Archives for the month of: February, 2014

For dinner this evening, I had salmon and broccolini. The salmon was wild caught as it swam from ocean into river to spawn, to make more life.That happened in Alaska, if labels can be trusted. I’ve run out of friend-donated salmon so I can’t be 100% sure.

The broccolini, purchased late afternoon at Sav-U-More, looked OK in the store, and it was under $5 for the bunch.  I was wooed to buy it by the price (fresh anything out here is expensive). 

In the light of home, which is mighty bright, I saw that the broccolini had started to bloom. Somewhere, someone had bought up a crop that had pushed way past its prime. It was fixin’ to mate or whatever broccolini does to sustain life. 

Tonight, for my little dinner, I’ve consumed some of this hope. Makes me think, this little dinner. 


Retired equipment, Homer, AK.

Like Warren Zevon said, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” God knows, I enjoy a peaceful night of sleep, or at least to rest in comfort when the night seems too long, then not long enough.

What I mean is that I intend not to slow down and not to wear out. This takes effort. It can be tiring.

There’s new technology—daily updates as the software and hardware companies I buy from now do their dead-level best to keep me informed. Adobe, Apple, and Dell. Blackbaud. GoDaddy and Google, LogMeIn. Microsoft, MozyHome, and McAfee. Skype. Constant Contact.

Appliance manufacturers reach out continuously. They ask me to rate their products and services. The other day I was invited to rate how well I liked the oven’s self-cleaning feature. Going through that online survey, I got the idea that this is not going to work well when I get around to using it. There’s a bug in there. Betcha. I stopped answering questions when I had to select which type of electrical outlet the stove is plugged into. I was not about to move the stove, because I did not want to risk disconnecting the gas line.

Maintaining health and appearance. Oh, God, that too.  Exercise constantly, eat a healthful diet (notice that I did not say “healthy diet” – that really bugs me). Hell’s bells: it’s all a challenge. You know what I mean.

Not losing touch with popular culture. That’s a biggie, and I am definitely disconnected from some new performers. Of course not Miley Cyrus of the rude tongue, or Justin Bieber (“Justa Beaver” as I heard the Alaskateers say before they developed what seem to be adult brains inside their little kid bodies).  Granted, Justin and Miley aren’t new anymore.

Scanning tabloid headlines as I go through the grocery check-out line is some help, and I take advantage of magazines in the waiting area at Alyeska Tire & Automotive. Some of these are a year old, but unless I take my own reading material, they’ll do. Occasionally I read an article in a hunting magazine. Why the heck not?

My to-do list goes on and on, and if self-maintenance one day becomes my vocation, its loftier purpose is that I won’t be a burden to my family.  But it’s about me too. I want to have fun, be fun. I want to be a rolling stone.


I get Rolling Stone magazine’s online newsletter. Check out The Arcade Fire performing on Jimmy Fallon’s new Tonight Show. Apologies for the commercial, and who knows which one you’ll get. First time I watched, it was for a dog breath freshener. A puppy drank out of a toilet bowl. Second time, Pizza Hut; that looked delicious.

Copyright 2014. Genie Hambrick

8 A.M.

8 A.M.

I was hot to trot this morning, ready to zip out to the Bagel Shop for the lox and schmear special, a luscious sculpture of brined salmon, slivers of red onion, capers, and snips of fresh dill on a voluptuous bagel. This would be a special Sunday breakfast, with half left for tomorrow morning to fuel a session of “senior aquacize,” formerly known as Silver Waves.

Life has evolved so there’s time to consider details such as whether to have the first cup of coffee, regular, on the way to the Bagel Shop, or have a leisurely cup at home,  then take my second cup, decaf, to go. I decided to have a cup while I read the New York Times on line. Today, T magazine’s focus is women’s spring fashion.

While I waited for the hot water to drip through the filter, I admired the unspoiled snow outside. Then I noticed the deck. I wanted to believe that I had forgotten to clear it after yesterday’s second snow, but I hadn’t. I knew it. Another three or four inches fell last night, which meant that the front porch steps, car, and driveway had to be cleared for the third time this weekend—before I could get to that  bagel.

But no big deal. I’m kind of into snow shoveling. Stoked with a cup of Peet’s Major Dickason’s blend, I put on thermal underwear, wool sweater, jeans, down jacket, wool cap, gloves, extra woold socks, boots good to -40 (it was 12 at the time), and waddled out the front door. I dug in, and, yeah, I guess my life has changed. I actually enjoyed it.

When I’m clearing snow, I try to move efficiently, sort of like mowing a lawn. I give trim the edges crisply, though after a point I ask myself, “Why are you doing this? Good enough is OK.”  It gets kind of like trimming a hedge, trying to eyeball an even slice across the top. But one end is a little low, so you buzz the high spots again with the clippers. Next thing you’re thinking, “Oh, well. It will grow out in time.”

One house down the street, my neighbor Fedora was shoveling her driveway. She’s Alaska Native, short with dark hair, and maybe not much younger than I. When we’re outside at the same time, she offers practical advice, year round. She alerted me to the threat of moose in the neighborhood. “If you see one in the street,” she warned, “turn around and go the other way.”

Last week, she cautioned me about pulling Silver in and out of the driveway to pack the snow. I was pleased with having thought of it. It seemed so efficient and quick. “Better not use your car like that,” she said. “That packed snow is going to turn to ice.”

This morning, as I shoveled the car out, she held up a snow scoop and said, “You better get one of these. Much easier on your back.”

9 A.M.

9 A.M.

By then I had finished, but on the way home with that beautiful bagel on the seat next to me, I stopped by Ulmer’s Everything But Groceries and Pets and bought a sleek black scoop. I’ll be ready next time.

This has me thinking about how much of life is repetitive. As soon as the dishwasher is emptied, there’s another glass to start the next load. Same thing with the garbage, laundry, making the bed. The only way to deal with it is to savor the doing, which may be how poor old Sisyphus dealt with the mental load of that boulder he had to keep pushing up a hill, day after day.

3 P.M.

I can see that I’m going to get a lot of practice because, you know what? It’s snowing. Again.

Copyright 2014. Genie Hambrick

Footnote: 4:17 p.m. Snow scoop works great! Cleared maybe an inch more of snow in less than 10 minutes. Back inside in time to stir the rhubarb before it scorched on the stove.


Heart rocks from Bishops Beach.

Let’s be honest. When a single person describes someone as “just a friend,” there’s disappointment. Maybe not a lot, but some. You hoped for more, but there’s no passion, not even a spark. No hearts afire, unless you put too much salsa on your taco salad. So the time comes to acknowledge the truth to one’s self, to the hopeful and perhaps relieved other, and to the curious who ask, “What’s up with you and So-and-So?” The answer: “We’re just friends.”

Gracious people are up front about this with each other. That is, you don’t downgrade a relationship when you’re out  with a bunch of people and one of you introduces the other as “my friend.” One of you may have been thinking, hoping, “Maybe this time . . ..” Go ahead and state the obvious in private as soon as you know.

The other day, I looked up the etymology of the word “friend’ and learned that it’s from the Ur-Germanic frijojanan, “to love.” A friend is one who’s beloved, and I can tell you this is not what people mean when they say they are “just friends.” It means they aren’t in love.

If there’s no love between people, then maybe “like” is a better word. That one, also from the Ur-Germanic, means “to please, be sufficient, and is related to “being the same.” But I don’t think “like” works either, because the “just friends-like each other” relationship is definitely insufficient for the long haul, and in my experience, when all’s said and done, in these situations, there are major differences between the two people. They’re not alike, at least not enough to move things into a different category.

Several years ago, a friend who was single then and I, still married, developed a matrix for relationships. Granted, eHarmony and had already figured out all of this as a profitable enterprise. Our work, on a white board in my office, provided  brief opportunities for creativity during workdays that could be mentally stifling.

We determined that potential romantic partners must have common elements to make a go of it. We assumed from the get-go that the two would have the same sexual orientation, but figured there was room for variation in several areas, such as hobbies, desired height and weight, age, and income. We acknowledged that extreme variation in any area could be problematic. Like a 20-year age difference, though that applies only if the guy is the younger one. We knew all too well (boy-oh do I know it now) that it doesn’t matter the other way (think Anna Nicole Smith, as an example of extreme variation in age). In matters spiritual, cultural, and political, you’ve got to be pretty closely aligned.

We did not consider accent a factor, though some apparently have strong feelings in that area. I had a date with a man who told me that he could never be in a relationship with a woman who had a Southern accent. This was in Atlanta, in a restaurant.  I said, “Well, hey, I’d hate to mess up your dinner. I am very OK if you want to move to another table or leave. I’m staying. I love the red curry here.”

Here on Valentine’s Day 2014, I’m home with Leo, this beautiful creature friend who has come into my life. My friends–not the “just friends”—are plenty enough to make my heart happy. I love them, and I like them.

They are my Beloved. That’s bee-Luh-ved. Not bee-Luvhd. Please use the extra syllable, to distinguish between noun and adjective, at least the way I talk, which is Appalachian*. And that’s Appalatchun; not Appalaychen.

And one more thing:  there were no Ur-Germans. Ur-Germanic is a proto-language pieced together by historical linguists from the languages of a bunch of people who, from what I can tell, didn’t think much about romance, which is why God made Romance languages that descended from Vulgar Latin, and I’m not going down that path here.

Copyright 2014. Genie Hambrick

GrayHairWhen I was 45, I let go of the notion that I could stave off old age with hair dye. For one thing, when you have dark hair, keeping ahead of gray roots is obscenely expensive.  You’ve got to do it once a month to keep from looking like a skunk.

Furthermore, I was married to a balding man who didn’t do that comb-over thing, wear a toupee, thank God, or take Rogaine. Since I loved his bald head, I figured he could love my gray one. And for a while, except that I got grayer and he got balder, not much changed except the tab at the end of a salon session.

Then one day I was in one of those hip salons with brick interior walls and a concrete floor –this was in Richmond, in The Fan. Very cool. The stylist finished cutting my hair, lifted his scissors with a flourish, snipped the air a couple of times, and said, “There you go, Dearie.”

That was the first time it happened – the senior salutation – a Dearie here, a Dear Heart there, perhaps the frequency for a while depended on the lighting. But now there’s no hiding from it. I am bombarded with the honorifics of age, which I accept as opportunities to consider how I might share the wisdom of my years.

If a grocery store cashier asks, “Did you find everything you need today, Dear?” I think, “Thanks for asking. And actually, no. I didn’t find everything. For the life of me I couldn’t find the Preparation H. Would you get on your intercom system and call one of the other children who work here to go find that for me?”

Then, while we wait for the Preparation H, I can tell the cashier about off-label uses. “Oh, it’s much more than plain old hemorrhoid treatment. Some women swear by it as a facial moisturizer [actually I tried that, but quit when I read that it can cause high blood pressure]. Body builders oil up with it before competitions. And it’s supposed to speed up the healing of new tattoos. Maybe you tried it? I mean, isn’t that a cobra’s head I see peeking out from your cuff?”

Or if the question is, “Do you need help getting your purchases to the car, Love?” I think, especially if it’s raining, “Oh, yes, how kind of you, but first, would you mind re-bagging everything in alphabetical order?” While the cashier and bagger work on that, I ask them how old they were when they could sing the alphabet song all the way through without missing a letter. I should point out that I would not ask if I think either of them may have learned English as a second language.

When I am called Love or Lovie by a man I’ve never seen before, I want to make the conversation more personal. Here I might say, “Excuse me. Did you call me Lovie? How interesting, because I could swear I have never met you before. Have we ever known each other that well? Did we know each other in the biblical sense and I’ve just forgotten? Oh, dearie me.”

Men also ask, “How are you today, Young Lady?” And sometimes, I can’t resist. “Oh, I’m doing great, even though, as you can see, I am not young. But how are you, Sonny?” More than one has responded, with eyes rolling, “Well, gosh, I was just trying to be polite.” What I want to say is, “Just use deodorant. That would be really polite.”

Sweetie.  That one really gets to me, because the bald husband called me that. Once he called me that—just once—and it was a big surprise, because it was completely out of character.  “Did you call me Sweetie?” I asked.

“Well, yeah,” he said, looking a little surprised himself. “I guess I did.” As it turned out, the brain inside his head, which was really bald by then, was a little confused. He forgot who he was talking to. It was me, the gray-haired wife who could run a half-marathon—not the plump blonde he had come to prefer, the one who got her hair dyed, on his recommendation, at the same Buckhead salon where I had mine cut. Talk about a Sweetie.

The other day I was surprised by a loquacious cashier who breaks the monotony of ringing up the contents of overflowing carts with tales of dysfunctional relationships and misfortune. When I finally made it to the register having learned more about several people than I wanted to know, I handed him my driver’s license to prove that I am old enough to purchase a bottle of Daily Red.

He looked at my license, handed it back with a flourish, and said, “Well, you’re just a Spring Chicken, aren’t you?”

“No, I’m not a Spring Chicken, as you can surely see,” I said, “ but you, well, you are a real turkey.”

Next time I came through his line, he muttered with a forced smile, “How are you today, MADAM?” To which I said, “Oh, just great, and you can call me Babe.”

Copyright 2014. Genie Hambrick