Living the cottage life, Alaskan style!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Today is a bittersweet day....  It's the day my husband and I have looked forward to for a very long time....  But now that the day has arrived, it has me torn to pieces emotionally. 

Let me back up.  Back in 2008, my son and his partner announced that they were expecting a child and asked if we could babysit, just through the newborn stage, as day care is ridiculously expensive in Juneau. 

So we said, "yes." 

Well, a few months later my daughter announces that THEY'RE also now pregnant, and can we watch their child as well?  Okay....  It was, after all, going to be a few months only.  So now we had two newborns five months apart. 
Well, months turned into years, and then a third grandchild showed up, and five and a half years later, our babysitting is coming to a close today.  Well, sort of. 

The two big kids will start kindergarten tomorrow and we will be left with just one granddaughter to watch.

So today we celebrated with McDonalds for lunch and a banana split for dessert.  Now it's time to go shed a few tears....  Maybe I can write more about these past five years after the sadness wears off. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Today I Turn 61

I really don't much care for birthdays....  I'm not one of those who will celebrate all week long.  It's not that I hate getting older because I don't. I just don't like being the center of attraction. 

I don't mind being 61.  I'm rather pleased with being older and wiser.  I find I'm more patient the older I get, the less things bother me.  Am I where I want to be at this point in my life?  No....  But that's neither here nor there.  Being 61 is okay. 

This was my favorite present.  Rapped with love... my husband did this.  I didn't know he had it in him!  Inside was a purse.  Okay, so I picked the purse out, but he filled it with goodies and wrapped it!
You always know it's a gathering at our place when the bucket comes out and gets filled with all kinds of good drinks!  Now it might look like A's been caught sneaking a beer.... but I think she's going after the ice!

My son gets a fire going in the pit.  We're hoping the smoke will keep the bugs away. 

Who wouldn't want to be chillin in the pool on this hot, summer day?  Yea, he's got it tough!

The kids have fun in the Ford 150. 

My hubby mans the grill.  Today it was bbqued chicken.  Yummy!

The dessert is served.  My favorite--german chocolate cake!

Yes, it was a good day. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I Am A Lion

I became a Lion last night.  Just one little person among 1.3 million Lions around the world.  As minor as that might seem.... I plan on making a difference. 

For someone who does not like attention.... be the center of attention.... be recognized.... be honored.... last night brought tears to my eyes.   

But today I am thankful for many things.  For my husband for giving me the time I needed to make the decision to become a Lion.  For Lion Neil for always being supportive of my hair-brain ideas even though I was not a Lion, and for all the incredibly nice things he said last night.  For the MFLC as they're an incredible group of people that have always made me feel welcome even though I wasn't "one of them." 

It's taken me awhile to make the decision to join the MFLC.  I've been sitting in the sidelines, watching... listening....learning.... taking note of the dynamics of the club.  To be perfectly honest, I've been waiting to see if my husband would get tired and drop out, but he hasn't.  His passion has gotten stronger and stronger as each year passes.  This made me look at the club harder and harder, to see what there was about it that got my husband so fired up.  What it did was make me realize this club and the members in it were something special, doing special things, making my town a better place and I decided I wanted to be an official part of this. 
This is what you need to know about me.  When I get involved, I will throw myself in 150 percent.  Please don't hold this against me, or anyone who has a passion for what they're doing and believe in.  I will use my strengths to the benefit of the club and learn from my weaknesses.  Hopefully. I hope to come up with ideas the club feels are worthwhile and have merit and will work as hard as I am needed and then some. 

I look forward to becoming a better person, for isn't this what Lionism is all about?  Personal growth?  Stepping out of your box?  Helping others?  Making a difference?

Here's what you might not know about me but will give you a better understanding of who I am and why I do what I do.  I gave the State of Alaska (Department of Administration) everything I had for 30 years.  I was one of those dedicated State employees who loved going to work every day.  For eight years I was the Commissioner of Administration's Executive Secretary; taking care of people, sharing information, ensuring tasks got done, being the keeper of all things and an organizer.  For many years I wrote a technology newsletter for the department and others who wanted it.  I was a trainer for computer software programs and department policies.  I created and maintained an Intranet (internal web page for employees) and a web-based newsletter for the department as well as policy manuals. 

This is who I am.  This is what I love to do.  These are my strengths.  We won't mention my weaknesses....

I hope to bring fresh ideas to the club that utilize these strengths and passion I have for doing them.  But I'll be just as happy to pick up trash alongside the road three times a year.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Laundry Day

Growing up, I remember laundry day when my mom would hang the laundry outside to dry.  But it never dawned on me, as an adult, to do it.  Maybe it's because we don't have hot summers or a lot of sunny days. 
But one spring everything changed that.  We had an avalanche that tore out our power lines and we had to live off a community generator.  Our electric bill went up 500%!  Ouch!  Our normal electric bill for that time of year was about $120, so you can imagine how this was going to hurt.  Fortunately, we were told from the minute it happened that it would take months to fix and do whatever we could to cut down on our power usage. 

So we bought a clothes line and some racks and started drying our clothes the old fashion way.  We still didn't have sunshine, but we could dry the clothes inside when we had to.  I even bought this cute little clothes pin bag from Etsy.
There's something comforting in hanging laundry outside to dry....  I don't know why that is, maybe because it takes me back to the basics.  This is how my mom and my grandma and my great grandma dried their laundry.  There's a connection between us.  Yea, it takes more time and the clothes aren't all fluffy and soft, but that's okay. 
They smell good and it's a fresh smell, not from some marketed bounce or other fabric softener. 
I'm thankful for all the sunny days we've had this summer and look forward to many more. If, for no other reason than to hang my laundry out to dry.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

An Uncommon Juneau Summer

Summer in Juneau is typically, shall we say, wet?  I read in the paper the other day that the average temp for Juneau in June is 62 degrees.  For the past couple weeks it's been in the high 70's AND 80's!  We're fried!  Our skin.  Our brain.  Our bodies. 

Good weather in Juneau is iffy on a good year.  So when the sun comes out, so do the people!  We play hard, work hard, stay up late.  Course, it doesn't help that our hours of daylight increase considerably and there are days that it simply does not get dark. 

Besides being so incredibly hot, we had a thunder and lightening storm yesterday!  This is even more incredible as we don't have this phenomenon in Juneau.  In the 40 plus years I've lived here, I've heard thunder three times.  Something about the mountains.... 
A rainbow.  This was taken last night at 10:00 p.m. after a long evening of storm warnings, thunder, and lightening.  So weird....

Monday, June 17, 2013

First King Salmon

There's nothing quite like the first taste of the season of fresh King Salmon.  With oils oozing out of the flesh, onto the plate, ready to be wiped up with a piece of French bread.  Yep, eating at its finest.

But it isn't always like this.  I remember overcooking salmon.  I remember going to restaurants and having it overcooked.  I didn't know there was any other way.  It was still good. 

Then my hubby came into the picture and however he figured it out, I'll never know.  I mean, it isn't like people KNOW to not overcook fish....  You cook it until it's flaky, but being flaky is different from melt-in-your-mouth flaky. 

We were in Seattle last year and went to his really nice restaurant.  I ordered fresh King Salmon served all kinds of fancy.  But it sounded good.  It came and the instant I put my fork into it, I knew it was overdone.  Not by much, but overdone.  I was going to eat it anyway because clearly this is how they cook salmon at this restaurant.

Then the waiter stopped at our table and asked how it was.... do I dare say, "overcooked"?  I stumbled for a second, then I stuck my fork back into the salmon and I think I must have made an unhappy look on my face and he instantly knew what I was thinking.  He grabbed my plate from me and said he'd get me another one!  Okaaaaayyyyy.....

It didn't take long for him to bring the second attempt to our table and as I stuck my fork in for my first bite, here comes the chef!  He thanked me for returning the fish and commented that most people prefer their salmon overcooked, because they don't know otherwise!  I think I made his day!  And I appreciated that he came out to follow up and see what kind of odd person wanted their salmon so not overcooked.... 

But once you've eaten salmon the right way, it's hard to eat it overcooked.

Now, here's how to cook it to perfection.  First, you butterfly the steaks so they're all even sizes.  Don't ask me how because I just eat the fish, I don't prep it!  Next, sprinkle it with Hickory Smoked Salt.  Generously.  Although you can use a propane grill, my husband prefers the good old fashion Weber grill with briquettes.  Get them good and hot.  Then, start adding the steaks, cook them for two or three minutes, flip them over, cook another couple minutes.  You only cook until the flesh can be pulled apart, not a second longer.  If you do this, you will have melt in your mouth fish that is to die for. 

We had a friend who would come to Juneau every spring and fish for King Salmon off the rocks of Outer Point, Douglas.  He would call us with a "fish on" and by the time he got to our place, we would have dinner going, fit for a King and Queen.  Some years we would have fresh King Salmon five nights a week....  And we never tired of it. 

The rest of the salmon would be processed (butterflied) and put into gallon freezer bags, every spare inch of space/air being used by a steak.  Then frozen.  Our friend would take some of the salmon home with him to can, but mostly he just filled our freezer.  Over and over and over.  We never complained; we just fed him. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I'm Overwhelmed with Clutter

"I'm overwhelmed with clutter" isn't exactly true.... I appear to be overwhelmed and anxious and when I get this way, I feel like the weight of everything in the house is weighing on me.  What causes me to feel this way?  Trying to figure out my future....

My husband and I are retired.  But we like to say, "mostly tired."  And for good reason.  But that's for another day.  We're trying to figure out what we want to do in the next chapter of our lives and it isn't that easy.  Several of our friends have moved South to be near family.  My family is here.  Yet part of me wants to move South so desperately.  Would I be betraying my children and letting my grandchildren down if we moved away?  Would my presence be missed? 

Today I was so close to packing up and moving.  Starting the sort of what to take and what to get rid of.  Yes, I was that close.  I have been downsizing for years now, getting ready for the day when we might leave, and this next downsize will be the real thing. 

But there's so many details to consider and the big one is, can I really, truly, leave my kids and grandkids? 

I think it's time.