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, July 27, 2013

Photos From My Walk Tonight

It turned into a beautiful day today, with more to come next week!

Someone was setting off very loud fireworks across the channel, so I walked down by the Douglas Harbor to investigate.

I decided to take some pictures...enjoy!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Only The Lonely

Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
Know the way I feel tonight (ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah)

Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
                                      Know this feelin ain't right (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)

Roy Orbison was right.

Tonight I said goodbye to a my good friend "A".  She is leaving Juneau to start another chapter of her life, or perhaps to continue a chapter that she hasn't yet finished.

The nature of life in Juneau (and Douglas) is saying goodbye to friends.  People come and go here.  Jobs, education, the rain, retirement...there are a variety of reasons people say farewell to this place.

I have said goodbye to far too many people over the years.  Many years ago, a couple that we were were very close to decided to leave here to be closer to family down south.  When they came over to say goodbye, I burst into tears at the door and sobbed, "Please don't go!".

Tonight, I was angry and saddened to say goodbye once again, because "A", who had just arrived back in town less than a week ago (with the intention of staying for several months), decided to leave suddenly, tomorrow, early in the morning.  I was able to meet with her for just a few minutes to talk.  I didn't try to dissuade her, but could only remind her that she has done this before - come back to Juneau, only to leave again.  Over and over.  Of course I want her to be happy.  Of course I want her to find what she is seeking.  But despite my love and concern for her, I felt a sense of abandonment and loss.

As I was driving back from our short time together tonight, I thought about all the goodbyes.  And I realized that I am lonely.  I have lots of friends.  They are all good people who I enjoy being with, but my best friends, my "sisters of the heart", aren't here, physically present, with me anymore.

My friend Jeanie and I have been been best friends for over 25 years. We used to get together at least once a week.  We would often go to the Fiddlehead Restaurant, a favorite hangout.  Once, I called her and said, "Let's go to the Fiddlehead for dessert."  She said she had just returned home from dinner with her husband at the Fiddlehead, but that she would meet me there.  We arrived at the same time and the hostess looked at her and said, "Weren't you just here for dinner?"  She replied that she came to dinner with her husband so she could talk about work, but that she was back for dessert with me so she could talk about her husband!

Four years ago, Jeanie and her husband moved down south.  She was going to continue her education, and he was following his dream of recording his music.   She comes back once or twice a year to visit, and each time she leaves again, it is like reopening a wound.

Retirement, while it has been a wonderful rest from the routine and daily grind of work, has been very isolating.  While I don't miss working, I miss the day to day chatting with coworkers, the sharing of our joys and sorrows, the little jokes and companionship.  Don't get me wrong: I love being with my family, my husband, my kids.  I can talk to Charles about anything - so I am not suffering from the lack of someone to talk to.  But everyone needs a best friend who is close at hand - for a cup of coffee, a walk, a shoulder to cry on or someone to laugh with.

In the ancient Irish tradition, the term for a close friend, one with whom you can share your inmost thoughts, feelings, fears and worries is anam chara, or "Soul Friend".  It means much more than what we commonly think of as a soul mate.  An anam chara is someone who knows you as you are and encourages you to become who you are meant to be.   An anam chara, in the Irish monastic tradition, was a spiritual advisor and friend.

Having said goodbye one more time has brought the need for an anam chara in my life into sharp relief.

In the mean time, I am weary of goodbyes.

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains, from whence comes my help"

Monday, July 22, 2013

Skagway Trip: Jewell Gardens - Part One

Our visit to Skagway's Jewell Gardens was on our last day in Skagway, but, since I took so many photos there, I wanted to share them with you right away.

Jewell Gardens is a privately owned company that includes the gardens, a glass blowing studio, a gift shop and a restaurant.  It is just on the outskirts of town, on the Klondike Highway (the highway from Skagway to Whitehorse and beyond).

Sr. Dee and I browsed in the gift shop, where I bought two pairs of earrings, one for Phoebe and one for myself.  After looking at all the beautiful blown glass artwork, we decided to go into the gardens, despite the $12.50 entrance fee (I'm a known cheapskate, and thought that if you've seen one garden, you've seen them all).  I am so glad we decided to go in.

 The first thing I noticed was that they use a lot of the glass art in the actual flower beds and as decorative touches around the garden.

I liked the glass fish in this stream bed!
There was an electric train that traveled throughout the garden, past a little town and mining camp.   Note the "gold nuggets" on the back of the train!

These sculptures collect water and funnel it into the ground.
I was amazed by the wide variety of flowers in the garden - the garden takes hours and hours of work, and in addition to the paid employees, the owners have a bunkhouse where they put up garden volunteers.  The volunteers can stay for a week or for a whole summer!


Black pansies

Wild geranium

Columbine and daisies



Lady's Mantle

A nice shed framed with Lady's Mantle and delphinium


Purple pansies

A sink planter

Train tracks and flowers
A view of the garden with the forest beyond

Sweet little violas

And finally, a bench to rest on
What a perfect end to our visit.  Afterwards, Sr. Dee and I went straight to the ferry terminal to head home.

I will write more about the beginning of our trip, Sr. Dee, the train trip we took while in Skagway, and the great time we had together later in the week.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Strange Light

 This morning we woke up to haze and a strange orange light in the sky.

Both are the result of wildfires in the Yukon.  If it is this bad here, I can't imagine how smoky it is in Yukon Territory! I am heading up to Skagway tomorrow morning with my friend Sr. Dee.  We are going for a little get away and will be taking the White Pass and Yukon railroad on an excursion.  I'm hoping the haze will clear a bit - it is no doubt a lot smokier in Haines and Skagway.

Sunlight takes on a strange orangish glow when there is smoke in the air.  You can see it best if you look at the shadows (please ignore our scuffed and badly-in-need-of-a-paint-job porch floor).

I tried to catch the light in the living room.  You can see it a little bit, but mostly you can see Beans and Frida wondering why I am taking pictures of the floor.  In the background are Hoda and Kathie Lee on the TV (yes, I watch morning television!).

Coming up this week are photos from my whale watch trip and the pictures I will be taking on our Skagway trip!

Have a great Monday!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Fourth of July, A Gospel Choir, A Crab Feed, and More Weather

The Fourth of July is a major holiday in Juneau and Douglas.  Back in the days of the A-J and Treadwell Mines, Christmas and the Fourth of July were the only holidays that the miners didn't have to work.

We have two parades here:  one in downtown Juneau and one in downtown Douglas.  Hundreds of people come over the bridge to Douglas for the parade and for the activities at Savikko Park and Sandy Beach.  The activities, such as the Soap Box Derby and the Fire Hose Race are traditions that go back many years.  Other activities, such as the Frisbee Dog Contest and the Sand Castle Contest as well as the field sports and the Two Mile Race from the bridge to Douglas are more recent.  There was a watermelon eating contest one year that both of my kids participated in (Miguel won, and Phoebe almost choked and literally had watermelon coming out of her nose).  The winners of the kids' contests win $5 and all the participants get $1.

Here are some pictures of the Douglas Parade...

...the old fashioned fire truck...

...the Stroller White Pipes and Drums...

...and the Juneau Volunteer Marching Band.

We always host an "open yard" for all of our friends.  We made salads and burgers, I baked three pies (apple, apple, and rhubarb/berry), folks brought stuff to share, and we sat in the yard and watched people walk by.  At 7:00 p.m. the music started from the Pavilion down at Savikko Park.  Between all the people in town, the band at the park and the fireworks going off, it was a noisy evening.  We were pretty exhausted, but not too tired to go across the street and have a pulled pork sandwich and home made ice cream at our neighbors' house!

The next day, I coordinated a parish potluck to welcome the Gospel Choir of St. Malachy Parish in Chicago.  St. Malachy's used to be our pastor's parish and he had been wanting the choir to come and do a concert.  They raised the funds to travel and came up.  We had a wonderful time at the potluck and the concert was amazing!  They also led the music at the 11:00 Mass on Sunday.  What a gift to have them here!

If you have a party, you have to have cake!

Phoebe and I posed with some of the choir members.  They were such fun and really had a great time!

And finally, on Saturday, I was so happy that Judy Clark from 20 North Ora came through town on a cruise ship with her family.  We met for just a few minutes at a downtown coffee shop and then I walked her down to the dock to re-board her ship.  Even though we only visited for a few short minutes, I really enjoyed meeting her!

Judy and me!

Saturday night, Miguel came home with three Dungeness crab from the grocery store.  Super Bear has a big tank and they sell live crab.  They were still pretty frisky, and Miguel put one down on the floor to see how the dogs would react.  Frida backed away and didn't even bark.

We put them in the sink and they crawled around until we cruelly cooked them in boiling water.  I don't mind cooking them, but cleaning them gives me the whim-whams!

And finally, we had an amazing downpour on Monday - and then, while it was still raining, the sun came out.  The sky was black to the south of us, but the sun was shining from the north.  We had a double rainbow over Douglas. 

I took this picture of our yard.  It looks like it's glowing.  It was still pouring rain, but you can't see it.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I Don't Know What To Think

Normally, I would be posting the beautiful pictures I took of the Douglas Fourth of July Parade, or the photos I took of the lovely flowers around the Cathedral, or the pictures I took of the Gospel Choir concert last night.

But I am distracted right now.

Today is the feast of Maria Goretti.  She was a little eleven year old girl in Italy who died in 1902.  The way she died was hideous.  The son of her father's business partner  attempted to rape her and threatened her with death if she disclosed his attack.  Finally, one day, he found her alone in the house and armed with a dagger, bound her, gagged her and attempted to rape her.  She resisted and he stabbed her.  She was rushed to the hospital, and despite the efforts of the doctors, she died of her wounds.

Before she died, she forgave her murderer, who was imprisoned.  He was unrepentant and defiant, but over the years, some say through the intercession of his victim in Heaven, repented of his sin.

There are many sugar coated versions of this story.  Some accounts tell of her "purity" and her concern for her attacker's soul if he committed the sin of rape.  Some accounts, such as the one I read this morning, assure us that even if she had "consented" to the rape, her "purity" would have remained intact.  I couldn't believe what I was reading.  It made me want to vomit.

I am also a victim of child sexual assault.  I was molested as an eleven year old by a trusted friend of our family.  At no point was I given an opportunity to consent or not.  There is no such thing as "consent" when a child is sexually molested.  I carried this secret with me until I was 29 years old.  I thought it was my fault.  I thought I had done something wrong, because I neither resisted nor warned my molester of the danger to his immortal soul.

In school, Maria Goretti was presented to us as an example.  The lesson we were supposed to learn was that it was better to resist and be killed than to lose our purity.

I taught my children that if anyone threatened them with molestation, to resist - to fight - to yell - to scream, and then to find a trusted adult to tell.  I taught my children that this "secret" is never a good secret.  It was too late for me. But I could instruct my children to protect themselves as best they could.

Children who are sexually assaulted are never in any danger of losing their "purity".  Child molesters will go to any lengths to find and victimize children.

Tell your children to fight.  Tell your children to resist.  Tell your children that it is never their fault.
St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.