Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"Oh The Thinks You Can Think Up If Only You Try"

  (That's a Dr. Suess Quote.)
      This is where I want to live.  I sometimes get homesick for downtown Anchorage, and this place is in Bootlegger's Cove, right along the inlet and the coastal trail.  I would want to live here if it were anywhere else, too, because my heart goes pitty-pat when I see this building, but isn't it perfect for downtown living?   Do you think this is "Post Modern" architecture?  That would be my guess.

     I wouldn't even mind having neighbors glued right next door, either.  It kind of reminds me of the houses in San Francisco that were built with shared walls to help shore them against earthquake damage.  I guess this is probably about my favorite building in Anchorage.
      I posted this bunch of pictures a couple of days ago, thinking I would just do another "various and sundry" post because I have a handful of miscellaneous pictures I would like to show and maybe say something about, and when I looked over them again today, I realized I do indeed have a theme going on and it's not just various and sundry and miscellaneous if you live anywhere near my head.  I take a lot of pictures of the natural world--and who wouldn't living here in Alaska, or really, living anywhere on the earth?  But I also take a lot of other kinds of pictures, showing the evidence of man on the earth.  I like those stories, too. 
     So, that's the theme of this post: pictures I've taken that show the hand of man on the earth, I guess.  And I'll bet not one person who reads this blog knows where this next picture came from.  I'll bet a lot of money, actually, even if the very small number of readers didn't assure it to be a safe bet.  Well, I would make that bet if I didn't want to go ahead and reveal the secret right now.  There's a clue in the upper right corner.  Yes, that's what it says, "smart DVD."  I was watching a movie the other day and paused this scene because it struck me as being very artistic.  The movie was an old (from 1991--that's pretty old, isn't it?) P D James--Adam Dalgleish movie starring Roy Marsden.   I think it looks a bit like a clever painting.

     And speaking of clever, I think KITSCH is just about the cleverest use of clever around.  I found this in a seafood restaurant in Homer, AK.  The place fairly vibrated with clever kitsch and it seemed incongruous with the menu, until I actually partook of the fancily-named food.  It sounded snooty and "costed" a pretty little penny, but it wasn't all that great.  REPEATS HERE--A FEW PICTURES FROM A PREVIOUS POST.  I GUESS I JUST LIKE THEM, OR I CAN'T REMEMBER WHETHER I'VE ALREADY INCLUDED THEM IN MY BLOG OR JUST ON FACEBOOKSORRY IF I NEED TO BE!

     It tasted like you'd expect food to taste in a restaurant where they put up a cardboard effigy of Captain Jack Sparrow--like you were eating in a tourist-trap town.  I'm not disparaging.  I was delighted with this experience!

     In that same tourist-trap town, I visited a woman who owned a B&B up on the hill and out in her yard was this metal igloo.  She was using it for storage of a few small items, but invited me to go stand in the center of it, turn around slowly while singing Happy Birthday and hear my voice echo and resonate around my own head.  I did just that--BY MYSELF!  I don't know that I would have done it were she watching me.  The interesting thing about this experience was that this was the day I was proxy-celebrating my daughter's birthday in Homer and this woman didn't know that.  She could have suggested I sing any number of other simple little ditties, but at her suggestion, I went into an aluminum igloo, and there under the circular sun-roof, tilted my head upwards, turned around and around slowly and sang Happy Birthday to Katy 2975.61 miles away.

           Up the peninsula from Homer, and down a dirt road, at the Tustamena Smokehouse business office/warehouse was this shed, and...

 this little bus stop shelter built by the Lions for the 2 1/2 children (really, because I didn't see where very many people could have been living on this road) who have to wait for the school bus in the winter.
     Well, of course we had to include yet another picture of a boat in this post, and isn't there at least one more later on, too?  If I know me, and I do, there is.

   Too big to be a mailbox and too small to be a treehouse.  I have no idea, but someone built it and I like it.

     Someone's business down on the Homer Spit.

   I really don't like calling a spit a spit, because I don't really like thinking about why it's called a spit.  I like this area of Homer because it's real and raw and fake and manipulative all at the same time.  (I guess, since I'm mentioning something being fake, I should probably disclose that I didn't take this picture of the spit. I think it belongs to Land's End Hotel Restaurant Lounge Gift Shop, of which place I do have my own photograph.)


     And if we're talking about raw, how about this innovative method of transporting refuse!   How did that bulging mess not leave a trail on the street?  But it didn't -- well, for as long as I dared drive behind it, anyway. 

     Downtown Anchorage.  I don't even know what to say about this.  Besides the obvious, aren't those windows gorgeous?!  Or, maybe that's obvious, as well.

     The man in red...er, the man with a beard...wait.  I mean the guy without the hat on his head is a coworker of mine.  He's an artist.  He makes things out of wood, mostly, but this mandolin isn't his.  The OTHER man in red who has a beard is the stranger we ran into who makes these wooden instruments down in... Sitka, I think I remember his telling us.

     I've come across and posted pictures of some stunningly breathtaking scenes of Hatcher Pass.  I even shared some photos of the lodge, there, but surely none as clever and "hand-of-man" creative as this, right?  I mean, look how the duct tape matches the potpourri in that cute little basket.  Say!  How about a little linguistics lesson here?  Potpourri.  Know what its etymology is?  (I wikipeed it, so I'm sure I'm qualified to teach you.)  French, of course, from the Spanish stew, olla podrida. Pot (and variations) meaning pot in English, Spanish, and French.  Pourri means rotten in French but not in Danish, because something rotten in Denmark is a fib, right?  Fermenting the herbs to make potpourri (in a pot) which was named in French after a soup in Burgos, Spain when Napoleon occupied that territory.  You're welcome.

     While we're being so very international, here's an image from the Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Anchorage.  Took this while at the Greek Festival.  At least here they still call it simply the Greek Festival, where in Ogden and other places it's officially called the Greek Food Festival.  Let's cut to the chase and call a dolmade a dolmade, shall we? 

     The only ride I still enjoy at fairs or carnivals or amusement parks is the lofty ferris wheel.  Used to scare me more than it does now, although I still get a rumbly-tipsy tummy sensation when it stops at the top.  I usually hook my elbow under the bar or around the arm-rest and try to find someplace to hook my ankles.  I just so do not ever want to rock and tip out of that little gondola way up there. 

   I took that picture at the Alaska State Fair last weekend.  I walked for-ever that day, and walked a lot in the rain towards the end of the trip, too.  I was happy to get into my car and while in my car I was happy to arrive back in Anchorage--this is the moment I felt that--stopped at the red light.

     A man on the bus with his shaman stick.

     See?  I told you.  Another picture of a boat.

     Port of Anchorage, where I took an interesting tour the other day.  Water stuff and business.  I really like it.

     Caribou hide blanket for the blanket toss demonstration at the fair.  I stood with that group surrounding that blanket and put a pair of those black gloves on and pulled with the rest of the group that night.  Just pulling is good exercise.

    I call this piece "Red Box By A Yellow Mushroom."

     Monthly Bluegrass Jam at Arctic Roadrunner hamburger joint.  Little kid with a red guitar.  The man in the foreground was playing a clarinet.  I guess any instrument could be suited for bluegrass.  Don't tell anyone, but I'm seriously thinking about learning to play the fiddle.  (Especially don't tell my housemate.  Could you imagine being the one who has to live with me while I'm scratching out "Big Sweet Taters in Sandy Land?"  Let's let it be a surprise.) Yes at my age.  Old time fiddle.  I might just have to go jam with these people pretty soon, too!

       I never would have thought to dye duck feathers while they were still on the duck's head, but someone else sure did.  Right?  I know it's not photo-shopped because I'm the one who took this picture.  It looked like real feathers, really attached, but, well you never know, do you?  Also, at the fair.

     I saw this bike being ridden around town one day and then later there it was at the library!  Someone made that wooden trailer for it and someone else crocheted the afghan that has become a door.  People just do clever and pretty and amazing things on this earth, don't they?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I've Always Had An Affinity For Old People--Now I ARE One!

     And so I guess that's what you would call being in a win-win position.  
     Of course I realize and admit and embrace the fact that my statement about "loving old people" is an ageist comment.  ("Why, some of my best friends...")
     Anyway, what I really want to point out is that I have always had a predilection for insinuating myself into the lives of people who were much older than I am and now that same group of people is much less older than I.  And here let me cling to the politically incorrect feeling of temporary relief that even if I'm old, I'm not old-old.  Yet.
     And if I'm being completely honest, I would be more inclined to grow old gracefully and not have any issues at all with my age--aside from the declining health and death concerns--if I didn't worry about the whole economics thing.  I need to be young enough for the right people to think I can work long enough to pay my rent, basically.
     But whatever.  I'm going to start spending more time at the Anchorage Senior Activities Center...and not just under the cloak of "volunteer."  I went there last weekend for their Multicultural Carnival and I enjoyed it.  Mostly. 
     Dig that blue guitar!  This group called themselves Country Memories and they played some very old sing-along type of country songs, but that bear cat of a sax player had some 18 karat jazz up in that horn of hers that didn't really get to come all the way out, I think. 

     Too bad I didn't get a good picture of her when she played those Bose bouncing notes and sank half-way down on her knees! (I'm not even the one who took this picture, but I sort of didn't want to mention my young friend who took it for me who went with me--not sure she wants to be outed that way.)

     I'm not sure how much convincing it took for this pink-haired funster to get that more decorous Korean elder to get up and dance with her.  I guess this is part of what comes with mixing "multicultural" with "carnival." 

     Which I'm glad they did, because I was surprised to see Korean food there.  I thought I was just going to a hokey little fund-raiser, but imagine my delight when I turned a corner and smelled bulgogi!  I'm laughing at your reaction here, because clearly that is not a Korean restaurant represented in this picture.  This same sushi provider had a lot of Korean offerings on the table.  Cream cheese stuffed-mandu, of all things! (They called it gyoza because Japanese words have been more incorporated into American English than Korean words, for the most part.  You know "tofu" but I'll bet you don't know "tubu" as well.)

     In truth, it was kind of hokey, but it was also pretty classy in its own way.  Witness this line-up!


     Here was the most sedate I saw this very energetic floorflusher (in the yellow jacket.)  He just wanted to dance and dance all over the place, but never found a partner.  I took a picture of him taking a picture because this is what I look like taking pictures!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why Penny Cried At The Greek Festival

     Wait a minute, here.  This isn't from the Greek Festival.  This looks like Katy at a baby shower!  What gives?

     A baby shower in Ogden and her mother is in Anchorage?  That's just not right!  But, it's not the reason for the tears, either.  Nope.  Even though Katy is Penny's Only Best Beloved and this is Katy's and Jon's first Best Beloved Baby Boy we all wish we could make the world perfect for, not being there for the shower did not make me cry, although there is a tie-in which I will explain in a minute.
      I do have to say, though, that I have a very thoughtful friend who took picture after picture and sent each one directly to me as the shower progressed so I could at least get a sense of how it was in real time.  Katy was the only person at the shower this friend knew, too, so what a sport, right?  (Of course, I always knew Peggy Sue was a sport! I've been on road trips with the woman, for one.  She sometimes lets me drive!)
      I knew she was in good hands, too, with her sis-in-law Charity (pictured at Katy's right) and others of Jon's family giving her the shower.  Honestly, I don't even like showers, myself.   I was having a gay ol' time at the Anchorage Senior Activities Center Multicultural Carnival while other people were making this baby shower for my daughter.  Sorry Katy, I'm kind of relieved I didn't have to be there. Peggy's picture present was perfect! (Gasp and sputter--don't you judge me!) 
     Well for heaven's sake, what about crying at the Greek Festival, then? Well.  I went there with a couple of young friends who put up with my "membership in an older generation," let's call it, and even at that, I think it fair to say we had similar general goals for attending the Greek Festival.  Tradition, memories, and food, mostly. 

      We sat under the tent with our food, (my chicken with lemon and oregano, their gyros,) listening to live music--bouzouki/lyra players, watching the dancers up on the stage, having a very pleasant Alaskan summer experience.  The music was rythmic and the dancers  young, energetic, fresh-faced.  It moved me.  I wondered how these particular young people came to be Greek Dancers and not, well, not something else entirely.  Not that they probably aren't a lot of something elses as well, but you know how I tend to over-think and imagine about things.  I was also surprised and delighted when the musicians transitioned seamlessly into playing Hava Nagila and the dance just continued as it had begun. 

     Then came time for the community dancing.  People came up from the audience, joined hands and arms with the performers already on the stage and began dancing a spiral dance, probably "ikaria," but I'm a bit rusty on my folk dances these days.  (I wonder if that folk dancing activity is still going on in SLC at the Unitarian Church.  That's pretty fun if you have the nerve to just show up and try to dance with strangers in a church basement!)
     Then this happened:  A little boy in traditional Greek costuming hopped up on the stage, danced over to where two other costumed dancers were hooked at the shoulders, reached up--way up because he was just a little fellow--and put his hands on both their upper arms to indicate that he wanted to dance between them.  They broke, allowed him to slide in between them and all three kept dancing without missing steps or beat.  It was a simple, subtle and sweet action that probably went unnoticed by everyone but the four of us and was a big deal to only one of us. 
     But see, here's the thing.  My heart had already been a bit tenderized from certain things at the carnival earlier today which will be covered in another post, and by being at a Greek festival which I have loved to do for years and years, and by my being here in Alaska when I never would have dreamed I would be experiencing a redemption of sorts, as it were, at this point in my life. 
     And my mind is on loving a certain little boy--the child of my child--who I can't be with right now, and I can't talk to on the phone like I can his mother, and haven't even seen yet, duh! So I imagine he could be like this child dancing with the big boys, trusting their acceptance of him, wanting to be incuded in something bigger than himself, having a musically magic life spiraled out before him, being so loved and cared for that he will be fresh-faced forever!   Yes, he could be that little boy or he could be one of those big boys before I ever have my fill of his being my little bitty brand spanking new grandson. 
     That's when I became so moved and mushy that I cried at the Greek Festival.   

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hatcher Pass, Again, Quite Happily

     An old mining and ski area in the Talkeetna Mountains.

I think it was around here somewhere I got out of the car to check on the availability of ripe berries.  I didn't stay out of the car for long, though, because the place smelled strongly of bear musk.

Something about this place seems "Nordic or Swiss-Chalet-ish" to me so in keeping with the feeling, I ordered fondue at the lodge.  ("Swiss" cheese?  Get it?)  They were out of apples, so in quintessential Alaska style, I ended up with a make-do substitute of strawberries, blueberries and grapes to swirl around in the hot cheese.  As you might imagine, it lost a bit in the translation.