Going to bed late after a delayed flight, you think you’d go to sleep fairly quickly. Oh no, not me, not with my brain. I spent far too long counting, not just sheep, but the number of animals we’d seen in various airports: bears (polar and brown), moose and horses. Well, one horse.
This is Blackleaf, by Deborah Butterfield, 2017, taking pride of place at Seattle Airport.
The glass cage at Anchorage Airport is not the Dall sheep’s natural habitat, they’re more commonly found in the mountains of Alaska.
So if I were counting sheep as an aid to sleep, I would have reached a grand total of one. But I got there in the end.
A bit of a lie-in was followed by a reasonably lazy day. The three Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. And it was a delight to go back to bed at a more reasonable hour.
Sadly, in an almost repeat performance from a few weeks ago, in the middle of the night, Klaus fell out of bed on his way to the toilet. Three of us couldn’t help him climb back in so again, we called the paramedics. I think this one incident really confirmed to us just how ill he is now. No strength at all.
After breakfast, I wrote some more before Liesel took us over to Pam and Owen’s place for a barbecue. Well, we went to see Una and she drove us over to Pams’, with Monica. On this occasion, on meeting her, I did not give Monica a bear hug exacerbating her shoulder injury.
My eyes were watering and I put this down to hay fever. But no, it’s more likely to be smoke from bush fires quite a long way off, Una was suffering as well. And, sure enough, the mountains were all but invisible through the haze.
From AP News: High winds have pushed a wildfire to within miles of an Alaska Native village in western Alaska, officials said Thursday.
No evacuation orders were issued for St. Mary’s though the East Fork Fire was within 8 miles (12.9 kilometers), the U.S. Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service said in a statement. No structures have been burned.
The 78-square-mile (202-square-kilometer) fire was started May 31 by lightning…
Meanwhile, back at the barbecue, burgers were the order of the day. Liesel enjoyed her first burger for six years or something. And I enjoyed the salads on offer plus possibly my favourite comfort food: cheese and tomato sandwiches, albeit in burger buns.
Thanks Pam and Owen for a nice afternoon: I think it’s fair to say the ladies managed to solve the problems of the world while Owen and I sat quietly in the background!
While we were driving home, Monica received a call from her husband Gregg saying that a tree behind their house had been set on fire. That’s pretty scary, especially when you have lithium batteries in the garage that don’t mix with heat nor with water that might used to put the fire out.
On Monday morning, Klaus visited his family doctor. Straightaway, because he looked so jaundiced, she sent him to hospital, where he spent the next few days. While he was there, we tried to make the house more accommodating for him on his return. With this in mind, Liesel, Jodi and I went to Bailey’s Furniture shop to buy a new chair for Klaus, a powered one that would help him to stand up, that massages and reclines to nearly horizontal.
But what a fascinating shop. Never mind the wonderful range of furniture, the place is decorated in style.
And I’m sure a little girl I know would love this chair.
Liesel uses some software to be able to work from home accessing Amrit’s computer. She got a bill claiming she hadn’t paid. Which she had. Prove it. So I looked at the relevant account on my phone and tried to screenshot the payment. Oh no. For security reasons, I can’t screenshot from a banking app. If Liesel had been around at the time, I would have used her phone take a picture of my phone’s screen. But she wasn’t. Instead, I had to use an elaborate system of mirrors, a split screen with the required data in one half and the camera in the other half and take a picture using the timer, then reversing the image. I say ‘elaborate’ and it would have worked if only I could have held the phone perfectly still for a split second. Technology, eh?
Liesel and her Mom spent most of the next day in hospital with Klaus. My task at home, on Klaus’s computer, was to make sure we knew his passwords: bills need paying and he’s usually responsible. Klaus uses an Apple Mac, so that was an interesting learning curve having been using Windows for decades! Fortunately, my daughter Helen was able to provide some technical support. Thanks Helen!
Jodi brought her friend, realtor Andrea, around to look at Leslie and Klaus’s house, with a view to selling it after thirty years. It needs some work but it’s not in too bad a condition.
After they left, I started walking towards Jyoti’s house intending to go for a longer walk with her.
It was reassuring to see the mountains more clearly today. And I had the pleasure of gently pursuing a dragonfly for a minute. Last time I was here in Anchorage, I was notoriously unlucky in trying to photograph these flighty beasts. But today, I took a series of pictures, each one a little closer.
I am very pleased with this picture, although I would have preferred the background to be a leaf rather then the pavement!
I thought I was on a roll. But no, that was the extent of my success. Attempts to capture a beetle in all its glory failed abysmally.
Did we have a nice long walk? Not today. Instead, we got coffee at Kaladi and took it to Sand Lake, traipsing through the grounds of the Elementary School. Sitting in the shade by the water was so peaceful. Thanks for the time-out, Jyoti.
We collected Liesel from the hospital and went home for a short while. We spent the evening back at Catherine and Hans’ again, enjoying good food, outside, watching the Sun go down. We talked about Klaus of course and music and radio.
Jyoti and I did go for a nice long hike the next day. She took me to Kincaid Park and we followed one of the trails. Well, maybe: we might have missed a turn somewhere, but it was still a very pleasant walk.
The only wildlife we saw was Jyoti’s dog Basil who probably walked and ran twice as far as we did and on little legs too. And how green is that vegetation? So lush. It’s hard to believe that it hasn’t rained here since the snow melted a couple of months ago, but further out of the city, as we’ve seen, there is a real risk of fire.
On the way out, we saw this little chap just mooching along the pavement, minding his own bees wax.
At Fire Island, we bought some high-calorie content cupcakes for ourselves and for Liesel and Leslie who again had stayed with Klaus in hospital. And coffee again from Kaladi Brothers for us. Again, we collected Liesel and took her home.
Leslie returned a little later, after which we all went out to view an apartment that would suit Klaus and Leslie, should they decide to move.
We met Andrea and Jodi there and had a good look round. It seemed ideal, to me. If we’d seen such an apartment when we were looking four years ago, I think we would have seriously considered it. My job was to walk around with the walker to make sure it fits through all the doorways. In my head was Bill Withers: Lean on me. One selling point is that it’s quite close to Aaron and Jod’s house, as well as just over the road from New Sagaya, a supermarket and coffee shop.
We were told that Klaus was to be discharged. The house isn’t ready. So, in a rush, with the help of Asa, Gideon and their friends Addie and Alec, we moved the dresser out of the bedroom, lowered the bed and rotated it 90° to make it easier for Klaus to get up in the night.
Later, it emerged, he wasn’t coming home today, after all. Communication failure.
Still with a view to maybe selling this house, the next morning, Liesel, Jyoti and I threw away loads of food. Now, none of us like throwing away food, but this was all out of date. I don’t mean just a couple of weeks old.
Oh no. Some of it was years old. Even decades. The oldest items had no best before date, they were that old. But the record goes to Liesel who threw away something from 1992.
The plan is, eventually, to empty the pantry and move the washing machine and dryer to that space, up from the garage. This should be more attractive for any potential buyer.
Sorting through old food and disposing of it is ridiculously hard work. Luckily it was bin day, so much of it was taken away, leaving a nice empty bear-proof wheelie bin for the next few bags of old food.
I had a bit of a break by continuing with the passwords project on the Mac.
Liesel and I went to Walmart to collect some prescription drugs for Klaus, because he really was being discharged today. Good to see the pandemic’s over in the city. Very few other people were wearing masks.
Klaus came home, and sat in his new chair for a short while before going upstairs to bed.
And so, my time in Anchorage comes to an end. After saying goodbye to Klaus and Leslie, Liesel dropped me off at the airport. She was originally going to fly back with me but is staying on for a couple more weeks to help and support her Mom.
I went through security. That’s it. No trauma today. I had a middle seat so I looked around trying to predict which two fatties I’d be wedged between. But no. Both my seat-mates were skinnies. And,the young lady to my left moved to a different seat, leaving me her aisle seat.
Transit at Frankfurt was a doddle. A ten-minute walk from one gate to the next. It makes you wonder why USA has to make such a big deal out of these things. It certainly doesn’t make us feel any more secure.
As we flew past Cheadle, I took some pictures, hoping to be able to pinpoint Jenny’s house from the sky. This is still a work in progress.
I kept mine on, but just about everyone else removed their masks on disembarkation. Even when entering the overheated, windowless depths of Manchester Airport to go through security, which was a slow process.
I took a taxi home, and immediately felt very welcome. Jenny and Helen had left Fathers Day cards for me as well as a box of Maltesers and some beer. Cheers! I slumped for most of the day and went to bed really early. I never seem to get a proper sleep on an aeroplane.
And of course, I woke early, listened to a couple of podcasts and did my usual three puzzles, Wordle, Worldle and Nerdle. Horror of horrors: I lost my winning streak on the first two. I’d forgotten to play in the short ‘day’ between leaving Anchorage and landing in Manchester.
On my first full day back at home, I waited in for a grocery delivery from Ocado, ate Maltesers, wiped out the now empty fridge, after its inadvertent defrosting while we were away, and wrote for a while while listening to old, recorded radio shows. And, in an effort to convince myself I was doing something useful, I gathered together all the to-do lists.
On my second full day back at home, I ticked a few items off the to-do list. Don’t worry, I did them first. And there is still plenty to keep me occupied. I’m lucky to have the freedom to nap whenever the urge takes me.
At 4.50 in the morning, I answered the phone. It was Liesel telling me that her Dad had died. Just three days after I’d left. I really had said goodbye to him. Very sad, but not totally unexpected. We didn’t like seeing him in such distress and discomfort, and we’ll certainly miss him and his humour.
The rest of the day was taken up with mundane chores, nothing that required too much thought. In a bit of a daze, to be honest. I started putting this week’s radio show together and finished it the following day. I think this one took longer to prepare than any, since the very early days when the whole process was new to me.
You can listen to my Postcard from Alaska here. Or catch the repeat on Wythenshawe Radio WFM 97.2 at 10pm on Wednesday.
Some exciting, good news to end on. After completing enough tasks (an arbitrary target, I admit), my reward was to visit the local coffee shop here in Northenden. The latté art made me smile.
It’s reassuring to see that some things never change. I don’t think our heron has moved from this spot for at least five weeks.
On the other hand, car parking skills in Northenden haven’t improved since I’ve been away.