Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Friday, December 27, 2002

When I think of politicians in general, I think of lemmings all heading mindlessly over the cliff because that’s what the ones in front are doing.  Many politicians nowadays shy away from taking a stand on principle that will cause them to break away from the pack. They don’t lead the people they represent to a hopefully higher plane of thought and aspiration. Instead, they wait for the latest poll to come in and then cater to the lowest possible denominator. 

That’s why someone like Lisa Murkowski is such a breath of fresh air.  She actually seems to have principles that guide her actions.  She is willing to vote her conscience.  But what awes me most of all is that she is willing to break from her father and make her own choices even when these conflict with his.
Maybe that’s why I find all this talk of the horror of the governor appointing his own daughter to his senate seat a bit disturbing.  It’s not as though he placed his brother, an attorney who had never actually practiced law or tried a case, into the position of United States Attorney General. Lisa may not be the most experienced politician or the most dynamic leader in this state. But she has stood up for her beliefs against some pretty persuasive people, like her dad, and stood strong. 
Now any of us who had fathers we adored, fathers who were strong men and influences in our lives, know how hard that can be to do in private, let alone in public.  I was always happy that my mom was the one I had the arguments and confrontations with as a rebellious youth. I was glad they never figured out that if dad had weighed in on the arguments I would have been lost. So the fact that Lisa Murkowski can publicly and with all respect to her father forge her own path in making decisions as a legislator is rather awesome to me.  At a minimum, she has proven she is no one’s puppet.
I wasn’t surprised when the governor selected her as his successor. In a fair world where the decision to be made was made based on merits alone, and where the choices came from a list of candidates that represented the governor’s party only, Lisa certainly could hold her own when comparisons were made. Would she have been at the top if the governor’s list has included Democrats, Independents and Greenies?  I can’t say for sure because I don’t know who all would have been on that list. But I do believe that no matter how many names there were, she would have been somewhere in the top.
I guess I should make it clear that I am not a Republican or Democrat. I am an independent with a small i.  Over 35 years of voting in municipal, state and national elections, I have found myself much more comfortable choosing the candidate based on what they stood for rather than the party they represented. In actual fact, this has probably meant I have voted for more Democrats than Republicans, more Republicans than Greens and more Greens than Independents.  But I’ve never been one who liked being boxed into some sort of knee jerk reaction vote based on the initial after the candidate’s name on the ballot. Lisa Murkowski’s willingness to reach out across party lines when that was what she felt was in the best interest of this state is exactly why I like to keep my options open. No one party has the monopoly on good candidates.
The governor’s appointment is only for two years.  After that Lisa will face an election she will have to win on her own merit.  I can’t believe her father’s love for her blinded him to this fact. And knowing this, I can’t believe he would not have selected someone he thought could do the job now and run a credible campaign that will keep the seat within his party. 
And if he’s wrong and Lisa can’t measure up, Alaskans will have their opportunity to make a change then.  For now, I’m happy that the governor did not let his relationship with Lisa cause him to eliminate her for fear of bad publicity. He chose a good person to fill his position in Washington.  She now has two years to prove to us she deserves it on her own. I’m betting she’ll succeed.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:48 PM •
Thursday, December 19, 2002

Going east to visit my family is always a fun moment.  Coming home to three birds and a dog who feel they have been sorely tried by my absence is not so much fun.

I was away for three weeks this go round and I believe they all felt that I had stayed one day too long at the fair.  My dog Mr. T expressed his feelings by sitting on the carpet outside my bedroom and howling and barking till 1 AM.  Mind you, the door to my bedroom was open. He could have come in if he wanted.  I’d even offered to lift him up on my bed and let him sleep there for one night. This apparently is not as much of a treat as it used to be now that I actually snore louder than he does.  Mr. T doesn’t like to be second best at anything.
It’s not that he didn’t have a good caretaker while I was gone.  My house sitter walked him, gave him his treats and was very kind to him. What apparently was missing was any subservience on the part of my house sitter that would indicate to Mr. T that the sitter understood Mr. T’s position in the pantheon of gods and kings.
My birds reacted somewhat better. I got a whole week of love and cuddles from my African Gray Abdul before he bit me. He had to be sure I was really back and going to stay for awhile before he felt it appropriate to give me a nip that told me of his anger at my absence. The other two birds, Captain and CB, after a first brief flurry of joy that they couldn’t quite suppress, turned a cold shoulder to me to let me know that they would disdain any and all feeble attempts on my part to make up for my thoughtless departure from their life.
Of course, they are pretty easy compared to Abdul and Mr. T.  I only had to make an offer of their favorite treat - and who can resist the seeds of the pomegranate so red and juicy and ready to be flung to the four walls that constitute my living room - and I was immediately their best friend again. Or, I was for so long as I held those seeds in my hand.
I guess in this season of joy over miracles of love and faith, I should pause to give thanks to the many house sitters who have come into my life for the past thirty years. Some were friends lending a hand, some were strangers who did it for a living, some were co-workers in crowded apartments who were happy to have the break of a house for a month. 
It hasn’t always been easy for the house sitters. Dogs have run away and had to be chased and found, birds have laid eggs and stopped eating suddenly. Each time I left my little family I would be nervous that the house sitter would not understand how special their little charges were and how wonderful they needed to be treated. And each time I came back to find that my animals had made another conquest and stolen yet another heart.
Even those who had never been around big birds before seemed to melt at the insistence of Abdul when he would persistently call out for hours at a time, “I love you. I love you all. Give me a kiss”, followed by a big wet sucking sound.  Or when he would hang upside down from his cage describing figure eights with his body while dancing rock and roll rhythm to the classical music channel I told the sitters to leave on for them.
As this season of thanks for our many blessings reaches its peak this year, I think it’s time that all of us who are pet owners send out a silent prayer of thanks to the army of house sitters who have come into our lives at one time or another and acted as surrogate parents to the pets we love so well.  They have cleaned birdcages, scooped poop, chased escape artists up roads and down alleys and still managed to give love and affection to their little charges.
I know there are probably some people reading this who have not always had positive experiences with house sitters.  But there are a whole lot more who could never have taken a vacation were it not for the security they felt in leaving their animals with someone who was kind, caring and understood that a day that did not start with a turkey dog cut up to just the right size, was a day without light or meaning.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:43 PM •
Saturday, December 14, 2002

Thank god winter finally arrived here. I’ve been on the East Coast for three weeks and it was getting downright embarrassing to answer people’s questions about the weather in Anchorage. As the northwest endured snowstorms and ice storms, Anchorage basked in 50-degree weather.  People were starting to look at me funny and muttering about how I brought it all down from Alaska with me.

Just the threat of a snowstorm caused my sister to check us out of a perfectly lovely casino in Connecticut called Foxwoods - where we had free accommodations thanks to friends in high places - a day early and drive back to Atlantic City at 3 AM to avoid the possibility of a snow flake hitting her car.
It’s not that East Coasters don’t like snow per se as much as they have simply not got a clue on how to handle it once you get south of New England.  Panic seems to be the first mode of response. Schools and businesses are closed before the snow starts to fall. A winter storm watch concerning accumulations of 3 to 6 inches virtually paralyzed the urban corridor running from New York City to Washington DC. 
It was especially embarrassing to watch the response in Atlantic City. Being on the ocean, snow rarely gets a chance to stay for longer than a few hours.  Soon the salty air and the inevitable rain wipe away all traces of white and leave in its place that lovely substance known as slush.  It’s wet, it’s cold, it has no socially redeeming value and it was everywhere that snow should have been.  Nonetheless, all schools in the general vicinity had been cancelled the night before the snow fell on the off chance it might stick around for ten minutes.  I knew the schools were cancelled because all the teachers and students could be found that day Christmas shopping at the mall.  I guess if the slush outside doesn’t make for good snowman building, Christmas shopping is the next best way to spend a snow day.
As the temperatures kept plunging back east, I kept checking on Anchorage weather. I felt as though I was Alice and had fallen through the looking glass.  Atlantic City’s high temperature on more than one day was lower than Anchorage’s low temperature for the same day. Clearly something was wrong with the universe.
Then I got back to Alaska and found the winter wonderland it’s supposed to be. The snow had finally fallen, the trees hung heavy with their burden of white, the streets were a mess and my favorite drivers were back.  You know them. The ones who come zooming up behind everyone because it is their god given right to speed no matter what the road conditions are so that they can get home in time to rev up the old snow machine.  These lovely people weave in and out of traffic, climb up the read end of any car that dares to block their way and give a whole new meaning to the phrase defensive driving.
Snow has the opposite affect on East Coast urban drivers despite the fact that most of them are driving SUVs that could plough through the Brooks Range. Those that actually creep out on to the road drive very, very slowly.  I would venture to guess that if they drove on an Alaskan highway at that speed, even if we were in the middle of a major blizzard, someone would probably shoot their tires out just to put them out of their misery.
I’m glad to be back home where people know that snow on the road is not an impediment but a challenge to their driving skills.  I’m glad to be back to highways that continue to run at 65 mph no matter what the visibility or road conditions.  Because that ‘s what makes us Alaskans, doesn’t it?  Our total disdain and disregard for anything that nature may throw our way is proof that we have learned to live with nature on her terms. 
Now if you’ll just excuse me for a moment.  I have to clean up that puddle in my car caused by the last Alaskan driver who came zooming up, weaving in and out of traffic, squeezing into a non-existent space in front of my car before squeezing into a non-existent space in the other lane while the snow fell and visibility was at zero.  Alaskan driving in winter - not for the fainthearted or weak bladdered.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 08:05 PM •
Saturday, November 30, 2002

What is it about a karaoke machine?  When you turn one on, normally quiet, dignified people suddenly act as though they are in the privacy of their own shower and start emoting like Little Richard on acid.  I think a survey of any karaoke bar would quickly show that most people should barely be allowed to sing at all, let alone in public.  Carrying a tune, it turns out, is a lot harder than it looks. Hitting the right notes is, for some of us, downright impossible.

I can still remember the days of my choir singing at St. Michael’s, my childhood parish.  I was nothing if not an enthusiastic singer. And considering that the choir was all girls, we had to make a pretty loud noise to fill that big church. (I have no idea why boys didn’t sing in the choir unless the nuns just viewed it as another chance for too much boy-girl interaction.)
Well, tmaking a loud noise while singing was right up my alley.  I think that phrase probably describes my singing better than any other I have heard used by people talking to me about why I shouldn’t bank on a career in musical theater.  So when Sister frantically motioned with her arms for us to be louder to drown out the gigantic organ next to us, I obliged at the top of my voice.  It was usually about then that Sister would look at me directly and, with a not so subtle motion of her hands, indicate that perhaps I should sing quieter.  And quieter.  And quieter.  Till, when I was basically mouthing the words, she would smile her approval that I’d reached the level she desired.
Many, many years later in Barrow, I made a dear friend in a man named Richard who had an extensive background in musical theater - which just goes to prove once again that the Alaskan bush is a pretty amazing amalgam of people.  He was working with some other friends of mine to get a community theater started there. I explained that I would be happy to help in any way I could except for singing.  Richard - a kind and dear soul - insisted that everyone could sing if they just had a little confidence and didn’t try to sound like Pavarotti on their first try. I tried to explain the church choir experience to him, as well as the many subsequent moments where I found myself singing merrily along with the radio in the car only to be brought up short by the dead silence and shocked expressions on my passengers’ faces. He would have none of that.  He told me to sing a simple song. I did and his face took on a rather pained expression. Then he told me to just try to hum or keep a beat. He threw out random notes and asked me to repeat them. The pained expression grew.  Finally, in what I knew was for him a very difficult admission, he looked at me and told me that I was the first person he ever met who had the exact opposite of perfect pitch. 
Having lived through my grade school choir experience, this news did not devastate me. I just felt bad for Richard since he seemed so sure he could teach someone he loved how to do something he loved so much. I feared I might have scarred him.
Given this background, you can understand my feelings of relief when I found out that a family 50th birthday party I had missed had included a karaoke machine.  After Thanksgiving dinner, we sat down and watched a tape of the party.  And there stood my cousin Joe, a paragon of conservative rectitude that makes Ronald Reagan look a little too much to the left, belting out I Got You Babe with a bunch of other cousins who were all in various stages of a good six hour party. And he was awful. Just awful.  I actually could say I found someone who was worse than me when it came to carrying a tune.  He sang every note he could think of, though never in the right place at the right time.
But when he stood there singing My Way, the Italian American anthem, and everyone else dropped out before the final chorus, and he brought it home all alone - just him and that karaoke machine - I knew that beneath his pressed underwear and monogrammed T-shirts, there beat the heart of a man I truly loved.  A man who sang worse than me. 
Which just goes to prove that karaoke machines should be licensed and regulated for the protection of all of us who sing loudly and with feeling, sure we sound exactly like Sinatra, when in fact we are creating recorded evidence that will be used against us when our children are checking out nursing homes.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:47 PM •

What is it about a karaoke machine?  When you turn one on, normally quiet, dignified people suddenly act as though they are in the privacy of their own shower and start emoting like Little Richard on acid.  I think a survey of any karaoke bar would quickly show that most people should barely be allowed to sing at all, let alone in public.  Carrying a tune, it turns out, is a lot harder than it looks. Hitting the right notes is, for some of us, downright impossible.

I can still remember the days of my choir singing at St. Michael’s, my childhood parish.  I was nothing if not an enthusiastic singer. And considering that the choir was all girls, we had to make a pretty loud noise to fill that big church. (I have no idea why boys didn’t sing in the choir unless the nuns just viewed it as another chance for too much boy-girl interaction.)
Well, tmaking a loud noise while singing was right up my alley.  I think that phrase probably describes my singing better than any other I have heard used by people talking to me about why I shouldn’t bank on a career in musical theater.  So when Sister frantically motioned with her arms for us to be louder to drown out the gigantic organ next to us, I obliged at the top of my voice.  It was usually about then that Sister would look at me directly and, with a not so subtle motion of her hands, indicate that perhaps I should sing quieter.  And quieter.  And quieter.  Till, when I was basically mouthing the words, she would smile her approval that I’d reached the level she desired.
Many, many years later in Barrow, I made a dear friend in a man named Richard who had an extensive background in musical theater - which just goes to prove once again that the Alaskan bush is a pretty amazing amalgam of people.  He was working with some other friends of mine to get a community theater started there. I explained that I would be happy to help in any way I could except for singing.  Richard - a kind and dear soul - insisted that everyone could sing if they just had a little confidence and didn’t try to sound like Pavarotti on their first try. I tried to explain the church choir experience to him, as well as the many subsequent moments where I found myself singing merrily along with the radio in the car only to be brought up short by the dead silence and shocked expressions on my passengers’ faces. He would have none of that.  He told me to sing a simple song. I did and his face took on a rather pained expression. Then he told me to just try to hum or keep a beat. He threw out random notes and asked me to repeat them. The pained expression grew.  Finally, in what I knew was for him a very difficult admission, he looked at me and told me that I was the first person he ever met who had the exact opposite of perfect pitch. 
Having lived through my grade school choir experience, this news did not devastate me. I just felt bad for Richard since he seemed so sure he could teach someone he loved how to do something he loved so much. I feared I might have scarred him.
Given this background, you can understand my feelings of relief when I found out that a family 50th birthday party I had missed had included a karaoke machine.  After Thanksgiving dinner, we sat down and watched a tape of the party.  And there stood my cousin Joe, a paragon of conservative rectitude that makes Ronald Reagan look a little too much to the left, belting out I Got You Babe with a bunch of other cousins who were all in various stages of a good six hour party. And he was awful. Just awful.  I actually could say I found someone who was worse than me when it came to carrying a tune.  He sang every note he could think of, though never in the right place at the right time.
But when he stood there singing My Way, the Italian American anthem, and everyone else dropped out before the final chorus, and he brought it home all alone - just him and that karaoke machine - I knew that beneath his pressed underwear and monogrammed T-shirts, there beat the heart of a man I truly loved.  A man who sang worse than me. 
Which just goes to prove that karaoke machines should be licensed and regulated for the protection of all of us who sing loudly and with feeling, sure we sound exactly like Sinatra, when in fact we are creating recorded evidence that will be used against us when our children are checking out nursing homes.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:47 PM •
Saturday, November 09, 2002

I am a rabid animal lover.  Since I bought my first parrot in a department store in Brooklyn in 1970 till now, my life has never been without pets.  I lavish love, care and attention on them out of all proportion to what rational human beings think of as normal.  Which makes it twice as puzzling to figure out why I once let my dog wander around my house with a broken leg for over a week before I figured she wasn’t just being lazy and something might really be wrong.

In my defense, let me say that anyone who knew Lovey knew that her activity on any given day was such that it was questionable whether you would ever actually catch her moving.  Given a good blizzard in Barrow, she would avoid going out for 24 hours unless I forcefully dragged her out the door and refused to go back in till she had performed some level of bodily function.  After one of those sojourns, she would sulk for weeks at my meanness.  Only the dutiful application of fresh meat and treats to her dog dish brought her around to where she would admit to liking me again.
Lovey got her revenge on me after I finally took her to the vet because she had started traveling around the house on her butt with her back leg in the air. Even for Lovey, that was strange behavior.  Usually she would stand for at least the amount of time it took her to get to the next napping spot or food dish.
After her leg was set, the vet informed me that I would have to help her perform her daily ablutions by slinging a towel under her belly and supporting her since she couldn’t support herself with the cast on.  I swear that dog grinned every time I took her out the whole time the cast was on.
This year, one of my parrots started throwing up consistently and voluminously.  I had read about this behavior in my avian self-help books.  The parrot had made me his mate and was trying to feed me and show me what a good provider he was.  Using that theory, I watched the vomiting progress for weeks with just a shake of my head and a sly grin at how much we had both grown to love each other - even if I chose to express my love in a less messy manner.
Once again, considering the level of animal lover I am, I can only shake my head in retrospect at how long it took me to figure out that maybe this wasn’t all that normal and maybe the bird should go see a doctor.  I carried Morris to the vet expecting to be told that he was fine except for being a little too much in love with me.  I was wrong.  Poor little Morris had cancer everywhere. And there isn’t much they can do for that in birds.
People who aren’t owned by a bird frequently can’t comprehend just how tight a bond you can form with one.  When you are dealing with larger birds like parrots and cockatoos, you are dealing with extremely intelligent and sensitive creatures who can read you like a book after only a very short time in your home. I can fool my dog a thousand times with the same trick to get him to come in when he’s barking in the yard.  He never catches on. He blindly believes and follows. 
Not so with my birds. If they are out of the cage and I want them in the cage because it’s time for bed or I have to go out, I either have control and can get them in or I am plain out of luck.  The trick of putting a treat in their cage may work once or twice, but by the third time they are looking at me as if to say, “You’ve got to be kidding if you think I’m falling for that again”.
I had to finally put Morris to sleep after nine months of doing everything I could to make his life as comfortable as possible while the cancer gained ground. The day I came home from the vet without Morris, I spent some time with my other birds explaining what had happened. They listened intently. Then one of them, Captain, walked over to where my hand was resting on the perch, took my finger gently in his mouth and held it with his foot.  He watched me as I spoke and comforted me in the best way he could.
It’s like I said, until you’ve been owned by a bird, you can never truly understand just how caring they are to their flock. As for Morris, if you look up in the sky and see a brief flitting shadow across the clouds, know it is Morris flying free of pain, exhilarating in the freedom of his spirit.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:50 PM •
Friday, November 08, 2002

As always with the really important news, the news that will actually affect your life, it was buried on the third or fourth page in a small paragraph of a small article. The story detailed the attempt by the US Army to create a peanut butter and jelly pocket sandwich that will last without refrigeration for at least three years - every child’s dream come true.  Here’s what a gentleman named Jerry Darsch, who directs the Defense Department’s feeding program, had to say.

“Darsch said his sandwiches are designed to be as resilient as the troops they feed. ‘This bad boy will last a minimum of three years at 80 degrees, six months at 100 degrees.  They will travel to the swampiest swamp, the highest mountain and the most arid desert.’”
I don’t know about you but I’m already salivating.  In fact, if the military had any sense, they would use these sandwiches as part of their recruitment campaign. What good old-fashioned American boy or girl could resist. A PBNJ sandwich that lasts a lifetime. The gift that keeps on giving. The meal that will never die. 
And best of all, it’s called a pocket sandwich which means you must be able to slip that bad boy right into your pocket in the morning, slog through swamps all afternoon, wipe swamp muck off it in the evening and enjoy the tantalizing taste of a sandwich with so many preservatives it makes mummies look lax.
I personally grew up on PBNJ sandwiches, much to the disgust and dismay of my father and - most especially - my grandpop.  My mother was just as happy to have us eat something we could make ourselves without her supervision. I was thrilled at the excuse to eat Wonder Bread instead of that fresh baked crusty Italian stuff my father insisted be on the family table.  I loved trying to spread the hard peanut butter, watching the bread stretch but, if you were very careful, never quite break.
My grandpop’s problem with PBNJ sandwiches went deeper than what he saw as my acculturation into a sterile American world through the constant ingestion of stretchy white bread.  He worked at a factory that made originally made crackers and eventually made peanut butter crackers.  Somewhere along the line, he apparently became convinced that peanut butter was nothing more than vats filled with worms. For all I know, there may have been worms in the vats of peanut butter used for the factory.  He worked there, after all, in the early years of the 20th century and food was not built to last three years with no discernible effects.
It became a game of cat and mouse after he and nonna moved in with us. My brother and I would run home from school at lunch and try to make and eat our sandwiches in time to 1. go back out to play before lunchtime ended and 2.  avoid running into either of our grandparents while we were making and eating our PBNJ. If they caught us, we would be forced to listen to the worm story again while nonna disposed of the sandwiches we had so lovingly made and made us something absolutely yucky like a salami and roasted red pepper sandwich on crusted, hot Italian bread.  Oh the horrors my brother and I suffered as children!
And now the US Defense Department has solved our problem.  PBNJ sandwiches that we could have stuffed in our pockets and carried for upwards of three years without anyone catching on.  It’s too late for me, I fear. The wonder of Wonder Bread is as long gone as my childhood.  No matter how I try, I can no longer pull up the same level of excitement as I once did at it’s amazing ability to stretch like silly putty if you just put the right pressure in the right place. And peanut butter no longer has the consistency of cement unless you leave it in your refrigerator for months.  It’s a wimpy substitute for the stuff we used to pry out of jars and attempt to smear on bread and crackers.
However, I am planning to ask that they put some of those military sandwiches aside for me after I die in the off chance cryogenics really works and they can bring me back in some future century healthy, young and beautiful. It will just make the whole event twice as nice to know there will be a PBNJ sandwich waiting for me when I awaken.  And I have no doubt it will taste as fresh then as it did the day I died.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 07:53 PM •
Saturday, November 02, 2002

Some people are lucky in love. Some people aren’t. Some people have their romantic fantasies come true.  Others of us watch it on the screen or read about it in books and know it will never happen to us.

Do I really have to tell you which group I belong to?  Let me just say that the first love of my life left me for someone named Pedro. My engagement to that man was the highpoint of my romantic life. He proposed by looking at me one day while we were at a party and saying, “Well, I always figured we’d end up together so what do you think?” It’s been downhill ever since. 
Recently, a dear friend called to say that her daughter had gotten engaged.  I wish this young lady every happiness in the world. She is one of the brightest, most beautiful and sparkling young ladies that it is my privilege to know. But then, my friend Leslie has raised three daughters who all fit that description. The one thing different with Jenny is that Jenny’s fantasies have a disgusting propensity for coming true. And that means that no matter how old I get, I can’t help the fact that the little green-eyed monster rears his ugly head every once in a while when I contemplate Jenny’s life. 
Her boyfriend - now fiancé - fortuitously bears the name Bob, the same name as Leslie’s other son-in law. As we get older, that stuff gets more important.  Leslie will now only have to remember one name for all her current sons-in-law. I think she should try to convince her last daughter’s boyfriend to change his name to Bob so that remembering his name will never be a problem. For some reason, Leslie doesn’t think he will be amenable to the situation.  Perhaps as he ages and realizes how hard it is to keep the names of boyfriends, fiancés, and husbands straight when you have multiple children in a family, he will look more gently on the suggestion.
But back to Bob and Jenny. Bob and Jenny live in different states.  Bob surprised Jenny by showing up one weekend when she wasn’t expecting him.  He took her to dinner. While they were at dinner, he had prearranged for a friend of Jenny’s to go back to her house and set up dessert with candles and wine.  When they arrived home, they went out on the balcony where he proposed.  As he proposed, the nearby city set off fireworks.  He offered her a ring he hand carved for her to wear till she could pick the ring she wanted while these fireworks played out in the sky above them.
But Jenny wasn’t going to be swept off her feet by romance, wine, flowers and fireworks. She told Bob she needed a day to think about it.  And then the next morning she spelled out her acceptance in blueberries on top of yogurt.
I will pause here now for those of you still gagging at the idea of the fireworks going off as the proposal was being made. And we will also give a moment for all of us out there who are just one step past the prime of romance and who, on hearing about the blueberries on yogurt, thought, “I’d have made pancakes." I’m not saying that romance is over for me.  I’m just saying if there’s one lesson I’ve learned in life it’s that if someone were to propose to me while fireworks were exploding in the background, sure as god made little green apples, one of those fireworks would strike the porch we were standing on and set it on fire.
The closest one of my romantic fantasies ever came to being true, I was alone in a room watching An Affair to Remember and suddenly I had an out of body experience in which Cary Grant was actually talking to me as I sat crippled but elegantly dressed and beautifully coiffed on my couch.  After that, in searching for the top ten romantic moments in my life, we’d have to drop down to the time my friend Sam cracked open a raw caribou leg while we were boating down the Meade River and gave me first crack at the marrow. You can see where fantasy and reality always had a bit of a Grand Canyon gap in my life.
So once again let me say that I am thrilled for my friend Jenny. And I hope she and Bob have a million wonderful years together in which they always have fireworks exploding in the sky behind them.  Then again, would it really be asking too much if just once god made Sam stop the boat before offering the marrow so I wouldn’t get seasick while I was trying to pretend I was living a fantasy?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:37 PM •
Friday, October 25, 2002

When I saw the name in the paper after the Glalaxy went down I hoped it wasn’t the George Karn I knew. Then I saw the picture.  George was a cook at UIC-NARL in Barrow during the 90s. He was a true Alaskan character at a time when this state seems to be slipping towards the banality we all fled in the lower ‘48.  My friend K.C. tells the best story about George. Here’s what she wrote:

“Remember that stupid little plastic bloody hatchet he had that when swung and hit on something would play this tinny little recording of a classic horror movie scream?
Several years ago when I was in Barrow working on the whale census, I went to visit George at NARL one evening. He had this dinky little room with a bed, a chair, a dresser, a huge TV and a big window with a great view of the lagoon. We’d usually talk and gossip and laugh and just visit for hours.
This evening, however, George was acting strangely. Now, I know you’re thinking ‘K.C., there is no way that George Karn could simply act strange, because he really WAS strange.’ Well, that’s true.
But this night he was absolutely scary. His eyes and cheeks were sunken, his complexion was splotchy and sallow and his beard and hair were scraggly. He was twitchy and nervous,
acting very creepy and spooky. He seemed distracted, wasn’t finishing sentences, and was jumpy. At first I figured he’d just been in Barrow too long without a break except for...the book.
George had this really frightening book he kept paging through. It was some sort of forensic thing about really, REALLY awful, gruesome murders or accidents. I kept telling him I didn’t want to see it, but he just couldn’t seem to leave it alone. Pretty soon he’d pick it up again, reading aloud vivid descriptions about nasty, grisly wounds and organs hanging out of bodies and things like that.
Worse were the subtle hints and casual remarks that made me begin to get the very creepy feeling that maybe he was on the verge of doing something really ghastly or hideous himself. For the first time in my life I actually started to feel very uncomfortable being around George. I kept saying I should be going and he kept urging me to stay. I managed to break away with the excuse of having to use the bathroom, though he made me promise to come back.
I crept back to fetch my parka with extreme trepidation. I knocked on his door and got no answer. But I could hear the TV was still on, so I grasped the knob, opened the door part way and peeked in. The room was empty. No George. Now what?
I walked in and suddenly this insane maniac burst out from behind the door and lunged at me with a roar. His arm was upraised, and I shrieked and threw my hands up over my head as he swung at me with THE SCREAMING PLASTIC HATCHET!
The ridiculous tinny little recording of the classic horror movie scream played over and over as he swung it repeatedly at me. I cowered pathetically in a little puddle of spent adrenaline and relief where I had fallen on the floor. George, of course, was laughing hysterically. He had spent the entire evening setting me up for this one silly little gag, and it had worked. The whole crazy twitchy thing was a total act, and I had fallen for it hook, line and sinker.
After that he put the book away and was his own usual insane and hilarious self, if maybe just a tad smugger for having me on so thoroughly. He told me that I he usually didn’t get along well with women, but that I was “O.K.” I was flattered by the praise. And now he’s gone and lost himself at sea. Lost at sea! What a totally outrageous and flamboyant way to go. How very George. And how I will miss him.”
I’ll miss him too.  There just never seems to be enough George’s to go around in this world anymore.  An individual with a sense of the absurd and his place amidst the absurdity.  An Alaskan.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:49 PM •
Friday, October 18, 2002

Anyone who watched the Cosby Show during its successful run in the 80s, or who watches the endless reruns on Nick at Nite, is familiar with the sub sandwiches that the Cosby character frequently ate to his wife’s despair as she worried about his cholesterol.  In the early years, he even gave a name to the shop where he got those subs. He called it the White House Sub Shop. And in actual fact, that’s where those subs came from.  Only the shop isn’t in Brooklyn.  It’s in Atlantic City.  And he used to have those subs specially driven up to the show because they were his favorites.

The White House sub shop has been in business for as long as I can remember on the corner of Mississippi and Arctic Avenues in Atlantic City.  Cosby, a Philadelphia boy, probably learned to love their subs as a kid going to the shore for the weekends or the summer.  It’s a habit not easily broken.  When Bill Cosby went to Atlantic City in the 80s to do his stand up comedy in the casinos there, my mom would look out her window on Mississippi Avenue and see him walking towards the White House. 
Their subs are, to put it mildly, positively addicting.  Some say it’s the bread. Some say it the combination of meat and cheese and spices.  Others say it’s the ambience of the shop itself.  The White House is a moment frozen in time.  It is the East Coast as it was 100 years ago when immigrants from Italy flooded the seaboard cities.  It is the Northeast as it was during the fifties, only this is no re-creation. This is the original.
The place itself is small.  A tiny counter on the left as you enter sits about five people.  The rest of the left side is the counter where you order carry out.  There are maybe six booths lining the right wall.  The walls above the booths are filled with pictures of famous and almost famous people who have eaten there over the years. This tiny sub shop on a nondescript corner in Atlantic City has served everyone from the Beatles to Joe DiMaggio, from Tony Bennet to Tony Danza.  People who know its subs will travel two hours by car just to get one.
When my sister surprised me for my 50th birthday by coming to Anchorage, she brought subs from the White House with her for my treat.  When I go east to visit, a White House sub is as mandatory a part of the visit as seeing my brother and sister.
The stars of the White House, aside from the subs themselves, are the people who work there.  They dress all in white with their names embroidered in red over the pocket of their shirts. Their sleeves are rolled up and their accents are pure South Jersey. And, as my mother would say, the map of Italy is written all over their faces.
The noise level in the place can be deafening as the men manning the various sub stations call back and forth to each other and the waitress with the easy familiarity that comes from growing up and living in the same neighborhood with the same friends for your whole life. The phone is always ringing off the hook with people calling in orders. Sometimes they just let it ring, too busy to even take another order.
My dad use to supply their lunchmeat from our grocery store and I used to deliver the orders.  So despite the fact that I’m over 50, despite how many years my dad’s store has been closed, despite how long my dad has been dead, when I go in to order a sandwich, one of the older men will scrutinize my face for a moment and say, “You Phil Sereni’s kid, right?”
Recently, one of the men who made sandwiches at the White House died.  Nick Pileggi was one of the guys who would always remember me as Phil Sereni’s kid. 
And since he’d worked so long at the White House, the people he worked with wanted to give him an appropriate send off. So they had a floral bouquet made to look like a White House sub up on the altar at St. Mike’s for his funeral.  One of the people who attended said it looked so real you felt like you could have eaten it.
Now some might think that a bit odd at a funeral.  But not in my old neighborhood.  On Mississippi Avenue, sending you off to god with a White House sub in your hand ensures you a great reception heaven - especially if it’s a regular, with all the trimmings and no stinting on the hot peppers.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 08:20 PM •
Wednesday, October 09, 2002

I like to think of my dog as The Mad Ratter.  Since he is not especially effective as a guard dog, I figure his ratting ability justifies the gazillion dollars in treats, toys and grooming I spend on him each year.

I guess, to be perfectly fair to him, he is somewhat effective as a watchdog in that he will bark at every leaf as it falls off the trees. But his bark is such that all but the truly dense immediately know the sound is being made by a little ankle nipper.
I’d like to give him credit for the unconditional love he gives me but again this is a problematic situation since his nickname is Slut Puppy.  Basically anyone who walks into the house and is willing to give him a belly rub will get greeted the second time around with the same level of enthusiasm as he greets me each day. So in defining his best qualities, I really am stuck with choosing between his ability to hunt down little furry critters and his ability to always find my Chinese silk rug when he needs to be sick.
The day before I moved from Barrow to Anchorage, Mr. T showed the normal signs of anxiety at all the commotion going on in his home.  I think he finally cracked when he saw his food dish disappear into a box.  He took off the minute he found an unguarded open door. 
I spent most of the rest of the day searching for him, sure he would disappear on the tundra and I’d never see him again. The only assurance I had that this was not the case was the continuing stream of dead lemmings that kept showing up on my doorstep. He seemed to have an uncanny ability to know when I would be out of the house looking for him.  He would chose those times to show up and deposit another dead lemming. 
I think he figured if I had taken away his food dish it meant I was never going to feed him again so he was going to have to put in his own food supply for the winter.  Each dead lemming meant another day that he wouldn’t have to face starvation.
All of, which is why, when I realized that the coming of fall had brought an uninvited guest into my home, I thought there would be no problem. I lived with the Mad Ratter.  If he could track lemmings down on the tundra, surely he could handle some little furry critter that had mistaken my wall for a cozy winter home.
Alas, like so many of us who move from the bush to the city, the comforts of urban living have apparently made Mr. T soft. Either that or the fact that his food dish is still in sight and filled takes the edge away from his need to hunt. For whatever reason, Mr. T seems hard-pressed to evince much interest in the little furry thing scurrying along in front of the fireplace.
I first realized I had uninvited company when I woke up three mornings in a row and found the dirt from the plants on the mantel scattered all over.  Being a basically softhearted person, I could not work up the energy needed to kill whatever it was that was causing the mess.  I had no qualms, however, about letting Mr. T take a crack at it. At a minimum, I figured he would be enough to convince the critter my house was not the best place to over winter.
I would probably have been right had Mr. T actually been able to stay awake long enough to care.  But at the ripe old age of 12, when he falls asleep at night, he falls asleep soundly. He wakes up only to move from the couch to my bedroom.  When he arrives, usually about 3 AM, he scratches at the door till I let him in. He stays awake only till I cover him up when he gets on his bed.  Nothing I could do or say seemed to convince him to stay in the living room and deal with the intruder.
Perhaps my response to his initial gift of lemmings soured him on bringing me any more furry little creatures. Perhaps had I not made such a face or voiced such gagging sounds as I gingerly lifted them by their tails and tossed them back to the tundra, he would not be so reluctant to engage in the hunt once again. 
Meanwhile, I have apparently acquired an unexpected roommate for the winter who seems to be quite polite and has so far confined himself to the mantle above the fireplace. 
I wonder if he plays bridge?

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 08:09 PM •
Sunday, October 06, 2002

It was one of those messages you live for as a GAL. Kids whose lives seemed destined to be lives of sadness and neglect getting a second chance, living with a family that allows them to dream and creates a world for them in which their dreams just may come true.

The message said, “The kids are growing like weeds!  They’re both about 40 inches tall.  They don’t look anything like toddlers at all anymore.  Mikey has decided he wants us all to live in Kentucky with my mom and youngest sister.  He wants to have 5 black horses and a river to go fishing in. Susanna wants to have 5 white horses and 3 cows.  I don’t know why she wants cows.  She says Mommy’s name is Mommy Miss Smith and that her name is Susanna Miss Smith. Mikey tells people his name is Superman Smith.” (All names in the above have been change for all the obvious reasons).
Unfortunately, the message also went on to say that no adoption date had been set because paperwork her attorney had requested from DFYS in the summer had just gotten to him. Which meant that the home study done for the adoption was over a year old and no longer valid. Which meant an adoption home study update had to be done. Which meant even more paperwork to be shuffled around in a case that had already killed at least three old growth forests as it wended its way through the court system and various levels of DFYS.
So when the Governor’s Commission came to the conclusion that perhaps there were too many forms duplicating too much information needed to comply with too many laws that were bumping into each other, I wanted to stand up and scream, “DUH!!!!!!!!”. 
Between the paperwork required of DFYS to document every moment in the life of a child in their custody, and the number of meetings that stumble over themselves to document that all relevant state and federal laws are being met in any given case, it’s a wonder that the social worker has time to even eyeball the child once a year, let alone actually work with the families and kids.
As a GAL, I get to sit in on some if not all of these meetings. This means that in any given month I might sit in on a six month placement review, an ICWA out of preference placement review, an out of state placement review, a case plan review and a possible status conference in court, all on the same child.  Each and every one of those reviews requires separate forms to be filled out. Each and every meeting requires the social worker to gather up everybody who is anybody in the case as well as a committee that meets specifically to review these issues.
All that occurs, of course, after the child has been in custody and has been placed in some out of home placement. Leading up to that point, the paperwork documenting the report of harm, the investigation results and reports of contact must be documented, as well as the Medicaid paperwork required so the state can provide medical care to the child and the extended family search for a relative willing to take the child. 
In those bush offices where one social worker does everything, there is intake paperwork and ongoing case files notes as well as the paperwork needed to license a foster home, emergency license a relative and get additional funds for children with special needs.
Sometime in between all this paperwork, the social worker is supposed to look up and notice a child and family in need and have enough time left over to do something about it - like maybe filling in the forms for all the different rehab programs or special education programs or professional evaluations needed to put the family back together. 
And my favorite moment is when the state reaches a point where they go trial to terminate parental rights because it is simply not safe to return the child home. The social worker must then gather up these gazillion forms and put them in an order that will allow the AG to make enough sense of them to try the case in court.  And the social worker must make copies for the defense attorneys. And make sure the file is always available in good form should the GAL want to see it or the AG need a specific date or piece of information stashed somewhere around page 9002. In the Bush, this is often done with little to no clerical support.
As a GAL, I have case files that overflow two or three big boxes as well as taking up half a drawer in my file cabinet.  Each week I receive at least 10 letters from either DFYS or the AG concerning various required updates, status hearings, and annual reviews.  I have whole weeks where I just go from one meeting to another to fulfill some state or federal requirement.
I know we need requirements so that we have some assurance that the system is working and the needs of families and children are being met.  But the recent debacle in Florida is proof that just requiring more and more paperwork documentation is no guarantee that children are being served better.
I can’t believe some reasonable person could not go through all these required documents and meetings and come up with a way to combine and compress them into a sensible system that actually allows time for the social worker to work with families. I can’t believe in this age of computers, these forms couldn’t be put on the state’s computer system and be accessed from any state office or anyone with the proper confidentiality code so that whole forests could be saved by never printing a hard copy.
If they don’t come up with a solution soon, I may have to move to a bigger house just to have storage space for all my records.  I’m not sure how to bill the state for that new house but I’d be willing to bet it involves more than one piece of paper being filled out. 

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:41 PM •
Monday, September 30, 2002

In a recent letter to the editor in this section of the newspaper, one of our readers complained about the trains in Anchorage.  He ended his letter with the question, “Aren’t the rest of you in west and southwest Anchorage getting tired of this noise by the trains through out the night?” The noise he was referring to was the train whistle.

As one resident of south Anchorage who lives very near a train crossing, I can only respond, no.  I am not at all tired of those train whistles. I don’t think I will ever tire of them.
Train travel is an intimate part of my memory bank. That train whistle can instantly whisk me back to the third floor of my grandmom’s house in Nicetown near the Wayne Junction train station.  I am about 7 years old and sleeping overnight with my cousin. Her family lives in what had been my grandmom and grandpop’s house over their grocery store.  It’s dark with only the shadows thrown by streetlights illuminating the room.  Since I live in Atlantic City and she lives in Philadelphia, overnights are a precious treat not to be wasted on sleep.
We giggle and laugh and no adult yells at us because they are all one floor down and at the opposite end of the house.  Nothing interrupts us as we play make believe and sneak out of bed to grab a toy from the chest on the other side of the room. The floor is wood, uncovered and cold. We are barefoot.  If our parents caught us, there would be the usual lecture about cold floors and cold feet making us sick. But they don’t. So we hop back into bed, burrow under the covers and resume giggling.
Only two things ever broke the silence of these nights - our laughter and the whistle of the train as it pulled into Wayne Junction.  I was too young yet to be the voracious reader I would become. I knew nothing of the romance and adventure connected with train travel.  I knew it only as the method of transportation we used for our visits to Philly when dad couldn’t drive us there.  And yet the plaintive sound of that whistle could stop our laughter in its tracks. We would grow very silent and listen to its call.  Even then, young as we both were, it had a pull that is still hard to explain.
My parents always went to Philly for the holidays.  Mom often went up with the kids ahead of time to help with all the preparations.  Her sister from New York would do the same thing. All the cousins found this to be the best time in the world. Grandmom’s home looked like an out of control day care center with five women cooking in the kitchen, anywhere from 5 to 10 cousins running around the house and the lone dad in the group, my Uncle Joe, trying to keep us in line.
One of those holidays is forever linked in my mind with Wayne Junction and train whistles.  My cousin Toni and I were both no more than 10. We had gone to the train station to meet our Aunt Louise.  Our Aunt Adeline escorted us. She brought her little dog Janie with her.
There were stairs to climb to the platform and this took her awhile because of the braces she wore due to polio. She handed her dog’s leash to us and told us to go up to the platform in case the train got in before she could maneuver the stairs.
Toni and I raced up the stairs with the dog feeling very grown up to be entrusted with Janie.  The train was just pulling in, the whistle was blowing and the platform was crowded with people.  Just as the whistle died down, we heard a voice from the stairwell yell out, “My dog!  My dog! Those little girls stole my dog!”.  At the sound of her master’s voice, Janie went nuts barking.  This left little doubt in anyone’s mind who the little girls were who stole the crippled lady’s dog. Toni and I stood there frozen in fear, panic and humiliation. 
No, I’m not tired of the sound of the train whistle. I’ll never be tired of it.  It’s a sound of memory, laughter, love, and an insane aunt who will forever be remembered for naming her dogs after her nieces.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 08:14 PM •
Wednesday, September 25, 2002

For those of you who still don’t believe the rich inhabit a different world, from you and me, let me try to persuade you with a list of some of the things that Tyco former chief executive officer L. Dennis Kozlowski had the company buy him.

For starts, there was the $17,000 traveling toilet box.  Now, I’m not even sure what this is.  Is it a toilette box for women’s skin care products?  Or is it really a travelling toilet box? Perhaps they bought this for him to use at long board meetings so he would not have to mingle with the common folk in the executive wash room.  I hesitate to think they bought it for his dog in case of a sudden dearth of trees in their travels. I can’t quite imagine any self-respecting dog using a toilet box.
But then, this dog apparently owned a $15,000 dog umbrella stand.  I only hope my dog doesn’t find out about this. He has long had pretensions way beyond my abilities to provide for them.  But even he probably never thought that someone would blow $15,000 for a dog umbrella stand.  Heck, her doesn’t even own an umbrella to stand in it. And we don’t need to be putting any ideas into his head.
Continuing on, there was the $5,960 for two sets of bed sheets and $6000 shower curtains that decorated his bathroom.  One can only hope the curtains never got moldy and the sheets never got stained considering the replacement cost.  Of course, if you are going to spend $12,000 on your bedroom and bath, you don’t want your clothes to feel slighted, So there was the $2900 set of coat hangers. For $2900, those hangers would have to walk up to my coats, introduce themselves and offer them a free ride back to the closet. Anything short of that and I’d feel cheated.
Do you get the feeling that these people are not shopping in the Martha Stewart section of K-Mart for matching bathroom and bedroom accessories?  In fact, I have to wonder what store they are shopping in.  I have never seen any place offering these items at these prices. So I’ve got to figure there is a secret place, like Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, where only rich people are allowed to shop.
But the purchase I loved the most was the one that I know for a fact caused my grandmother, my dearly departed nonna, to rise up from her grave and shake her wooden spoon in the air in a mighty Italian rage.  This was the purchase of a $6300 sewing kit complemented by a $445 pincushion.  For that much money, as a relative of mine recently pointed out, you could buy an entire Third World sweat shop complete with workers willing to sew their fingers off for you. And you’d be helping their economy.
Of course, Mr. Kozlowski was not paying for these things himself. His company was buying them for him.  And that makes me realize that I clearly spent my life working for the wrong employers.  While I did get the occasional trip for a meeting and a turkey dinner at Thanksgiving, no one ever offered to buy anything for my dog.  Nor did my employer apparently feel obligated to take care of my sewing and bathing needs. 
In fact, I can remember during my days with Indian Health Service in Barrow that it wasn’t unusual for a memo to be sent to staff telling them to return all the pens they accidentally put in their pockets when they left work because we were running out of the right color pen for specific entries.  IHS was very particular that certain chart entries be in certain colors. If the green or red pens were all missing, you were literally paralyzed in your ability to complete your paper work.  One doctor in particular, who shall remain nameless but still practices in this town, used to bring back grosses of pens that mysteriously migrated to his apartment.  Luckily, he has his own practice now so he can probably take home as many pens as he’d like.
As for me, I will never again feel bad about the fact that I would occasionally rip off the Jell-O from the tray of a patient too comatose to enjoy its wriggly delights.  And I will make darn sure any golden parachutes in my future include directions to the stores with the $6000 sheets and shower curtains.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 08:12 PM •
Monday, September 16, 2002

Ah, hay fever.  Ah-choo.  Yes, it’s that time of the year again.  Only after 30 years in Barrow, I’d almost forgotten what it was like.  I can only guess that no self-respecting pollen would travel that far north for the singular purpose of annoying me.  Or maybe my body just never recognized North Slope pollen as pollen.  It certainly took it forever to recognize a North Slope summer as a summer.

Whatever the reason, I had 30 good, hay fever free years when I could go outside in the fall and not be felled by multiple sneezes that literally took my breath away and brought me to my knees.
Growing up in the 50s, there wasn’t much they could do about the condition. It’s specter haunted my fun filled summers.  I knew that sometime after July and before September, my allergies would hit with a vengeance and then my mother would require me to return to Dr. Dittenfass. To this day, his very name causes me to shudder with dread.
I would enter his office with my mother and try to make myself as small as I possibly could.  I tried desperately to curl up so small that I’d be hidden behind my Nancy Drew book. But they always found me. 
Treatment in those days consisted of two shots a week plus something called draining my sinus passages. The results of the draining, an uncomfortable process at best, usually lasted until we got to the elevators as we left his office. Then my sinuses would close up again.  My mouth would drop open and I would mouth breathe till my next visit.
I was banned from riding in the car from about August till the first frost because we didn’t have air conditioning in the car, and to survive a drive, the windows had to be down. This meant all that pollen blowing in on me. If we ever did risk a ride, it usually meant a trip to the nearest emergency room because I would get an asthma attack. 
Yep, you couldn’t find a more fun person than me from late summer till late fall. I perfected the art of mouth breathing and drooling when asleep. I managed to always find a place to run where the pollen was heaviest.  And I managed at least three or four emergency room visits a season. 
Each year, part of my summer was spent with my Aunt Louise in a place called Beaver Dam Lake in the Adirondack Mountains in New York State. She had a small log cabin there. Uncle Louis used to drive up from Brooklyn every weekend.  During the week, we were pretty much on our own. The nearest store, Bunk’s, was a small general store you walked to about a mile down the road. You could get bread, milk, eggs and ice cream and not much else.  There were few phones and fewer cars left behind by husbands departing for the workweek.
One evening we took a walk to visit her friend Vi. My cousin Joe challenged me to a race.  It was the last week I would be there since hay fever season was upon us and I needed to be closer to medical care when it hit. But I was young, stupid and not about to let him win. So I ran.  By the time we got to Vi’s house, I was having a full-blown asthma attack. There was no phone, no car and no neighbors to run to. 
So my aunt did what any self-respecting Italian would do. She fed me. She stuck a lollipop in my mouth and told me if I sucked on it, I’d be able to breathe again.  It worked.  I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion on such a young and impressionable mind or the fact that I thought my aunt was infallible. For whatever reason, I stopped wheezing and sucked that lollipop down in no time flat.
Thinking back over that incident now, I can see where it might have set me up for some patterns concerning food that haven’t exactly been healthy in my later life. On the other hand, it beat heck out of Dr. Dittenfass and his long needles and thin metal rods stuck up my nose.
I could go see an allergist now that the hay fever seems to have returned upon my move to Anchorage.  Or I could just buy a box of lollipops and thank my aunt for providing me with a much pleasanter cure.

Elise Sereni Patkotak • 09:51 PM •

Page 1 of 3 pages  1 2 3 >

Subscribe to My RSS Feed: RSS 2.0