Alaskan Women on Retreat With Worldwide Obligations

Priming The Pump

Priming The Pump


Walking In To this Beautiful Cabin Was Worth It

Walking In To this Beautiful Cabin Was Worth It


The Gottschall Cabin

The Gottschall Cabin


It was cold.  It was raining.  It was typical Juneau.  It was the last weekend in August. Our UMW (United Methodist Women) group had organized a day ‘out the road’ at a cabin at the Methodist Camp to relax. We called it “The Gift of Giving”.  If you wanted to share you did.  Priscilla made bread and showed us how to knead the dough.  Sandy had a tea party.  Sandi and Beth actually got several of us to knit. I did a class on meditation.  A craft table was available. Each of us told a story, some true. Beth made these super grilled cheese comfort food staples.  The part we loved was the part when each of us realized we didn’t have to do any of the above.  There were plenty of places to curl up, wrap a knitted prayer shawl around you read, nap, think or just veg out.

In the Alaska Rainforest , bread baking, tea brewing, soup on the stove ,nothing scheduled; the day just rolling along listening to rain on the roof  and soft conversations, with breaks to the outhouse as needed;  I wondered why a girl from Dixie would feel so good?  I have known these women for over a year of course and been through many sadnesses with some of them.  But that was not the bonding element.  The element was within each of us.

Women bond – yes we do. Syria, Gaza, Ukraine, Israel, Alaska or Mississippi  women bond.  Maybe that is why I am so sad on a global level right now, but so happy on a local level.  My prayers and my tether will continue for all.  But oh my, if I could just give a little bit of that “gift of giving” day to some of those mothers in those other places I would crawl on my knees to do that. In this world today, my gift, no my promise, my obligation, to them is using my voice and my prayers. And the strength and encouragement I get to do that comes from my Alaskan Women On Retreat.

Tea Party Time



Tea Party Time


Another side of the mountain

IMG_0917 IMG_0916 IMG_0881 IMG_0878 IMG_0888 IMG_0907IMG_0883I wanted to share another beautiful side of Juneau.   Surrounded by mountains and inaccessible except by boat or aid, people often think Juneau is just a little sliver of land with huge mountains all around.  Of course, hiking up and up is wonderful.  But there are options. There are so many trails that are easily accessible to any level hiker, but still take your breath away with their beauty.  The Mendenhall water flats area out in the valley is an engaging place to walk, where you often meet many friends, and once I quit counting after I encountered fifty people walking their dogs. Juneau is definitely a dog town.  You do not see strays here. Picking up after your dog is mandatory and bags are provided at the beginning of every trail.   So walk with pleasure.   No matter where you look, no matter where you step the view is magnificent.  But more so, on a personal note – the air fills all my spaces and makes me sing.  I can breathe here. 

September – Time for Bach

I was so happy last spring to sing with the Juneau Bach Society.  Sixty to eighty of us got together nearly every weekday evening for three months  to rehearse the Mozart Requiem.  Many professional musicians; but, there were also many professional fishermen, teachers, doctors, lawyers, secretaries, just about one of everything.  My friend Fran said, you just need to be able to ‘sing your heart out’.  We did.  It was one of the most fabulous experiences of my life.  Then we performed with the Juneau Symphony a few times, conducted by the great Kyle Wiley Pickett, who has now gone on to Missouri to conduct.

Amazingly, all performances were sold out.  I understand in Juneau this is normal.  So I figure we sang to approximately 1800 people – just the Mozart Requiem.  Not counting the fall season.

Well, it is fall again.  Monday night we begin again. Bruce, our conductor has been studying for weeks.  He proudly announced we are doing the Bach Cantatas Number 29 and 79.  Plus we will perform the Mozart from last spring with the three auditioning conductors for the Symphony.  My cup overflows.

Juneau absolutely never ceases to amaze. 


Rehearsal with Kyle Wiley Pickett

Rehearsal with Kyle Wiley Pickett

Ready to go perform with my fellow alto Nat.

Ready to go perform with my fellow alto Nat. She is an ecobiologist.




Missing My Mississippi

Top Ten

10 –  School Sports – Yes, I know they have them here, lots and lots of them and they go to the games on the ferry and air planes.  But, I don’t know the players names and numbers by heart and who their mama and mamaw is .  Nor do I know just how important it is they beat that team.

9 – Church –  Again, you cannot sling a dead cat here without hitting a church, but not my church where I could sit at the piano and tell you exactly who was hitting that sour note and who was singing like an angel.  I miss Danny.  (I do love m church here.)



8 – Main Street – Two blocks of pure, flat shopping.    Downtown Juneau is a myriad of small, twisty, winding, streets.  Up and up and up.  Then down and down and down.  And except for the tourist area, not a gift shop in sight.  In fact, once you leave that area most of the shopping is either grocery or marine hardware.

7 – Food – Ok the food is great:  halibut, salmon, cod, swai and enough bread  for an army.   I need one of my Mother’s cakes. And butterbeans.  I need butterbeans.

6 – Driving –   There is a limited distance to drive I know.  But still if I want to go to another town it is the ferry or the plane.

5 –  Pilot Club – Enough said, but I will say more.  When a small group of women can do as much for a community as this club and still get up the next day, win the state awards we do, let me still be a member from more than 3000 miles away, and mentor high school girls into a spirit of service – they need no shout outs – but here is one.

4 – Sun – It has rained all summer.  And, when not raining it is drizzling.  And, when it is not drizzling, it is fog so thick you cannot see.  This fog may last one second or all day.  It really is a weather phenomenon.  It could drift off in strands or float away in puffs or simply disappear in a breath.  It is worth the trip.

3 – Land – I miss land – looking out and seeing open space – none here.  Unfortunately, my home road – Tuck Wilkes Road in Mississippi – is too open right now after that vicious tornado and all the houses and trees are gone.  But somewhere in between would be good.

2 – My grandkids – my grandkids – my grandkids – everything they say, everything they do etc. etc. etc.  When we talk on the telephone their answer to nearly everything is one word – ‘good’, ‘ok’, ‘nothing’.  I think at their age, I need to see not rely on their commentary.

1 – I still love Juneau.  I still love Alaska.  I would not trade this experience.  It is soooooo wonderful.  There is a reason over 1,000,000 tourists come to Juneau each summer.  Even the air I breathe in the rainforest is satisfying, but your home is your home .

My Father and Sebastian before the tornado.

My Father and Sebastian before the tornado.

I still miss my Mississippi.


Cope Park, Chopin and Canopies

The 'revolutionary' Gold Creek rapids

The ‘revolutionary’ Gold Creek rapids

Spongy moss clings heavily to an old pipe next to the creek.

Spongy moss clings heavily to an old pipe next to the creek.

We had to abandon to trail when it became to narrow and unsafe for Che.

We had to abandon to trail when it became to narrow and unsafe for Che.

When I was a senior in high school, I had to give a piano senior recital.  Fortunately, I had been playing and practicing the piano since I was four years old, so I was used to hard work at the piano. One of the many pieces I had to play at this event was Chopin’s “Revolutionary”.  As bombastic and impressive as it was at the time to my small town audience, I loved it then and I love it now.

When my husband and I were fortunate enough to get our little Havanese dog , we named him Che.  Why?  Of course, because the great Havanese are from Cuba and our little, white bundle, although a sweetie, reminded us of the great Che Guevarra, Cuban ‘revolutionary’.

When Che and I were in Cope Park the canopy of spruce, aspen, and hemlock overhead dripped with rain.  We walked over gigantic roots and around gigantic, slick pieces of stone some as large as a small car.  Between them the ground was smooth as tile, but spongy.

The mountain rose  straight  in front of me just across the creek and rapids.  And, that is what made my heart jump.  Gold Creek roared just like the “Revolutionary”  from the treble to the heavy base .

Gold Creek

Gold Creek

Guiltless Ramble

Che's paws are always pinks from his walks on the beach.

Foggy Day On the Gastineau Channel

Foggy Day

A radio station, KRNN, that plays,Ray Charles, Bob Dylan,  Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Van Morrison all in the same set –  with lots of meaningful commentary –  then the DJ shifts to the Locomotion – what the hey – Frank Sinatra with extra info on Paul Anka . yes, then a whole set with songs written by Carole King.

( Did you know Hank may be the first artist actually killed by his doctor?) –

What a morning on public radio!  Juneau has 3 public radio stations.  Can you believe it?    Now she switches to the Beatles and informs us that we are expected to have sunshine starting Thursday for 2 whole days which starts me appreciating my day even more.

As the fog rolls in for a good fifteen minutes it allows me  to believe I am  a part of the real Brigadoon and back in time at least a century and you can sing your way out of there (she is spinning Sgt. Pepper on the radio after all ).  How the two go together I do not know.

And then the fog lifts.  The fog/clouds are rolling across the middle of the mountain across the channel – I know this because I can now see across the channel.

Che – my dog – I feel guilty saying’ my’ when actually I am the’ my’ in this relationship – is the companion in all this heavenness (?).   He sits in the window waiting for his walk in the rain.  For this you need xtra tuffs.

Juneau is the one place that allows this  guiltless life.  This is not my term – a physician told me right after we moved here  he did not know what he would do anywhere else and I paraphrase – how could people stand all that sunshine and so much guilt?  If the sun was shining, you had to be doing something outside, getting something accomplished.  Here in Juneau with all this rain, in the heart of the rainforest, there is nothing like a good book, great music, great food – no guilt – hey it’s raining, fog so thick you can’t see your hand.  Put your xtra tuffs up.  And we have Listen Alaska – if you have a library card just log on, choose a book, download, read instantly or yes listen to it. You can even send it to your phone or Kindle.

But today with raindrops on my skylight , fog lifting across the bay, a view at the window to kill for, Che snoozing happily, Heritage Coffee roasted right here in Juneau, dinner for Tom on the stove ,  good books with music and memories; what else could I possible want?

Oh, I know – Mississippi.   And that day will come.  But for now raindrops keep falling on my head – please.