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.