Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Seven years. That's how long it has been since I posted to this blog. So much has happened. All of the cats but Sunny have left the planet. Our beloved dog, Ursa, is gone. Kayt was forced to retire from the University, and they closed the Women's Center. We got married the week before the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage and now I have free health insurance as her spouse. Borealys went blind, and now walks only on a leash. My department is in shambles, with me as the only survivor. The state's budget crisis has trashed the university's budget, and all of us are living in chronic anxiety about whether we will survive. I sold the little cabin next door, and we bought a cabin in downtown Ester. Alaska legalized recreational marijuana. And Trump was elected president.

We continue to have amazing wildlife sightings here Beyond Ester. A few weeks ago, a Great Grey Owl swooped right in front of us while we were driving to work. How they can navigate so swiftly through the trees is nothing short of a miracle. We haven't had moose sightings in a few weeks, but Borealys knows they are out there. A flock of Spruce Grouse wanders through the yard every few days, and Borys gets a huge kick out of chasing them into the trees. She can't see them, but she can sure smell and hear them! They crack me up. Once they get into the trees, they chirp and call to each other, which will surely notify any winged predators about their location.

I rarely play the fiddle anymore. But I took up the banjo and have been writing some pretty good songs. My latest is Budget Knives. I wrote this song the week after finding out that UAF Sociology is on the chopping block. You can hear it here:

Today is the Winter Solstice, 2016. Kayt flew home to hang with family, and it's just me, Sunny, and Borys here Beyond Ester. The neighborhood is rapidly changing with people moving in and out, couples splitting up, and long-time homesteaders putting their beloved homes on the market. The tough economic times are taking their toll. Some folks are digging in with plans to tough it out until the economy improves. Others are packing up and heading Outside. For awhile, we thought we were headed to Minnesota. And perhaps we will, but for now, we're hunkered down, finding joy in playing music on Sundays at the Eagle, and appreciating every day for the possibilities each brings.

Happy Solstice to you and yours.