Skiing For The First Time

Did you know at 33 years old, I have never once been skiing? For the last eight plus years I have lived less than fifteen minutes away from a ski area and still have never been. All of that changed recently for me.

My Nephew came up here to Juneau, and has been visiting me for the last few days. One of the things he really wanted to do while he is up here was go Skiing and he wanted me to go with him. My younger brother, who also lives in Juneau, was too on my case about going skiing during our nephew’s visit. They both told me I would have a lot of fun and that I just needed to give it a shot. Needless to day, I had my doubts.


A couple of days after my nephew arrived we headed out early to the Eaglecrest Ski Area where we met up with my brother who works there. The three of us got fitted for boots and skis and headed over to the beginner’s slope. As we were making our way up the snow covered hillside to the beginner’s ski lift my brother gave me some quick lessons. How to put the Skis on , how to “pizza” your skis so you can slow down and how to kick your heals how so you can turn. Once he felt like I got the gist of how it all worked, and I felt somewhat comfortable on my feet, the three of us slid over to the beginner’s ski lift and went up the hill.


Now, here is where I wish I could tell you I took to skiing like a born natural. That I was able to glide down that hill with the best of them. I can’t tell you that. I fell as soon as we tried to get off the ski lift. Then I fell a bunch more times just trying to get down the hill. But, the truth here is that I had a smile on my face the whole time. It was a whole lot of fun.


By the end, I was getting pretty decent at skiing. I was able to take the last three runs of the day without falling. I was pretty sore and stiff the next day, but it was totally worth it. I might just have to go skiing again sometime.


How Herbs Cleared My Sinusitis

I am not a medical doctor. What follows is my personal story dealing with sinusitis and what I have found that helps me. Please, always consult your doctor before trying anything I write about.

double dar nose

I am a sniffer. I have always sniffed because my nose has always been stuffed. When I think back to my earliest memories they are filled with me sniffing. It used to drive my mother crazy. I remember a time my brother was talking to one of my girlfriends and he asking her, ‘How can you stand his constant sniffing?’

I never looked into curing my sniffing because it was something that had plagued me all of my life. I didn’t know that there was any other way to handle it. If it was such a bother to everyone, how come my folks never took me to see a doctor about it? I felt like it was my fault, like a birth defect and not a medical issue. It really is a wonder that I ever had girlfriends or even got married.

A couple of years ago at my wife’s request, I went to see a doctor for my sniffing. I was quickly refereed to an allergist who did several allergy tests on me. All of which came back negative. The doctor ended up diagnosing me with chronic sinusitis and put me on a three month supply of a nasal steroid.

After a few days of snorting this steroid, I could breathe through my nose like a normal person! It was weird too! I have spent most of my life sniffing that now, with nothing blocking my air way, every breath I took required a fraction of the energy it used to. Breathing became effortless for the first time in my life. This changed everything.

After three months, I ran out of the steroid. A month after that I started sniffing again. Not a lot at first, but eventually I went back to sniffing all the time. I went back to my doctor who this time sent me to an ear, nose and throat doctor. I was told by this new doctor that what the allergist did the right thing by putting me on the steroid nasal spray. The only thing wrong was that the allergist should have told me I was going to require the steroid for the rest of my life.

I gave the ear, nose and throat doctor a dumb founded look. One that said you expect me to snort a steroid into my head for the rest of my life? The doctor could see the concern on my face and said, “I have the same thing you have and I have been taking this steroid for the last six years. It is perfectly safe.”

“Uh Huh.” I responded doubtfully. You would have too if you had seen this guy.

He wrote me a prescription for the nasal steroid and as he was doing so he said, “There is also surgery. We can go in there and clean out you sinuses. But I can’t promise you that it wont come back. Most patients relapse.”

That option did not sound good to me either. The doctor had no other options for me and didn’t think there was anyone else in town I could speak with about this. He actually seemed insulted that I would question his course of treatment. I left his office feeling disappointed and threw away the prescription before I even exited the building.

The next day, I called my mother to tell her what had happened. After she heard the story she asked me to give her some time to research some herb options. After a couple of days she called back and told me to start taking Echinacea and Goldenseal along with Sage. The Echinacea with Goldenseal is supposed to fight off the infection in my sinuses and the Sage is supposed to clear out my sinuses so that the Echinacea can do it’s job better.

So I gave it a shot. After a couple of days I could breath again! Just as good, if not better, as when I was on the nasal steroid. I was thrilled and I have been on these herbs ever since.

From what I have discovered it is possible that this herb combination could cure my sinusitis after a long while. I don’t know if I am going to be that lucky. For now I am just happy that I no longer sniff and I don’t have to take any steroids.

Fishing In Juneau

When the sun is shining, a light breeze is blowing and you couldn’t ask the weather to be any better, Juneau, Alaska is a pretty amazing place. It’s on day like this that my wife discovered a new hobby. She loves to fish. She, along with my brother Abe, who runs a fishing guide company called Hooked On Juneau, go fishing together.


Last Sunday, Hannah got up and went out fishing with Abe’s tour group, caught her second king and first three pink salmon ever. The thought of this is a little crazy to some who live here. Hannah and I have been a part of Juneau for the last seven years and neither of us have been very inclined to the nature side of things. Most people you run into around here enjoy going for hikes up the mountains, going hunting or fishing. Others enjoy boating around or rock climbing. So as my wife has gone telling her friends that she got her second ever king salmon and showing them her proud photos on her phone she gets a lot of strange looks and comments. Things like “You have lived here for ever. How are you only just now catching salmon?”

The short answer is just that she has not gone fishing before. This is starting to look like a new chapter in our lives. Well, her life. Becoming a fisherwomen.


The Story Behind, ‘The Hill’

Laptop Writer 1Last week, I posted a short story I wrote called, ‘The Hill‘. The story of a girl living with in an abusive home, who befriends a young man living in the apartment building across the street. I thought I would share my thinking process and how I finally got to putting words down to create this little love story.

I had three main inspirations that lead me to create this story. So, in the order in which they influenced me. Here they are.

In my early twenties, I had a two bedroom apartment with a roommate. Because of my job and band, I preformed with at the time, I was always coming and going from my apartment at all odd hours of the day and night. I recall, quite vividly, times that I or my roommate and I, stood outside our apartment and could hear the physical acts of violence taking place in the house across the street. It would be so loud you could hear yelling and objects breaking. I remember saying to my roommate, “I am glad they don’t have kids.”

It was such an oddity for me to have experienced such a thing that the image of that house across the street and all the, What Ifs, in my mind at the time really stuck with me.

Over the years, I played with the idea of what if they kids. What would that be like for them. From that, the story really started to take shape.

In trying to develop the characters, I would say the Sidney Poitier movie, ‘A Patch of Blue‘ was a big help. The age difference between Gordon Ralfe (Sidney Poitier) and Selina (Elizabeth Hartman), along with all the conversations that take place between the two characters as they get to know each other through out the film was a huge influence on me. It really helped me develop the characters of Jack and Jill. Even thought I saw this movie way earlier in my life, I only found myself turning back to it after I decided there was a story here for me to write.

Lastly, the nursery rhyme, ‘Jack and Jill’. This hit me early on when I started actually writing. These characters needed names and the story really needed something to tie the whole thing together. I started thinking about how I wanted the story to end. Something sweet that implied hope. Jack and Jill just popped in my head as I thought about it. How the characters “took the exit and followed the ramp up to the top of the hill, where he pulled in the the restaurant’s parking lot.” enforces the whole rhyme.

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.

The first draft of the story and a bulk of the writing, I wrote in a web application called Write Box. Being able to change the background color to black and the text color to green really helps my Dyslexics eyes see what I am writing.

After the first draft was written, there were three subsequent drafts of edits and modifications, all done with Google Documents. Google Documents allowed me to share out the story to friends and people who’s opinions I trust when I am looking for feedback or advice.

That’s how I did it. I hope you enjoyed the story.

Bike Xing

bike xingThe late 80s is when I got my first bike. It was a gift from my parents. Their only rules were that I had to stay on the sidewalks and be home before dark. Now, not every road in my home town of Gridley, Kansas had a sidewalk in those days, but I had friends who knew how to single to cars that you were slowing down or turning. They taught me those rules so that I could use them anytime that I found myself on a road without a sidewalk.

Eventually my family and I moved from the little farming community of Gridley to the bigger town of Anacortes, Washington. When I turned 18, I got my drivers license. I remember studying for my drivers test with the materials that were given to me by the local Department of Motor Vehicles. The little booklets had a section on bicyclists. It showed the different singles that bicyclists use. These were the same that my friends taught me back in Gridley. The booklets also said that for safety reasons bicyclists have the “Right of way”. Which to me makes sense. If there are no sidewalks a bicyclist would have to be on the road with vehicles and vehicles should watch out for them. No problem with that.

The reality of having driven for the last 15 years or so is different. I have learned, rather rudely that, it is not legal in every state for a bicyclist to use a sidewalk. This is a great vain of frustration for me as an auto driver and a law that every cyclist should break in my opinion.

I can’t fathom how many times I have had to slow down and ride into the opposite lane just to avoid hitting a bicyclist who is riding on the same road as my vehicle. Worse yet, a sidewalk is almost always right there! With no pedestrians on it either!

darwin bikeIts hard to tell what is worse. When you’re trying to pass a someone on a bike in full sport racing cyclists gear, or the family of 5 who are always stopping and the youngest member of the group is weaving wildly. The sport cyclist will almost always ride the white line that indicates the road’s shoulder forcing vehicles to weave around putting themselves in danger of oncoming traffic. A sport cyclist clearly has a death wish riding this way. But the family of 5 is worse in a lot of ways. They will take the whole family out on a bike ride with the 4 or 5 year old who just got her training wheels off. She is weaving so wildly that cars trying to pass feel the need to take a far wider berth than necessary just to be safe and not hit the little Darwin experiment.

The thing that really grinds my gears is that these bicyclists can’t be this stupid. Can they? I mean what part of any of their brains tells them that riding on the same road as a heavy vehicle is even remotely a good idea? If they get hit by one of these rolling boxes of metal it’s all over for them. Don’t they see that? No do over. No play again. It’s just over. Their done.

Let me tell you a story. The other day I went for a walk. The sun was out and I had just about enough of sitting in front of my computer. So, I went out for an evening constitutional. As I was crossing the street from my home over to the lake, I see a mother bike riding with her three small children in front of her, Yup, you guessed it. They were all on the shoulder of the road with a perfectly unused sidewalk right next to them. The youngest lead the family while the mother brought up the rear. To say she was bike riding would be disingenuous here because the mother was so worried about her wobbly, slow moving children in front of her, that she was off of her bike WALKING IT BEHIND THEM. You could hear her yelling out commands to the the child in front to not swerve so much. I could see that the child was not swerving because he was goofing off, which would be equally as bad on a road with cars, but he was swerving just from inexperience of riding at his age. This was all taking place on a low visibility inclined turn mind you.

Now, this parent supposedly loves her children. Wouldn’t you think she would just say ‘Screw It’ to the twenty dollar ticket she might get for riding your bike on the sidewalk and have her children ride their bikes on the sidewalk just for safety sake? All I could do was shake my head in frustration as I walked past.

My wife loves to bike ride. On a sunny day it’s a fun thing to do. But every time she goes out she makes sure to  carry enough cash with her to pay off any ticketed she might get for riding on the sidewalk. She and I have had this conversation several times. If she gets a ticket while she is riding her bike on the sidewalk, she can pay it off right there and walk her bike on down till the cop is out of sight.

Safety first.

Wearable Art Juneau 2013

Wearable Art 2013My wife and her endless creativity has brought her back to Juneau’s Arts and Humanities Council and their annual ‘Wearable Art‘ event. Hannah spent months designing her entry. Starting with sketches on paper, she has designed her dress entry this year out of sterile instrument wraps and used laser printer film. The dress was worn by her model, Amber.

Last weekend was the two day event. It was a lot of fun and had some nice changes from last year’s event.



The Juneau summer this year was not the warmest or the sunniest I have ever experienced since moving to Alaska. They all can’t be winners when you live in the middle of a rain forest.

As fall hits us with a shock the weather has turned cold and the air has become very dry. At the start of October people have had to start waking up earlier than normal to make sure their cars are defrosted and warmed up for the morning drive into work. Before the month was out we got our first real snow fall that dusted the landscape like sugar.

With all the recent cold weather, and the daily continuing loss of sunlight that comes with living this far north, we have had some bright spots too. Most notably is that during the daylight hours we do have they have been bright and sunny. Hannah and I have managed to go for some walks after work all bundled up and trying to soak up some of that natural vitamin D from the sun. We are lucky enough to live really close to a park with a lake, so its easy for us to walk out our front door and down to the lake where we walk the length of it and back.

October is also the month I was born in and Hannah put together a nice little party with some good friends. Some of which flew all the way in from southern Washington State. It turned out to be a great weekend that I don’t think I am going to ever forget.

Halloween is also in October, so of course we carved out some pumpkins and turned them into some great looking Jack-o-lanterns. My brother Abe came over and the three of us took to work on four pumpkins. This is the second or third time since I have lived up here that I recall it snowing when we set our Jack-o-lanterns outside.