Fur Rendezvous, or How My Beard Refused to Grow!

I had taken the local bus towards Anchorage, which is in Alaska, if you didn’t know that by now? – waiting for that simple fact of the matter to seep in before continuing with my story-

I’d been arguing with my beard while the bus driver shook his head in dismay, hoping that we weren’t going to get hijacked by yet another crazy who argued with his beard while on his/her way to the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage. “Gesundheit!” said the woman next to me, when I said “Rendezvous”, in such a way that she looked at me as if I were a traveling Canadian with a bad cold?

“Don’t you have enough people to irritate in Canada, without taking your foreign ways over the border to tease and temp us friendly, yet suspicious Alaskans, who really can’t wait for you to use your currency then travel home again!” and with that she changed seats to show her disgust and dismay, then promptly raised the local newspaper, The Homer Times, up over her eyes, but I knew she was reading between the lines all the same!

Anywho. It wouldn’t cooperate, and I said,”Look you. We are on this journey together, so if you don’t want to go with the flow and make me proud of my face, then I’d advise you to…

-but suddenly, the bus driver pulled over to the side of the road at that instant, motioning to the two of us to exit the bus, and not upset the other passengers anymore with our wanton ways!

There we were, somewhere between Soldotna, Alaska and the city of Anchorage, while we still couldn’t agree on, well just about anything it seemed. I tried hitch-hiking to the north, while he wanted to go south, which showed you how difficult it was going to be making it to the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage Alaska, before the festival ended in….”What? What do you mean, I don’t need to keep saying, Alaska?”

A local woman sporting any number of interesting tattoos pulled her motorcycle over to the side of the road and asked which Mental Institution, we’d escaped from?

I was certain it was in Soldotna, while my Beard insisted it was in Homer, that is Homer Alaska! It looked as if she felt sorry for at least one of us, but hesitated in offering us a lift to the next town. She suggested we walk a bit to the next intersection, one called Caribou Crossings, and ask the woman and her friend living just off the road for help. “Don’t worry about the signs, “Trespassers will be shot” because it is less likely that will happen as long as the winter continues like it is”. And with that she took off down the road in a most poetic way, that I almost wanted to tell her that….but my beard just said, “You are not in her league, you know?” Which was probably true, but I didn’t want to say he was correct in his thinking, just because!

We had just reached the crossing when a fellow came outside of his house, waving us over to the front door. “Do you fellows happen to possess a few ice-cubes for a man, who is down on his luck?” a question, which really made me feel for the guy, but couldn’t understand why he needed ice-cubes what with the snow still being several feet deep, and icicles hanging off the roof just over his head? I suggested that he journey with us to the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage, where he could…but he only said “Gesundheit and patted me on the back as if I had something stuck in my throat!”

“Sorry fellows, but I didn’t realize you came from Canada? We do get foreigners around here especially in the summertime, but not everyone takes a liking to your sort, for some reason or another!”

I started to tell him about the festival in Anchorage, but my beard just took me to one side saying, “These Kenaians are a strange lot, aren’t they?” I nodded and smiled at our new found friend, but didn’t want to upset him, or his “Shooting Trespassers” sign any more than necessary!

“Fine figure of a beard you have there Mister” he said to me, and my friend, but I still wasn’t satisfied with the progress of sporting a fine beard, at that that most prestigious event the Fur Ren….My beard interrupted me in mid-sentence saying, “No more of that French-business, OK? We don’t know how he really feels about Canadians, so….

The darned thing was, I was not Canadian, but everyone seemed hell-bent to call me a foreigner, and worse than that, a Canadian! I was just a regular guy from Alaska, who was on his way to an event that he never even had heard of before he Googled “Alaska in the Winter”.

Lola just rolled over in her sleep saying, “Now you know how all those poor Canadians felt when you mentioned them constantly in your blogs before now! The Foreign Shoe is on the other foot, now isn’t it?”

As she drifted off into dreamland once again, my beard said,”You should listen to her. She’s a looker all right and you’d be lucky, if you let your beard decide its own fate and treat her like any red-blooded Alaskan would have done in your place!”

-I just held the razor behind my back while he spoke, waiting for the right moment to, to……


The Troubled Sleep of an Alaskan Volcano

Lola turned and tossed her nighttime salad, while I cut the red onions and looked about for the Hundred Island Dressing. “That’s Thousand Island, you Boob”, she muttered in her sleep, while I wondered when exactly, she’d be waking up from her Winter Hibernation, shedding her winter fur and greeting me with a big Bear Hug and Breath that would flatten an Anchorage Longshoreman, at 30 yards and counting!

She turned towards me, her eyes glazed over not unlike the baked Alaskan Ham I ate last week, where I found myself, toasting her health, then tossing my environmentally-friendly, completely bio-degradable wine glass into the electric toaster, shorting out the power-supply and plunging my dreams of a meal fit for a Canadian King, into utter darkness! “To you, my Love” I said, though I wasn’t even sure if I could find myself in the blackness of an Alaskan Winter Night?”

“Thirsty” murmured someone in the blackness. “Ice-water for the masses” it said again, and if you knew Lola, like I did, then ice-water was a sort of evil-dream, a Mantra that wasn’t to be ignored, run from or worshiped, in that very order of things! I knew in my heart that pleasing Lola meant that a trip to the Ice House out back was inevitable, so I put on my winter coat and grabbed the snow shovel near the door and, and….

Two hours later, or what I imagined to be two hours, I found myself at the door of the Ice House. The snow having been over 5 feet tall, and rather icy at that, meant that my Quest for Ice was almost over and done with. Although, by the light of my flashlight, I could see that long devilishly-formed icicles hung from the roof of my destination, causing me to smash those puppies with the shovel before entering the inner sanctum! “Drat it and Doggone it” I exclaimed aloud seeing that the Ice House was without ice, causing me to assume a fetal position, before re-entering the house again, to see if my love had noticed my absence, and apparent lack of ice?

“Lola” I called out, but heard only the pleasant breathing and mumbling in her sleep while I readied myself for a trip by Caribou to the nearby Mini-market in beautiful downtown Anchor Point, Alaska. I laughed a bit thinking of how Lola would have said, “Why did you say, Alaska, when you and I, and especially the both of us, know where Anchor Point is!?” I would have mentioned Anchor Bay, Alaska, which it turns out to be in Michigan or California, which….but I digress.

The roads to Anchor Point were quite icy, but with a little luck and the light of the sunrise at 10am this fine morning in January, I might just be able to get the ice and then back home again, before the sun goes down at 427pm. I pulled into the parking lot next door to Big Jim’s Ice Palace and Ice Skating Rink, where a sign greeted me at the front entrance, “Closed due to lack of ice this unusually warm winter!”

I admit that 9 degrees Fahrenheit was a bit on the warmish side, but I really was running out of time and patience on my Ice Quest and all, wondering if the Foreign Legion would take me and let me forget, just forget…….

On the sidewalks a lot of workers were using steel rods to break the ice off the sidewalks, thus allowing me to wander the streets of the town hoping against hope to satisfy the needs of my one and only. I stopped off at a nearby 7-11 and enjoyed a frozen drink, the locals called a Slurpee, but even that didn’t help my spirits as I climbed back onto my Caribou and braved the icy roads back home again.

The sun had set for the day, making those icicles grow once again, making me wonder just where and when I’d be able to find that most cherished of all substances, somewhere this side of Montreal, Canada, just good old American Ice from Alaska?

Lola turned over again in her sleep saying, “Thirsty. So Thirsty. Won’t you bring me a glass of ice-water?”

I turned on the faucet in the kitchen and hoped that the water would appear this side of Spring, being just a bit warmer than those imaginary ice-cubes that were cooling off my love, somewhere in her dreams, while I whispered, “Take this ice-water from my, my love then sleep….



I might as well hope for the troubled sleep of an Alaskan Volcano, causing it to explode, saving me from having to go out again in the morning and stand on the corner in downtown Soldotna, a tin cup in my hand, bearing a face of dejection and all hope lost, begging the locals for an ice-cube or two!

-just wish for it, I said…..

-just wish for it…

Minus 19 and Counting

“Sometimes” said the woman sitting next to me “Sometimes, the strength of your thoughts amazes and astounds me more than I can say!!!”

“Have we entered the fantasy land called “Lolaville” or, were you actually referring to me, myself and eye?” asked Lola number two, or one of her sisters!

“All I said” said the man next to me, or one of my sisters “Was that we should take a Frolic in Fairbanks, or perhaps a stroll down the main street in Healy, that is in Healy Alaska, and show the rest of the world how we are indifferent to the blazing temperatures of this winter, and those other winters, or winter has-beens, who had come before and afterwards” said as he leaned back in the sled, and smoked a number of the good stuff from Southern Alaska….

Lola worried that his apparent lack of blogging in the month of December had affected his mind, leaving it more or less intact than what it started out to be, been or had been?

“Now see here my dear”, he said as he pointed to the thermometer. “Today is minus 19, that’s almost like saying that we need to increase the temperature to reach a lower number, which might be called zero to some people living outside of Alaska. That is Alaska in the US of A, if you didn’t kn-“

“Look you! I know where we live and how cold it is/can be/has been and whatever else you want to know about living in this icebox of a place, but where are we going, other than in Alaska, with this temperature tirade!”

“Out of the window on the left side of the bus” intoned the Tour Guide, “you can see……” as we sat on our seats, the windows rolled down in order to give the full effect of the Alaskan Winter, while a herd of Penguins ice-skated by on their way to-

“Penguins are not found in herds” said the woman next to me, dressed in a lovely ensemble of Cannabis-woven knickers, imitation Grizzly Bear ear-muffs, and showing just a teense of her “Caribou Crossings” Tattoo, which according to the Tour Guide at the front of the bus, would give us good luck, or the chance to get thrown out of the classier drinking establishments in downtown Soldotna if used with impunity!”

“December 2018 was really hard on you, wasn’t it?” asked the woman sitting next to me, while the bus turned the corner heading for the local watering hole for our complimentary drink and a chance to soak up some local color, before the bus returned to where we had started, somewhere this side of Montreal Canada, where any self-respecting office clerk would be-

“All right” said Lola, nodding her head in acknowledgement at the mention of that time-honored topic, Canada, that is Canada Canada, if you didn’t know that by now?”

“And serving your complimentary drinks today, is our one and only waitress, Homerette, with her French-sounding accent, where she learned to speak from her mother’s kneecap!”

“What do you mean, Homerette?” asked Lola suspiciously, as if a poor working girl from the far East of Alaska, and that was still Alaska in the US of- “Yes, yes we know that! We are all Americans, aren’t we?” said Lola as she looked around the room expecting someone, or everyone to stand up and salute the flag on her belt-buckle, or fall into a hearty rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, which made most of the crowd uneasy, not being able to remember all of the words to that catchy tune, but chose instead to hum along with the rest of the crowd.

Homerette served the drinks as quickly as possible, while I perused the many and varied photos on the wall. “Look Lola. There is a picture of the Governor and some bloke with the American Flag on his jacket!”

Lola looked closely at the photo saying “Isn’t that the President of the US of A, next to him?” The other passengers from the bus bellied up to the wall and began to discuss just who was in that photo and why?

The front door banged open, allowing a herd of Penguins to waddle in, quacking and mooning the other guests with their devil-may-care attitude and…..

“Lo-La” said a voice somewhere in the cosmic ether, while the Penguins started to trash the place, pitting the belt-buckled woman next to me to say,

“Lo-la” said the voice again, with a blast of freezing air to follow!

“Lo-la. Wake up. Oversleeping won’t make your dreams come true, you know?” said by that known Penguin Herder, from a small fishing village on the northern shores of the Kenai Peninsula. His was a proud folk, whose only pride and joy was to herd the local Penguin Population into-

“Lola! I’m afraid I can’t make the house any colder, unless I open all the doors and windows at the same time! Come on Lola, you can’t just sleep the winter away just because the thermometer only reads minus 19!”

Lola’s eyes fluttered a bit then opened with her saying “Be a dear, won’t you and check on the Penguin Fences for me?”

He went outside and, and

Coming inside again he said,”But we don’t have any Penguin fences?”

Lola just rolled over again and headed back into dream land. “Well, wake me up when we do, and not before the temperature reaches the right side of zero, won’t you?”

He just sat back down and sucked on a frozen Elephant toothpick. “and I still don’t understand why some Alaskans like it so cold?” he said to himself, as he leaned back and pulled out his new copy of Penguin Monthly, “Penguin Fences Made Easy…….”

-and began to read…..

Snoozle, Wassel and Neezle

The three friends set out one day on a Grand Adventure, when Snoozle said,”

“Isn’t this just a rewrite of Lon, Lex and Louie? We might as well just start re-blogging your work instead of trying the patience of your few, if not fewer readers!”

“Why don’t we stroll down this country lane in search of-”

“The old you would have said,”Babes” but I never know what direction your imagination will be taking us this time?” said by someone who wouldn’t let me finish this Classic Tale of Friendship, Hardship and

“A Sinking Ship?” added the woman, who would be king, but that was another story in itself!

Wassel just sat down on a flattish stone and pondered a bit. “We could ask the Old Woman in the nearby Forest for her advice?”, which his friends thought it to be a Grand Idea, and went off the road through the underbrush.

When Neezle exclaimed suddenly, ” We -”

“You see, soon they will be meeting up with the 3 Moose in the Forest, where that sweet but well-endowed Forest Maiden with the body that wanted to Rock and Roll her Prince Charming, was still lying quietly in bed, waiting with bated breath for his strong arms to-”

“We mustn’t stray from our journey along this path.” To which the others just guffawed and stomped their feet in disgust! “You’ve always been the Wuss of the Family, haven’t you Neezle?” said while looking ahead in the hope of meeting the Forest Maiden and her obvious assets and talents overflowing. Wassel commented, ” Remember when we met her in the forest that one time with that bloke, Prints Sharmin, or something like that?” Snoozle just chuckled and added, “She dropped him like a hot lava rock from Mt Iliamna didn’t she?” which made them stop and laugh a bit while Neezle said, “I think that love is a beautiful thing, and shouldn’t be sullied by-”

“Are you sure this isn’t about those 3 Giraffe, Lon, Lex and Louie, who were on the Savanna trolling for Babes? It has the markings of your imagination, and we know how that works, or in this case, doesn’t!”

When night fell the three friends were camped just a stone’s throw from the Old Woman’s Cabin, but they dared not intrude on the Old Lady’s Privacy, unless…

“Just how old is that woman?” asked Wassel? “I mean, how do we know that she isn’t the Forest Maiden in disguise? She might be watching us right now with her-”

“Drone? Her Drone? Honestly Bunky, Kids today are not going to be fooled by your attempts to increase their reading skills, unless you appeal to them on what they know best!”

The 3 friends waited with bated breath at the door of the woman who they were certain of leading them on their path of righteousness!

“Lola, Honey. There is a knock at the front door. Be a dear and get it for me, won’t you?”

Lola had just about had it with his silence and denial about his reuse of elements from earlier blogs. Why wouldn’t he listen to her? Wasn’t she his Muse, the one who inspired him leading him to places that others only could dream about?

When she opened the door the first words heard were, “I knew it! She is a goddess, and one to write home about, what say you Boys?”

Lola slammed the door shut and bolted it, as she tried to gather her wits about her. What was the last thing he wrote? She tried to remember as her thoughts jumbled about, but couldn’t make heads nor tails of, of

She turned around and went back to where he had been sitting, saying “How did you – but she didn’t find him there. His usual place was empty, not even displaying one single sign of him having been there today at all!

She tiptoed back to the front door, opening it slowly. Nothing. There was nothing there at all?

He just leaned back in his chair and wondered if it was worth making her more crazy than he had succeeded in doing this side of 700 words, or should he just let sleeping Lolas lie?

“Oh Well”, he thought to himself. There will always be another story to write some other time, won’t there?….


At the Broken-Winged Pelican Bar

The other day, when I was just a wee-bit younger than I usually admit to, I found myself on Homer Spit, a narrow piece of land extending into Kachemak Bay. That is in Alaska, if you didn’t know it, and I won’t take offense if you ask me a time or two more, where exactly this story takes place, because it doesn’t take very much energy at all to say….Alaska!

I’d been running some pipe in the basement of a nearby house, when a powerful thirst came over me. I took my pipe-wrench, yes the Alaskan Variety, and tightened thing extra good, so my small break didn’t lead to a flood of Biblical Proportions, which might just cause the locals, known as “Homerites” to place me on the first bus to, well let’s just say, Canada. All right?

The entrance to the Bar, known as the Broken-Winged Pelican, was watched over by a local woman, who claimed to be born a Homerite, but only if she was drunk, while arm-wrestling/threatening to shoot the first person who agreed with that statement! My only wish concerned my whistle, which needed wetting in an awful way, but not all wishes come true, especially when people named Lola Kenai operate as the door-bouncer at that moment in time!

I just sauntered along, tipping my hat at the ladies on the street, enjoying a view that encompassed the many businesses, and bars along this stretch of the road. Oh, I admit to being a regular at the Salty Dawg Saloon nearby, but it might just be that the beer at this Pelican Bar tasted a bit better, or was it just that I wanted to taste something else, what was now blocking my entry into this establishment, somewhere close to the shrinking metropolis known as Homer Alaska.

Later on that same day, I would wonder if it hadn’t been better eating a doughnut, or ogling discreetly the many and varied flavors of Alaskan Women that strolled nearby? Homer Spit had become a sort of picture-window, with its many temptations and delights, but I was lacking as usual, the means and opportunity of enjoying them, then waking with a smile on my face, a bottle in the one hand, with the other….well, you get the picture, don’t you?

I considered waiting until a crowd of thirsty patrons developed outside the bar, allowing me to blend into the local color, but it seemed as if they had decided to flock at some other broken-winged bar nearby, leaving me standing there, almost naked in my thoughts, while Lola stood in the doorway, wondering if it was time for her afternoon smoke, a local favorite, an Augustine cigarette?

“Light Ma’am” I ventured to ask, while slapping my pockets for something to light the fire in her cold, cold heart, while she just looked at me saying, “I don’t smoke ’em, I just like the feel of them between my lips!” Well. I must say, and a few other thoughts that rolled around in my head at that statement, but it still didn’t allow me entry, that is access, into her guarded sanctuary, while that thirst still was drying in my mouth, and the pipes were perhaps bursting in the basement, of what might be my last paying job on Homer Spit?

I decided just to walk in casually, while commenting on something that would just slide by her air of indifference, allowing me to…

“Just what do you think, you are doing?” a question, to which most people, who had money in their pockets, and a thirsty-look on their faces, wouldn’t need to explain, but Lola wasn’t one to take lip from just any man, woman, or broken-winged Pelican! I placed my hat in my hands, while trying to smooth out my hat-hair as good as possible, before saying, “Well. Seeing as how this is a bar, and seeing as how I had this powerful thirst, and seeing as how my admiration for women who would deny me the fulfillment of connecting the two things, I thought…..”

What was it I thought? Standing this close to her, with her being able to reach out and kill me with one blow, or me being able to kiss her, by falling under her temptations, was something that I hadn’t considered happening, just one half hour before, while the pipes were dripping, telling me that minus in my bank-account wasn’t getting its needs attended to, if I chose to wet my aforementioned whistle, and get my jollies at someone elses expense!

She might have helped me out just a bit by saying, “Well, what are you going to do now?” said while uncrossing her arms, telling me by use of her body-language, that I might just be tasting something sweet and pleasing while the crowds of tourists outside, ate doughnuts, and put their dollar-bills on the walls of the Salty Dawg Saloon!

She did manage to pull me close to whisper, “This is the first time, we’ve met, so I’ll be easy on you!”

That line should be the one that I’d be telling our grandchildren someday, when they asked how we first met, or it could be the one that I’d be explaining at the hospital, or police-station, after just another altercation with the local population by some wayward tradesman, who should have kept his pipe in his pants…..

-But that story will have to be told another time, I guess? At least when it all becomes clear in my mind, about exactly what happened on that most fateful day, somewhere in Alaska…..

*……An Alternative Lola Story…..*

My adventures of Lola & Co. are going to hibernate for the time being, so I won’t be posting for a while. I’ll still be writing, but you won’t get to read it, until I figure out if blogging is still something I want to do, or is it really worth continuing with exposing my imagination to the general public?

——- only time will tell…..

Don’t.Won’t.Never Gonna Do.

A fellow blogger claims not to do photos on her blog, but she did, even when she didn’t, and at least twice, though it wasn’t never gonna happen. Not ever, but then…

Not being in Alaska, I won’t be doing pictures, not having, nor possessing, nor asking others to supply me with, what I wouldn’t be doing anyway!

So with that not said, and not admitting to not doing it before, now or ever again, I’ll just include a few non-photos of Aalborg, Denmark this early-December 2018.

Don’t ask, or plead with me to do so again, because I didn’t, wouldn’t want to not do so in the first place, which this will be, but not in the second place, which would qualify for making me into a teller of non-truths, which I would admit to doing, then deny any knowledge thereof!

Immediately north of the Town Square. Downtown Aalborg. December 2018
Nytorv. The town square. Aalborg December 2018
South of Nytorv 845am. December 2018
Jens Bangs Stenhus from 1624 amid delivery trucks in Downtown Aalborg.
A city bus decorated with paper cutouts made by local children.
Christmas Decorations in bus windows

That was not it, or was it the end of this blog, if you wondered when this typical non-photo blog was at its end. Like it now is…..

Halibut Tacos. Just like Mom used to make…

I was living the good life here in Alaska. At least, I thought I was? Me and my old lady lived Off the Grid on the Kenai Peninsula, where I thought we had the best life possible! But now, when I look in my life’s rear-view mirror, I guess, we weren’t exactly on the same wavelength so to say?

I had bought her one of those humorous bumper-stickers, “Anyone From Seattle Junior Can Eat My Dust”, which was to show those city people from Anchorage, how much we prided ourselves, and our lives on the Kenai Peninsula, not needing the glaring lights of the big city to satisfy our needs!

Well, I guess I ended up tasting some of that dust, when she packed her bags one day and roared away in our car, setting her sights on Anchorage and another kind life that she could sink her teeth into! I was left at our house, I used to call our home, wondering what went wrong, and was I really that dense, because I never even saw it coming?

I purchased an older car, whose days were most likely numbered, but beggars can’t be choosers, now can they? Needing supplies, I tooled down the Sterling Highway towards Homer, the only real town of mention on this side of the Kenai Peninsula. I ended up rolling into town on the fumes left in the tank, stopping just short of the first, or last filling station, depending on whether you were coming or going to heaven on earth, or what was that really what folks thought about Homer Alaska?

My extra gas can unfortunately, was bouncing around in the back of my good car, somewhere in Anchorage, while I hoofed it over to the office of the nearby Conoco Gas Station and Car Wash, hoping that someone was there with an extra gas can, and not just a threatening shout, “Leave now or feel the bite of my lead!”

It was a bit on the dark side, but what can you expect on a December day, this side of the winter solstice? I did manage to see the dinosaur on the roof, welcoming me in such a way that I didn’t turn tail and run, not immediately, that is. Inside the office burned a light over in one corner, making me hope that it was warmer inside than the low 20s outside where my thoughts were freezing to ice, and my hands followed suit?

I gave a casual knock on the door, while I waited to run for my life, if needed, when the door opened suddenly, producing a pair of hands that drew me into the darkness and ensuing warmth. “Are you packing heat?” – a question, which made me wonder just what I should “be packing” or if that answer would get me a can of gas, or a one-way trip to the hospital in beautiful downtown Homer?

Apparently, I wasn’t deemed a threat to anyone, but that someone pushed me into a nearby chair and shined a light in my face. “What brings you to the outskirts of civilization?” said a voice which reminded me of  flowers in the Alaskan Springtime, just those that had wilted a bit, lacking some TLC and perhaps a bit of, of….Now what was I doing here in the first place, I asked myself, but that wouldn’t be the last time, I’d ask myself that question?

“Just out joyriding, or something?” she asked me, but since I didn’t have a car on or about me, how in the world could she guess that I had one anyway?

I replied, “Ran out of gas over yonder” said while motioning towards the window, in the direction of where I thought I had left the old gal?”

“No sudden movements, got it?”

Well, Actually I did get it, and moving my arm back into its former position, I wrapped my jacket a bit more about me, while I wondered if I would be seeing the sunrise tomorrow, or was that just wishful thinking in December anyway?

“My father left me this filling station” she started to say, while I just nodded in silent acknowledgement.

“Left me here in this God-Forsaken corner of Alaska, while he was chasing his good fortune, somewhere along the Alaskan Pipeline, or was it only because of a woman named Clear, that turned his head as well?”

I just felt the place on my finger, where my ring used to sit, as if it were some sort of consolation, sitting somewhere in that darkened room while an unknown person was talking to me, as if I actually had asked about her life story, as it were?

She looked a bit closer at me and said, “Haven’t you been in Homer before?”asking as if that might not be a good thing to admit to, or was I just being paranoid about it?

“Oh”, I said slowly. “We, I mean I, have been here before, but not since, uh, well…..”

“Uh huh”, she said as she got up and started rummaging around in the refrigerator next to her, then lighting the gas stove with its characteristic blue flame and tempting warmth. “I suggest, while you contemplate just why you stumbled into my life, that we enjoy a meal together, seeing as how you don’t have anyone missing you back, where you’d like to call home!”

She was reading me like a dusty Tourist Guide to Homer Alaska, and without the Spanish translation as well! We sat across from one another while I set the table, and she made something that smelled heavenly on the stove. After a while I tempted fate and took off my jacket, while she lit a candle or two, and actually started to hum a tune or two as she cooked.

“This recipe” she drawled with her lovely Southern Alaskan dialect, “was one of the only things I got from my mother, before she ran off with that conniving Cannabis Grower from Valdez!” I nodded a bit, not knowing just what to add to that statement, but enjoying myself more than I had done so in a month of Sundays!

“Halibut Tacos”, she said upon serving the steaming repast, “Just like Mom used to make!”

I proposed a toast to the memory of her mother, while her eyes sparkled, and glistened like powder snow on Mt Denali!

I ended up sitting next to her on her sofa, while my car had all but giving up hope of seeing me again tonight. The lingering smells of those Tacos, mixed with her perfume, “Denali Blue Mist” were two things that remained in my mind, while we talked about our lives, and how we both ended up in that filling station with the characteristic dinosaur on the roof, while the rest of Alaska took care of itself.

She was about to fall asleep, when it suddenly dawned on me that I still didn’t know her name?

“Lola” she said, while drifting off into dreamland. “Lola Kenai.”

I too took a drive into that same, dream landscape, hoping that I wouldn’t be running out of “Lola-Fuel” anytime soon……..

Not as long as there was that comforting dinosaur on the roof, anyway…..

*……….Alternative Lola Story……….*

My Friend Named,…..

“One man can never have enough friends” said by Lola, my number one friend and confidant. She was just making dinner one day when I walked into the room with exciting news!”

“Hello” said by me, but followed it quickly up with, “How’s tricks, Lola” which seemed to fit nicely to the occasion, with her name being Lola, and mine being-

“What in the world are you doing?” was her first question for me, but the next had to do with the title of this blog. “What is the name of this friend?” She asked me with the question mark residing within the quotation marks, but I still wanted another piece of punctuation, but that was voted down with a resounding, “No!” also within its own quotation marks. The funny thing was something I had recently read, where the author used only a single quotation mark, but most likely had another name, and purpose? Lola then asked, ”

“Am I really the only witness, you have, when you finally have lost your mind?” to which I replied,”No, because you haven’t yet met my new friend.”

In walked, or rather limped a parrot with a decided limp to the left. I suggested that we turn in his direction, or he would soon be traveling in a circle, with the difficulties there of.

“You have a parrot?” asked Lola with a certain amount of doubt in her voice, but that might be due to her upbringing by those Heinous Canadian Gypsies, who failed to teach her how to act while greeting an authentic Alaskan Parrot! She then said,”

There is no such thing as an authentic Alaskan Parrot, which I didn’t put into quotation marks just to challenge others with their punctuation bold and brashness, but I wasn’t about to be bullied by that!

I countered her by saying, “Of course there is, or he wouldn’t be standing in front of you, while leaning to the right. That was him and not you! The man in Palmer Alaska, was just standing there, while I whistled a tune about white rabbits and the woman of mystery, who tended to them, when the man came up to me and said, “Hey Buddy. Come over here.” I looked to the left and the right, then I looked between my legs behind me, but suddenly, I felt him tap me on the shoulder and say “I can see by your curiosity that you are in the marked for an Authentic Alaskan Parrot, named,….”

“It seems you are a master at not naming names. I seem to recall a certain brother to another certain Vision Moose, whose name you failed to tell me about, just to drive me up the walls, where no self respecting parrot from Palmer, would dare show his beak!”

“I just turned to….and said, You see. I told you she would take a liking to you, and it didn’t take long at all! You haven’t even told her your name yet!”

Lola just crossed her arms, then sat down, and crossed her legs. I was getting the feeling that to use the word, “liking” was perhaps a bit too hopeful, with Lola’s body language telling me that she was “Closed” for business, or whatever they called that kind of thing in this section of Alaska?

“Well. The man told me that …..had come from a long line of parrots that could do tricks guaranteed to dazzle and amaze, while the people involved would most certainly want to name their, as yet unborn, children after this one in a million kind of parrot!” I said, “if I had children, other than Howie that is, I most certainly would consider, that…”

“Aren’t you getting tired of writing ……? Why don’t we just clear the air around here and hear what the poor lad’s name really is?”

We both just looked at him, and I said to Lola,,, She was the other person in this story, if any of you had forgotten that fact, and the funny thing about it was how we actually met one another. -” Why did you use commas back then?”, she asked me breaking my train of thought, but that would be obvious to those people wondering every time I wrote, …. Anyway, we were in Palmer Alaska about the same time looking to purchase our very own Authentic Alaskan Parrot, when she stepped on my toe trying to buy……before I did. Well, I wasn’t going to let any Canadian Gypsy Woman do that to me, so I took out my bag of tricks and,,,

“Were you Felix the Cat?” asked the woman whose disregard of my presence in Palmer Alaska at that point in time would make me wonder these many years later, how we managed to stay together despite-

“Despite what?” she asked, but she knew the answer as well as I did. It was our shared love for Authentic Alaskan Parrots that drove us together, but I said that she should be the one who had the honor of naming him!

She thought about it for a while before answering. “His name is…..”

“So you see Lola. You started me on using those ……instead of the real name, but now that the story has come full-circle, we might as well tell our faithful readers what his name really is…..”

Sorry about those….. I digressed a bit.

“Say it! OK! What is his name?” asked Lola whose face color was similar to his feathers, while he was out basking in the warmth of the fading heat of the Alaskan Summer, while

“Well, Healy of course! And I was really beginning to think,,,,

,,,,you’d never ask……!”

Going Off in a Ruff!

Dad told my mom, we are moving to Fox River, but she wanted to know why we had to leave Healy in a ruff, as if,

but Lola stopped me saying, “ Ruff is not an English Word so if you want to further its meaning then,”

but my Mom only said, “Which femail Geologist have you sent your letter to, getting her gotten-ruffen in trouble?” which meant to me that Dad might have gotten into a Ruff with the unnamed woman, with us having to high-tail it out of town on a rail! That’s what Mom said, when I asked why we needed to leave the comforts of Healy, and move to an even more nondescript place like Fox River? Dad just said, “It’ll only be until the whole mess blows over”, but I wondered how strong those winds needed to be?!

We moved there one dark and lonely night when my Parents packed their rock hammers and Dad said, “I only hope the Alluvial Deposits are interesting enough”, which prompted my Mother to say, “We wouldn’t have to move in the first place, if you had considered my Alluvial Deposits first”, but that just started the whole argument over again!

“Were you parents ever on plain speaking terms, or did they only argue the live long day?”

“Well, that kind of depended if it was the winter or the summer. In the winter time they seemed to spend a lot of time cuddling and lighting each other’s fires, or whatever they called that kind of thing in Fox River, but in the summer, when the days were long and mom’s alluvial deposits weren’t as well-deposited as the woman down the street, then they had over 18 hours a day to “discuss” their differences by retreating to neutral corners, then raising their rock hammers and saluting, before they..”

-“but not to worry, because my mom used to say that my dad’s head was as hard as SiO2, while he just said that he knew she had a soft spot in her Talc Area, and wouldn’t hurt a hair on her…well, let’s just say they didn’t ever end up in the Emergency Room at Healy General, well not often anyway…”

Dad said we’d be there in no time, but Mom said, “Do you know how far it is from Healy down there?” Dad just laughed and said, “Well, then let’s just move Healy a bit closer and,

“Is that where you learned out to move towns from one place to another?” asked by the woman whose attention span was flexing like a rubber band as I wove yet another tale of My Life Story, as told by Myself!

We stopped off in Soldotna to “fill up the radiator and lose the kid” as my old man used to say, which is why those Canadian Gypsies found me and took me with them to-

“What Canadian Gypsies?” asked by the woman who knew all about Gypsies, having been stolen by them from her home in that largish country to the East of Alaska….Now what was it’s name again…..Don’t worry, it’ll come to me sooner or later….

“You are not going to tell me that we were in Soldotna at the same time, and that is the first time that we met each other? Are you?!”

“You know something Lola. When you yell like that, it really reminds me of my formative years growing up with my Dad, Fred Spar and his wife, whose name escapes me at the moment? Well, Fred Spar was a man that-

“Was that your father’s name? Fred? You never told me that before? And why Spar?”

“Well, it seems that when he first went out with my mom, they used to take their rock hammers, spending their time pounding each other’s….now what was it they called it back then….Well, it doesn’t matter now, does it? Well, my dad said Feldspar was the family name, but my mom being all out of breath and all after all of that pounding, thought my dad said, Fred Spar instead! Well, “-

“Don’t you have any idea what your “parents” were doing back then?” asked Lola, whose facial expression told me that this blog was spiraling down the Fox River towards Kachmak Bay, while you and I were just enjoying a Moose Shake in beautiful downtown Soldotna and staring into each other’s eyes telling each other funny stories about –

“Wait just a minute Mister! You were in the middle of at least 3 stories, then we ended up in Soldotna making Google Eyes with each other?”

“Well, we would have been doing other more interesting things, but the Gypsies were awfully strict about that kind of thing, so we had to settle for the “-

“I’ve told you before. We were not kidnapped by Gypsies. Neither Alaskan, nor Canadian Gypsies!

“Wow!! Canada!”

“That’s the Country, I’d forgotten the name of! Canada! Now what was so interesting about remembering that?”

“Well then. Let’s start all over again, shall we?”

“Dad told my mom, we are moving to Fox River, but…

Chapter 2 – Bunkworthy Jones

I had figured that by Caribou Back from Kotzebue a journey of some 14 days would get me close to me destination, when I doubted finding the correct path to Kobuk. My first port of call was the settlement of Kiana situated along the Kobuk River. It was one of peaceful contemplation, but I feared the solitude was about to be shattered, and the next events showed my fears to be true.

The winter frost had finally given way in the Far North. The frozen dam couldn’t take the strain anymore of millions of tons of water, surging around the ice-blockage, finally having been stopped by the sheer cliffs on either side of the narrow canyon, when the cracking and shattering sounds gave way to one tremendous….

The natives there, suggested finding an old Trapper, who had not been in the company of other White Men for as long as he could remember. He just rambled on about some Gal he once knew, or was it the last woman he laid back in Kotzebue at that little brothel, right next to the bakery at the edge of town? His comical speech, “Lola this, and Lola that” made me wonder what kind of woman she had really been, all those years ago, when his mind was just a bit clearer than the skies over the De Long Mountains, guarding the Northern Arctic from those who only wanted to take, but not give back to the Spirit of the North. The Great Spirit of the Arctic.

This woman, this sky spirit that men called Lola Selawik was no stranger to these wild and untamed parts in this corner of Alaska. She had traveled the length of the many rivers and climbed the highest points of the sky mountains, seeking inspiration and solitude, while the rivers surged and the sky boiled with upcoming storms.

I had read about someone like her, inhabiting the Far North, giving life and nourishment to her surroundings. The Caribou, the Moose, being her children all, when the night stars took, and the winds played a melody, not heard in the cities and the towns, restricted to the open spaces, the steeper sides of mountains unattainable, the lower canyons, where the trees almost couldn’t profess to belong, clinging as it were to the sides, the sheerness of another way of thinking. Of someone else’s thoughts.

It wasn’t that easy for me to find Bunkworthy Jones, better to say that he found me, what with him falling out of a nearby Sitka Spruce, spread-eagle upon me, as if I were a small white rabbit falling prey to a Cougar, a hunter of the wild! He finally accepted me enough to talk to me, with him being amazed to hear about the comings and goings outside his river home, what the world had come to, and where it was on the way towards. “Leave me to myself” he told me at last. “Me and my Lola are just fine here!”

There was, however, just him. No one called Lola, or indications of there ever being someone like that living in his ramshackle cottage of sorts with a granite slab providing the most stability, his world would ever come to know.

We just sat there, at his campfire shooting the breeze, when he stood up suddenly and pointed to the northeast:”Up there in the Desert. Kobuk Valley they call it. There is where you’ll find what you are looking for!” Then he just sat down again, and stirred up the coals as if nothing he just had said, ever existed.

That night and the ones that followed, a series of vivid dreams entered my consciousness, not unlike a wind that carried the sounds and scents of another place with it, changing my present landscape into something else, daring me to cross dry rivers and not fear drowning,  while someone beckoned to me from the other side. Standing on a dune of sorts. Towering dunes that surrounded my memories, locking them, sealing them into their own realities, while my own was altered, changed into something new, something old.

The next morning I found myself lying there next to the cold ashes, while the wind started blowing, telling me to follow it. Bunkworthy Jones just shook his head when asked if he would accompany me on my quest, with him giving way to his mutterings about rock demons and river spirits that would take and drown us sure as shooting! I finally convinced him to take me as far as his sanity would allow, and with that said and done, we broke camp and started out way up the Kobuk River Canyon.

What happened next would I be wary to relate to others, but I chose to do so all the same, in Chapter 3 – The parting of ways…