Although Southeast Alaska is famous for being temperate, and even in winter we don’t get the kind of snow and cold common to the Far North made famous by Jack London and others, the past couple of weeks have had a decidedly Arctic attitude. Today is the first day since the cold snap set in that I’ve been able to get the indoor temperature above 45 degrees Fahrenheit and haven’t seen my breath inside my house.
The cold spell has been particularly tough on my mom who has circulation issues that make her extremities especially sensitive to the cold. My dad came up with the idea of heating a stone on the stove for her to rest her feet on. Julian, the fourteen-year-old boy staying with his sister and mother in Meyers Chuck, came out to spend a week with us. He accompanied me to the nearby beach where large, flat stones were common. In previous years my dad had harvested such rocks to build my grandmother’s hearth.
Julian and I clambered over the beach in the chilly air. A rumble sounded in the distance and Julian asked what it was. “The ferry,” I said, pointing toward Prince of Wales Island where one of Alaska’s state ferries steamed down the strait toward Ketchikan.
“But it’s so far away,” he said, squinting to make it out. “How can we hear it so loudly?”
“Sound carries really well over the water. The tide’s coming in so we better find some flat rocks before we get cut off from the houses.”
He pounced. “I found one!” He held it triumphantly over his head.
In a few minutes we found three different rocks of varying shapes, each about an inch and half thick. My mom called on the handheld VHF radio just then, saying that Julian’s breakfast was ready and about to get cold. I told her our mission was accomplished and we were on our way back.
We carried the heavy rocks through the woods, across the beach and into the house. My dad chose the largest and put the other two aside. I decided that it was a good idea since I’d been having a hard time keeping my feet warm, especially after wearing my boots outside doing firewood and other chores, and took one of the smaller ones home.
It worked perfectly for my mom and she was happy to finally have warm feet again, though she had to be careful not to let the rock get too hot. Once it began to burn the soles of her slippers. It didn’t work so well for me. Granted, the first time I used it I definitely luxuriated in having warm feet again. But the moment I got up to do something I returned to find that my stone had been stolen!
Katya had it staked out. She was lying on it and stared up at me with slitted eyes, her tail twitching just daring me to do something about it.
I could take a hint. I wrapped it in blankets and stuck it in her bed and she rewarded me with some head butts and loud purrs that sounded louder than the ferry had. I tucked her hotwater bottle in with her, too, and it’s been a rare day when I’ve seen her come out from under the blankets. When she goes out at night it isn’t for very long and when she comes back in she gives me filthy looks and puts her back to me, letting me know just how much she doesn’t appreciate the freezing weather.
But as long as I keep her hotwater bottle filled and keep changing out the hot rocks in her bed, I think she’ll forgive me. Fortunately, things have warmed up, but I’ll keep the rocks on the stove just to be safe.
1/4/2018 04:52:59 pm
A lovely story!
1/6/2018 11:25:33 am
Thanks so much for reading, and for the compliment!
1/5/2018 06:21:42 am
What a great idea! I know a certain St. Nicholas cat who would love to have a hot stone in his bed. Or in mine, which he thinks is his. He tends to be a Velcro-cat at all times but most especially when my body temperature is elevated and I become his personal heating pad.
1/6/2018 11:24:51 am
Hi, Carole, so good to hear from you! I tried to respond to your last comment on my previous blog post but I think it got put in Spam. (The app my blog is on hates me and treats me like a Spammer all the time. I’ll have to have my sister retrieve me last comments when she has a moment.)
St. Nicholas sounds like as much of a character as Katya. She, though, isn’t the cuddly type and has a very long-suffering, barely enduring air whenever I pick her up. She prefers that our beds remain separate, but that I arrange my life around her comfort. She has ways of making me obey, too! 🙂
Do you think you’ll ever get back to reviewing books again one day?
1/7/2018 02:49:03 pm
I clicked on the wrong thing on Katya’s post, meaning to go to see the comments and instead I unsubscribed from being notified! And then got sidetracked from going back to that post to see what you said.
Every now and then I think about resuming my reviews . . . and then I either encounter more anti-social media insanity or run across yet another book pushing an agenda and remember why I fled.
More and more, I’m reading books that were written before I was born. Occasionally, I’ll risk something that was written when I was a child. I’m happier retreating to a time when neither french fries nor farmers’ markets were racist and when Annabelle could play with trains, if they appealed to her, without having to transition to Andrew.
I sometimes read to be informed, but I mostly read to be entertained. Apparently, I’m asking too much from the modern publishing houses.
1/9/2018 10:46:13 am
The app won’t let me respond to your last post directly. 🙁
I know what you mean about modern books–I run into those same problems. It does seem like authors today are so intent on one agenda or another that they pay little attention to plot or character development. I find myself returning to the older writers all the time, and find “new to me” writers from before the Nineties.
Maybe you could transition your book reviewing to “Oldies but Goodies?” I’d love to have someone I trusted help me find older writers I don’t have a clue about. In fact, it bothers me that I know there are really good authors from the past that I don’t know and have never read!
Anyway, I’m glad you’re still finding something good to read, even if you have to “time travel” to do it. 🙂
1/9/2018 01:48:41 pm
That’s a thought. I’ll consider it.
One author I have been collecting is Patricia Wentworth. I had one of her Miss Silver mysteries in paperback, picked up ages ago. I had enjoyed it but never considered searching for more. I saw the first one on sale in ebook and bought it, and I’ve been adding them ever since as they are discounted. I read them faster than Open Road discounts them, so I branched out into some of her non series mysteries that were cheap (99 cents) and I liked many of those, too.
A friend who is convinced I could cook dirt and make it taste good is urging me to write more about cooking. I’ve thought about that, too. Mudpies were an early specialty, though I no longer “cook” with dirt. Like my beautiful mom by marriage, I do like my own cooking.
1/11/2018 11:26:07 am
I’ve read quite a few of Patricia Wentworth’s books–when I need that Golden Age British itch scratched she’s a regular go-to and it’s nice, like you said, how often they go on sale. I should check to see what’s out there of hers I haven’t read yet, thanks for the reminder.
I’d love to know more about the cookbook idea? Would it be regional, or have a certain angle? A dessert cookbook? The Mudpie sounds delicious (minus the dirt–I had many of those as a kid!).
1/12/2018 05:44:39 am
Open Road Media sent me an email yesterday offering me a free book if three friends use the link below to sign up for its Early Bird newsletter, which is how I knew Patricia Wentworth’s books were on sale. I just finished “Outrageous Fortune” which is a stand-alone. I recommend it.
Here’s the link:
1/12/2018 10:52:26 am
I used the link before I realized I was already signed up (I’m signed up to several of these book sale email services). I’m not sure if mine will count since they already have my email. And thanks for the rec on “Outrageous Fortune.” I can’t remember if I’ve read that one, so I’m off to check it out!