Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Back in the Cosmic Hamlet

I've been back in Homer, sometimes known as the Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea, for a little more than 2 weeks now. It has not been a perfect re-entry but it's had many good moments to offset several bad ones. The bad news first: My faithful 1993 Camry has, to put it in the common vernacular, shit the bed, turned "Tango Uniform" that is, Tits Up, rolled over and died. It  was a sad day last week when my mechanic scratched his head and pronounced last rites on what has been, up to now, a most reliable old friend. With 207,000 miles on the clock, I knew this moment had to come someday. But there's never a good time for a car to die. Especially when I'm living up on the bluff above the bay, 6 miles from town and 1000 feet above sea level. A nice bike ride in — a long, hard bike ride home. And the weather has been, to put it in the most charitable fashion, not that summery either. I've played a bit of tennis. But it's been mostly blustery and cloudy. And chilly.

I'm installed in my summer residence. It's a fine place to be hanging out with great views and total privacy. The drawback is that it is, as I said, a hard bike ride from town for an aging and out-of-shape tennis player. I'm driving a borrowed car and looking for a thousand dollar beater to get me through the summer. But things aren't all bad.

View from my front door
(N59.666850, W151.601616)
One of the good things is that I get to work with my office mates at Alaska Boats & Permits. They're happy to have me back.  And I'm happy to be back and doing cool computer work . I'm feeling needed and appreciated, and I love that feeling . And now that I am forced to buy a car, I'll need to be making money so I can turn around and throw some of it away on a vehicle.

Then last week, a very old and dear friend visited Homer. Carol came all the way from Maine in order to check a tour of Alaska off her bucket list. Back in the seventies we were housemates and along with 8 others shared a charming 18th century mansion in Boston. It was a huge house situated on a wooded lot with a garden and grape arbor. We heated it with wood we hustled from the town dump  — mostly elm that was killed off by Dutch Elm Disease. I spent two happy years living there while attending computer classes at nearby Boston University.

For the most part the weather was decent while Carol was here and on one perfect blue-bird day I took her and her friend Barbara down to see Swift Creek Cabin at the head of the bay. I lived in that cabin during the winter of 1983-84 with Tuli's mom, my first year in Alaska. We were totally unprepared for the darkness that descends on the north country in November but we got through it and in the end enjoyed living off the grid, truly off the grid. No running water, no electricity, no anything. The ever changing view from the front window of Kachemak Bay and the mountains beyond made up for much of what we missed in the way of creature comforts.

Swift Creek Cabin  Russell Homestead
(N59.787760, W151.085881)
I'm waiting for summer to truly begin. Carol and Barbara are in Denali. And I'm looking for a car... Damn the luck!