Judge Una

You don’t often have to opportunity to witness history in the making. But it really was a privilege, an honour and a delight to witness our friend Una being installed as Judge of the Superior Court of Alaska. at the Boney Memorial Courthouse, Anchorage.

Una with here parents Lalita and Sharad, brother Ashwin and sister Geeta

This was such a positive event compared with what was happening on the other side of the country. Brett Kavanaugh has been appointed to the US Supreme Court. But several women have accused him of sexual assault. Will he take the seat? Probably. The pictures from Washington DC show old, white males, even if they believe the accusations, just not caring. It’s too horrible to contemplate. So I’m going to stick to events in Anchorage.

Alaska Skies by Suzanne Donazetti at the back of the courthouse

I don’t pretend to understand the details and niceties of the Alaskan judicial system but it was wonderful to hear five other judges, from various courts, speak about Una in such glowing terms. We’re really proud of her achievements. The Installation, sometimes referred to as Intubation, Inauguration, Ordination, depending on who can’t quite recall the correct terminology, was a very positive event.

Una becomes the first brown woman, or ‘woman of colour’, appointed to this position. Four out of the five other justices were women. We felt bad for the token white male. No, we didn’t: he was just as pleased to be there as the rest of us.

Administration of the Oath of Office: Una with the Honorable Susan M Carney, Justice, Alaska Supreme Court

The award for the best personal address of the day goes to Geeta, Una’s sister. She was very funny and I just hope someone recorded this talk: a little bit of self-deprecation but a beautifully told story of a close, supportive, if competitive family.

Liesel, Una, Leslie
The big family photo

After the formalities concluded, many of us went to the Snow City Café for the Reception, a chance to mingle and meet old freinds and new.

Liesel and I had picked her Mom up from work, leaving Dad at home. At Snow City, we drank wine, toasted Una and generally ligged.

Later in the evening, we repaired to Una and Phil’s house where a box of old photos provided much entertainment.

I’m going to be a judge when I grow up, just watch me
Liesel, Una and Jyoti when they were very young

Una’s been a good friend to Liesel for many years, decades even, and I too am very fond of her. Why?

Reader, she married us.

Mountains

It’s Wednesday again. The day the cleaners arrive by 7.30am meaning that we have to be up and out of bed. So we went out for breakfast. It was cold that early in the day, brrr, Liesel even suggested I put on a coat and long trousers. Pfft. Later on, the weather lady on TV confirmed that it was indeed the coldest start to a day since mid-May.

We went to see Yoshi, a friend of Wayne’s, for some advice about our trip to Japan. He’s been organising tours for many years and knows the place backwards. He’s also Japanese. While speaking with him in his 12th floor office, we watched a bank of fog roll in over Anchorage and roll away again. We have our train tickets sorted and a tour of Tokyo a couple of days after we arrive.

Later on, we went for a walk with Jyoti down in Kincaid Park. We hiked along a very damp grassy trail, quite hilly in fact, and we ended up overlooking the inlet and Fire Island and some mountains way over there.

Jyoti and Liesel plus a lovely view

We came across an old open-cast car-tyre mine, which is obviously no longer in operation.

The old tyre mine

The snow-clad mountains look like a postcard. Looking at a map, this is either the Neacola or the Chigmit Mountain Range, but as always, I’m open to correction. Either way, the snow came down much further than that in the Chugach range. So far, but the season is young.

Proper Mountains
Another Mountain

Good Greeff, another unusual sign. And no, on this occasion, there were no high-speed skiers or mountain bikers coming our way.

A reminder that we were on a ski trail

Nutburgers and chips for supper. I listened to Word of Mouth twice (because I nodded off during the first attempt) and to the Cerys Matthews Blues Programme.

Autumn Colours (again)

My mission, which I chose to accept, was to sell some items left over from the Garage Sale a few weeks ago. We have old National Geographic magazines, old jigsaw puzzles, a set of German porcelain and some other bits and pieces. I’m not having much luck. Nobody showed any interest on eBay. Facebook Marketplace keeps giving me error messages. And Craig’s List won’t let me upload more than one photo at a time. It really is Mission: Impossible. But I shall persevere and I will make some progress before the end of the movie.

On the way to see her financial advisor this afternoon, Liesel dropped me off elsewhere. I had a fantastic massage: my muscles and bones creaked and groaned as she used thumbs, elbows, knees and feet to gain maximum pressure and leverage. She must have thought my fingers and toes were telescopic, the way she pulled at them, clicking each knuckle in turn. And she really messed up my hair with the head massage. But it was great, I think I feel better for it, much less tight and coiled up.

Afterwards, I walked home as it was warm, the sky was blue, the wind had died down and it was a thoroughly pleasant jaunt.

I was thinking how clean the roads are here compared with England. There are $1000 fines for littering, and sections of the highway are taken care of by different groups or organisations.

You too can sponsor a section of highway

Today, though, I began to notice things that were out of place.

Quite a pretty thing: I think it’s dry, now
This is universal: a traffic cone in the wrong place
And the ubiquitous plastic bag of course
This is a great idea, next to the lake
Someone came all the way from Manchester to throw this old cupboard into the bushes

But never mind the rubbish, the views are still fantastic.

View over the inlet
View towards the Chugach mountains

Apart from the views, though, walking around this part of Anchorage is not as interesting as, say, walking around Chessington. There, I can make it up as I go along and I can make sudden changes to the planned route, left, right, right, left, etc. Here in Anchorage, though, the roads are long and straight and I can’t deviate or decide to take a shortcut and take a long detour. There is one route from A to B and that’s it.

A cyclist stop to warn me that there was a female moose further down the road, and that she was a bit grumpy, so this cyclist and her children were going to cross the road. She set off, her daughter set off, but her son stayed put. His chain had fallen off so I did my good turn for the day and put it back onto the derailleur. I can report that Alaskan grass is just as good as English grass at wiping bicycle chain oil off my hands.

I was hoping, of course, to see some wildlife: moose, bear, wolf, yeti, wolverine, polar bear, sasquatch, orca, beaver, otter, marmot, marmite, eskimo, something big and interesting, but again, I was disapppointed. I did see and nearly trip over this alien though:

A big black caterpillar from Mars

After supper, Liesel and I went for another quick walk, this time to Kincaid Park. Liesel is still suffereing some discomfort, sadly. Having a rest day or two helps a bit but walking any distance seems to bring back the pain to some extent. The Sun was low in the sky and really lit up this tree, you could almost warm your hands on it.

Not a fir tree but a … fire tree

All the runners that passed us waved hello, such a friendly, young and fit bunch of people.

The Price is Right

In May 1980, Sarah and I were enjoying the World Snooker Championship Final on TV. Suddenly, the game was interrupted by a urgent news report.

A group of six armed men had stormed the Iranian Embassy in London a few days earlier. During this very exciting snooker match, the SAS stormed the Embassy in a bid to end the seige and liberate the hostages. All very exciting, yes, but we wanted our snooker back.

There were only three TV channels in the UK at the time and all of them were showing live pictures from the Iranian Embassy.

I think hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people must have complained to the BBC because fairly soon, we returned to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield to watch the rest of the match. Canadian Cliff Thorburn beat Alex Higgins, becoming the first ever non-British World Snooker Champion.

All this came back to mind this morning when Klaus became very animated when his favourite TV show was interrupted by a long breaking news item. Bill Cosby has been found guilty of drugging and sexually attacking a woman, and will serve between three and ten years in jail.

Can’t we have ‘The Price is Right’ back, begged Klaus. To be fair, the report did go on a bit too long, and really, it’s not that big a news story. Certainly when compared with the storming of an embassy.

The big question now of course is, why were we in the same room while that show was on TV? Well, breakfast. The other question is, will Bill Cosby follow in OJ Simpson’s footsteps and write a book called “I didn’t drug and rape that woman but if I wanted to, this is how I would have gone about it”?

Autumn Colours

Sunday morning, Leslie and Liesel went to the shops. I declined the invitation to join them: instead, I caught up with emails and other administrative tasks. They brought me back some Japanese noodles for lunch, in an attempt to expand my Japanese palate.

We went for a quick walk in the afternoon before being joined for dinner by Aaron, Jodi, Asa and Gideon. Enchiladas, since you ask. And yes, plenty of leftovers.

Next day, Liesel went to the dentist very early. We then drove to Girdwood, just to see the colours of the trees changing. First stop was Kaladi Brothers for coffee. There are a couple of pictures on display here that we’d like to buy. The one I like is, of course, the more expensive. The one Liesel prefers will match our new curtains better!

Autumn’s Glory by Teri Lidseth – Liesel’s pick
Serendipity by Teri Lidseth – Mick’s pick

The views were really gorgeous, especially when the Sun was out. We stopped for an early lunch at The Bake Shop in Girdwood but decided it was too misty and murky to take the lift up the mountain on this occasion, but I hope we do so before we leave Alaska.

A bit of a storm on the way home

After driving back to Anchorage, Liesel visited the physio again while I listened to a lovely hour of radio. On BBC 6 Music, Tom Robinson interviewing Eddi Reader and playing many of her songs. Catch it while you can!

After stopping at Carrs, a supermarket, Liesel drove home while I walked the three miles or so. It was windy but warm and very pleasant. And very colourful. The snow on the distant mountains is called ‘termination dust’, as it’s an indication of the end of Summer.

Snow on the mountains

Autumnal Equinox

After the medics, a couple of days of pure fun. No more dentists, no more doctors, at least for the time being. Then the following dialogue:

Liesel: My tooth just fell out.
Mick: Oh no, not again.
Liesel: Out of my purse.

Yes, Liesel was hoping the tooth fairy would visit her purse and leave a bright shiny sixpence for the piece of tooth that fell out of her actual mouth a week ago.

Liesel got up first, as usual, and I stayed in bed with Cerys. Her music show on BBC 6 Music is probably my favourite and I’ve been missing it for a few months.

Later, Liesel and I were meeting up with Amrit for lunch. We arranged to meet at Pad Thai, which was closed last time due to refurbishment. And, guess what? It was temporarily closed today as well, due to a gas leak. We’ll have one more attempt before accepting that the cosmic forces just don’t want the three of us to eat at Pad Thai.

Instead, we went for an Indian buffet and that was very enjoyable.

We walked to the Performing Arts Center to buy tickets for an Anchorage Symphony concert in a couple of weeks time.

When we were in Italy two years with Jyoti, Suvan and Gita, we visited a lot of museums and galleries, the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Uffizi, all the usual visitor attractions. We greatly admired the artwork of course but at the risk of being struck by a thunderbolt, we did get a bit fed up with all the Madonna and Child paintings. The Pokémon GO of the time.

So imagine our surprise when we visited Kaladi Brothers Coffee Downtown branch

to be greeted by a Madonna and Child. A Leonardo original. Well, maybe not.

Madonna and child and a decaff latte

Liesel: We’re going to join Monica for a stake-out.
Mick: Oh, whereabouts?
Liesel: Sullivan’s.

So, yes, Sullivan’s Steakhouse was where we met Monica for a lovely glass of Glenlivet, so smooth on the tongue. And another reminder that we need our hearing tested!

We’d offered to take Asa out for a meal, but it was quite hard tracking him down.

By mistake, we went into an ice hockey venue, which was pretty cold, surprisingly. But even more surprising was the size of the pucks they were playing with: almost as big as car tyres.

Ice hockey practice

And as a mathematician, I was intrigued by the local addresses being shown in binary notation:

We couldn’t find 11001

Eventually, we found Asa in a different sports centre.

La Cabana was where we ended up after two first choice restaurants had long waits, over half an hour. We had a good time and lots of good food. Too much food, really, for this English person with an English-sized stomach.

car alarm (noun) (1) Device installed in a vehicle designed to wake up everyone in the neighbourhood, in the middle of the night, apart from the owner of the vehicle. (2) Arguably the worst invention ever.

This is how the day began for us. The sound even drowned out the torrential rain that had tried to keep us awake all night.

We walked around to Jyoti’s house for breakfast where I again managed to eat too much.

We both remarked on how lovely the Autumn season is on this equinoctial weekend. It was a little bit cooler today and the headwind was a bit annoying. But the trees are very pretty.

Autumn colours

But Winter draws on too. The first snow has fallen on top of the mountains way over there in the distance. As time goes on, the snow will appear lower and lower down the mountains until it threatens to leave Anchorage knee-deep in snow and ice. One weather app briefly forecast snow for Monday but thankfully, that’s changed, and the person responsible has been severely punished.

There’s snow on them thar mountains

We walked home again and a couple of cars pulled up beside us. We were warned that there was a bull moose close to the path, just round the corner. Well, again, I was torn between wanting to see the moose and wanting to stay safe. We crossed the road, but we never did see the bull: it had probably just crossed the road and gone straight into the woods.

We drove to see Amy and her family for a chat and to taste test Kathy’s peach cobbler. I had to have two slices just to make sure it was OK. It was delicious! I’d met Kathy and Wayne, Amy’s parents, just once, probably over ten years ago. Amy’s sister Kara came by too.

Wayne and Kathy gave us lots of useful tips for our trip to Japan, and we talked about our overall travel plans.

Docs and Glocks

A couple of days of mainly medical matters, not very interesting really. So here’s a picture of some daisies, Liesel’s favourite flowers.

Daisies for Liesel

Liesel went to the dentist as one of her teeth broke a couple of days ago. She also arranged to collect a new batch of her prescription drugs. The pharmacy was inside Walmart so while waiting, I wandered over to the firearms department. The handguns are cheaper than mobile phones. I couldn’t decide which one to go for, but like 99% of the population in USA, I don’t really need one anyway. On a day in which there were three, yes, three mass shootings in USA, I’m glad I decided to save my money.

Handguns – no idea if any of them are Glocks
More firearms – too much choice

We tidied up Jyoti’s house a bit, we were moving back to Klaus and Leslie’s today. Later on I walked home from Jyoti’s house and I can confirm that Autumn is here. The colours are changing.

Autumn colours

In the evening, Klaus watched Blue Bloods on TV. We all did. Too much TV recently. On the other hand, I did listen to some familiar radio programmes so I don’t feel too badly sullied.

It was my turn to visit a doctor today to get a prescription for my meds. Lots of form-filling for such a formality. A man came up to us in the car park. I thought we were being reprimanded for parking in the wrong place. But no. He was interested in buying Klaus’s sports car, the one Liesel and I were using. I was open to offers but it’s not really for sale at this time.

Klaus’s car – not for sale

I really should stop taking pictures inside lavatories, but this little graffiti made me laugh:

Toilet seat covers

We went to the airport to pick Jyoti up: she’d spent a few ore days with Gita and Josh in Portland. While waiting close by the Alaska Aviation Museum, I went to take some photos and Liesel warned me that I was about to walk over a working runway. I looked both ways and saw no planes coming before running across!

A plane with wheels
The Museum with a sad face
A plane with floats

We took Jyoti home and we had time for a quick walk before Liesel’s next physio appointment. More dry needling in the bum, with extra long needles today, woohoo! While she was being poked, and indeed having her back massaged as well, I walked to the post office to send off some items. Lots of form-filling for such a simple task.

Liesel and I met for a coffee before picking up my meds from Target.

Meanwhile, today, Klaus had a haircut and a pedicure. I too need a haircut, so so I keep being told. But I am not seeking treatment for my bashed-up nose.

The good news is that we’ve experienced the warmest September in Anchorage, ever! Maybe paying for temporary gym membership was worth it: we’d rather have the good weather than have to go to the gym because it’s horrible outside.

Today’s front page, Anchorage Daily News