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Goodbye, Valerie

I was in nursing school in the late 1960’s in Brooklyn. Part of our training rotation involved going to a huge mental institution called Manhattan State. It was my first up close and personal view of mental illness.

There were three tall buildings on an island in the river reached by bus. Staff members were instantly recognizable by the keys jangling at their waist. Those keys opened not only doors to units full of the mentally ill but they also opened the elevator doors on the top floors where the most uncontrollable patients were housed. This was a safety issue.

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Christmas comes way too early

I hate to have to get mean again but you leave me no choice.  So ad people of the world, take heed, STOP IT!  STOP IT!  STOP IT!  Please, just stop it.

For those of you fortunate enough to not have caught the commercial that caused me to go off the deep end, let me briefly describe it to you and then you decide if it isn’t enough to send most sane people screaming from the room.

A cheery person in winter garb is peering in a store window. Around him snowflakes gently fall and under his arm is a

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Families can shout

My brother’s first girlfriend once told me that it was in my family’s home that she learned that people who love each other can yell and fight and when the yelling and fighting is over, still love each other. She came from a quiet home – something as an Italian I didn’t understand. Apparently in her home you never raised your voice because if you did, the implication was that you would cause an irreparable breech.  In my home, if you didn’t raise you voice it meant you had laryngitis from the last family conversation.

This comes to mind because

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E-mail creates instant office

When I moved down to Anchorage from Barrow, I was determined to succeed in my own business.  I figured I might get bored at times working out of my home office but those few moments of boredom would be more than compensated for by my increased productivity. Not only would I be working for myself – a tremendous incentive to make every moment count in and of itself – but without the distractions afforded by an office community I would have that many more productive hours to give to my business.

What I didn’t figure on was the ability of

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Bikes cheapest on gas

What with the price of gas nowadays, it would seem that those of us fortunate enough to have friends with bikes who are NOT gloating should be grateful. Because there is nothing worse than an adult in a helmet, riding a bike with more gears than my car, laughing at me as I watch my life savings being depleted while I fill up at the gas station.

Now most bike riders are perfectly nice people. In fact, I have to admit that I am a closet bicyclist. But I don’t want to spread that information too far and wide for

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Lawn jockeys, for god’s sake!

Race relations in America have come a long way since the days of Jim Crow laws and “No Natives or Dogs” signs on Alaska storefronts.  At least, we like to think they have.  After all, Native corporations in this state are now some of the most successful home grown businesses we have. And no one in their right mind would hang a sign on their business excluding any particular race or creed no matter what they might be thinking privately.  It’s just not done.

But the fact that private thought and public action may be two very different things means

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Needed – Alaska Native CASAs

One of the joys of living in Alaska’s Bush and rural villages is their tendency to be tight-knit communities in which people take care of each other.  In Alaska Native villages in particular, the lines of connection go back for generations.

This kind of closeness can be claustrophobic for someone used to the impersonal nature of a big city or suburban development.  It takes a while to get comfortable with it and perhaps an even longer while to appreciate it

Unfortunately, one of the down sides of this closeness is a hesitancy on the part of friends, neighbors and extended

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Take me, take my pets

Here’s the thing.  When I left the East Coast, I left my family behind.  While I’m still close with them, and visit frequently, the bottom line is that on a daily basis, they are not here.  It’s the same thing with my friends.  I have made deep, lasting friendships here in Alaska. But those friends don’t live with me. They have their own families and other friends.  So as close as we may be, they do not share my daily life; they don’t define my daily routine.

But my pets do.  Every day I wake up to my ancient dog

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Heat and humidity anathema to Alaskans

As news of the evacuations from the latest hurricane in the south hit the airwaves in the Northeast, I found myself rooting for the people in harm’s way to find safety. But I also found myself rooting for the storm in the probably vain hope that the rain and wind would chase away the heat and humidity I have had to endure for the past week.  If there was ever any doubt in my mind that Alaska is where I was meant to live and die, this trip to the East Coast in August has wiped that doubt from my

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Let me be healthy for just one day

Let me start by saying that I have some of the most wonderful doctors in the world taking care of me.  I must have or I wouldn’t have lived this long with the rather precarious hold I have on anything that can be termed good health. From my chiropractor to my diabetic doctor, from my alternative medicine practitioner to those wonderful guys who keep my eyes functional, all conspire to keep me alive despite my body’s best efforts to the contrary.

So I don’t want this to be taken as negative towards them but seriously guys, give me a break.

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