Saturday, February 4, 2017


Enthusiasm for unloading on the return is not nearly
as compelling as loading is on the way out.
Anyone who has spent a pleasurable amount of time somewhere away from home, has probably experienced re-entry to some extent, the feeling that comes with the realization of all the details involved in day to day living that had been ignored for however long the time away has been.  It may not compare with an astronaut's blast into the atmosphere returning from space, but it counts.
     I first recognized it one day returning from a week-long boat trip in Alaska's Prince William Sound. I had pulled up at a stop light and looked at the vehicle next to me, a pickup truck driven by an African-American fellow, not a usual sight if you will forgive the stereotype.  My first thought was, "we still have a civil rights problem," and with that the flood of real life came back.
     With so many trips back and forth to the East Pole, a routine has evolved and it goes pretty much the same each time but one new element joined the agenda this time.
     The day before leaving involves cleaning, organizing, early packing, making lists of food and other things to bring out the next time.
   The morning of, a reluctant crawl out of bed to finish up and head out. Get the snowmachine and sled connected and heading in the right direction, then pack everything onto the sled and the cargo carrier on the machine. Clean out the wood stove and lay a fire for next time that can be started with one match. Disconnect the propane that fuels the cook range and gas lights and bring the hose indoors. Hide everything that would be a big loss if stolen. Make sure the windows are locked and the bear boards are covering the four that a bear can reach. Search once more for the little things that could have escaped your initial search and with more reluctance, close the door and lock it and head down the hill. A stop at the bottom offers one last look before heading out.
     Taking the trail in, is focused, I just want to get there as quickly as possible, but going out if the trail and weather allow, goes slower, the woods scanned more thoroughly for the odd moose or anything else standing nearby. No hurry to leave and making it last as long as possible.
     But slowly along the trail the mindset changes. From all the thoughts that occupy life in the woods, they slowly evolve into what's ahead. First comes the condition of the Jeep and trailer that have been sitting at the trail head for almost two weeks, probably buried in snow or plowed in by the guy who does that after a storm. That's if it's there at all; thinking through if I know the license numbers in case they have been stolen. or who would I call if it's been vandalized. So far that's never happened.
     All things considered Friday everything appeared to be in good shape, except for me and that will be explained in a minute. There wasn't nearly as much snow on the vehicle as I expected but the trailer took a while to shovel off with the little avalanche emergency shovel I carry. Overall clearing off and warming the car, packing everything into the Jeep, and loading the machine and sled onto the trailer took almost an hour
     Once moving the next thought is for the condition of the road, but that proved to be clear and dry so I could go in two-wheel drive all the way home (a gas saver if nothing else).
Slowly the thought evolved into what I need to do along the way. There’s always a stop at the Post Office. I don't think I left much food at the house so maybe stop and pick up a Subway sandwich. Just not up for a huge shopping venture into a store. And there's that one other stop that I am hoping doesn't become a regular part of the routine.
     Thinking I could skip it but, then maybe not.
     Once the road items have been worked out I start thinking about the condition of this house; there was a snowfall and I hope I can get into the driveway; am I going to have to walk up and get the snowblower just to get into the yard?  Is there any food in the house? Will the birds come back when I refill the feeders? I know I left water running, have the pipes frozen anyway? Has anybody broken in?
     Then, there is this new stop. If nobody has guessed by now, it's the Emergency Room. Two days
before I left I was splitting firewood and on the very last chunk to be split, I hit an oddly shaped piece of wood at an odd angle with the 18-pound splitting maul. It careened off to the left and a searing pain ran up my left arm; I mean a screaming pain. Over the next couple of hours the arm swelled and turned a vivid shade of purple. In several positions it could function but there were a couple of motions that sent the pain back up my arm. I used a Ziploc bag filled with snow to ice it down and considered going out one day ahead of time if this were serious.
     In the morning it didn't seem any worse so I decided to take my time cleaning and packing, trying not to disturb it any more than I had to and take a more relaxed trip out the next day. But over the course of the day the swelling increased and the purple coloring progressed down the arm almost to the hand.
      And the next day with my swollen purple arm I headed out.
     At the emergency room X-rays revealed it was only a very bad sprain of the supinator muscle. If
you hold your arm palm up, the muscle starts just above the elbow on the side toward your body, then crosses diagonally across the elbow to connect below the joint on the side away from the body. It controls twisting motions and I can testify to that because if I twist my arm that's when the hard pain comes. The purple they said was blood from a vein that may have been compromised and would go away once the bleeding stops. That, however is complicated by a blood thinner I have to take. Mostly it looks ugly and in certain positions it hurts but apparently no permanent damage.
     On this visit I also learned one more element of the aging process. As you grow older the number of ailments and procedures you have suffered over the years grows bigger and bigger when you have to list them while checking into a medical facility, and that doesn't even include the bumps and bruises, cuts and abrasions of a thousand small injuries over the years. But here's a bright spot. A technician came in to make some x-rays and brought a cute young assistant with him. The whole episode was light-hearted and I attempted to flirt with her which she took good-naturedly. At one point the guy asked me to stand up and flex my biceps. I stood up and did my best to inflate those 74-year-old muscles. When I did, the cute girl squealed. Seriously a high-pitched squeal. I am not sure how wide my grin was but it made almost tearing my arm off just about worth it.
    So that was a new element in the re-entry process, let's hope it was an isolated case and not a permanent stop on the way home every time.
     As for the worries, the house was fine, someone had even taken a cut up the driveway with a plow and the water still dribbled out of the tap. Oh yeah, the birds were back at the feeders before I went indoors after filling them.

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Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve