As I write this, I am sitting in the Alexandria (Va.) home of Jill Melton, a friend from Gegrapha days. I learned six weeks ago that I’d won a Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council for my story on Nadia Bolz-Weber in More magazine last year. More wasn’t picking up travel expenses for me to go pick it up but I figured that it’d be fun to go to Washington DC for the weekend for the ceremony and I had just enough frequent flier miles on Alaska and United Airlines to make it happen, along with Hertz points for very cheap car rentals. And so I flew to Seattle Thursday April 9 and spent the night with my parents, whom I’d not seen since Christmas. My mother spent most of 2014 feeling very bad but thankfully she’s doing so much better these days. Friday, I flew from SeaTac to DC and this morning I got up early to go pick up a friend, Diane Karadimos, to go to the Tidal Basin and see the cherry blossoms. The weather here has not been good and the blossoms are weeks late but FORTUNATELY the weekend I chose to come to DC was the one in which the blossoms were out. We parked at the Pentagon City mall and took the metro; a fortuitous choice as I might have never found a parking space and the crowds were enormous. Most were tourists from other counties; I think half of Japan was there clicking away plus there seemed to be a lot of people from the Middle East. The crowds thinned a bit on the southern side – near the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial – so we relaxed there. It was a bright, sunny day with a breeze and temps in the mid-60s. The blossoms were lush and soft and just right.
I then whisked over to Oakton (a northern Virginian suburb) to visit some Kurdish friends for only 2 hours and they served me their traditional food which I really liked. I was there not long enough but it was either drop by for a short time or not see them at all. Then I drove back to Jill and Howard’s place to slip on a burgundy-colored formal gown I picked up in a consignment shop in Fairbanks for very little money. Jill loaned me a shaw and some jewelry and I do think I looked pretty spiffy. Jill and her husband, Howard, went with me to the Wilbur Awards banquet where we met up with longtime chum Sheryl Blunt who I told years ago about freelancing for Christianity Today. She followed up and became a contributing writer. We had not seen enough other in years. The awards banquet was 3 hours long but each winner got a film clip devoted to their work, which was gratifying. As for the rest of my trip, tomorrow is Maryland day where I visit my brother Rob and his wife, savor old haunts in Hyattsville and then dinner with a Washington Times friend. She and I were both laid off and she’s glad to be out of there.
Veeka/Ollie was left back in Fairbanks as she had school to attend and I didn’t have enough airline miles for us both. She and I had an unusual Easter last week in that we showed up at an Episcopal church (wanted to hear all those Easter hymns that only Anglicans sing), then repaired over to the house of a friend who had kindly invited us for dinner. It was a lovely sunny day and she got to go on an Easter egg hunt in the snow in the tiny village of Ester, 7 miles southwest of Fairbanks. We had never been to Ester before, so it was a lovely day. Our hostess was so kind and gave Veeka a Japanese doll.
It is getting lighter and lighter in Alaska as we gain 7 minutes of sunlight a day. Things are tough up there as the decline in oil prices has led the state to cut lots of jobs. Some 55 teachers in our school district are being laid off and there were big cuts to UAF’s budget. Fairbanks is actually losing population, sadly. I’m hoping that Alaskans be more willing to pay either sales or income tax, as there’s not enough money from oil revenues to run the state. There are no taxes up there, except in a few municipalities where there’s sales tax, but that is rare. They are also putting through a bill in the state legislature to do away with daylight savings time, which is understandable. During summer months, you don’t need more daylight.
Ollie turns 10 on the 16th, so am trying to think up good birthday ideas as it is a milestone event. The local swimming pool wants two adults if there is more than 4 kids at the party, so that idea is out. Lots of stuff to take into consideration.