Archives for the month of: June, 2017

 

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I LIVE YEAR ROUND in an internationally popular vacation destination, but I still have to do everything that people like me do when they’re not on vacation.

“Like me” is still, barely, middle class. This means I do housework, which includes vacuuming, and, except for people employed in the housekeeping industry, I vacuum more than anyone anywhere who is on the electrical grid. This is because Rys, my hairy, younger cat, is the Esau of Maine coon cats, and I have only a Shark (not a Dyson).

And there’s the rest of a “to-do” list that comes with keeping a house and maintaining standards set by my slightly obsessive-compulsive self. Loading and unloading the dishwasher, dusting, changing sheets, cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry. There’s a long to-do list in my head, and I review it at night when I want to be asleep.

Lately I’ve allowed myself to be on vacation at home. This is not a “staycation” where I troop around, eat at restaurants in town, and take a water taxi across Kachemak Bay to Halibut Cove and Seldovia. This is being on vacation in my own house, which is infinitely more affordable.

Today I put on my summer clothes (I mean all my remaining summer clothes from Georgia —a Target tank top and a Michael Stars knit skirt I bought at Squash Blossom in Decatur, GA). I sat on my postage-stamp deck in a chair I bought at a yard sale up the street. I hiked up the skirt to get a little sun on my pale Scots-Irish legs. I took a deep breath.

It’s OK to be on vacation. Nothing bad will happen because, for a couple of hours, I read and looked up at the sky. It’s OK just to breathe.

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Copyright 2017. Genie Hambrick. 

 

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IMG_2440-inkDepending on where you are—Northern or Southern Hemisphere—today is either the longest day of the year, or the shortest; the shortest or the longest night. And tomorrow is the first day of summer, or winter. Depends on where you are.

IMG_2441-mug-inkRight this minute, I’m at latitude 59°38’33″N, seated at The Wurlitzer Console about to write a confession, which is this: I’m not ready for the days to get shorter. Maybe that’s because it rained all day on this longest day, eve of summer 2017 CE, and I’m sitting here, with wool socks and felt slippers on my feet, sipping double-strength lemon ginger tea while I ponder the Yogi brand’s bromides that dangle over the side of the mug. One says, “Give love, get love.” The other needs a semicolon: “You don’t need love, you are the love.” For music to complement melancholy, I’ve queued up Virgil Fox to blast Bach fugues and preludes in minor keys through the Marshall speaker.

7221b1bb731180501ec734aefd16b37eAs I post this, rain has stopped in Homer, AK. Virgil Fox is into D major. And in Cape Horn, Chile, 55° 58′ 59.9999″S, it’s the beginning of winter for the lighthouse keeper and his family.

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AFTER MANY YEARS OF MOWING AND WEEDING in obeisance to the doctrine of Southern Living, I no longer have the will to battle Nature. Horsetail and dandelion, hawk weed (a zesty paprika color here), buttercup, plantain, fireweed, stinging nettle, and pushki (Wonder Woman Queen Anne’s lace) are prolific in this area, and by area I mean the ditch in front of my house, the driveway and banks on both sides of it, and all across the power line easement at the back of the lot. Plus, across the street, there’s a stand of alders that reproduces by using wind power to launch ballistic seeds to the aforementioned area.

My dovish approach to gardening, to live and let live, has been a great disappointment to my next-door neighbor who told me last summer, during a slightly tense discussion of my landscaping style, that she had waged war on weeds for 35 years. She’s a real gardener, with a greenhouse and perennials and blooming trees in her back yard. It’s a nice view from my kitchen window, which allows me to see over her eight-foot privacy fence.  which separates her de-weeded zone from my refugee camp.

With this background information (oh, how I do go on), you may understand how delighted I was this afternoon, capturing dandelions going from bloom to seed as I crawled by them, when one half of a couple who walk their dogs in the ‘hood called out, “I admire your green thumb.”  I was crouched at the edge of the DWZ with a handful of Alaska-size dandelions. I stood up and said, “Oh, it’s not me, it’s Mother Nature.” I gestured expansively toward the refugee settlement, mostly horsetail.

“Oh,” she said. “Sorry. I meant the other yard.”

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Copyright 2017. Genie Hambrick

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IT’S THE FIRST WEEKEND IN JUNE and the fifth anniversary of my landing on the shores of Kachemak Bay. It wasn’t literally the beach, but close to it, at the Homer airport, which is delightfully small. I thought about kissing the ground, but refrained, as the Alaska Hambricks were gathered to meet me.

I was an immigrant from the Southeast, and for a going-away present had given myself a first-class, one-way ticket to Anchorage, which I thought I deserved for several reasons, which I won’t go into here. Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, on a value scale of 1 to 10, first class is a 5, and heated wash cloths doled out with tongs are ridiculous. It’s a long damn trip from Atlanta, no matter how semi-comfortable you are.

AnchorageAirport moose to Homer is a short trip. Once, when I expressed concern about the safety of the small planes that fly here, my Alaska son, Matt, said, “Just look at it this way, Mom. However it turns out, it’s quick.” Seating is completely egalitarian: one cabin about the size of a large passenger van, no assigned seats, and everyone gets a complimentary fruit juice or water, plus a homemade cookie–oatmeal-raisin, chocolate chip, or peanut butter. The selection varies, but never disappoints.

By the time the flight attendant whips through safety instructions without stopping for a breath, serves refreshments, circles back to collect juice boxes and cookie wrappers, the wunderkind pilots (there are two) have whisked you over Cook Inlet and the mountains and lakes of the Kenai Peninsula and planted you on the tarmac in Homer. Sometimes the co-pilot doubles as the flight attendant, but I don’t think any of the flight crew bake the cookies. That might be assigned to the ticket counter person who also serves as the gate person when it’s time to board.

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packingcrateWHEN I ARRIVED IN THE LAST FRONTIER, my worldly possessions, except what I gave away or sold and wish I hadn’t, were still traveling cross continent by truck to be loaded onto a barge in Washington, then hauled down to Homer. Some things I mailed to myself, such as important documents and spices, because for some reason I thought the movers wouldn’t pack them, like they were contraband, and I didn’t want to buy all new when I got to Alaska. As if I’m a gourmet cook and bought them in exotic bazaars instead of Publix. As if the movers would refuse to pack the garbage if I asked.

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For about a week, I bunked out East End Road at the resident Hambricks’ house, then moved to an apartment in town when my shipment arrived. I unpacked everything except the stained glass piece my brother-in-law crated for me. Then, 14 months later, my sister Joy, who’s named that for good reason, helped me pack everything in boxes from the Grog Shop, load a U-Haul truck, and move down the hill and around the corner to this house, which Matt built between March and August of that year. After Joy went back to Atlanta to rest from her Alaska vacation, I unpacked the stained glass and hung it in an east window of the living room.

This house is nearly twice the size of my condo in Atlanta, and I have accumulated furniture and lamps to replace what I sold or gave away and wish I hadn’t. Speaking of lamps, I bought a “happy light” to ward off S.A.D.D. during the dark winter months. I used it the first two winters, that would be 2103 and 2014, because I was afraid not to. I didn’t use it the third winter even though I dug it out of the closet and set it on top of my desk. I put it back in the closet and forgot about it until I was seized with a decluttering fit a few weeks ago. It’s in a heap of things I intend to sell or give away with nearly complete confidence that I won’t wish I hadn’t.

This sign was on the house my departed husband and I had in the northwest Georgia mountains. I discovered it during that minimizing frenzy and hung it on the deck. I’ve kept it through numerous downsizing moves. I’m mighty glad I did.

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