Thursday, February 17, 2011

Living A Different Adventure

This will be my final blog entry for a while.  We are leaving Juneau Alaska soon, and heading back down to the Lower 48.  Not sure where just yet - maybe northern Arizona.  Maybe Montana.  Somewhere for a month or so for now, just so that we can regroup, catch our breath and rest.  Somewhere away from people.  I don't want to be around people for a while............

I gave it everything I had.  Did two jobs for eight months.  Fought the politics with all the energy I could muster.  Tried to make the changes they wanted me to make and when it all hit the fan no-one was watching my back.

So I resigned and that wasn't enough.  My name and my professional reputation have been slandered and I walked away a month earlier than it says in the two line letter of resignation that I handed in a few weeks ago.

Juneau is the most beautiful place I have ever lived.  I loved living in Alaska.  You always hear stories about how rugged the landscape is.  How inhospitable the weather is.  How treacherous the mountains can be.  It wasn't the weather or landscape that did me in.  It was lying, conspiratorial, back-stabbing people I dealt with on a daily basis, and the toxic, ever changing, dysfunctional and unsupportive workplace that finally won out.

A few people from work want to know what they could have done differently or what the take away from this experience is.  The take away from this is that I gave up everything I had in Tennessee to commit to a job and establish a new life here in Juneau.  And I got fucked over.

I told someone quite a while back that the politics in Juneau was bad, and that I was afraid it was more than I could overcome.  It WAS more than I could overcome.  And now I have brought two young managers from across the country to this place and left them in a meat grinder.  I wish them the best and hope that they have enough sense to get out early if it gets too bad.

I worked for the City and Borough of Juneau.

Currently I am uncertain whether or not to continue this blog and just rename it when I get squared away somewhere or just start a new blog.  

Regardless, thank you to everyone who reads this thing.  I appreciate all of you taking the time.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dancing In The Wind

On the drive into the Valley today we stopped for a few minutes at the dock immediately adjacent to the ferry terminal in Auke Bay.
A long metal bridge leads down to the dock, and more often than not hard working small-business fishing boats can be seen here, all of them containing rust and peeling paint, pots and ropes and lines and cages and handfuls of weathered men.
These are not boats for the tourists. 
Not boats for excited and loudly chattering and well dressed visitors to our city, who each pay $50 a ticket to board so that they can seek out enthusiastic opportunities to witness and photograph one of our many local whales up close.
Not pleasure boats for locals wearing X-tra Tufs and Mountain Hardware fleece sweaters and name brand sunglasses.
These boats belong to those who must be out on the water regardless of the weather.
These boats are how they make their living, how they feed their families, how they pay their mortgages.  
Their livelihoods depend on success on the water.
I have seen hundreds of these boats over the past 13 months and have photographed scores of them.
They speak to me in that rustic, strong, compelling, uncomplicated and straight forward way that hard working men and hard working vessels always do............
My Mountain Boy - the love of my life - and I can't believe that such a cynical woman would dare to write such drivel - but I know it to be true so there it is..........and my Point Dog Jamie stayed up in the parking lot casually wandering, and allowed me to walk alone down the long metal ramp and down to the end of the boat dock.
Am I the only one who lives in Juneau who always seems to feel compelled to walk to the end?  Of the road.......of the trail..........of the dock.........of the story?
Even though the wind was calm by the Unabomber Cabin because it is buried deep into a hollow and deep among the pine trees (Christmas trees) the wind was not so calm standing at the end of the dock.
It was very cold and very windy out in the open but I stood there for a long time looking out over the channel.
I felt the water.  Felt the mountains.  Felt the rocks.  Felt the clouds and the fog and the cold.  Felt the millions upon millions of pine trees.  Felt the hills and the mountains.  Felt the snow and the slush and the ice.  Felt the wind that was trying with all of its might to break me and force me to leave before I was ready.............
I heard him before I saw him.
And then there were two of them.
Eagles - obviously mates - dancing in the wind and with each other.
They were everywhere overhead - obviously bonded to each other, communicating with each other even when they were quiet.
I followed them with my camera trying to capture a picture of the pair but quickly realizing that it was useless to try.
And so I gave up on the effort and simply watched them.
Dancing in the wind.
Watching them communicate silently with each other, watching them fight to stay close to each other when the strong winds tried to separate them.
And then they were gone.......... 
We had planned to go for breakfast at one restaurant and at the last minute decided on the all-you-can-eat buffet at MiCasa instead.
I like to eat.  But truthfully have never cared very much what the food was. 
I have eaten cereal for 5 months straight in the past.
I like cereal.
I never can eat $18 worth of food, and have a difficult time eating a lot of calories when I am not in training mode.
But LC likes food, and I think he suggested it because the buffet contains a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables and he knows I like crunchy food.
I haven't eaten enough fruit and vegetables in a long time............

We, as we always do, snuck (sneeked?) food out of the restaurant in napkins for our dog.
Four strips of bacon along with pieces of roast beef.
It all greatly pleased my dog and by extension pleased me, and then we drove away from the Valley, pulling into the small parking lot of Auke Lake Trail.
Auke Lake is such a very beautiful place.
I drive by it twice a day every day on the way to work, and over all of these months have always remembered to look out over the lake as I drive by, inevitably in a hurry.
The briefest of momentary reprieves while driving by inevitably in a hurry..............
The three of us walked the trail for only a while, until I asked for us turn around and head back...........
I have taken thousands of pictures of trails and bridges and trees and water.
Sometimes I wonder if they are all beginning to look the same on this blog.
They don't to me.
It was snowing this morning but was already beginning to melt by the time we travelled into the Valley.
We both thought that the snow was done for the day but right now, as I write this, it is snowing heavily and after checking the weather forecast see that snow and cold will be the running weather themes for the coming week.........
People Of The Lie

Liars await around every corner
Coming in all shapes and sizes
Peddling deceit
Twisting truth
Dodging what truth demands

Rather than give in to reality
they cling to ego’s shadows
hiding under layer upon layer of lies
Though they pray for light
Only darkness comes

The liar jeopardizes our integrity
befalls our character
sucks out our dignity
rubs away our goodness, and
ultimately robs us of who we are

There is hope
You can fight back
against the people of the lie
Not by changing them, but
by honoring the truth inside yourself

M. Scott Peck, M.D.
Auke Lake is surrounded by mountains and tall and very old pine trees.
Unlike the dock close to the ferry terminal, this place was a silent and still place today.
LC is talking a lot right now.
His crazy, burdened, creative, angry, loving mind working in overdrive, as mine has been doing for a seemingly long time.
When he is like that he talks a lot.  When I am like that I talk little.
 Respective and individual and personal reactions to situations without seeming solutions.
There will be solutions eventually of course.
There always are.
Respective and individual and personal reactions but just like the eagles this morning we are both dancing together wordlessly in the wind............
The snow covered but barely frozen Auke Lake..........
Auke Lake Trail is an out-and-back open gravel trail.
I found out that it was an out-and-back early last year when, after reaching the end decided (of course on the spur of the moment) that I would circle back to my car by walking the roads.
It is in the nature of adventure racers to really hate to retrace territory they have already covered.......

It turned out to be a much longer walk than I had anticipated, and by the time I walked the side road from the end of the trail, walked all the way down the Back Loop Road and then along Glacier Highway back to my car I had added at least another hour's walk to my excursion.
Such is the nature of unexpected adventures............

Monday, February 7, 2011

Standing For A Long Time

Behind the radio station in town is the channel and the mountains.
Late last summer I parked in the radio station parking lot, stepped precariously down a rock embankment, and walked alongside a creek that feeds directly into the channel and watched the adventure that is salmon spawning.
It was the first time I had ever seen it and I was amazed at the sight of thousands of single-minded salmon trying valiantly to swim upstream to spawn before dying.
Hundreds of seagulls flew overhead and above the creek, and deformed and dead salmon lay rotting on the river bed.
Today was nothing like that day.
It was a very beautiful and sunny day today.
So beautiful that everything glistened - the snow, the ice, the sky - everything shone back at me in an unbelievable spectacle of reflection.
I took the picture above in back of the radio station after a meeting this morning, and before heading down the side road beside the station to take pictures of the channel............

Last time I was here on such a sunny day I took a picture of a very beautiful eagle who was resting comfortably on top of this same post.
Today this seagull had made it a temporary perch, and he stayed in one place during my visit.
Watching me intently the entire time but feeling secure enough to stay put.............
There are many many grey days in Juneau.
But when the sun shines this beautiful city is nothing but spectacular.
I have never seen such a beautiful city.  Such a beautiful place - so isolated - and so quiet at this time of year when the city is still deep in hibernation and has not yet woken from its long winter nap.
So many different and rich shades of blue in the sky and in the water and even up in the mountains..........
I have never seen this barge before.
Close to the fish hatchery is a scrap metal place, and I have to believe that this barge transports that metal.......somewhere.
I don't know where, but when I see these types of ships they remind me of my fathers' ships.
He was a merchant marine, spent his entire life at sea, and spent his entire life working on much larger ocean-going ships than this one.
But the very nature of this hard working and utilitarian barge, and other ships just like it, inevitably remind me of my father.
Over the years he made half hearted attempts at shore jobs. 
They never stuck.
He always felt compelled to go back to sea.............
The Juneau Empire office building, located directly across the street from the fish hatchery.........
Again with the beautiful.
On such incredibly clear days it is almost as if everything in front of me reflects off of everything else - the sun off the water off the snow off the channel off the ice off the sidewalks off the mountains off the sun..........
To the right of me were many storage containers that had been barged to Juneau.
Packed and stacked together like over sized and colorful Lego blocks waiting to claimed by individuals and businesses...........
I had planned on working out after work tonight. 
A treadmill running or stair climbing or stationary biking workout.
I walked out of my office, made one last work related stop to look at a piece of equipment I was contemplating purchasing, climbed into my truck, headed down Egan Drive away (thankfully) from the city, and recognized instantly that I had neither the physical nor the emotional energy to work out.
It had been a Monday.
All day.
As I made my way towards the Valley I looked to the west and saw the beginnings of a very lovely sunset.
I alternated watching the highway and watching the sunset, and wondered if I would be able to make it to Auke Bay in time to take some pictures before the sun disappeared beneath the horizon.
I made it to Statter Harbor and was gratified to see that I had made it in time.
When your world is spinning out of control you take some small measure of gratification in small successes.
I stood beside my truck, looked out over the water, looked up at the sky, and tried to slow down my heart and my head.
I stood there for a long time and took these pictures...............
I stood there for a long time and took these pictures, before climbing back into my truck and driving home........