Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Friday, June 05, 2015

So our august legislators feel that since layoff notices went out on Monday to state employees, they have no deadline for passing a budget. Hmmm. At what point did they ever worry about deadlines? They blew past the time they should have been in session. They blew past the deadline for their first special session. And now they’ve blown past the deadline that would have avoided layoff notices. Yeah, I don’t think this group ever really gave a crap about any deadline. On the other hand, if closing state government because no budget was passed impacted their receiving their per diem checks on time, I bet we’d have a budget instantly.

Elise Patkotak • 03:36 AM •
Thursday, June 04, 2015

Anchorage in the summer likes to think of itself as a city of flowers. And it is. But it is also a city of sounds, sounds that we don’t hear in the winter because we close our doors and windows to the cold. But in the summer, we open those windows and the sounds of everyday life come rushing in.

Last night I lay in bed reading while outside I heard a train whistle, kids playing and yelling to each other, dogs barking, lawnmowers roaring, birds singing – compared to winter in my house, it was a cacophony of sounds. It brought me back to my childhood, to the days when not everyone had air conditioners but just about everyone had windows to open to the street. Our windows overlooked the main street in our neighborhood.
Watching TV in the summer involved a lot of “What did he say?” questions because the TV audio was drowned out by some mother calling her kids in, some guys heading to Victory Billiards, which will forever in my mind be Maratti’s Pool Hall, some girls heading up to the Boardwalk to catch the sunset and maybe the eye of some handsome young man. We couldn’t hear the TV but we heard the neighborhood.
My parents’ bedroom was in the front of our apartment making it prime territory for the sounds of the block. I wonder how they ever slept in the summer. You couldn’t close the windows or you suffocated. Atlantic City has a damp, oppressive heat that discourages all but the most desultory of movements unless you have air conditioning.  So I know they couldn’t close their windows. Maybe, given that they also grew up in an inner city neighborhood where life in the summer was lived outside on stoops and porches, they were so used to it that it ultimately became their generation’s white noise.
My brother and I slept in small side bedrooms, each with one window that opened on to a very small alley. How small? I could reach out the window and touch the wall of the building next door. Opening those windows did nothing to dissipate the heat and humidity. So we got window fans. I’m not sure that blowing hot air around was all that much of an improvement in cooling the room but it sure added a whole new level of sound as the fans whirred and clanked through the night.
Our homes are devoid of outside sounds in the winter here in Alaska, unless you live in the Bush where even the tightest seal on a window cannot drown out the snow machine revving past at 3 AM. Windows are closed and locked against the cold. Birds have gone south to find warmer places to spend our frigid months. While the sound of the occasional snow blower might intrude on our solitude, not much else does. Only on New Year’s Eve do the bangs and explosions of fireworks shatter the calm.
There is a sense of community that occurs when you live life outside on the sidewalks and front yards of your city. It’s a hard sense of community to maintain when the snow falls. Come spring, we all cautiously peek our heads out the door and survey our neighborhood, wondering who has come or gone during the long dark months. We reconnect with our yards and trees. We discover walking without cleats, four layers of clothes, two scarves around our necks and a hood drawn tight over our ears. We revel in the colors of flowers, the red of the raspberries and the white glare of the sun.
I suspect many of us live here because we love winter. I particularly love the silence that accompanies a big snow dump. It seems to quiet the world by blanketing it with white. But I also love the sounds of summer, when Alaska opens its windows and doors to the life outside our front porches.
Mostly I love the sound of that train whistle that brings me right back to my grandmother’s house off of Wayne Junction in Philadelphia. My cousin Toni and I are curled up together in her room listening to the train and wondering who was on it, where they were going and if someday we might also be on the train whistling in the night. Good memories.

Elise Patkotak • 03:10 AM •
Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Here’s how it works in my house. I wake up in the middle of the night to Snowy, the dog curled into my back, having hiccups. Every time he hiccups, his back bumps mine. I try to move away from him in order to get back to sleep. Every time I inch away, he inches in. And so we both lay awake waiting for the hiccups to end. Oh well, I needed a bathroom run anyhow.

Elise Patkotak • 01:53 PM •
Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Maybe the legislature always wanted government to shut down so they could save the money and thus balance the budget. Of course, the branch of government that issues their per diem would remain open.

Elise Patkotak • 03:13 AM •
Monday, June 01, 2015

Welcome to a brand new month with the promise of sunshine and fishing galore. And you’ll soon have lots of time to fish because we are such idiots we can’t even pass a state budget so you will be laid off. Hope the fishing is successful. It may be the only thing you have to feed your family with come July 1.

Elise Patkotak • 10:08 AM •
Sunday, May 31, 2015

Anyone who lives in Alaska and tries to deny global warming is both an idiot and a fool. You can argue all you want about why it’s happening… though even there the people arguing that humans are not responsible for a good deal of it have their heads up their asses… but you can’t deny it’s happening!

Elise Patkotak • 10:16 AM •
Saturday, May 30, 2015

More importantly, how much nice weather can an Alaskan stand before they start losing their mind? I don’t know about you, but I’m on the brink. C’mon wind, rain and cold.

Elise Patkotak • 03:00 AM •
Friday, May 29, 2015

Another conservative Republican lawmaker has been charged with a crime that includes covering up sexual abuse of another male years ago.
I’m shocked, I tell you. Shocked!
I wonder if he has a wide stance in the bathroom too?

Elise Patkotak • 02:59 PM •

I ordered a mailbox from the lower 48 because I wanted a bird box. You can imagine how thrilled I was to get a deal with free shipping. Free shipping, that is, until I got this e-mail from the company. And do take note of how much they want to charge to ship a mailbox to Alaska!
“We can only offer free shipping on items shipped within the continental US.  An additional shipping cost of $111.00 is necessary to ship the Parrot Novelty Mailbox to your location.  Please note the shipping costs are transit costs only; payment of additional duties, taxes, or customs fee may be required upon delivery of your order.  Please get back to us with consent to process the charge or an agreement to cancel the order.
Thank you.
Lupe Barragan
The Mailbox Works
1734 Quincy Avenue, Suite 151, Naperville, IL 60540
Toll Free: 800.824.9985 | Local: 630.355.9989 | Fax: 630.355.9619
http://www.mailboxworks.com”

This was my response.
Thank you for your note but I’m a bit confused. If you offer free shipping within the continental USA, then why is it not available to me? What continent do you think Alaska is on? Believe it or not, we share the same continent as the rest of the country except for Hawaii so I expect that my shipping costs will be the same as everywhere else in the continental US.
Elise Patkotak

Can’t wait to hear back from them.

Elise Patkotak • 03:02 AM •
Thursday, May 28, 2015

Between trying to destroy our public schools by underfunding them, refusing an expansion of Medicaid that would help children throughout the state, and now trying to twist Erin’s Law so that it becomes nothing more than a bastardization of its original intent, I have to wonder just how much our current legislators really hate children. Or maybe they owe so much to their money overlords that they are not allowed to provide for children if it comes out of the pockets of the people who pay to get them into office.

I’m not sure how we elected a group of legislators who apparently have no concept of the reality of child sexual abuse and the fact that most abuse happens in the home with people the children know. To allow an opt out clause on this law simply means that the sexually abusing dad can keep abusing and keep his child from ever learning that childhood should not be a horrible nightmare.
How horrible, you ask? Let me give you an example. I sat in a courtroom once and listened to a man being sentenced on 10 counts of first-degree child sexual assault and 3 counts of second-degree child sexual assault. In testimony during the trial, we heard how the abuser took a child’s virginity while she screamed in the bedroom. The child was five. After that, she didn’t scream so much because you can only lose your virginity once.
That child’s abuse lasted a long time. It only ended when she finally found the words to tell her mother and her mother did the right thing and protected her daughter. It wasn’t easy for the mom and it was horrible for the child. But they got through it and as I sat in that courtroom waiting for the sentencing, I remember thinking that finally they would get some peace of mind and closure. That thinking lasted until I heard the judge hand down the mandatory sentence of seven years for first-degree child sexual assault and then add two weeks for each additional count except for the count pertaining to this child’s loss of virginity. For that the abuser was given an additional six weeks. The child, meanwhile, will serve a sentence of life because we can never give her back her innocence.
It’s possible that Erin’s Law might have given this child the ability to express herself earlier, might have given her the words to tell a trusted adult what was happening, might have stopped the abuse so that it didn’t color all her childhood memories. But she didn’t have what Erin’s Law could have given her. She didn’t have the words and she didn’t know she had the right to make it stop. And that meant suffering abuse for way too long.
So why the cretins in our legislature are having such a problem passing this law is beyond my comprehension. Why would you not want to protect children from this horror? Why would you not want them given the ability to express themselves from the earliest possible age if someone is hurting them? Why would you need more than ten seconds to bring this to a vote and pass it? 
And please spare me that tired old argument about not wanting Planned Parenthood in the school or near your child. They are not there to sell abortions, which, if you listen to some in this misbegotten group of legislators, would seem to be their only concept of what Planned Parenthood does. In actual fact, Planned Parenthood has the staff, skills and ability to provide an age appropriate curriculum in the schools that will help our children find their voice if they are being harmed.
The fact that when I was growing up child sexual abuse was never discussed or mentioned doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening. The fact that these programs weren’t offered when some of us went to school doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be offered now. Objecting to this law isn’t a Christian thing and it isn’t a conservative thing and it isn’t a government interfering with a family thing.  In fact, the only people I can imagine truly objecting to this law are people who have the kind of secrets in their family that destroy a child’s mental, physical and emotional health. And they really aren’t the ones who should be having the last word on this law.

Elise Patkotak • 03:30 AM •
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

I remember when I was young and watching Sandra Dee and Annette Funicello movies (everyone under sixty will just need to look up that reference), I dreamed of the day when two guys would fight over me to win my affection. It never happened. But now in my old age, at a time when I really don’t need this crap, I wake up at 3 AM to the sounds of soft growling in my ears. One dog is laying practically on my head. The other is curled up into my side. And yet, without moving, without shifting position, without even actually being able to see each other, they lay there growling at each other over me.
Finally, two males who want me only for themselves.
This would be so much more flattering if their desire wasn’t based on the food, treats, stuffed animals and walks I give them. Hmmm.... maybe that’s what I should have tried with their human counterparts…

Elise Patkotak • 03:32 AM •
Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This is a four minute video on how the re-introduction of wolves into a national park changed everything… for the better. Take a break and watch it because every once in a while, it’s good to be reminded of our interconnected everything on this earth is.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/ysa5OBhXz-Q

Elise Patkotak • 03:39 AM •
Monday, May 25, 2015

The saddest thing about this Memorial Day for me is that so many of the young generation have been maimed and hurt in a war in Iraq that was as unnecessary as the one in Viet Nam. Will we never learn? When the drums of patriotism are beat, will we always just cave in for fear of being seen as unAmerican, even when we know in our hearts that the war is wrong? So many wounded and damaged. So much money for war. So little money to heal those we send off to war.
I salute our veterans for doing their jobs as best they could. I point a finger of shame at the old men who sent them across the world to be blown up for no good reason.

Elise Patkotak • 03:45 AM •
Sunday, May 24, 2015

That lingering smell of vomit under the dinner table from your dog’s foray into god knows what in the back yard just as people are coming over for a meal.

Elise Patkotak • 04:43 PM •
Saturday, May 23, 2015

I’m in my office working away when I hear sounds that indicate one of my dogs is choking to death. So I go into SuperMomma mode, jump up from my desk and run upstairs. There I find Carm with his newest toy (thanks Auntie Sonya) stuffed so firmly in his mouth that it is blocking his nose and he can’t breathe. But because Snowy is sitting right in front of him waiting for the toy to drop, Carm would clearly rather suffocate than give it up. I would have taken a picture had I not been laughing so hard. I grabbed the toy out of his mouth as he looked to be about to pass out and pointed out to him and Snowy that Auntie Sonya had sent EACH of them a toy and they didn’t have to compete for the one. They were totally unimpressed. The only toy worth having is clearly the toy the other dog has.

Elise Patkotak • 03:40 AM •

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