Juneau, and Jeannie the Shrine caretaker in attendance.  Charles was serving at the Mass, so there would be an assembly of  three.  Fr. Steve was just getting ready to start Mass, when we heard a ruckus from outside.  The door opened and three moms arrived with a whole bunch of kids for Mass.

We all settled in as Mass started and the activity and noise level from the two pews holding the families grew and grew and grew.  As Charles read the Gospel, one of the kids discovered that the pews were moveable.  Scrape....scrape... as the pew moved back and forth on the concrete floor. Thump, thump, thump as boots kicked the wooden kneelers.  The older kids were doing a pretty good job of sitting quietly, but the younger ones, aged about 18 months to 4 years, were bundles of energy.  The moms were doing their best, but they were outnumbered.  The Gospel was very apt:

 Matthew 18:1-4
At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"  He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

Charles preached on St. Therese and her "Little Way", and the whole time, we heard "Scrape, thump" in the background.  

And was this a problem for us?  Nope.  Because the kids were not misbehaving.  They were being kids.  Now if they had been 7 or 8 year olds, that would have been a different story!  But they were moving around, asking questions, being curious, being noisy, being kids.  There is no "cry room" at the Shrine.  It is a stone church with a concrete floor and great acoustics.  The walls echoed with joyful noise today.  And it was good.

Here they come!

During Mass

With thanks to Angela Smith for the photos, and to the Smith, Forbes and Grimes families for allowing me to tell this story!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Bad Day

The day got off to a bad start when I turned on the radio and heard about a massacre in Pakistan at a Catholic parish, AND another massacre and hostage crisis in Kenya.  I mourn for the families of those who were killed.

Then (I realize that this is ridiculous compared to the above news) I forgot that our family was in charge of this week's after-Mass snacks.  I was grateful that the folks in charge of snacks after the 8:30 left doughnuts, muffins and bagels, which I supplemented with cheese and crackers and chips and salsa.  Not our usual standard, but what mattered was that people enjoyed visiting with each other while eating the snacks.

After Mass, Charles and I went out to the valley and dropped off two boxes of books at the Friends of the Library Amazing Bookstore (and left the store with only five books).   We stopped at JoAnn Fabrics to look at some material for making bags to transport icons in so they don't get banged up in transit.  We had a burger together at The Broiler and both of us did a little venting about various things that are frustrating us right now (not about each other).  It felt good to spend some time together, even if we were both feeling snarky.

Then we came home to the news that one of Phoebe's high school classmates had died suddenly. Commiserating with her, I realized that the frustrations that Charles and I were feeling earlier are nothing compared to the pain of losing a loved one.  The families of the victims in Pakistan and Kenya, and a family here in Douglas are grieving today.

The people who died so tragically in Pakistan and Kenya this weekend today were just doing their normal Sunday routine, going to church, doing a little shopping, just having a regular day.  Phoebe's classmate didn't have any idea when he went to sleep that he wasn't going to wake up.

Hug your kids, your spouse, your brothers and sisters today.  And remember that life can change in the twinkling of an eye.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: Sickness, Wellness, Opera, Transportation And The Pope

I was sick with the Juneau Crud last week.  Sniffling, sneezing and mostly (and worstly) cough, cough, coughing.  Not just coughing, but that "wake up suddenly feeling like I am choking to death and then realize if I just cough it will fix it" feeling.  Thank God for those Halls Vitamin C drops to sooth my poor throat (not a commercial, I just like them).

I got better after about four days, and then had to go get a mammogram, which was fine except that the radiologist "saw" something.  So back I went yesterday and got the bejesus squeezed out of Lefty once again.  Then the tech came in and said that the radiologist wanted me to have an ultrasound.  Wearing my superhero cape (Breast Woman!) I followed the ultrasound tech into the darkened room to lie on the bed and have a magic wand (and some very cold and slimy gel) applied to Lefty.  Nothing there but some excess fat (I could have told them that) and I was given instructions to come back in 6 months.  I can't wait.  I am grateful, however.  I know so many women who have been through this, but with bad results followed by surgery, radiation, chemo.  So Lefty and I said a prayer and went home.

I am in the chorus of La Traviata with the Juneau Lyric Opera.  I missed the first couple of weeks of rehearsals because I didn't make up my mind about being in the chorus until they had already started.  Then, being sick, I missed an entire week last week.  The music isn't a problem, but singing in Italian is.  So many syllables and interesting letter combinations.  It is much harder to sing than I thought it would be.  Give me German, Latin or French any day.  Last night after singing it through with the orchestra, our choir director had us speaking the words of the "Matador Song" in rhythm.  Lots and lots of words.  We open a week from tomorrow. 

We got a new car.  Well, new to us anyway.  It is a 2003 Volkswagen Beetle.  Not quite as practical as the Subaru Forester we just sold, in terms of cargo space and snow performance, but it is much more fuel efficient.  Since both of our adult children have their own cars, we don't need as much space, and besides, it is so stinking cute.

If you live under a rock, or don't watch the news, you might have missed that the Holy Father gave an interview to America Magazine.  I haven't read it yet, but according to the secular world it is groundbreaking.  The Catholic blogging world is reeling with lots of opinions about what it all means.  From what I have read, it sounds like he is being practical, pastoral, and in keeping with Church teaching, as he would be expected to be.  I don't think there will be any major changes forthcoming in Catholic Social Teaching: care for the poor, respect for life, respect for the dignity of each person.  It's all there, folks!

Speaking of our new car - our poor old car was ready to bite the dust.  A nice guy at our service station has one just like it and bought it from us.  He said he can fix all the things that were wrong with it - blown head gasket, rear brakes, back hatch latch, CV joint, etc.  And so we sold it to him for 500 bucks.  Charles had the following conversation with him over the phone:

Charles: Are you still interested in the Forester?
Guy: Yeah, I think I want to get it. 
Mrs. Guy (in the background): We don't have no ROOM!
Guy (after mumbled conversation with Mrs. Guy): We might not have room for it.  I have a boat, a truck, a snow machine and another Forester.  I'll call you back.

Ten minutes later, he called back and said he was going to store his boat elsewhere and would take the car.  Yesterday, he and his wife came by and bought it.  I was not sorry to see it go, dripping oil, with the back hatch rattling.

I got nothing.  Wait - I do have something.  We are going to use the money from the sale to finally fix up our bedroom.  We are in the process of culling our books.  For me, just a question of throwing books into a box.  For Charles, like removing a limb.  So it is slow going, but soon we will have the excess bookage out to the Friends of the Library Amazing Bookstore, and everything else packed up and stored in the Tool Room, which also needs to be cleaned out.  Wait - we just got rid of our Subaru with the cargo space...oh well, we have a son with another Subaru that we can use for dump runs.

That's it.  That's all I got.

Scoot on over to Jen at Conversion Diary to see everybody else's quick takes!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Theme Thursday: Text

I saw this sign while hiking in the woods close to Mount Hood, in Oregon.  I have no idea how it got there, or why the word "Watermelon" was abbreviated.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


May those who died on 9/11, and those who gave their lives to save others rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Some Random Photos and a Coincidence

Charles' parents came through town on a cruise last Saturday.  This year, they are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, so while they were here (for seven hours), Charles took the opportunity to bless their marriage and witness their renewal of their wedding vows.

Charles blessed their wedding rings.

The weekend before, we went to a garage sale and I found this vintage lunch box and Thermos.  Of course, the minute I got it home, I broke the zipper on the lunch box.  I was thinking I could use it for a craft tote, for my crocheting and (soon to be) knitting projects.  I am currently crocheting granny squares for an afghan.  It has been so long since I did a big project (other than a hat or a scarf).  I am a little nervous about it!

I saw the above project on Pinterest, and we had some pieces of wood that were just the right size.  I mod podged paper on the board, attached the pipe clamp with a screw (actually, Charles did, because I am too short to be able to put any pressure on the screw with the screw gun, unless I stood on a chair, which seemed like an accident waiting to happen), covered a binder clip with the same paper as the board, hammered in a little nail, and VOILA! a toothbrush and toothpaste holder that matches our bathroom!

And now, the coincidence:  Last night, Charles and I were scheduled to work at the gallery and a woman came in and said that she had been told that an iconographer showed his work there.  I turned and pointed to Charles and said: "There he is!".  She was delighted to meet him and said that she is also an iconographer.  She is from New Orleans and it turned out that she knows and has studied with a friend and student of Charles'.   She was thrilled to see Charles' work, and shared some photos of her icons, which Charles praised.  She said that she hoped to come back and study with Charles.  The world of iconographers is small indeed! 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Prayer For Peace In Syria and the Middle East

The icon Charles just finished for the World Day of Prayer.
The inscription says: "Queen of Peace" in English and Arabic

God of Compassion,
Hear the cries of the people of Syria,
bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
bring comfort to those mourning the dead,
strengthen Syria's neighbors in their care and 
welcome for refugees,
convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and protect those committed to peace.

God of Hope,
inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with enemies
Inflame the Universal Church with compassion
for the people of Syria,
and give us hope for a future of peace built on justice 
for all

We ask this through Jesus Christ, 
Prince of Peace and Light of the World.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Walk To Nugget Falls

Yesterday my walking buddy Linda and I walked out to Nugget Falls.  It is (or used to be, anyway) at the face of Mendenhall Glacier.  The Glacier has receded so much in the past 35 years that it appears shrunken.  When I arrived in Juneau 35 years ago, the falls were still covered by ice (thank you, climate change).  You can see in the photo below how the ice used to be higher and wider.  It made me sad to see it.

When we arrived, we saw a lot of visitors, both local and tourists.  Folks were taking pictures of the icebergs (large pieces of ice) and growlers (small pieces of ice) in Mendenhall Lake.

The Falls are a fun spot to walk to - with an easy, flat trail that was recently renovated.  It took about a half an hour to arrive at the falls, which are magnificent.

Your humble blogger!
The Falls are huge and impressive.  Look how the people look like little ants next to it.  The spray from the Falls is so refreshing.  A friend said yesterday that she hikes out to get a dose of negative ions from the spray.  Maybe that is why is is so exhilarating to stand close to them.

An iceberg
We had a wonderful time, and did our hiking just in the nick of time, because the forecast is for heavy rain, flood warnings and high winds.  We woke up this morning to rain sheeted windows.  Mendenhall Lake is sure to be flooding today.  It is a good day to sit inside and read by the woodstove.  Fall is here, after a wonderful summer!

Someone built a cairn from the rocks nearby.