Archive for July 2018

Found Furniture   5 comments

Tell us about your favorite piece of furniture. Does it have a story behind it?

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While I really had to stretch to talk about wardrobe, I warmed to this topic of furniture.

BuffetWe have tried over the course of our marriage acquire furniture that has character and doesn’t cost a lot. But we like good quality, so most of our furniture comes from garage sales. A great headboard with a new mattress, a sofa recovered in slip-covers, six oak dining chairs around a table that could match, but weren’t purchased together.

My favorite pieces of furniture, however, weren’t purchased at all. My parents lived in several houses when I was growing up … when I say several, I mean about a dozen. They were renters for the first decade of their marriage and so we always just had whatever furniture came with the house. Mortgages were hard to get in those days here in the frontier town of Fairbanks, but the 1967 Flood changed that — the federal government guaranteed loans as part of the disaster relief. So my parents bought a little frame cabin that proved quickly to be too small for three people, so they bought another house with bedrooms.

Book shelfWhile we were moving in, the neighbor told us that the house had once been a showplace, owned by a son of the Nerland family. The Nerlands owned a furniture store in town — the furniture store really, before JC Penny opened. My mother loved to walk by their display window and point out the things she would buy if she just had that sort of money. But, of course, she knew that was never going to happen. She and Dad just didn’t make that kind of cash.

My folks had bought this house as a rental investment from a contractor friend of my dad. They’d scarcely closed on it when the renters decided to move back to Beaver. So, we moved in. The house had once been a showplace with plaster walls and a tin ceiling, but like every other house in town, it had required extensive remodeling after the Flood. The only thing truly impressive about it was that it had a parquet floor in the living room and actual built-in bookcases at the bottom of the stairs. We got about cleaning it up from the renters and while Mom was sorting through the junk they’d left in the cellar, she pulled a tarp off some items in the back corner and got really excited.

Coffee TableHeywood-Wakefield designed fine furniture in the 20th century and, of course, the Nerlands had brought some of it home. Why it ended up in the cellar when the house was sold after the Flood — well, I learned from the niece that her uncle and his wife had decided to move to the Lower 48 and couldn’t take all their stuff with them, so probably the furniture was just left in place and then moved to the cellar during the remodel. Either way, Mom got her good furnture. It included a wonderful gateleg table that was too large for our original home, so Brad traded it for the coffee table after several years of it sitting under a tarp in our shed. The rest of the collection became my mother’s and is now mine.

End TableThe buffet is my favorite. It was also too big for our original home, so it served several years as my clothes dresser to justify its existence, but it is now proudly displayed in the kitchen. It holds all kinds of things – overflow from the pantry, light bulbs, place mats and napkins, grooming supplies for the pets and the top is a perfect place to display my milk bottle collection and some family photos. The book case and two-tiered end table are in the livingroom along with the (unfortunately refinished) coffee table that serves as a television table now – we prefer a ottoman to a coffee table.

Because of my parents’ sort of nomadic existence when I was little and the 1967 Flood, I don’t have a whole lot of things that belonged to them, but even though these items were latecomers, my mother truly loved these pieces. They made her feel rich. She didn’t know how rich. At one point in the 1980s, I learned that my collection was worth more than my parents paid for the house it was found in. That was impressive, but I never intend to sell them. I just love their lines and sturdiness, their dings and the story behind them and I hope one of my kids will be willing to adopt them when I am no longer using them.

 

 

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Stay Tuned for the Blog Hop   2 comments

BlogHop

We’re talking furniture this week. What sort of furniture do you think I would have in my house?

Posted July 30, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Why Does Anyone Need A Gun?   Leave a comment

Pierre Lemieux

Found on FEE

Concealed CarryThe shooting that took place in Toronto (Canada) on Sunday was, in one way, similar to the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris on January 7, 2015. In the latter case, people took smartphone videos of fleeing terrorists shooting at policemen and killing an unarmed one. In Toronto, there were several powerless witnesses, and at least one person, apparently from an apartment overlooking the scene, videoed the killer as he was firing from the sidewalk below. In both cases, if a video taker had had a pistol instead of a smartphone, he could have engaged the killer, at least slowing him down, and saved lives or prevented serious bodily injuries.

The fact that the Toronto killer was apparently just a madman and a loser, as I called his kind in a previous post (“Mass Killings and the Economic Approach to Human Behavior”), is tragic but does not change the situation as far as saving lives is concerned.

An Armed Citizenry Can Stop Crime

In places like Toronto or Paris, carrying guns is a crime for ordinary citizens.

Many people believe it is impossible that armed citizens could end or mitigate a mass shooting. In places like Toronto or Paris, they are right in the sense that carrying guns is a crime for ordinary citizens, so it is unlikely that one could legally and seriously challenge a killer in action. In Canada, if you have been permitted to own a handgun, it can only be carried in a locked case to an approved shooting club; it must otherwise be kept in your home, where it must be locked separate from ammunition, to make sure you don’t use it in self-defense—which would be a crime anyway. It’s even worse in the United Kingdom.

Some states in America are the only places in the civilized world where ordinary individuals are allowed to own convenient handguns, carry them, and use them in self-defense. But here is the question: Does it ever happen that they use them to stop mass killings?

The answer is yes, and is documented in an FBI report, Active Shooter Incidents in the United States in 2016 and 2017 (April 2018). The report documents 50 active shooter incidents over these two years. Shooter incidents are defined as “one or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.” The FBI concludes its analysis by noting:

Armed and unarmed citizens engaged the shooter in 10 incidents. They safely and successfully ended the shootings in eight of those incidents. Their selfless actions likely saved many lives.

Not surprisingly, in 6 of these 10 cases, the intervening citizen was legally armed. Only exceptional circumstances or exceptional courage lead an unarmed individual to successfully confront an armed killer in action. Perhaps one has to be familiar with guns to attempt this. The FBI writes:

In four incidents, citizens possessing valid firearms permits successfully stopped the shooter. In two [of those] incidents, citizens exchanged fire with the shooter. In two incidents, the citizens held the shooter at gunpoint until law enforcement arrived.

In another incident, “a citizen possessing a valid firearms permit was wounded before he could fire at the shooter.” In the last of the six incidents, the shooter was met with gunfire but fled to continue his rampage at another location.

Thus, an armed citizen put an end to a mass shooting in four cases or 8 percent of the shootings. Economist John Lott argues that the FBI missed some of the shootings and that the real percentage over the past few years is around 15 percent. In any event, a significant percentage of mass shootings were stopped by armed citizens and many lives were presumably saved.

Toronto Already Has Very Tough Gun Laws. They Didn’t Work.

In many states, individuals without a felony record can now lawfully carry concealed pistols without a license—so-called “constitutional carry.” This certainly adds to the disincentive effect that concealed carry has on mass murders.

The Sunday shooting and the other recent ones in Toronto occurred after three decades of increasingly severe gun controls in Canada, as you can check in my article “Disarming Canadians,” a review of a recent book by Canadian historian R. Blake Brown. It is farcical to hear Toronto’s mayor John Tory, a conservative politician, suggesting “tougher gun laws” in the wake of the tragic Sunday events, and pontificating:

There are far too many people carrying around guns in our city and our region who should not have them.

He asked:

Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?

He did not mean that cops should not be armed. They have been more and more heavily armed as ordinary citizens were gradually disarmed. He did not mean that the cops who protect him do not need guns. He meant that ordinary citizens should be totally disarmed, hoping that thugs will also disarm, which would (inexplicably?) leave only the cops armed.

It is true that the freedom to have guns means that more guns will be available, including for criminals, if only because of lower black market prices. Even if one assumes that the result will be a higher net murder count (which does not appear to be true), it is a strange ethics that forbids to individuals the means to defend themselves in order to wishfully prevent criminals from harming them.

In the 20th and 21st century, the right of ordinary individuals to own efficient guns is very much part of American exceptionalism. When you think about it, it is as banal as it is incomprehensible to the rest of the world that ordinary individuals have the right to own, and in most states to carry, guns nearly as efficient as those carried by their public servants.

Bare Feet and Messy Hair   Leave a comment

Magical World Web

BlogHopThis week’s topic:  Let’s talk wardrobe. Do you gravitate to one color? What is your go to style? What shoes do you prefer?

Unless I have to, I don’t wear shoes.  No, seriously.  If there’s snow on the ground and I need to take the trash out, then I go barefoot.  I mostly do sandals if I go out to run errands.  If it’s actually cold, then I’ll put on some cute boots that I’ve had for years.  I adore them because they fit my fat calves.  I have started to be more careful about workout shoes, mainly because I tear through them and I have problems finding ones that don’t rip up the back of my foot.  So I’m still looking for that magic pair.

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I made a hopscotch for my kids a few summers ago.

My style is primarily comfortable.  I wear workout clothes a lot because I…

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Posted July 25, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

When Juries Take a Stand   Leave a comment

aurorawatcherak

This is Brad. Lela is headed home today, so this may be my last post for a while. Or not. I sort am enjoying this.

About 25 years ago, I served on a Murder One trial here in Fairbanks.

WG was a miner in the Central area, northeast of town along the Steese Highway. He had a wife and a neighbor who was disgruntled with him. This is a typical story of miners in the smaller towns. They always suspect one another of stealing from each other. This neighbor had accused WG of mining on his land and had recently vandalized some of WG’s equipment. Some of these miners use chemicals to extract the gold from the rock and mercury poisoning can make you paranoid. I’m not sure that was the case in this situation. It’s just an explanation for what happened that I feel comfortable with.

One morning, WG…

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Posted July 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – 23rd July   Leave a comment

Stevie Turner

Here’s this week’s topic:

Let’s talk wardrobe. Do you gravitate to one color? What is your go to style? What shoes do you prefer?

When I was a teenager I followed fashion trends of course, whether they suited me or not.  I clumped about in dreadful platform soled shoes and bellbottom trousers that made my legs resemble two barrage balloons.  All my clothes ended up as a jumble on the floor of my bedroom in direct opposition to my mother Dot, whose clothes were hung up in a meticulous colour co-ordinated way with all the tops of the hangers facing inwards.

Fast forward a few more years to when I was a young mother.  My days were so busy and we didn’t have much money.   I lost all interest in clothes and even felt guilty if I bought any.  The interest never really came back, although if I had…

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Posted July 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Alaska Chic   8 comments

Featured Image -- 57641July 23, 2018
Let’s talk wardrobe. Do you gravitate to one color? What is your go to style? What shoes do you prefer?

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Alaska is still a frontier and so, like many frontier folks throughout time, we tend to dress casually, in keeping with the lifestyle we lead. In fact, my office is so casual that we have dress-up Mondays because a Jeans Friday would look like any other day. There’s really no place in the Interior where there’s a dress standard – no restaurants that require you wear a tie, for example. Such a restaurant wouldn’t have any customers, so they wisely don’t think too highly of themselves.

Glacier ChicWhich is not to stay that we don’t dress up if we feel like it. This week is our version of Founders Days – we call it Golden Days, and men and women both dress in the clothing that was fashionable in the 1910s when Fairbanks was founded. I am walking in the parade tomorrow and will probably wear my Golden Day dress, but I’ll wear tennis shoes under my shirt. That will be the most dressed up I’ll go all year … probably. (We woke up to the brightest and hottest day of the summer so far and so I wore shorts and a sheer blouse because, much as I celebrate our town’s past, I celebrate not getting heat stroke more).

I really am not a big “style” person. I’m small for one thing, so finding clothes that fit and don’t wear me instead of the other way around is a challenge. I’ve never understood some women’s obsession with shoes. I own about three dozen, but that includes summer shoes (can’t be worn in winter), hiking boots (two pairs), and winter boots (five pairs, including bunny boots and muck boots). My dress shoes might have a kid heel, otherwise I prefer flats or a slight wedge. I made peace with being 5’1″ a long time ago and decided to be kind to my spine, knees and phalanges.

Bunny bootsI have two very different styles for work and leisure and they vary by season because we have real winter and real summer here and transition seasons that last about a week each. Additionally, my job interacts with the public, so though the office culture is casual, I feel personally responsible to present a professional appearance. In the winter, that means business casual suit jackets over a nice top and slacks. In the summer, that means a dress or a nice top and a skirt. I dress these up with scarves. But I do relax my standards for Fridays, though I doubt more than my coworkers notice because I basically dress like they do. On dress-up Mondays, they dress like I do on a standard day.

Fabrics are important in a town where there is always construction in the summer — so even my officewear is machine washable. It’s just too expensive to dry-clean outfits every week. We do have a couple of women in the office who do that, but I prefer to spend my income on something that doesn’t need to be done again next week.

During my off-hours, I wear jeans (or shorts in the summer) and t-shirts with sweaters or fleece over that for the winter. I generally wear this casual attire everywhere — including church because I feel I’ve done my time with dress-up at work and Alaskans are so casual about clothes that people in three-piece suits will sit non-judgmentally next to someone in jeans. My favorite color is green, but shades of orange are a close second and blue is a close third. Often, I mix these colors together and I like bold shades to offset the prohibition against ruffles and strong patterns that overwhelm small people.

Fox trappers hatRounding out any Alaska woman’s wardrobe is outerwear – coats, hats, gloves, etc. And we really have three seasons for that — summer, fall/hunting and winter. I don’t have a distinction between work and casual in this gear — except for fall. I would refrain from wearing my blood-stained hunting jacket to the office — though some of my male coworkers would not. In the summer, I usually carry a sweater or light fleece jacket with me because even on hot days, you just don’t know that the weather might turn or that a public building is overdoing the air conditioning. The sun is up most of the night around here, so you can go to a movie at 7 o’clock and it could be 90 degrees out. Inside the air-conditioned theater, you need a sweater. Then when you come out at 9:30, it’s still 75 degrees, so you take the sweater off.  In the fall, that sweater gradually gets layered with another sweater or maybe a water-resistant jacket. And then winter comes and it’s time for the heavy coats – usually hollofill coats to my knees with hoods. But I also have a Carhhart coat for outdoor work and my own pair of bunny boots.

But no Alaska woman’s wardrobe would be complete without fur. I do occasionally wear the mouton parka I inherited from my mother (pretty heavy), but my fox trapper’s hat is only appropriate when it’s really cold out, I’m going to a dog mushing event or I want to tweak the political sensibilities of people who really need to mind their own business.

Now for a funny Alaska story – too bad I don’t have a photo.

We went to an orchestra performance one really cold January. Cold to us is -20*F (-29*C). It was colder than that, maybe -40. I wore a green woolen dress, fancied up with an ivory scarf. Under it, I wore my thermals and a pair of my daughter’s leather boots with wool socks (because her feet are two sizes larger than mine so I could actually get the wool socks in the boots and because it was COLD). There was this woman down by the stage dressed in a glittering red sequined evening gown. She really looked the part with a fur coat and jewelry. But during the interlude, we met in the bathroom and I looked down to realize she was wearing bunny boots. She blushed and laughed and explained she’d left her shoes at home by accident and so it was either wear her outerwear boots or go barefoot. To which I said “It’s Alaskan chic. We should have the consignment store feature it as a hot new trend.” Apparently she told that story enough that it got around because a local boutique actually did feature that as a display the next winter with the caption “Alaska Chic.”

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