Friday, December 31, 2004

Lola and the Tree

30 degrees
Overcast, calm winds
10-18 inches soft snow on ground

I think I may celebrate New Year's Eve by taking down the tree.

Normally, I like to keep my tree up well into the new year (see previous entry) but poor Lola has been in exile in the back rooms since we put the tree up. I'd like to get her out among the general cat population again.

Besides, she has been having way too much fun in the back rooms. Cats have inhabited our storage rooms for years without wreaking the havoc that this one small black cat has done. Earlier this week she demolished a cat toy--a ball of fluff wrapped with tinsel--leaving skiffs of soft yarn everywhere. She has chewed holes in the cardboard cat scratcher I put back there.

Then she discovered my box of crochet yarn, high up on the shelves near the ceiling. It started with a few balls being unfurled down to the floor. I would re-wrap them and put them back up in the box. After a couple days of this, however, I just cut the yarn off and put the balls that had made it to the floor back on another shelf. Then, today, I went in to check on the cats and found an elaborate macrame construction that spanned two rooms and incorporated eight or nine balls of yarn.

I know that as a Gemini, she has a lot of energy and seeks intellectual stimulus, but you'd think having Pickle and the three other boys back there to play with (or torment) would be enough focus for her energies.

I had *hoped* that--being as she is now a year-and-a-half old--she would have given up on her kittenish ways. Or at least moderated them somewhat. Last year she was merciless, climbing the tree like a monkey and trashing the ornaments every night. I tried putting a second tree (our old one) upstairs with cat-resistent ornaments in an attempt to lure her away from the "good" tree downstairs, but she treated both as excellent cat toys.

Having one Christmas and a year under her belt hasn't made any difference. I set the tree up downstairs, well away from the windows to discourage her from using it as an elevator, and waited to put ornaments on it until I was sure she would leave it alone.

Such a vain hope.

For the next couple days I had to re-position the branches every morning--fluff the tree back out--from where her slight weight had bent the branches in her climbing. An indication of what I am up against: I put *one* decoration on the tree--a small foil star on the very highest spire. And for three days running, the top branch was bent over and the foil star found varying distances from the tree come morning.

So Lola went into the back rooms before I dared put anything fragile on the tree...

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Hanging On to the Season

Once the season comes and the spirit grabs me, I can't get enough of Christmas. I don't undertand why, after weeks or even months of hype and preparations, people are so eager to be done with the holiday season (which to me is a season, not just a day.) Winter can be long and cold and frequently cheerless, especially at these latitudes. January and February stretch out toward a distant spring--why not embrace the lights and feasting for more than just a day or two?

I need to drop Vincent a note. That's the on thing on my "To-Do" list I didn't get to before the holidays. So it will be more of a New Year's greeting rather than holiday wishes. He's probably not checking his email much anyway while he's on break. He's had such a crummy year, it's hard to know what to say, except that I wish him all the best in the coming year.

But he knows that...

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve

10-12 inches of snow on the ground, two or three new
breezy winds and clearing skies
the temperature is in the teens

It is quiet tonight at our little airport out here on the edges of the continent. I can almost feel the hush stretching back behind me, ahead into the night where midnight is rolling across the eastern seaboard. It will be four hours before it arrives here.

Time is suspended these last few days as the earth pauses in its cosmic dance, caught at the farthest point of its arc before slowing tilting back sunward, back toward the light and warmth. Tonight that warmth seems but a faint memory, like a recollection of childhood. Cold air is pouring down from the pole, howling across the plains and worn hills of Siberia, streaming through the gaps in the bright chain of the Aleutian Islands that bars the Bering Sea.

It is beautiful on the satellite loop: from space the force of Nature takes on a stateliness that belies the power and brutality of the arctic air mass. It is thirty below in Fairbanks right now. At Nome, it is only ten degrees below zero but the winds are gusting to 25 knots and the town is swathed in blowing snow. Here on our protected peninsula, next to the open water, it is eleven degrees and falling.

I mutter a prayer for all the creatures who are in the wild tonight, that they have snug dens to hunker down in, waiting for a more forgiving season.


Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
"Now they are all on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
"Come; see the oxen kneel,

"In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

--The Oxen
Thomas Hardy


That poem brings to mind a certain moment from a holiday season when I was in college. At the annual presentation by the music department, the baritone of my heart's desire sang a version of that poem, looking so perfect and sounding so pure, standing alone in the spotlight in the dark maroon velvet of his choir robe. I longed for him for several years, pretty much from the moment early in my sophmore year when I first saw him perform in the special quartet he was a part of. That Yuletide season when I was a junior, I thought I was getting closer to him, thought there were possibilities. He was supposed to come by my dorm room later than evening for some wine but we got our communications mixed up...

Ah, but it is just as well nothing ever came of it for undoubtedly it would have ended badly. He was never meant for me. Neither of us would have been happy.

Still, that moment in the darkened auditorium with him shining from the stage remains a fond holiday memory.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Sometimes in Winter...

Finally time to pause and take a deep breath or two or--hell--even enjoy the holidays.

I finally gave up hope that my stamps-on-line order would arrive in time to mail out my holiday cards and went to the PO and bought some stamps so I could get those suckers in the mail Tuesday. (Of course, I *knew* this meant my stamps would arrive the very next day but f*ck it--I needed to mail the cards Tuesday and now I am older/wiser about the whole stamps-on-line thing. What WAS I thinking?) So, I'll have an abundance of holiday stamps and be paying my bills with them well into next year. Serves me right.

It was snowing when I came out of the Post Office. It had been overcast all day and the clouds had a dark gray cast that promised precipitation, but still, it was an unexpected beauty.

It was 45 degrees and wet yesterday. It has been very, very windy since Tuesday night--they had gusts over 100 kts on the Anchorage hillside Tuesday night and I am sure the wind hit fifty several times last night at our place. Even down at the airport it has been steady between twenty and thirty knots most of the day. Temperatures have dropped steadily since last night (our high temperature reading for today was right after midnight at 46 degrees) and now it is twenty at 8 pm. There is a fine, dry snow, like spindrift, in the fierce northerly wind but it won't amount to much. After yesterday, the deck was bare of snow and what was on the ground was compacted by warmth and rain to about eight-to-ten inches.

In the colder air this morning, dozens of little finches were feasting on the seed I threw out for them over the past few days. I miss the pine grosbeaks. It's been several years since there were any around here. I suppose the loss of our forest has altered their wintering places but their bell-like calls were always so cheering to hear.

I have been relaxing tonight. I need to catch up on my journaling but after rushing around the last week or so getting gifts wrapped and distributed and cards addressed and mailed, as well as doing all the things Denny wanted to accomplish--I just needed some kick-back time. Once again I haven't had the time to do the baking like I had wanted to do but we have plenty of cookies and goodies and a pumpkin pie. We aren't going to suffer through the darkest days of winter.

It feels decadent, after reading of the privations of the early arctic explorers, to be so flush with calories and variety of food. You rarely stop to think what a luxury an orange or tomato is in wintertime.

Tomorrow is the hundredth anniversary of my Grandma's birth--December 24th, 1904. Born on a Christmas Eve at the start of the twentieth century--what a time she lived to see!

I still think or her every day. I miss her. It is a sad, weary missing--not a sharp grief. I know that it is the way of things, that I had a generous amount of time with her. Destiny placed us too far apart in time for us to have all the time together that we wanted. Through me, through my memories of her, she will live into this century. For a while.

Sometimes in Winter
forgotten memories
remember you behind the trees
with leaves that cried

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Solstice

10 inches of snow on the ground

It's snowing this morning--makes our outside lighted trees look so peaceful and lovely.

I worked the early shift yesterday morning, so got to watch the sunrise. About ten-thirty, it back-lit the mountains across the bay, casting long shadows against the blowing snow that veiled the peaks. Then the smallest sliver of brilliance crept out from behind the largest mountain, growing larger even as I watched, until the whole world was alight

Monday, December 20, 2004

Clear and cold (15 degrees) this morning. At least the wind has died down finally. It is supposed to get warmer and windier again in the next few days.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Snow

8-10 inches of snow on the ground?
4-5 inches new
30 degrees

It began snowing about two am.

As warm as it had been yesterday, I was surprised to find two-three inches of snow on the truck when I went outside this morning. When I hit the Sterling Highway, I put the Suburban into four-wheel drive and kept it there all the way to work.

By the time I got to town, I was having flashbacks to last year, when we got hammered with snow in the days just before Christmas. The visibility was less than a mile in heavy snow and the only traffic I passed was a police car heading out of town and several plow truck working parking lots along my route.

Contrary to the usual pattern, the snow was heavier at sea level: when I turned onto Kachemak Drive, I was surprised to see six to eight inches of snow on the unplowed roadway. That the road was unplowed was significant, as the State boys usually will make a pass on the road when they get to work, but I could see, as I got to the station, that they had their hands full just trying to keep the runway open.

As I write this, two hours later, huge flakes of snow are still falling with no sign of lessening. Visibilities have been at one-half mile since I opened the station and the State crews have been working on the runway and ramp non-stop, trying to keep ahead of the snowfall. Snow is a foot high on the railings of the building. The road crews have apparently made one pass down Kachemak Drive--it looks like it has been plowed but less than two lanes wide.

I have the handbooks out, reviewing the loss-of-commercial-power procedures. Or I would be, if there were any written down.

The huge green area of heavy snow on the radar loop has been slowing drifting westward along its northern portion over Kenai and Anchorage but it appears to be flexing right at Homer and the low is forecast to be moving to sit on top of us during the morning. The mountains to the south block the radar's view of what may be coming. The forecaster, in a burst of dogged optimism, says right now we should be at thirty-five hundred overcast and seven miles visibility. But it is still very dark outside--I can't see the lights of town and those on the field seem to be fading as the snow thickens.

It's a good thing I like snow.

And I'm glad I drove the Suburban this morning....

Saturday, December 11, 2004

6 inches of snow on the ground, 1 inch new
28 degrees

Only two weeks until Christmas and I am struggling to get into the holiday mood.

Part of the problem is that one is expected to get into the holiday spirit almost immediately following Halloween. Me, I usually don't get into the mood until Christmas Eve. But I like to celebrate the season well into the new year, whilst it seems my neighbors are packing away the festoons and lights on December 26th.

So I am out of sync with the world--what's new about that?

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

No "Criminal Intent" again this weekend. Given Channel 2's propensity for dropping off the air every time it snows, it's probably a good thing or else I would be frantic about missing my D'Onofrio fix.

I sort of dread CI's return, though. I know there is a certain type of fan who will be scrutinizing Vincent's every nuance in the weeks to come, trying to see signs of stress/fatigue/whatever. And I know how much he detests the type of scrutiny that takes the viewers' eyes off his character and focuses it on him. He never got into the business to be a celebrity but to be an actor. Yet some of his "fans" have to dig, dig, dig into his private side, driven by the most destructive type of love, I guess.

I hope his vacation will give him some peace and restoration.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

6 inches of snow on the ground
28 degrees

It began snowing Monday morning and continued off and on until Tuesday afternoon. Denny and I went out on the back deck and loaded the wood bin: he got down in the wood pile and tossed wood up into the wheelbarrow. I would dump the wood out by the bin and stack it. It only took us about half-an-hour or so.

Frannie sat in the dining room window, watching the big snowflakes fall with the focused fascination of the deaf.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

3 inches of snow on the ground
30 degrees

So of course after the wind blows the tarps and plywood off the top of our wood pile, we get three inches of snow.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sixty Days of Night

Today is the last sunrise in Barrow until January 23, 2005.

Down at this end of Alaska, daylight is present but shrinking. The sun was up for seven hours and twenty-eight minutes today. We are losing four minutes and some odd seconds of daylight each day.

*****

I have been working myself pretty hard these past few days--carrying both Denny in his post-op status and Johnny in his final decline. Denny has been a good patient--I am the one who is always asking if he is comfortable, if he needs water or more ice for his knee. I get up earlier than I like in order to make and fetch coffee for him. Then, when I wake up myself, I will bring Johnny upstairs to sit with us on the bed while we watch our morning programs. That's when I give him his fluids.

I am burned out on death, yet I can't give up on Johnny, though I know at this point it is just a matter of waiting and keeping him comfortable. So many sweet and funny memories revolve around this worn-out tabby cat. From his very first day with us, he wasn't what I thought I wanted--but in so many ways, he turned out to be just what I needed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Waiting

Up in the dark under gently falling snow to drive the eighty miles to the hospital in Soldotna. The highway was one long corridor of night with only occasional glimpses of homes or buildings to the side.

The hours of darkness seem timeless in this season. I have spent so much of my life at these latitudes that darkness doesn't bother me. There is something comforting, sheltering in the long darkness, like being in the womb. I am so accustomed to doing daytime activities without the sun that I don't even think about it. It is like living on a space station, or the moon.

It is with a pang of sadness that I realized that Johnny will never see the sun again. Our comfort-loving kitty-boy went blind at the end of summer and now his final decline has begun. he is locked in a darkness that leads irrevocably to the last endless night.

He has been much in my thoughts of course. There is no question that I love him. He gives so much love back, who could help but love him? But my sadness for his loss has less of the visceral tug that Newt's death caused me. There is part of me that feels it only proper that he and Newt should soon be together--they were such devoted companions in life.

But fond memories of our sweet-natured boy are already flooding my thoughts in advance of his death, a sort of pre-mourning. I know his end will be a release for him. I know he is worn out. He has been such a steady presence in our house for all these years that I haven't yet grasped the emptiness his loss will bring.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Thursday, November 11, 2004

And Back Into Autumn...

40 degrees
No snow on the ground

So, two days of rain and we are back into the waning days of autumn. Bare, dead grass and soggy ground.

I took advantage of the break in the weather to put another half-bale of hay in the cat run and run an electric cord out to the Christmas trees, just to test and see how many lights still work. I plugged it in briefly after dark and it looked encouraging--lots of lights. I'll do a more detailed check later but at least I know that the basic connections are intact.

Johnny keeps doing better. He is eating a bit now and usually not in his bed during the day. We bring him upstairs so he can sit with us in the mornings and evenings--it's sort of nice to re-connect with him now, at the end of his life. He doesn't want to stand still for the fluids, so I haven't been able to give him much--but we brought one of the fountains in from the shop for him and he is drinking more on his own.

Dare I hope he hangs in for a couple more months?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

It Kinda Looks Like Christmas...

5 inches of snow on the ground (3 1/2 inches new)
28 degrees

Almost overnight we have been catapulted from late autumn into winter. The town wears winter like a cozy coat and holiday lights are suddenly in evidence.

*~*~*~*~*~*

I thought this was a gripping episode, hearkening back to Seasons One and Two. Although what the mother did *was* horrible, I did like how the question of responsibility was raised. Ignoring (or discounting) the mother's post-partum depression may not have been criminally negligent, but there is no doubt how the detectives (and writers) felt about the issue. I thought the episode treated a highly emotional case with compassion and intelligence.

I also felt that there was less emphasis on Bobby's sometimes off-the-wall deductions and more concrete, plausible detective work in this one. I wasn't left asking myself, "How did he come up with that?"--which gets frustrating after a while. It's nice to be able to follow along and see where Bobby is coming from.

The subtle personal touches were nice, too. Eames--the new mother--was insightful and passionate. And I had to wonder how close the scenario of being left home alone with a psychologically-troubled mother hit Bobby. He showed insight and sensitivity in dealing with the surviving son. Adam's predicament surely seemed to draw some empathy from him. I was reminded of several of the first season's episodes where Bobby first revealed his gentle touch with children--though it also seemed as though Bobby was a bit more--I dunno--"shut in" in this episode--as if the stresses of the last three years have subtly changed him. He just seemed a bit more open and innocent in his interactions with children in the first season.

And even though her crime was horrible, he handled the mother with gentleness. His anger was saved for the father. (It's good to see the old fire and passion in the interrogation room again.)

Although the person Bobby and Alex considered truly guilty of the crime went free, I was also glad to see that the son had a chance of escaping his father's social engineering. Sometimes the guilty aren't punished--and it lends credence to the show when this happens--but the hope of a better future for the son was emotionally satisfying for the viewer.

Friday, November 05, 2004

2 inches of snow on the ground
9 degrees

Winter has come in this week, beginning with last Sunday evening's snowfall.

It was light and had almost vanished by the time a second storm blew through the area on Wednesday and left us with about two inches of snow and temperatures well below freezing.

*~*~*~*~*

We got some fluids for Johnny yesterday and I gave him some last night and again this morning. They seem to have helped him a bit--he asked to come out of the cage today and wandered myopically around downstairs while I cleaned his cage and set out fresh water and food for him. The fluids won't avert the inevitable but if he has just hit a rough patch, they will buoy him through it--and if he is on his final decline, they will float him for a while until he gives out.

What is important to us is that he looks and seems to feel better.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Johnny

I had to finally admit to myself yesterday that Johnny is dying. It is a hard realization to face.

His appetite has dropped markedly off in the past day or two, no matter how I coax him and I suspect he isn't drinking much water, either, as his output is down as well. He is alert and affectionate--last night I took him upstairs and he laid on the bed with us for a while before I took him back down to the cage and tried to interest him in some food. I put a freshly-washed Kitty Cup bed in the cage for him and he settled into it but had no interest in food.

Tonight I will try to get a little food and water down him but it has been my experience that once they loose interest in eating, they are ready to die. It's as if his body knows there isn't any point in prolonging things.

I know on one level that he has had a long life and that his time is nearly over, but I am still bummed out about it. He has been a part of our household since our earliest days of living here--like Newt was. It hasn't been quite a year since Newt left us. Johnny will be with her soon.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Update

I guess that could be the title of nearly every entry here, couldn't it?

Despite the dire forecast, the weather was fairly decent for my days off, though the winds were howling about thirty knots today. That's okay--it keeps the casual pilots on the ground and lower our stress-level at work.

Anyway--I actually got a few things done around the house Tuesday. I cut down the dead tree on our "Christmas tree" hill out back and took the lights off of it. (Now to get the lights checked out on the remaining trees before it gets colder and their needles get so painfully sharp!)

Then I marked the graves in our cat cemetary out back. I had bought some wooden stakes last spring and put several coats of white paint on them this summer. I was waiting for the frost to knock down some of the tall grasses to make it easier to find the graves. Most of them are marked with stones or wooden planks and surveyor's tape, but I wanted something easy to see and consistent, so I am going with the wooden stakes and writing names with permanent marker. Eventually, I would like to make small mounds with white-washed stones but the wooden markers will work for a few years. I wanted to get them in the ground before it started freezing.

It was rather sad and thoughtful work. The fresher graves still cause a sharp pang, a sense of loss...Newt, Lucy, even Rosie. I wish I could have done more for them. I have the sense that they should still be here. I *want* them to still be here, I guess that's it.

With the older graves, there was a bittersweet feeling, that I am glad I had these cats in my life. Whiskers, the grand dame; Hannah, the foster cat; Sparky, who died too young, and the whole string of Tobys--Toby II, the foster cat who came back here to die where he had known love; Little Tobie, the sick kitten we fought to save back in 1998; and the original Toby who by his grace and character has given all our gray-and-white cats his name in memory.

Farthest back, in the little thicket where she liked to sleep, is Kisa, whose loss I will always feel and whose gentle warmth I will always miss. A houseful of cats can soothe but not fill the void. I will forever miss my Darling Companion and there is still a piece of my heart lying in that cold earth.

Time and memories drifted and merged in the cool air under the chill sky, but in the end, when I returned to the house, I felt at peace.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Wednesday was volunteer day. Another four hours at the Shelter, cleaning, feeding, combing and loving. A mystery virus has been haunting the kittens--we have lost several and it has the vet baffled. The remaining little ones seemed healthy enough. Two little black ones would not stay out of my lap as I combed Toby John, wiggling in between us and purring up a storm.

I was tired by the time I got back home, so I stripped off my clothes and threw them in the washer then went upstairs and jumped in the shower, letting the warm water beat on me. After I had my hair washed, I let the tub fill with water and enjoyed a long soak.

Today, I joined an on-line club for owners of deaf cats. Maybe I can get some ideas to help with Frannie.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Great Barrier

Two mornings in a row of below-freezing temperatures are motivating me toward getting ready for winter. I was hoping that the clear weather would last until tomorrow, as there is a lot I need to do outdoors, but we are forecast to get rain--and possibly snow--late this evening.

*~*~*~*~*

"Criminal Intent" was pretty good last night. As much as I have come to loathe that character of Nichole--and D'Arbo's moist-lipped, googled-eyed portrayal of her--I was forced to concede that the story and the interaction of the characters had my attention. There was also a bit of grim satisfaction in seeing Nichole on the slab in the morgue and being able to cast my vote that she stay there.

Not that there's a ghost of a chance Dick Wolfe and the PTB will *actually* do away with the character. This particular story arc is the closest thing the writers have got to giving the fans some understated sexual angst for Bobby. There seems to be a large portion of the fan base that wants to see Goren in some sort of sexual situation and the tension between Bobby and Nichole gets them all ramped up on speculation. Vincent has been pretty adamant against letting his character reveal too much of his private life or get involved in "soapy" storyline, but this particular facet of the series seems to be devolving into pure soap, IMO. I don't find D'Arbo particularly convincing as a criminal mastermind--she doesn't make me believe she is another Moriarity. I was hoping that they would just drop juicy little Nichole as a character. I really don't want Bobby Goren to turn into just another man whose intellect is overruled by his gonads. That's not dramatic. It's not even tragic. It's pathetic. And I don't want Bobby to be pathetic.

Whatever happens, it should be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Frozen

Hard frost under clear skies last night. The deck was covered with thick frost this morning, and when I ran out to jump in the car, I realized that I don't have an ice scraper in the Crown Victoria.

Now, you would think that ice scrapers would be one thing Alaskans are well-equipped with. I *know* we must have a dozen or so. But could I find one this morning? No.

Maybe it is the dichotomy of our climate. Winters are long but by the end of May, ice scrapers are lying on the floor boards or are kicked under the seats--completely superfluous until just such a morning as this. By June, frost removal is the last thing on my mind.

I started the car then ran around the yard, opening various vehicles and searching the dashes, floors and behind the seats for any sort of ice removal implement.

I know where there *is* an ice scrapper--maybe two. In the Chevy S10. The one Denny drove to Anchorage.

At least the ground was frozen hard enough so I didn't get my feet muddy during my search. When I started my second round of the closest vehicles, I found a scraper under a pile of Denny's found treasures in the Dodge pickup.

I stopped on the way home from work and bought three ice scrapers.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Hair

I cut off two or three inches of my hair last week--the ends were getting so brittle and split and old that I had to do something. My hair is still several inches below my shoulders, but looks a lot better without the scraggly ends and seems a bit bouncier without those few extra inches of dead weight pulling it down. I cut a few layers going from front to back--nothing too dramatic but something I can work on over time to soften the shape of my hairdo, such as it is. I can't very well wear it long and plain forever.

I pretty much have always worked on my hair myself. The few times I have gone to someone else, they always cut it too short and styled it in whatever is the standard 'do of the moment and I end up not looking like myself and not feeling comfortable.

Monday, October 04, 2004

October

It is hard to believe it is October already!

I got up about one this morning to see Denny off to Anchorage to catch his flight to OKC. We had gone to bed early but he had trouble going to sleep, so if he got more than three hours of sleep, I would be surprised. He has a long day of travel ahead of him, so I hope he can get some sleep on his flights.

He has been home nearly three weeks. It seems we just get into a pattern for living together and he has to go somewhere, either Cold Bay or Oklahoma or Florida. I suppose it keeps our relationship from getting stale and it certainly keeps us from taking each other for granted.

Friday, October 01, 2004

The wind has swapped around 180-degrees from yesterday, when it was blowing out of the southwest. The sky cleared off overnight and this morning a fairly stiff breeze was coming out of the northeast.

I went outside this morning to pick some grass for the cats in the shop and ended up slicing my fingers pretty good with the sharp edges. I had a handful of blood by the time I got to the downstairs bathroom to rinse under cold water. Wrapping a couple of paper towels around my hand, I went upstairs to get bandages and antiseptic ointment. Then I had to keep pressure on my finger for a few minutes until the bleeding slowed enough so we could bandage it. Since Denny did the bandaging, I have a couple of impressive wrappings around my thumb and one finger. My pinky has a slash on it as well but it was smaller and will heal without any care. actually, my hands are looking pretty rough, since I have a couple bandages on my left hand as well--one of the kittens at the Shelter was startled Wednesday and kicked off against my hand, leaving a long scratch down the side of my index finger. It started hurting so I have been diligent about putting antiseptic on it and keeping it covered.

Mt. St. Helens erupted this morning--just a little steam and ash but pretty exciting for the folks in Washington, I guess. We were watching a live camera shot of the mountain, as I said, "Cool!"--being something of a geology nerd.

"No, it's not!" said Denny, who has to fly to Oklahoma on Monday. (He later had to admit that, yes--it really was cool...even if it did lead to flight delays.)

Speaking of which, I sort of lost my cool today with my Mom and sister-in-law. Via email, of course. I am on their list to get forwarded everything they feel is of critical importance, and not unexpectedly, I am 180-degrees different from them in matters of religion and politics. Maybe it was their blind assumption that of course, being a reasonable person, I would agree with them on the need to ban gay marriage and preserve references to Christianity in governmental affairs and share their view that John Kerry is obviously unfit to serve as president. (Hello? George Bush was qualified?) Anyway, I finally shot back that the last Republican I voted for was Gerald Ford, so no doubt they will be shaking their heads and clicking their tongues over what a fuzzy-thinking liberal Laura is....

I don't mind them having their own opinions of things, but I do feel that 1)by the time a person reaches my age, they aren't going to have their basic spiritual or political beliefs change by an email and 2) religion and politics really are too personal to make good topics for polite conversation, just like my Grandma always told me.

Why do people feel the need to force-feed their opinions and views onto others? Denny pointed out that there is always the "delete" key, but on the other hand, I didn't want to appear to condone by silence the continued attacks on non-Christians and political compassion. So I put my foot in it and we'll see what comes of it.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Star-Gazing

"At night the stars put on a show for free..."
--Up On The Roof, The Drifters


There was thin ice on the puddles in the driveway this morning and a billion stars across the sky. The moon was sinking in the west, already beginning to wan from fullness, as I arrived at work. The brilliant spark of fire--Venus--presides over the pre-dawn sky.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Flyboy

The same prevailing weather pattern that gave us such a warm, dry summer is still in place and may promise an early winter. It is snowing in Anchorage today and at the thousand-foot level here as well. Even at our house, the cold rain was hitting with bits of ice imbedded in the drops.

***

I came across this article while doing a search on Alaskan news....

Flyboy

Friday, September 24, 2004

Good-Bye To The Islander

Some time during the past few days--or the last time I saw the mountains--there has been fresh snow on the highest peaks toward the head of the Bay. After our unnaturally-long summer, this seems precipitous, though I know winter is just teasing us at this stage.

***

When I came into work yesterday, MH was on the phone to Kenai, passing them information for an accident package. Homer Air's Islander had crashed on the beach at Hallo Bay while on a round-robin flight from Homer. Luckily. no one was killed but it sounded like they got pretty roughed up. We probably won't see N6522T again.

Plane crashes on Alaska beach; all seven passengers survive
- Friday, September 24, 2004
(09-24) 08:33 PDT ANCHORAGE (AP) --

An airplane with seven people aboard crashed on a beach soon after takeoff, but all but one of the passengers walked away from the wreckage, officials said.

One woman was knocked unconscious, and a man broke his arm in the crash Thursday, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Raymer. The other occupants had bumps and bruises and mild cases of hypothermia.

The plane crashed on the beach at Hallo Bay, about 75 miles northwest of Kodiak, and was found partially submerged in the water, Raymer said. A man who had loaded cargo onto the plane, registered to Homer Air Service, saw the crash and radioed a distress message.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

Andy Smircich, manager of Homer Air Service, declined to release the names of the passengers or say where the plane was headed.

"Everbody's OK and that's what we're focused on at this time," he said.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Breezes

I felt well enough--after much coffee and Thera-Flu--to make a run into town this afternoon to pick up some groceries and check the mail. The sense of autumn has grown stronger since I last was out in the world.

Under scattered clouds, the steel-blue sea crinkled like foil in the face of the brisk southwesterly breeze. The windward side of the Spit was white with froth and the sunken shoals off-shore revealed their presence by the breaking swells. The brisk air held just a hint of the chill that is promised.

Today it really feels like Fall.

The hills behind town are a mix of dark spruce green and the yellow-orange of the alders, climbing up to the meadows that mark the ridgeline. From a distance, the fields of fireweed are dark red. They have all gone to cotton--the tops tinseled with the burst seed pods, the last clusters of cotton clinging to them like the memory of the state fair. The leaves have been burnt red from the frost. Even in death, the plant is beautiful.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Autumn Chills

I've spent most of the past few days in bed, when I could. What started out as an annoyingly drippy nose on Monday became a full-fledged head-cold by Tuesday. I have only stirred from bed for the necessary tasks--cat care and feeding and taking Denny to the orthopedic clinic for his knee.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Remembrances

Today is my favorite cousin's birthday but three years ago it took on another, very unfestive meaning.

For what it's worth, Happy Birthday, Kathy. I will never forget that some very good things have happened on September 11th, despite whatever else may have followed. It is through our relationship over our lifetimes that I have some idea what it must mean to have a sister.

~*~*~*~*~*

I recalled my personal experience of 9/11/01 in last year's blog entry. It still gives me a bit of a chill when I realize that I must have woke from my sleep just as the first aircraft was hitting the North Tower.

The rest of that day--that whole week--was unreal, viewed through a veil of physical and spiritual pain. Even here, a continent away, we felt the blow personally and staggered under it.

We have survived and passed through our grief into a new world, a darker, less secure world. I was just thinking, as I climbed the steps to work yesterday and fumbled for my key, that it has been three years since I didn't need my key to come on watch, three years that our building has been locked down. Like most anniversaries of the sort, it seems both longer and shorter than the actual time. The events on those days are so strongly etched in our memories that they still seem fresh, yet the world has changed so much it is hard to clearly recall the time before airport screeners and closed-circuit cameras.

Now the paranoia seems almost natural.

But behind the new normalcy are the spectres of smoking holes in the earth and losses that are felt fresh with every anniversary.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Starshine

I was greeted by stars as I went out of the house to go to work this morning--the Big Dipper hanging low in the North and Venus brilliant to the East between Gemini and Cancer.

It has been three weeks since I opened the station. Our days have shortened by an hour and fifty minutes in that span and the sun is rising nearly fifty minutes later now than it was in mid-August.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Old Typhoon

We had an old typhoon move through the area yesterday and our weather has turned more autumnal in the wake of the storm--clearing skies and gusty winds for us today.

At least it has cleaned the smoke from the skies and--one hopes--put a damper on the remaining fires in the State.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Smoke

With six million acres up in flames this summer, the smoke has finally drifted down to our corner of Alaska. The Glacier Creek fire near Tustumena Lake is only thirty-five miles away and so is contributing to the haze. Frequently over the past few days the visibility in Homer has gone below three miles and the smell of wildfire is strong in our nostrils.

Friday, August 27, 2004

I'm *still* dealing with the root canal from hell after three visits to dentists, including a trip to Soldotna and a trip to Anchorage. I have to go back to Soldotna next week for the final filling. I can hardly describe how excruciating it has been. Not just physical pain but enduring the whole stmosphere of the dentist's office has been an ordeal which I shall rant about elsewhere.

There is a lot of anger in me from this experience. My jaw is sore when I pat it to apply face cream. He surprised me Monday by coming into the exam area and practically jumping on me with the novacaine--no warning, just the needle. He seemed to take an extraordinary long time in placing the injections while I tried my best not to register the pain. It was as if he was deliberately trying to cause as much pain as possible--I have never had more painful dental injections but damned if I would let the sadistic bastard know how much he was hurting me.

Not as if he asked...

The most discomfort, however, was that during both dental appointments, I was subjected to what is apparently the radio station of choice for that practice--an extreme right-wing talk radio station. It wasn't just that my poor little liberal ears were offended (and with a dental dam in, there wasn't much I could say by way of witty retorts, anyway...) It is actually rather humorous in a way to hear that radio station tout itself as "smart" and "intelligent radio" and yet revel in such distorted content and faulty logic. One of the more amusing things was listening to Rush Limbaugh tell his listeners what it was that feminists wanted. (Apparently, we want to destroy the family as a unit. I must have missed that meeting.... And here I always thought the goal of feminism was to gain and ensure women the same basic human rights extended to men, silly me.)

God, there is so much fear and hatred on the right. All the more ironic as they like to visualize themselves as the only decent, Christian, right-thinking people in the country. But underneath all the lofty rhetoric is hate and fear.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The sun was a brilliant orange-red ball as it slipped behind the bluff last night. By the time I left work, visibility had fallen to five or six miles and the smell of smoke was strong. We switched the fan in our bedroom window from blowing cool air into the house to exhausting the warmer air to the outside to keep the smell of smoke out.

By this morning, the weather had changed--breezy with spats of rain that cleaned and cooled the air. Maybe our late-summer weather pattern is finally here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

August In Anchorage

The drive to and from Anchorage with Dennis was nice. I wish I had brought my camera--the day was so clear and the beauty of late summer is lying on the alpine tundra through Turnagain Pass.

The city of Anchorage itself was a hell-hole, pavements baking under the relentless sun and thongs of people milling aimlessly about. Doesn't anyone in that town have to work? At least an annual taste of Anchorage serves to reinforce my devotion to my rural lifestyle. Happiness is Anchorage in the rearview mirror.

I wore the lilac tank top with the lilac-print-on-black blouse that I bought last year for my New York trip. It seemed pricy at the time, especially for someone whose life is usually so rustic, but I have gotten a lot of mileage out of the set.

****

Cissy is looking better today, after one day on prednisone. It is a relief to see her responding but I will feel even better if she doesn't relapse when we wean her off the drug. The swelling and redness have lessened on her face and ears and the puffiness around her eyes has disappeared. She must feel so much better too, despite being temporarily confined to the big cage downstairs.

***

Today started out clear and sunny but over the last several hours smoke has encircled us and now the sun is an orange ball in the west and the visibility has dropped to five or six miles. The mountains across the bay--in sharp relief not too long ago--are now shrouded shadows. There is a strong smell of wildfire smoke in the air.

Of course, this is nothing compared to what Fairbanks and the other towns in the Interior have endured this summer. Over five million acres have burned in what is now the worst fire season on record. Over a hundred fires are still burning statewide--one of the major ones just thirty miles north of us on Tustumena Lake.

And the five million acres that has burnt put a lot of smoke into the air.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Dana

When I got to work this afternoon, I noticed the date. Today is the birthday of one of my closest friends in high school. It has been years since I have heard from her, but I still think of her with warmth and gratitude. Her friendship helped me through some very rough times and I am occasionally saddened by the way our lives have drifted so far apart.

Nothing stays the same, of course. I am glad to have the happy memories of the good times we shared in those innocent days.

Happy Birthday, Dana. Hope life has been good to you.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Fallow

I just don't have any impulse for writing right now. I have emails to answer and journal entries to make or update and my mind is certainly active but the urge to write has gone fallow in me.

I'm not too concerned. My creativity--such as it is--runs in cycles. I am absorbing words, images and experiences now and they will come to fruit later.

***

Two spears of fireweed by the back door are already showing the cottony mass of their seeds. Signs point to an early winter though we are in the midst of a record-breaking string of warm days.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Favorite Books

Nonfiction

Secrets of the Cat - Barbara Holland (in my opinion, the best cat book ever)
Generations - William Strass & Neil Lowe
The Nine Nations of North America - Joel Garreau
The Unexpected Universe / The Star Thrower - Loren Eiseley
The Chalice and The Blade - Riane Eisler
When God Was A Woman - Merlin Stone
The Transformation - George Leonard
Complete Medicinal Herbal - Penelope Ody (because everyone should have a good herbal...)
Sun Signs - Linda Goodman (yes, I *am* an aging Boomer)
A Walk In The Woods / The Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson
The White Goddess - Robert Graves
Carrying The Fire - Michael Collins
Thinking In Pictures - Temple Grandin
One Who Walked Alone - Novalyne Price Ellis
The Story of Language - Mario Pei
Teaching A Stone To Talk / Pilgrim At Tinker Creek - Anne Dillard

Fiction

Always Coming Home / The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. LeGuin
The Vorkosigan series (particularly Memory and Borders of Infinity) - Lois McMaster Bujold
The Gate To Women's Country - Sheri S. Tepper
The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R Tolkien
Dune - Frank Herbert
The House on the Borderland - William Hope Hodgson
Interview With The Vampire - Anne Rice
The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Sandman series, esp. "The High Cost of Living" - Neil Gaiman
Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey
Watchmen - Alan Moore

And purely for entertainment....

The mysteries of Dana Stabenow
The Count Saint-Germain books by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Friday, August 13, 2004

Summer Evening

Another hot, sunny day.

***

Denny called after I got to work to ask if I had heard anything from the family in Florida. I asked why I should have, not realizing that Hurricane Charley had come on shore near Ft. Myers/Marcos Island. Last I had heard, it had been messing with Key West... Denny hadn't been able to get through--phone service was out--so I pulled up the last three hours' weather from FMY and RSW. The highest wind gusts they had reported were between 64 and 67 knots--nothing too scary--we get those several times a winter here and hurricane-force winds are practically commonplace at Cold Bay--so perhaps it isn't as bad as expected.

***

I drove out to the harbor after work. The sun was below the bluff--just the peaks across the bay were still in daylight. Night was encroaching at the shore and mountain bases and all was softened by the faint haze of summer. It was so beautiful it made me want to cry.

The temporary Shelter is slowly coming together. I wish I could help out more with the building and sorting but most days it's all I can do to take care of my own cats and show up to work on time. Sherry hadn't done eggs yet this week but I hung out for about a half hour chatting with her and Tony until I knew I had to get home and feed cats.

***

So I got home in the deep twilight, expecting Skinny to be waiting for her supper but no sign of her. I opened the door and put music on, even went out on the deck to call for her but no sign of her. I put out a dish of food and checked several times before I went to sleep, straining my eyes to make her out in the darkness, but her food remained untouched.

It is Friday the Thirteenth. I hope someone hadn't decided to celebrate the occasion by shooting our happy little black cat. I know I should keep her in but she hasn't made the transition from stray to housecat yet--and I don't expect her to do so until it gets cold and rainy. The days are so lovely, I hate to shut her inside when she isn't used to it.

I hope that hasn't been the end of her.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Blogging

I haven't given up on this project yet but I have been a bit disappointed. The dissatisfation comes from the same malady that made me quit the writers' group. I feel as if I am losing my voice, as if I am writing for an audience when I need to write for myself.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Made It!

By the time I got to work this afternoon, I felt like lifting my hands over my head in victory.

****

I have been sleeping much better the past few nights by turning the TV off when I go to bed. I don't know how I got in the habit of leaving it on all night--possibly one of the off-shoots of 9/11--but the light and sound subtly disturbed my sleep, even when I wasn't aware of it. Being able to sleep three or four hours without waking is like a balm.

So I am waking feeling much more refreshed these days. I still start my mornings with an impossibly-long list of things I would like to get done before heading off to work, but today I actually got most of them accomplished.

Yay me....

The little black kitty showed up for breakfast. She still looks okay--no limping or swelling and felt good enough to rough-house with Lola, so I guess the Great Cat Fight looked worse than it was. She is relunctant to come too far inside the house, but come the cold weather, I think she'll be glad enough to have a warm, dry place to hang out. If she lasts that long--being an outdoor cat is such a gamble. I had her inside for about half an hour last night after I got home but I didn't want to keep her in so long that she was afraid of being trapped. Thwe days of nice weather remaining are limited, so I'll say a prayer for her continued safety and let her have her days in the sun.

After feeding her and putting Beebs out in his pen, I cleaned litterboxes and refilled the fountains, watered the greenhouse and the deck and threw some clothes in the dryer. My big project was to change out the hay in the cat runs. I would have gotten that all done if I hadn't had to look for a rake and shovel. We have so many places to store things. After checking the shed and all three containertrailers and circling the house twice, I grabbed the first rake I found, which was stored with Sue's things. That search put me enough behind schedule that I only got the cat condo and BeBe's pen done. I got half the hay out of the cat run but ran up against my self-imposed deadline so will have to finish it tonight after work.


I took Sunspot back to the Shelter on my way to work. I have very mixed feeling about it, but I talked with Sherry last night and she was very supportive and sympathetic. Damn it--I really like Toby-John and Sunspot but they don't fit in with our crew. Anyway--we gave it a try. I really hope that the right people come along and fall in love with them. I still think in the right home, they will be wonderful companions.

It just wasn't our home.

Anyway, I dinked around in the cat run longer than I planned and had to rush to get dressed and packed for work. I allotted a half hour to get out to the Shelter, what with weekend traffic and all, and I knew I would have to get Sunny situated in a cage and settled and fill out the paperwork. I figured that would take ten minutes. So by leaving home with under forty minutes to do all that, I was cutting it close.

I made it to work with two minutes to spare.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Shimmering



The sky is a cloudless silvery-blue. Across the bay, the mountains lie nearly naked, baking in the heat. A day breeze has kicked up this afternoon, bringing the welcomed cool air from the sea. The air is so dry that no clouds have built in the on-shore breeze.

It is late in the summer for such lovely weather. The hills are purple with fireweed. Autumn can't be far from us now--just a matter of weeks. But they can be glorious weeks.

I stopped myself from going out to the Shelter last night to check on Toby-John. I have to let him go. He isn't ours any more (and I doubt Sunspot will be much longer either) and it isn't fair for me to get him upset. Damn, I really am fond of him--he's a loving and intelligent cat--and it hurts to let him go but I owe him a better life than living in a cage, no matter how spacious. He needs a person, a family to be part of, not sit in the shadows while life goes on around him.

I finally got by NAPA to get some extra air filters for three of the vehicles. I won't say we're ready for the big eruption now but it's a step in the right direction.

I don't know what to do with Sunspot...

My anger at her for her attack on Star has abated somewhat but it still seems that she isn't fitting into our household. Being kept in a cage or small room is no way for her to spend the latter days of her life. I feel sorry for her. I like her in many ways. But we haven't bonded and the way things are, I doubt that we will. I keep her out of pity but what sort of a life does she have? If she hangs on for another year or two, only to spend it segregated or in a cage, what has she gained?

I just don't know. I don't want to keep her like this.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Heat

I thought it was going to cool down. It was overcast yesterday and started today that way but by the time morning was done, so were the clouds. Now it is hot--too hot to eat.

I'm feeling a bit down about the situation with Star. She was just starting to feel comfortable in our home and then Sunspot attacked her today. And not just slappy-face, hissy cat-type posturing but jump-on-her-back-and-bite-her-neck kind of attacking. And it went on and on, seemingly for five minutes (though probably it lasted less than a minute) with all the running and shouting and carrying on.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Welcome Ava Jolie!

So, when I finally trundled home last night after work, there was a message on the machine from Michael (MH from work). Their daughter, Ava Jolie, was born late yesterday afternoon.

*****

So, of course I have to work two hours overtime today to cover the shift change until someone from Kenai can get down here to work MH's evening shift. I don't really mind but only got four hours of sleep last night--seems the moon was full and the natives were restless. I had to wake up several times to keep Frannie from harassing Clarence or Tiny. Also, when I work the closing shift, it is hard for me to go right to sleep when I get home. I need some unwinding time. So I always know I am going to be a bit sleep-deprived if I have a short turn-around.

I was surprised to see the moon, low in the south about three this morning. It's been a while since I have seen it. By the time I got to work, it was setting in the west--a pale globe in the silver-blue pre-dawn sky.

****

Another thing that made sleep difficult last night was tooth pain. One of my crowns was aching so badly that I finally got up and took some Aleve. I will have to find time to get into the dentist between working overtime and helping with the Shelter relocation/building.

****

Here's a recent photo of Miss Molly, a tabby of indeterminate age who came out of the woods to live with us over eleven years ago. We occasionally ask her, "How the hell old are you, anyway?" but being a lady, she never tells.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Gah!

June already.

I trapped the little black shorthair (whom I had been thinking of as "Miss Hot Pants") last night. After talking with Denny, I decided we need to get her in to get spayed ASAP. Right now she's living in Toby John's cage, TJ is living in Sunny's cage, and Sunny has the first back room to herself--I've been putting the boys 'way in the back room. I was going to take Toby back to the Shelter, if only for a few days, but once I had him in the carrier, I just felt so bad I couldn't do that to him. So we will manage somehow.

This house needs more rooms for proper cat management.

Anyway, I was up by 8:30 so I could call the clinic and try to wheedle my way in for a spay. The earliest they could give me was Monday. So I said that would have to do. About two hours later I realized that I have to work Monday morning and there is no relief specialist, no overlap, so no way I can get off work for even a short time to drop the cat off at the clinic.

So, I talked with Dots again and she said they would work me in tomorrow. I have to be at work at one-thirty tomorrow, so I'll have to either leave the cat at the clinic over the weekend or pick her up on my way to work. Whatever. This just needs to be done.

I have six or seven six-packs of flowers that need to be in soil very, very soon. I try to grab an hour here or there to do potting but other chores intrude.

I also am watching Mike and Grace's cats while they are Outside on a family emergency. I spent some time yesterday cleaning up Asia's throw-ups and trying to figure out if he is ill or just being a cat. He seemed to be feeling okay--maybe he's just upset that everyone is gone. Rio is letting me pet him but I think it's just because he's too lazy to run and hide. Or maybe because Sissy has already appropriated the only good hiding spot in the house--inside the litter box.

Also, because of MH's sudden absence and CC's scheduled annual leave, I will be working ten-hour shifts next week, vice the usual eight-hour ones. But I still get to keep my days-off, which is good. There was no way I was going to work overtime on a day-off after working every flipping weekend all summer. And I tried to impress on CC that he needs to take his leave this week and not cancel it because MH had to leave town. He is entirely too flexible at times and gets taken advantage of, IMHO. The specialists at Kenai are always coming down to hang-out at Homer to get away from their supervisors learn how to work our local area, yet when we have a legitimate need for someone to step in and cover shifts, there is always some wanking bureaucratic excuse why it can't be done.

So what else is new...?

If I can keep my head above water for another two weeks, I get to go on leave myself. Just two weeks but a needed sanity break.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

One Year Old

We can now consider the Toe Wraiths to be a year old. The terrified, feral kittens have grown into two engaging little cats.

Lola is a busy little dynamo, seemingly never touching down as she bounces from chair to sill to screen door. Yet she will also come and climb into my lap when I am writing or reading, snuggling in with vibrant purring. She has grown from a dwarfish fuzzy kitten into a soft-coated, self-possessed, petite young cat.

I have a soft spot in my heart for Clarence. The homely, ungainly ugly duckling of the litter is growing day by day into an elegant flame-point Siamese. Seeing his terror of humans gradually turn into trust and affection has done my heart good.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Belated

I guess I should feel guilty that I wish all and sundry of the cats "Happy Birthday" here but completely slighted my brother, David. So, Happy Birthday, Bro, a bit late. I *was* thinking about you...

Of course, the cats have much fewer birthdays than we do, as a rule, so each one must be that much more meaningful--at least to those of us who count time by calendars.

I sometimes wonder who the world must appear to a kitten born in the spring or summer when their first winter comes The lush green world grows colder and darker and they have no inkling that those golden days of kittendom will ever return. The world has become an unwelcoming place. So what a miracle, seen with fresh eyes, it is when spring returns.

No wonder Lola and Clarence have been so enamoured of sitting in the cat condo and just watching the world turning green.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Sumer Is Icumen In...

Another gorgeous day--sunny, high scattered clouds, cool sea breeze. Wisps of fogs drifted across the bluff this morning but by the time I went into work, the fog had retreated to the far side of the bay.

I have started wearing cooler clothes to work--tank tops and jeans under jackets. I can take off the jacket when it gets too warm in the building, and slip back into it for a more professional look when we get walk-in traffic. The guys like running the AC but it is so noisy you can miss faint radio calls, so I prefer to open the upstairs door to the sea breeze and turn on the fan to circulate the air.

Sumer is icumen in...

I allowed myself to sleep in until about quarter-of-nine this morning. Fighting allergies has made me so sluggish but the 12-hr Contac Cold PD gave me at work yesterday has really helped. At least I can breath clearly without the Benadryl hang-over.

I did manage to get the cat-chores done and the dishwasher loaded before I left for work, despite being slow off the starting blocks. I brought the cobalt-blue glass dishware that has been sitting in its box in the back room for at least two years (possibly three) downstairs and unpacked them about a week ago. The boys in the back had been using the box as a scratching post and finally had clawed their way inside, so I figured it was time to do something with the dishes. So they have been sitting on the counter waiting for a run through the dishwasher. Hope they are dishwasher safe. I guess we will find out.

Yesterday's big excitement was a capsized boat off of Bluff Point. A local pilot was first on the scene and reported it to me. After a moment's consideration, I called the police dispatcher, who turned out to be CC's wife. We traded calls and information for about thirty minutes as I relayed information from the plane and asked questions for the trooper. The lucky souls managed to swim to shore where several people helped them from the water, which had numbed them into hypothermia by that point. The beach was inaccessible by that time for wheeled vehicles, due to the tide, so a helicopter was dispatched from Maritime Helicopters to take them to the ER. I hope they will be okay.

Of course, all this happened during the busiest part of the afternoon, with the usual snarl of traffic: IFR student pilot shooting a long approach while the ERA Dash-8 was waiting for clearance outbound, local air taxi pilots cutting in front of the transients in their mad haste to land, pilots unfamiliar with the field landing on the numbers of 21 and taking forever to taxi clear, and of course the constant requests for the location of transient parking.

Yes, summer is here.

So far today, the biggest annoyance is the frequency at which two aircraft will transmit at once, cancelling each other out and resulting in no information being passed. Over the years, it seems like there has been more and more undirected chatter on the frequency, which is worrisome when it seems pilots are substituting talking for listening and looking. Especially as they think they have transmitted and are unaware that the rest of us didn't hear them.

Of course, on the flip side, I had two NORDOs (no radio-contact) this evening. At least when planes are transmitting, you know they are out there. After I had assured Andy that there was no reported traffic (emphasis on the reported), he back-taxied to depart Rwy 21. Just as he was turning to depart, he saw a Cessna on short final for Rwy 3 (the opposite direction). he stopped short as the Cessna did a go-around.

Even more scary, earlier a local had taxied out and gotten the "no reported traffic". He came back with "Is that plane down the runway arriving or departing?"

Just as I looked up, I could see the wings and tail of a dark-colored twin (it looked like a Navajo) disappearing over the hump that is two-thirds down the runway. Now, because of the hump, the approach end of Rwy 21 is invisible from the main portion of the airport. This is one reason why none of the locals will back-taxi to the end of the runway to depart and when Era has to go all the way back in their larger aircraft, they will make a point of checking and re-checking before they start their take-off roll to make sure the runway is clear.

So whoever this was in their dark-colored, hard-to-see twin disappeared over the hump without a peep. My taxiing local waited on the taxiway until the twin turned and departed, then went about his business, but if no one had seen the twin go over the rise, it could have been bad. Very bad. Despite all the windows in our building, we don't have a very good view outside. The major intersections of runway and taxiways are obstructed and we are usually busy inside with telephones, computer messages or the other frequency. Since we don't actually control traffic at Homer (it is an uncontrolled field), we aren't obliged to maintain a constant watch over the airport--we rely on pilots telling us where they are and what they are doing.

There are occasional old beaters who fly around without radios but those pilots are saavy enough to know how to work their way into the field with a minimum of fuss. I can only assume the pilots in the Cessna and the twin were ignorant of the proper procedures. I mean, our frequency is printed in the Alaska Supplement (don't leave home without it) and the aeronautical map and besides that, it is the standard frequency for airport advisory.

I am glad nothing bad came of these incidents and I passed them on to my co-workers as a reminder that during the warmer months we are dealing more and more with pilots unfamiliar with our field and with procedures outside of a positive-controlled environment. Time to keep our heads up and our feelers out.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Waking up this morning was like swimming up from a great depth.

I took a healthy slug of Benadryl before I turned in last night because I was so stiff and sore. As a result I slept pretty soundly, only waking briefly at four and at six, but I have trouble shaking off the effects of the drug, so didn't get out of bed until after nine and things went slowly all morning.

I always pile up a list of things I would like to accomplish before Denny gets back home--as a result, I find myself rushing to get done those things I have decided must get done--laundry, vacuuming, etc--and wearing myself down to a frazzle. The thing is, I don't think he cares, or even notices, if there are skiffs of cat hair under the cabinets.

Anyway, after the physical activity of yesterday, I felt old and worn today. It took a nice long shower and several cups of coffee before I felt alive enough to tackle the morning chores. At least Johnny seems back to his old self, so I didn't have to given him meds or fluids.

The morning was mostly sunny, with occasional tendrils of fog blowing across the bluff. When I opened the door and windows to let in the cool air, I caught a wiff of smoke in the breeze, probably blown down from the wildfires in the Interior.

I stayed up until after one last night, waiting for the sky to darken enough so I could try to see the comet. Unfortunately, by the time I figured I should be able to see it, a thin veil of clouds had moved across the sky, masking the stars. When I woke up at four, it was already too light to see any stars and as our hours of darkness shrink, so do my chances of seeing the comet, especially when the weather is factored in. This evening looks to be nearly clear, so perhaps I'll have better luck tonight.

Ah summer--the season of burning one's candle at both ends. The main trouble is that in these latitudes, the two ends tend to meet in the middle.

Oh, lest I forget--Happy Birthday, Bunny-Buns! Our little blind, stub-tailed kitty was born eight years ago today. What a pleasure it has been to have her in our lives.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I buried Lucy last evening.

I went out back in the afternoon, after I got home from town, and finished the sad task. The warm weather of the past week have finally eroded the layer of frozen soil to a mere inch or so. Once I broke through it, the earth underneath was easy to excavate. Under the top layer of roots and vegetation, the soil in our woods is fine and stone-free. I dug down about three feet until lifting the shovel became awkward, then lay on the ground and scooped earth out with a old metal bowl for another foot, digging into the past history of this place, back to the edges of the last Ice Age.

Then, exhausted and hot, I went inside, stripped off my dirty clothes, and lay down for an hour or so of sleep, surrounded by the house cats.

It was cooler when I woke up, the day turning into evening. I went around the house lighting incense, then put some appropriate music on the CD player downstairs and let the music and chanting drift out the open patio door into the back yard. It was time to lay Lucy to her final rest.

I place the sad parcel down in the smooth cavity I had made for her, leaning into the earth to place my hand against the familiar curve of her back one last time, to feel the resilient softness of her plush, immaculate coat through the thick vinyl. One last time. How many years, or centuries, would pass before that sad parcel saw the light of the sun again--if ever? I was consigning Lucy, like a time capsule, to the future. I hoped whatever hands might find her would be gentle ones.

It wrenched my heart but my grief had worn away to mere sadness and I was dry-eyed as I filled the grave.

As I straightened from my task, three cranes flew overhead in a two-one pattern, their mournful cries filling the silent spaces of the evening quiet.

These good-byes are inevitable. But that doesn't make them easy.

"To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come;
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome;
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be, and are;
To the place where God Himself was homeless,
And all men are at home."
--G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Sweet Sixteen

Happy Birthday, Johnny!

Johnny seemed brighter this morning. he greeted me, clear-eyed, when I went to his bed and he moved around the shop a bit after I gave him his medication. He sniffed at some food but didn't want to eat, even when I offered him some birthday shrimp. I gave him a few small tastes but didn't force-feed him. Up to a point, his desire to fast might be beneficial to fighting his infection, so I'll let him go a bit longer. If he doesn't eat tonight, I will give him some Nutri-Cal and some more fluids.

All in all, however, he seems to be feeling better and I am less apprehensive today than I was yesterday.

I woke up with a plugged head from allergies, so took a Benedryl and went back to sleep, finally waking about nine and forcing myself from bed. The alder is flowering in town and after that it will be the spruce pollen. I think I will take a Benadryl tonight before I go to bed, just to get a jump on it all.

Friday, May 14, 2004

I noticed that Johnny didn't stir last night when I was feeding the cats; Johnny, who is always interesting in what's for dinner. Instead, he stayed curled in his sleeping spot. Just a few days ago, I was relishing how fit and healthy he was--his eyes bright and his coat shiny. To see him lethargic and quiet is unsettling so close to Lucy's passing.

So this morning found us at the vet clinic. I sat there, stroking him gently and waiting. I know we will be losing him--sooner more likely than later--and I know it will hurt like hell. But I had to send up a silent prayer that his time isn't nigh just yet.

Dots remarked that it was almost a year ago to the day that I had him in for a similar complaint. Curious.

We came home with antibiotics and fluids. I tempted him with morsels today and he ate a little. He was also wandering around the shop a bit today, so already the medication is having some effect.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I woke up in the middle of the night, hot and thirsty but so stiff and tired from working in the yard that the thought of going downstairs to get something to drink seemed like too much effort, even though I briefly considered crawling to the stairs. What little I have been able to dig on Lucy's grave has left me sore from muscles gone soft during the winter.

Despite the sunny days, the air temperature has been cool. If I leave the windows open, the house gets cold around the time I am going to bed. Still, I wake up with night sweats and a stuffy head. With five or six cats vying for position on the bed, I am regularly pinned in one position for hours at a time, until the discomfort wakes me and I have to negotiate with the cats in order to shift position.

The "bed cats" have their favorite spots. Bunny and Punkin claim the pillows (which doesn't leave much for me but I manage), Tiny likes to sleep curled up next to my face on my right side, while Dinky prefers to be under the covers next to my chest. She favors the right side but will take the left if I am facing that way. Lola has taken to sleeping on the bed on occasion, usually against or between my legs. Frannie, Charcoal and Lena are occasional nocturnal visitors, as is Pickle Boy if he isn't bunking with his bros.

Is it any wonder I rarely sleep for more than two hours at a spell?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Letting Lucy Go

I had hoped to keep her going for longer--another week, another month--but it wasn't to be. I drew some joy from being able to feed her this spring's fresh grass and to see her sitting out in the cat yard, taking in the evening sun. But those pleasures were transient. Perhaps it is a blessing that she went downhill so quickly, as it abbreviated her suffering, but twelve years seemed too brief a life for such a sweet cat.

Over the weekend, I could tell that the Metacam wasn't keeping the pain at bay. Lucy retreated to her spot behind the engine stand and by Sunday evening, she had stopped eating. I tempted her with her favorites and made sure she had her daily dose of pain medication, but she withdrew inside herself, responding only to my caresses, leaning her face against my hand and purring.

Hope is such a tenacious thing. All day Monday, my mind was running in circles. Was it too late to operate and see if Lucy's pain could be alleviated? I knew the answer but I hate admitting defeat. That's when I realized I was keeping her alive for my sake, not hers. The Monday night dose of Metacam didn't do much good--Lucy still turned her face away from any offerings of food. I kept wishing for one more good day, one more hour sitting in the sun...

Tuesday morning, Lucy was laying by the refrigerator, as if she had been on her way to the water fountain (even though there was a water dish near her bed) and just lost strength. I gave her another dose of pain medication then carried her to the pad by the fountain. After I called the vet clinic and left a message for Dots to call me, I sank down beside Lucy in the dim light, stroking her head until she purred, but even her purring sounded strained.

I had brought my first cup of coffee out into the shop with me, so I sat there, petting Lucy, sipping my coffee, and letting hot tears run down my cheeks. I kept rubbing her head and saying how sorry I was that she was hurting. I tried to ground myself and draw the pain from her, but instead of a drawing-out sensation when I touched her, I could feel an energy--like radiance--pushing against my skin--as if something inside her were longing to be freed.

I always knew there is a strong force for survival--something that keeps us hanging on through suffering and past all hope. But I hadn't realized there was this second force--not quite in opposition but perhaps complimentary. A spark of the eternal radiance that seeks to return to its source. Something that finally bursts free when we are sick or injured or worn out.

A fire inside Lucy was straining to go home. All that remained of her life was a long corridor of pain with that final brilliance waiting at the end. I couldn't change the inevitability of that path, but I could release her from the pain, shorten her path and let her go home.

My heart clocked the morning routine of the clinic and when the phone rang just after nine, I knew it would be Dots. I told her nothing was keeping the pain from Lucy any more and we needed to end her suffering.

"Come on in," Dots said.

I went upstairs, threw myself on the bed and had a good cry until a concerned feline contingent embarrassed me into getting up, dabbing my face and squaring my shoulders. I carried Lucy out of the house for the last time in my arms.

Afterwards, I drove out to Reid's Greenhouse and bought violas and pansies and marigolds in a state of numb grief. I went out back when I got home and decided on a spot--near Newt and Rosie--to lay Lucy to rest. I tried to dig but the ground was still frozen about six inches down. I scrapped away the topsoil to allow the ground to thaw, then spent an hour or so cleaning our little cemetery--re-marking the graves and clearing away fallen branches. I guess it was therapeutic but when I considered the lives that have touched ours and moved on, I felt a weird combination of love and loss.

I only broke down once, later in the day when I went out to feed the cats in the shop and noticed the gap in the ranks. I cried plenty for Lucy when she was alive and suffering. Now all that is left is grief.

And somewhere--in the eternal ether--Lucy is dancing in the light, home at last.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Beautiful Lucy Sue

Lucy Sue
September 28, 1991 - May 11, 2004

SHADOW'S SONG

I'm not gone...not really.
I haven't gone away...I've only gotten bigger.
My eyes, so bright, now shine among the stars.
My voice sings with the wind in winter, as I leap
And dance among the tree tops.
I stalk the blown leaves in autumn, and brush the
Flowers gently in the spring.
I come to you in dreaming, on feet grown dreamtime soft,
And lay my cheek against yours, and whisper:
"Peace be with you."
Someday we will play again together, you and I, among the stars.
'Til then, fear not to love, for your love gave my life meaning.
And I return that love to you...a hundredfold...a thousandfold...
Forever.

Copyright © 1996 by Audrey E. Nickel

Monday, May 03, 2004

Birds

The birds are back.

I have been aware of birdsong in the morning twilight as I left for work the past two days. Funny how striking the sound is after the long, quiet winter.

Denny met me at the car when I got home after work to tell me that the swallows are back. I couldn't believe it. This is three weeks earlier than usual. But there they were--chripping and swooping around the front of the shop.

We need to get the second bird house put up, I guess.

Lucy was in the cat pen yesterday evening, sunning herself. The sight made me feel marginally better. I hope she can have a few more nice days.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Beltane

The sky is staying light all through the night--not the twilight of high-summer but the sky glowed all night long with a pale light that was not entirely due to the full moon.

I woke up about three. Cool air had filled the house, and the folks a couple lots over were having a party of some kind--I could hear their voices through the open window. I closed it--more to keep the chill air out because they weren't really loud enough to disturb.

Only Bunny and Dinky were on the bed, so I wandered downstairs to see where all the other cats were. Frannie was on the sofa and Lena and Clarence were on the cat bed. Punkin has taken to sleeping on the chair in the back room from time to time. All was well.

When I stepped outside to come to work this morning, I could hear a robin earnestly singing from the treetops, welcoming the dawn. The Wheel has turned incrementally toward summer.

Winter is over.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Paus de Duex

At times, it seems like Season Three of Criminal Intent has lost some of its sparkle. Maybe it has something to do with the subtle lack of enthusiasm Vincent seems to have for the series this year. Considering what he has been going through, perhaps it is understandable. I never was one to serious think he would fulfill the entire five-year commitment that he made to the series--a commitment made for the most part for the sake of his marriage.

Since that incentive has apparently gone by the wayside, I have to wonder if the sacrifice will be worth him sticking out another two years in a role that seems to have gone stagnant for him, when I know he would much rather be exploring new films and new characters. He gambled on Criminal Intent and it is debatable whether he won or lost in the wager. He has gained a certain celebrity but that was something he never sought and the loss of privacy that resulted has been acute.

Still, this episode seemed to capture a bit of the old magic. Eames had some great one-liners and Goren was his old blustery self.

The scene where Goren was asking the man to show him how he danced with the woman *had* to conjure up memories of the scene in Naked Tango where Cholo asked the judge something similar.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Sleep

Max temp: 22 degrees F
Min temp: 11 degrees F

That's all I want to do--snuggle down in the warmth of my flannel-sheeted bed, nestled among the accepting forms of my cats, and sleep. Perchance to dream. Sweet refuge of sleep.

That's a pretty good sign I am depressed.

I miss the way the group used to be. We never used to invest so much in our every word. It used to be fun and stimulating and wide open. Now it seems most of the people posting are more interested in Trying To Look Good than in actually exploring ideas. And some go even further--not only TTLG but Trying To Make Others Look Bad. And I am just very tired of it all. And very depressed. Because at one point that group mattered to me and now I see it sliding slowly into fannish banality and I can't care any more.

So I am trying to maintain and hold the sadness at arm's length. I have been throwing myself into the world of Tolkien and LOTR, finding Middle Earth an escape. I am just chagrined that it took me so many years to actually read the books that captivated my contemporaries thirty years ago. Better late than never, I suppose, and I can tell myself that I am better able to appreciate the nuances at this age.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Smoothing a blanket over the newly-cleared half of the sofa upstairs, I noticed a pink stain--a small smount of dried liquid--and my heart twisted. Amoxicillin. A spill left as evidence of the fight to save Rosie's life, just a year past. (I haven't washed that blanket in a year? I guess being folded in the laundry basket didn't give it much use but still...)

For years after Kisa died, I kept--unwashed--a jacket that still bore the blurred, muddy imprints of her paws...

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Life In The Slow Lane or Something Like It....

Max temp: 23 degrees F
Min temp: 10 degrees F

There was a new face outside at the food dish this morning. I looked out the kitchen window while rinsing off my hands and a pale face was looking back up at me. "Hello, Kitty," I said, ever ready with the witty repartee. I opened the door to offer him some fresh (ie, unfrozen) wet cat food but he scurried off under one of the trucks.

I think--from the glimpse I got of him--he is an orange tabby. (And I use "he" because orange cats run about 75-80% male due to feline genetics that I won't bore you with here.) Maybe when he learns we mean him no harm, he will be less skittish. Maybe he's just a neighbor, making his rounds. One can only hope...

I dreaded getting up this morning, so set the coffee pot on auto-brew so there'd be coffee and set the alarm to allow me an hour and a half to leave the house. I taped SNL (Elijah Wood) but still sat up 'til damned near one watching TV anyway. And with one-two-three-four-five-six cats on the bed clustered around and on top of me in various constellations, I had to wake up numerous times during the night to negotiate any change of position.

Still, after the alarm rang and I had downed a cup of coffee, I didn't feel half bad.

It is getting noticeably lighter by eight-thirty in the morning. We are just over a week away from Candlemas (there's an unpronouncable Pagan name for it but I can't recall...) the half-way mark between winter solstice and spring equinox. Halfway there, though that doesn't mean much this far north, since spring doesn't really get here until May...

I do wish Pickle would start looking better. I suppose I will be taking him back to the vet this week but I don't have anything new to show them. I could try to come up with a stool sample but in a multi-cat household, that isn't as simple as it sounds. I mean, coming up it some cat crap is no problem at all, but being sure that said sample belongs to Pickle entails following him around for hours at a time...

Damn, I have such a glamourous life!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Where We Live...

Where we live
There's a million stars at night..


I glanced out the window as I got up from the desk this evening at work and just about called Denny back to urge him to go outside and look west. The thinnest sliver of a cresent Moon hung with Venus in the evening sky.

Later, on the way home, I looked to the right as I approached the State Shop and almost pulled to the side of the road. One long, glorious streamer of green-yellow fire wavered in the sky from north to southeast.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Finicky

Max temp: 29 degrees F
Min temp: 17 degrees F
Oh, and there's probably eighteen-to-twenty-four inches of snow on the ground...


I saw our pheasant around noon today, enthusiastically eating the sunflower seeds I had thrown out for the birds and ignoring the chicken scratch feed I had bought Just For Him.

In related news, the stray cats indicate that they Would Rather Starve than eat the Precise dry food I bought them. Probably because it has real cranberries, though the manufacturer touted that fact as a major selling point. (Don't fret--the strays had access to their usual Iams Active Maturity dry food as well.) I'm just glad I didn't buy big bags of the stuff. I suppose someone in our crowd will eat what's left of it...

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Pickle

Max temp: 38 degrees F (just after midnight)
Min temp: 30 degrees F

I heard something that sounded like rain but then turned into ice falling last night after I went to bed.

I woke up with a splitting sinus headache--almost sick-to-your-stomach intensity. I crawled out of bed long enough to start coffee, feed Sunny and Toby and then grab some Benadryl tablets. It took two cups of coffee and a second dose of medication before I felt like I could function. I had all the cat boxes to clean as I had skipped them yesterday. I also needed to give Toby and BeBe some change of scenery from their separate confinements.

Picky's eyes are still veiled. I wish I knew what was bothering him. He eats and plays as usual. He absolutely hates the medication Elaine gave me--the big horse-sized pills I have to cut in half. Even the halves aren't that petite. He foamed at the mouth and drooled so badly after the first dose that I haven't repeated it.

So on the chance that he is suffering gastic distress, I cooked up some slippery elm syrup and dosed him (and Punkin too while I was at it.) In good faith, I suppose I should try to get one of the pills down him this evening, just so I can give it a fair trial. His ailment doesn't appear serious but we don't know, do we?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Max temp: 42 degrees F
Min temp: 30 degrees F
Winds easterly at twenty

Up early this morning (7:30, early by my lights) to go to the Shelter. This is the last week that I will be covering PD's shift but I may continue to get up early to do my volunteer bit even when I am back to my regular schedule. The work goes much faster without the social component, and since the Shelter doesn't open until 11am, I can work undisturbed.

I opened the door to plug the Chevy in and rain was pouring off the roof. The temperature was near forty, so plugging the Chevy in was probably not necessary... I thought about it for a few minutes then decided that I'd drive the Suburban today. If the road got too soft, I might need the 4-wheel-drive option. So I went through the shop ("Good morning, kitties...") and plugged the Suburban in. Because it had been sitting in the sub-zero temperatures since the last time it had been run.

I made some coffee, then checked the woodstove, and watched the morning news while I drank two cups. About 8:30, I headed into town.

It wasn't a bad morning at the Shelter. There were three empty cages and the cats in residence were all very nice. People have been trapping and bringing in strays during the cold snap, but we have finally had some good adoptions so the population hasn't increased.

I sang to the cats as I worked in the quiet morning--the songs I had made up for Kisa and Newt and some others that came to me.

We seem to be on a run of white kitties lately--there were four currently in residence. It is funny how it seems to go in spurts. A few months ago, all we seemed to get were black cats. Then it was black-and-white cats. I told Sherry we should have a January White Sale...

I got all the cats done by eleven, then Sherry showed up and we chatted for about twenty-five minutes. Then I had to head to Save-U-More for dry cat food (I forgot it when I went shopping on Monday). I bought two small bags of Precise dry cat food--will see if the strays like it. It seemed like a high quality food and I want to give them the best nutrition I can during the winter. And three big bags of Iams for our cats. And some Johnny Cat for the Shelter. And a couple of boxes of Litter Perfect for me. And a bag of dry kitten food for Clarence and Lola...

After unloading all the supplies, I still had time to take a shower and wash my hair before battening down the house and heading back into town.

There were fresh chicken-like tracks in the yard when I got home last night, so the pheasant is still doing okay.

Today is the first sunrise at Barrow since November 18th...

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Max temp: 39 degrees F
Min temp: 25 degrees F

In the past 48 hours the temperature has gone from minus ten to near 40--the bank thermometer showed 42 degrees in the heat of the day. MH is right--if the temperature would stay 20 degrees all winter, life would be good.

Saw the gray stray heading for the brown van this noon. I think there is still a box full of insulation covered with rags that I put out there for Wild Red many years ago. There is something that makes the van attractive to strays at any rate, so I trust he is staying sheltered and warm enough.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Max temp: 35 degrees F
Min temp: -10 degrees F
Winds easterly 25-35 kts
Snow

The wind started blowing this morning, when the temperature was still below zero, but by the time they began to really howl, driving fine, dry snow out of the east, the temperature had risen to sixteen degrees or so. The gain in air temperature was off-set by windchill, but it was good to see the cruel cold begin to abate.

I saw the tracks of the gray tabby this morning, so he has weathered the cold, and the black cat was by this evening to eat so I know he is okay. I haven't seen any sign of the pheasant since Denny and I watched him on Friday.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Max temp: 14 degrees F
Min temp: -10 degrees F

Up at four to send Denny off. It was cold--minus ten as I stood on the porch waving him off.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Happy New Year

Max temp: 24 degrees F
Min temp: 11 degrees F

And the new sun rose, bringing the new year.
--Tennyson



If I couldn't spend it with Dennis, I spent it as best I could, warm in our snug home with the cats as company. I opened a bottle of bubbly and sipped it from one of our new champagne flutes throughout the evening. Denny called around six to wish me a Happy New Year and say he was going out with the boys and wouldn't be calling later because he'd undoubtedly in no condition for serious conversation by midnight.

Which was cool and thoughtful of him--I know he was thinking of me--as I was of him--when the year turned. We have the memory of our first New Year's Eve party spent together, in Fairbanks in 1982, you see. That evening, when the clock struck midnight, we looked at each other and just sort of knew that 1983 was going to be a special year for us. We never actually vocalized it, but the glance we exchanged said it all. And so New Year's Eve has always been a bit special for us, whether we are together or apart.

So, it being the turning of the year and all, I de-grayed my hair. I was trying the L'Oriel Multi-Tonal stuff--first you apply the base color and then you add highlights. Well, despite the directions, I found I hadn't applied the highlighter all the way to the roots of one particular strand, so I dug the discarded lightener out of the waste basket and applied it to the offending roots. Upon rinsing my hair, it was apparent that one small section of hair had gotten a double-dose of lightener, so there's sort of this light spot. And this strand is--of course--the first one I did, right in front of my head.

So, if I part my hair to one side, I can disguise the offending streak. And I can re-color next month...

Anyway, the rest of the evening was uneventful. Just the way I like my New Year's Eves...

I did get an unexpected phone call from a friend I hadn't heard from in some time. He's been going through some changes this year and seemed at loose ends--his wife and kids were spending the holiday elsewhere. Truth be told, we were probably both a bit in our cups but we had a great conversation about love and loss and life and all those heavy things people discuss when they are being drunk and brilliant. Heh heh heh.

Then, about eleven-thirty, I got the traditional call from Up North. Why am I sometimes surprised when my family seems to like me? It was sweet and thoughtful of them to include me in the celebration via speaker phone.

Still, I was glad to be tucked into bed with my kitties and a bottle of water in time to watch the (tape delayed) ball drop in NYC.

*Cheers*

My warmest wishes for a happy and healthy new year go out to you all.