April in Alaska is Dreary

I should begin by saying, “Oops!” It’s obviously been a while since I was last motivated to write. ☺️ When I opened my blog program today, I found this all-but-finished blog post sitting in Drafts, simply waiting for someone to click “Send”. It’s been sitting here since, well … April. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Better late than never, right?

April in Alaska is admittedly not the prettiest month of the year, but since it is technically Spring, I can appreciate it for that alone.

Looking at the big picture; April brings forests of dull brown, leafless trees, large banks of dirty snow melting slowly into rivulets of muddy water and highway intersections that could probably stock fish.

Although its often dreary landscape tempts me towards depression most years, this year I find myself embracing April for its promise of good things to come. Dog sports trials are up and running (even though I’m not yet in any shape to participate).

Another sign that April is a sure prelude to spring; rising temperatures carry the first earthy scents of the forest floor, freshly freed from winter’s frozen grip. Willow trees are covered in fuzzy pussy-willow pods.

Sure, it smells like mud and musty dead leaves, but it gives people hope, raising spirits and invigorating the soul.

If you take the time to peer closely at the little things, and listen hard, April comes into closer focus. The green tips of an early crocus breaking ground in a neighbor’s garden, the cheerful song of birds who instinctively know the cold season is ending, or maybe the little calendar by my bed, with “Call for an appointment to de-winterize the RV” circled in red.

As I relaxed atop my bed this afternoon, with my healing knee elevated on a big foam wedge and an ice pack strapped securely in place, I had plenty of time to reflect.

What I like most about April is simply that it means May is next! It’s almost summer! ☀️

Nice While it Lasted

The pounding of surf crashing along the shoreline intruded on my dreams, nearly but not quite waking me.

I love everything about the ocean; the salty tang of saltwater, hot sand and seaweed in the air, the constantly changing shades of blues, grays and greens glittering as far as the eye can see, the restless and yet restful sounds.

There’s nothing like sleeping at the beach when a summer storm brews up. Powerful, white-crested combers push rhythmically up the sand, one after another as the tide draws in, their thunderous crescendos drowning out the sound of seagulls and the gentler gurgling of water being pulled back to sea.

The wind must have picked up, I remember thinking groggily, as the light, distinctive tinkle of beach sand blowing against window glass stirred me again towards wakefulness.

The relaxing sound of summer waves hitting the shore didn’t fade as I reluctantly surfaced from a rare afternoon nap. My brain, slowly adapting from sleep to wakefulness, simply reassigned the sounds more realistically.

My eyes opened – and then promptly snapped closed again. I liked my dream much better than the blowing February snow pelting hard little pellets against my bedroom window.

The rolling ocean waves had morphed once again into the sound of winter wind, blowing in gusts against the house. Snow, in mock mimicry of the sandy beach I so desired, drifted across the deck in cold dunes.

Oh well … it was sure nice while it lasted.

Chirp! Chirp!

Yep, pretty much nothing but the sound of crickets coming from my blog the past few weeks.

I’d spent over a month getting ready; reorganizing furniture, widening a few pathway pinch points and disappearing a couple of extension cords. My house, it seemed, abounded with trip hazards.

I stored away small area rugs, and found better places for winter boots to live. It’s amazing how clutter can narrow a house’s footprint in 25 years. A small dresser here, a tub of yarn there …. Dachshunds everywhere.

Hey, who knew adding dog ramps to the bed in 2018 made access on my side of the bed only 20” wide? Way too narrow for a walker, but an easy fix – Jerry and I switched sides. This solved a couple of mobility/access problems, but sure seemed super weird after 24 years.

I think I was as prepared as I could manage, never having been in this particular position before. I had spoken to friends (and doctors, too), watched dozens of recommended You Tube videos, and had purchased all sorts of medical aids to assist in my return to wholeness.

Want to hear the real laugh (well, maybe the only laugh)? I fully expected, since I’d have to spend weeks sitting and lying about, to keep myself occupied by writing daily blog posts documenting my recovery.

Umm … yeah, it turns out – not so much.

In hindsight; why I thought this was something I’d ever want to blog about is beyond my comprehension.

Two weeks ago today, I went in for a TKR (total knee replacement) of my right knee. These photos are the only highlights I’ve been able to glean from the past two weeks.

I have excellent round-the-clock nursing care. Nurse Rhonda has occasionally called in reinforcements in the form of assistant nurse, Baxter, when I was having a particularly bad day, and allowed man-servant, Jerry/Dad, to bring me food and ice.

Ronni and guard-cat Qiviut, have been diligent in keeping Mom safe from the dastardly red squirrel on the deck. That nasty intruder is NOT going to disturb Mom’s healing.

Mostly though, Nurse Rhonda has become a limpet, glued to my side and attentive to the smallest change in mood.

This is Rhonda at the end of week one – willing Mom to please feel better. 💗

Blown Around

A strong wind storm is a live, untamed thing. An awesome event even when viewed from inside a sturdy, warm house. It is a force of nature not to be underestimated, reasoned with or conquered. All you can do is bundle up and hang on for the ride. The wind raged non-stop for four long days.

Dare to step out the door and it threatened to do more than snatch your breath away. Combined with sub-zero temps and power outages, this storm was dangerous.

Even inside our well-insulated home, it sounded for all the world like a speeding, out of control freight train had been diverted right past our living room.

Steady, sustained winds of 45-60 mph, with regular gusts of up to 100 mph rampaged across our region for four grueling days and nights before gradually sighing (in sheer exhaustion?) and slowing to nothing more than a lively breeze and finally pausing … perhaps to catch its breath?

During the worst of it, concerned for the safety of our 14 lb. dachshunds (as well as ourselves) in these high winds, we confined their potty walks to our front porch, where they already have a semi-sheltered corner, with a low-sided 3’x4’ wooden box bedded in wood chips for their frigid-weather doggy needs.

The “potty palace” even has a heat lamp securely attached overhead for those below zero (not counting wind-chill!) nights.

Under normal conditions, Baxter usually distains using the box, preferring to lift his leg on a snow berm in the yard unless there is deep, un-shoveled snow – or, it seems, in the case of really bad wind storms. 💨🌬💨

Sadly, even this accommodation wasn’t quite sufficient for poor 11-year-old Baxter. Already phobic about movement and loud noises after being trapped in the November 30, 2018 earthquake; the roaring of the wind, accompanied by the occasional sharp rattle of wind-borne tree debris against windows, and at one point a [well-secured] dog kennel breaking free and tumbling noisily across the deck – Baxter was a traumatized wreck.

Even with anxiety medication and wearing his Thunder Shirt, he quaked and whimpered throughout the four day mega wind storm, spending much of the time tightly burrowed between Jerry’s leg and the arm of the big recliner … under a blanket.

We resorted to periodically carrying him outside to the potty corner, fleece-coated and leashed up least he panic and blindly bolt into the darkness. Once set down on the wood chips, Baxter would pee right where he was standing, not bothering to sniff or even lift a leg. He’d remain in place, tense with apprehension, until we carried him back inside to the dubious (in his mind) safety of the house.

Rhonda, on the other hand, remained gloriously unconcerned as long as we, her human servants, maintained a warm fire in “her” wood stove.

Eventually, the wind event was dubbed The New Year’s Wind Storm, after the “New Year’s Day” wind storm and then “New Year’s Weekend” wind storm names were ruled out, both time-spans having passed with no abatement in the hurricane-force gale charging unchecked across much of Alaska.

When the wind finally died, the silence was eerie.

The first night after the storm passed, I slept fitfully, waking with a start to the tiniest sound in our otherwise strangely quiet house.

I wasn’t alone in my hyper-vigilance. Each time I stirred, I met Baxter’s eyes from where he was curled snugly between Jer and I, partially covered by a small blankie. Head up and watchful, he’d glance at me as if to say, “Did you hear that??”

It took us a couple of days to locate lost items, pick up and dispose of tree branches and other yard and driveway debris, check in with neighbors and generally take a deep breath of relief. Baxter and I finally slept through the night last night.

Today, as the sun begins to set … the wind is picking up once again. After only two days of respite, our area is under yet another high-wind advisory. Sigh. It’s not forecast to be anywheres near as bad as the last, but I don’t think Baxter is going to be mollified.

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