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.