Thursday, February 23, 2012

Darlin' I Love Ya, But Give Me Park Avenue...In Ketchikan, That Is.

That cute little waterfront city

 built on stilts,

alongside the creek,

within flying distance from anywhere.

And apparently where they have to scoop up after the wolves.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What Gets Me Up On Cold-To-The-Bone Winter Days

Since I've been in Alaska, I have posted many pictures and a few highlighted stories of the trips I've taken.  Most of the trips have been work-related, which fact engenders no small amount of gratitude on my part.  My travel schedule is beginning to pick up again and I am having to spend extra hours here in Anchorage to make up for lost instruction hours while I'm away.  At the center, we have training terms wherein I teach Orientation and Mobility on a daily basis and also do PR work at various conferences and meetings. 

I'm going to surprise the world and admit that organization is not my strong suit.  As a matter of fact, it's probably not even a suit at all in my card game!  Yeah, you know how the saying goes that someone is not playing with a full deck.  My deck is missing a whole suit, when it comes to being organized and managing my time well.  Or managing it at all.  Well, I can go in spurts, like I did yesterday when I went to Costco and purchased some storage tubs and a rolling duffel bag for my office.  Grand plans to organize my road-travel equipment in clear storage tubs to prevent all that digging around to see what's in there.  And the duffel is for air travel.  I didn't get very far with those grand plans and now I'm stepping over the duffel and the tubs to get to my computer.  I am staying late to chip away at that task, as I have four 1 1/2-hour classes a day this term and am also trying to coordinate upcoming travel and appointments and ordering and report-writing.  But I sure do like that wheeled duffel bag!  I know I'm especially going to love it when I get to pack it. 

My colleague who does a similar job, travels with 200 pounds of luggage every time she makes a trip.  She flies to all of her destinations, rents a car and then sets her low vision equipment up in a clinic room where she sees upwards of 8 clients a day in one location.  I've been on a few trips with her, done some of the on-site work with her, and helped carry her load, but usually, I take my bags of equipment to make home-visits to people who have difficulty getting out to her clinics, or I just take a cane to teach O&M to someone in their own environment. 

I can travel 50 miles from the clinic in a town to see just one person, sometimes, or go across town to a senior center to work with residents there, or to another facility to do a presentation, etc.  I do not want to carry 200 pounds of luggage everytime I make a trip. I have my own clinics in areas where I have to fly to reach the people.  Fly, rent a car, take a ferry or a hover craft.  I do not want to take 200 pounds of luggage everytime I make a trip.  Oh, did I say that already?

I've decided to mail things ahead of me when I fly--things that I don't plan on bringing back, like catalogs, calendars, and other give-away items if I can get organized enough to do that.  And my personal luggage is light.  I don't carry two laptops like my colleague does.  She takes her work laptop and her personal laptop, so as not to mix up passwords and security, etc.  I don't know what all else, but she has even done those trips on crutches and this last time her arm was in a cast.  No. Thank. You.

We take low vision aids to demonstrate to people who are experiencing vision loss as adults.  Magnifiers of all types--stand, hand-held, electronic, adaptive household aids, various low vision glasses, Talking Book recorders, financial organizers (there's that word, again,) marking supplies, informative literature etc.  We have money to offer $100 worth of equipment to each client we see at no cost to them, which is a happy part of my already happy job.  Yes, my job is happy and I am happy to have this happy job.  I also take a lot of give-aways that people really like.  I don't know where they all came from but I found them in my office when I moved in.  "Finders get to take 'em and give 'em away," I always say. 

On my first road trip, I packed some inexpensive talking watches to give away, and one of those watches talked to me on the whole trip.  I couldn't discover which watch it was--everytime I stopped and looked in the container, it quit talking.  Cheeky, sneaky watch. 

And now the best part.  I get to meet people.  People in the bush, off the grid, in the village, in rural areas, in towns and I was going to say cities, but I don't think Alaska has cities.  Maybe Anchorage is a city.  You have to know there are some stories out there! 

  • long-time homesteaders,
  • champion bull riders who have to stop riding in their 50s after the last event resulted in a crushed leg,
  • people who have worked "on the slope" for many, many years,
  • 90-year-old tennis champions who have lived in the same place for their whole 90 years,
  • 94-year-old ship builders who build ships in the mountains and still carry their own water up the steps in their "dry" cabins,
  • native artists, herbalists, crafters, culture-keepers and kuspuk (or qaspeq) makers,
  • people with signs on the inside of their doors that read "Do not take any more cups out of this house.  That is stealing.  Stealing from the blind is a shame."
  • people with wooden signs in the trees that read, "In loving memory of ________'s 25 trusting dogs, murdered in their yard." 
  • young people who hitchhike to get around and take rides on snowmachines in temps as low as 30 below
And so many more.  I'm heading to Ketchikan in about a week.  I will take pictures like a tourist.  This is another shared trip with my colleague, only she's going ahead of me and we will have only a couple of shared tasks, but we'll stay in the same lodge in the mountains because she found that first.  Otherwise, I might have chosen to stay down on Creek Street, but we like to stay at the same place to facilitate spending after-hours together for dinner and shopping. YES.  We shop on our trips.  What. You think I would go to all these places and not shop somewhere and buy something?