Another Year On

Latest number one dislike: Web sites where videos begin automatically. There is no punishment too cruel for these site designers. If I want to know about the latest product to improve my colon health I’ll click the damn play button, okay? Mark my words, no self starting videos will ever – Ever! – appear here at Rod’s Alter Ego.

Hello! Welcome to the unfolding narrative of our daily lives. We have a house guest. Our friend, Mel, a traveling nurse of sorts, is here for several months to work at the radiation clinic where she used to work when she and her husband lived in Anchorage before moving to the southern most reach of New Mexico. A place we understand is so quiet at night you can hear a gecko yawn. Until Mel finds a place to rent she’s welcome to stay with us, being she’s quiet as a church mouse. You might be thinking, hey, lucky man, alone in the house with two nurses – RAWRrrrr. I assure you, those days are behind me. I mean the very idea I might one day come downstairs to find these two dressed in sheer white stockings, matching garters and sky-high white stiletto heels, playfully sparring like two kittens with their stethoscopes over who’ll be the first to listen to my heart, well…where was I, right, anyway, fuggedaboutit.

The earthquake a couple weeks ago turned the water at our Nest pooh brown. When the ground shakes that hard the rust on the well casing falls into the well. This is the second time this has happened since we bought the place over three years ago. It’s not a big deal, we open a faucet or two in the house and let it run, a couple hundred gallons or so and the problem resolves. Problem is, if you use the hot water before the water runs clear, as I mistakenly did, then certain filters and orifices in the on-demand water heater become clogged. Oh no, Maintenance. Wouldn’t you know it the heater was installed in a mechanical closet, the keyword being “closet,”  thus preventing ease of access by a six foot tall, one hundred ninety-five pound aging white male (did I mention I turned 56 a week ago today?). Imagine replacing the light bulb in your oven while jammed inside it. Worse, imagine you’re the Tin Man sans his oil can. Worse yet, the filter is at the back of the unit. Houdini couldn’t contort like I had to.

After maintenance was complete (sort of anyway – the hot water pressure is still not what it used to be meaning at least one more trip into the “closet” for me) Happy Wife, the dog and I walked to Tonsina Point. A glorious winter day, if you want to call this winter that is. Near forty degrees and still virtually snow free at sea level.

(One click remember makes most pics bigger).

After the river, we usually walk through a woods to access the beach proper. To stop and look up is to see the tops of hundred year old trees (Western Hemlock?) with their curious little moss-laden appendages sticking out

When we reach the beach all is peaceful. One earthquake in the right place though can turn this basin (Resurrection Bay) into a killer. The water drops off quickly to >160 fathoms (~1000′) in the center of the Bay. Get it shakin’ just right and it’s like a washing machine out there, sloshing against the mountains and drowning the lowlands (i.e. Seward)

We don’t dwell on that, but we’re aware of it. If we run for high ground the dog’s sure to follow us, so no worries there. And run we would, like a few weeks ago when we were down here and the 7.1 struck. At 1:30 am no less. It was dark then so it’s not like we could just step outside our bedroom door onto the porch to see if the water was retreating (the usual precursor of a tsunami). By which time it may have already been too late, again, depending on where and how big the quake was, as well as certain features of geology and geography. Happy Wife’s quick thinking is what would have saved us. She knew instinctively there was no time for analysis. Although in seconds I was on my phone surfing to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center, which posts information on quakes within like 30 seconds after they occur. By the time I discovered the quake occurred in Cook Inlet I was still in my clown pants wiping sleep dirt from my eyes while she was already dressed and frantic to leave, “We’re Going, NOW.” The city of Seward installed an early warning system for tsunamis a few years ago. But that night the sirens were silent. But what if the system failed for some reason? When your panicked all these things race through your mind.

Eventually we were grateful we were safe and went back to bed. The earthquake info site posted a 4.0 aftershock at ~ 4 am but we didn’t feel it. We drove back to Anchorage the following day and discovered all the drawers in our dressers and desks were wide open. A few things had fallen to the floor but nothing too serious. Remarkable, really, given how strongly the quake was felt in Anchorage according to friends and neighbors. Certain stores had shelves and/or cabinets collapse and fall, strewing merchandise all over the floor.

And so I survived to see another birthday. Happy Wife was in the mood to treat me to a night out, wherever I wanted to go. Sometimes she wonders if now that we’re in our fifties it’s still age-appropriate to put on the glam for a date night. “Dear,” I reassure her, “too soon the day will come when our hair has gone gray, our faces soft and fallen, our shoes have Velcro closures and all we have left is each other and the wisdom of elders.”

You’re right, she says, make me a drink while I go get ready

Be still my heart.