late October –
I’m sharing some rambling thoughts before leaving Alaska for my next RV adventure, when I’ll update this web journal more often. I recently discovered that hosting services were dropped from Google Drive so the links to my old websites stopped working, but the data is still there. The websites are also on my computer so nothing is lost, but it isn’t public and since it’s mostly for myself anyway I won’t get it hosted again online. If anyone is interested in Romania and the Peace Corps experience I’ll be happy to provide info. Thanks to friends who followed along and supported me for all those years! I have been asked to include more stories from my decades of life in Alaska — homesteading years in the 1950s, raising children in the woods outside Fairbanks in the 70s, life back on the Kenai Peninsula in the 80s, sailing in the 90s, and perspectives about it all. Maybe I’ll do that.
Here’s the cabin in Fairbanks, photo taken when I sold it — see Pleides in the northern lights!
I have friends who are traveling abroad now, housesitting in Spain and Romania, RVing in Turkey and Morocco. I’m green with envy and my vagabond itch drives me crazy, but as long as I have a doggie companion I’ll stick to my motor home winter life and hope I stay healthy enough to wander further in years to come. The vet says Cheyenne is very healthy for an old lady dog, she’s eating, drinking, and sleeping just fine, and even walks with me a couple miles most days.
Here’s Cheyenne’s sweet face this summer, one with grandson Janek, and some of my caribou visitors who came by to enjoy my lawn.
It got down to 7 degrees earlier this week, and it’s time for me to fly south. The lake is frozen over, but maybe the ice isn’t thick enough to skate on yet.
from mid October –
I have two more weeks of what is quickly turning into winter, before I take my dog Cheyenne and head south to the motor home and into summer again. This seems like a topsy turvy life, to be able to change the seasons at will. But I’ve always liked living with weather, and this way I get at least four seasons every year, more if we count breakup. When I get tired of sunny warm southern shorts weather I can come home to Alaska where it’s still snowy through the spring. When I get enough of darkening frosty northern days in the fall, we can get on the plane again and go to warm sunny winter months. It started snowing on October 17 and melted, but snow came again and will stick. Soon we’ll head south like the birds that already left. There is a skiff of ice on the lake, soon it’ll be solid. I love this time of year, frosty at night, golden leaves on the ground, a cozy warm bed to snuggle in the dark mornings and read books on my tablet, then check the New York Times, the Washington Post, Guardian and BBC to see what’s going on in the world. After 9 a.m. the dark barely lightens the room and I get up to make coffee.
It was clear a few days ago and the moon was full. All night long it circles my bedroom and blasts through the curtainless windows onto my bed, and if I wake up to pee after midnight it’s right in my eyes. I adore the winter moonlight even more than the 23-hour daylight in the summers. Before the lake is frozen it reflects off the water and I get double. I’ve heard that other lifelong Alaskans like me also are sensitive to light and are addicted to it. Our light in the North is softer, gentler, fuzzier, kind of sideways, compared to the blazing overhead sun in the south. But this time of year we lose more than six minutes a day, so I’m already missing it.
This monlight reflection photo was actually taken while I was lying in bed, at about 6 a.m. in the morning.
My beautiful house, painted by my dear friend Jo for my birthday many years ago.
Oddly enough in the southern winters I’m up by 6 a.m. every day, puttering with coffee and downloading my daily podcasts. I’m pretty much like a chicken, getting up with the light and hunkering down in the dark. My motor home is completely powered with solar panels and the batteries get to 100% every day by about noon. I’ve heard that other RVers do fine in Alaska too, during the summers. Our sunlight isn’t strong but it’s up for long, so I’ll be interested to try it myself. I’m thinking I’ll drive my “other home” up here next spring and see for myself. Before my family arrives in June I can get out camping, and wander around Alaska after they leave in August. Maybe.
I am gradually losing friends who emailed often but have died suddenly this year. I know this is to be expected for people my age, but still it hurts and I miss them. Perhaps it hits especially hard because I am single and those friends provide stability and companionship that many get from a life partner. Cheers to the memory of my great friends who are gone, to those who are still around, and those who are still to come.
My 70th birthday! While visiting my friend Cinda, she gave me a piece of special birthday cake! Funny, but 70 doesn’t feel any different than 69, or even 55!
… and here’s my favorite photo from this summer, with my grandson (and good friend) Janek
and one more, of us when my son Peter took his fishing boat out of the water in August.
MAY — BACK IN ALASKA
I’ve been back home in Alaska for two and a half weeks already, but haven’t taken a single picture! I’ve only seen one moose, and it was just crossing the highway. I suspect that they can find plenty of stuff to eat in the woods this year, it was a surprisingly warm and dry winter, and the breakup this spring is easy for a change. After an Easter season in warm Mexican weather, and an entire winter wearing shorts and sleeveless tops, suddenly I have to wear long pants, a jacket with a scarf and warm shoes, whenever I take walks with Cheyenne. The nights are still barely above freezing and the days only get into the 50s. But the snow has melted and spring is surely on the way, so we can hope for a beautiful summer. Fingers crossed. Today is Mother’s Day and I’m at the Elks Lodge after a big potluck brunch, using their fast internet for a while. I’ve had friends comment that I haven’t updated my website journal for a long time and they wonder if I’m okay. This amazes me because I figure nobody ever wonders how or what I’m doing, so I often forget completely about staying in touch at all. So at least I’ll start it now.
I think I’ve been somewhat traumatized about my dog Cheyenne. She’s still happy and alive, but obviously has something wrong with her right eye, and has a lumpy tumor on her stomach. Neither bothers her as much as they do me. Vets in Mexico and also in Arizona examined her, each with different theories about what is wrong, but it was a relief for me to finally have my own wonderful veterinarian in Alaska look at her. He says not to worry, it’s probably just normal for her age. The vet in Arizona said that she has only ever seen one lab like her more than 12 years old, but that one was 17 years old and in very bad shape. Cheyenne is 13 years old now and seems pretty happy, sometimes still acts like an enthusiastic puppy. We both have arthritis and hate stairs, but we can walk on the level okay so we can enjoy hiking without too much up and down.
Peter and Janek will arrive on June 18 and leave August 9 this year for the commercial fishing season. Friends might be surprised to hear that he will be here again for the summer, and will again spend a lot of time with his good ole grandma. I like being here in the summer and I’ve given up on saying I’m too old to have a child sidekick buddy. This will be his fifth consecutive summer with me, and we do have fun, always get along just fine.
ALREADY IT’S JULY!!
I apologize for not posting a journal update since getting home to Alaska, especially since friends have been inquiring, so I’ll do it now. Of course I’ve been very busy with Janek every day, then somehow run out of energy when I finally get a minute to rest. I appreciate that distant friends check in often enough to remind me that I should keep writing. Today Peter took the day off and Janek went with him to visit old school friends, so I have a whole afternoon to myself for a change. I was able to spend time on the computer organizing my ebook library and sorting files, labeling pictures and doing other time-consuming busywork.
My old friend Irene bought Janek a remote control helicopter-drone and it’s wonderful, especially for good behavior incentives. Grandma Kristin didn’t take long to find Janek a little leatherman tool to carry on his belt, a camera to haul around his neck, a cap for his head, and books from the library to read. He is learning to cook and is getting pretty good at it. Since he’s not in school with the rest of his class, he has work to do every day in reading German, writing cursive and taking dictation, doing mathematics, and keeping a journal. He loves books at bedtime, when he reads in German and then gets read to in English. We take long walks and never get tired of yakking to each other about everything under the sun.
The good news — Cheyenne’s eye didn’t get any worse, and even seems to look better lately. Thank goodness she’s doing okay. Of course she’s getting kinda old and can’t hear too good, is creaky but happy.
The bad news — I received word from her son that my friend Theresa passed away in mid-June at her home in San Felipe, on Baja. I drove down to to visit her in March, while I was in Temecula to see my new great-granddaughter and visit grandson Michael. I’m glad I saw her then, somehow kept feeling that it might be the last time. What a wonderful, courageous, amazing woman she was, it was an honor for me to be her friend. She was so excited for us to travel together up to Barrow next spring, but at least she did finish a trip with a friend to Panama in February and completed a transit of the Panama Canal. She left a bit of a hole in my heart, but I know she had an excellent life and was in the place she most adored, happily living right on the Sea of Cortez beach. We emailed each other at least twice a week for over a year, and I’ll miss her so much.
I’ll attach some pictures to this entry, not especially stunning or exciting yet, so there will be more to come. I can say for sure that I’m glad I still have the house! It would be difficult, in fact awful, if it was sold before I learned that Janek would be coming again, and for at least the next two years! We’d probably be living under a tree instead of enjoying this lovely home. Unfortunately I packed up most of my things two years ago, so we manage with the minimum of supplies and equipment. I’m surprised that I actually like the “minimalist” lifestyle and don’t miss all the nice possessions that I’ve loved and accumulated over many decades. Half the time I search too long for something I know should be here before I remember that it’s probably in the motor home down in Arizona! That includes cooking utensils as well as clothes, first aid items and medicine, shoes, jewelry and even groceries. Then I laugh and realize how split up my life has become.
Usually I don’t feel like I’ll be 70 YEARS OLD this year, certainly my health has been better than most people my age, but then something happens that sharply reminds me! I’ve had my 4×4 pickup for more than ten years, and suddely this spring I couldn’t pull myself up into the cab! I never even thought twice about it before, but now I realized I’d need running boards for my creaky knees and fat ass to get up there! Thankfully the auto parts guy came out to install them for me –
Here’s some of Janek’s pictures — my house from across the lake, Cheyenne and I on our daily walk –
,.. and me looking up a recipe to cook (this looks a lot like MY own grandmother!)
We went out to my favorite Mexican place for lunch one day, the waiter took these pictures of us –
My nemesis squirrel neighbor is determined to eat all the birdseed, and Janek thinks he can eventually swat him (her?) –
There’s nothing more adorable than a sleeping child –
We went to the wedding of my dear friend Katie’s granddaughter Kandus in North Kenai. It was a wonderful event, and I got lots of great photos. Here are just a few of them, starting with more of Janek –
The wedding had a Star Wars theme! Last is a photo of Katie and I together. We have had so many pictures taken together over the past “going on 40 years” that we could make a whole album just of those! Our now-grown children were just little kids themselves.
And here are some more pictures from the summer activities –
More to come! SOON, I promise!