Monday, September 27, 2010

The Wonderful Weather of Wasilla

Apparently the Alaska Branch of Mother Nature Dot Org decided that "fall" had lasted long enough, and it was now time for "blow." Just when we were getting the intense gold color of the leaves along the road to our house, the wind rushed in to shake them all loose, knock down trees, and remove power from several homes for days.

I suppose I should be grateful that we were spared the looooooong power outage that affected many of my friends, and of course I am. I am also grateful that the theatre was spared having to reschedule a show when power was flickering Friday evening. (It never did go out, though it did flip off for a moment when I was curling my hair. I screamed, "Wait, just one more curl and I'm done!" Then the power came back on.)

However, I'm really peeved that I didn't get to take a picture of that fabulous gold tunnel along our road. The trees hug a place on the road that dips down, and when the sun shines just right, it gleams with an intensity that takes the breath away. I wanted to get a picture of it this year, but the wind robbed me of that by stripping the leaves before they reached that point. Grrrr.

A few days of wind, and then the real fun began: early winter. Yesterday snow appeared on the mountains, as well as making small flurried appearances in the valley. If a rainstorm had moved through, it would have been a snowstorm. At the end of September, for crying out loud. Thank the gods we've already bought that huge two-handed snow shovel for the driveway. We're not even allowed to put on snow tires yet, technically! (I guess that would change if it actually snowed that much, though.)

We escaped most of the problems that others have had: Our only casualty of the wind was our trash can (which wedged itself in such a way that nothing was coming out of it, so we left it where it was until the wind died down), and the fence along the back of the garage. We were going to take it down anyway, perhaps use it to line the outdoor dog kennel, so no real problem there. I think it was only there as a kind of view blocker for the lots behind us, but it was pretty pointless anyway.

So here's the million dollar question: if winter is already threatening to loose itself on us, does that mean it's going to be a long, mild winter, or a long, harsh one? Since it's winter either way, I suppose it doesn't really matter. >Sigh<

Monday, September 20, 2010

Alaskan Health Issues

I lived in one state for the first 30 years of my life. I've lived in Alaska for three years next month.

I believe I have been sick more times here in Alaska than I have the rest of my life. And those sicknesses have been longer, more miserable, and nearly piggyback to each other, especially this year.

In summer 2010, I've been significantly sick three times. The second time included strep throat and ear infections that caused some deafness. The first two each lasted a month long, give or take a few days. That means since May (the first illness of the summer), I've been sick every other month. The third one, I've been adding things back into my diet that may have curtailed it a bit, though it is still not gone.

So what's up? My doc mentioned a couple of things when I went in for the strep and ear infections:

One: We have a lot of tourists, people moving here from other countries, etc. They bring with them all manner of diseases that our bodies have never defended against previously. Even the most diligent of hand washers and antibacterial wipe users can still get sick if they haven't encountered certain bugs before.

Two: This summer was spectacularly awful. I still say the summer of 2008 (our first) was worse because we only saw the sun a handful of times; this summer started off with almost three weeks of gorgeous weather in May. I blamed my first illness this summer on the dust from the duplex building going on right next to our house. I've been more sensitive to dust since my first illness in Alaska (November 2007) was made quite severe by the extreme amounts of dust in the store I worked at.

But then it started raining. And raining. July was (I believe) the wettest July Wasilla has ever seen. And it kept on raining. The last couple of weeks here in September have been sunny, but fall is on the way and it's already getting cooler. First frost just a few mornings ago. Leaves are golden and starting to drop. Darkness is encroaching more and more.

My doc pointed out that Vitamin D is already hard to get the natural way here in Alaska, but a summer like we just had probably led to a seriously depressed immune system for me, judging by how many times I've been sick, and in such close succession. He told me to add a supplement to my diet, which I have.

I'm considering other options, too. One is a sun lamp, another is an air purifier. I wear a mask whenever I clean the house because my dog is a digger and brings tons of dirt into the house with her. I don't burn incense as much as I used to (though I do miss those sweet scents.) Since we've reached all our main purchase goals (house, vehicles, etc) we're considering what we want to add to our place to make winters more tolerable. I decided a sauna would be great, and fewer issues than a hot tub. Maybe we could put a sun lamp in the sauna for a little more "sun."

I'm trying to improve my diet, as well. Taking a multivitamin as well as extra D and calcium, but also trying to find good tasting fruits and veggies (that's kind of difficult in this state. Some of the fruit tastes like paper towels.) Adding lemon to my water helps me drink more water.

I admit that my fitness class schedule was probably a little much this summer, too: so many instructors going on vacations, and me not minding the extra money subbing for their classes, it was probably walking the line of too much. One eight-day period I taught 14 hours worth of exercise classes! I'm trying to curtail things a bit by learning to say "no" every once in a while.

I think the vitamin D has helped with this current cold: hardly any soreness, only one day of extreme mucus movement, and the last few days has just been an annoying cough that won't go away. It's still taking its own sweet time to stop, but the healing process is a little faster this round. It is my dearest hope that I reach a point that I experienced in California, only getting very minor colds that last no more than three days and happen once every couple of years. At the very least, I want to stop losing my voice every time I get sick.

No wonder most people who move here don't stay here. It's a very difficult place to live, for sure. Even my doc mentioned that everyone in Alaska should leave at least twice a year and stay somewhere warmer and sunnier, just for their health. I heartily agree. If only it weren't so expensive to do so!