Blog and painting blues, Fluffy senses danger and other non-events

We’ve had some quiet, good days.  Jerry is building new steps for the deck.  I have painted 2 more miniatures for Mah Jongg prizes.  Mah Jongg will be at my house this week.  One painting is a caribou with mountains in the background; the other is a snowshoe hare, back-lit, surrounded by bushes.  They are good.


A few days ago I had some down time.  I got the blog blues.  These days when I post on my blog or read other’s blogs and comment I am always in a hurry because I am at the Washeteria (the only place here where I can get on the internet) and Jerry is waiting.  I don’t have time to read all the blogs I follow, and my comments are not well thought out. I saw that a couple of people I admire had dropped me from their blog rolls.


I had been struggling with a post I was working on about subsistence living, because I found the topic complex and difficult to analyze.  It’s a hot topic in Alaska.  After many rewrites I posted it, hoping to stir up controversy.    At first I had only a couple of comments.  I was certainly grateful for those, but I wished for some argument.


Besides having the blog blues, I painted 2 miniatures that turned out to be terrible.  I had done a lovely little portrait of Bea’s cat sitting in a patch of wild roses.  It is a fat white cat with faint orange stripes and blue eyes.  I gave Bea the painting and she was genuinely pleased.  The next paintings I did for myself, and I suppose I had become over confident and careless.  Because I had no definite audience, I allowed myself to gloss over defects I knew were there. These miniatures are not even good enough to mount.


The poodles were looking terrible.  Like dirty black mops.  Their hair had overgrown their eyes so they couldn’t see and had become too long around their butts so they were beginning to be stinky.  The weather was too warm, and there were mosquitoes.


My mood turned when I found an unexpected, favorable comment on the subsistence living post from a writer whom I particularly admire.  She said that it was a topic she had never thought about, and I realized that most people in the lower 48 are unaware of this issue which is so contentious here in Alaska. 


Then I set to work on new paintings for Mah Jongg prizes, and I found that when I paint for a deadline and a known audience I work to a different standard.  For a while I will only paint for give-aways until I figure out some other means of quality control.


I clipped the dogs, and they look really cute.  We went to a bon-fire at the river landing the night before the ice went out, and they rolled in the dust.  They were dust grey, but happy.  I drank a marguetita; there were lots of kids playing in the mud, and many happy, dusty dogs watching for dropped hot dogs.


Now that the snow is gone we walk every day up the hill in back of the house through the beautiful white paper-birch forest.  The dogs love this walk, and Fluffy roams freely, looking for squirrels.  Daisy has to be on a leash because she doesn’t come when called if she would rather not. 


Last night we took our walk after dinner.  We passed several trail markers, 2 fallen birches and a pile of moose poop. Suddenly Fluffy ran back to us, stopped and began to growl.  I was scared.  I couldn’t see anything, but dogs sense things people don’t.  A bear behind a bush?


I said to Jerry, “Let’s go back.”


He said, “Maybe it’s just a moose, let’s go a bit further.”


He had the gun strapped to his belt, and I trust him, so we advanced carefully, Fluffy close by and growling, Daisy excited and interested, me nervous, and Jerry calm and confident. 


Nothing happened, and we walked all the way to the track where mining equipment is occasionally moved through the woods.  We walked up the track for a short distance, noting a few old moose tracks, until we came to some large mud puddles where we turned back.  On the way home, in the same place where he had growled on the way up, Fluffy stopped again.  He seemed to see something that excited him in the woods on the right.  All I could see was a dead birch with some dark patches of loose bark, with a bush beside it.


As we walked back down the hill I remembered that Fluffy has some neurotic antipathies to various cleaning tools; a broom here, a mop there.  He jumps back and growls when he sees them.  Sometimes he attacks them. Perhaps he saw something in the woods with broom-like qualities.  I guess I can’t depend on him to warn of bears, or even moose.


So the days are calm.  We had a good dinner (caribou) at Pam and Joee’s.  The weather is cooler.  Tomorrow is Mah Jongg, and on Friday we will go back to Fairbanks since we are out of lettuce and tomatoes and getting dangerously low on wine.  There I can read all my blogs and catch up with my web friends.










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9 Responses to Blog and painting blues, Fluffy senses danger and other non-events

  1. Jan says:

    I will never take you off my blogroll or remove you from my RSS reader unless you state unequivocally that you have abandoned blogging and will not return.

    I had to chuckle at the fact that a large pile of moose poop can be a trail marker. I am such a city girl.

    Would you please take some pictures of your paintings and post them? Please? I’d love to see some.

    Poor Daisy – she and Scooter would get along so well. We have to keep him leashed, too, even in the back yard because he does not come when called either. At least not until he’s had the opportunity to poop on the neighbor’s lawn.

  2. dale says:

    Ah, but allow for the random variation, too. I, for instance, have been completely out of circulation for reasons of my own. Blog readership rises and falls for all sorts of mysterious reasons!

  3. Oh I hear you on the dangerously low supply of wine! Hope you replenish before things get nasty!

    And I’ve had a thought, such as it is, about subsistence living. While reading Ronni’s Time Goes By blog for today I was struck with the amount of effort it takes to live frugally in a culture that is based in consumption. Probably as much effort as it takes at the other end of the spectrum, to raise one’s ability to consume above bare subsistence. In a large part of the world the dominant culture is consumption, not subsistence and it takes a lot of effort to go a different path. I think there is value in maintaining a multiplicity of paths, avoiding monoculture. If state-supported “subsistence living” is what it takes, then so be it. Down here in the south I can’t imagine anyone being able to go completely without any of the amenities of consumption culture, the effort would be just too much and too dangerously close to life-extinguishing. Where you are, there is a little bit more possibility, and if there are folks bound to follow that path, then they should be allowed, even supported to a certain extent, to do so. I guess the key phrase is “to a certain extent”, and that probably has to be hammered out on a case-by-case basis.

    OK, go get that wine and argue the point!

  4. Alan G says:

    Blogging ain’t easy!!

    We all have our own reasons for entering the blogging game. Some are blogging so other bloggers can entertain them. Other bloggers are blogging because they think they are the entertainers. I think in the beginning the majority of us do it to share our passions, no matter how bold or meek those passions may be. Then we find ourselves obligating ourselves to other bloggers. You know…because they visit us we feel we must visit them even though their blogs hold no real interest to us.

    Then we find ourselves locked in a circle with the same old bloggers reading about the same old stuff day after day. I even begin to bore myself with my own blog after a time. If nothing else, it gives me insight into a very mundane existence. Then I find a blog such as yours and there you are out and about facing all sorts of challenges, having hand-to-hand combat with black bears and the like, and I am whisked away on an adventure. Maybe I don’t comment every time you make a post but how many times can I say, “Gosh, wish I was there doing that!”

    Trust me, I could go on and on with regard to the blogging phenomenon but in the end you would simply ask me, “Well if you don’t like it so much, why are you doing it?” I do it because there are blogs such as yours I enjoy reading every day. And there are also blogs I don’t enjoy reading every day. And if you get locked into the typical blogging circle, there will be blogs out there you never found that you may have enjoyed immensely.

    Oh, and about your substantive living post? I really enjoyed that post but had little to offer in substantive input since I am ill versed in the debate. I certainly believe folks who are native to their respective regions and choose that lifestyle should not be encumbered by civilization. But….it is the nature of civilization to impose their lifestyle and social structure on anyone in their way. Just look at the North American Indian. And that wasn’t all that long ago if you think about it.

    You just keep on….keeping on and blog about the things that interest you and concern you. That’s what makes you who you are! 🙂

  5. Annie says:

    I love reading your adventures. You are an inspriation to me. I didn’t comment on the substantive living post becasue honestly I am not sure how I feel about it. I am an avid supporter of eating locally grown, and supporting the small shops in my town, but I don’t think that I could quite handle iving off the land. I consider myself a locavore, but have been in Southern California a bit too long maybe 🙂

  6. Dick says:

    I’ve been struggling with blog ennui a bit too. My readership stats have been the lowest ever since I took a week or two off.

    You provide a vivid picture of your extraordinary environment in the last two posts. So alien and yet so familiar at the same time.

  7. Natalie says:

    I was going to ask if you could post pictures of your miniature paintings and I see someone else has got there first – how about it?

  8. Janet Fawcett says:

    Hello – we haven’t met, but you’ve met my husband Bob in Manley last summer. Bea H. told me about your blog, and I love reading about your life in Manley. How well I remember that feeling of displacement – unlpugging from the world to go to the woods. (And the opposite journey back to “town” – you may find that the colors and grocery store lights seem too bright, the abundance of choice too overwhelming. One of my friends swears the last time she went to Fairbanks she burst into tears in the produce section of Safeway.) Some days, life in Manley feels like living at the edge of the known universe, but the rewards are great. I would be there now, if I could. When you write about walking in the woods I remember many wonderful walks with my dog Willis on the Fairbanks Trail leading from our house. (Out toward the “wrecked airplane trail” we sometimes saw wolf tracks, and Willis would do a classic Marx Brothers double take and flee toward the house.) And how well I remember outings to the river landing in spring to watch for breakup. I was actually online today trying to get updates on what’s happening with the ice james and flooding in your area and hope the water recedes soon. You are a brave soul to explore the complicated topic of subsistence in Alaska. It is good to ask questions about it, but beware of the ramifications of taking one side or the other…. One of my early observations in Manley is that the most simple decisions about your life (e.g., whether your winter transport is by snowmachine or dogsled) may be viewed by some of your neighbors as a political statement requiring explanation and vastly affecting your social life! I look forward to meeting you and hope I can be there with Bob this summer. Please tell Jerry and Bea and Al hello.

  9. Tessa says:

    Like Jan, I will never drop you from my blogroll or RSS feed. In fact, if you check my blog when you have some time, you will see that I passed an award on to you. I’m amazed that readers would drop you because you’re absent for a few days. Are their lives too busy to sit around waiting for you?

    Remember the story about the boy who cried wolf, and don’t give up on Fluffy too soon. One day there might really be a bear, not a mop, in the undergrowth …

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