Archives for the month of: February, 2013

Birds 2_crop

Last summer,  I was chatting with my friends Kay and Bruce about how friendships happen, long-lasting ones, that is. Bruce is a clinical psychologist, and he says it’s chemistry; neurochemistry, that is. Or as he put it, it’s “like birds of a feather flock together.” I thought about this today when I looked over at the next-door neighbors’ bird feeder. Tiny little birds, maybe two or three species among them, are flitting around the bird feeder.

Then, while I was watching the bird feeder, the Medivac helicopter landed on the roof of the hospital, which is just a couple of hundred feet from where I live. In fact, the landing pad is just a tad above the level of my apartment porch, so I have a bird’s eye view of what’s happening.

A friend who used to work at the hospital explained how this medical transport works. The helicopter comes in, medical personnel get off to prepare the patient for the flight to Anchorage, then the flight crew takes the plane to be refueled, I guess somewhere near the airport. When the chopper comes back, the medical personnel put the patient into the plane, board themselves, and then they’re off to Anchorage. Today I watched long enough to see the flight crew walking around the helicopter after they came back from refueling. They seemed to be checking on something near the tail.

Somehow these particular people were attracted to this risky, challenging job, and whatever brought them together also enables them to work together and save lives. I think that’s chemistry, too, and it’s not reserved for romantic relationships. It’s not the same kind of fiery combustion that gets people immediately excited about being with another person. That flames out anyway, eventually. What I’m talking about is a stable compound that stays warm without burning up.

Medivac-3 guys


Copyright 2013-2014 Genie Hambrick

JitneyI’ve had my eye on a little boat that’s sitting in a lot down on the next street. One of my longtimer friends says  it’s a “jitney.” Seining fishermen use it to pull one end of the net around the fish, then circle back to the fishing boat. Then they close up the net and haul the fish in.Yesterday I took this image from my living room window.  I love the colors.  The green is mighty close to Pantone 7473C. That’s a mix of Pantone Process Blue, with yellow and black. The blue is “Sea” (1963 Karmann Ghia) or “Tahiti ” (1976 Triumph TR6). And they’re not far off from Pantone Process Blue.

Resources: CCF, Homer, AK; Jerry Seinfeld, “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee”; Pantone, Inc.

Copyright 2013-2014 Genie Hambrick

Today I’m considering the phenomenon of “raking light,” first brought to my attention by my daughter-in-law who knows of it from her work in fine-art framing. Here’s the definition (according to Google):

“Raking light,  the illumination of objects from a light source at an oblique angle or almost parallel to the surface,  provides information on the surface topography and relief of the artifact thus lit. It is widely used in the examination of works of art.”

What raking light does, in the lives of ordinary people–and it’s particularly bold about this in Alaska winters–is expose and highlight every speck of dust and lint, every hair (human and otherwise), every grain of sand and grit in your house.

What happened today is that to avoid working on a writing assignment for a class I’m taking, I started cleaning. Not a good idea in raking light, because you can become completely overwhelmed. Think of Sisyphus with a dust cloth. It’s the furniture, floors, art on the walls, books, the television, computer, printer, stove (Oh, my God, the stove . . . someone else has been in my kitchen flinging spices down the burners. I am just not that messy).

I’ll tell you this: I’m mighty glad my activities for the evening will take place after dark because raking light shows precisely what aging does to human skin.  Not pretty.

Copyright 2013-2014 Genie Hambrick

FishermansFriendI have it–I have one–A Cold, that is. I grabbed this bug’s baton somewhere (Saturday night Contra dance?) and by Monday evening when I was in the writers’ workshop at the college, I was lapping the track with uncontrollable, brain-rattling sneezes and a dehydrating profusion of bodily fluid from my nose and eyes. Good golly, Miss Molly!

The last time I had A Cold I was in McCarthy, AK -in the late 1990s. My older son’s namesake, a small Matt, who had just returned from a trip Outside with his parents, came back with a yucky nose. My younger son, Zach, was there too, having hauled a country ham from Virginia. We both got A Cold.

Emergen-C is my go-to remedy, then and now. I used to do salt water gargles, but this go-round I’ve dumped that for a hot brew of lemon, fresh grated ginger, cayenne pepper, and water. I’m also employing  the magic potion in Fisherman’s Friend throat lozenges. I bought a couple of tins at, I think, Save-U-More and sent one to a friend in Atlanta. I kept one for decorative purposes, just like I hung on to a tin of Bag Balm.  But yesterday,  I opened it up, desperate to calm the sneezing. And, ya’ll, I’m not kidding, it works!  Check it out at

Copyright 2013-2014 Genie Hambrick

tiger balm 001I took it easy on Monday. No snow shoveling. Work was mostly satisfying, though because of it I missed both opportunities for water aerobics. No one made me miss the classes. I chose that because I can’t stand to make people wait.

Late afternoon, I took an urban hike in my neighborhood, intentionally including the full length of Noview Avenue trying to understand why the Homer Advisory Planning Commission denied Small Pond Child Care’s petition for an “unconditional use permit.” I don’t get it. I’ve lived nearly next door to the current center the whole time I’ve been in Homer.  Occasionally you see a teacher out with a gaggle of quiet toddllers. They construct imaginative fairy houses from branches and twigs. They make bird feeders out of unusual things.  They do not make noise. The MediVac helicopters do that, but that’s all good too.

Early evening, I chatted with a friend in the Lower 48, Skyped with my sister to discuss the art of ice dancing and catch up on plans for Memorial Day weekend. I watched Downton Abbey, Episode 7, behind a night from everyone who watches it on cable television.  And, because I waited too late to start cooking a hen for chicken soup and more, I treated myself to takeout from the Thai/Pho restaurant down the hill —red curry with chicken. Bliss.

By 9:00, I was in my pajamas and ensconced in bed with my lap top. Leo snuggled close while I read more of the New York Times online. Such an easy, relaxing day, a juicy day, with a good night’s sleep ahead.

Right after I turned out the light, I felt uncomfortable twinges in my left arm. I got out of bed, walked around in the dark, massaged my arm, then lay down. The pain worsened, and I felt uneasy. Dr. Monkey Mind, doing her never-to-be-completed  medical residency inside my head, popped a quick  diagnosis. “Possible heart attack,” she said.

I got out of bed, went into the bathroom, turned on the light, and took one, then another naproxen. Feeling better, but still uncomfortable, I opened my laptop and scanned heart attack symptoms on the Mayo Clinic website. My symptom didn’t match.

I got out of bed again and went upstairs, figuring that if I were having or about to have a heart attack, I should unload the dishwasher before I drove myself around the corner to the hospital. Piece of cake that would be: the driveway was all clear; car too. And my hair looked OK.  I hadn’t worn a cap the entire day (no snow shoveling and not smushed from the pillow).

Employing therapeutic diversion to cope with my unease, I folded a couple of origami cranes, and then it hit me. Snow shoveling. “Girl,” I said to myself (not out loud), “your muscles are edging toward the new 50s.” I thought about how many times I had shoveled out the car and cleared the driveway during the weekend? Five times?

I put away all the dishes, paying close attention to getting them lined up just so, turned out the lights and went back downstairs. I applied a generous amount of Tiger Balm to both of my arms and shoulders and crawled back into bed. All this time, Leo tracked right with me, hopeful that my arising meant what it usually does in the morning—breakfast.

Back in bed, I recommenced breathing “Sat nam,” and groaned when I looked at the clock: 3:45. I told Leo to give up, settle down. “Mercy,” I said out loud, as the Tiger Balm set my upper torso on fire. This must be what Diana Nyad felt when the jelly fish stung her while she was swimming from Cuba to Florida. “Sat nam. Sat nam,” I breathed.

I dozed off, woke again around 6:30, much to Leo’s delight, and fed him. Then I went back to bed and slept until about 9:00, when I thought, “Well, hey. I’m still alive and there’s work to be done.”

I brewed a cup of coffee and toasted an English muffin to top with a dollop of stewed rhubarb harvested last year from my yard. I read Writers Almanac, Fr. Richard Rohr’s daily meditation, as much of the Times that interested me after getting an early start on it last night. I glanced through an e-newsletter from Eileen Fisher (I’ve been a fan of her clothes for years).

Then I cranked up Beau Soleil and dug into projects for three clients. I looked out the window. More snow.

This afternoon, I bundled up, went outside and cleared car, driveway, front porch and steps. Add the deck to that; 43 minutes, start to finish.

I’ve got a good supply of Tiger Blam, and I’ll read the instructions before I use it again. No need to overdo it. I’ve put together an electic chicken soup for dinner, and it’s nearly ready. House of Cards is queued up. I’m easing into a great night. Life is juicy.

TulipsLast night, a friend and I went to Fat Olive’s for a quick salad before we headed up the hill to the movie theater for a fund-raiser put on by our employer. Seating was limited — it was the bar or the backroom–because Olive’s was crowded, which is unusual for a winter Thursday evening in Homer. The hostess reminded us that it was Valentine’s Day, and though I was completely aware of that earlier in the day, by 6:00 p.m. the annual celebration of red hearts and flowers and chocolate was pretty much wrapped up as far as I was concerned.

We couldn’t linger, so the bar suited us single girls just fine. The only drawback was that we couldn’t really check out who was there. As we were coming in, I did see a couple I know through my kids. He’s a real-deal cowboy, and they go Outside fairly often for him to participate in cattle drives and roundups. Last night, instead of a bandanna around his neck, he had a bright red scarf that looked like a blend of wool and silk. Cool as all get out.  On the way out I noticed a young couple holding hands and eating spaghetti and meat balls at the same time.

The fund-raiser included an auction for gift certificates, all donated by local restaurants and massage therapists (which gave the auctioneer opportunities to spice his banter with innuendos of romance and more). There were Valentine theme desserts for sale, too. Bags of cookies in clear plastic gift bags decorated with hearts. Cupcakes with hearts on top. Chocolate brownies. Peanut butter pie. Apple streusel.  Volunteers had gone overboard with baking for the event, and there was quite a bit unsold when we left the theater a few minutes before the film ended. I would say that a lot of folks will be enjoying Valentine’s Day sweets for several days longer.

There will be good deals on leftover candy and cards at the stores, too, where seasonal stock always exceeds demand. Safeway could not possibly have sold all their pimped up Valentine bouquets and potted plants. I wonder if they sold any of them? Yesterday morning when I shopped for my weekend’s supply of fresh produce, I noticed a bunch of guys buying basic bouquets of roses or other mixed flowers, but no one carrying out a pot of ivy with plastic hearts sticking out of it. There were a lot of heart-shaped balloons too, so maybe the practical romantics will celebrate Valentine’s Day today to take advantage of the sale prices while the flowers are still fresh and the balloons inflated.

As for me, I’m enjoying my indulgence in a bunch of Safeway tulips, actually a regular item starting right after Christmas. These are warm, energetic red–not that ponderous shade that turns maroon after a few days, like roses. I’m enjoying them this morning after my first Valentine’s Day in Homer, AK.  They’ll last more than a week if I keep trimming the end of the stems, and there’s nothing more to enjoy about them than that scrumptious color. That is plenty enough for me.

Copyright 2013-2014 Genie Hambrick

Cleats and boots

Riding Silver, it’s not hard to get where I want to go. With AWD and studded tires, that boy dares me to use weather as an excuse. Slow and steady, on we go. The challenge is getting from my apartment to Silver, getting inside him, then out again and inside my destination. I’ve got to keep my feet—not my bottom or my elbow, not my shoulder or hip or outstretched hand—on the ground, which in lots of places is solid ice.

The solution is cleats, and I’m wearing them every time I leave home. First I select a hard-working, all-business boot for the day. My choice is determined by the depth of snow or water on top of ice, then the temperature, and finally (and only slightly) by what I’m wearing.  Then I lash on my handy-dandy STABILicers, which look like sandals made by an enterprising third-world crafter who harvests old tires from a landfill. Slow and steady, I’m good to go.

Slow and steady is good practice in all things, and when it comes to Homer’s entertainment and educational opportunities, I sometimes feel like I’m slipping out of control. My schedule is packed.  And even though there is hardly a thing on it that I don’t want to do, I feel a tinge of anxiety, familiar from years of work with too many deadlines and not enough hours of waking time to meet them. I remind myself that I—now, and to some extent then—choose to cram too much into a day (and night). Slow it down. Get a grip.

And then there is the unfamiliar terrain of building new friendships. So far, that is the only down-side to this move. I really miss my friends from the Lower 48. Sure, we are all still in touch, but I miss being with them in person. With my sister Joy and my wonderful neighbors that happened nearly every day in Atlanta.

In that part of my life, I’m REALLY starting over, though not entirely from scratch. I already knew quite a few people from numerous visits. And, as the months have gone by, I’ve met people in classes at the college, through work, yoga classes, volunteering for KBBI. More faces are familiar, and now many of them have a name. I see someone at a restaurant, then the next day at the post office or grocery store, and then the next weekend at the contra dance. I have begun to discern, because Homer is such a small town, cliques and clans, where the bonds are avocation and vocation, rather than family ties. Rather than exclusion, there is welcome, so there is solid ground somewhere in there for me. Slow and steady, I’ll find the right spot.

Copyright 2013-2014 Genie Hambrick