Thursday, December 18, 2008

Token photograph

... Since I haven't posted one in a while, and I've gone and made the rash claim that this is an illustrated blog.

If the shoe fits ...

A lot of us would like to throw our shoes at him. Really.

Monday, September 15, 2008

2. I spent my summer ...

... eating my way through the Tanana Valley Farmer's Market. Look at the asparagus!! A totally serendipitous find, because there was only one box of asparagus on only one day of the farmer's market and I walked in just in time to grab one of the last bunches. And, of course, I only purchased vegetables. I never, ever purchased fudge, jam, cake or date bars. Oh, look! My nose is growing. Must be all those healthy vegetables. Heh.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

1. I spent my summer ...

... watching my flowers grow. And then watching it rain. And then watching the plants in my perennial bed party like college freshmen on a long weekend, go completely wild and collapse in an astonishing disorder of drunken colorful stems, flowers, leaves and crazy debris. Clearly next summer is going to involve imposing some discipline on this bad bunch of irresponsible plant life.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Life is serious

Well, anyway, it has been lately. This is a picture of my newest granddaughter, Maureen Charlotte. For months before her birth we were told to anticipate problems. She was too small, her limbs were disproportionately too short, maybe she had Down's Syndrome, maybe she had dwarfism. We thought about those things, and, really, we thought about how other parents who had kids with challenges viewed their children as gifts. But even though you know without a doubt a new child is a gift, it's impossible not to worry. You worry about whether your child might suffer. Maybe they will have painful physical challenges. Maybe they will have to suffer mean or thoughtless remarks from ignorant people. Will you be able to advocate for them? Do you have the wisdom to help them deal with other people's attitudes? It can be pretty stressful.

So here is Maury, having been in this world an entire three days when this picture was taken! She was small, but not too small. She weighed 5 pounds and 2 ounces. She was perfectly proportioned. She doesn't have classic dwarfism or Down's Syndrome. But she has some challenges. She has a pretty extensive port wine stain on her face, and although that can be treated and made to disappear almost entirely, there is a serious syndrome that can sometimes be associated with port wine stains, so she is scheduled for an MRI. And she is not gaining weight as quickly as one would normally expect. So that's a concern, too. But she's alert and active and given to expressing her needs quite, er ... vocally!

And she is, absolutely, unequivically, an amazing gift.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Give a little whistle

This is my granddaughter, Gracie. She's learning to whistle. Also she has very blue eyes!

Friday, May 2, 2008


I was seeing someone local. Someone steady and fair, someone who was always there for me. But you know how those relationships go. Predictable, safe. A little boring. Lacking in variety and excitement. Then I took a trip and met someone in a city a little south of here. He tempted me with pastries and gourmet coffee. He opened new doors for me. He was experienced and ready to fulfill even my most secret wishes. He offered mystery, fantasy and romance. I'll call him "Mr. Big." You can just imagine why! Oh sure, I knew he'd forget about me until the next time I showed up in the city. I knew he'd had a million women before me, and he'd have a million more. But it was too late for me. I'd been seduced. I began planning my trips with him in mind. I even started making lists of all the things I wanted from him, every whim and desire. I could scarcely wait to walk through his doors and into his arms.

I'd come home debauched and ashamed and return to my steady relationship, vowing never again to give in to my base desires. But still I would return for more. Then the unthinkable happened. Mr Big came to my town and took up residence! Can you understand what that meant for me? I tried to stay away, but it was hopeless. I passed him on the street and he gave me smoldering looks that invited me to come to him and try something new, something deep, something delicious, something scandalous, something banned by decent people. And, oh god, I did, and I can't stop. I'm so ashamed.

I was seduced by Barnes & Noble.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Don't call me a baby boomer

Here's how my day is going so far: I couldn't open the file I need on our shared drive, so I called computing and was informed that I needed to take the drive off my computer and then add it again and remap it. Of course, I have no clue how to do that. So the friendly (but, as we shall see, not too bright) computer tech promised to walk me through the procedure. Yep. Well, we got the drive off my computer and guess what! The friendly tech did not know how to add it back on. So now I am divorced from the drive with all my work on it. And I have been reassured that someone will get back to me on that. Right. I'm not holding my breath. Anyway, things have gone rather badly this morning and I'm in a black mood, so I figured why waste it. I will take the opportunity to rant about one of my absolute pet peeves. So! Don't call me a baby boomer!! And absolutely don't stereotype me and then blame me for all the world's problems! If you've got to call me something, call me a 60's person.

Here's why. I was born in 1948. The baby boom "generation" is defined as having been born from 1946 to 1964. Do you really think I have anything in common with someone born in 1964?? Think again. The people I grew up with were concerned with social issues. We cared passionately about civil rights, the war in Viet Nam and environmental issues. We still care about that stuff. Many, many of us are still deeply involved in today's social issues. We still think that bigotry and discrimination exist and and that this issue needs to be recognized and addressed by every single American. We think that we have the right and, indeed, the responsibility to question American involvement in Iraq. We try hard to make choices in our lives that lessen our impact on the environment. We care about the quality of the lives of everybody else on the planet and we understand that what, and how much, we consume can negatively impact those lives. So yep, 60's person. But don't even assume everyone born in 1948 is a 60's person. Stereotypes are a drag.

Here is what 60's people aren't:

We don't toss feces filled diapers into the trash.

We don't buy cheap plastic crap.

We don't think we are the center of the earth, either personally or as a nation.

We don't throw away things just because we didn't like the way it tasted, because it was out of fashion, or because there's a newer, shinier version.

We never, ever wanted our hair to look like Farrah Fawcett's.

Okay, well, I got that off my chest just in time. A friendly and intelligent (!) person from computing called back and I can work. Yay! Oh, yeah, and I don't know what the photo above has to do with anything other than it sort of reflected my mood.

P.S. But don't assume that everyone born in 1964 tosses disposable diapers in the trash, buys cheap plastic crap, thinks they're the center of the earth or ever wanted to look like Farrah Fawcett. Stereotypes are a drag.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

I'm so outa this old town

That's right. MizMagee is headed south. But, true confession: not south enough. Just south to Anchorage. No palm trees, sandy beaches, trade winds, or fruit flavored beverages with little umbrellas. Still, I don't want you to think I'm not enchanted with Fairbanks this time of year . March can be charming up here. A little cold, a little dreary, what with the dirty piles of snow, below zero mornings and all. Still, here are some pictures taken around this time of year just to prove it's not all chapped lips and wind chill. For example, the Mecca Bar, above, presumably dispenses liquid sunshine, although I've never worked up enough courage to go in and see for sure. But the sign is sunny and bright, even at night!

See, you practically need sunglasses for this one! Who says downtown is drab and boring?

We have tall buildings, and, better yet, lens flare from the sun. That's right.

And, when all else fails, we have purple benches, sea shells and, omigosh, spigots to remind us there might come a time when we actually have a lawn to water, sun to sit in and, um, okay, not the ocean - it's far away - but the shells are a nice touch anyway.

Be back later!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Waiting for summer.

Waiting for this new grandchild,
waiting to know.

Waiting for peaches and plums.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Waiting for the axe to fall.

Waiting for birch sap.
Waiting for snow melt.

Waiting to see what's around the corner.
Waiting to see what's over the edge.

Sometimes it's just all about waiting.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The persistence of winter

You probably think this is a picture of the Butrovich Building, up on the ridge at the University, with the early morning city lights in the background. But actually it's a picture of what the longest cold snap in interior Alaska since 2000 looked like just before my fingers froze to the buttons of my camera and I sprinted to my car, hoping that the excruciating pain I was experiencing was a sign my hands weren't frozen solid (I mean, they'd be numb, right?).

This has been such a charming winter. Flat tires, viruses, chapped lips, dry hair, static cling. Everyone I know has been sick. Oh wait, everyone includes me! That's right - rub your screen with Purell before reading this blog entry. It's swarming with microbes.

But I admit, when you scrape a little hole in a frost covered window and peer out, it is kind of pretty. Especially at sunrise.

P.S. What I'm ordering from Palm tree, sand, sun lamp, shore bird CD.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

WTF Weather

After my last post, whining about the weather, it warmed up enough to take the photo on the left. Then 14 inches of snow landed around my house, from two separate storms. After hours of snow shoveling (I have a really long driveway), when everything looked neat and tidy, we were hit with 40 mile an hour winds. Which blew the snow back onto the driveway. Then the temperatures plunged to 40 below zero. This winter's weather is suffering from extreme mood swings.

Unless you live above, say, the 45th parallel, Alaska's weather is inexplicable. After 30+ years of living here, I still have many WTF moments. I grew up in central California, where every 20 some years it'd get cold enough to snow. If you wanted snow, you drove up to the Sierras. So imagine my surprise to find myself living somewhere where it had to warm up to snow! Somewhere where the higher in altitude you got, the warmer it was. Somewhere where fog could be frozen. Somewhere where, on a truly cold day, you can fling a hot cup of coffee into the air and watch it float back to earth in the form of little, brown snowflakes. After all these years, I'm still bemused.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside

Well, okay, actually it's warming up. Last time I looked it was an amazing 1 degree above zero, which, sadly, is what passes for warm in interior Alaska in mid-January. But it was 35 below zero when I took this photo on Monday. It's a picture of the inside bottom of my front door.

Anyway, the weather got me to thinking about an email I wrote to my sister in January of 2006, on a day when it was 50 below zero. (And I don't mean anything wimpy like that was the wind chill factor. That was the actual temperature.) So I thought I'd post it here, on the off chance someone besides two of my coworkers, who read this out of kindness, might happen upon it and be amused by life at 50 below.

Life at Fifty Below

I get dressed in long underwear and fleece pants, and carry my slacks and shoes in my briefcase. I wrap a scarf around my face, put on my fur ear muffs and my giant down parka with the hood up, and I tighten the fur ruff around my face. I put on my heavy mittens. Hmmm ... then I take off a mitten so I can flip on the porch light and open the door. Then I pull my mitten on with my teeth, because I can't get it back on with the other hand while I'm carrying my briefcase stuffed with my clothes. Then I walk fast to the garage, take my mitten off again so I can unlock the garage door, and I scamper inside.

I back my car out and the thermometer in my car breaks the sound barrier plummeting from 50 above zero to 22 below and then turns to two dashes, because it won't register anything colder than that. Meanwhile the automatic garage door creaks down to about 3 inches above the ground and starts back up again. It doesn't like the cold either. I punch the button on the remote about 7 times and the door finally stays down.

I drive through the ice fog to the University gym parking lot, plug my car in so it'll start at 5 pm and head across campus. After a 5 minute walk at 50 below, my breath has frozen streaks on my glasses and there's frost on the fur of my parka ruff. I walk into the library and the humidity fills in the few clear spaces on my glasses with more frost, so I take them off and stumble blindly to my office where, go figure, I'm having a hot flash ...

... and then at 5 pm, I change back into my fleece pants, stuff my slacks and shoes back into my briefcase, take a deep breath and head back out to my car. I punch the button on my key to unlock the doors, toss my briefcase into the back seat, shut the door and head around to unplug the car. Meanwhile, the electronics in my car, their tiny brains scrambled by the cold, proceed to relock the car doors all on their own. So I unlock them again, toss in the electric cord and shut the door. But the door latches don't like the cold either, so, when I get in and turn the car on, the door open icon lights up and the door open bell, which usually produces a vigorous and repetitive ding, lets out a weak bleat every 60 seconds or so. So I get out and slam the rear door shut.

Okay, now I'm ready to go. Backing out of the parking space is a challenge because the lubrication in the steering wheel has stiffened with the cold and the wheel doesn't want to turn. Then, when I put it in drive, I thump along through the parking lot because my tires have frozen flat on the bottom. Oh wait! The door open bell is bleating again because the driver's side door didn't latch. And look! The air bag deployed icon is lighting up sporadically on the dash. Isn't this fun! And I still have the garage door to look forward to! Life in Alaska -- always an adventure.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Weekend scone overdose

Scones: light, fluffy, full of cheese and onions. Me: full, lethargic, gaining weight at unprecedented rate, yet strangely content. Recipe from Farmgirl Fare.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The inevitable New Year's resolutions

I know what you're thinking: the only thing worse than making New Year's resolutions is making them and then foolishly posting them on the internet. And you're right. But last year my only resolution was to have more fun, and I did! So now I'm ignoring the fact that, last year aside, I've never managed to keep a single, miserable resolution I've ever made. I'm overcome with optimism and misplaced determination. Here are my resolutions:

1. I will cook more stuff from scratch and use ingredients I've never tried before. But I'm still not eating anything that leaves a slime trail behind it when it decides to change locations. So there.

2. Motivated purely by my desire to be a good global citizen and not by the fact that Tanana Valley carrots are the world's best, I will eat more local food, and be more aware of where my food is coming from and how its production impacts the environment.

3. I will coax at least one tomato plant into production, even if I have to sacrifice an entire salmon and mega-gallons of water at its feet.

Okay, now that the food related resolutions are out of the way:

4. I will not celebrate my 60th birthday by counting the wrinkles around my lips or calculating the number of gray hairs per square inch on my scalp.

5. I will organize the garage. (Hey, it could happen.)

6. I will continue to be the cheerful, optimistic, enthusiastic person I love to greet in the mirror every morning. And if you doubt it, well, that's just another example of the way the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Oh. Heh. But I'm smiling when I say that.

7. I will take more food pictures. (Wait, should that go with the food resolutions??)

Happy 2008. May it be filled with purple potatoes, parsley, cranberry nut bread and other good things!