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JusJoJan – Remembering Alaska

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Enter a Image Courtesy of Pixabay

In 1976 I moved to Alaska with my daughter to help care for my sister and her family. I was on the end of a painful divorce and my sister needed help. There was nothing else needed to convince me to go.

I arrived in summer and I was shocked at how beautiful and warm it was. We went bike riding in the hilly neighborhood behind her house. The days were long and luxurious. The local radio stations were playing Elton John and Kiki Dee – “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – on what seemed like an endless loop. That summer would be the first of many in Alaska. I have such fond memories of the splendor that is Alaska.

The mountains looked black to me from all the dark rich evergreens. I do not know how many times I asked why the mountains looked so black. From Earthquake Park (a residential neighborhood that was decimated in the Good Friday earthquake of 1964) to Mirror Lake and on to Mount McKinley, it was all amazing, Looking out over Portage and Matanuska glaciers, you cannot help but stand in awe of nature’s forces. I cannot help but wonder if the glaciers have receded in the 44 years since I lived there.

This was the time my sister, BJ, and I grew to love and depend on each other. She was the reason I took this journey with my daughter. After her recovery from back surgery we lived together and had adventures together. Our children bonded and we became a stronger family as a result.

Living in Alaska is an every day adventure. It was not unusual to be late for work because of moose blocking the roadway. You NEVER confront a moose! I worked shift work as a switchboard operator on Elmendorf AFB. On nights the northern lights were on display we climbed onto the roof of the building to observe the dancing lights in utter amazement.

Alaska requires you to immerse yourself in all she has to offer. Ivory and jade and gold nugget jewelry was plentiful . I even had a pair of jade polar bear earrings, but sadly only one of them survived the years. We wore parkas and mukluks to keep warm. Cars required head bolt heaters to insure they would start in the morning.

Winter brought termination dust (the first winter snow to appear on the mountain tops) and spring brought breakup (a muddy mess of mud left as winter snow melted away). Winter days were short but summer days languished until midnight.

I have driven the Alaska Canada highway twice. It is a long but breathtaking journey. We almost got trapped in a little town called Fireside when a major forest fire was on our tail. (Fireside was ravaged by the fires). I have hiked Arctic Valley with my children and felt more earthquake tremors than I ever wanted to experience. I have picked fiddlehead ferns on the edge of the forest and watched in awe as the salmon fight their way upstream to spawn.

I hope to go back someday but I fear it will have changed more than my heart can handle.


This post is part of Just Jot It January, brought to us by Linda Hill. Today’s inspiration word was provided by MB. Check out their blogs if you want further inspiration.

art, blessings, Blog, creativity, friends, jewelry, memories

Feeling Accomplished

Day 57

Today I felt accomplished in some things but recognize I still have a number of things on my list that remains. It’s nice to check them off as tasks are finished.

Decorations

IMG_7915Finally, all the indoor decorations are complete. The tree has a topper and a skirt now. The fireplace is decorated and the nativity scene is out. I love this phase because that means all the mess of boxes can be put away until it’s time to take it all down again.

Hubby started putting the outside decorations up. We just do lights outlining the house and lights through the bushes along the driveway. He’s about halfway done so it won’t be long until we can just sit back and enjoy it all.

Shopping

I mailed a few things today so some of my shopping is complete, but not nearly all. We ordered a few items online and will go out a few times together to finish the shopping for the grandkids. It gets harder as they get older and have very definite ideas about what they want and do not want.

I really missed Toys R Us and Babies R Us this year. Going store to store in hopes of finding something is tiring. Then the toy aisles in stores like Target and Walmart are just picked over and messy. That is why people order so much online – it is so convenient and it does save money and time. It doesn’t do much for the local economy, unfortunately.

Memories of Treats

IMG_7893 2I bought a box of clementines which started a conversation with hubby about our youth. When Christmas rolled around, there were certain treats that showed up that we did not seem to have been around otherwise.

The first was soft peppermint sticks. We both grew up in a common geographic area, so the brands we had were often the same. The peppermint sticks were made by Helms Candy Company which was just down the road from my grandparents’ home. The candy came in a box and it was nice and soft – not hard like peppermint candies. They are still in business and you can find the candy at a lot of local stores.

The second was of course tangerines. Both tangerines and oranges showed up around Christmas and they were a treat! Our stockings always had an orange or a tangerine in them.

The third was ribbon candy. Now I am picky about my ribbon candy. It cannot be thick. I like it wispy thin. And I don’t like for the colors to be overwhelming. Of course, if you bought the thin candies, there were always little sharp shards of sugar broken in the box.

The last was chocolate covered cherries. Now, we always had these at home, but I NEVER liked them and I do not care for them now. It was always THE gift for teachers or gift exchanges at school — do kids even do that anymore? Probably not.

Creativity

I finished NaNoWriMo which was an accomplishment. All my writing buddies finished, too, which was really nice. (Goodonya Tanya for finishing first time out!) Now I have a nice novel that needs to be finished, then ripped apart to fix all the ‘stuff’ that creeps in when you write that much in a 30 day period.

This weekend I have another jewelry workshop. It’s supposed to pour rain all day, so I’m glad I have some inside fun things to do. This is similar to the workshop I had to bow out of a few weeks back because I became ill. I love working with silver so I am hopeful I have better luck this time.

Earthquakes

Today there was a 7.0 earthquake in Alaska. The epicenter was very near where I lived when I lived there. I only have a few friends who are still in Alaska so I was holding my breath until I knew everyone was okay.

This brought back lots of memories of my time in Alaska. I remember going to ‘Earthquake Park’ which was an area of town devastated by the Good Friday earthquake in 1964. I also remembered feeling small quakes when we lived there and waking my children up to stand in the doorways when they occurred in the middle of the night.

Earthquakes are the most unsettling of natural disasters I have ever encountered. Everything moves. The buildings and their foundations, the ground, the cars, everything that is not nailed down. I worked as a switchboard operator (another thing I doubt exists anymore) on Elmendorf AFB when a fairly strong tremor occurred. After that, they secured the switchboard to the walls for fear someone would get crushed if it fell over. They were huge pieces of equipment.

Of course, I never felt anything of the magnitude the good people of Alaska felt this morning. I am holding them all in my prayers. Thankfully, it does not appear there were any fatalities or serious injuries so that is a blessing, but there is extensive damage to roads, buildings, and homes. And there is an unsettling feeling that takes a while to overcome.

That’s about it for the time being. Now it’s time to unwind for the day.

“Do what makes you happy, be with who makes you smile, laugh as much as you breathe, and love as long as you live.” 
Rachel Ann Nunes