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, January 31, 2013

St John Bosco

St. Bosco, whose feast we celebrate today, was an Italian priest of the late 19th century.  He educated boys, and was determined not to use the harsh methods and corporal punishment which were the education methods of his day.

He was patient, kind and loving to his pupils and went on to found the Salesian Fathers and Sisters, who continue to work in education.

I found the following story at the blog: Angels and Saints and The Rest Of Us, which I thought was charming!  I love the idea of a dog guardian angel!

Check out this blog for more stories about the saints!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

St. John Bosco and the Big Gray Dog

On various occasions throughout his life, St. John Bosco found himself aided by a mysterious, yet gentle and loyal, large gray dog. The dog would appear unbidden when St. John was passing through dangerous neighborhoods, traveling on foot through the dark countryside, or, most famously, once when attacked by thugs. (The dog chased the thugs away after giving them a good scare with his not-so-little teeth.) St. John called his intermittent companion Il Grigio, Italian for "The Gray One."

A mysteriously as he appeared, the dog would trot away after accomplishing his duty. Not once did St. John ever see the dog take food or water. And on at least one occasion, the dog somehow disappeared from a cottage in which all the doors and windows were shut.

St. John had no doubt as to the origin of his furry friend: "It sounds ridiculous to call him an angel, yet he is no ordinary dog." Indeed, the saint firmly believed that had it not been for the big gray dog, his work would have been severely hindered, if not stopped altogether.

John Bosco, of course, went on to institute and organize the Salesians, a religious order for men and women under the patronage of St. Francis de Sales. Il Grigio reportedly retained a fondness for the Salesians long after John Bosco left the world. Between 1893 and 1930, sisters of the Salesian order testified that they had received the gray dog's protection on at least three separate occasions.

(A summary of information from Partners in Holiness: Guardian Angels in the Lives of the Saints)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

St. Francis of Assisi, I'm Not

We were awakened by a curious noise this morning at 4:00.  Beans was in the living room.  She had knocked over the newspaper basket by the fireplace, tipped over the antique metal teapot and its wrought iron stand on the hearth and was scratching at the red metal bucket that we put kindling (and the leftover decorative pine cones and candle stubs for fire starters) in.  Charles got up and took her upstairs to Miguel's room.  I was wide awake by that time and came out to the living room to await the dawn.  I was starting to snooze on the couch when I heard noises coming from the red bucket and realized that THERE WAS A MOUSE IN THERE.  When Charles got up at 6, I told him about it and he said that he would take care of it after he had a cup of tea.  I suggested starting a fire and dumping the bucket into the woodstove.  He looked horrified and said that it was a bit early in the morning for an auto-da-fe.  (This was an hysteria-induced response.  I would never, NEVER, burn any living creature alive).

I suggested putting the bucket outside.  He said that the poor little mouse would be unable to get out of the bucket and would freeze to death.  He suggested that we dump the bucket out in the yard, so that it could find shelter.  I said that the "poor little mouse, my ass" would just come back into the house.

The only other choice was to rescue and rehabilitate it, which is not really an option.

We compromised by dumping the bucket in the yard, but as far away as possible, so that the mouse will have a fighting chance, but will still have to traverse the snowy dog yard to get back to the house, dodging the hazards of both Beans and Frida on the way.  (Personally, I think death by fire a la Joan of Arc, is a quicker, more merciful way to die than freezing to death or being ripped apart in the slavering jaws of a Westie and Dachshund.)  The last we saw of the mouse it was running around in a crazed circle on top of the snow, before darting under the fence, hopefully on the way to a neighbor's warm house, and not getting ready to double back into ours.

Charles told me that my suggestions were hardly reminiscent of "Brother Sun, Sister Moon".  And I told HIM that when it comes to vermin, my love for little furry animals flies out the window.  I didn't expect the little thing to suffer, however, I did, to quote Goldfinger, "expect it to DIE".

I took the following series of photos, all the while shrieking: "Hold the bucket level - don't let it jump out!", and, "Oh, God!  Oh, God!  That's disgusting!", and "Oh ick!  Don't let it jump out!"  My logical mind assured me that the mouse would have to be the rodent equivalent of Michael Jordan to jump out of the bucket, but I am completely illogical when it comes to mice in the house.

Where is it?

Where is it?
Oh, #)*&!  There it is!

Fuzzy picture taken while screaming.

Yeah, you just TRY to look cute - it won't work with me, no sir!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Six Degrees

I'm sitting in my not so warm house, grateful for a roof over my head.  

Charles and I spent the day conducting intake interviews at the third annual Project Homeless Connect event, which brings poor folks together with service providers (social services, housing, substance abuse counseling, mental health and medical health providers and a myriad of others).

I interviewed about 30 folks and Charles interviewed about 20.  Some were elderly, some were young folks with kids, a lot were veterans, some were mentally ill, some were disabled, and more than a few were inebriated.  Almost all of them were either homeless or soon to be.

The event offered them, in addition to the services provided, a warm dry place to be for the day, with nonstop hot coffee, fruit, baked goods for breakfast, a hot meal at noon (cooked by the Glory Hole, a local homeless shelter), and a large number of volunteers to chat with.

Charles did some spiritual counseling as well as interviewing.

The Juneau Homeless Coalition did a great job with this event, designed to not only pair up the homeless with needed services, but to find out how many there are out there for funding purposes.

We woke up today to extremely cold temperatures and high winds.   The temperature right now (5:31 p.m.) is 6 degrees F.  The wind is howling, which means the wind chill is probably about 20 below zero. 

So right now, in Juneau and Douglas, there are folks outside, huddling, trying to get out of the wind.  People, some with kids, crashing in someone's living room until they are asked to move on by friends or family members, mentally ill folks who are so difficult, scary or unpredictable or alcoholics so drunk that they are not allowed to be in the available shelters to ensure the safety of the other patrons.  The shelters are packed to capacity, including the family emergency shelter. 

And it is 6, six, SIX degrees outside, and with the wind, it feels like 20 below.

Photo courtesy of Lou Ann Gagne

Beautiful.  Deadly.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Seriously, Is This Cute, Or What?

Yesterday, these little lambs were presented to Pope Benedict XVI for the Feast of St. Agnes ("Agnes" means "lamb", as in "Agnus Dei").

Two little lambs are given to the Holy Father every year on this feast.  One wears a crown of white flowers to symbolize purity, and the other wears a wreath of red flowers to signify St. Agnes' martyrdom.

And, in case you are wondering, they DON'T become the Pope's Easter dinner.  They are shorn of their wool, which is then spun and woven by the Sisters of St. Cecelia into palliums, the stole traditionally presented to archbishops by the Holy Father.

I assume that they then are free to gambol about in a sunny, wildflower-filled meadow for the rest of their days!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Grow Your Blog Party

Well - I just found this opportunity to have a zillion people look at my blog - so I thought I would join in!  There is a Grow Your Blog party at Two Bags Full - go check it out, and enjoy reading all the different bloggers that have joined in!

But before you do, read my profile to learn about me and why I started blogging at Home In Douglas.

And, if you leave a comment by February 14th, you can win a giveaway of a lovely, handcrafted icon prayer shrine, featuring a reproduction of a hand painted icon by Charles!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

Remember all those projects I was going to accomplish while Charles was on his trip?

Well, here we are at day 9 of his absence, and which of the projects have I completed?

A Big Fat Zero.

And do I feel bad?  Guilty??  Like a failure???


Because, what I have done while he has been gone is spend some time doing things that I really love to do.

1.  Cook
2.  Eat
3.  Read
3.  Sleep

And, I also have spent some quality time with my 20 year old son, who started his second semester of his junior year at the University of Alaska Southeast on Monday.  I had a strong temptation to walk to his classroom and take a picture of him at his desk, or give him an apple for his professor, but I restrained myself.

I did manage to clean up my bedroom and do some laundry.

I might even manage to put the laundry away this weekend.

I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I have to attend to some important tasks...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mary and Jesus Watch Over The Snowy Yard

I went for a little walk today, just down to the library to return some books.  On my way home, I stopped in to our little local cafe to get a snack.  As I walked through the snow, I was struck by the beauty of the day, the snow on the trees and the mountains.  Even though there is a lot of snow on the ground, it isn't too difficult to walk.  The snow makes it much easier for my boots to grip the ground, thus I had my eyes up rather than at my feet looking for potential hazards.

As I came through our gate, I glanced at our snowy yard, and noticed how pretty the Shrine Charles put up in our Mary Garden looks with snow on the little roof, so I whipped out my phone and took a picture.  Not the best resolution, you can't see the details of the icon, and I cropped it so our neighbor, who was shoveling snow in his driveway wouldn't be in the picture, but it's not a bad picture, for a quick snapshot!

I'm linking up to Sunny Simple Sundays!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

This 'N That

Charles left for a teaching gig in Indiana yesterday.  He'll be gone for two weeks, teaching our friend Sr. Mary Grace, a cloistered Carmelite nun at her monastery in Terre Haute.

I was hoping to go with him, but it didn't work out.  However, every cloud has a silver lining.

I decided that since Epiphany was Sunday, it was time to take the Christmas decorations down.  I managed to remove the ornaments and lights from the tree and put them on the dining room table so I could inspect them for damage and wear and tear.  The kids gave me a package of ornament hangers in my stocking because every year I complain when we remove the ornaments that "it is more difficult if you don't use hangers!".

I plan to replace all the hangers (we have a motley collection of twist ties, paper clips, etc. that we have used over the years), and fix any ornaments that need fixing, get rid of any that are beyond repair and take a good look at ones that don't have sentimental value to decide what to dispose of.

Every year, Charles worries about the lights on the tree being too hot.  It is a legitimate concern, because we have the old fashioned bulbs, not the LED lights.  I don't really like the way the LED lights look (kind of artificial), but in the interest of safety, and economy (they really are a lot more energy efficient), we will be getting rid of the old bulbs and getting LED lights next year.  (BTW, can you put LED bulbs in regular strands of Christmas lights or do I need to buy new strands next year?)  Miguel took the tree down to Sandy Beach and had a beach fire with friends last night.  He said the tree went up like a torch.  It was pretty dry.  I think Charles' fears are well founded!

We have a bunch of bulbs if anyone wants them for craft projects!

I took Frida to the vet today for her immunizations.  Poor little thing, she got three shots and is pretty subdued this afternoon.  She is cuddling with me on the couch and feels warm-ish.  The vet told me that she might be a little low energy because of the immunizations.  Just like when the kids were little!

After I brought her home, I headed back to town for lunch with Phoebe and Miguel.  Actually, I had already had lunch at home, but I just had a soda and took a taste or two of their pizza.  We went to a place in downtown Juneau called Sprazzo, a pizza/pasta restaurant.  They have a slice and salad lunch special for 10 bucks, which is great because the slice of pizza was enormous and could easily be shared by two people (although the kids each got their own slices).  I will definitely be going back there with a friend for lunch to share a slice!

Last night, I went to Perseverance Theatre's pay-as-you-can preview of "Betrayal" by Harold Pinter.  It was quite good, the best part was seeing our friend James (an actor who lives across the street) playing the very small role of the Italian Waiter.  He was so great in such a tiny part!  What fun to have a professional theatre just down the street!

Tonight I am going to the Douglas Cafe for dinner with a friend.  It is one of the two restaurants in Douglas, and my favorite neighborhood hangout.

I have been looking for projects to keep me busy while Charles is gone.  One is to organize the masses of paperwork that I have been meaning to deal with for months.  I bought some zip up folders with separate pockets for paid bills, receipts, bank statements, etc. and will be slogging through the piles in the next few days.

The other idea I have is to paint the kitchen countertops.  There are kits that you can use to paint the countertop to look like granite, however, I found out that all you need is primer, acrylic paint, sponges (or crumpled paper towels), and a good acrylic sealer.  I am going to experiment on a piece of wood to see if I can do it before I try it on the counters.  I doubt I can make them look any worse than they already do (fake wood grain brown formica - blech!)

I also want to paint the bathroom door a brighter shade of white.  The white it currently is is too yellow for my taste.

But for right now, I had better get back to the task at hand ( sorting through the Christmas ornaments and decorations)!

Have a great Friday!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy 2nd Anniversary To Me!

January 6th was Home In Douglas' second birthday!

It is hard to believe that two years have gone by since I first hit the "Publish" button, but here I am!

I started this blog as a way to give my family and friends a glimpse into our life here in Douglas, Alaska, and since the beginning, I have gained some wonderful new friends.

Thank you to all my loyal readers and followers!  
Here is a slice of birthday cake for all of you, and here's to many more years of Home In Douglas!

Strawberry Chocolate Mini Ruffle Cake


Saturday, January 5, 2013


Charles and Miguel were watching Netflix and I was reading in bed just before midnight last night, when the house started shaking, and kept shaking for about a minute or so.

At first I thought the dogs were wrestling underneath the bed (they do that sometimes), but I realized that Frida was outside my door, frantically whining and scratching.  "Is that an earthquake?"  I called out.  It kept going, and going.  Finally it stopped.

We got on the internet and found out the preliminary report was 6.6, which is pretty big, and then they changed it to 7.7, and finally, 7.6.

A tsunami warning was issued for the outer coast of Southeast Alaska, British Columbia and all the way down to Crescent City, CA and over in Hawaii.

The waterfronts of several SE Alaska towns, including Petersburg and Sitka were evacuated until about 2:45 a.m.  There was a mild tidal surge, but no significant waves.

Still, it was quite an event.  No reports of damage or injuries, but a lot of people were up quite late, waiting in school gyms for what could have been a disaster.

Thank God it all was OK.

Just for comparison, the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 was a 6.9 and caused a huge amount of damage.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Random Photos From 2012

I have taken several photos over the past few months, but often forget to post them.  Here are a few of my favorites from 2012...

Frosted Kelp on Sandy Beach - Douglas, Alaska

Late afternoon sunlight - Douglas, Alaska

Cabin in the woods - Mt. Hood, Oregon

Our harvest

St. Michael's Cathedral - Sitka, Alaska

Grass and water

Angel detail - Sitka, Alaska

Sitka Boat Harbor

Fishing boats - Sitka, Alaska

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

So Grateful

My sister had a medical emergency on Christmas Day, followed by several days in the ICU.  Her condition stabilized and then suddenly deteriorated.

Thank God, her medical providers realized that her condition was worse than they previously thought and performed the surgery that prevented her death.

We dodged a bullet.  She is still with us, she is home and recovering, and I am so, so grateful.

Thank you all for your prayers.

Me and three of my five siblings. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 In Review

January  - It was very cold...

February - we said goodbye to our good friend Buddy...

March - I had a lump removed that proved to be only fat...

April - I bemoaned my housekeeping skills...

May - Charles' book, The Illuminated Easter Proclamation, was presented to the Holy Father...

June - A little girl's wish came true...

July - I wrote a poem about our house...

August - I reflected on how lucky I am to live here...

September - A bear wandered up on a roof downtown...

October - Charles blessed the animals...

November  - A huge fire broke out in Downtown Juneau...

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

December - We celebrated Christmas together...

And now, it is 2013!  Who knows what the New Year will bring!


May 2013 bring peace, joy, health and happiness to all of my family and friends!
Here is the perfect prayer to start the New Year off right:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
                                       St. Francis of Assisi

Labyrinth at the Shrine of St. Therese, Juneau, Alaska