Mr. Bill and Miz Mona

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Group hug

Miss Mona sez:

Had the first meeting of the new women's faith-based peer support group I am facilitating this morning. Bad night last night after a VERY active day on Monday so I was in major pain, did NOT want to get out of bed, thank you very much!

Managed to get up with a little help from my honey, Mr Bill, showered, meds downed and tea-in-hand, I limped my way next door to the church. Nobody there yet, into the Family Room to turn on the "fireplace" a blessed soul donated so the room would warm up above the economical but chilly 50 degrees the thermostat sits at during the week. A little praise music on the cd player and my battered body on the couch (another wonderful donation) to spend a little time in prayer...

What is a peer support group, you ask?

Peer support is when people who are experiencing similar challenges get together to provide mutual support as they continue the process they are in. There can be any number of types of groups- young mothers, home schoolers, people with chronic illness, seniors, substance abusers, organic gardeners...Sharing ideas, information, cups of tea, a little humor- we stand together and our lives are richer because of it. Life is messy and often hard, doing it all alone is a great way to flounder and end up failing. In peer support you find you are not the only one struggling, the only one confused or frustrated when things do not go according to plan.

My group is for those of us dealing with chronic something-or-other with an eye toward prayer, the Bible and restoration. 20plus years of fibromyalgia, chronic depression, a husband in chronic pain and the struggle to make sense of the process are my particular focal points in this group. Others will come with their own particular burdens they could use a little help with. Two ladies came today, one is new to the peer support concept and the other has been in it for a few years. Total confidentiality is a key concept in the process, no gossipy "sharing" with someone outside the group, not even your very bestest friend forever!
My own stuff is mine to spread around as I see fit but by no means do I share the lives and struggles of my fellow members.


It can be hard to be a Christian and have a chronic struggle with disease or depression. Helpful people advise me to pray more or repent of the hidden sin in my life."Think positive", they'll say, or "Just trust God!"
When I first came back from my personal pigpen (see the Prodigal story in Luke 15:11), there was very little teaching in churches about how to get the messes cleaned up that my behaviors had made. I was a drunk, a druggie, addicted to what my eldest calls "frivolous sex', and prone to taking off down the highway when things got complicated. Fear, depression, anxiety. A toddler daughter and a screwed-up marriage. Mostly I was treated like I was all better now and things would be fine since I was back in the sheepfold. That was not really how things went, though, surprise, surprise. I needed a whole lot of help and all that was available was a lot of smiley, well-meaning but clueless folks and a sense of somehow being a failure because I did not feel as happy as they all seemed to be. Rural Alaska was a little scarce in the resource department when it came to my collection of garbage.

Tomorrow I will talk a bit about the process God took me through from there to here, more than thirty years in the process.

May the God who spoke to the wind and the waves also bring to you the peace and stillness He brought to them!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Do you really want to know?

Miss Mona sez:

Blogging is such an interesting thing. Thousands and thousands of people sharing all manner of information and insights on an international medium. No holds barred, no topic too obscure, a veritable paradise for the information junkie and the inquisitive (read: nosy).

What motivates and drives the humans who post? Why do the readers read and then comment? Does anyone really care?

It has been many months since I have ventured into this digital smorgasbord to share what I think. Mr Bill has gone back to the Moose Pass Journal, his personal newsletter to family and friends- not enough were bothering to do the extra couple of mouse clicks necessary to be stunned and amazed by his humor and wisdom. So, they get it delivered into their electronic laps to read or ignore and he feels a little bit better.

Do they really want to know?

Do you?

There is so much information and opinion available on the internet that it is overwhelming at times. Political and social commentary, recipes, advice, sarcasm and sorrow. Starving children, abused animals, domestic and international confusion and violence side-by-side with cute little kittens, snarky comments and awe-inspiring beauty in art and nature. Political debates rage and paranoid postings of governmental/financial manipulation and conspiracy. Never before has humanity been so intimately vulnerable and yet so isolated!

I am a Christian.

I am not politically correct or denominationally strict. I still have unpopular habits and a tendency to challenge the comfortably secure in their cocoon of certainty. I smoke, I sometimes swear, I do not dress fashionably or drive a "green" vehicle. I advocate for the disenfranchised, eat meat that is not organic and snicker at people's foolishness. I have hugged my share of trees and I have cut a few down to keep my family warm, served my country in the Air Force, my community as an EMT, my family as a stay-at-home mom. I vote nonpartisan because I think the party system is archaic and divisive, drink a bit and believe we should legalize cannabis though I really don't care to use it. Think drunk drivers should be shot and child molesters are suitable for compost. Love dogs, cats and all kinds of growing things.

I have an opinion. I think, I feel, I speak, I listen, I try to sort out the truth from the lies from the opinions from the facts from the theories from the questions. I am a puzzle-solver, a yarn-untangler, a book-finisher until 3 a.m.

Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am exhausted by the process.

But I really, really, really want to KNOW.

What about you?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thoughts on the need to write

Miss Mona sez:

I know it may be a bit weird to share a blog with your husband but it kinda tells you something fundamental about us- we come as a set.

Not always in the same place at the same time, but always together.

He tells crazy stories, I am just crazy. We both write about what is on our minds, we just have widely differing ways of expressing ourselves.

I love to watch him as he writes- he is so focused and absorbed , fingers tapping madly away (he wears the letters off of keyboards!), occasional pauses for help with a word that spellcheck doesn't like or when he can't remember the word he wants to use...

Writing has kept him sane, helped him to find healing, given him a purpose. Medical retirement in his 30's and constant pain has been a rough row for this man to hoe. Writing about Viet Nam was an emotional rollercoaster as he delved into his memories for accurate descriptions and characters, inserting bits of real into his fictional characters and events.Opening those pain-filled deposits in his mind have caused him to face and not ignore them and he has chosen to take them to our Lord for forgiveness and healing. Each rewrite has brought him a deeper level of healing and freedom, for which I am grateful. Each time he has felt overwhelmed and frustrated by another refusal from an agent or publisher that has made him want to quit, the Holy Spirit gives him a new story line in his dreams that won't stop invading his sleep until he begins to write it down! God is cool!

Same for me, actually, though my outlet has been journalling and essay/commentary writing. Writing it down helps me to focus, to face, to release to God. The process of trying to describe despair, anger, confusion and pain has, in effect, given them edges and definition. Brings the seemingly impossible and immense problem to a solid place where I can dissect its elephantine proportions down to bite-size hunks. 

Bill keeps telling me I need to write, share my journals and thoughts. Occasionally I try but far too often I allow life to distract or I choose not to share because "no one will read it." Dawned on me that I was doing the same as Bill in that I was giving up (giving in?) and that I really need to do do something with all the stuff floating around in my brain, taking up space and bugging the crap out of me. I need the outlet or I shall stagnate. Writers need to write just like growing things need light. It is food to our spirit, our soul. Readers are a wonderful plus but the bottom line is that they are an option, not a requirement!

So, here I am, sitting at the keyboard and trying to express the need to express myself. I shall endeavor to be consistent and not too dull, just in case the odd individual may wander by and stop for a look.

May you find the blessing you are searching for, dear ones!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pre-Easter 4/7/12

Mr. Bill says: Some of you may have already read about this on my Moose Pass Journal, but I wanted to add this event to our blog. Today, James Arthur Lee Casselman returned home safely from Afghanistan. Becca, his loving wife, set things up so he could surprise his two daughters- an Easter surprise. She filmed this and shared it on her Face Book site, allowing us to share in the moment of this little 4 year old girl jumping with delight to see her daddy and being swept up in his arms. The youngest daughter, Claire, who is 10 months old, will she looked a bit bewildered in wondering what was going on and I have no idea who the other people in the video were.

I must admit, having gone through my own war- NO, not World War II as some local teenagers believe, but Viet Nam, I was always concerned when John, Joshua and then James went over to the sand box. I knew things could happen, to God fearing Christians, Jews or atheists- this is war and all the sadness involved. My grandfather on my Dad's side fought in his war, my Dad fought in Korea at 17 yrs old and I journeyed off to the Far East to see the elephant myself. To see the elephant was a phrase brought about in the Civil War, of how young men went off to see and feel the excitement of war, much like boys ran away to join the circus and play with the elephants. Sadly, they saw war for what it was- horrible.

Like any parent, especially one who has been in a war, I prayed every day for the safety of my sons. I knew things could happen and hoped it wouldn't happen to one of our boys. But, being a veteran and a patriot, I was also proud of my sons going off to join. I know my daughters wanted to join, but events took place to alter their plans. Now they serve as mothers, parents to a new generation of Casselmans- at least one half of them. The other half... well, I guess they count too. :)

My beautiful Mona was also a veteran and I thank God she was, or we may never have met. Through her, I came to know the Lord and for 32 years we've been together through the thick and thin of it. As I have said many a time, she was the perfect cop's wife and was always ready to stand beside me when things turned sour and people would've loved to have harmed us. Our first year of marriage was forged in that steel, when things fell apart in Dillingham and I was the only cop left. Pretty scary for a while. Well, she's passed that trait down to our children, though sometimes they have to be reminded of it. We have tough kids and the pioneer stock of the Sanders is strong in them. Oh, I imagine the survival instinct of the city boy rom my side carries some weight.

Long ago, my father, who didn't relish living in a Wisconsin orphanage, placed there by his mother so he and his sister could eat, ran away to find his father. He was 8 yrs old. They found him in Texas and dragged him back. One year later, he broke out again and rode the rails to California and did locate his dad. They remained together until my Dad joined the Army at 17 and left for Japan. When the bugle was called in Korea, his armor unit was the first one called in. When the Chinese came across, nearly one million strong, my dad and his friends ran for 80-miles to escape and this was during the Korean winter. Hard task for a  new 18 year old.

I know John, James and Joshua have learned a lot over there in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their memories of those times will remain with them forever. Maybe the heat, the lack of privacy, sleeping through mortar attacks, friendships and brotherhood, will be the only memories and for this I would be thankful.

I never got to talk to my Grandpa about his war, he died when I was five. But after coming home from Viet Nam, my father grabbed a couple beers out of the frig and we walked out into his backyard. For the first time, he shared with me about Korea. He said that now that I knew about war, I would be able to understand. That day I felt something special in our relationship, though we never talked about it again. It was one time thing, because he didn't like bringing up those moments in fear of his own nightmares. Now I've learned that talking about Viet Nam has helped me overcome a lot of my dragons. Oh, there are some moments I will not talk about, but I love to share about the good times- the jokes and pranks we pulled to get by. My kids have grown up hearing these tales- over and over and over again. Now they have their own to tell and I sincerely hope their kids will listen and remember. Some things need to be passed on from one generation to the next, this is the history of our families.

When I came home from Viet Nam, there was no one waiting for me at the airport and apparently no one knew I was due in. I had to borrow $17 from my closest friend to fly south and I guess I never did pay him back. Imagine what the interest rate could be over 38 yrs?

I only say this as a way to help Becca understand how happy I was to see that video, it met a lot to both Mona and I. Thank you. Hug him for us. He looked good, but I did notice a bit of a balding spot- same place I have one....kidding.

Enjoy this Easter, all of you and God Bless!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back to Ol' Blue Eyes 4/3/12

Bill says: I will try to wrap this tale up, knowing some of you were left hanging and it has been some time since I  sat down to blog. Please refer to the earlier parts to reacquaint you with Blue Eyes. I might also mention at this time of how the weather and majestic scenery in Moose Pass are simply fantastic. We have a low 50 degree temperature and yes, the snow is melting finally. We have lost at least a foot of hard pack snow in the last week and our driveway is back down to...wait for it- DIRT!

Okay, we're back in 1974 again and I am once more stuck on the desk; taking phone calls, handling walk-n complaints and dispatching my patrols to various calls. The whispers and rumors of the Blue Eyes incident have spread through the squadron and then were carried throughout the base. It seemed we suddenly had a lot of help from other base residents, everyone watching the desert in hopes for any sign of this strange critter. With the desert off-limits at night, we were chasing a lot of people off the dirt roads or hideaways. We also had the occasional love nest; 2-4 people fogging up a parked car in some desert location- which was normal for those cheating on their spouses and desiring a secret spot. Sometimes we'd even catch an officer or two, but we'd just shoo them all back to the hard top roads. I wasn't a morals enforcer, just making sure the off-limits was enforced. Often or not, it was usually the guy who was more embarrassed then his lady friend and even had one lady stand there in the nude addressing me in some pretty colorful profane words. Desert did that to some people.

A few nights later, Blue Eyes was back in the limelight and I happened to be handling the desk traffic- I began to believe I had some weird sort of connection with this thing, as he or she, or just plain it, always made an appearance on my shift.

An elderly couple traveling through the base on their way to Bakersfield, ( Edwards was an open base with two major state highways running through it back then- but not now), and had an encounter with what they thought to be a very large bear. They were driving north on 120th Highway, when this critter suddenly appeared in front of them and bounced off the left side front bumper of their vehicle. They were calling in on one of the base emergency phones, which were scattered about the base roadways. I dispatched the South Base Patrol to their location.

He reported in that the couple had indeed struck some kind of animal, leaving blood and long deep brown hairs over most of the bumper area. He also mentioned the hairs were very thick, unlike anything he'd ever seen before. Then he hit me with the bad news, how the couple remembered seeing the creature's eyes and how they were large and radiant blue in color. That was enough. I had him escort the couple to headquarters, so we could conduct a thorough interview and take photographs of the damage. I advised the patrolman to secure the hairs and blood samples with his evidence kit. The couple refused to be seen by the base emergency room, but agreed to come to headquarters. They were hoping for a report to provide to their insurance company.

I also dispatched three other patrols into the area to see if they could locate the beast, but they were ordered not to leave their vehicle. I was sure a larger search would be conducted during daylight hours, giving the search teams a good range of visibility across the flat desert landscape.  There was also a lot of rattlers out there and I didn't want one of my guys stumbling into a nest of them. We already had a couple men out on sick call and I couldn't afford to lose any more.

When the couple arrived, I went outside to view the damage. The flight chief- my boss, also came out and he stood there, admiring the damage, but refusing to utter a single word. TSgt Harrell was like that, unless  he was screaming at you and boy, he was good at stripping a man down when it was needed. He would later retire and go to work for US Customs, manning a station on the Mexican Border. He's gone now, but he was truly one of the good guys- even though he kept sticking me behind that dang desk!

The damage was there on the bumper and I'd say in my less than some State Farm insurance agent's estimate, the critter this car hit was of sizable dimensions. So, the report was done and you know what happened...YES, everything was seized by the Office of Special Investigations, ( Air Force version of the Men in Black). I was beginning to grow weary of these guys coming in and taking my work, but there was little I could do about it.

Nothing happened for two nights and I was enjoying a very nice day off, when I was called in to assist the on duty Desk Sergeant. He was new to this work and everyone was being sent out to the base Rocket Site for an "Emergency- Officer Needs Assistance", call. A dozen or more off-duty personnel came in, because the desk sergeant had lost contact with the rocket site patrol and the gate guard at that site reported hearing shots fired.  So much for my day off.

I won't use the patrolman's name because the incident was a might embarrassing for him. He was found unconscious by responding patrols, his .38 caliber service revolver in the sand beside him and all six rounds had been fired. Now in the Air Force, if you fire even one round- for any reason- on duty and off the shooting range, you've got to file a report. Paperwork is what ran the military and I figure we may have killed off a few forests in my time at Edwards Air Force Base.

His story was how he was driving up around the rocket stands- this was where those huge rocket engines were brought to be tested, when he thought he'd seen some movement. The only light had come from the moon, which was about three quarters full at the time and a few million stars. He wanted to check it out and called in to the desk that he was leaving his vehicle to check on something. Now you have to understand, the rocket site is a good 20 miles from where the couple hit our alleged weird critter- possible Martian or an escaped gorilla or bear with unusual eyes, or some kind of NASA experiment gone wrong.

The patrolman walked around a bit, having illuminated the area with his spot light and headlights. He was also using his flashlight. The only thing he could remember was this massive shape suddenly appearing in front of him- he recalls seeing a single blue eye- shaped like a silver dollar and just as big. He doesn't remember pulling his revolver or firing it, he could only recall opening his eyes and seeing half-a dozen of his friends standing over him.

A massive search was made of the area. Foot prints, similar to the one at the MARS Station were discovered and casts were made. There was no blood, so it appeared the patrolman missed all six times.

I assisted the on-duty desk sergeant with the reports and filing the evidence, knowing it would all disappear in the morning. After two hours of searching, the flight chief called everyone in and another search would be made of the area in the morning by day-shift. I went back to the barracks and got a few more hours of sleep, thinking I'd hitch a ride up there in the morning and look around myself. Instead, I got called into the office of  my NCOIC, (non-commissioned officer in charge- MSgt Bacon), and briefed on the events of last night and how he wanted the new report to be typed up. I thought the on-duty guy would get stuck with this, but for some reason he wanted me to type it up. I think it was some sort of punishment for the way I added some flare to the previous Blue Eye reports.

 A week went by and no knew reports of Blue Eyes and we began to think the critter was either dead, chewed up by coyotes or had decided to move along. finally, TSgt Harrell let me back on patrol and gave me South Base Patrol, which sounded like a great idea because little was going on that night and he felt confining me to that area was the safest thing to do. I liked to dig things up, which caused a lot of headaches for my boss. I once confiscated 10 tool boxes, an assortment of radios and the tail stand for an aircraft that were all left unsecured on the flight line. You should have heard the words coming out of the mouth of the squadron commander when he came down to claim the property- I was back on the desk for the following month or so.

After a few hours of patrol, I parked down at the day picnic grounds. There was a small lake and half a dozen picnics table and a shaded area with some barbecue pits. I was outside my truck; an old 1968 Chevrolet pick-up with a three speed stick on the column. Top speed about 70 mph, but good for desert travel- if you don't mind getting stuck 2-3 times a night. We kept a special jack and a shovel in the back for such events.

Walking around and answering nature's call- too much coffee, I saw something moving across the horizon. The moon was full and the desert was lit up. The shape, which reminded me of a large- very large Christmas Tree, was moving across the ground at a good pace. I just stood there, knowing it couldn't be a vehicle- not with that shape and started to get excited. Just maybe, this was Ol' Blue Eyes and I'd finally have my chance to take this critter down. Actually I was only armed with my .38 revolver, so my hopes of big game hunting diminished some. I dashed over to my truck and was in the process of grabbing my microphone when an emergency call came over the radio. Big bar fight at the NCO club and I was one of the patrols being dispatched. I thought for a moment about not replying, going off in pursuit of the beast, but I knew better. Besides that, when I looked to see which way the critter had gone, the horizon was now empty of my Christmas Tree. Vanished.

I only told my flight chief of the sighting that night and he simply nodded his head up and down and smoked his cigarette. Then he pointed at the desk and I knew I was off patrol once again.

The was the end of Blue Eyes. We never had another report of him haunting the base. The patrolman who emptied his revolver spent a night at the hospital and asked never to be assigned to the rocket site again- which he wasn't. I often searched the desert on my days off, hoping to find some sign of Blue Eyes.

Recently I heard there was a story of Blue Eyes on the Internet and I checked it out. The whole story, which was supposed to be back when we had our first sighting of Blue eyes, were total bunk. Reports of patrol cars being tipped over, patrolmen injured...ridiculous! None of that happened. If anything Ol' Blue Eyes seemed to be a timid creature, though he did smash down the Mars Station gate and I was always curious why? The Mars Station was deserted and a new one was built.

End of story. Not much of a sci-fi tale, but all true and it happened in 1974 at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Try to remember, Edwards was a very strange place and probably still is. Here they tested the military's first attempts at building a flying saucer, (I saw photos of it and read how it never worked very well). How they used radiation to grow gigantic veggies, but couldn't quite get the deadly poison out of them.   Rumors of how the highly secret North Base area was where the Roswell aliens were being kept. The many underground sites and where chemical warfare was tested during World War II. Yes, a unique location and I spent 4.5 yrs there. I loved the desert and spent many an hour scouting the area. I found wild long horn cattle- only one of them, but mean! Went on many a rattle snake hunt and watched as many of the new aircraft were being tested. I got aboard the Space Shuttle Enterprise and always hoped they would someday let it fly into space. But it was prototype - no engines and only used to glide. I went into the B-1 bomber and thought I'd walked into a sci-fi movie- really spacey.  Stumbled across two U-2 spy planes in a unsecured hanger and my partner nearly got busted for being found in one of the cockpits. And I actually got to sit in the cockpit of an SR-71- that was a thrill. Yes, I enjoyed Edwards. Then I thought someone was playing a big joke on me- I received orders for Alaska and I was not thrilled. But I soon learned this was truly God's country.

I do apologize for the length of this, but I wasn't sure when I'd be back on my blog again. Bye now.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Now what?

Wow- 2012! How the heck did that happen?

The Mayans seem to think we are all in at the end of this one-what do you think? Mr Bill says the calender maker just got tired of the whole thing and figured enough was enough.

Me, I am actually looking forward to all this year has in store.

With Mom's passing I find myself without someone I am responsible to care for (Mr Bill doesn't count) for the first time in more than 35 years. I am a free woman and I am trying to grasp what that means. My nest is by no means empty as Hannah is here for the winter and Jeremy lives with us, but they are both adults, pretty low-maintenance and take care of themselves. There are various small dogs and elderly cats scattered about the place, but they don't really count as that kind of responsibility.

I will be 54 this year and I find myself wondering what I will be when I grow up.
It is strangely exciting. Silly in many ways considering how many things I have to get done in the next few months. It is not like I have nothing to do (you should see my basement!) or that I am going to run right out and get a job or go to college. That is not it at all. It just feels like the future is full of possibilities! Bill has bugged me for years about writing and I find myself in possession of both a blog and an advice column in a local newspaper- "Miss Mona's Tea and Sympathy" in the Seward Journal. I am working on a Facebook site for Tea and Sympathy (come see and "Like" me!!) which means I have to figure out the whole copy and paste, where do I put it thing and I am by no means skilled on a computer.

I am on the board of directors for four nonprofits, active in my church which is in the process of occupying our new and unfinished building, a mom, grandmother and general busybody so I already have a full schedule. Trying to figure out how to raise funds and supplies for all these things, learning to research grants and not get sucked into the buy-our-book-we have-the-answer sites. I am hugely involved in peer support for people with chronic medical issues ( I have fibromyalgia and chronic depression) and have a wonderful husband who thinks I should occasionally pay attention to him.

I think I may end up doing a bit more blogging this year as I feel the need to chronicle this process. And I need to learn how to add pictures and stuff to this thing to make it more visually interesting.

So, what do I have on the agenda? Come back tomorrow and I will let you in on my, for want of a better term, New Year's resolutions!

Loving you!
Miss Mona

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why I Love Alaska

Bill Says: Over the last 33 years or so I have had many an opportunity to visit with grinning tourists from all over the world, mostly with strong accents, while on walking patrol in the various towns I worked- especially the communities of Skagway and Seward. Besides asking me thing like, "Why is there an American flag over your post office?", or "Why aren't you wearing your Mountie uniform?" ( made me wonder if these people took history and geography in school) . These tourists were in Skagway, where they would also walk right off the cruise ship, stand on the dock, look at the majestic mountain peaks surrounding the town and ask me, "What's the elevation here", and I would respond with a friendly, "12 feet, sir." They always seemed to ask me the same things and one such question was, "Why do you love Alaska so much?", and I always replied with, "I love Alaska's freedom and its sheer wildness".

This last weekend we were able once again to experience Alaska's wildness and of course, the tourists missed it. The weather people, ( those courageous people who stand in front of the TV and hope to show you the weather patterns for a state nearly the size of one half of the Lower 48... and often they sadly fail), were reporting a small snow storm on the way to the Kenai Peninsula. We were to expect a possible 6 inches of white stuff... and oh, possibility some high winds. What we got though...I'd say was the worst storm in our 10 years in Moose Pass.  Heavy snow started around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and the blizzard hit around noon, as we left church. Power was knocked out and stayed that way for the next 42 hours, along with cell phones and even our home phones. So if you called and couldn't get through, this is why.

To say the least, I missed Sunday Football and heard through the grapevine it was a great game.

Now on the east coast they declare a hurricane when a storm hits 70 mph. Will, once this storm hit, those same weather people now reported those high winds were sustaining a strength of 70-90 mph in our area and boy, did it blow! I thought some of those gusts were hitting the 200 mph and I half expected to see an old Kansas farm house come flying by and some witch character on a bicycle/broom on her way to OZ.

Trees were bending in a fashion I didn't think possible without pulling their roots out, and some of them didn't survive the ordeal. We have tree tops and branches all over the yard and at least 6 big trees now laying on the ground. I watched as one of our taller spruce trees did its winter dance, bowing before the wind and I just knew it was about to fall any second and close off our driveway. But it held, except for losing about 9 feet off the top and boy, my ravens are going to be mad. This was one of their favorite spots. When it was all over, we only ended up with a foot of snow a top of what we already had. Most of the new stuff was blown south to Seward...oh, those lucky people.

Brave electric crews from Anchorage, Cooper Landing and even Seward were in our area trying to restore power, but the high winds made it difficult for them to move about. Power line insulation actually burst into flames for various lengths of line and one reported fiery line running tower to tower was observed south of us. If not for the snow already on the roof, I am sure we would've lost most of our shingles on the old part of the house roof. (I still gotta get those 30 year old shingles replaced and keep putting it off- they cost too much and I'm naturally lazy. Besides I weigh too much to go dancing across the roof top with a lethal nail gun in my hand... I am also afraid of heights. Had to do with falling out of helicopter- sorry, another story!).

During the storm, Linda Sherill, co-owner, with her husband, Wes, of the old Moose Pass Inn and one of our dear seniors, passed away in the early morning hours. Linda was surrounded by her family and died in her sleep. Mona, who has already done comfort in-home care twice before for those preparing for the trip home to Heaven, has been taking care of Linda for some time and helped prepare the family for this day. When the time came, Mona stepped in and handled most of the things needing to be done, as to relieve the family from these... tasks. My wife is one incredible lady and she does this all out of love. She is also now on a first name basis with the workers of the Peninsula Funeral Home and all the nurses in the Seward Clinic. We will all miss Linda, but we also know where she is now and she is without pain. If you are reading this, please lift the Sherill family, especially Wes, in your prayers. Besides being husband and wife, they were best friends.

But yes, it is times like this I love my Alaska. True, we have a wood stove to keep the house warm and a propane kitchen stove to keep the tea water hot, but we still have to rough it a bit. Lamps were burning throughout the house and we had enough flashlights to furnish a boy scout troop and not forget a large container of peanut butter. We also have fantastic friends, like Chad, who weathered the severity of the storm to come over and plow our driveway twice and move some of the heavier branches with his loader. He does this out of love too. That's another part of Alaska- people who care for one another and do not ask for payment for such services. Food and water is shared as needed, drivers become available for a trip to the store and someone is always checking on you.

I guess that's why our population stays at that less than a million mark- our wildness keeps most people away. Bears and moose wander the yards, wide-eyed crazy tundra wookies in your store line don't effect you, everyone is armed to the teeth for that coming zombie invasion and that occasional winter storm that blows your roof off or puts your car in the tree is simply a road bump. We deal with constant frozen water lines, empty fuel tanks because you decided to eat that week instead of buying fuel, and learning how to use a water bucket to flush the toilet when the power is out. This is Alaska.

Yes, my only real concern in Alaska is simply that summer tourist- his humongous RV blocking my road at 45 mph and then having the gall to complain that ivory carving and scrimshaw isn't a true art and how they could get the same thing in plastic...PLASTIC!

But someday, it will be my turn again and I will once again return to the Lower 48 and become a TOURIST! I'll ask those stupid questions, get lost on the freeway and K-Mart, here I come....