Tital Wave Tardy

via Daily Prompt: TardyTardy

Of course it was in the pitch black of night and the big storm was just starting to ebb.  Of course we were already asleep when the phone jarred us awake.  I would like to say it was the Department of Public Safety calling my husband to get to the Senior Center to take care of evacuating the senior citizens because of a tsunami alert, but it was a nosy neighbor alerting us.  There was not even an official alert yet.

As my husband swiftly left, he called back for me to see if I could find out anything on the computer or the news so that I could decide to wake up my mom, or not.  Imagine my surprise when CNN was reporting a coastal tsunami warning for coastal Alaska and part of the west coast of the United States and Hawaii because of an 8.2 earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska.  So I dressed, and gingerly called my 88 year old mother.  Who wants to wake up an 88 year old at 1:45 in the morning?  I already nixed the idea of pounding on the door, or simply unlocking the door and waking her up in her own house.  But the wake up call was necessary since a tsunami siren sits right next to her house and I did not want that waking her up.  She was calm, cool, and collected to my “Just me.”, and my ensuing explanation brought a sigh.  I said I would keep her informed, but she should get dressed, get her meds together, and wait for me to call….and to expect sirens.

When the sirens started and the police cars started their patterned sweep through the streets of town with loud speakers announcing a mandatory evacuation, we warmed up the car,  mere feet from the Bering Sea, and took off for higher ground, making sure that we knew where all our family members were heading.

Never have I been so happy that my work day normally starts at 4 PM.  No tardiness for me today.  Bed at 4:30 AM and slept til 9:30 AM.  A good 5 hours; but I still feel hungover.  But my grandson’s mother took pity on on him.  When she dropped the mail off before she went to work, she said she left him sleeping.  She was allowing him to be as tardy to school as he wanted to be today.  Oh, to be young again.

 

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Women’s 2018 Power to the Polls March in Unalaska

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Despite hail, snow, and North winds buffeting us in the face, we had a successful 2nd Women’s March in Unalaska with a focus on “Power to the Polls”.  We changed our route this year to be more inclusive of various types of marchers.  Our route was on more level ground with only one small hill, and we ended our march indoors where marchers could warm up immediately.  There was nothing fancy about our event.  We marched, we ate deliciously shared dishes, and we were so damn happy to have two wonderful women who registered people to vote and/or updated voter information.

I have no pictures of my own to share.  I left my camera in the car.  My worry about my 88 year old mother getting cold and wearing herself out was for naught.  She pretty much led the march, marching along with her great-grandson and his teenage friends.  We even had to slow her down so that parents with toddlers had a chance to catch up.

I think the best part of the march for me was the fact that in our group of about 55 hardy souls braving winter Aleutian winds, between 10-15 were teenagers; our up and coming voters.  It actually humbled me a bit to bear witness to the fact that they got up on a Sunday morning and participated to the fullest.  I am in awe.

Blink

Goosevia Daily Prompt: Blink

I was sitting with my mother this past summer during an early evening in June.  My husband was discussing some of the finer points of the agenda for the 75-year Commemoration of the bombing of Dutch Harbor and the evacuation of the Unangan people.  Events were to include a memorial ceremony, historical presentations, personal stories, many luncheons and dinners, and flyovers by historical aircraft.  The commemoration of a little-recognized part of history is significant and educational not only for those connected to World War II in the Aleutians, but for a much broader international public.  My mother, who was 87 1/2 in June, had been 12 years old when the events of WWII enveloped the islands that she called home and changed her life forever.

On the morning of June 3, 1942 and continuing June 4, Japanese planes rained bombs on her home town of Unalaska and the Navy and Army infrastructure that had been constructed for the protection of Alaska and the lower 48 states.  Within a month, her family was split apart as older siblings joined the military or, in the case of her two older sisters who had married servicemen, were evacuated to their husbands’ families in the lower 48.  She, three of her siblings and her mother were forcibly evacuated to an abandoned fish cannery in Southeast Alaska.  Her father, not being native, was not allowed to accompany them.  They were not allowed to return to their home until late in 1945.  Although the war ended, and things were supposed to return to normal, nothing was ever normal again.  Families were smaller, having suffered the loss of 10 percent of their population in the detention camp.  Economies were changed as industries that had been in place prior to the war had disappeared.  Many Unangan homes had been ransacked by the military personnel and were unfit for habitation.  The trust that they had in their government was badly damaged.  My mother’s family was never, ever all together again after July of 1942.

So, a 75th year commemoration was a pretty important event in the life of my mother.  It would mark a time when she knew that it most likely would be the last time she would see any of her friends who might come back for the commemoration.  Only a handful of original evacuees remain living in Unalaska, so she was looking forward to seeing her now distant friends.

As she sat in the living room of the home in which she grew up, a drone of engines, starting out faintly, grew louder and louder, soon passing directly over the house.  She turned toward us and in a surprised voice said, “The Japanese.”  In the blink of an eye, with the sound of the plane engines, she was transported back to what was, most certainly, a hellish part of her life.

 

Diversity

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In looking at this picture, you might not even think that there is much diversity in this group.  They are all wearing beyond comfortable jeans and footwear.  They are sporting the same t-shirt with various pullovers for comfort.  They are sporting sunglasses and hats for shade…except for the kids who haven’t learned the virtues of protecting skin and eyes yet.  They have all come together to support a common cause and to play a common game.  (Well, common game in an uncommon location;  tundra golf…not for the faint of heart.)  You wouldn’t think that so many different cultures could be represented in such a small group, but without going into their personal backgrounds, I will just tell you that they represent everything.

On this day of reflection I like to think that America was brilliant at being a model for diversity and inclusiveness.  How that changed mimics the changes we see on a local level.  Learning about different cultures, with the result of respecting them, opens the door for open minds. Take a lesson from indigenous cultures who for millennia were inclusive of all people no matter their beliefs, skin tone, or gender identification and/or definition.  Although I now believe that our ability to pass on values of diversity acceptance has become more difficult, I still believe that our ability to truly appreciate and celebrate diverse cultures stems from the generosity of those who choose to share their values and their dreams with the group as a whole.

Living with volcanoes.

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When you live within the Ring of Fire, you learn to live with volcanoes.  The “Ring of Fire” is a chain of volcanoes skirting the edges of the Pacific Ocean.  Containing 450+ volcanoes, it is shaped subtly like a horseshoe.  It stretches an unbelievable 25,000 miles from the southern tip of South America, along the coast of North America, including the Aleutian archipelago.  It continues through Japan and reaches down to New Zealand.

Unalaska Island’s highest elevation is Makushin Volcano, topping out at 5906 feet.  It is located approximately 15 miles west of the City of Unalaska.  It is an active volcano, with the last eruption noted in 1995.  Makushin is constantly steaming, which means it is venting…which is a good thing.  Bogoslof Island is 61 miles northwest of Unalaska Island.  Bogoslof, or Aĝasaaĝux̂, is the summit of a submarine stratovolcano located at the southern edge of the Bering Sea.  It was first recorded by non-indigenous seafarers during an eruption in 1796.  It has been erupting off and on through the years, sometimes losing terra firma and sometimes gaining.  It has become a breeding sanctuary for sea birds, seals, and sea lions.

Bogoslof began a series of eruptions in December 2016, almost daily, spewing volcanic ash clouds high into the atmosphere and sporting volcanic lightning.  Through all the fury of upheaval, the island, as of May 2017, has grown from 71.2 acres to 319 acres, or nearly 1.3 kilometers.  And what has happened to the animals that call Bogoslof home, or at least a respite?  Typically, animals are extremely adaptable.  They leave when there are explosions, swimming to nearby islands and come back when things are quiet.  The Fish and Wildlife Service has reported that even with eruptions occurring in March, marine mammals returned to birth their young.

In Unalaska we face a daunting number of issues when volcanic activity is present.  There are ash clouds and ash fallout.  Lahars and floods, pyroclastic flows, clouds, and surges.  Debris avalanches and lava flows are not so much a worry as are directed blasts, volcanic gases, and volcanic tsunamis.  If you are a resident of Unalaska, you really don’t dwell on the issue.  Unless, of course, you don’t get your mail; or your flight has been canceled because of ashfall.  When you think about it, the real danger is that we could be decimated in a matter of seconds by a pyroclastic cloud.  Or a nuclear bomb.  Volcano, bomb, bomb, volcano.  Worrying about it won’t make it go away and nothing we can do will change the outcome.  It is not a defeatist attitude.  It is part of the price we pay for living in paradise.

Carve

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAvia Daily Prompt: CarveCarve

Lined up around the edges of the studio, rough cut stone takes up the under spaces along the walls.  Under the finishing desk, mounds of stone hunker down, seemingly forgotten.  Under the ledge that acts as a shelf.  Bone and wood haphazardly stacked on shelves along the wall.  A moistened finger brings out the color of the stone… a piece of soapstone with the colors of jade.  Back in the corner, a find of alabaster.  I am always fascinated when she “sees” something in a clump of stone; amazed that she won’t pull a piece out until her vision is clear.  How does her mind work to decide to make that first cut with the handsaw, taking off the stone she won’t use?  Completely self-taught, she finds a balance, not only in literally making the stone stand on its own, but in the other materials that she brings to the carved stone, each piece a brilliant carving in its own right; each piece a part of herself, the story she is telling about her people, past and present, and the environment in which she thrives.