Thursday, May 28, 2009

The day I kissed my ass goodbye.

Words I never thought I would hear myself say. In fact, thinking on it, I have never uttered those words either in my mind nor out loud. I found myself pondering that statement this evening as I zeroed in on the compound, after a long days work, completely numbed both body and soul following a wonderful massage I got after work. And then I was jolted into the 'reality' (there is that word again) that I well may be facing impending doom.

Often times we find ourselves doing a mindful inventory, of just what we would do in the case of some kind of natural disaster, emergency or a crisis situation in general. And of course, like most unfortunate victims of crisis would probably tell you, you are never really 'prepared' as much as you think you may be. When you come full face to crisis, I would imagine a whole new set of instincts and actions set in. Take Maryann for instance. In the face of a rabid bat flying rampantly around our room at 4:00 in the morning, she remained perfectly calm and in control as she locked her entire body into the sheet and blankets....mummified, leaving me completely exposed and in the midst of a hair raising event. And, she remained calm and in control as I ran around mindlessly repeating the same expletive over and over, in my underwear, trying to find a way to bring the situation to a stand down.Kenai Alaska or Bust: Eviction, conviction and.....taxes? Or, there was the time I was driving down the highway minding my own business, as I casually observed somebody's wheel rolling past me, realizing instantaneously as my truck hit the pavement with a screeching thud, that in fact I was witness to my own wheel detached and rolling past me. One single expletive barely escaped my pursed lips, as I slowed the truck to a grinding stop as to not lose control of the vehicle.Kenai Alaska or Bust: What is retrograde can I get one? I am sure we could all think of many times that we did not anticipate in our active imaginations, some kind of fiasco and just what we would do "if", while rolling through our mindful inventories of crisis situations.

It is a semi regular occurrence for those of us who live in the mountains or the country to see smoke at some point through our days as we drive down the highways. Often times it is someone burning vegetation piles and such. And of course as most of us know there is always that looming thought of a possible wildfire. Considering that we have been under a strict burning ban since the wildfire down in Homer a week and a half ago, and that the past couple of days have brought the first rain of the summer season here. My thought tonight when I saw the smoke was that they had lifted the burn ban and some 'Jesse Duke' redneck was beer tasting while roasting a huge debris pile of beetle kill slash, in the back '40. Like I said, common. I guess I started to question my simple thought when I was driving down the road and through the trees saw a ball of fire shooting some 100 or more feet in the air. Naturally, this did stir a little concern. Well, alot of concern. As I turned down the back road headed for home, I eventually saw several vehicles pulled to the side of the road ahead of me, obviously checking out what it was that I had seen. As I slowly drove by looking onto the bush, I thought..."oh, the refinery must be burning off excess", as I watch a fire ball big as the house roll out the rear of the refinery. Wait. 'A fire ball as big as the house rolling out one of the stacks'.

If this seems like something out of the ordinary to someone who does not live near a is! In fact it is so uncommon that I grabbed my cell and called someone I know that works at the refinery and asked her just how common in fact this is. She very calmly stated what I had already figured, and that is that this kind of thing does not happen on purpose, no, it is not common.. As I resumed the course to home, she called me back after calling her people at the refinery and confirmed my alarm, that there was in fact a fire at the refinery. This is where all logic, planning and that mindful inventory I mentioned earlier....well, it all goes out the window at this point, and things like: "will I ever see my family again", "will I even know what happened or will it just happen so fast that...", "crap! How am I going to fit 3 huge dogs in my truck if the sirens go off and I have to evacuate, since Maryann isn't home and John moved out". And believe you me, a few other thoughts that you could probably already figure out. I studied on calling 911. But at this point I am figuring that many before me, more than likely already have. So I pulled up to the house and sat mindless in the front seat of my truck, dumbfounded and wondering just what I should be doing. Running like hell, or just kissing my ass goodbye!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Welcome, to 'the real world'.

Life after liberty. Yes, a free room. A significant cut in the grocery tab. Utilities will be reduced. Peace in the household. Yet, an emptiness will ensue. The smartassed remarks, no more cocky attitude, less the need to label the leftovers like some dog who has to mark his territory.... Yes, an emptiness will ensue.... (snicker) I look at the chores that will now once again be in my resume. Funny how life comes full circle, aint it! Once again, I will find myself with dogie poop duty. Taking out the trash. Loading the dishwasher. But, think of the character these menial tasks have built and the responsibility they have fulfilled. They helped to shape us into who we are, enabled us to empower our kid to be who he is....and now I guess we need some more character, because here we go again. Ooof.

Funny story. John informed us a month ago that he was moving that weekend. We subtly encouraged him to just stick it out til he graduates. Reluctantly he agreed to abide our wishes. And here we are, several days now after graduation.....and the kid is still here. He hasn't left yet. Hmmm. Cold feet? Doubt it. Loves his parents too much to go....yeah/no. Procrastination? Now there is a distinct possibility. We even came home after going to the movies with my folks tonight to find his newly acquired ride-on lawn mower parked and under maintenance, parts scattered along my driveway. Moving out. I am moving out, he says. I'm sorry, does it seem like I am anxious for him to go?! (again....snicker) John was very good at procrastination before 'the real world'. For example, towards the end of his term, he would wake up at 7:15AM, and walk out the door for school at 7:20AM. Just the 2nd day into it folks. Day 2 in 'the real world'. He wakes up today at 8:20AM, walks out the door to leave for work at 8:25AM, finds his battery dead because he forgot to turn off his stereo system last night, come to find out that his boss called him at 8:20 AM to tell him he was supposed to be at work at 8:00AM and where was he?! Yes, day 2 of the real world. I say this all in love, and with a giggle. For all of those times you complained about the little things bud, welcome to 'the real world'!!

Enough said about the excitement of our house being quiet, the newly acquired chores, and the real world. Now on to the good stuff. You would think that after 16 years of preparation, we would have the camera ready to go the other night. But as I sadly discovered as the graduates were entering the floor.....the dag-gummed battery in the camera was dead! Thank God for pops, as he was on it with a charged cell. So, courtesy of his functional camera, here goes some pics of the occasion!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Thursday, May 21st, 2009

The inevitable time has come. I knew this day would arrive at some point, even though many times I chose to ignore it's ensuing immanence. I feel comforted in knowing that it will not be a pioneering experience for me, as many have been there before me. Letting go is sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do. And letting go of the ones you love is always the most difficult. But the time has come to open my hand and release the love which I have formed in my words, my actions, my teachings and my touch for so many years. All these and so many more ingredients have moulded a love like no other I have known. This recipe has brought forth success, wisdom, courage, confidence, and the ability to see and follow dreams within you. I can say, like so many before me, that I am proud. Proud of what I see before me, proud of what I know will become.....proud to be able to say I have spent a good deal of my life, in the presence of a truly wonderful and inspirational individual. As you step on the stage of your life tonight, I will hold back a tear. I will rise with honor. I will smile a grin that will light up the auditorium, and most of all I will feel that the last 18 years of my life have had meaning. For you a door in life will open, and for me a door will close. Worry not for me, as I have worked hard to see this night through. Every ounce of my being has prepared you for this night throughout your young life, and I know you will make me already have.

This time in my life has forced me to stop and look back at myself. A time when I was there, on that stage, when I was your age. I peacefully reflect on where I once was and where I am now, in this time that has passed. This passage of time has enabled me to be your dad. It has empowered me to live when life seemed worthless. And now here we are, full circle. Congratulations son. Your dad is proud of you. But more than proud I am honored to have been a part of your life and to see you to this day. You will go far, just as far as you want to in life. I know. You, are a part of me. If I was to give you any advice it would be this: Live. Just live, and love your life. Never allow yourself to be where it is you would rather not be. Dream. Dream and always know that no matter how far fetched or impossible it may seem, your dreams will come true if you only believe with your heart that they will. Express yourself. Most importantly, never be afraid to say what you feel. Express yourself no matter the odds or circumstances. Your voice will make the difference of all that you gain....and all that you lose. Live and never walk away from your dreams without speaking your heart. Congratulations my son, as you are free now. I release you, to the world with all of my love, to live and love your life with all of the passion and ability that I was able to help nurture. The phrase 'good luck' would be an understatement.... Go now and just 'be'! I love you.

Friday, May 15, 2009


The day we took our beach back!

It reminds me of the moment at Woodstock where the peaceful masses, present for a weekend of love music and peace found it no longer a necessity to be kept out of somewhere every red blooded American wanted to be. And so the gates were crashed, and the masses flooded in. A peaceful protest and gathering of community at the public beach in Nikiski. If you remember a while back, I mentioned how we have lost our right to access the beach due to the alleged 'Homeland Security' regulations put into place by the company, Peak, which "leases" the land used to access the public beach. And some people had just had enough. There was a time not long ago where a guard shack, and a gate did not exist. Anybody who wanted to spend time on their beach could with no hassle and no restriction. Thanks to local photographer Ron Leonard of Ron Leonard Photography
we can see how the day panned, that we took back our beach for a day of community awareness. Hopefully it got the point pressedhome to those who feel it their duty to put a permanent end to those days of freedom. And it is my understanding that other peaceful points of view will be staged again, and again. Summer's here and the time is right...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Burnin' down the house!

Today was the first day of Johns Fire Suppression Training for the U.S.Forest Service. And let me tell you, he is stoked! He will have Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week and the same for next week. Once he has successfully completed these 6 days of training he will get his Red card.....I am thinking it isn't anything like a Green card.... and will begin working out at the Forestry Service station outside of Soldotna. Woo-hoo! His dream is coming full circle. The ultimate test for him to pass this course will be running one mile in 3 minutes or less, with 45 pounds of equipment on his back. I do that every morning before work. That is how I have obtained my solid core and rock hard abs! He will have no problem passing this. He has a history of running track and the kid is buffed from weight training. The best part of it is so far it looks like it will not affect the time at his day job. I am not sure of the logistics with that, but it sounds like it isn't an issue as of now. So kudos kiddo! Make us proud! Fire season is a little backwards here from what we were used to in California. This time of year, right now is our fire season. It has to do with the fact that all the vegetation around us is essentially dead from being covered in snow and ice the past 7 months, and rainfall is typically very little in our Spring and early Summer. Eventually in the next month or so we will start to see the trees finally get their leaves back, and the fauna begin to green up and bloom Honestly, I can't wait! It is so beautiful here in the summers. This is also the time of the year that mama moose will start to drop their calves, and the Grizzlies will be out now scouring for food, which is really a hair raising thing. This is the time of year we will hear of maulings as people begin to enjoy their return to the thawed outdoors, and it is inevitable that contact will be made with protective Grizzly sows looking after their cubs.

We had a heat wave the past couple of days. It was like 65 degrees out in Sterling where I have been working the past few days, and I have been breaking a sweat! I think of the days busting out fire clearances in Dorrington and Arnold this time of year when the temps were getting hotter and the dust would fly, and then look at breaking a sweat at a mere 65 degrees now. Have I been reduced to a wimp?! Good God, man! John started raking the soggy leaves off of the grass this week as the snow is about history now. Break up is all but about done, although alot of the unpaved roads out here are still pretty muddy and soft due to the ice layer under the surface of the ground melting down. Paved roads are beginning to buckle, some quite heavily again due to the ice layer melting under the surface. The 'heaves that make the hoes'! We have ice as low as 4 feet down into the ground. I remember digging a post hole last June and getting about 2 feet down before the post hole digger came to an abrupt halt, vibrating up the handles and into my head! I had hit ice!! That was the longest it has ever taken me to dig a hole...3 days! We had a pair of ducks, the first water fowl we have seen for the Spring, do a fly over the lake tonight. Their landing gear was cocked, primed and positioned until they realized that there was no water. Yes, it is still frozen solid. But it is looking like the ice may turn here in the next week. And, and...we have locked down for the return of our annual migrating friends, the bats. Yes, they will be in a bit of a disposition this year as they arrive to find no vacancy at the compound. This past Fall John and I worked diligently as the temps turned and dropped fast after the last of the bats departed for the Winter. We sealed up all of the holes that were their favorite nesting resorts, so they are about S.O.L. Do I feel bad for locking them out of my life? Na. Not after the early morning escapades of last Summer, no in fact I assure you I will be sleeping much more sound this Summer!

I finally crashed and burned last night. After two weeks of checking out in the midnight hour or later, I was out like a light at 10:00PM Then I woke at 2:00 in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep until 4:00 AM. Oye! I can confidently say though that it had nothing to do with light as it is very much dark at those hours still. But that is rapidly changing. We have those little fuzzy blinders you guys left last year Scott and Phyllis, so we will be handing them down to my folks in a month. They asked me if it is dark at 11:00PM! They will be in for an experience. I guess it will be time to pull out the 'frog and the melon' to illustrate the Alaskan theory of the earth and it's proportion to the sun to cause such a natural oddity! Redoubt is still erupting although it has been mild activity virtually not affecting us at all. The past few days with the clear skys have revealed a small plume of steam rising into the air. Although the lava dome is still growing so we are having to be weary of what may still come. Or not! Well, it's 10:15PM and I am not feelin the love! Will it be another sleepless night? Or will the hard work of today and the week long of "Monday's" fianlly catch up with me, rendering me passive retreat into the dream world.... Your kids sound like they are working this whole light gig Erin! I believe I may have to agree with their theory! ; ) Nite nite to all!!