Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October, am I ready?

Thanks to Jeanne Salther at www.assertivepatient.com, I have these talismans. The postcard is a mosaic she made from the pinkOctober M&M's a few years ago.

Still, I wasn't quite ready on Sunday when the nice young man at the grocery store asked me if I wanted to donate money for breast cancer research.

I said "no" quietly and politely.

I was thinking. About what I have already given (or lost). More than a third of my breast, three lymph nodes, every bit of my leave time for an entire year, about $10,000 out of pocket, the ability to sleep through the night, a significant amount of my waning cognitive functions, and an obscure sense of confidence in my body and my health.

A disease, not a marketing opportunity. Thanks Jeanne.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Snow on the mountains this morning. We walked the dogs in dark, wet weather. Then, for a few hours, it was sunny and lovely, with the gold palette of an Alaskan fall. I worked on putting the garden to bed. This is a rewarding activity. I have already planted bulbs, so that when I wake on winter mornings hours before sunrise I can lie still for a minute with my eyes closed and imagine them growing underground, under the snow.
Frost is forecast for tonight, although the annuals all looked lovely today. I've brought a few flowers inside.
My nasturtiums did not do well this year. The slugs didn't touch them (that peppery taste?) but I don't think they ever got enough sun.
Only a few yards away, my neighbor's nasturtiums were gorgeous. I will miss them if they don't survive the night.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor came to town last week and I was awfully glad to see him.

I've been listening to that voice for 30 years. Now I don't have a "bucket list" of people to see before they die or I do. All last summer I was irritated by displays of books like "1000 Places to Go Before You Die". I don't want anyone telling me what I should do with the rest of my life. What I should read or who I should see live on stage.

I was irrationally pleased last month when one of the authors of "1000 Places" fell on his head in his home and died at age 46.

But I have always wanted to see Garrison, and here he was in my own town with a one man show. First, I was just grateful for someone saying kind things about Alaska. (With all the media coverage of Sarah, you would think there is something wrong with people who shoot and eat moose.) Garrison says he loves Alaska, and reminded us of things we do all the time (like float plane trips or meeting moose on the trail) that are once in a lifetime experiences for visitors.

The he spent over an hour weaving a story of many old and a few new elements from Lake Woebegone. There were the Sons of Knute giant duck decoys, the Lutheran pastors on Wally's pontoon boat, the 53 Chevy septic tank and the homecoming parade, and Bruno the Fishing Dog. This was interwoven with tales of two characters I don't remember hearing about before and one wedding and one funeral intersecting with all those familiar elements. Hot air balloons and gigolos and bowling balls and parasailing.

Then Garrison talked a little about the nature of storytelling. He reminded us that we have our stories too. "I'd like to hear your story," he said. "Maybe someday you will sit next to me on the plane. Say Anchorage to Seattle. That should be enough time for me to hear your story."

So I've been thinking about the story I would tell him on the plane ever since. I've decided to go traditional and tell my "coming to Alaska" story. Most of us have them.

Mine is the best story of my life. I've told it often. Now, approaching my fourteenth winter here, I imagine telling it to Garrison on the 12:15 am flight to Seattle.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

John McCain doesn't look well

And he isn't always coherent.

This is very scary. I wasn't too worried about a McCain presidency. He seemed like a bright and honorable man and who could be worse than Bush?

Maybe Sarah?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the truth about Palin


But I loved the SNL segment last Saturday! Tina was born to be Sarah!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Frog"s midnight snack

Last week I took the dogs out later than usual. I had been transfixed by a disturbing and lovely movie on DVD, "American Crime".
So it was nearly midnight when we went walkies.
Now there are things I could worry about in this neighborhood at night. There are gang members, drug users and sellers, pimps, johns, prostitutes. I've met them all but always had civil encounters. Drunks are sometimes a problem, but my littlest dog Sookie can handle that.
There are often moose. Bears are a distinct possibility, but I've never run into them here in Midtown.
I am afraid of some of my neighbors.
I moved into this condo thinking about snow removal and roof repair. There are some elderly condo board members who have been here more than 30 years and long for the good old days. They regarded me, at 54, as a dangerous youngster. A dog playing frisbee on the lovely and rarely used grounds is an abomination.
My next door neighbor Mary is one of these people.
So we had a nice walk. I saw a huge earthworm on the sidewalk and thought how much FrogBob would enjoy it. (FrogBob is a wonderful animal but insists on live food.) So I scooped it up carefully in one hand (slightly yeechy) and held the leashes in the other as we headed for home.
My elderly neighbor was in her carport. I couldn't imagine what she was doing up so late and she was calling "Karen!" which isn't my name.
She asked me if I was "in the book". I tried to explain that I didn't have a landline, realized that she didn't understand, and said
She asked me for my number. I found a pen in my pocket and tried to juggle one large and angry worm and two little dogs (Sookie was threatening Mary with dismemberment) while I wrote my name and number on an envelope.
I never thought to ask her why she needed my number, Couldn't be anything good.
FrogBob did enjoy the worm.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

horrible things in the garden

Its official. We had two days of summer - when summer is defined as a day when the temperature reached or exceeded 70 degrees F.

And it has rained. And rained.

Usually the gardens can count on endless sunshine, warmth, and few bugs. Too little rain, so watering is important.

When I lived in Juneau there were slugs. Huge, colorful characters. Juneau is Pacific Northwest rainforest, complete with banana slugs and other large and alarming creatures.

Most years in Anchorage, I have seen two or three slugs a season and ignored them. They were welcome to a bit of the garden.

This year, my little walled garden is dank with mold and moss and slimy with slugs. Hundreds of them. They ate the dahlias right down to the ground - no small feat when you think how fast dahlias grow around here.

And now they are breeding. Like most invertebrate sex, this is complicated and I'm not sure I understand it. I do know they are true hermaphrodites, and I find them linked together at two orifices. I don't dare look closer. The thought of another generation next summer alarms me, so I have been hunting them (easier now that they are two by two) and dropping them in a tub of salt.

This is uncharacteristic. I like invertebrates in general. Echinoderms are my favorites in the world, of course. I remember the movie Microcosmos featured sex between two slugs or snails that moved me to tears. I have just stuck that disc in the DVD player to try to recapture my usual tolerant self.

I'm just cranky because there was no summer.