Sallie Satterthwaite's blog

Blockade ... part 2

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The great Alaskan Ferry Misadventure, a fishermen’s blockade in Canadian waters, continues....
Before the end of the first full day, Mary and Rainer opted to fly on to Juneau. With a limited vacation ticking away, they booked flights to Ketchikan by Taquan Air, where Alaska Air took them on to Juneau. We’re not sure yet how much of their suddenly soaring expenses they’ll be able to recoup. Read More»

Blockade, Part 1

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As often as we have traveled in eastern Europe, Ireland, England, Gibraltar — all potential hot spots — it never occurred to us that we could find ourselves in the midst of an international incident on this continent.
Canadian fishermen, charging Alaskan fishermen with violations of fishing agreements, blockaded Prince Rupert Harbor in British Columbia, preventing the Alaska Marine Highway ferry from leaving on its northbound route.

With us on it. Read More»

Washing dishes: A memory of 1994

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They pushed back from the table.
“Would you like us to do the dishes?” one asked, her tone clearly reflecting her enthusiasm.
“Well, you know we usually do them by hand, and I doubt if that’s what you had in mind,” I replied.
“Whatever,” the other shrugged, eyes distant, in that universal teen code that compresses into one gesture the idea that there’s not much she can do about it anyhow, so she might as well bear with this adult and get “whatever” over with. Read More»

Frank and Aunt Mary Jane

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Who is the oldest person you know? goes the television commercial.
Twice in the past month I was grieving for “the oldest people” I knew. First for Frank Klein, then about a week later for Aunt Mary Jane Wilson.

Mary Jane died peacefully in her house-atop-a hill near Carlisle, Pa, where she had raised her four sons and her daughter since about 1940, and worked as office manager in the family’s paving operation when her husband died in 1971. Read More»

Words gone astray

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Words and phrases that have long been in circulation sometimes sneak around and bite you on the backside.
I usually celebrate the vernal equinox by watching for new words and phrases admitted to the Oxford English Dictionary long before they come into common use.
This year the chief new word was “selfie.” I thought it had to do with tittering British school girls, but suddenly I see or hear it everywhere, and it has nothing to do with young girls. It’s a comfortable word, easy to use, fairly organic. Read More»

There are Birds and Birds

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There are birds and there are birds. We watch them closely in winter because in severe weather, faithful bird feeders can actually make a difference between life and death.
And there are those (like Dave) who go out in the meanest wind and consistently keep their feeders topped off with suet and peanut butter, which fuel the furnaces in their tiny bellies and get them through just one more night, and then one more, and again one more. Read More»

Time, You Old Gypsy Man

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Time, you old gypsy man,
Will you not stay,
Put up your caravan
Just for one day?

This bit of poetry has been rattling around in my head for a week or so now, and I know not why. I don’t remember anything punching its way into my mind, nor even who the author was. Read More»

Murphy strikes again

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We all know Murphy’s Law, but did you realize there really was a documented “Murphy?” His name was invoked by the development engineer overseeing repairs to a malfunctioning strap transducer at Wright Field Aircraft Lab at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1949.

Captain Ed Murphy was quoted by George Nichols, used it in a press conference, and it went viral within a few months. Researchers have claimed attribution for this story, some very persuasive, but this is the first I’ve seen that appears “so spot on.”
The law? “If anything can go wrong, it will.” Read More»

Second Surgery

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Few family crises tug more at the heart of mother than not being with her child when she is in pain.
Mary had to undergo another operation for a ragged rotator cuff.
Yes, the first one was just last fall, but once that healed up, the other began to make itself felt and she went ahead and scheduled surgery.
Why would a 50-something pianist come down with what is usually regarded as an athletic ailment when she is so careful about nutrition and fitness? And why did this develop in the first place? Read More»

February, short but sweet

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Portions of this column appeared in 2002.

My old copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations surprised me: No entry for February among its vast hoard of words, except for the nursery rhyme, “Thirty days hath September….”
The framers of our calendar were merciful in dealing to this wintry month only four rounded-off weeks of weeping skies. Would they have been so thoughtful with January. Read More»

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