Wednesday, August 12, 2015

arctic sunset in Barrow, Alaska!

 as low as it goes.  the sun at this time of year just circles around you that far north.  we really didn't get the full effect of that due to the mostly foggy weather.  they  are again having the sun dip below the horizon now and at some point the sun will all but disappear for a few months.  not sure how i'd like that amount of darkness in the winter.  i think it is dusky looking for a few hours.
 i do remember seeing some movie in school when i was a kid about Barrow and being mesmerized by the light/dark stuff and just all that they were saying about this strange place in the north.  i recall also being excited on roadtrips when we would see license plates from Alaska.
 guess i was just destined to end up here.  thankfully, nothing got in the way of that dream.  dreams are often cast aside as life settles in.  hopes and dreams seem a silly thing when you are working or raising kids.  i'm sure my entire existence seems silly to some. i don't have kids so to some that is a thing to be pitied or i'm incredibly's usually the people who actually seem the least happy in their choices that seem to judge others.  guess they just wish you were as miserable as they are and so they find a way to believe you are, just to make themselves feel better.
 i find people who are happy with their lives and their choices even if you live totally different from them and contrary to their beliefs...if they are happy they can allow you to be who you are and not be judgemental.
 not really of the belief that i chose anything.  i often feel like my life has just taken a path and i was open to the path that was there.  big decisions came up, i thought them over and then i just relaxed and something just led me down this path or that path.  i ended up here.  i ended up a nurse, i ended up trying to help walrus on round island.
 sorry this one loaded sideways...sometimes i just leave it in. kinda liked it anyway.  above is a military installment.  i think they first came to be on the north slope when the Japanese invaded Hawaii and later Alaska (which was still a territory) later it was kept going due to  the cold war and our interest in Russia and it's activities .  seems like now we should be continuing to watch Russia.
 of course, if they take over Putin would no doubt find my blog disturbing and i would probably disappear, right?  does it still work like that over there?  these are from the drive our first night there.  Kathleen took us to all the tourist stuff and snapped pictures of us.  we all laughed a lot as well.
 i told her sister they needed one of these in Kaktovik but with a place for your butt and a big polar bear behind taking a bite. she liked that.
 the sun was out today and Rio really wanted to join us on the walk . we went to the dog park at University Lake.  slow but enjoyable.  Blossom got to swim and chase tennis balls and Rio got to get out and enjoy the day.  my friend was texting with me and she decided she wanted me to see if i could get that other baleen basket for her.  i called the guy and after waiting for him for like an hour...he is apparently on Barrow hurry.  i sat outside the mall on some grass with the dogs and chilled in the sunshine.
 doubt i would have been as patient if the weather hadn't been so nice.  i had thought of heading over to Portage Valley again to look for berries and walk but in the end i came home and chilled. i'd turned lazy by the evening.  deck time and book time.  have a few packages ready so i'll mail those off tomorrow
 this dog is out there year round. didn't see much dog walking out there.  some but not much. not many places to "hike" out there.
 the area by this beach is the site of some old settlements.  they showed us the old refrigeration system.  not sure it's used much of late, but i think it still is in some places for some things.  if you dig into the permafrost you can make a refrigerator down there.  they would store meat in there
 this dead seal washed up.  we went back the next morning but couldn't find it so perhaps it washed back out.  we kind of hoped a polar bear would come find polar bear sightings though.
 you would think the polar bears would be all over these neighborhoods with skins and bones and stuff laid all over.
 my favorite thing was to wander the various strange, dead stuff everywhere. it was so different and curious.  reminded me of just how different life is there.  the amazing thing is there is actually some money here, but their priorities are just different.  it's a life of survival still in many ways.
 Val and i got blessed with a bit of sun and a rainbow our first morning out there so we enjoyed having the rental and cruising around enjoying a bit of clear patches.
 it's strange how guilty i feel on days when i "waste" a sunny day.  you feel obligated in summers to be out doing a big hike or doing some other adventure.  i wasted a beautiful day and i felt a bit melancholy tonight. probably just the natural down that comes after you do fun stuff.  we are all a wee bit bipolar i'd guess.  we all have moments of highs and lows.  just that most of us have a lot more even keel days than the highs and lows whereas those with bipolar have many more high and low days and very few even keel days i guess.
 always amazing to me how quickly my brain can convince me of untrue things, which makes me feel badly for people who suffer chronically from depression.  must be difficult to fend off those negative thoughts day after day. i have a hard enough time fending them off for a day when they engulf me.
 you can see the opening to one of those storage places on the top of this hill. our new friends that were driving us around were telling us that the beaches are eroding more and more.  that their parents speak of being able to walk out a long ways on the beaches which now are going away.  she was also saying she once found a mukluk ( a boot) which was very old and it turned out to be a body that had been buried many,many generations before.  old grave sites are turning up as the erosion worsens.  i'd read about this on an island out in the Aleutians.  i think there is a cannery out there, which is seasonal, but you can find human bones on the beaches.  the island had a name that was related to the bones...can't remember right now.
 long beaches.  not as good of stuff found as i found in Nome.  also more wary.  a polar bear had been spotted the week before swimming along this beach.  we were told half jokingly to hold up a thumb and if we could still see the polar bear, we were too close.
 also heard beach walking was safer in the summers as you can generally see the polar bears against the sand.  in the winters the bears blend in.
 set up to order stickers. i always have a hard time spending any money for WARIS.  we don't have a lot, mostly it's used to cover expenses.  po box, web page and yes, stickers.  it's one way to spread the word...selling things with our logo and walrus on them.  i will need to get a consult on the web page to set up sales of products.  it's new so i have to get myself mentally prepared for the next step in WARIS.  we are getting more interest and we actually have international interest.  i get nervous, i feel i up to the task?  can i help the walrus?  isn't there someone better to do this?  what if?
 i remember as i was debating jumping in  i saw a quote.  it's written down somewhere but basically it was saying you take action when the fear of what will happen if you don't take action eclipses the fear of failing.  Round Island has needed a friends group for years.  i knew it and thought about it after both my visits.  Stephanie and i spoke about it on my second trip out there.  i did nothing at the time...
 i think we all hope that someone else will step up and take action.  none of us want to do the work or give up our time, maybe none of us feels capable, maybe we all feel insecure.  When i heard funding was being taken away and that the staff would be removed early in 2014 and not returned...i guess i reached that tipping point.  fear of doing nothing eclipsed my fear of failing.
 boosted myself up with such gems as, "i can't make the situation worse".  how i did things was questioned by some.  at some point you have to make decisions, those who feel like directing finally have to realize it's your decision to make.  they could have started this group but they didn't and you the end i had to just make decisions and follow my gut.  somethings went better than others.
 i still waffle on decisions and wanting to do the right thing for the walrus population and for the island.  i suspect i will still have moments of failure.  you learn that failure is just part of learning and you have to be brave enough to fail sometimes.  i'd say more of the decisions ended up being successes.  kickstarter...failure.  the petition...success! many phone calls and emails were wasted energy...the full page article in the Alaska Dispatch News...success!! you know you have made a difference when you piss off the right people.  all the photos i took turned out to be really helpful, i didn't have to worry about copyright laws or buying pictures. i could just donate my own stuff.
 my ability to write has helped as well.  some strongly worded letters, the petition was effective and the article as well.  i have a history of being stubborn and strong willed....being an advocate allowed those traits to be positive and not negatives .  oddly being a nurse made me a better advocate. we advocate for our patients all the time...we learn to speak up even when we are being made to feel small.
 the phone calls have always been tough. i don't feel calls are my best thing. i can be rather shy when dealing with new people.  i had to find ways to make that work better.  i came up with a page that i'd written lines and points on.  it was a reference when i felt stuck.  i still have to psych myself up a bit to tackle some phone calls.  face to face isn't always my best..speaking. i remember speaking at a caucus with the various state representatives.  i was nervous just signing up to speak.  in the wasn't about me it was about the walrus and i couldn't let them down because i was scared.
  we are all just humans, we all have our strengths and weaknesses.  some people just can fake it better than others..or maybe some are just super confident.  i've never had that...i've always been the one who lacked confidence.  i've also tended to be the one who could find that confidence when it came to fighting the battles for others.  taking care of others is what i do.  i often don't feel i deserve to be taken care of, or even loved for that matter, but i am one to fight for others. animals have always been good to me.  they for sure deserve to be protected and defended.
 no idea what the future will bring.  i have to remind myself that even though, yes, there are probably people who have more of a skill set to protect the walrus and Round Island...they didn't want to...whoever they are.  the walrus have me...and my friends who were brave enough to step up and help and become board members.  passion sometimes is enough to start...the rest, well you figure it out.
 sun on the satelites and a rainbow.
 i feel better.  rambling and walking are good things for me.
 this is the newer cemetary, started when they ran out of room in the old one.  digging graves in frozen ground is never easy and it's frozen year round...that is permafrost.  strange to me, frozen ground.  in the spring i'll go out and think i'll garden today but then you see that only an inch or two has thawed and you have to wait.
 so my day didn't start melancholy but it became a melancholy day.  reflecting is never a bad thing though.  eventually i recharge and go forward.
 eventually we all end up in the great beyond like these souls here have.  how were their lives?  were they happy?  did they make a difference?
 we all love, "it's a wonderful life" because it reminds us that we do all make a difference.  the world and the people around us are altered because of our existence.  we impact others that we have no idea we impact.  it's not all about recognition and grandness.  in life, it's most often the small things we do each day that make us great...and that greatness slips by unseen. kind anyway, fight those battles anyway, speak up, stand up.  you never know who you are helping with your words and your actions...but you are.  each of you in your own way.
 fall on the tundra...early August.  i'm starting to look forward to fall here.  the flowers are fading away.  everyone is out picking berries now...soon the mushrooms will be all over and then the fall will fly past.
 then comes winter...peace.  i will no longer feel obligated to be doing all the time. i will settle in and before i know it i'll be doing more with less stress.
 thanks for listening and for allowing me to ramble on.  it's how i clear my head..i ruminate.  i have 5 brains and all the stuff has to make its way through all 5 of them before it's expelled as wisdom and sense.
thankful for:  A. blogging and how it helps clear my head B.  friends, who like me no matter how crazy i feel i am C.  WARIS  nothing is about me...the world is bigger than i am and i am just trying to help in whatever way i can.  we all should, for me it's walrus i guess.  :-)

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