Fresh Powder and Feathered Feet

The days are very short now. It’s almost complete dark by 4pm. Seems like every couple of days we have fresh powder snow falling. Its snowed quite a bit this year. Much more than last year. Couple weeks ago the temperature was going well below zero as well. Some complain, River certainly doesn’t care for the temperature to be below 20 degrees! But I don’t mind overly much. To me it’s all a part of being in Alaska. The snow is just too pretty for words. And the sky when the sun does decide to show his brightness is just a unique watercolor painting during the sunset hours. The other day a large Bull Moose was sleeping in someone’s yard. Just snoozing without a care in the world. Alaska seems to be one of the few real wild places left. Even in the city of Anchorage. You cannot forget that a vast wilderness is only a stone’s throw away. That many creatures that could eat us for breakfast prowl about within the city limits. I personally love it. Many have a healthy admonition to an outright fear based hatred of the way things are here.

The Ravens could quite possibly be one of my favorite animals here. To me they are not large rats-with-wings, but a symbol of nature’s most adaptable and intelligent birds. Due to their vocal cords Ravens cannot speak as Crows (a close cousin) can but their intelligence is rated similarly with Macaws and African Gray’s. There are many native legends and myths concerning Raven and He is often considered to be a form of Creator (God). Unlike any of the other Corvids Ravens have feathered feet to keep them safe from frostbite. They also have feathers that cover their beaks where the ‘nose holes’ are to protect against the extreme cold.  The Picture below was taken last fall before the snow came.

The enormous amounts of photo opportunities is just mind-boggling here. Just picking one focus i.e birds, large animals, plants, landscapes, doesn’t really help. Place me in the middle of a valley and I would be taking pictures for DAYS. And my camera isn’t particularly good anymore. The auto focus is about gone and it’s having a few other hang ups. I really want to get an upgrade so I shoot to my heart’s delight and not just fiddle with everything trying to make it work. I don’t know if my pictures are worth trying to sell (Ideas people???) but they make great gifts and I personally love it. So I hope to continue to ‘fuddle’ with my current camera enough until I can afford a less damaged one.

My Days consist of working, putzing around the house. Walking River. Attempting to sleep. Other than those basic things I don’t do much besides enjoy the outside world and people watching. I’ve been taking some pictures of the winter wonderland, I’ll try to get the post ASAP.

Good Medicine ~Joannie


This Year’s Thanksgiving

The Holiday months are incredibly hard for people who don’t have those important loved ones that make or break said Holidays. My family is no different in this area. Emotions run deep and feelings are very mixed from intense sadness and anger to indifference and a desire to remember ‘the good days’ or just run from everything. I know within myself I waiver from sadness and a desire to be left alone to wanting to do all of Mom’s favorite things to keep her impact alive. Obviously being away from the family means there isn’t much for me to do as Mom did so I tend to keep to myself. I have never been  much of festive person, Mom always said I was the family’s party pooper back when life was whole and the world made sense. I had a very different way of ‘being’ then most people and simply watching and listening was often more than enough for me. Not that I didn’t enjoy myself, I did and once I got out of my awkward stage of not wanting to be in social groups at all (I think most teens experience something of the sort at some point) I really enjoyed the special “Mom” traditions she had created. Even when everyone is having a good time and I am enjoying just being in the corner watching, a very large part of me is intensely sad. I’ve a feeling my dear Brothers (the first 3 anyway) have a similar situation. Even though in the moment is good, there is a hole that cannot be filled, much bigger than a mere puzzle piece missing but instead akin to chapters upon chapters in a novel taken out before being read and never have gone into print. If our lives were a book, no one would have published it, there is just not enough understanding in the world to fill in what has been ripped out. Everyday that has any kind of mark that is easily remembered is shadowed with times that should still be. People are very quick to say that we have to try to let ourselves have fun, to enjoy what we can. but what 99% of naive do-gooders that just hurt with their desperate words of no insight – have no concept of; the fact that we even still mark the day, the fact that Holiday dinner is still fucking cooked, the fact that we don’t burden others with our dark anguished thoughts and instead smile when we’d rather break all the china IS us doing the best we can to smile and celebrate. If I did what I felt like doing on those days, I would NOT answer the phone. I would NOT go to anyone’s place for dinner. I wouldn’t do anything but sit alone in the dark and try not to think at all. So even though I sit in the corner and hardly say anything to the group, I do go, I do smile and be polite and not tell others of my dark thoughts and painful memories. Its plain awful to.. well about 99% of the people for effort. But right now it’s all I can drag myself into.

This Thanksgiving I got invited out the Williams house in the Valley. I of course went. Showed up fashionably late due to someone spinning their car out of control on a bridge and blocking traffic. But River and I made it. Dave (Mr. Williams) has been a long time friend of Dad’s, the kids call him uncle Dave. His daughter Katie I’m friends with since moving to Anchorage. Ms. Williams, a friend of their family and their neighbors were all with us for dinner. I was pretty quiet an action I’m sure they weren’t fond of, but Katie knows me pretty well and didn’t expect anything but from me. In fact she was my partner in crime for sleeping on the couch instead of chit chatting and play board games I’ve never heard and really do see why they are called a game to begin with.. Now if Apples to Apples or a real game had been employed I probably could have stomached the incessant talking for a round. But as it was I watched the snow and played on my computer and napped. Very lazy anti social of me I know. All in all I enjoyed having dinner at the Williams. I can only hope that didn’t dislike having me over too much.The food was great and I got some leftovers.

It snowed quite a bit on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Driving back into Anchorage from the Valley the clouds had a break and the sky was making all sorts of amazing paintings with the light and color.

Christmas is much worse than Thanksgiving so I have a feeling my anti social ways will get worse. But I have agreed to go to a party as Stepanie’s date (we’ll make a cute couple for sure LOL) so I”l get out some.

The saddest Birthday

Today Mom would have been 53. November 12th.  If the world were still whole everyone would have done something sweet and meaningful for her. Jesse usually got up early (often dragging me out bed with him). Made an amazing breakfast usually included perfectly warmed rare steak, crepés, rice pudding or some other favorite creation that we would whip together before she was even awake. Coffee with tons of Bailey’s in bed. Jackie and Jeremy often dealt with the kids so she didn’t have to do anything till she felt like it. All the little kids made her cards, poems and love notes from scratch. Dad would prance around the house as silly as could be or if he was on the slope he would call multiple times before noon. Mom’s favorite movies were often dragged out, surprise birthday gifts from all. Super nice dinner that I made of all her favorite and requested foods, birthday cheesecake, Bailey’s cake, coffee ice cream, special made  bakery items from Tellico Grains Bakery that Anissa would make on request. And anything else she could possible want for desert. Sometimes friends were included, in the more recent years was just family and the Myersons. Dad once sent her an amazing collection of flowers that everyone was envy of when he was stuck on the slope. Mom’s birthday’s were always well celebrated. She loved every minute of it. Always proclaiming to have to best children a Mother could ask for. Every child had his or her own special way of making sure she blatantly knew how much we love her.

Now it’s a maker worse than Mother’s day. Another year gone by without her. It doesn’t hurt less. It doesn’t make any more sense then it did the first year. Those that say time heals everything know NOTHING of loosing someone close. You hide it better. You plaster a smile on so no one asks whats wrong. If you’ve ever been burned badly enough that the pain turns into a numb ache or maybe if you’ve experienced frostbite you know of that awful ache right before the intense consuming pain hits. That is loosely how our hearts feel. Like a limb taken, you learn to live without but you never forget the whole feeling nor stop wishing for it. You never are the same, the wound heals just enough that life continues but is never useful or solid again. It’s a hole in the soul that will never close. An old wound that can barely be called a scar. Many want us, need us to move on for their sake. We often act like we have some semblance of life so as to pacify the friends and family who cannot accept or understand that there is just no healing, no getting over whats been done. I’ve stopped trying to explain, to ask people to understand, to hope that they might see and stop telling me how I need to live my life now. More often than not I can’t help but feel that the mere fact we’re alive should be enough to celebrate.

I try everyday as I know my brothers and sister do to make choices and to live lives that make her smile. But most days we think it’s a success when we don’t completely lose it or silently cry ourselves to sleep. I for one am very bitter on both Mom’s and my birthdays. I didn’t get to spend that last one with her. We had a plan for next year that never happened. Everyone has the same line, you couldn’t have known this would happen, you can’t go there. My response is of course, do you think that helps??? Do you think it makes me feeling even a once better? No. Not even close. I believe that the biggest difference is that someone chose to make this happen. Not some random criminal on the streets, not god or whomever you pray to or chance. But some fucktard that we used to call human and friend, some of us even family. I can’t explain it. But I know from the look on my family’s faces they agree. It doesn’t make sense. It will never be okay or not hurt so much. I use to consider myself fairly intelligent. follow the chain of events that brings chaos about. 3rd birthday without her and no one is any closer to answers.

A Mother was never loved (in my opinion) as my Mom is. My heart bleeds for my siblings that don’t get to say that in person today. For my Father, my Grandmother and her sisters. All those who knew her.

It’s not happy anymore, but it’s Mom’s Birthday.

Dec 2008 in the Cherokee national forest. She would probably comment about getting old or some silliness but to all of us she was just as glamorous here as she was when Jesse was a baby and 10 years ago. No one thought she was a day over 40 and her energy that of a 30-year-old.

World’s Best Mom was Renée Roissier Miller.

How I wasn’t pathetic today & Richard Nelson

Well today I managed to get my pathetic ass out the house. I was invited to a NPR guest speaker event with “K” (a lady I train dogs for). I made myself go (I did want to – just had to find the energy), sounded kind of cool even though I’d never heard of the guy. His name is Richard Nelson and he is the brains and talent behind “Encounters” the pubic radio program. Turns out, he covers everything from animals to cultural traditions throughout Alaska. As a student of Tracker School and reader of – well everything – I immediately realized that this would be a good evening and probably something I could really take in. Turns out I was right, was awesome and now I have to buy his books.

Here is a tad bit taken from his website

Richard Nelson is a cultural anthropologist and creative nonfiction writer whose work focuses on human relationships to the natural world. He was born in Madison , Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin, and received a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has written and narrated Encounters Programs since the series began in 2004.

Mr. Nelson is an excellent speaker and the night very enjoyable. I’m quite grateful for K to drag me out. Since she is a big fan of everything science and Alaskan she had the whole meet and greet before the event deal. This event had sold out for the 3rd year in a row and only some people got to come to the before party.         College students, outdoorsy people and wise elders were getting to meet their icon. I didn’t even know what Richard Nelson looked like..  So there I was, shaking Mr. Nelson’s hand knowing what 4 sentences I managed to read of him before we were called up. I had learned just enough that he was someone worth knowing and that he had studied in various remote places – but what exactly the subject of his work was, I still didn’t know at the point where I was now shaking his hand and introducing myself. I had heard others asking to have their books signed, telling him how amazing his work was, how much his radio program meant to them. One guy even proceeded to say that Mr. Nelson’s work saved his life.

And now I’m shaking his hand, I with all these other people who know everything about this guy, and I know nothing. Now I’m supposed to talk to him?! I mean I don’t want to insult him.. I let K do the talking. She kindly took over with intelligent questions and introduced me as ‘with’ her. Mr. Nelson wanted to know if we were family, and K said “well funny story but actually Joannie trains my dogs” And bam there was a safe topic after all. Mr. Nelson expanded on his experiences with dogs including the dog teams of the villages he live in. And we had common ground. Now I could add something to the conversation without looking like an idiot. As we chatted about village life and dogs that were not family pets to be carted off to the groomers I realized people looking at us oddly. Ops K and I were taking other people’s photo-op time (yes K made me take a picture) not to mention we were having  a ‘real’ conversation and not just niceties with the man himself. The kid who walked into the room with no idea of who the ‘man’ was.. Had a conversation that made me look halfway intelligent and didn’t shame the family name so to speak. Afterwards I got a cookie and waited with K talking of how unnatural most ‘pets’ environments are, till it was time for the presentation to begin.

Richard Nelson talked of how large of impact Alaska’s wildlife have on our state’s economy so it is our best interest to ensure that their population stays steady – therefore protecting their environment and spawning/hatching/calving grounds. He also touched on how different traditions of the natives originally viewed their wild world and we have lost a certain touch with the natural world. Mr. Nelson didn’t go into to details for this speech but he has a few books out that do. And this is one of the things I’ve been loosely studying myself in the last 6-7 years. I could rant on about my thoughts (and I might – just not right now) on the subject of humanity loss of connection with the natural world and our awareness of LIFE.  So I throughly enjoyed that part in the event.

Was quite enjoyable and now I will have to listen to public radio more. ~J


I’ve fallen into a rut. A emotional, lonely, unchanging rut. I go to work. I try to sleep. I make myself go out when I can summon the energy. I walk the dog and try to remind myself to eat. I do it all over again. I hardly see anyone outside of work. About 98% is my fault so I by no means am blaming others for my imposed isolation. I don’t blame any of my friends here who have stopped asking the very blah redhead to join them. I get sick of myself. Emi has been one my few people who don’t care that I’m down, sick and pretty much no fun. But she is leaving for FL on Thursday. For good. In the last 3 weeks I’ve seen Emi, Katie and Dave (Katie’s Dad). I’m a hermit.

I don’t really know how to get myself out of this funk anymore. I basically have no desire to do anything. Everything seems to require TOO much energy that I don’t have. Work pretty much takes everything I have these days. More often then not I don’t feel that I can stand by the stove for 20 minutes to make dinner. Ordering food is not healthy and expensive so I limit that. Usually I eat oatmeal and call it good.

I would turn my nose up and walk away from the person I am. Just apathetic, no fun, no energy and sign of changing. I would rather go back to bed then go into work. But either way my back hurts so I guess I need to go make money for the medical bills.