Only connect

For the first few days we were here I was not feeling well. I found the trip strenuous and the long hours in the car tiring. Jerry has had some of the same malaise, and we may have a minor bug. Suddenly arriving in this extreme winter environment and isolated place made me feel disconnected from normal life.
The snow is deep and soft. The temperature at night goes well below zero Fahrenheit, and by afternoon was as high as the 20’s for the first week we were here. Today, for the first time it is up to 38. It stays above freezing for about 4 hours a day. Long walks are not easy because of wearing big boots and ice, even on the plowed roads.
Because of feeling slightly unwell and removed from my world, I did little at first. I cooked, cleaned up the floor when we tracked dirty snow on it, and put stuff away that Jerry brought in from the truck. The rest of the time I lounged on the sofa and read. I finished the book I had started on the trip; Better by Atul Gawande. It is a good book, and it made me think. It is about improving things in the medical world, but has implications for the larger world. He advised: write something.

I wondered what it is that I feel disconnected from. Jerry is with me. My dogs are with me. I can call any of my children on the telephone, though the connections are often bad because the call may be routed via satellite. I can call my house sitter, or friends on the island if I want to know the local news there.

If either Jerry or I were to get really sick the EMS worker who lives down the road would summon an airplane to take us to civilization. And she is competent and intelligent. Last summer, when Jerry had some discomfort in his chest, she was on the phone to the cardiac clinic in Bellingham where he goes for treatment.

This place is beautiful and, for me, exotic. I know and like some people here, and I like my little under-furnished house. Most things in it are convenient. There is good public radio to listen to. I hardly ever watch TV, so I hardly ever notice the fact that we forgot to bring a TV

I conclude, then, that it is the internet that I miss the most. The only way I can get on the internet here is to go to the Washeteria, and connecting is always iffy. On the island I check the net 5 or 6 times a day. I look at blogs, email, Google things, read news, buy stuff, arrange travel, and more.

Through my blog I have made friends who matter to me, but who, in many ways, are phantoms of the ether. Some bloggers conceal much about themselves. Little pictures don’t tell what they really look like and I have not heard their voices or watched them move. They have never seen or heard me.

Paradoxically, bloggers often write about their inner feelings and beliefs, so I know them in a way that is more intimate than I ever experience with casual friends. It’s like meeting a stranger on an airplane who tells you his most intimate emotional pain, because he’s sure he will never see you again.

Even when there’s no attempt to conceal, there’s anonymity in posting on the web. People vanish suddenly, leaving an emptiness and questions. Is he dead? Did something terrible happen to her? Or did she just get bored.

Not long ago I read a post by Dick Jones who has been blogging for several years. (I digress to say that because, in this place, I am not connected to the web I can’t just look up the post to see how many years. That bothers me.) Dick wrote that over the years the number of his blog readers has remained more or less constant. Some come, some go, and a loyal core stays with him. He wonders whether it matters that the number of his readers doesn’t grow.

When I first started blogging I guessed that almost nobody read my posts. I haven’t a way of tracking the number of people who read, except for comments. I get between 5 and 10 comments per post. One needs an audience to write for, although for me a large audience isn’t necessary. However, I don’t want to lose the audience I have because of lack of interaction.

I miss my blog friends. Today we went to the Washeteria, where I washed clothes, and we managed to connect. I put up the post I had written, and I checked a few blogs. My computer wasn’t plugged in, so I had to worry about the battery running down, and Jerry wanted to look at bank statements and some political stuff he reads. It took a long time to get on, and then we had to go.

I read the latest post by Duchess Omnium (my daughter: now there’s a blogger I know well. But in her blog in some ways she seems like a different person). It was a sad story about the suicide of the squire in Buckland, and fire in a 500 year old house there. Then I checked on Carter’s Little Pill, the blog of a young woman, Julie, whose husband recently died. She writes wonderfully, and I worry about her. I looked at Ruth Pennebaker’s, another fine writer, with whom I have had brief contact via email, and left a quick comment.

I looked at Dale’s blog, but his last posts were poetry and I can’t read poetry fast. I’ll have to go back to that next time. I wanted to check Dick Jones, Jan, Tessa, Darleen, Time Goes By, the old grey poet and many others, but by this time the clothes were dry and Jerry was tired of reading an old copy of Cosmopolitan which someone had left on the washer (even though it contained an article promising an orgasm every time).

So now I’ve progressed from feeling disconnected to feeling tenuously connected.

It still feels weird.






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10 Responses to Only connect

  1. Darlene says:

    I don’t know when, or if, you are able to read this since the Internet is an iffy proposition to you. I just read your previous blogs about your journey North and think you are very courageous. I know I would not have the strength to make the journey you have made and put up with the hardships it entailed. On top of that, I hate being cold. I would never have been a Pioneer as I love my creature comforts. You must love Jerry a lot and he is lucky to have you.

    I hope it thaws in Alaska soon and that you can see a flower pushing through the snow.

  2. Jan says:

    Dear, wear more clothes so you can get to the washeteria more often.

    Don’t worry – I won’t forget about you. I’ll just hope that you get to blog somewhat regularly, have a nice time and will be back on the island in the near future.

  3. Marja-Leena says:

    Oh, I would miss having regular internet contact for sure, I’m that addicted! But do enjoy the free time to do other things, like reading books. Hope spring arrives soon and you’ll be out of doors enjoying the natural beauty.

  4. Anne — it sounds lonely and cold and isolated to me (but what do I know? I’m a Texan who likes warm weather and cities). Hurry back to the washateria.

  5. zuleme says:

    I hope you can take some photos. I haven’t been posting much at all on Caturday but that is because I have so much work and I do so much on the computer I don’t have the time or energy to do it for fun. But soon.

  6. I have only started to read your blog but i already look forward to seeing a new entry. You used the term exotic to describe where you are and that’s a word i thought of when i first read about your life.
    I hope to read much more. Also i hope you are feeling better.

  7. Duchess says:

    Hey, Old Woman, I added links to the blogs you mentioned. I think you should get Early Man working on a reliable internet connection for you. Meanwhile, literary epigraphs are my domanin, thank you.

  8. Old Woman says:

    Darleen, good to be in touch again. I like lots of different experiences, even being freezing cold. I love the desert, too, but not to live in.

    Jan and Marja-leena, I’m haunting the Washeteria. I’m here now and all my clothes are washed.

    Ruth, yes, cold and isolated, but beautiful.

    Zuleme, I have a lot of photos, but I’m not very good at getting them on this blog. I have to find another way.

    Thanks,, Liz, I am quite well now.

    Duchess, surely Only Connect is in the public domaine and even an old woman can use it.

  9. annie says:

    Love your stories of Alaska. I hope you get to the washerteria often and continue to stop in and say hello 🙂

  10. Tessa says:

    Oh now I feel bad, because I haven’t posted on my blog in ages! But I will soon, I promise. In the meantime, Jan is right – wear lots of clothes and learn to love the washeteria. Feel better soon.

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