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, May 30, 2013

Theme Thursday: Self Portrait

Let's see....

I am:
Prone to melancholy....

What?  Oh, you meant a PHOTO self-portrait.


Here it is....

I am:  
Near/far and middle-sighted
My face is oddly asymmetrical
I have the Gonzales ears (oh, dear)
I have more chins than the Hong Kong phone directory
I have a nice mouth
I have earned every gray hair on my head (as Erma Bombeck said: Gray hair is inherited -   you get it from your children).

I hate having my picture taken, even by myself.          

I am also linking up with Cari at Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday.  Go over there and see the other self portraits.  Go on, now...

Quit looking at me!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's Called "Summer"

When we get beautiful weather here in Southeast Alaska, everyone goes a little funny.  A little funny in the head.  You know, just a little...funny. (Name that movie!)

Anyway, this weekend it got up into the 70s.  Seventies!  As in over 69 and less than 80!  Degrees!  Outside!

People were out mowing lawns (not us, but I will go into this in a later post), hiking, camping, fishing, gardening, having beach fires, doing outdoor home maintenance (not us, again), and grilling (and actually eating said grilled food outside).

We went to a barbecue at our friends Pat and Kim's house.  They left on the ferry this morning for an excellent adventure:  a three month road trip.

So, to say goodbye to their friends and to celebrate Pat's birthday, they threw a party on Saturday evening.  We sat outside (I know I sound like I have never seen the sun, but it does rain a LOT here) and watched their kids and other people's kids frolic about.  One parent stopped his son who was running around in his socks and told him, "If you're going to run around in the grass, take your socks off".  The boy looked at his dad like he was crazy.  "Take my socks off?  But then I'll have bare feet!"  I know, it's sad.  Kids here are not only wary of things like running around outside with no shoes on, but I once met a little girl who, upon experiencing HOT sun on her first trip out of Juneau (in Texas), put her hand over her eyes and yelled: "What IS it, Mama?"  Her mom said it was just the sun.  "Make it STOP, Mama, make it STOP!", she cried.

Anyway, we had a great time at the barbecue, and then yesterday, Memorial Day, we drove out to the Shrine of St. Therese for the annual Memorial Day mass and Knights of Columbus spaghetti feed.

On our way out, we saw a large number of cars parked by the side of the road, which usually signifies a wildlife sighting.  Sure enough, there was a large bear munching on dandelions.  We stopped and I took several pictures.  Of all of them, this is the only one with a clear image of the bear:

At one point, she lifted her head and she had a dandelion hanging out of her mouth.  I wish I had been able to capture THAT goofy image!

We arrived at the Shrine and while Charles was helping prepare for the outdoor Mass, a pod of Orcas swam by.  We heard them blowing first and then saw them.  There were about 10 or so, adults and babies, breaching, diving and swimming around.  I got this picture with my phone - the little black dot in the middle is a dorsal fin...but at least you can see the gorgeous mountains and water!

We came home a bit sunburned from being outside during Mass and lunch.  Yes, Charles used sunscreen, but as he said, he can get a sunburn if the "Check Engine" light goes on in the car.

We ended the long weekend by picking Phoebe up at the airport.  She is home from her visit to New Mexico, where she met my cousins and my 93 year old aunt.  After Christmas in May (she brought many presents and photos), we came home and collapsed in bed, with the bedroom windows wide open to let the air circulate, because our bedroom was HOT.

Miguel got home late from his work on the whale watching boat.  He has been promoted to the naturalist position, which is great!

A very busy, but happy weekend!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Theme Thursday/A Favorite Thing

We have had a succession of dogs in the 15 years we have lived in this house.  We would have had dogs earlier, but finding a rental in Juneau is hard enough even without having a dog!

We bought our own house in December of 1997 and I said that as soon as summer came, I wanted to get a dog.  So on June 6 of that year, I went to the animal shelter and found Gwinnie.

He was the sweetest dog.  He had been taken to the pound for the fourth time, picked up by Animal Control in Douglas.  When we adopted him, we asked who his previous owners were.  They wouldn't tell us, but Charles, who used to be a reporter, read the form upside down and saw that the previous owners lived just down the street from us, and that they had named him "Dawg".

We named him Guinefort, after St. Guinefort, Dog and Martyr, since we had named our children after saints, we thought we should name our dog after a saint as well.

He was such a sweet dog - he was grateful to be in a family at last, and to be taken care of, and loved.

He was 14 when he died.  He was just worn out.

I grieved for him.  Although we have had other dogs, I don't think I will ever love a dog like I loved him.

Good dog, Gwinnie!  Good boy!

Linking up with Theme Thursday at Clan Donaldson and A Favorite Thing at Mockingbird Hill Cottage!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

So, I Guess It's NOT My Medication

After trying a reduced dose of meds, the sleepiness hasn't gone away, so off I go to the doctor in a week to see if we can figure out why I am so sleepy all the time...

A real life Sleepytime Bear?! #celestialtea

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Prayers for Michelle And Her Babies

Please keep Charles' coworker Michelle and her twin babies in your prayers.

Her son and daughter were born prematurely and are in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Anchorage.  They are six weeks old, and growing, but they are having some problems and could use some prayer support.


God Is My Midwife

Here is a wonderful article by my friend Katy Beedle Rice, who also has a lovely blog, Blessed, Broken and Shared.  She is such a thoughtful writer and a great person!

God is my midwife | Juneau Empire - Alaska's Capital City Online Newspaper

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Turn Down, Turn Off, Unplug

In April of 2008, an avalanche took out the power lines that bring electricity to the City and Borough of Juneau from the Snettisham Hydroelectric Facility.

The result was that, as with most power outages in Juneau, Alaska Electric Light and Power switched over to the diesel generators to continue to provide electricity.  However, this wasn't just any normal power outage.  The repairs were predicted to take weeks, perhaps months, and the cost of the diesel fuel to power the generators was extremely high.

AEL&P told their customers that the cost per kilowatt hour was going to increase by approximately 500%.  The City and local organizations worked together to help people who were already struggling with their utility bills, and the citizens were urged to drastically decrease their electricity consumption.

The rallying cry was: "Turn Down, Turn Off, Unplug!" and the citizens of Juneau did just that.

An article in US News and World Report described how Juneau- and Douglasites coped.

We turned off lights, those of us with dishwashers (we didn't have one at the time!) washed dishes by hand, people used their gas and charcoal grills to cook, people hung clothes outside (or inside on rainy days) to dry, and people used as little power as possible to keep costs down.  And it worked.  We all managed to get along just fine with less power.  People ate by candle light, played board games, made music together instead of watching TV or playing computer games.  We  joined together in a common purpose and survived the energy crisis.

Tonight, I was looking at some of my favorite blogs and found this wonderful post by Lois of Living Simply Free.  Lois lives in a 300 square foot home, and lives as "green" a life as possible.  To commemorate Earth Day, she decided to unplug for 24 hours.  The 24 hours turned into two weeks.  Read the post - it is inspiring.

Her post made me remember Juneau's energy "fast".  How easy it is to forget how well we all got along without using excess power for all those weeks.  We weren't completely unplugged, like Lois, but we still conserved.  Not a bad idea.  So, now that it is staying light out later and later each day (at least until June 21!), I think I will try the experiment again.  That means less time on the computer  - a big sacrifice for me :-), no TV during the day (sorry, Matt Lauer, you're just going to have to soldier on without me), cooking more things at once instead of firing up the stove several times a day, and hanging up the laundry indoors (until I can get Charles to put up a clothesline outside).

We'll see how it goes, and if our power bill goes down!

Theme Thursday: Mom

Here is a picture of my Mom with my children in 1992.

She was an extraordinary mother, and a wonderful grandmother.

I miss her so much.

Linking up to Clan Donaldson.  Hop over there to see other photos about moms!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In Which I Am Stretched, Surprised, Horrified, Delighted, Proud, And Grateful

On Thursday afternoon, I got a phone call from Phoebe.  Nothing unusual in that, we talk every day.  What was unusual was the request she made of me.

"Mom, can you do me a BIG favor?  Can you go to the airport tonight and pick up the drag queens?"

Phoebe is the local coordinator for the Alaskan AIDS Assistance Association, Alaska's HIV/AIDS education, prevention and advocacy agency.  Her work involves teaching classes about HIV transmission and how to prevent it, providing a needle exchange for IV drug users and case management for those who are affected by AIDS and HIV (assisting them with their medical bills, and directing them to the appropriate resources for housing and other needs).

Of course, all these efforts take money to happen, and so the 4As does a huge fundraiser once a year.  Last year, Phoebe's first on the job, the fundraising efforts were the largest ever.  The fundraiser is Femme Fatale, a three day amateur and professional drag show.  Local performers dress up and lip synch and walk and dance on a runway, getting tips from the audience.  The amateur competition goes for two nights at a local bar.  The professional performers, who travel from Anchorage, performed last night at the Baranof Hotel, doing two shows for a packed house.  They volunteered their time and donated their tips.

Anyway, to get back to Thursday, and Phoebe's request that I do her this favor...I remember thinking:
"Well, THAT'S something you don't get asked to do every day!", and then I said yes, of course, I would be happy to help her out.

I went to the airport, not knowing what to expect.  Wondering what I should write on the sign I would be holding up for the folks I was meeting: "Welcome, Drag Queens"?  I settled for a sign that said "Femme Fatale".  I watched the people coming off the plane, nervous that I wouldn't spot them, and finally, a group of very exuberant guys walked out of the security area.  I came up to them and said: "Let me guess..." and showed them the sign.  They immediately started laughing and one them said: "How did you know?"   I introduced myself as Phoebe's mom, and they were effusive in their praise for her and how much they all thought of her and enjoyed working with her on last year's shows and how much they were looking forward to seeing her.  And even though I told them my name, they all insisted on calling me "Mama".  They told me that I would be their "Mama" for the weekend.

We drove into town after picking up their luggage and I listened to them joking and bantering back and forth, excited to be back in Juneau, happy to be here to help out the 4As, and glad that all their luggage made it, since it contained costumes, makeup and supplies for their performances.

I dropped them off at the hotel, assuring them that I would see them on Saturday (the day I was volunteering), and they asked if I had ever been to a drag show before.  I said, no, that it hadn't been something I had experienced.  They said that I was in for a treat and said they were looking forward to seeing me on Saturday.

Last night (Saturday), I showed up at the Baranof  to help.  My job was to check ID's (no one under 21 allowed for the second show) and put armbands on audience members.  And then the show started.  It was pretty tame for the first half, just singing and dancing and a certain amount of prancing about.  The performers all greeted me as they came across the hall to do their numbers.  "Mama!  You're here!  What do you think?  Are you having fun?"  They were in full costume and make up (where on EARTH do they get women's shoes that big?) and looked...well, fabulous.

The M.C. talked about the 4As and urged people to tip the performers and reminded everyone that all the proceeds, including the tips, were going to the 4As.  There was a nice silent auction, and with the exception of one gift basket from what Charles and I call "The Nasty Store", all the auction items were in good taste and appropriate for any non-profit fundraiser.

The second half (this is where I was kind of horrified) was a lot more on the "blue" side - lots of language, and sexual references, and even props, which I had (up until then) only heard about.   I poked my head into the ball room to watch and then, blushing, beat a hasty retreat back to the ticket table.  Phoebe came over, looking chagrined, and said that she kind of wished that she had asked me to volunteer for the first show, which was more "PG-13" than" R" rated.  I assured her that I could take it.  I certainly didn't go back into the ballroom and watch the rest of the second half, but I could hear it, and to my surprise, I COULD take it.

Every time one of the performers went past the table after performing, they would ask me how I was doing.  "How are you holding up, Mama?" they would ask, "You doing OK?".  They could tell that this wasn't my usual...shall we say...milieu.

At the end of the evening, the MC asked Phoebe to come up on the stage and everyone gave her an enormous round of applause.  Phoebe thanked the performers, the staff of the hotel, the volunteers and the audience.  She told them how much the money and time they donated was appreciated and that it would help so many people.  She was gracious, dignified and lovely and I was so proud.

So, now I can say that I have been to a drag show.  And I survived.  I never would have done such a thing if Phoebe wasn't working for the 4As.  But, it is good to stretch oneself occasionally.  And it is good for me to remember that underneath all the fancy, glittery costumes, the thick makeup, and yes, even the huge women's shoes, there were a bunch of guys who gave their time and talent to help out their brothers and sisters in need, and to help prevent others from contracting a disease that killed so many for so many years, and that through their efforts, and the work of medical researchers, activists and agencies like the 4As, HIV/AIDS has gone from being a death sentence to a chronic disease.  And I remembered that these men, who called me "Mama", are my brothers in Christ.

And I was grateful.