Winter Solstice - on the shortest day of the year, I walk through the wind to Abby's and hear about Roswell, New Mexico
I had a terrible night. For the past three weeks or so, everybody around me has been getting sick, but whatever bugs have been in the air had left me alone until two nights ago. Compared to the bugs that caught the others, whatever hit me was not so bad. It didn't make me vomit or give me an upset tummy - it just made me cough real hard.
And with this soccer-ball sized hernia my surgery mishaps have left in the middle of my tummy, those coughs REALLY hurt - like they are going to rupture right through my flesh. I have a big, broad, elastic abdominal support to wear and it helps, but still, the coughs hurt.
And last night I coughed a lot. The coughing eased off this morning just when it was time to get up, so I didn't get up. I slept. Until nearly 11:00 AM. Then I got up and since Margie was home, the fire was burning hot and the house was warm, I cooked myself some oatmeal.
A little after noon, Margie announced she was going shopping and would be gone for about five hours. So I told her that when I got hungry, I would walk to Abby's for lunch. She said I was done, I could call and she would pick me up.
So here I am, mid-afternoon, feeling hungry, leaving the house to walk to Abby's for lunch. The two snowed over cars are Caleb's and neither one of them works very well. The wrecked airplane off to the side of the house is mine. It doesn't work, either. I often wish Caleb would sell the cars and get them out of here, but there's no way I'm getting rid of that airplane, so what can I say?
Plus, real Alaska yards are supposed to look like this, anyway.
Here I am, about three quarters of the way to Abby's, one-and-a-half miles from the house. The wind is howling. The temperature has really warmed up, to 20 degrees F (- 7 C), but with a windchill right back down to the - 20 range where our real temperatures spent most of the week. But, like I said, a windchill is not the same as a real temperature. The wind was to my back and it was a most pleasant walk. It just felt good, invigorating. I was comfortable and happy.
Earlier in the week, in the real -20's F, I had taken a walk dressed exactly as I was today, but had to break it off half-way through and come home because my feet and legs got too cold. If I had been wearing overpants and boots or warm shoes, I would have been fine, even then. But I wasn't - just Levi's and street shoes.
I didn't get cold at all on this walk in this wind, at 20 above with a -20 F windchill.
I knew it would be a lot tougher walking back, but still, if needed, I could turn around now and then and walk backwards.
I see online that Fairbanks is still running temperatures from -39 to -50.
"Alappaa! -39 to -50 tonight in Fairbanks! Bbrrrrrr," says Bernice Kaigelak of Nuiqsut on Facebook. She is visiting Fairbanks.
"Alappaa!" means "really cold."
By the way - I am studying my Iñupiaq Rosetta Stone really hard these days.
Even though it is only a mile and a half, it took me a while to reach Abby's, because I would stop to do things like go out and stand in the middle of the road and turn around and wait for a car to appear beneath the moon, but here I am, just about there.
In addition to her regular menu and a couple of specials that sounded pretty good, Abby was cooking chilli, which she said would be done in 15 minutes. Chilli sounded good. Perfect. Tim was there and joined me at the table, where, as always, he told me some good stories.
About 14 minutes after I came in, Abby came over with a tablespoon of chilli. Tim is her official tester and she wanted his opinion. He sniffed the chilli. "Fine bouquet," he praised. Then he tasted it.
"What does it need?" Abby asked.
"It's got everything it needs," Tim answered, "but age."
He then told me how he had gone into a restaurant in Roswell, New Mexico and saw a special advertising yesterday's soup for half-price. So he bought a bowl. It was super delicious. He thought the restaurant should have charged double for the aged soup, instead of half.
I texted Margie to tell her I was at Abby's and chilli was just about ready. She came to get some, too. Somehow, I took it for granted she had met Tim before, but she hadn't, so I introduced them.
"Tim's the one who's usually wearing a cowboy hat," I told her.
"I got tired of chasing it around, so I took it off," Tim explained why he wasn't wearing it today.
Right after she sat down, she got a text from Lavina and this picture. When I picked Margie up yesterday, she told me Lynx had been walking all over the place, but of course while I was there he refused to walk and would only crawl. After we left, he started walking everywhere again. Lavina decided it was time to hang up his cradle board.
But then Lynx wanted back in. So she tied him up, lulled him to sleep and took this picture.
The chilli, btw, was superb, exquisite - mighty, mighty, MIGHTY good. Margie said so, too. I don't doubt but it would have been even better if it had aged a day, but I don't know how chilli this good could ever make it through a full day without getting eaten all up.