Friday, August 31, 2012

"Would You Like to Dance?"

Haines can make me feel desperate. I can ask every guy at the P-Bar if they dance and maybe, just maybe, find three partners. If I'm lucky, there may be four. Even more rare is finding someone that considers "dancer" to be a part of their identity.

Last night I went to two dances on a Thursday night from 8 PM till 1 AM.
Oh, and how I danced!

There was a strong freedom being back in a room full of dancers pursuing fluid motion to music and human connection.

First was contra dancing.

I didn't even have to ask people to dance - eye contact was sufficient.
Sometimes we would follow up with, "Do you have a partner?" and then grab hands and scramble into line.

Few things make me feel so loved as coming back to the Seattle contra scene after being away for a while.
I'm stoked to go back tonight to the Emerald City Contra.

After a good two hours of contra, I hopped the bus to the University District (which involved running across four lanes of busy traffic with this kid who dressed like he was in a gang - we made a good running team).

Blues is such a different mood from anything I'd been around in months.

I started off the night with Aaron, overjoyed at his subtle, clear leading. With blues, the leads don't have to do much (physically) to get their follows to do what they want (which doesn't mean they're not doing a lot). My brain dissolved and my body took over and I was so grateful. These dances were such a different flavour than anything I had had in the past five months.

I was able to walk up to anyone in the room. Ask, "Do you want to dance?" and I would get a "yes" or they would come find me later that evening. I would get asked to dance. Such things just don't happen in Haines.

Grateful to be back for three days.

Blueberries with Sarah

Some of the most vivid memories of my childhood that I want to hold on to happened in this field of blueberries.


I first "met" Sarah back when I was a toddler. Her mom was taking her for a walk and she needed to use the restroom. Later, we met in first grade and we've been close friends, best friends, ever since.

Sarah was raised in a beautiful home with one of the most magical backyards - a, oh, what do you call it? A blueberry farm. A blueberry field. Blueberry patch.

Her backyard was full of so many blueberries!

The blueberries were our signal that school was about to start, the last summer hoorah.
I remember always being warned not too eat too many or else, goodness, something would happen.

Being back in Seattle has given me enough to see a small handful of close friends. Sarah was one of those.

She came over and we walked down to the blueberries. We spent the next couple hours filling our buckets. Well, she filled her bucket, I filled my stomach.

It was good to catch up and hear about her life.

So Sarah, that impressive girl, is going to be a doctor. The last time I remember her wanting to be anything besides a doctor was a ballerina back in first or second grade. Since then, she's known what she's going to do with her life.

She has such an incredible work ethic. She's passionate. Caring. Loving. Focused.
Yep. I love her and admire her.
Really glad we got to hang out for the afternoon.

Seattle vs. Alaska :: Aerial Shots :: Woods for Scrapers

I'm here. I'm in Seattle. I'm home.
I exchange Alaska for Washington for just three days or so.

I never really thought about how different they were until I got up in the air.

Alaska - wide, vast.

And Seattle? Welcome to the Grid.

Whereas I thought I might be repulsed by the raging population being thrust down my throat, a sense of overwhelming, all I felt was endeared. Look at that city. So sweet and friendly. There's even an orange Space Needle!

Oh Seattle.

Seattle. That's my home.
You can drop me in the middle of all of those skyscrapers and I'll feel fine. I know those streets. I know how to get around. I know what bus to take. My friends are there. I feel safe and secure there. I feel loved.

But you can do the same in the woods. I love skittering over roots and sprawling on rocks.
In Alaska, there is a tight community that watches out for me. I feel safe and secure there. I feel loved.

But one thing I really like about Seattle?
For a few days, bears are no longer a part of my reality.
No more shouting, "Hey Bear!"
Now, all I have to watch out for is creepers, which isn't so bad at all.

Airports Close?

“So, where are you sleeping tonight?” I asked of my travel mate, Kelsey.

“At a hotel,” she said. “I know it’s expensive but I’m getting sick and couldn’t sleep outside.”

“Outside?” I asked. “But can’t you sleep in the airport at night?”

That’s when I learned that the dear airport of Juneau, Alaska closes at 10 PM each night.
The airport closes.
Shuts down.


I looked at how I was dressed and the weather. It was drizzly and in the 40s. I was wearing a skirt and just had my quilt. Sleeping outside that night was not a choice option.

Fortunantly, I had just been in Juneau earlier this month and had stayed with some wonderful dancers. I was hesitant to contact them, it was 10:36 PM at night, but I knew I needed shelter for that night and didn’t want to fork over the $100 for a bed for 5 hours.

I sent a text basically asking if I could use their couch.
I got an immediate, “Come on over,” response.
I immediately felt a sense of relief.
I called and explained the situation. When I realized that, yes, my grandmother had just died a few hours ago - I shouldn’t feel bad about sleeping at their house.

My taxi came right at 11:11 PM.

“Mar... Mar... Margarret?” he asked.

A wonderful native Alaskan man named Jim helped me load my pack into his van and off we set. As I got in the car, I got to see how the dispatcher had written my name.



I like the “gore” in there.

Jim made for pleasant company and was really accommodating. Unfortunately, in changing from going from the airport to going to downtown Juneau, the cost of the ride rose by around $10.

The price on the meter climbed up as we got closer and closer to my destination. At around $30 I asked if he took debit cards. “Unfortunately, no.”

I quickly reassured him I had some cash. I counted out exactly $31.

Within 4 blocks of Tom and Jan’s home, the meter reached $31.20. I told him what I had and he immediately pushed the “stop” button on the meter, telling me not to worry about it. I apologized for not having enough for a tip - he told me, again, not to worry about it. He was really sympathetic about the death of my grandmother.

And now, here I am in a nice, super-cozy, wonderful bed in a beautiful home. This is better than the airport. I’m grateful things worked out.

It might have been a sad day. I might have cried, collectively, for a good (not really good) 2-3 hours. But, I’m on my way home.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

She's Gone & Going Home

It was at 8:20 AM that I got the news.
“Grandma might not be with us much longer."
Even if I came home right away (we're 956 miles away as the crow flies, I'm in Alaska and she's in Washington), I might miss her.

By 8:52 AM, I had my bosses blessing to leave right away and try and catch her and say good-bye.

Before 9:20 AM, I had already bought my flight and ferry tickets for the round trip to Seattle and back and was reserving a taxi (my first solo taxi trip) to get from the ferry terminal to the airport that night.

10:00 AM to 12:15 PM - Cleaning at the Gilbert’s.

A wonderful woman in the community, Stacey, helped me get prepared for my sudden departure from Haines. She picked up me and helped me get to where I needed to be in time. I was really, really grateful. I was also grateful to Victoria and Julia who also offered assistance, if I needed any.

12:20 PM - 2:30 PM -  At home, packing and tidying up... and looking at pictures of Grandma for over half of that time.

Taking braids out.

At 3:00 PM, she dropped me off at the Summer Inn so I could say my farewell to Hannah. Hannah leaves to New Hampshire on Sunday and I was going to say, “good-bye,” then, but sometimes life doesn’t work out like that. I get back to Haines on Sunday. I’ll probably miss her by 1-2 hours.

My final two hours with Hannah were braids, frozen balls of cookie dough (as per tradition), blanket-packing decision making attempts, Jenty’s face, and the satisfying feeling of just being with someone.

5:15 PM - Leave Summer Inn for the pool to pick up wet clothes.

5:30 PM - Haines Ferry Terminal

5:48 PM - Board Ferry

That's Haines.
6:08 PM - I got The call.

Yes, you know what call The Call is. Dad called to tell me that Grandma had, “passed away.” I think he used a term like that. She died peacefully. He used the same tone of voice that he uses when he tells me stuff about work. Somehow, he was holding it together.

Just as I did, he knew it was time for her to check out from this temporary-earth-life.

Still, despite what I knew, I still lost it.

I wandered the wet decks of the ferry barefoot, my paisley skirt whipping about in the wind.  I finally understood how tears could “stream down someones face” and I let them shamelessly fall.

She is gone.
I will never see her again.
I will never talk to her again.
She will never hug me again.

We’ll never read James together again. It’s too late. I never said good-bye.

That is the reality I’m faced with.

I’d pull it together for a moment before thinking of something else. I was a blubbering, reminiscing, mourning mess.

Back at my seat, I curled up, near fetus, on a chair, hiding underneath Ithaca, my quilt.

My head continued to throb in confusion.

My body reacts this way to strong emotions - my head aches. It happened chronically for days in a row back in June when I was in that low-place. I was frustrated with the pain because I wanted it to go away so I could live through the emotions I was feeling then. It wasn’t until 8:15 PM (after it had ached for over six hours) that I stumbled down to the gift shop to fork over $0.75 for two tablets of ibuprofen.

My longing for Grandmother comes and goes. It will hit me for a moment and I don’t chase the thoughts away or try and restrain myself. I am supposed to feel in order to heal. Feel. Heal. Experience the emotions. Acknowledge them, they are normal.

Soon after, I managed to settle down. Megan called and we talked for a bit until service was extensively unreliable. Then I sat down to write letters. Letters where I talk about how I’ve been.

How do you put that in a letter.

“How am I? Really? Well, 29 minutes ago, my grandmother died.”

I managed to pour most of my thoughts on the subject into a few pages of a letter to my closest pen pal.

The song that played in my head was one that I used to dance to in the kitchen of the mobile home with Andrew. In the main chorus, the singer cries out, “And I want you back, back, back, you back.” On each “back," Andrew would lower me into a dip, bringing me up in time for the following one. Based on my original understanding of the song, I wasn’t impressed. I thought it was a man calling out after a girl who had moved on without him. Andrew asked what I thought of the song and I told him. He then enlightened me to the real meaning of the song. The artist had written it after his grandfather had passed away. The song took on a whole new meaning and I took a liking to it. Now I understand how he cried out. As soon as I get to Seattle, I think I’m going to buy that song.

Update: The song is called "Airplanes" by Local Natives.
Airplanes by Local Natives on Grooveshark

As I walk around the ferry, sometimes I get the urge to run up to someone and tell them, “She’s gone.” Don’t they know that Grandma left me today!

I muster up a smile as I greet strangers and get blank stares back. It’s me who’s the one who should be walking around with remorse. What’s the cause of their lack of joy? I guess we all have a story. Every face has a story and a reason behind the emotions. There was a reason why I walked laps, crying away. There’s a reason why that man doesn’t return a smile.

When my dad called, he said I could still cancel the flight - it wasn’t too late. I know it was $1,000, but I still wanted to go home. I didn’t want to be in Haines for this. I wanted to be home with others who loved and missed her. I could have still run off the ferry, but I didn’t. I’m still on it now as I write this and soon I’ll be making a nest for myself on the Juneau airport floor. When I told Dad I still wanted to come home, he supported me immediately and understood.

It will be odd to be home. It’s peculiar to imagine that I’ll be in my house tomorrow by around noon. It’s been 136 days (April, May, June, July, August) since I’ve been home - 40% of a year. It’s not much time, certainly not, I know that.

The time I’ve spent in Haines has seemed like such a short amount of time, oh how that time has flown, until I think through all I’ve done and been through in those five months. Then, all of a sudden, it seems like this has been my life for quite some time.

Then I think back to Settle and it seems even further ago.

Tomorrow night I am going to sleep in my own bed. I get three nights with it.

Since I left, I’ve grown.
Since I left, I’ve screwed up.
Since I left, I’ve lived in two homes.
Since I left, I’ve lost the trust of a friend.
Since I left, I’ve found incredible friends.
Since I left, I’ve found people who love me.
Since I left, I’ve met a town’s worth of folks.
Since I left, I’ve driven over a thousand miles north.
Since I left, I’ve slept in over nineteen different beds and couches and locations.
Since I left, I’ve experienced a sun that disappears at 11:00 PM and reappears at 2:00 AM.

Now this post is turning from a “Grandma, where are you? I miss you!” post to a “Whoa, I’m going to be home tomorrow.” Good thing this is my blog for my own purposes.

Seattle isn't quite the same now, now that she's gone. I'm glad I got to know her these past twenty-one years. I'm grateful for that time we had together.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Last Minute Flight to Seattle - Coming Home

I was walking down Main Street when I got the call from my mom. She doesn't normally call so I instinctually asked, "Are you ok?"

"Yes but..."

"How is Grandma?"

I learned that the doctors didn't give her much time. Maybe a day, maybe not. They said that the family should gather.

I lost it, hanging up.. The rain poured down, matching my tears, and I found a bench next to a totem pole. Thoughts bounced in my head and, for the first time in ages, I couldn't keep my tears silent. My mom called again and I pressed, "Ignore." I needed to be able to vocalize.

Finally, I was ready.

"I want to come home."

See, I didn't say good-bye to my grandmother. When I left, she seemed stable and I figured I'd be home by early August. On June 19, when I heard she wasn't doing so great, I prayed that she's maybe hang in there just till early October when I was to be back in Seattle.

I'm told I may be too late, but I'm getting to Seattle as soon as possible - within 27 hours of when I first got that call, I'll be in Seattle - tomorrow at 11:24 AM.

For the first time, Haines got to see a sorrowful me. People smiled and waved from their cars and the sidewalks and I waved and tried to get a smile out. I made my way over to my work to talk to my boss. I'm so grateful for him. When I asked if I could go, he immediately said, "Yes."

I bought my ferry ticket for this evening, which will take me to Juneau. I reserved a taxi to take me to the airport. I'll sleep there overnight. My flight leaves at 8:00 AM Alaska Time, 9:00 AM in Seattle time. I'll be in Seattle at 11:24 AM.

I went to my cleaning job - only broke down six times while vacuuming.

Grandma - just hang in there for 22 more hours. But I understand if you end up going to chill with Jesus. I'm really going to miss you, a lot. But I have peace because I know you know the Lord so I'll see you again someday. I know these past years haven't been your best and right now you're barely even experiencing life. I understand that it's time for you to go. There's not much left for you here and so much for you when you leave. But, I'd really like to give you a hug good-bye... please.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Seattle Itinerary

September 27 :: Thursday
  • 10:15 AM - Depart Haines via Alaska Marine Highway
  • 2:45 PM - Arrive Juneau
  • Amy
September 28 :: Friday
  • 1:25 PM - Depart Juneau via Alaska Airlines
  • 4:49 PM - Arrive Seattle
  • Emerald City Contra
September 29 :: Saturday
  • Contra dance in Bellingham
  • Bellingham to Langley
September 30 :: Sunday
  • Langley, BC to L'Abri, Bowen Island, BC
 October 3 :: Wednesday
  • L'Abri to Vancouver, BC
October 4 ::  Thursday
  • 6:30 AM - Depart Vancouver, BC via Amtrak
  • Emerald City Contra
  • Back Alley Blues
October 5 :: Friday
  • Blues Underground/Seattle Fusion Festival (maybe)
October 6 :: Saturday
  • Seattle Fusion Festival
  • Celebrate Parent's 30th Anniversary
October 7 :: Sunday
  • Seattle Fusion Festival
October 8 :: Monday
  • Square Dancing @ the Tractor Tavern w/ the Tallboys
October 9 :: Tuesday
  • Burn Blue
October 10 :: Wednesday
  • Olympia (if possible)
October 11 :: Thursday
  • Lake City Contra
October 12 :: Friday
  • 8:07 AM - Depart Seattle via Amtrak
  • 8:52 AM - Arrive Bellingham
  • 6:00 PM - Depart Bellingham via Alaska Marine Highway
October 15 :: Monday
  • 2:45 PM - Arrive Haines
In there, I have mornings to see friends that I've missed, these past six months.

Why am I flying?

I certainly didn't want to fly - but it saves money. The ferry costs around $360 whereas flying costs $216. Driving could possibly save money, but in the time saved by flying, I'll be able to work more which means it should even out. I'm also not in the mood to be stuck with little wiggle-time in a car for three solid days again. I want to get the maximum Seattle-ness out of my 19 days off.

Why am I even going home?

It's my parent's 30th anniversary. I want to celebrate it with them.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

No Dryer

I still don't use a dryer.
Things usually dry within a night and a morning.

It's satisfying. I like seeing everything all hung up. I like seeing all of the colours.

Another fantastic thing?

So you know if you put clothes in the dryer and you leave them in long after they're dry and they cool in there and they get super wrinkly.

That doesn't happen with clothes hung up. They just chill there where you hung them until you take them down. Then they're half folded already and need two more folds to fit into the perfect pile.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Dock Dinner

The other day, a client and I went and had dinner together at the cruise ship docks.

Folks were doing yoga.

We sang a few songs.

That's all I have to say.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I Wear a Calculator Watch & [bare feet]

My favourite accessory?
That would have to be my incredible Casio watch.

Complete with a calculator.

The watch was given to me by my dad around the time of my 21st birthday - maybe it was my 21st birthday.

Why is it rad?

First - it calculates! I can do math on my wrist! Do you know how rad that is? Absolutely rad.

Second - the practical reason is that it has an alarm on it. That's why he originally gave it to me. Thse days, when folks travel, they frequently have to tote around their cell phone and keep it charged to keep them away. Not me - my watch wakes me. No cell phone needed.

Third - it's just handy having a watch. As my friend, Hannah, noticed the other day, I'm a bit over-interested (read: brinking-on-obsessed) in time. I like to know what time it is to the minute. I like to record times. I like to know how long it takes for me to get from Point A to Point B.
I need to know what time it is for my job. I can have a pretty awful sense of natural timing and it's crucial that I'm on time or that I remember what a client needs at what times.

So that's my Casio.
It's water resistant.

And here are pictures of my feet, ankle, and skirt...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Convenience of Hitchhiking

I hitchhiked out to Mud Bay with my cello, hoping to find a place to make music.

A truck picked me up. Me and the cello hopped into the back.
Went out 7 or so miles.
No music.
I stuck out my thumb again.
Got picked up.

"Know where any music is in town?"

He dropped me off at the Parade Grounds where there were a few musicians who looked like they were packing up. I was grateful, though, that they got the instruments back out when I showed up.

We played a few songs. Sounded nice.

Got invited to make music with them again.

We have since made music.

I certainly wish I could get around this easily in Seattle. I wish it was just made up of a few roads going in different directions that everyone knew. I wish you could just stick out your thumb and then, voila, you get to wherever you need to go.




The start to most mornings in Switzerland.
(is that how my weight got up to the high 120s?)

My mate was moving out of her apartment and dubbed the remaining possessions of hers up for grabs. I saw this bag on the shelf and nabbed it quickly. That was back around June 25, so it's been two months. I was just waiting for the right day to drink it.

I try to avoid sugar and Olvalmaltine is pretty much like putting sugar in your milk.

But, yesterday, it just seemed like the right day.

I grabbed some fresh goats milk from the fridge (my first dairy in a few weeks) and poured myself a small cup of it. One spoon of Ovalmaltine. Stir.

and then a gulp.

Switzerland in a cup. It tasted like home.

There was a bit of chocolate-y syrup-y goodness int he bottom of my cup so I decided to give it a try with my milk alternative of choice, hemp milk. Not bad. Not bad.

True, I'd best prefer this with legit-whole-milk, full fat, yo, but life doesn't always let you do things like that (or doctors).

I was grateful to have one of my favourite chocolate-y tastes in my mouth again. Memories of Switzerland are always welcome - especially in Haines, Alaska.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Have BED

I have BED.
It is not something I am proud of.
It is not something I like to write out.
In fact, I hate writing it out.
I'm working on it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Hey. We're In Alaska...

I remember the moment it clicked with me.
"Guess what!" I yelled down the hallway.
"We're in Alaska!"
Declarations like that normally come with celebratory hugs.

I live in Alaska. Right now, this is home - mostly due to the mountains that surround me. Mountains along with being surrounded by people who care about me.

"I know it's a Sunday, but can you work tomorrow?" my boss texted me (I've got a lot of respect for that guy).
I declined. It was a Sunday. Sundays are my day off.
I would like to say "yes" - but I knew I needed the day off to recharge, refresh, and get outside.
After church, Hannah and I decided to bike over to Battery Point. Well, bike to the trailhead and hike in and then hike back. Hannah is one of the dearest folks I've met in Haines and I mean that in full sincerity. Hannah makes Haines feel like home. I guess that's her job, though, making folks feel at home - she's an Innkeeper at the Summer Inn. Well, she is for just about a week or two more. Then, she's headed back to New Hampshire.

That's one of the peculiar (read: lame) things about Haines - them young folks rarely stay long. We tend to be a bunch of transients. Some stick around for a few years (she was here more than a full year) but rarely actually root-it-on-down.

Alaska is beautiful an all, but, to be honest, it still feels altogether very much like Washington. It's easy to tromp around and make believe I'm at St. Ed's or somethin' like that. Not to say it's not fantastic and awe-inspiring - it just still feels like home.

We set along our merry way. It's a short hike and barely a "hike" - more-so a muddy-muck, bumpity-slump, rooty-root, uppity-down sort-of-stroll. Oh! But I love it! Accessible trees is always very desirable.

After the distance was crossed, I feel we were rewarded far beyond our efforts.

Welcome to Kelgaya Bay.
My brain was twipping out.

"Whaaa!? I just walked a short 1.2ish miles and I get this?"
Well, bike 2.2 miles and then 1.2 miles of walking.

Welcome to Haines.

We crossed paths with Jedediah and lovely-girl.
Jedediah threw sea peas at us.
We ate them.

We strolled out and then, low and behold, back home we went... sort of. We hiked up the Riley path for a bit. Riley for Mt. Riley - which is about 1/3 the size of Mt. Si - my favourite mountain to hike on Thursdays in Washington. It's 1/3 the elevation but the same length - therefore, 1/3 the steepness of Si which means I really should have done it by now.

Back out, we got to do the 2.4 mile bike ride back to the inn -- complete with lots of jauchzen-ing.

Jauchzen is my favourite word in the German dictionary and is a verb for what I do when I go down hills on my bicycle.

It means, "to shout for joy."
I think that definition deserves an exclamation or something.

As we cycled along, we got views like this.

We decided to check on the fireweed (actually, we pulled over so I could take a photograph and the fireweed was just-so-happening-there). Sigh. It's in bloom folks, and that bloom is near the top. What dat mean? It means you ought to grab your jumpers (sweaters) and rain coats as summer is ending soon. See, the fireweed is like the crazy fuse of the summer season. It signifies the beginning and end of summer. The bloom starts down low, which means summer started. But, when it reaches the very top - that means summer is ending. Let's see where we're at now:

See, we've got a wee bit of summer left, but not ever so much.
A few inches worth of summer, at least.

I biked the 2.2 miles back home.
I napped.

And then, at 6:26 PM, I hopped on my bike and rode 4.1 miles back to the trailhead. When I like something, I am not the finest at "moderation." Goodness, I liked that trail and wanted to walk it again.

With the company of the fine Megan, back to the bay I hiked ("hiked"). .3 miles in, I decided I didn't want to wear underwear and pants and so I took them off (I still had on a skirt). Hiking felt a lot better, then.

This time, out at Kelgaya Bay, I was met by a more serene landscape.

I skittered my way back with little stumbling.
Someone was comfortable for the night.

As I biked back down Beach Road, the most magnificent golden glow spurked out between the trees. Now, I've seen an orange sky and a pink and purple sky - but I had never seen a sky so golden before. I jauchz-ed a few times.

I followed the light which conveniently led me to my house. By the time I got to the turn off the highway to where I lived, the sky was turning dark.

Yes. I took just short of a bajillion shots. My meager attempts to hold onto the moment.

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