September 6, 2013

  • Memory Tricks

    In the dream, I was notified that someone had been making withdrawals, depleting my savings account. I recalled (in the dream) that I had a joint savings account with my first husband. I hadn't told him about it (in the dream) because I knew he would take the money and blow it on small extravagances, and I wanted to save for something big and unspecified in the dream. There had been a lot of money in that account, or what to me at the time (the dream time) seemed like a lot, and now (in the dream) he had somehow found out about it and it was all gone but for a token few dollars and cents.

    I woke. I lay there thinking, first about the man, the first one I married -- 1958, that was, and I've not seen nor heard from him since the 'sixties. I did get a nasty letter in the late 1970's, from his then-current wife, warning me to leave him alone and stay out of their lives, after I had phoned his mother, just to let her know that she had become a great-grandmother. The evidently terrified woman who wrote to me had nothing to fear from me, except maybe from the memories of me still held in her then-husband's mind.

    My mind trailed on from that into thinking about dreams and memories in general. It's absurd to think that someone would be a co-owner of an ordinary savings account without having signed for it, for one thing. That I might ever have saved a lot of money without having withdrawn it to squander on things like food, rent or bail money is another absurdity in that dream.

    Then, for some reason, I was reminded of something that happened a few days ago, online. I was logging on to pay a credit card bill and was prompted to give them, for security, my first pet's name. Momentarily stumped, the old memory finally kicked in. In fact, more memories kicked in than had done so at the time I set the answer to that security question. I recalled not only the name of the turtle, my first pet, and the name of the duck that came after him, but also that the answer I had set was actually that of my third pet, which had been, at the time I set it, the first pet I could recall.

    When I started blogging my memoirs a decade or so ago, one frequently repeated comment was on the quality of my memory. People seem amazed at the depth and detail of what I recall, while I'm more aware of how much I have forgotten. Memories come and go on their own, with little regard for what I want to recall.

    Remembering and forgetting are much on my mind recently. Dementia of one sort or another is making life sometimes difficult. I had been thinking it was Alzheimer's, but from what I've been reading it seems more like fronto-temporal degeneration. Maybe if that guy hadn't spent my old (imaginary) savings account, I could squander some of it myself on an expert medical opinion on that, but why bother? If I live long enough for a cure to be found, or even if I learn of a promising clinical trial I might get in on, I'll check into that. For now, I'll just keep remembering, or not.

    *Apparently, the time signature here is set for UT, so, until I get around to fiddling with my settings, just subtract 8 hours or so.

August 26, 2013

  • There's a Bear Out There


    My son caught this photo over 8 hours ago, through the little 7" square of glass in our door, and the bear has been right there in that part of our yard throughout the afternoon and evening except for a brief period when it was out of sight.  It had been attracted by birdseed dropped by several flocks of sloppy birds.  It climbed around on a stack of firewood and some lumber and plywood we had stored there, to reach the feeders and pull them down.  Then it settled down to feast on the birdseed.

    Why am I blogging about it?  Because that's all I can do about it.  I feel wretched about it.  I can't concentrate to read or play a game, so I'll write it out as I have so many things in life.

    I'm responsible for its happening.  I wasn't bear-aware.  Feeding the birds is a mitzvah in winter, while bears sleep, but they don't need the seed now.  Traffic around the feeders has dropped nearly to nothing this month.  Now it's a major situation, all complicated, uncertain and messy, all because of my ignorance.  Confessing doesn't make me feel a bit better about it, so I'll proceed to storytelling.

    Commenting on Facebook this evening, Sean Harrington wrote, "I read [to his Kathy] the part about the wildlife rescue question, and she said, 'No, they're not living in Pasadena, and a bear wandered into their yard! They live in the bear's yard!'"  That's the simple truth.  That, "wildlife rescue question," is one that always comes up in these situations.  People Outside (outside Alaska, of course) imagine a party of animal lovers with tranquilizer guns and nets, swooping in to carry the bear off to a safe haven far out in the woods.

    Well, this IS pretty far out in the woods, and there are no such rescue organizations here.  State Fish and Wildlife officers will show up and kill aggressive "problem bears," when they have time.  They are spread pretty thin, and surely outnumbered by the bears around here.  One I spoke to today reluctantly told me (and I could hear the hesitation in his voice) that he "could come out and try to scare the bear away." Quickly, he followed that with, "but we don't like to do that because you never know how the bear will react."  Yeah, I know... I'm not totally ignorant about bears, just ignorant enough to have gotten this bear, my son, and me into this stupid situation.  ...oh, and the "out-cats", the two tomcats that live out there.  One has claimed the roof as his territory, and if we're still under siege here tomorrow, he'll be getting hungry and thirsty up there.  His brother owns the ground -- that very ground where the bear is.  His food and water dishes are no more that a meter from where the bear is in the photo above.  A few times today, through that little square of glass, one of us could see Roosevelt eyeing the bear warily.

    The fish and feathers guy didn't want to kill the bear any more than I want it to die, which in both cases is not at all.  I ended up reassuring him that I would not escalate the situation.  I told him we can hold out here for days if necessary, to wait for the bear to move on.  I assured him we'd call 911 if the bear becomes aggressive.  If the cat does something stupid and the bear turns on him, bye bye Roosevelt.  I wouldn't consider that a capital offense.  As for me, I'm not going to be doing any bear-baiting.  This includes not producing any alluring food smells to attract the bear toward my kitchen.  Bears have broken windows and smashed down doors to get into cabins around here.  Down on the Kenai peninsula some years ago, my best friend and her family were stuck in their cabin for 3 days, with a mama bear and 2 cubs all over the place and even on their roof, trying to get in.  They had no phone.

    I will avoid opening my door while the bear is around.  I don't want to show it an opening and things beyond that opening.  I'd like for it to think of this box I live in as a solid thing, not the flimsy hollow shell it really is.  That door ...*sigh*... **shakes head**  Even before we moved into this place, the door jamb was broken, and the lock mechanism smashed apart.  When I first saw it, I thought someone had kicked in the door, but Mark, the man who gave me this trailer, said it had been an avalanche.  Snow slid off the roof of the cabin next to the trailer and smashed open the door.  It happened one more time after we moved in, and then we found ways to keep it from happening again.  But, short of framing in a whole new door, which would be a lot like installing a new windshield on a wrecked car, the thing must remain latchless.  We have some strong screw eyes and hooks on both sides of the door and some extra heavy-duty bungees stretched across, and that's the extent of our bear-proofing.  That, and the warm, loving, non-threatening thoughts I'm beaming at the bear through the steel-sheathed door that has no latch nor lock.

    At dusk, when there was barely enough light to see it, the bear was pawing through the firewood stack and tossing aside the plywood and lumber it had knocked over onto it, trying to get at the seeds that had trickled down through the pile.  It was a noisy operation.  Now all is quiet out there.  Maybe it curled up and went to sleep with a belly full of birdseed.  For all I know, the bear could have moved on to richer pickings somewhere else already.  I will find out tomorrow.  If it is gone, I'll go out and sprinkle cayenne around on that woodpile to discourage it in case it remembers what it found here and comes back for more.  Currently, that is the only remedy I can think of.

    Now, along with the bear and all, I've got a silly song stuck in my head.  I typed my title above, and that triggered the recall of this:

    The Alaska Train Song

    There's a moose on the loose in the caboose riding Alaska's train.

    There's a bear back there in his underwear riding Alaska's train.

    Riding the train, riding the train, riding Alaska's train. Riding the train in the snow and the rain, riding Alaska's train.

    There's a duck who is stuck in a red truck riding Alaska's train.

    There's a caribou who lost her shoe riding Alaska's train.

    Riding the train, riding the train, riding Alaska's train. Riding the train in the snow and the rain, riding Alaska's train.

    There's a whale with his tail stuck in a pail riding Alaska's train.

    There's a seal with an eel eating cornmeal riding Alaska's train.

    Riding the train, riding the train, riding Alaska's train. Riding the train in the snow and the rain, riding Alaska's train.

July 31, 2013

  • Just Because I Can

    I am under the weather, and it is horrific weather under which to be:  hot and humid, and not at all what I had learned to expect over my 4 decades in Alaska.  In the past month we have had as much as 60 degrees variation between daytime and nighttime temperatures.  Don't try to deny climate change to me.

    I don't want to sit here long at the keyboard all nauseated and feeling nasty, probably wouldn't compose much worthy of being read.  I just wanted to blog because I can... well, I can after a fashion, not up to much, but Xanga is up for as much as I can deliver, and I'm glad.  I'll be around.  And, if there are a few cloudy days to give relief from the heat, and if I get some relief from my internal malaise, I'll be up on the roof, repairing it again -- might even post pictures, who knows?


June 22, 2013

  • How I Transcended my Chocolate Addiction

    I've binged on brownies more times than I care to remember.  I used to use a few dirty clothes as an excuse to give myself access to the pop and candy machines at the laundromat.  Once, after starving myself for weeks on the Air Force Diet, I weakened, drove 23 miles to a truck stop, bought a carton of 12 Cherry Mountain Bars, and ate most of them on the drive back home.  Chocolate is not the only sweet thing I've binged on.  Candy of all kinds, pies and cakes, cherries, blueberries, watermelon... I've overdone them all.

    More times than I'm comfortable admitting, I've cut those things out then relapsed.  I educated myself and understood, nearly 40 years ago, that sugar was harmful to my health.  I abstained from it off and on for three decades or so before I learned that wheat and gluten were probably just as harmful to me.  Once I cut that out, cutting out the other crap became easier.  I went along, doing okay for several years, sticking to a healthy diet, not thinking about my weight, just trying not to be sick.  It worked about as well as can be expected for someone who has abused her body as extremely as I have for as long as I did.  As a side-effect, losing about half my body weight has made it easier to get around, too.

    I think I overdid the healthy eating thing some at first.  It was sorta white-knuckle, grin-and-bear-it a lot of the time, or just bear-it.  Some of that was necessary.  I had a systemic yeast infection that required a ketogenic diet to knock it out.  However, the draconian self-denial was harmful to my peace of mind.  Cautiously, one-by-one, I have added some things, such as gluten-free pizza, that have put some fun back into eating for me without triggering any binges.  I knew it was risky to try chocolate again.  I thought about it long and hard, preparing myself for a strong exercise of will if a binge threatened.

    I knew from the start that I couldn't handle sweet stuff.  Last winter, three times on cold evenings, I put a spoonful of Ghirardelli's unsweetened cocoa powder in a mug with a tablespoon or so of hot water, stirred it all up, then filled the mug with unsweetened almond milk.  It was mostly bitter, with just a hint of sweet from the almonds.  The aroma was heavenly, reminding me of a carnival in Ghirardelli Square.  My preference for Ghirardelli chocolate is largely motivated by happy memories of San Francisco.  (In a similar way, a visit to Hershey, PA, put me off Hershey's chocolate for life.)  I inhaled the vapors, sipped the chocolate, and let it warm me from the inside out.  No cravings were triggered.  I wasn't tempted to overdo it.

    Emboldened and encouraged by the successful experiment with the unsweetened cocoa, and tempted by a walk through the candy aisle at the supermarket, I picked up a bar of bittersweet chocolate.  These 4 oz. bars are scored into 8 squares, and I ate that entire bar, half a square, 1/4 of an ounce, at a time.  Before the first taste, I promised myself that if it triggered any craving or tempted me to gobble down the whole thing, I'd give it to Doug and tell him not to let me get my hands on it again.  Knowing that I needed some limit or guideline to consumption, and familiar with my own tendency to rebel at rules and restrictions, I kept them simple and loose.  I wouldn't eat more than half of a half-ounce square in any one day, not eat them on any two successive days, and never when my blood sugar was low. 

    That must have been inspired thinking there.  I enjoyed the first little treat, was only slightly tempted to eat more immediately, and when I saw the bar in the pantry the next day it wasn't hard to leave it there and wait until the following day for another piece.  Before that bar was all gone, I was forgetting about the chocolate for several days, up to a week or more between treats... no big deal.  I recognized the mild cravings I did have as wanting sweetness more than wanting chocolate, and so...

    The next bar of chocolate was 70% cacao, not so sweet.  Scharffen Berger is a brand I'd never tried before.  It has rich fruity chocolate flavor and I enjoy it occasionally without any temptation to overindulge.  I call this success, and I call it transcending the addiction because if I was just abstaining, forcing myself not to indulge, I'd still be addicted, just not "in active addiction," as we say in NA.  Of course, I have no idea whether my methods would work for anyone else.  They work for me.

June 19, 2013

  • True Love and True Happiness

    For more than half of my lifetime, while doing psychic readings for people all over the planet, I have answered thousands of questions about love.  I also answered questions about money and a lot of other subjects, but love was the issue uppermost in most of my clients' minds.  The readings did not come from me.  They came through me.  Sometimes, I recorded readings I did in person.  When my medium was written words, I always read what I had written.  Going back over them, some things I said or wrote were new ideas to me, or different, unusual takes on old ideas. 

    I probably learned more from those readings in the aggregate than all my clients combined.  Someone receiving a piece of information that way might tend to think of it as peculiar to him or herself, of little universal significance.  For me, channeling the same information and advice time after time to a wide variety of people, I caught on to the universal significance of what I was saying.  When I started associating with other psychic weirdos like me, they reinforced those universal verities.  Consequently, I went from being a generally unhappy, emotionally needy seeker of wisdom and truth, to a happy and loving seeker of wisdom and truth.

    Quoting myself here:

    "We set ourselves up for disappointment when we try to trade love or anything else such as money, flattery, service or power, for love.  Loving can hurt unless you love unconditionally.  If you ask anything at all from those you love, you're likely to ask for things that those you love will not or cannot give.  If you let that stop you from loving, you lose and everyone loses.

    "The experience of loving without needing anything in return is a great feeling.  It is a higher octave of love.  Love is a form of energy.  By radiating it out, we establish a flow of it that enriches, enlightens and empowers us, and brings us together with ALL." (Unconditional Love FAQ)

    I now know that love and happiness, to be the real true things themselves, must come from within.  We don't fall into, find, earn or buy LOVE.  If you "fall in love," it's probably limerence.  That kind of love is often a euphemised manifestation of the biological reproductive imperative, and it can be complicated by attachment disorders.  There's nothing wrong with the mating urge in itself.  It's a useful mechanism for perpetuating the species, but when it hits someone whose infancy and childhood weren't conducive to healthy bonding, it might not last long enough to ensure that the offspring have the care and protection of both parents through childhood and adolescence.  In successful, long-lasting pair bonds, somewhere along the way at least one of the partners does some real loving.

    That's what love is:  something we DO.  It is a choice: choosing to BE loving, to DO love.  We can choose to aim it in a tight beam at one individual, who may or may not appreciate being the focus of such a beam.  We can spread it out to family, friends and those with whom we share bonds of kinship, philosophy, or whatever, or we can broadcast it to the universe at large.  The supply is unlimited.  The more I love, the more I can love.  If you feel you're loving too much, you're probably not loving at all.

    Happiness has some things in common with love.  The best kind, the real stuff, comes from within.  It is a choice.  It doesn't need a reason to be.  Unconditional happiness, being happy for no reason at all, is about as joyous as life gets.  I highly recommend it.



June 3, 2013

  • I love liars.

    I hate the lies they tell.  It's the old, "Love the sinner, hate the sin," thing. To me, lies are terrible, despicable, destructive things, but, to me, nothing is unforgivable, either.  If someone lies to me, and I recognize it as a lie or find out later that it was, it will change our relationship, certainly.  I'll be more cautious with that person, less likely to take anything he says at face value.  In other words, I'm not likely to forget the lie, but I will forgive the liar because hanging onto resentments and grudges is self-destructive.  It makes no sense to pile that on top of the injury caused by the lie.

    Some of the wisest advice I have ever been given was to transcend fear and practice universal unconditional love.  I can discern that this is wise advice, a good idea, in several ways.  The nearer I come to achieving it, the happier and more harmonious I become.  Loving my family and close friends unconditionally has made me happier and made our relationships closer.  It has decreased our conflicts, because the "unconditional" part of it has erased all my expectations.  They don't disappoint me or let me down, and aren't subject to the repercussions that could result if they had.

    In some ways it is easier to love people I know than to love everybody equally, and in other ways it is not so easy.  I can relax into a state of just loving the whole universe, impartially, dispassionately, as somewhat of an abstraction.  That's not so easy to achieve with people with whom I have regular contact, conflicting interests, different ideas, etc.  In my family, we're always stepping on each other's toes, rubbing each other the wrong way, misunderstanding what is said.  To stay in a loving frame of mind here requires mindfulness and willingness to forgive.  I seem to be able to manage that more readily with my family and friends than I am, say, for example, politicians in general and Republicans in particular.


June 2, 2013

  • Is it possible?

    I'm wondering if everyone currently active on Xanga, all those who have been here and posted since John announced the relaunch fundraiser, have seen his post.  Can it be that there are those who have not?  I've been to about a dozen of my old friends' sites, and only one of them has blogged about the relaunch.

    Just in case, here it is:

     Relaunching Xanga: A Fundraiser


April 5, 2012

  • Greyfox is now officially an amputee.

    Dr. O'Malley removed parts of two (or three?? -- I haven't seen the newly remodeled foot yet) (edit 5/27/13:  All 4, actually) toes from his left foot yesterday in Anchorage.  The trip down the valley from here to pick up Greyfox, then from Wasilla to Anchorage, was uneventful, except for the fact that everything went smoothly and on time, a big event for me.  My personal inner clock doesn't go tic-toc.  Sometimes it buzzes along in a rush, sometimes it staggers and clunks, or vanishes altogether.  Punctuality is not one of my strengths or virtues, but yesterday we were there with ten minutes to spare.

    My day became suddenly eventful right after we entered the hospital.  I let Greyfox out at the entrance, parked, went in, found him in admitting and let him know I was there, then returned to my car to unburden myself of coat and unneeded stuff.  That was when I had my closest moose encounter in over twenty years, right there in the hospital.  There's an arctic entry -- two sets of big double sliding glass doors that open automatically when someone approaches.  I stepped up to the inner set of doors, triggering them open at the same time a young cow moose approached the outer set and they opened for her.  On the sidewalk, walking parallel to the doors when they opened beside her, she paused, swung her head around, and looked at me.  For a moment, I thought she was going to come in, but then she continued on her way.  When I got to my car, she was browsing on some young trees in the landscaping.

    I love/hate hospitals.  Those of you who know how empathetic I am will understand the hate part:  an atmosphere of pain, fear, anxiety, etc.  My love for these institutions of hurting and healing is compounded of long familiarity and a Virgoan appreciation of trained professionals doing competent jobs.  Alaska Regional appears to function like a well-oiled machine.

    I've worked in hospitals that didn't run nearly so well, in Kansas and California in the 1960's, before computers lubricated the admissions, record-keeping, and communications aspects of the process.  I've been a patient in even more hospitals, both civilian and military, in several states and in Japan, including an emergency experience there at Alaska Regional twenty-some years ago after a car wreck.  Built during and after the Trans-Alaska Pipeline boom of the 1970's, it has always been a clean, well-lighted place staffed with competent people who tend to go overboard trying to put patients and families at ease.  The forced cheeriness is cloying and vaguely jarring in contrast to the undertones of time pressure, preoccupation, various personal issues, but I understand.  In sum, it's an interesting place to just sit and pay attention to what is going on around me.

    Greyfox phoned just now as I was writing, and we've decided I'll go down there today and give him some nursing care.  We both were briefed by Joe, his recovery room nurse, before I took him home.  However, neither of us read the three-page detailed post-op instructions that said he should be attended for the first eighteen hours.  I helped him into his cabin, did a few things that needed to be done, saw him installed comfortably on his bed with foot elevated, and let him shoo me out and send me on my way.  I felt like staying and tending to him, but he insisted (quite reasonably, considering the signs of fatigue I was showing) that I should be on my way home while I still could function well enough to drive safely. 

    I phoned him as usual to let him know I'd made it home, and the first thing he said, in an anxious tone, was, "Hon, I'm bleeding."  He had paged Dr. O'Malley and was waiting for his return call.  Instead of letting me prepare food for him, Greyfox had thought he was up to microwaving a frozen dinner himself.  He tried.  Then, when he noticed blood on the floor, he sat down, elevated the foot as ordered, and called the doc.  After O'Malley got back to him, we discussed whether I should go back down there last night to change his dressings.  As we spoke, he was on the bed with the foot elevated and both the dinner and the bandages were a few feet away, out of reach.  It's a small cabin, one room about 10' x 14', but not everything is accessible from his bed.

    Last night, his machismo overruled my machisma and he changed his own dressing, but today he was strong enough to admit that he could use my help, so I'll be on my way down the valley as soon as I've had breakfast and a little time to gather my wits and some supplies.


February 13, 2012

  • I wonder what happened.

    I blogged here last week, about Greyfox's frostbite and other recent events.  It was cross-posted on Facebook, had a few views and comments.  Now it has vanished.

February 10, 2012

  • Fire and Water

    This winter, my time and energy have largely been taken up with mundane matters of fire and water:  tending the wood stove and melting snow.  Doug (my adult son, for those who are not familiar) and I were snowed in here for several weeks by a series of snowfalls in November and early December.  Shoveling roofs and chopping wood took priority over the driveway, and the work went slowly.  He dug us out at last ten days before Christmas  and we loaded jugs and buckets in the Jeep's hatch for a trip to the spring, intending first to go to the grocery store.  By the time we were done at the store, it was dark.  We decided to put the water run off until the next day.

    It started snowing before we got home.  That night, each time I looked out the window, I was amazed at how thick, fast and heavy the snow was coming down.  "Down" is generally the way snow falls, but occasionally this snow was coming "down" sideways.  It was a local phenomenon, right around here.  The rest of the area got between 8 inches and a foot or two that night; our neighborhood got an officially reported 39 inches.  It made statewide news.  We were snowed in again, and haven't been out since.  More snow has fallen in the meantime.  This Wednesday, two days ago, Doug had gotten almost done shoveling.  Yesterday morning the snowplow went by on the road and left a berm across our driveway.  Doug shoveled some of it yesterday.  Maybe we'll be able to get out the driveway in a day or two.

    Metaphysical "fire" and "water", the classical elements of spirit and emotion, have been prominent parts of my winter experience, too.  Two weeks ago, my husband, Greyfox, who lives 50 miles or so from here on the edge of Wasilla, frostbit his hands and feet, the left foot rather severely.  At the time it happened, he was out of communication with me for more than a day.  That is a very rare occurrence with him.  He usually calls several times each day.  Not being able to get out of here to check on him, or to get through on his cell, knowing something was very wrong, was an emotional trial through which only Spirit has sustained me.  His emotional state since the experience, the inexplicable anger, vulgarity and profanity flowing from him (no other person, no impersonal force, did this to him - he did it himself) have not been easy to take without responding in kind, but I've managed.  He was up here this week, dropping off supplies on a trip to the clinic, getting around with difficulty on a crutch, looking gray and haggard.  I had made some med-packs for him: amino acids, nootropics, cognitive enhancers, vitamins and minerals, and his mood is noticeably improved after a couple of days on them.

    I knew it had been a while since I had blogged, but it came as a bit of a surprise to see that it had been 3 months.  In that latest entry from mid-November, I mentioned my dog.  He died December 22.  What with that, Greyfox's situation, being snowed in and ill a lot, this has been a rough winter so far... but it is getting better.  Days grow longer and generally warmer.  I'm okay.