Elise Sereni
     Patkotak
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Came home from the store to find four young magpies on my lawn. They were clearly new out of the nest and just getting the hang of flying. They started running across the lawn as I pulled up and the adults showed up in short order to protect their babes. The little ones started to vocalize and I immediately recognized the sounds as those I’d been hearing coming from a nest outside my bedroom window. I guess the kids are all grown up and getting ready to leave home. I can now leave the bathroom window open on hot days without the chorus of hungry cries I’ve been hearing for the past month or more. I think I’ll actually miss that. But glad to see the little ones safely launched.

Elise Patkotak • 03:06 AM •
Monday, June 27, 2016

Do you have a mosquito trap in your yard in Anchorage? If so, Bird TLC is in desperate need of mosquitoes for some of the baby birds we care for this time of year. So don’t throw all the dried mosquitoes out. Bring them to Bird TLC at 7800 King Street. It’s the circle of life!

Elise Patkotak • 03:27 PM •

My friend and I got all dressed up to go to dinner on a fine Saturday night in June in the metropolis known as South Anchorage. We’ve been doing this for a lot of years. In our youth, the nights would start late and end early. Well, we still have the early part down pat. We are proud to announce that, despite not making the target goal of 8:30, we painted the town pink until 8:15.

Elise Patkotak • 03:03 AM •
Friday, June 24, 2016

I will revel in the peace and quiet of the weekend knowing that on Monday The Family descends on me for a week. My house if clean, my fence is straight, my porch has flowers and my refrigerator has milk for the boys.
Come on in, Mushovics! My home is anxiously awaiting you.

Elise Patkotak • 03:39 AM •
Thursday, June 23, 2016

Our Alaska Legislature wound down its special session with no bang and barely a whimper. I know you’re all shocked to find out that the Legislature has still been in session. The silence emanating out of Juneau during this last special session is a perfect encapsulation of the Legislature’s complete failure. Not that they haven’t accomplished anything. They’ve done the bidding of their industry overlords and made sure that while education, health care, children and the elderly pay for the crash in oil prices, their real constituents feel no pain. They get their subsidies. Meanwhile, Alaska faces downgraded credit ratings, an almost empty budgetary reserve, and a fairly bleak financial future, all because it’s an election year and the ins want to stay in.

You’d think for the amount of money these turkeys have been pulling down while their session stretched on endlessly that they would have come up with at least one or two decent ideas for what to do with our current fiscal crisis. Instead, it seems as though the time was spent taking positions that tried to straddle the great divide between what industry wanted and what their constituents needed. The oil lobbyists have clearly won this skirmish. As for the war, we barely have any ammo left to fight it.
I have to question how these people keep their jobs when they don’t do the one major task on their plate. They posture and pose and blame it on the other guy, the other party. Let’s be real here. Everyone is to blame. But whether they like it or not, the majority of the blame falls on the majority party that has a chokehold on the Legislature. They seemed incapable of compromising or making the hard decisions. In fact, the only thing some legislators seemed capable of doing is making sure the oil industry will fund their re-election bids this fall by doing everything asked of them.
These politicians currently congratulating themselves on passing a budget that relies on practically emptying the Constitutional Budgetary Reserve claim that fixing Alaska’s financial woes is hard, complicated work that can’t be done overnight. Well, duh!  We knew that. And they knew that going into this session. They knew it from last session. They knew it from the time the price of a barrel of oil dropped under $50. They promised us when they were begging for our votes that they were the ones capable of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. They lied. Watching the convoluted twists and turns of the past few months in Juneau it has become clear to most Alaskans with even half a brain that the only thing these legislators are capable of is lining their own pockets by making sure their bosses don’t have to feel the pain.
So now we’re at a point where next year’s legislature will face an almost empty savings account and no path to a future of financial solvency. These politicians will come home to campaign on the platform that they cut the budget and next year will finally get around to creating a realistic fiscal plan.  They sound like kids with a reading list for summer who wake up one day and find that it’s Labor Day and they haven’t even started. So they promise their mom they’ll do better next year but there is simply not enough time to accomplish the reading before school starts.
They will blame the other guys, whether those other guys are the governor, the Democrats or moderate Republicans, for holding up all their brilliant ideas. In case you weren’t paying attention, those brilliant ideas mostly sounded like giving money to the oil companies as well as giving them our oil while making sure Alaskans remain hungry, cold and illiterate. Great plan.
Governor Walker has called for yet another special session. The good news is that this will dramatically cut down on the amount of campaign crap filling our mailboxes and voice mail message boxes. The bad news is that they will still be collecting per diem and expenses. If they had any shame at all, they wouldn’t take it.
H.L. Mencken once said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” If Alaskans vote this car full of clowns back into office this fall, they will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was absolutely right.

Elise Patkotak • 03:41 AM •
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I’ll have Kodi, the Cache Crow, at the Botanical Gardens tomorrow from 12:30 until 2. Stop by and say hi. Bring lots of dollar bills. He needs to work for a living and can’t do that without your help. Kodi also graciously accepts fives, tens, twenties and hundreds, so don’t feel shy about giving him some big bills.

Elise Patkotak • 03:37 AM •
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It’s hot, sunny and beautiful all week and then gets cold, cloudy and rainy on the weekends.
Maybe we picked the wrong days to use as the weekends.

Elise Patkotak • 03:33 AM •
Monday, June 20, 2016

Call the legislature back in session immediately. I can already smell them here. Bring them back to Juneau and clear our air.
Sorry Juneau.

Elise Patkotak • 03:32 AM •
Sunday, June 19, 2016

Today is Father’s Day. Since my dad is gone, I don’t really pay much attention to it. But now I feel guilty (thanks for that, mom) about not even acknowledging some of the great men in my life who have been amazing fathers.
So you know who you are. Pat yourselves on the back for me and I’ll have a drink for you.

Elise Patkotak • 02:35 PM •
Friday, June 17, 2016

Last night I reached up to turn off the reading lights over my bed and was struck with the realization that, except for a few brief years, these lamps have lit my night since I was three years old. When I left home, I left them behind. When my mother decided to redecorate, she was going to toss them. I had her send them to me instead. They are absolutely from the fifties - square box with glass front on which a ballerina dances - and in great shape except for a small spot where my mother washed the paint away from the ballerina’s feet because she thought it was dirt.
The only thing in this world that has been around me longer than these lights is my brother. I can still see under the lights where the switch is and find my name as I wrote it in pencil over sixty years ago. All I have to do is see that and I am instantly back in my childhood. It’s a great way to fall asleep.

Elise Patkotak • 03:38 AM •

I am fascinated with the discussion about Trump having his finger on the nuclear arsenal’s go button. I am fascinated at the debate and discussion over how he couldn’t push the button on his own because of all the safeguards built into the system.
But what I find most fascinating is that the Republicans have nominated someone to carry their presidential campaign banner who has necessitated this discussion.
Every time I think we’ve reached bottom, the floor opens up and shows us that we aren’t even close.

Elise Patkotak • 03:00 AM •
Thursday, June 16, 2016

I grew up at a time when the only glass ceiling I ever heard about was in London’s Crystal Palace during the 1851 Great Exhibition.  Women had a very specific place in the world and that place was in the home. Girls got engagement rings as their high school graduation present and no one thought they were too young to marry. When I graduated from college, getting your MRS was almost, if not more, important that getting your BS or BA.

I am well aware that there are people who view Hillary Clinton as the devil’s mistress. But how you feel about her is, at least momentarily, secondary to what she just did. And what she just did is mind blowing for those of us of a certain age. So whether you like her or not, you can’t deny her achievement and how hard she had to fight and scrape to make it in the totally male dominated world of politics. 
I grew up in Atlantic City and remember the first feminist protest of the Miss America pageant. I had watched that pageant my entire childhood. It happened just down the block from our family apartment. I’d sit in the living room in front of our little black and white TV and dream of one day floating in a gossamer gown down a runway while thousands of people acknowledged me as their beauty queen. As an overweight, highly allergic and slightly asthmatic being, this was not a dream likely to come true. Yet in that time and era, it was the ultimate dream little girls dreamed because the rest of the world was off limits.
There are so many things that have happened in my lifetime that I never thought I’d see. Most relate to issues I’d never heard about in my very conservative Catholic Italian childhood. Birth control? Good Catholic girls didn’t need it because we would never have sex outside of marriage and inside of marriage we would only do it to procreate. Gay rights? The gayest person I knew growing up was… no one. Pot? The only pot I knew was the one I dried after my mother scrubbed the Sunday sauce out of it.
Now I live in a world where gay people serve openly in the military and enjoy the same marriage fun as heterosexuals. Pot is not only legal in one form or another in multiple states and the District of Columbia, but has been proven to have many of the health benefits that the “fringe” has been proclaiming for years. In fact, a recent study found the only health issue related to long term pot use is gum disease because, let’s face it, once you’re stoned flossing just seems like too much trouble.
In my lifetime, women have gone from being secretaries to being Secretary of State. They have left the home for the workplace and I can’t imagine what it would take to try and again confine them in those homes. Women head major companies and are no longer viewed as an oddity if serving as a Congressperson or Senator. They have children at their discretion and on their time schedule thanks to that birth control that so twists Catholic theologians into a knot. African-Americans have gone from being Negroes to being president. My life has spanned the generations from when Doris Day played a housewife in pearls and heels while admitting she simply was too silly to be able to handle a checkbook to Tina Fay and Amy Pohler. That’s one heckuva ride.
So even though I know Hillary is not everyone’s favorite person, I reserve the right to step back from the politics for a moment and savor her achievement. When Geraldine Ferraro was selected as Walter Mondale’s vice presidential running mate in 1984, she shattered some of her own ceilings. But basically she was still just following a man. Hillary Clinton has stepped up into the big boy’s box. She is running for president, which means that in my lifetime I may see a female president.
That chubby little asthmatic girl sitting in front of the TV watching the Miss America Pageant would be happy to hear that before she died women would be acknowledged for something more than their looks and waist size, especially since her waist size was never her proudest moment.

Elise Patkotak • 03:14 AM •
Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A study has shown that chronic pot users have a higher incident of gum disease than the general population. Whew! I knew if they looked hard enough they’d find something. Sadly for all the doomsayers in the group, that’s the only thing found. Other than that, pot users not only didn’t have any diseases specifially related to use but actually showed some health benefits.
So by all means, let’s keep alcohol and tobacco legal but pot illegal.
Whoever came up with this crap?

Elise Patkotak • 03:25 AM •
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Today is/was my parents’ wedding anniversary. I don’t know why I always remember this. I just do.

Elise Patkotak • 03:24 AM •
Monday, June 13, 2016

So it was a mostly gorgeous weekend here in Anchorage. I stayed inside the entire time except for an eagle release I attended. I was very happy. In fact, the only place I can say I ever really wanted to be outside was in the Arctic. The minute I set foot in the Arctic so many decades ago, it felt as though I was taking my first deep breath ever. I was home. And now I’m done with being outside. While the sun shone and the neighbor kids played, I did an hour on my stationary bike inside and was quite content.
I don’t care if it is weird.

Elise Patkotak • 03:21 AM •

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