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Alaska Travels; Downtown, Up On Mountain, Botanical Garden

Although my cold lingers and we both feel worn out, mom and I are still getting around to see the sights.

Downtown Anchorage:

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On a mountain above Eagle River:

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At the Alaska Botanical Garden in Anchorage:

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Alaska Travels: Accidental Mushroom Hunter

 

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As with my writing, my photography takes me where it will. As soon as I set out for the back woods at my parents home on my arrival in August, there they were; mushrooms of every shape, color and size. Mom and I and the dogs took a walk in Peters Creek Park, and there they were, not only at the edge of the woods and deep inside the understory of birch, cottonwood and fir trees, but we could hardly walk the paths without tripping over mushrooms. Our visit to Homer was the same. I found mushrooms, not only in and around Homer, but in the lush green, moss-covered land around the cabin, and even on the beach-side cliffs.

I’m a researcher at heart. I like to KNOW about things, from every angle possible. I strongly dislike posting photos of plants, weeds and other discoveries, without naming them. That extends to mushrooms, but on this topic, I found myself lost in a sea of too much information. I did spend hours attempting to identify my fungus finds, but finally gave up, leaving the naming to the professionals.

Here are a few favorites and I’ll get over to post the rest on my photo blog soon.

 

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Alaska Travels: Revving Up and Winding Down

Sunset last night, from my parent's deck, Eagle River, Alaska.  Phall Photos 2014

Sunset last night, from my parent’s deck. Eagle River, Alaska.
Phall Photos 2014

A week from today I’ll be catching a ride home on another big metal bird. Yes, I’m 55 and still amazed that those things can carry us through the sky. Of course, the miracle of electricity still boggles my simple mind too. No, no, don’t try to explain them! I NEED every little miracle I can claim 🙂

Up and Down

So, I’m revving up to wind this visit down. It has been one of my best trips home (I always say this, because the present one IS always the best one!). The lists that mom and I make just grow longer, as my days here grow shorter. Sure, we got a lot done the last 2 months, but man, there’s still so much to do!

And Up and Down Once More

One way or another, I’m heading home on the 29th and am very excited to see my Centralia family; 2 adult children, 5 little grands, cousins, aunt and uncle. There are some special friends I’ve been missing too. And then there is my beach gypsy cave and secret garden awaiting my return to Westport. From social to solitary again. At last. The solitude lures me more every day, no matter the love and joy I receive in the presence of family and friends…

A Traveling Clan

Dad will be flying “home” to Kentucky to see his ailing sisters and brother for a few weeks, on October 1st. Four days after he returns to Alaska, mom will leave to spend the winter in Arizona with my youngest sister and her family. We should own Alaska Airlines by now. The sister that I have had the longest (not allowed to say “oldest sister”) and her husband spend the coldest winter months at their condo in Costa Rica. Some how, some way, I have plans on making it over there this year. A girl can dream 🙂

Swing over to http://phallphotos.wordpress.com/homer-alaska/ to see some slide shows from our trip to Homer, if you have a few minutes. No metal bird needed for this tour!

Traveling On,

Patti


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About My Book Reviews and Watchdogs: A Novel

I think I need to say something about my book reviews. There are many ways to write a book review and I choose to write a simply review that tells what I liked about a book. I don’t list every character or give a detailed summary of the book; that information is available on all the book sites. I try to give enough information to (hopefully) entice readers to read the book for themselves. So far, I haven’t reviewed books that I don’t like and can’t recommend. I rarely give 5 stars anymore. I decided to save 5 stars for books that are exceptionally well written, with few, if any typos. If my coffee goes cold and I can’t tear myself away to take a bathroom break; that’s 5 stars! 🙂

Watchdogs by Patricia Watts
Watchdogs: A Novel
by Patricia Watts

Read in September, 2014


Several things drew me to this novel and the author didn’t let me down on any of them. The main character, Julia, lives in Seattle and is on a sabbatical in Fairbanks, Alaska. I live in Washington and frequently visit my family in Alaska. The author captured Fairbanks perfectly and gave us a true taste of the beauty of rural Alaska.

Another talent the author has is the ability to juggle plots, sub-plots and hold the tension just tight enough to keep the reader turning the page. There is murder, suicide, and attempts on Julia’s life all the way to the end of the book.

I love Julia’s honesty, with herself and others. As a professor, she sets her students to the tough task of deciding where to draw the line with truth and journalism.

The romance was done well also, and didn’t overpower the rest of the story. I always enjoy characters who wrestle with real life moral and ethical questions, as Julia does. Truth, justice, and how they are balanced with topics of journalism and the media, make this book a winner for me.


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Over My Head Again?

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Alaska Visit: August 7-Sept 29, 2014

The days are slow and easy; no care-giving or worry about the physical or emotional pain of a loved one. Mom, dad and I have had a lot of practice living together in this tiny house over the last several years. We all have our own mini orbit and rotate around each other quite smoothly. That’s the slow and easy part of my story.

The crazy over-my-head part includes this art thing. Like her mother before her, my mother is a prolific visual artist. She dabbles in all sorts of painting media; oil, acrylic and water color. Grandma pushed her art even further and used charcoal and chalk also. She worked leather and embossed copper and had her own ceramics shop.

About 25 of Mom’s paintings will be hanging in a gallery/cafe in Eagle River during the month of September. She is a shy and humble artist and will not let me plan a meet and greet opening event. Meanwhile, guess who is framing these paintings? You got it, me.

I have never framed anything in my life, okay, besides a photo or two in a ready-made frame. I was over my head with the first painting. I’ve learned a lot as I moved on to the next and the next. I think I have about 16 finished. I’ll probably go back to the first few and re-do them.

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Mom continues to paint, so the tiny house is filled with framing materials, a large tote of finished work, mom’s easel and paints and brushes, and paintings leaning every which way, in various stages of completeness. Some are even drying out on the deck. Visitors and the three of us have a choice of one or two places to sit, if we are lucky.

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When will this madness end?! Ten more days, and we will take the whole lot to the gallery. I still have to write ads and make a template to label each painting.

The joy here is watching my mom work her talent. Grandma died in 1977, but she is all around; in the smells of paints, the materials all about, and in the similarity of their (mostly) Alaska painting scenes. I lived with my grandma for a month when I was about 14. Her home was filled with the same smells and art materials and inspiration. I’m as inspired and amazed by mom’s talent as I was of grandma’s.

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I’m still deciding whether I should thank or curse my sister who sent me the ticket to be part of this craziness. Maybe a little of both.

Over My Head In Alaska,

Patti

 


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March Mountains; Alaska to Washington, It’s Time

PHALL PHOTO 2014

Chugiak, Alaska PHALL PHOTO 2014

My one year bloggiversary is coming up on the 17th, and I will write a summary of my first blogging year on that day, but today’s post is about a completely different summary and adventure.

As most of you know, I’ve been living near the beach in Washington State for over four years, and I’ve been a widow almost five years. They have been some hard years, with too many losses of family, friends and pets. Among those losses (after my late husband’s death), I lost my sister, my little grandson, and my aunt. Just as I picked myself up off the floor from one loss, another death flattened me.

Yet I’ve also had some real joys these last few years; I reunited with a dear girlfriend and several family members. I have a new grandson. Both my nephews, and several other family members, have had babies. I’ve reveled in the healing atmosphere of my wild west coast beach, while I gained energy, balance and perspective in my solitary world (with the help of family and friends).

One thing I haven’t done, is make room (in my heart and head) for the possibility of becoming part of a couple again. Since you’ve been trailing along on my blog journey, you know that I’ve finally done that recently. Kevin and I were reunited on New Year’s Eve, about 38 years after our first and only date. He is my sister’s brother-in-law and the son of Mrs. M, who I broke out of the nursing home in Oregon this past November.

You may also recall that Kevin tried to catch me at the airport, before I left Alaska, all those years ago. He missed by 15 minutes. Now I’m ready to leave Alaska again (after caring for my folks for a couple of months) and Kevin will be waiting at the airport for me in Washington. He has been faithfully courting me long distance, with a romantic Youtube song every morning, and an hours-long phone call every evening. Do you really think there is any chance that we’ll miss our connection this time? Me neither.

PHALL PHOTO 2014

 Eagle River, Alaska PHALL PHOTO 2014

Every time I come to Alaska, I fall in love with the mountains. You’ve seen the photos. Of course, you’ve also seen my camera-love of the beach too. I can’t give up either, but tomorrow I will be moving from my parent’s home below the surrounding mountain ranges of Eagle River, Alaska, to Kevin’s home, nestled between Mount Rainier National Park to the north and Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument to the south, with the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in all directions.

Eagle River, Alaska PHALL PHOTO 2014

Eagle River, Alaska PHALL PHOTO 2014

My next post will be on my one year bloggiversary. I’ll also give you an update on the new views of mountains and maybe a few other things…

Happy March!

Patti

Eagle River, Alaska  PHALL PHOTO 2014

Eagle River, Alaska
PHALL PHOTO 2014