A whirlwind birthday week

The wind is howling outside. Jerry and I walked our daily walk this morning and it was beginning to blow then. Now I see on Nextdoor Lummi Island someone has posted that the gusts are up to 69 miles per hour at the ferry dock and the ferry is riding it out mid channel between runs. I am safe indoors watching the trees whip and thrash in the woods around the house. I like watching extreme weather. I did a tiny bit of tidying outside among my flower pots and plants this morning before it started. Then I painted on my cat pictures — finished one. IMG_0455

This is the finished cat painting. Then I changed sheets and did some laundry. I am almost back to normal. But I am not just recovering from a major operation, I am recovering from a whirlwind of a week.

A week ago Saturday I went to a painting workshop at Lorna’s. There I started another cat  portrait: a cat belonging to a fellow islander. It’s a big, bushy part long haired Siamese with tabby markings. Here’s the unfinished kitty.IMG_0452The workshops are fun, and include a vegetarian lunch with wine and brownies. When I came home I began preparations for my birthday.

On Sunday, my two grandsons, James (from nearby Seattle) and Thomas (all the way from England) were here for a roast beef dinner. Also present were James’ wife, Maria, and their two children, Julian and Allison, and Cat Rodgerson, Thomas’s girlfriend (serious), my daughter, Debbie, her husband, Chris and their daughter, Clare.  Suddenly my slightly crazy friend, Gwen, turned up from Alaska. So I had 12 at the dinner table. The roast was lovely. I thought surely somebody would bring a cake, so I had no dessert. When no cake appeared I sent Jerry to the island store, which has fallen on hard times and has little food, for a dessert. He brought back the only one in the store — a cherry pie and it was good.

I had planned an entertainment for the children because I want them to like coming here. I got them some books full of facts about the world and its critters from the National Geographic. Those great grandchildren revel in facts. The main attraction was a bag of geodes! I asked my 6 year old great grandson if he knows what a geode is. He thought a minute and replied, “It’s a rock with crystals inside.” Imagine his knowing that! The geodes were supposed to be broken open with a hammer, but when I read the reviews on the internet I learned it would be much better to open them with a tile saw. I asked Jerry if he had a tile saw; of course he said yes, and he set it up in the studio with a lubricating stream of water. It made a lot of noise and some mess. The children wore safety goggles while the geodes were sawed in half. The whole thing was a big success. Each child had a bag of half geodes to take home.IMG_0434

On Monday, my actual birthday, Jerry and I took Thomas and Cat (Catherine) to dinner at the Oyster Bar on Chuckanut Drive. The scenery was wonderful, but I was disappointed in the food which used to be really good and is now just barely acceptable and is very expensive. Thomas and Cat left the next day, vacating the our small attached rental and Gwen moved from the loft in our house to the rental. She stayed for a week.

I am fond of her. She is a whirlwind of energy, and being with her is fun but strenuous.  She wanted to catch up with all her old friends on the island that she hadn’t seen for years and she kept inviting them here. She invited her friend Barb up from Seattle to stay with her in the rental. Barb is a sweet and calm person and I was glad to see her, but Jerry and I are accustomed to solitude and semi-isolation; we were flustered at being surrounded by so many people. Gwen took us to dinner at the Beach Store Cafe one evening and I had a group of 6 for dinner one evening. Sunday night I went to a presentation at the school by Sharon Grainger, an old friend of Gwen’s and mine. The presentation was a Kickstarter for a book Sharon is collaborating on about Athabaskans in British Columbia. Sharon is a talented photographer and is illustrating the book with her sensitive photographs.

It was an exciting week. When Gwen left on Sunday Jerry and I flopped. Now we are getting some rest.

Posted in Day to day, Island life | 8 Comments

It ain’t over (so I tried the marijuana store)

I am 3 weeks and 3 days post op. It isn’t over. I still have some pain. Jerry and I are walking our usual route, but I move slower than before especially on hills. By evening most days I feel completely wasted. And I am not sleeping well. That isn’t a new problem, and seems to be almost universal. We talk about it at Mah Jongg and compare strategies for getting a night’s sleep.

Last Sunday I thought the pain was getting worse and that I might have a urinary tract infection — common after hysterectomy. I called the weekend on-call number for the doctor and spoke to a nurse who said I should wait until Monday and see a doctor. Monday was a holiday so I waited until Tuesday by which time I was really feeling sick. The doctor who did the operation examined me and said I was doing “fabulously” and prescribed an antibiotic for the UTI. After 24 hours on the antibiotic I felt a lot better.

On Wednesday Jerry and I had a long day in town. He had an early morning appointment with the dermatologist who goes over him with a liquid nitrogen gun and freezes spots on his head, arms, back and chest. After that we had time to kill. I said, “I know what, lets go to the marijuana store!” I thought I might address some of my pain and sleep problems.

We had visited the marijuana store once before when one of my daughters was visiting. She had a little electronic atomizer thing and needed a refill for it. Since marijuana has been legalized in Washington State stores have sprung up all over the place. We took her to one of them. It was in a low nondescript building on the Guide Meridian Highway, some miles out of town. When we entered a pleasant middle aged lady greeted us and looked at our ID’s. The place had soft lighting, and display counters full of a variety of THC containing products. There was a show case of elegant blown glass water pipes. A pretty young woman was eager to help and show us the merchandise. She asked my daughter what sort of high she was interested in. My daughter replied that she liked a serene feeling. She found what she needed. The store is a cash only business. I guess there is a problem with banks and credit cards and the marijuana business.

Jerry and I went to the same store. This time the greeter was a good-looking young Asian/American man. He said he would help us. I explained that I wanted something for sleep and that I had heard of candies that you could suck. He was very helpful and showed me a bunch of different edibles, some that combined THC with melatonin. I chose some hard candies. They were expensive: $35 for 6 pieces. The package had a printed message that said, “This product may be illegal outside the State of Washington”. At another counter there was a man, grey bearded and in his late sixties, vigorously negotiating for some smokables. He was talking in a loud voice, declaring that he was a long time “cold warrior!” I glanced over at him, wondering what that meant. The young man helping us looked up quickly and said softly, “You’re in the marijuana store!”

Last night there were 5 of us playing Mah Jongg. Kay had a jar of orange cream that she had bought in a marijuana store in Tacoma. It had THC in it. She said that she rubbed it on the soles of her feet and on her wrists and arms. She couldn’t tell whether it made any difference in how she felt, but she slept well for the first time in a long time. I said that my candies made me feel a lovely peacefulness. I slept well after eating half a candy . I also thought that the pain was eased. We discussed the whole marijuana situation and compared memories of past experiences with smoking it (or brownies) in our youth. I went home and tried the candy again. I was disappointed this time and I thought it gave me an odd sort of headache. But I’m going to try it again tonight.

Recovery is work. It’s tempting to just loll about and act like a sloth; to lounge on a pile of pillows and read murder mysteries. Instead I find I have to do things I don’t have much enthusiasm for just now– walk, write, paint, cook, house-keep. I need to do these things to help mend my body. And I need to think about which things to eat, which pills to take, and how much to experiment with maryjane. When I’m well I just take all that stuff for granted. I find all this concentration on the physical body a bother. I am not a patient patient.

Posted in Day to day | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Papageno, the well known poodle

With Fluffy and Daisy

With Fluffy and Daisy

After I came home form the hospital I spent a lot of time resting on my bed with my 2 toy poodles keeping me company, one on each side. Fluffy, an old fellow of 15 with only 2 teeth remaining, is no longer able to jump and has to be lifted on to the bed. Daisy, only 9, still makes it. Whenever Jerry came near the bed to help me with something or to give me a kiss, Fluffy growled and threatened a 2 tooth bite. Jerry, an old man too, invariably took umbrage and grumbled huffily at Fluffy.

I was reminded of a time my childhood when my grandmother had a poodle that looked a lot like Fluffy. He was a small miniature, grey. He slept on my grandmother’s bed. My grandmother was a grand lady. Her name was Julia but she was called Julie by her family, including me and my cousins. Granny or grandma did not suit her. Her hair was a steely white and had been since she was in her twenties. It was like a wavy cloud around her patrician face. The financial crash of ’29 had not treated her kindly but she maintained a life of precarious comfort by being so charming and lively that wealthy friends competed to have her stay with them. Sometimes she worked. In the second world war she worked in Washington and New York at the OSS, precursor of the CIA, as a translator and propagandist. She had spent most of her adult life (until the war) in Europe and was fluent in Italian, French, and German. Sometimes she was employed translating Italian books into English. She was cultured and elegant and she loved opera. Her poodle’s name was Papageno.

Julie had had a mysterious illness all her life. When she was young it was thought to be a form of tuberculosis and she spent time in the mountains in Switzerland taking rest cures in sanitariums. By the time she was in her 60’s medical science had advanced and she was diagnosed with pernicious anemia. She was never really well and she usually had her breakfast in bed. At bedtime she would take upstairs to her bedroom an egg, sliced bread, a pat of butter, a pot of jam and a cream pitcher with milk. Beside her bed on a table were a bowl of sugar, a tin of Earl Gray tea, a small electric tea kettle, a toaster (the kind with 2 doors — you had to turn the toast to expose it to the central electric element) and a little electric container to boil an egg. There was an egg cup, pretty china cups and saucers, silver spoons and knife and a linen napkin. She plugged the electrical things into an extension which she kept handy on the bed so as she prepared her breakfast while propped up on pillows the coverlets were crisscrossed with wires. Papageno guarded the foot of the bed.

Julie was an early riser and so was I. I loved her and the breakfast preparations interested me. Sometimes she made me a piece of toast and cambric tea (hot water with milk and sugar). Papageno was hostile. I would climb on the bed, avoiding the electric wires and Papageno would growl angrily and try to bite me. Generally he and I would establish an uneasy truce. I learned a lot from Julie at those early morning breakfasts in bed, but Papageno and I never became friends.

Papageno lived a long time. He was never a nice dog. His temper worsened as he got older and he barked constantly. Eventually his continual barking drove everyone so crazy that his vocal chords had to be cut. After that he barked constantly in a whisper. As I rested in bed after the operation caressing my dogs I thought about Papageno. He didn’t have many friends, but Julie had scads of them and since Papageno was always with her he was a well known dog. Besides Julie’s friends, our numerous extended family knew him as an increasingly peculiar nuisance with his ceaseless croaking whispered bark.

I emailed my cousins to find out if they remembered Papageno. My oldest cousin is 10 years younger than I. She and the next in line wrote back that they remember hearing about him — he was a legend — but didn’t remember knowing him. I got to thinking about that vanished world, all those people who had known and disliked Papageno. I’m the only one left.

Posted in Day to day, Memoir | 9 Comments

After the operation

The operation was 11 days ago. I am not dead. This morning Jerry and I walked about 3/4 of a mile. Yesterday we walked early but later I was miserable with searing pains in the abdomen for most of the day. I was able to talk to a sympathetic nurse and later to the doctor herself. I was advised to take various remedies and pain medicine. Today I am much better. Gas is the problem. I am astonished at how painful intestinal gas can be. All day I alternately groaned and dozed, exhausted from the stress of the pain. I hope all that is now finished.

The day after I came home from the hospital (someday I’ll write about the hierarchical community of the hospital) I received a telephone call telling me that my first husband, Pete, had died. He was 90 years old and was being treated for cancer so it was not unexpected; but still it was disturbing news. I had not seen him for more than 30 years, but I kept up with his life’s events (and some of its trivia) because he was the father of 3 of my children. The last time I saw him I lived in Bethesda Maryland. He came to my house to pick up our daughter for a visit before she went off to graduate school in England. Instead of coming to my door himself, he sent his young son by his second marriage. I thought the child had come to play with my young son by my second marriage. My ex had to get out of his car and come up the walk to untangle the mistake. I greeted him warmly and gave him a quick hug. He didn’t like it.

Pete was a guy who battled his way through life. He was smart and funny and educated but living made him angry. He had a mind and a memory. He remembered all the stuff he had had to memorize as a kid in high school and could recite long passages of pieces like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. He read everything. He loved opera and we listened to it every Saturday on the radio. When he was studying for his PhD prelims we went out to Evanston, Illinois where my mother, an economics professor, lived, for him to be coached by her. She had a big old house with many rooms. Pete and my mother roamed from room to room working out economic theories, mechanisms and facts. The children, who were small, and I stayed out of their path. My mother said he was the best student she ever had. He liked smart women and never suffered fools gladly. One of my favorite stories about him, told to me by one of our children, was his having a dispute with an airline ticket agent. He demanded that something be done, the agent assured him that “irregardless” of his pressing need it could not be done. Pete finally exploded in a furious tirade and ended by pounding his fist on the counter and shouting, “And besides that, irregardless isn’t even a word.”

So I am slowly healing from the operation and contemplating the hole in the world left by Pete’s death. I would prefer to have him still there, across the continent, fighting the world. I am not in favor of change. Of course, we all have to go and life will be easier for some of those who were struggling to care for him at the end. But they, too, will have to cope with the sudden vacuum and the loss. I am sorry.

Posted in Day to day | 6 Comments

An operation

In four days I will have major surgery. Hysterectomy. Some people (nobody in my fastidious family) used to refer such surgery as “going under the knife”. In a way that tired cliche expresses how I feel about it. I am trying to understand exactly how I do feel about it. I imagine the scene. It’s the operating room where everyone is anonymous under green and white gowns, masks and head coverings, identifiable by voice and function only. Lots of lights. I am covered with sterile drapes which are parted to expose the relevant skin. Now the first incision; the scalpel slides across my lower abdomen — I suppose a little above the pubic region. White flesh parts and blood oozes. I am sedated so I don’t really know what’s going on, but when they get finished I will be minus a few organs. I am almost 84 years old. These are organs I have no further use for; yet somehow I feel a loss. I will no longer be complete.

I have been waiting a long time for this event. The surgery was decided 3 months ago, but the schedule is crowded and an 84 year old with a fibroid is not an emergency, so I wait. As the time comes closer I become more anxious, though sometimes I can regard this calmly and think about what I will do in a couple of weeks. Sometimes I panic and can’t think of the future beyond 9:40 Tuesday morning. Some nights I sleep badly, uncomfortable and ruminating. Last night I slept well.

The reason for the surgery is that the fibroid tumor needs to be checked for cancer. Cancer is unlikely and I do not worry about that. Why I don’t is a mystery to me, since I have worried about all sorts of sillier things in my life.

How shall I present this to my world? Shall I be secretive and tell no one till it’s all over? I could, but it’s not really my style. Should I talk about it all the time? Of course not. I try to be frank, but not boring. I fear I err on the boring side. I have resisted friends’ offers of help — bringing meals, shopping for food, driving me home form the hospital — all that. I have told my children to stay home. I think Jerry and I will do better quietly on our own.

Last night I played Mah Jongg with Tammy, Sue and Grace. We played in a house that Tammy is house sitting in. Tammy said it was an interesting house, but I did not like it. There was a quantity of heavy woodwork around the windows and on the vaulted ceiling and the interior space was oddly organized and dark. After we finished playing Kay came from the Beach Store Cafe where she is taking a 4 week course on French wines. She was enthusiastic. She said there was a lot of wine. For most of the evening I was tired and preoccupied. I hope I didn’t talk too much about the operation.

Tomorrow I will go to Lorna’s workshop and paint the two guys walking that I have identified as hipsters (according to the description given to me by my daughter and granddaughter). There is a fat lady in the background. There isn’t the remotest possibility that anyone will buy the painting when it’s finished. It will be odd. After the workshop I will drive back to the ferry and pick Jerry up so we can go out to dinner in town. I will eat a lot of oysters. I will try not to dwell on the operation, or on how eating raw oysters might affect its outcome.

Sunday we go to Bobbi and Malcolm’s for dinner. The conversation should be good. I will try not to talk about the operation. I will talk instead about our local neighborhood drama. Brenda is suing the Hilltop Water Association from which we get our water. Malcolm is the former chairman of the board. Brenda seems to be focusing her anger on him and on the present chairman, Rich. They have both worked hard at this non-paying volunteer job and done well. Under their guidance the water supply has become safer and far more reliable. Brenda’s motivation seems to be to get money, but there must be a better way since neither the water association nor its chairmen have deep pockets.

All around in the world there’s more to think about than a looming operation. I think about my painting, local and national politics, food and fun and friends. It will be the same after as before I tell myself. Just that I will be missing a few troublesome bits.

A week ago I had a friendly phone conversation with a hospital admitting nurse who gave me detailed instructions about when to stop eating, what pills not to take and how to wash with antibiotic soap before coming to the hospital. I must put clean sheets on the bed and wear clean pajamas the night before.

On Monday I finally have my pre-op appointment with the doctor who will operate. It is a woman, in her 50’s I guess, who I have only seen a couple of times for a very few minutes. She seems smart and I suppose she is competent, but I am not filled with confidence. I was supposed to see her today but they are short handed and I was put off till less than 24 hours before the zero hour.

The next installment about this will come after it’s done. I hope to write it up in the hospital where I may have to stay for 5 days. I’m sure all will go well, notwithstanding the brochure I was given about this surgery which listed all the possible complications. The last one was death.

Posted in Day to day | Tagged | 12 Comments


It’s the week between Christmas and the New Year. It seems as if nothing can happen. And yet, in the world, things are happening. An Asian Airlines plane has gone down in the Java Sea. A ferry is burning off the island of Corfu. I traveled on a similar ferry 40 years ago, from Brindisi to Corfu, and from Corfu to Patria. But now things are not happening to me, and I think of this last week of the year as the time when nothing will happen.

Christmas 2014 is over. The tree is still up. I look at it and think I should take it down soon, but not yet. Too soon to take the tree down. I didn’t want a tree this year; I didn’t look forward to Christmas with much enthusiasm. Lawyer daughter was with us, with her husband and youngest child, a shy, silent child of 17, old enough to be a problem about presents because it is so hard to know what teenage girls are wanting. I got her pajamas and gave her some of my old stud earrings because I was told she never wears danglies, and I almost never wear the tiny studs these days. The old ones were pretty — pearls, jade, turquoise and some that were actually new, recently bought in New Zealand, made of paua shell. I love my daughter and her family but just now there are tensions in that family that are difficult to watch. Jerry’s son came for a week. He was quiet and companionable. The dogs love him. He walks with us and is willing to watch our evening lectures.

Although I didn’t think I wanted to bother with a tree, I found that I enjoyed decorating it. The tree and the ornaments stirred memories. When I was a child my uncle had theories about tree decorating. A tree was always sent down to our house in Andover, Massachusetts from my other aunt’s tree farm in Maine. It was tall and stately and stood in front of the huge bay window in the living room. There were boxes of my uncle’s grandparent’s ornaments. they glowed with the soft patina of age. He told my cousins and me to decorate the tree from the center out, so it would shine from within. Tinsel (the old heavy foil kind) was allowed sparingly. There were candles, real candles, that were only lit a couple of times with my uncle watching, fire extinguisher at the ready. Nowadays Christmas trees have LED lights. They don’t heat up and they make small points of light, better than the clunky incandescent lights of my early adulthood.

After the tree was finished some young friends stopped by with a present: Lummi Island blackberry “brandy” that they made themselves. I showed them the tree; Mary-Beth said it was a lovely “traditional” tree, I guess meaning that it wasn’t a theme tree or all one color or covered with bows.

The finished tree, Christmas 2014

There were ornaments accumulated over the years, tiny toys, birds,

Birds and bells on the tree

ceramic Santas, horns, violins, wooden nursery rhyme figures like Tom the piper’s son running off with the pig, glass bells and icicles. And one old styrofoam ball stuck with sequins and beads assembled by one of my children (can’t remember which one) some 50 years ago.

Out of the past

There was a colorful fish with little dangling hearts made of painted bamboo strips that reminded me of a big mobile I had brought back from Burma. The mobile fell to bits long ago.

Bamboo fish

Christmas is about presents and even more about food. I got most of the presents on line, with a small burst of last minute shopping on the 23rd when I got a red teapot for my daughter and an assortment of exotic teas for her and her husband. Our Christmas eve table was laden with chicken soup and fancy cold cuts. Desert was a baklava assortment.

Christmas eve dinner

The only thing I made was the soup, but even so in these days of my old age I find that dealing with food, especially for more people than Jerry and me, makes me tense. I don’t know why this is so, but the next day, Christmas, I worried foolishly over the relatively simple rib roast of beef and Yorkshire pudding.

By the weekend Jerry and I were by ourselves again and we spent the next few days in relieved stupor. We did nothing. I began coping with leftovers. We ate leftover roast beef for 3 days, and I cooked all the beef scraps, with some bedraggled carrots still left in my garden, for the poodles.

We wait for a ruling from the judge in Jerry’s will dispute — it’s rivaling Jarndice vs Jarndice in length and expense. This will not be a final ruling, only one on a minor point, but one in which an adverse ruling will probably prolong the case for an additional year.

And we wait for Jerry to recover from a procedure to remedy the old man’s affliction of an enlarged prostate. The recovery is not going as it should, and we wait for shipments of catheters which don’t come as scheduled because we live on an island and everything takes an extra day to come from the mainland. Poor Jerry. Getting old is fighting a losing battle. Every day there’s a little slippage.

Tomorrow is new year’s eve. I will go to my last painting class of the year. In the evening there’s my favorite party of the year at Pat and Rich’s wine shop. We will drink some wine, share some nibbles and welcome in the new year as celebrated in Times Square (that’s 9 o’clock our time). After we sing Auld Land Syne the young people go on to the next party and us old folk will go home to bed. The next day, Jan 1, 2015, there’s another party at Diane and Mike’s for the Mah Jongg ladies and their mates. Our group is collected from our little neighborhood. I rejoice in my neighbors and neighborhood.

I am looking forward to 2015. I have hopes rather than resolutions, but where there’s life there’s hope. Jerry and I are alive. Perhaps the law suit will be settled.  Jerry’s water-works will be restored. Sometime in 2015 we will go to New Zealand. Spring will come.

I wish all of my dear blog friends a happy and prosperous 2015. I’ll try to keep up with your blogs and comment early and often.

Posted in Day to day, Island life | 14 Comments

Power Failure

We had a brief little freeze early in November but the garden recovered and I was still pulling carrots and beets until last week. The parsley revived. A rose bloomed. Then an icy northeast wind blew down from the Frazer River valley and it really froze. On Lummi Island winds are clocked as high as 67 miles per hour.

It blows and whistles around the house all day and all night.

At about 6:30 in this morning we are rudely awakened by a screaming smoke alarm which goes off when the power fails. We are in the dark. Jerry disables the smoke alarm and makes a fire in the wood-stove.

Our woodstove

I light all the burners on the gas cooking stove which helps keep the kitchen warm when the power is out. We light some lanterns. The well pump on our neighborhood water system has a generator so we have water. The hot water stays hot for about a day when the power is off.

Jerry says he’ll start our small generator which will keep the refrigerator going. He and I have our usual discussion about getting a big generator which would run all the house electrics. It would be good to have such a thing when the power is out, but it would cost around $1500 and be a lot of work to install; Jerry would have to crawl around under the house — hard for an old man to do. And we would have to keep a supply of fuel for it. The power doesn’t go off very often, but then there is global warming and it may get worse. Is it worth the trouble and expense? We never settle the question.

This is looking like a long outage. I call Puget Sound Power but all I can get is a recorded “update” which says they are aware of power outages in the following places: then list almost every village and town in western Washington. I am to travel to England in 2 days and have washing to do. No washing machine, no dryer. I decide to read a book. I have just finished reading “I’m the Teacher; You’re the Student” by Patrick Allit. It was a good read and I am stuck for another book. Power outages elicit stress. I need an antidote for stress. I decide to reread “Persuasion” which I have read many times. It’s comfort food for the mind. It’s on my Kindle, illustrated and with an added alternative climax scene which I had never read. I lie on the sofa near the wood-stove with the poodles and their toys randomly plopped around me. Once again I see in my mind’s eye Louisa Musgrove fall senseless on the cob in Lyme. Once again Mr. Eliott insinuates himself into Anne Elliot’s life. This is not bad.

Jerry is feeling less content. He can’t read the “Financial Times” on the computer. He stokes the fire and stacks more wood for it. We decide to drive around the island and see who else is without power. We discover that some people are illuminated. Then we find the source of the problem. A section of Legoe Bay Road is closed off with barricades and there is tree debris in the road. There is nobody working on it.

After a while the wind drops and we decide to take a walk. We take our usual route, down Granger Way, right on Nugent and up the hill, left on Legoe Bay Road, and as we approach the road block we see a Puget Sound Energy truck going toward it. Hurray, say I, it will get fixed. Oh, says Jerry gloomily, I don’t know. The truck turns on Granger Way. As we walk up Granger we meet it coming toward us. I wave and he stops. Are you going to fix it? I ask. He shakes his head mournfully. No he says. Why not I ask. It’s too big a job he says. A big branch off that fir down there went through all 3 phases. They’ll have to send a crew over and power’s off all over the county. Don’t know when they’ll get out here. He drives away. I ask Jerry what all three phases means. Well, he says, thee are 3 lines and the branch broke them all. I don’t feel enlightened.

We stop at the wine shop; they are operating with cute little kerosene lamps. We have a wine tasting between us and we give Pat and Rich the news. The wine shop is full of people we don’t know, so we go home knowing there will be no power for a while, but I am feeling a sense of peaceful resignation. At least we know what’s happening, we know eventually it will be fixed, and in the meantime nothing more can be done. How good it is to know. It doesn’t change the situation at all and yet knowing what’s happening makes all the difference.

By the time we reach home it’s getting dark. Jerry lowers the blinds and I collect all the candles and candle sticks I can find — there are lots: my mother’s, my grandmother’s, my own Waterford crystal glass ones that Hugh and I bought in Ireland, a few that Pete and I bought in Burma and Thailand  and others of unknown origin. When one gets as old as I am there is no shortage of candle sticks.

The griffin was my grandmother's

Since it’s only 2 days after Thanksgiving we have leftover turkey for dinner. We eat by candle light. The light is warm and gentle and makes everything look soft.

Candles in the dining room

I am feeling calm and contented. I am remembering childhood summers on the Maine coast in houses without electricity. I am not worrying about the washing. Tomorrow I can wash by hand and dry by the fire. I have all day to pack.

We decide we can watch our lecture on the computer run on battery. The lecture is one of a series on the industrial revolution by the Teaching Company. Patrick Allit is the lecturer. Appropriately the lecture is on the development of electricity during the industrial revolution and how it changed the way people lived. We watch it as the yellow candle light flickers and dances. We go to bed and I finish reading Persuasion. Then I read the ending that Jane Austen rejected. The published one is so much better it’s hard to imagine that Austen could write something as bad as the rejected ending. I see that even a marvelous writer like Jane Austen didn’t always write such deliciously sensitive prose. The unpublished ending is melodramatic and heavy handed. She wrote that first and she knew it was bad, so she thought hard and wrote something infinitely better: something imaginative, fresh and believable.

I fall asleep in dark comfort and quiet. I have had a day without machines, without internet, only waiting. Suddenly at midnight all the lights go on. The printer rumbles and clicks. Various things beep. We wake up and go around turning off lights and plugging in things that need to be replugged. We are back in the world of the 21st Century.

I go back to sleep, but my dreams are not so sweet as when I slept in the 19th century.

Posted in Day to day, Island life | 6 Comments

The comfort of women

I’ve been thinking about social life. Although I am old now, I try to remember how it was when I was young. Part of my childhood was spent with few other children to play with. In semi rural Massachusetts at my aunt and uncle’s house my only companions were adults. For a couple of years I lived with my mother and step-father in an apartment complex in Fleetwood, New York. There I played girl games — games I suppose kids don’t play any more — jump-rope, hop-scotch, jax, giant steps, and in the secret of my own room, dolls. Sometimes boys joined in for giant steps, and I sometimes played spud and king of the castle and statue tag which boys played too. I was never any good at games with balls because of a wandering eye, but I roller skated, built forts in the back lots and generally raced around. I sometimes beat boys at wrestling (once I pinned Bobby Schwartz). My best friend was Doris Rosenberg but she couldn’t eat at my house because her parents kept a kosher kitchen. And my worst enemy was Janet Featsome who once beat me up.

In the teen years I had girl friends that, sadly, I have lost touch with. My first years of high school I was in public school in Andover, Mass and Irene Yancy was my best friend. Irene was black, one of two black girls at Punchard High School. The only black boy was Irene’s brother John so her chances of a boyfriend (in those days) were slim. My boyfriend, for a short while, was John Yancy. That caused the police to visit my uncle (I lived with my aunt and uncle). John’s father, Mr. Yancy, put a stop to our teen romance, and I was sent to the town’s girl prep school, Abbot Academy. Although at first I felt the outrage of youth at this change, I actually loved Abbot where I had some wonderful teachers and got an education. Jane Noss and I were the only day students in our class at Abbot and we became good friends. She was the daughter of the Congregational minister. I still think of Jane often and wish we were still in touch. By this time my social life was focused on boys.

As a young married woman what little social life I had was oriented toward couples, either neighbors or people my husband knew at work. I had some women friends, centered around children and the sandbox in my apartment community. As I grew older my community became academia. There were parties with more than a little drinking and perhaps a bit of hanky-panky. At forty I had another baby, got divorced, became a single mother and went to live and work in Germany. There social life vanished except for an off-again, on-again boyfriend. After my third divorce I moved to Lummi Island in Puget Sound. My friends were mostly younger and on the wild side. I went to their parties, stayed for about an hour, and then went home to bed. Most of the time my companions were cats.

I have lived on Lummi Island for 15 years. I finally have a loving and satisfying marriage and for social life I have the comfort of women. I wonder whether this is a feature of old age. Perhaps not, since some of my female companions are not even old yet — still in their 50’s and almost all of them are younger than me.

These friends come with group activities. I had one life long friend, Penny, but she has drifted off into a world of hostility apparently because my political ideas do not exactly coincide with hers. She adheres to the radical green left, and is angry with anyone who doesn’t. And it’s not easy to get to the left of me. It’s sad because our children played together from the time they were babies and for years we visited back and forth where ever we lived. I helped Penny drive a U haul across the country from southern Virginia to New Mexico when she decided to move. After her daughter died I called her every day for 3 months. But I have not seen her for 8 years and when I called last year her she said harsh, unkind things to me. I realized I have to let it go.

I have 3 activities now that I share with women friends. One is my mah jongg group.

Playing Mah Jongg

This is an activity actually initiated by me. I learned an extremely easy version of the game in Manley Hot Springs, Alaska and I imported it to Lummi Island. Our group is mostly women from the neighborhood. We walk (well, sometimes I get lazy and drive) the quarter mile to most of the other houses). We play at 7 pm on Thursday evenings. There are 8 of us, some usually can’t make it so we play as many games as there are people. We drink wine. We laugh a lot; occasionally cry. We freely (within reason) discuss past escapades (romantic and other). We exchange island gossip. We don’t care who wins (well, Diane cares — she can’t help it. But she only cares for a brief moment).

Diane won and got to multiply her score 8 times

We all love the feel and click of the tiles. We joke about the mystique of the game, but we keep the wall tight to ban evil spirits. We keep a record book of our scores with cryptic notations about the sensational revelations of the evening, or someone’s pithy comment. Diane helps with arithmetic, adding scores for those of us who are too lazy. Especially me. One day someone asked me how I got a PhD in biology without being able to do math. Someone else commented, “Oh, she probably slept with the professor.” “Oh no,” I said indignantly, “I never did that for math. Only for physics.” I think that was noted for the record book in code.

Here’s our membership:

Pat is co-owner of the wine tasting shop. She and her husband, who has a PhD in economics are both retired from jobs at the university. Pat makes unique, gloriously beautiful quilts and needlework. She has silver hair, elegantly cut, and she is funny.

Tammy is a statuesque natural blond. She works hard and is always hot. She used to be a veterinarian’s assistant. Now she takes care of old people on the island and is the most sought after house and pet sitter here. One of her charges is a 60 pound cerval cat. She cleans houses. She cleans my house every other Saturday, going through it like a whirlwind. Tammy has a quick sharp wit and she laughs without restraint.

Diane retired from the Seattle bus company where she planned and monitored bus routes. She has a master’s degree in that sort of thing. Here on the island she works tirelessly. She toiled endlessly on our ferry problems committee, and when that was over she worked non-stop on the library renovation. She’s really good with numbers. Diane has thick black hair and a gentle laugh.

Sue is a retired school teacher and librarian. She has flowing silvery hair and she wears flowing clothes. She loves her grandchild and her dogs and she knits wonderful sweaters that she sells at the Saturday market next to the Islander Store. Sue is filled with the milk of human kindness. Kay is Sue’s best friend. She is not always with us, as she and her husband are not yet retired and not always on the island. Kay works in a bookshop on Vashion Island. She is expert on books and reading. She was formerly married to Sue’s husband. They have grown children — hers, his, theirs, and they all get on together in the most astonishingly chummy way. Kay is tall and willowy and smart and funny.

Colleen is married to one of the ferry captains. She is the youngest and is often absent. She is sweet and pretty. Even though she is a brand new grandmother there is no grey in her thick shiny brown hair. We are always glad when she has time to play.

Our newest player is Grace, who just retired from being postmaster at the island post office. We really miss her at the post office. When I brought in loose things to mail Grace would find the right mailer, calculate the least expensive yet expeditious way to mail, hand me customs forms if needed, all in a flash. We love having her play with us.

Last night Diane was showing us a newspaper article about her father. When she was 5 he was murdered at the mill where he was manager by a disgruntled employee . Sue broke the tension of this sad, horrifying story by saying, “Oh, so the guy went postal!” Then she looked at Grace and clapped her hand over her mouth in chagrin. Grace just laughed.

We are afraid Cathy has left us because she and her husband Russ have bought a condo in Fairhaven and now spend most of their time in town. Cathy worked as an accountant and did some contract accounting work here on the island. Cathy is a loveable and loving person. She loves to garden, to decorate, to cook and to have fun. She lost a son about 4 years ago and that cast a shadow over her life that will never entirely lift. I think that losing a child must be the worst thing that can happen to a woman.

My second island group plays bridge. In this group which plays once a week all afternoon I am only a substitute. As much as I enjoy the company of those ladies, I am unwilling to devote that much time to bridge. I am also unwilling to learn all the new conventions of bidding. It has been 40 years since I played much. So I play only occasionally when they need a fourth. If someone makes an unusual bid I have to ask what that means. These ladies are about my age, some even older. Playing bridge gets my adrenalin flowing — not because I care whether I win or lose but because I’m scared of making a stupid mistake. When I play they have to end at 4 because that’s when Jerry and I walk our mile and a half with the dogs, otherwise they would go on till 6. As the game draws to a close a bottle of white wine is uncorked. There are always chocolates and nuts on the bridge table.

For these ladies bridge is their solace and their relief from family demands. They love the game and the camaraderie. Shirley has a husband in a nursing home. She visits him every day except bridge day. Helen lives alone with her poodle but has 2 sons and a lot of grandchildren who visit often. Bridge is the day she relaxes in the company of women her age. Rhayma has an adopted teen age daughter and is very involved in church and community affairs. Bridge is her hobby and respite.

Finally there is my day off the island to Lorna’s art class at her house “out in the county”. Here I am surrounded by the uproarious cheerfulness and wild color of Lorna’s wonderful paintings (see www.lornalibert.com).

A workshop at Lorna's studio

There’s a variable group of smart talented women, each of whom paints in her own style, encouraged by Lorna’s constant upbeat and smiling help.

Lorna giving advice to a student

There’s music, wine and brownies provided by Lorna (she always sends home some brownies for Jerry.) Most of the time the serious work of painting keeps us from too much chatter, but occasionally we start talking. One day Linda brought in a scrap-book about her mother’s exploits, first as a sailor on a big sailing yacht and later raising race horses. Linda said she always took second place to the horses. That caused the rest of us to share memories of our mothers, not all of them happy.

I go to the art class because it keeps me on task and because Lorna’s advice is precious. Lorna paints every day all day (except when she has some carpentry to do on her house.) Her paintings sell well at prices high enough to make a living. That’s unusual for an artist. She says she has art classes so she can have a social life.

Painting with Lorna

Posted in Art, Day to day, Island life, Memoir | Tagged | 11 Comments

Home again jiggety jog

The trip on the ferry should have been restful, and in a way it was. I didn’t take any pictures because the weather was bad and I have taken pictures of  that route many times. We had fun talking to Tony the bartender. He looked a little older, a little grayer, but still in good shape. We had fun talking to our friends (Gwen’s parents). Rod is a born Alaskan with relatives all over the state. Jerry went to the University of Alaska with 2 of his cousins. He and Jerry can talk old time Alaska talk. Donna and I talk about books, getting old and our ailments. I read and I rested. But there was a fly in the ointment: car deck call.

Our poodles had to stay on the car deck in a cage. The car deck is damp and noisy. It is closed while the vessel is underway except for 15 minute “calls” every six hours if there are no ports of call for an extended period. I worry about the dogs on the car deck a lot, and I repeatedly checked the time until the next one. Sometimes car deck calls are in the middle of the night. Anyone who has a dog on board hurries down to the car deck armed with leash and paper towels. Dogs of every variety are escorted by their owners around cars, trucks, containers and campers and urged to do their business. Fluffy wants to fight all other dogs, regardless of size. On this trip there were more dogs than I have ever seen. It looked like a dog show.

We arrived in Bellingham on Friday morning. Cathy and Russ met us at the ferry. Getting all our stuff and dogs off was a piece of cake, but, of course, I had spent time fretting about how it would be accomplished. Then we went out to breakfast in cute, historic Fairhaven where the ferry docks and where Russ and Cathy live in a cute, comfortable condo.

We got home on the island to a mountain of mail. Mixed with the mail was an unexplained $200 cash, which I guessed was left by Tammy (who minds our place while we are away) from renting our apartment. Outside potted plants (mostly dead from lack of water) and porch furniture were all over the place, left by the house painters. They had propped up the heavy glass table top to our outdoor table on the deck railing. In the garden I still had beets and carrots; the lettuce I planted before I left was up and growing.

We have been home for just over 2 weeks. To me it seems as if we never left; Alaska is so far behind for me. Not so much for Jerry. On the internet he checks every day the temperature in Fairbanks. Just to make sure this statement was accurate I asked him; what is the temperature in Fairbanks. I think it’s about 10, he said, I’ll check. When did you last check, I asked. Last night he answered. He gives me the latest important news from Alaska. In the election Parnell (incumbent governor) is in trouble. He ignored many reports of sexual misconduct in the National Guard. The courts have forced him to release a lot of documents about his involvement in what appears to be a coverup. For the Senate, in the polls Begich (D) is neck and neck with Sulliven (R). Jerry says Sullivan looks like a carpet bagger. And he had to tell me that in Glacier Bay National Park it’s porcupine mating season.

I thought we should move the glass table top. It looked risky where it was. But we were tired on Friday and it had been there for a long time. We decided to go to bed and deal with it in the morning. In the middle of the night we were awakened by a loud bang. We got up to investigate. Jerry said maybe a tree fell on the house. I turned on the deck lights. There it was, the glass table top, shattered on the deck floor into long sharp dangerous shafts. It was not tempered glass.

The next day, Saturday and again on Sunday I went to town for a 2 day portrait painting workshop at Lorna’s. I started a painting of two ladies with hats from a photo taken about 3 years ago at the Civic Club tea party. I’m still working on it — there’s something wrong and I have to paint over part of it. Our friend Ria came over while I was at the workshop to pick up a check that Gwen had sent from Juneau (along with some salmon caviar). The check was for a vase that Ria (a fine potter) had made for Gwen. Jerry knew nothing about this. He gave Ria my $200. So I called Ria and said come over for wine and give me back my $200 and I’ll give you your check. We had a pleasant evening with Ria.

The rain, which had started about a week before we got back was coming down steadily, with only occasional breaks that allowed Jerry to mow the tall, wet grass. He spent a lot of time trying to track down a short circuit in the electric line that goes to his shop. He had no lights in the shop. The cable is buried, so he spent a good part of 3 days digging.

I made phone calls to doctors, dentists and the dog groomer for appointments. I caught up with email and Facebook. I called my daughters in England and on Whidbey Island. Slowly I unpacked. Fluffy kept getting in my suitcase and going to sleep. I think he likes to sleep on things that smell like me. It’s nice to be loved, but it’s a long time since he’s been to the groomer and pretty soon the things in my suitcase began to smell like Fluffy. The painters came over and cleaned up the broken glass, pressure washed the deck and moved some of the deck furniture back.

On Tuesday we had to get on our little island ferry, the Whatcom Chief, to go to Bellingham for groceries, hardware and an estimate on the cost of a new glass table top. On Wednesday I went to painting class at Lorna’s. On Thursday evening there was Mah Jongg at Diane’s.

Since coming home we have both had our teeth cleaned at the dentist, been told we need new crowns, been to the doctor for med checks, I have finally had my meeting with a rheumatologist. She turned out to be a tall and beautiful young woman, but clearly not interested in the aches and pains of an old lady. We have been to wine tasting twice. We have had visitors for wine and savory tid bits 3 times. And I decided I should paint a portrait of our friend Lee, who died while we were in Alaska. There was a memorial for him on November 1st at the Grange.

At Lee's memorial

The portrait of Lee went well, it pleased his wife, Tootie and it made her cry too. The memorial was well done, the crowd overflowed the Grange. I have lived on this island for almost 15 years now. So many of my friends, many younger than I, have died.

Sometimes people ask me: What do you do on Lummi Island, as if it must be a place where nothing happens. What do we do? Since I’ve been home I’ve hardly had time to think.

Posted in Art, Day to day, Island life | 6 Comments

From Manley to the Ferry

Closing up the Manley house for the frigid Alaska winter is a job.  Jerry had already drained the water softener, disconnected it and taken it to the dump, where presumably it will become an object for target practice. It never worked properly and having it gone saved time the last morning, since every drop of water has to be drained from the plumbing. All the pipes must be blown out with a compressor, the hot water heater drained, the toilet tank drained — one year Jerry forgot to drain that and we came back in spring to a block of ice in a toilet tank split in two pieces. Al, a former friend (before the great blog disaster) had an old tank that he gave us and fortunately it fitted.

While Jerry attended to the pipes I cleaned. I like the house to look perfectly ready for us when we come back. Then we took the small amount of left over food — stuff that can’t be frozen or that will be spoiled when the weather warms — over to the Redingtons. Pam said write an email when you get home to say you’ve arrived safely. Jerry said he likes getting emails from Pam to let him know what happens in Manley. Pam said the problem is nothing much happens. But I said there’s always weather, sometimes politics, and occasionally somebody dies or gets born or moves away. And there’s the possibility of progress on the Road to Tanana (some day to be the Road to Nome). A bear might become a nuisance and Joee might have to shoot it. Joee’s dogs might win a race. All that’s news.

So we hugged, said goodby and set out for Fairbanks. We needed to stop briefly to dispose of our accumulated rubbish; halfway to the dump Jerry remembered that he had forgotten to empty the 5 gallon blue plastic drinking water containers. If the containers froze in the winter they would crack and get water all over the floor so we had to go back to the house I had already said goodby to. I found going back unsettling. I was sad to leave, sadder than usual. At last this house seems like a permanent thing in my life: a significant home. We had thought of selling it, but nobody wanted to buy it, cute as it is, and I discovered that my attachment to it is deep enough to last as long as I can make the journey. It’s an easy house to live in, full of light, warm and pretty in a simple way. My mind’s at rest there like nowhere else. On Lummi I think about doctor’s appointments, the law suit, social obligations, children’s troubles, dog grooming, painting classes, and many other things, some pleasant, some not. In Manley I am at peace. We walk, not on the roads, but in the woods. I am a little bit scared of bears, but now that Jerry always carries bear spray (a kind of pepper spray that is said to work well) I don’t worry much. And we have never seen a bear in our woods, though Joee has. Once he told us a bear was hanging around our house and coming over to bother his dogs. He had to deal with it. On Lummi we walk a mile and a half loop on the road and if we see more than 3 cars Jerry mutters it’s like I 5. In Manley we walk in the lovely woods, mostly white birch sprinkled with white spruce. No cars.

The day we left, view out the living room window

Having said a second goodby to the house, we deposited our junk at the dump which caused legions of ravens feeding on its bounty to caw angrily and flap away into the trees. We drove on to Fairbanks. It was snowing, gently but persistently. The high places were slippery, but when we reached the junction with the paved Dalton Highway road conditions improved. We were welcomed at the Golden North Motel. Fox News was playing on TV in the reception area which made me want to get out of it fast and into our odd accommodation: behind the bedroom is a windowless room with a sofa and TV set. The windowless room is a good place for the poodles to sleep in their crate.

The next day we started late, took it easy and drove across the Canadian border to Beaver Creek where we stayed at Buckshot Betty’s. I decided that Betty’s ill humor, which I used to find entertaining, wasn’t funny anymore. Besides, the food is abysmal and the rooms are so small there’s no convenient place to put the poodle’s crate. On our next trip we will get up earlier in Fairbanks and go as far as Destruction Bay where there’s a well run truck stop and almost edible food.

The sun shone during most of the two days drive to Haines. Although I have driven this route many times, I am still astonished by the intense beauty of the huge, wild landscape. The mountains gleamed in the sun,

Sunrise in Yukon Territory

some jagged and snowy, some rubbed smooth by ancient ice, looking streaked in the fresh snow with black and white veins of spruce or birch.

New fallen snow in Yukon Territory

The lower hills, below the snow line were shades of green from lemon to olive, sometimes with patches of red and yellow to orange and magenta. I take hundreds of pictures of things I have taken hundreds of pictures of in the past. I take them from the moving truck, through the streaked windshield because Jerry doesn’t like to stop

On the way to Haines

. He will stop for wildlife, but we didn’t see much wildlife on this trip. Lots of grouse a few eagles, a few swans, all too far off to photograph. I did take some photos of sheep far up the mountain at Kluane. Someday I’ll see them on the road where they come sometimes early or late in the day.

Mountain sheep

From Haines Junction in Yukon to Haines in Alaska we travel over a high mountain pass which can be snowy and sometimes barely passable. This time we were relieved to find it wet but clear. As we approached Haines it rained harder.

From Haines Junction to Haines

I love Haines. Its parks are fine, the surrounding mountains grand, the rivers and lakes full of birds and animals. The town itself is quirky and the vintage buildings of Fort Seward are sedate and well kept.

Looking toward Fort Seward

Sometimes at night bears roam the streets, and in daylight their images adorn the buildings. The police report in the local newspaper is mostly incidents of bears tipping over garbage cans. Jerry and I had 3 days there at the Captain’s Choice Motel which is comfortable and has a good view of the mountains and marina.

For 2 days the rain came down: sometimes hard, sometimes spitting softly. We saw a few wet eagles on the way from the Canadian border (later in the month there will be literally thousands of them.) We drove out to lovely (even in the rain) Chilkoot Lake where there was no place to park because every space was taken by campers from Yukon.

Parking at Chilkoot Lake

It was the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving and landlocked Canadians flocked down to the sea to fish for salmon, rain or shine.

Fishing for salmon in Lake Chilkoot

They lined the shores of the rivers and lakes. At mealtimes they filled the Bamboo Room restaurant where we usually eat. However, because of the Canadians many of the shops stayed open, so when the rain was too heavy for walking in the parks and on the beach I could browse for earrings and books.

In Haines, since the weather was not so good for distance photography, I took pictures of forest things like mushrooms and berries.

I think this is Russula emetica. I could be corrected.

What are these berries? I see them all over Alaska

And I did catch an otter playing in the river.

Otter in the Chilkoot River

In Haines I had 2 things on my mind. The first was practical. We had arranged to park the truck on the property of a friend and take the ferry back to Bellingham as walk-ons. I wanted to connect with Christy Tengs Fowler, the owner of the Bamboo Room, because it is her mother’s yard where we will leave the truck. But I didn’t want to be a bother because I don’t know her very well. And I constantly worried, in my old lady way, about how we would carry the dogs on to the car deck and all our stuff onto the ferry and up to our cabin.

The second thing on my mind was frivolous. I had read Heather Lende’s book about Haines, If You Lived Here I’d Know Your Name, and during a rainy patch this time in Haines I bought her second book, Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs. I like her writing style, and I enjoy the simple stories of local folk and their life in Haines. She started her writing career as an obit writer in the local paper, and many of her stories are about death. As I read through her second book, which focuses a lot on death and things that happen near death, I begin to wonder whether it’s a really good thing for one such as I, 82 years old and approaching the end of my time here, to be getting preoccupied with the process of dying and the end result — death. Heather Lende solves the problem of not being by becoming more and more religious; religious in a pleasant, slightly mushy, way, but nevertheless, definitely believing. I don’t believe. I never have. I might like to, but I cannot. So for me this is no comfort.

Belief in a supernatural is, I think, something one is born with — or like me, without. I have a sister who is a true believer. We were raised mostly the same way by mostly the same people. Our grandfather, who we never knew, was an Anglican priest but our mother, though she liked going to church, was not a believer. My sister believes. She believes in everything: Jesus, Buddha, astrology, crystal healing, anything with a spiritual flavor. She says it was because a nice maid who took care of her for years taught her, but she was a more than willing pupil.

I digress. I had Heather Lende on my mind. I thought I would like to meet her. Tony Tengs (the world’s best bartender, who bartends on the ferry) is a mutual friend. He said I should just call her up. But she gets fan mail, for heavens sake, and I was again afraid I would be a bother. So I just kept looking at people on the street, wondering whether they might be her, or looking at houses in the area where she lives (she tells in her book) wondering whether it might be hers.

Our third day in Haines dawned bright with sunshine. We had to check out of the motel at 11 am , and the ferry doesn’t leave until 7 pm, so we were thankful for a sunny day. We went back to Chilkoot lake, now with only a few straggling Canadians because it was Monday morning and most of them had gone back to work. Then lunch was at a place where we could look over the small marina and out at the mountains that completely surround Haines. Then we shopped in a little store with a lot of “natural” products where I tasted fireweed honey, bought a book about mushrooms and some more earrings. But I was getting more worried about the logistics of our departure as time approached.

Jerry dropped me, the poodles and their airplane approved carrier, all our suitcases and bags of bottles of wine, dog food, art supplies, computer, DVD’s, books, and whatnot at the ferry dock. I said I’ll be so glad when you get back here. He drove the truck to town and parked it for the winter. While he was gone I saw some people I know, the parents of my Lummi friend Gwen, in the ferry line. I recognized them walking their 3 dachshunds. We agreed to meet on the boat. Christy (Tony Tengs’ sister and propriator of the Bamboo Room) drove Jerry back to the ferry, gave each of us a hug, and said goodby. We got our selves, our poodles and our stuff on the boat easily with a little help from the accommodating ferry workers. On the ferry (the Malaspina, my favorite boat) I stopped fretting about not meeting Heather Lende. As the boat departed I felt like a rational person in control of myself and my possessions. It was a good feeling.

Posted in Alaska, Day to day, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments