Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Little Zen From The August Sun

The August edition of The Sun came today.  Each addition has an interview.  This month's is with
Norman Fischer, the founder and senior dharma teacher at the Everyday Zen Foundation.  He's interviewed by Corey Fischer.  They haven't found any family connection, but they decided to use first names in the interview to avoid confusion.  Here's just a bit, which seems useful to think about these days.
Corey: If you were to distill Zen Buddhism to its most basic, core concepts, what would those be?
Norman: [Laughs.] Oh, boy. Maybe the simplest and truest thing to say is that Zen doesn’t have a basic core concept. Zen is just appreciating being alive. There’s nothing to it beyond that. But if I said only that, it would be a little silly and disappointing, even though it’s true. So I will say more. . .
"Zen Buddhism is interested in awakening through different ways of looking at the world. It doesn’t try to tell you what the absolute truth is, the way Western religion does. At a certain point in history people began sincerely thinking, “Well, if you don’t believe in Jesus, your soul is in jeopardy. So we should do whatever it takes to straighten you out. That’s an act of compassion because we’re in possession of an absolute, metaphysical truth.” Forcing religion on unwilling others turned out to be a terrible idea."

You can read the whole interview here.

[We've had a lot of nice days and today is one.  It's going on 10pm and the sky is blue with puffy white clouds and I'm sitting on the deck in shorts surrounded by trees.  The picture shows the magazine on the outdoor table next to my computer.  The white lacy thing is a cover to keep bugs out of the food.  It opens sort of like an umbrella.  The bugs haven't been a problem, but some young Steller jays have been coming pretty close before we have to shoo them away.]

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Anchorage Garden Tour 2018

The last Sunday of July is the Anchorage Garden Club's Garden Tour.  The newspaper used to feature the houses on the tour, but I think they were getting way too many people traipsing through their yards.  So notice is more discrete nowadays.  We've gone on lots of these tours and they are always inspiring - introducing new plants, ideas making gardening easier or more productive.

There have been overwhelming gardens that someone has spent a small fortune on and then there are much more modest ones, with ideas I can imagine duplicating in my own garden.

This year all the gardens fit in the more modest category.  I've decided to put up the pictures by categories rather than by the gardens they were in.  I also got pictures of all but one of the six hosting gardeners.


This garden featured flower beds growing out of bales of hay.  Karen said she just dug out a hole and planted and things did really well.  There was something about adding nitrogen.  She suggested looking online for more details - so here's a link I found.

This gardener used a mail box token her hand tools in.  She also lined her flower beds with beer bottles.

This garden was billed as an example of 'upcycling.'   And there were lots of odds and ends all over the yard, like this giant pail with small waterfall.  Most of it was not the sort of thing that appeals to me during our decluttering phase.  These possible second uses of things are precisely the logic my mom used for not giving or throwing things away.

But I did like this use of an old bed post to put a new spin on the idea of a flower bed.

Some new ideas come in the way of plants I don't know, but do well in an Anchorage garden.  I did know that people have tried hydrangeas, with difficulty.  But this Hydrangea Annabelle has been doing well for nearly ten years she said.  It has a mint green flower that then turns white.  It is against a south facing house wall, which helps.  

And I didn't know about these orchid primroses.  

And this nine bark diablo was another.

Pretty Flowers 

Of course one of the delights of a garden tour is to see some beautiful flowers.  And I'm a sucker for the deep blues of delphiniums

And these white lilies in the same garden were exquisite.

The Gardeners

Karen Gonne-Harrell was the gardener with the straw bales.  These beds were from last year's straw beds with wood put around them.  She added some dirt on top. But she said the carrots weren't doing well - here she pulled up a couple to show me.  

Rona Spaar had the most 'perfect' garden - everything was in place, lots of beautiful flowers everywhere, not spots that weren't green or full of blooming flowers.

Rathe Rasmussen's garden had lots of ideas in it - like the beer bottle borders.  This was a fun and lush garden.

I thought I recognized Marti Black's Spenard garden from a previous tour - five years ago she said.  (It's the first one in this 2013 post.  The porch was added on since then.)

And yes, in all these cases the gardeners were women.  Though Lester Black was also here and showing people around.

This was the part that was a beautiful garden in the most traditional sense, including the apple tree.

The other side of the house had Lester's junk pile.

This is Vicki Russell - the upcycling gardener who also had a number of plants I hadn't seen before.

Other Thoughts

We parked at Spruce Park near one of the houses.  The sign on this white bicycle says:

In memory of Jeff Dusenbury
7 -19-14
Beloved husband, father, friend, and avid cyclist.
Killed here on July 19, 2014

 As someone who bikes a lot, this is a somber reminder of the dangers.  The link tells more about what happened.

This sign at one of the gardens reminded me that gardening is one of those activities that transcends political leanings.  Passionate gardeners come in all ideologies.  Gardening is a neutral ground for those of different views to remember they are all human beings with more similarities than differences.

I wasn't exactly where this picture of the elephant fountain fit, so here it is to close this post.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Blogging Output Decline

I've been missing days here and there.  We had visitors.  We're still uncluttering - the old sofa bed got picked up this morning, and we're still shredding old documents.  And there's taking advantage of living close to lots of incredible ways to get into the wild.  There's the taming of the wild in our own yard.  And books to read.

So there are ideas piling up.  Things I've thought about or even started.

I still have lots to document on the Graham v. MOA case.

A post on whether non-citizens should be able to vote.

More research on the airport construction that is causing so much noise - including observations on people who tell people to get over it.

Concerns about NPR's growing to cozy with their news formulas.

Filipino Food- Ed Badajos' great graphic book from the 1970s.

And thoughts on how blogging has changed since I started here, just to name a few things.  But I'd rather skip a day here and make sure what I write is worth people's attention.  

I should also mention the peaches.  The Costco peaches were delicious - but there were so many of them.  And they were each so big.  And they all got ripe at once.  We just ate a bunch and  J made some peach and blueberry compote last night.  And before that I used peaches in my oatmeal.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Water Cutoff, So We Get Out Of Town

There was a green card hanging from our door the other day that said the water would be shut off between 9am and 3pm on Thursday.  I checked on line and found this:
[UPDATE Aug 21, 2018 - I've corrected the formatting for this project and I've posted an update]

AWWU Construction Projects

  • Project Manager
    • James Armstrong
  • Phone Number    
    • 907 564 2776
  • Public Description
    • Work will consist of the Contractor to furnish and install approximately 2,000 linear feet of 16-inch PVC pipe, three (3) double pumper fire hydrant assembly, and eight (8) 16-inch gate valves and valve boxes, three (3) 8-inch gate valves and valve boxes, and one (1) 6-inch gate valve and valve box.

So we decided it would be a good day to be out in the woods.  The shut off the water by 11am just before we took off.

And the street was blocked off.   We drove straight down to Portage Glacier.  I'd been there a couple of weeks ago with the little kids and I really wanted to go see Byron Glacier and spend some time relaxing in the van at Black Bear campground.  It was raining too much last time to take the kids to  Byron Glacier, and since there was a rare iceberg floating by the visitor's center it didn't seem necessary.  We stopped at the visitor center first.  It was raining some, but with the fierce wind of last time, and the iceberg was gone.

The white in the middle is the glacier.  It used to wrap around and over the hill and sit in the water of Portage Lake.  And there used to be icebergs all the time.  The ranger said the berg had lasted about two weeks, melting and breaking up fairly quickly.

Then off to Byron Glacier not far away.  (I"ve been debating whether this should be in chronological order or if I should just put up pics from the day.  General chronological order won by one vote.)

Here's a ripe salmon berry we passed on the way.

And here's what's left of Byron Glacier.  I remember first seeing it when the whole mountain side was solid glacier.  Now the lower part is pretty pitiful.  When you talk to people in Anchorage about climate change - the long time residents just point to Portage and the nearby glaciers as how they know it's real.  These changes are really dramatic.  And in a short span that humans can notice.

Here's a decent sized chunk of glacier but it's really a tiny fraction of what used to be here.

This is looking up.  The clouds have lowered since I took the first Byron glacier picture above, but you can see the eerie blue ice often found in glaciers, especially on cloudy days.

Walking back we started talking to a couple from North Carolina.  They were originally from Calcutta and they were on a whirlwind tour of Alaska.  In a week they'd been to Denali, Anchorage, Seward, and were spending their last full day at Portage and then went to hike Winner Creek in Girdwood.

And in the car next to ours was a young Israeli who was touring Alaska.

This fern lined path is near Black Bear campground in the Portage Valley.  We'd stopped her last time and it was so beautiful that I wanted to explore the area a bit.  We had lunch, read, and snoozed.  I'm just starting Charles Eisenstein's The Ascent of Humanity. Someone told me about it when I was talking about how the Protestant Work Ethic doesn't work any more now that technology can do much of the work that people had to do.  That we need a knew way to think about the distribution of wealth - other than it being only paid-work connected.  (Here's one post I did on that thought.  Looking for it, I see I've started, but not finished a few others.)

Eisentein's message includes that thought, but in a much broader perspective of how many of our conceptions of the world are failing to accurately portray what's happening around us.
"In the face of an ecological, financial, social, and health crisis that isn't going away, our tools - political, technological, and cognitive - are revealing themselves as impotent.  As that happens, the belief systems that embed those tools lose the gloss we call 'reality.'  Our defining narratives are coming apart at the seems.
"This dissolution reaches to the deepest imaginable level.  Not only our social institutions, not only our ecosystems are collapsing, but along with them our answers to the basic questions of life: "Who am I?" "Why am I here?"  "Where did we come from and where are we going?" "What is the purpose of life?"

But he's also optimistic.  And in a way that might be reasonable.  He talks about how humankind's thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and technology have failed to make people happy.  How along with greater material wealth and better health for many, there is still genocide, hunger, massive destruction of the natural world.

"Something [is] so fundamentally wrong that centuries of our best and brightest efforts to create a better world have failed or even backfired.  As this realization sinks in, we respond with despair, cynicism, numbness, or detachment.  
OK, I know I promised more optimistic and that was the opposite.  Here it comes:
"Yet no matter how complete the despair, no matter how bitter the cynicism, a possibility beckons of a world more beautiful and a life more magnificent than what we know today.  Though we rationalize it, it is not rational.  We become aware of it in moments, gaps in the rush and press of modern life.  This moments come to uss lone in nature, to with a baby, making love, playing with children, caring for a dying person, making music for the sake of music or beauty for the sake of beauty.  At such times, a simple and easy joy shows us the futility of the vast, life-consuming program of management and control.  
Reading that yesterday in the van surrounded by trees and a glacial river nearby and about to go for another walk, I knew I would put these quotes into this post.
"We inuit that something similar is possible collectively.  Some of us may have experienced it when we find ourselves cooperating naturally and effortlessly, instruments of a purpose greater than ourselves that, paradoxically, makes us individually more and not less when we abandon ourselves to it.  It is what musicians are referring to when they say, "The music played the band."
"Another way of being is possible, and it is right in front of us, closer than close.  That much is transparently certain.  Yet it slips away so easily that we hardly believe it could be the foundation of life;  so we relate it to an afterlife and call it Heaven, or we relegate it to the future and call it Utopia.  (When nanotechnology solves all our problems . .  when we all learn to be nice to each other. . . when finally I'm not so busy . . .)Either way, we set it apart from this world and this life, and thereby deny its practicality and its reality in the heart and now  Yet the knowledge that life is more than Just This cannot be suppressed, not forever."

He goes on to take about the title - The Ascent of Humanity - as being an ironic take on Jacob Bronowski.'s The Ascent of Man. Ironic because he's arguing in the book that the idea of man's ascent to a better life through technology that takes us beyond nature, that has us conquering nature to improve human life, the idea of progress as we know it is false.  We've been 'improving' since the Stone Age and futurists keep telling us about new technologies that will solve our problems.  It's not going to happen he tells us.  We need to rethink our relationship to the world, to nature, and to each other.  That better life won't come from technology, but from knowing ourselves and our role in the natural world.

It's not a new message in some senses, but he's got 500 pages of back up for the argument.  I've only read the Introduction (where he outlines the arguments chapter by chapter) and the beginning of the first chapter - The Triumph of Technology - where he picks up the theme I've followed about how the promises of more leisure through technology have fallen flat.

OK, back to Portage Valley.  Despite how beautiful it was and the many pictures I took, I'm afraid these are just a pale facsimile.  You can't feel the mist drizzling on your face, or see these shots in their large context.  But I was feeling that 'more magnificent world' as I walked through this with a much lightened heart.

These are shelf fungi growing on the bottom of a cut tree.

I'm looking forward to reading all of Eisenstein's book.  I'm hoping it's as good as it seems to be in the fist 20 pages or so.

I do want to mention the idea of separation which is a key point he's making - and you can see it on the cover page (if you click on it and enlarge it).  I'm guess from the little I've read so far, this will be about many separations from what's real that humans have made.  Separation from nature.  How science has broken down into uncountable specialities so that few actually see the big picture and how everything is connected.  (Again, a big theme in The Invention of Nature, Andrea Wulf's book about Alexander von Humboldt.)  He's talking about how we have separated humans into different groups - by gender, by race, by ethnicity, by nationality, by religion.  And how humans have been separated from their true selves by the narratives of the societies they live in.

I think Esenstein would take hope from how the Trump administration is forcing so many people to rethink their conception of the United States.  The old world view has to die before the new one can be adopted.  It's not easy, but it's how things work.

And the water was back on when we got home.

Monday, July 23, 2018

LA Loses Gold - Their Venerable Food Critic Who Knew Good Food And How To Write About It

Jonathan Gold was my guide to eating out in LA.  As a food critic, he wasn't snobby.  As Sunday's LA Times article tells us:
"Food criticism before him — and even during his time — focused on the austere, the high-end, the Michelin stars. Gold redefined the genre, drawn more to hole-in-the-wall joints, street food, mom-and-pop shops and ethnic restaurants than he was to haute cuisine. Although he appreciated and wrote beautifully about fine dining, he revered the taco truck more than the tasting menu. . ."
“Jonathan understood that food could be a power for bringing a community together, for understanding other people,” said Ruth Reichl, who edited Gold at The Times and at Gourmet. “In the early ’80s, no one else was there. He was a trailblazer and he really did change the way that we all write about food.”
"Gold was mission-driven as a critic, hoping his food adventures through the city’s many immigrant enclaves would help break down barriers among Angelenos wary of venturing outside their comfort zones. In the process, he made L.A.’s enormousness and diversity feel accessible and became one of the city’s most insightful cultural commentators.
“I am trying to democratize food and trying to get people to live in the entire city of Los Angeles,” he said in a 2015 interview with Vice. “I’m trying to get people to be less afraid of their neighbors.”
In 2007, when he was writing for L.A. Weekly, Gold became the first restaurant critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. "
His death at 57 is a great loss not only to LA, but to the art of writing about food.  So it is with sadness, I post about him today.

And I've had a draft post up for nearly a year now because I was so taken by one of his reviews last year.  It was over-the-top, but then the restaurant itself was beyond that even.  Was the chef a true artist who sculpted not only the food, but the whole dining experience and, with Gold's help, found people to pay for his art? (Dinner for two was $1000.) Or was he spoofing restaurants who gave people a square plate with couple of artfully placed asparagus and dribbles of colorful sauce for $40?

I never posted about that review, but it seems appropriate now.   Especially because today's article tells us:

"Gold was protective of Los Angeles and how it was portrayed. For years, when the Los Angeles food scene was overlooked by critics who preferred dining in New York and San Francisco, Gold was quick to defend and champion it.
After New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells disparaged the Oakland location of Locol, a fast-food chain that originated in Watts, Gold penned an impassioned essay in response.
“Locol is less a replacement for a fast-food restaurant than a better version of it,” he wrote. “Someday, if he’ll allow me, I’d like to take Mr. Wells to Watts.”
Perhaps to make a point, when it came time to pick his first Restaurant of the Year recipient three months later, Gold chose Locol."
Verspertine is about as far from the the Southern India spot in the Culver City strip mall or the food truck anywhere.  His review begins:
If you were looking for the oddest dish being served in an American restaurant right now, you should probably start with the fish course at Jordan Kahn's new Vespertine, a dish that nudges the idea of culinary abstraction dangerously close to the singularity. It doesn't look like fish, for one thing — it looks rather like an empty bowl, coarse and pebbly inside and out, of a blackness deep enough to suck up all light, your dreams and your soul.
If this were Coi or Alinea, to name two modernist temples, your server would instruct you on how to eat the dish, or at least on where you might direct your spoon. At Vespertine, the server, wearing a severe frock like something out of "The Handmaid's Tale," does not. If you prompt her, she may whisper the word hirame, which in a sushi bar can mean either flounder or halibut. She will leave before you discover that the flounder has been pounded thin, crusted with charred-onion powder, and pressed into the bowl over a kind of porridge studded with minced shallot, perfumy bits of pickled Japanese plum, and bright, crunchy bursts of acid that could either be finger-lime vesicles or chopped stems of the wildflower oxalis. You are not sure exactly what you are eating. You are not meant to know. You have traveled from darkness into light, and that is enough.
The link here is worth it just for the pictures, but also for his words.  Gold knows that few of his readers will ever go to Vespertine:
I would say that a meal at Vespertine is mandatory for a certain kind of diner, but mandatory in the way that the James Turrell show at LACMA a couple of years ago was mandatory, or Berg's "Wozzeck," or the current season of "Twin Peaks." It's not dinner; it's Gesamtkunstwerk.
But for most of us, reading Gold's description (it's way beyond a review) of the Vespertine experience makes me, at least, feel like I was there with him.  Vespertine was his Restaurant of the Year for 2017.  I imagine he saw it not as a spoof, but the work of great artist, and like a Lamborghini, something to admire, but something only a few would experience.

May Anchorage's food critics read Jonathan Gold's old reviews and set their sights much higher.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Babylon Berlin NEIN

I follow NEIN ('No' in German)  (@NEINQaurterly) on Twitter.  I think I saw his book first in a Seattle bookstore and then his Twitter feed.  He tweets with extremely wry irony and wit.  He tweets in German but mostly in English.

We've also watched the Netflix series Babylon Berlin which takes place over a couple of years prior to Hitler's rise to power.  (Well, while he was rising, but not yet there.)  It's an incredible production.

For those who dismiss anyone who makes comparisons to Nazi Germany, I highly recommend this show.  Yes, the soup Nazi and other such inappropriate usages have often diminished more serious comparisons.  And to a certain extent, the omission of ways Hitler improved the lives of many Germans, has blinded Americans and others to how someone like Hitler could have risen to power.

So a show like Babylon Berlin is important in getting a better understanding of the conditions in which a person like Hitler could come to power in a country that had been the cultural, scientific, and intellectual power of Europe.

So when I saw this Tweet today, I'm intrigued - an online course on Babylon Berlin.

I was hoping this was an online class, but it appears it will be limited to a few folks in New York who can get to DeutchesHauseNY.  But there's some extra reading here to follow up on.

If you have Netflix and haven't seen this series, at least watch the first episode.  Great characters, powerful story, and it will pique your interest in the times, which are definitely relevant (not the same as but relevant) to what's happening in the US.

*To Ashes. To dust.
Stolen from the light.
But not until the 20th of September.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Surprise! Departure Time and Costco/Citi Bank Billing

Surprise 1:  Departure Time

I got up yesterday (Thursday) thinking that my daughter and granddaughter were flying home today (Friday) - that we had one more day of human sunshine at the house.  But my wife informed me they were leaving that day (yesterday) at 3:30pm.  This was about 9am.

Whoa, how could I make that big a mistake?  I checked my computer calendar and I had them down for today - the 20th.  So I looked for the email and got the Alaska Air reservation.  There it was:  July 19.  But it wasn't 3:30pm.  It was 11:07am!  (3:30 was their arrival time.)

Needless to say when I told my daughter, who was still in bed, there was a bit of hustle and bustle. But we got them to the airport ok.

It hurt to see them go.  But the last minute burst of packing and rushing was distracting.

It means we can get back to our cleaning out the house activities - more paper shredding, more sorting, tossing, giving away, the crumbling front steps will be replaced.   I think I've decided to not put so many pictures back up on the walls.  Instead, we'll just change what is up now and then and leave many of the pictures in the 'archives.'  It's just that we're trying to minimize storing stuff we don't use that much.

Surprise 2:  Paying Costco Bill Still A Pain

It's not the amount that's the problem, it's the complicated way Costco and Citi Bank (their credit card) do things.

When we had to change to the Citi Bank Costco credit card last November, we didn't realize that we would get two cards with two different numbers.  And since my wife happened to be the person who signed up for them, she was automatically the primary card holder.  I have no problem letting her be 'primary' except that I'm the one who pays the bills.  So the first bill we got I had lots of trouble - the website didn't recognize my card number.  You see, when I use my card, it all goes to her card number.

And I couldn't even call in and work it out.  I had to give the phone to her to get permission to pay the bill.  She gave it.
So I was able to set up the user name and password.

Until a couple of months later, they didn't work.  I couldn't get past the security questions.  Turns out my card number has no value at all in identifying myself.  I have to use her number, but she still had to give permission.  Despite our pleas to let me have the ability to call in and talk to them without getting her permission - and their saying ok they were doing that - it didn't happen.

So when I tried to pay the bill they emailed me today, it didn't work again.  The rep this time was much more sympathetic than last time.  (Last month she denied that I had ever been made an 'administrator' even though we knew we'd called in and asked for that to happen.)  So Jazzalin made me an administrator yet again.  But I can't change a mailing address or security questions without my wife's permission.

I understand that some couples might want to put restrictions on one another or other users including children, but I don't understand why we can't have the option of one card number and equal access for both of us.

But then I got transferred to the tech side to figure out why I couldn't log in.  The rep did say that I had logged in successfully at 2:06pm (so I knew he was on East Coast time).  But the messages I got all said something like "Your info does not match our records."
He asked how I had gotten to the website.
Me:  "I used the link in the email statement I got."
Him:  "Ah, don't use that.  Go straight to CITI.com"
Me:  "You're saying the link in the email statement doesn't work?"
Him:  "There have been some problems."

There are enough refunds using Costco's preferred card to make not using it a real decision.  Besides, using their credit card doesn't give them any more information on what I buy than they already get from their membership card, and I don't usually carry much cash on me these days, and you have to have the credit card to get gas there.  So I'm resigned to using the card.

[UPDATE July 28, 2018: A reader emailed me to say she gets gas using her Alaska Airlines credit card, and that having two different card numbers was helpful when she lost her card.  Her husband's card still worked.]]

He also said it was Costco, not Citi, that requires the two different account numbers.  So I did send in my complaint to Costco too.

Another issue we discussed was Security Questions.  He said he's asked at meetings how and why they pick the obscure questions they pick.  He was told that so much info is available on social media these days that they need to be more obscure.  But he also realizes that some people - particularly older people - don't remember 'their first' whatever any more.  And I pointed out that you have to remember exactly what you wrote.  Spelled exactly the same.  Did you give your youngest brother's birthday as July 1, 1996 or just July 1?  Or July1?

But I also raised the issue of potentially giving hackers even more detailed information about a person.  Think of the recent scam attempts lately where someone calls and says, "We've kidnapped your granddaughter and you need to buy gift cards for $5000 and give us the codes within 30 minutes."  They now can convince grandma with obscure details like her granddaughter's first dog's name, or first car or the street she lived on when she was in elementary school.

Or someone stealing your identity can have that information too.

How much are we willing to pay for convenience?  And is it our convenience or the company's convenience?

I've spent at least three hours of my time dealing just with Costco billing in the last six months - that really isn't convenience.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Story Recalling Meandering, And the Flaneur

This all started out fairly early Tuesday as I went along with my daughter and granddaughter to watch the little one bounce for a couple of hours.

But to be an observer I had to fill out an online waiver.  I understand.  Trampolining can be dangerous.  Someone I know broke his neck at a place like this (maybe even this one.)  He was lucky and after painful, scary months and months we was pretty much back to normal.  But there's a lot of liability with a place like this.

But I was only there to observe.  And the online form there asks for dribbles of information.  A paper form you can see what they're asking for all at once and decide if you want to share it all.  So I asked - how much more are they going to ask?
She didn't really hear me and said, "everyone has to fill one out."
Me;  "But I'm only observing."
She:  "Observers can be injured too."  [Isn't this the time people should leave?]
She:  "They don't use the information."
Me:  "Then why are they collecting it?  [I was being snarky.  I understood what she meant - that it's only in case of an accident.]  But even if they don't, someone can hack the computers."

Out of principle - that way too much information is collected about all of us - I decided I would not stay.  Besides I really didn't want to see my granddaughter risking her neck.

So I decided instead to walk around this South Anchorage neighborhood - between Old and New Seward Highways -

I'd only driven by on occasion, but had never really looked at carefully.  It's a funky sort of place with all sorts of housing and yards.

[I'd note the meandering reference in the title beckons back to a long ago post about meandering that comes from Charles Dickens opening to David Copperfield.  It's also a good description of how I often write.  The Flaneur references a post I did about a book by that title that I read while we were in Paris and is about just wandering with no goal through neighborhoods.]

This sign below the mailboxes - click to enlarge so you can read it - was the first that suggested people weren't cleaning up after their dogs.  "Attention Humans:  Please Pick Up After Your Dogs, Thank you."  Then it addresses the dogs.

There were big houses with big yards and gardens.  This one was next to a lot with a  double wide trailer.

Here's another inviting tree filled green yard that reminded me more of the mid-west than Anchorage.

Near another lot that reminded me of old Spenard.

And there were lots of trees and green.

But there also were dozens of zero lot line condos (presumably) scattered in the neighborhood.  Some had more green space around them than others.

If you look closely, Spyglass Hill is a private street, so I didn't go there.  As I wandered around I only saw one other pedestrian.  A woman with a walker and a tiny dog that took his job as her protector seriously.  She was laboring up the steepest hill in the neighborhood.

But I did wonder whether people might not be alerting NextDoor  (I think you may have to sign in to get to the link.) or the police if I had been black or worse dressed than I was.    Especially since I was taking pictures of people's property.

After wandering streets and alleys a while, I got to a bike path that started green and shady, but after about a quarter mile I ended in an industrial area.

It came out near a school district complex.

Past the student nutrition area was a nursery I had never seen before.

I wandered around outside, excited by this find.  (It turned out everything was outside.) But when I saw this item, I realized why all the rocks in my garden were picked up along highway construction sites.  A cubic yard of 'angular boulders"  was $195.  Gravel was only $95.  A cubic yard of gravel is a lot of gravel, but I suspect a cubic yard of the boulders has lots of empty spaces.

There were also also lots of different kinds of trees at serious prices as well.  I quickly deduced this was more for professional landscapers, but homeowners can buy here as well.

Lots of ways to spend your money on things I didn't know I needed.

This natural stone table (and stools) was only  $2786.

Rows of critters of all sorts.

I can see possible uses for these planters.

This dragon was certainly the most interesting item. I didn't check the price tag.

It's interesting to know this is in town in case I ever need something like this.

But then I made my way back out and got to a small strip mall.  I don't know what they do at this place, but it doesn't sound like a place I would ever want to need.

Then as I got back to Old Seward Highway. . .

First I saw the cross. Then I saw the sign.

I checked on line to find out who Justin was.

From his ADN obituary:
Justin Grey Ashley was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident Monday evening, July 8,
Justin was born on July 9, 1992 in Fremont, California to Brian and Charise Ashley. He grew up playing soccer and baseball and loved to ride his bike with his two childhood friends, Josh and Alex. He was a Cub Scout and bridged over to become a Boy Scout.
Justin moved to Alaska with his family when he was 12. He quickly made friends. . .
So yesterday was just a few days past the fifth anniversary of his death.   My sympathies to his family.  My brother was two years older when he died, so I have a sense of their terrible loss.

As I passed Judy's Cafe it reminded me of the place where they charged me an extra $.50 to NOT have cheese in my omelette.  I checked with K who was with me at the time and he said it was not Judy's.

I was getting close to full circle back to pick up the jumpers, when this car with a Begich sign pulled up onto the sidewalk in front of me.  He got out and struggled to get some sandbags that
were at the curb into the car.  I did mention to him that it didn't reflect well on his candidate to be driving on the sidewalk, though parking in the street wasn't a good idea either and he clearly couldn't move the sandbags very far.

At a dog kennel nearby, a woman pulled up and parked right in front of a No Parking sign and went in.

Almost back and I passed what looked like a single family home, but it had four mailboxes in front of it.

I got back just in time to get into the car and open the newspaper before my bouncing family members came out.  I'd had my adventure too.

I thought of the year we lived in Hong Kong when we decided that we could take urban hikes - and just walk three or more miles as we would in a more wild setting.  And there we could catch public transportation home from wherever we ended up.