Caveat: 3967 days cancer free

I decided to visit my favorite place in Korea. You might think I mean this ironically, but the 국립암센터 (National Cancer Center) saved my life 11 years ago. So I feel gratitude and amazement that it is here. Yes, it is possible to feel nostalgic for a hospital.

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Caveat: Cruise Ship #1

Today was in fact a rather historic one, here on this remote Southeast Alaskan island. We were visited by our first cruise ship, ever. Although Jan alleges that in the 40’s or 50’s a cruise ship attempted to visit the island and ran into a rock trying to get into one of the harbors, and because of that the cruise companies became afraid to come back. That story has the feel of urban (rural?) myth, but it’s amusing.

The cruise ship that visited was actually surprisingly quirky. It was not one of your standard 3000-passenger behemoths, such as visit Ketchikan or Juneau each summer. Instead it was a “long-distance” cruise. I met passengers who had been on the boat for 3 months, having boarded in Sydney, Australia.

This unusual long-term aspect of the passenger list was very good for our little island – because unlike the coddled and generally pretty lazy passengers of the mass cruises, these passengers were curious and quite adventurous. During their 8 hour stop at Klawock, many boarded the small circulator buses that the tribal groups were running, and so despite the boat being parked in Klawock, our gift shop in Craig (7 miles away) saw over 50 tourists who we’d never have otherwise seen. So it was good for our business, and the passengers we met were all quite interesting to talk to.

It was an international group, too – as could be expected. I met more British, Australians, Germans and even a few Chinese, than Americans. I even met a posh couple from Mexico City, and impressed them with my Mexico-City-accented Spanish, which, though rusty, still serves me quite well, nearly 40 years after my having lived there. ¡El gringo achilangado habla de nuevo!

Driving north to Klawock after work (I went to pick someone up at the Hollis Ferry), I just happened to be driving by the Klawock harbor channel in the moment when the boat was departing. So I pulled over and took a picture.

A modest-sized long-distance cruise ship departing Klawock through the Klawock channel, with some silhouetted trees on the left and a treed island in the background

If this business of hosting cruise ships is successful, it could transform the island. I’m a bit skeptical that the powers-that-be (the businesses undertaking the enterprise is a consortium of tribal corporations) can pull this off. Our island is a bit too chaotically libertarian, in cultural terms, for such projects. But we shall see.

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Caveat: Tree #1925 “This’ll be the last daily tree”

This tree (I’d say you’ll have to select one on the ridge in the distance) was in Xalapa, Veracruz (Mexico). I took this picture in Summer, 2007.

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In a few days I will begin a major journey. I will travel to South Korea (first time since 2018) and Australia (first time since 2019).

I have been feeling strongly that this daily tree feature has become stale. I am suspending the daily tree feature on this blog. I might resume it at some point, or I might not.

Given how poorly I’ve done with posting other material, that really only leaves my daily poems. I’ll stick to those – they feel like a habit that has a stronger long-term reward.

During this upcoming trip, I’m sure that I’ll post some other materials, in the strictly diaristic mode, when possible.

When I get back, I’ll think about new ways to change things around and try to help my blog enter its 3rd decade in reasonable health.

[daily log: walking, 3km;]

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Caveat: Tree #1924 “Ascent”

This tree was near the summit of Mount Halla (한라산), which I ascended with some coworkers on a “team-building excursion” in early 2011. It wasn’t a hard trip – there are groomed trails to the summit – but it is the tallest mountain in South Korea.

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[daily log: walking, 2km;]

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Caveat: Tree #1923 “Under the bridge”

This tree is a guest tree from my past. I took this picture looking down from a pedestrian bridge near my work in South Korea in October, 2011.

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Art and I went to our back-to-back dentist appointments. These were actual dental exams with the itinerant Southeast Alaskan dentist (the island has no dentist of its own). Visits with the dentists are always fraught with a bit of anxiety, for me, as my oral health is tied in with my post-cancer monitoring. And dentists are always rather amazed at the reconstruction and scarring in my mouth. Anyway, it all “looks good” according to the dentist – and impressive considering the radiation and cancer and all that being part of my history.

[daily log: walking, 4km;]

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Caveat: Tree #1921 “The stoic”

This tree stood stoically under partly cloudy skies.

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“City Sanitation Dept Guarantee: Satisfaction guaranteed or double your garbage back.”

[daily log: walking, 4.5km; retailing, 9hr;]

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Caveat: Tree #1919 “The protector”

This tree is a douglas fir I planted two years ago. It’s not really doing that well, but it’s not dead. It’s being protected by a pink, plastic yard flamingo, which I’d placed last summer to protect it from Richard’s excavator.

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“If a child refuses to take a nap, are they resisting a rest? Or are they preventing a kid napping?” – the internet.

[daily log: walking, 2km;]

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Caveat: Tree #1918 “Moon meets lake”

This tree (perhaps the one in silhouetted foreground?) was beside a lake under a full moon in the part of northwest suburban Seoul known as Ilsan (Goyang), where I lived for many years. I took this picture in June, 2011.

a view of a small lake in a large park with a full moon in the sky, moon reflected in the lake, a skyline of many brightly lit buildings in the distance, some faintly visible tree silhouettes in the foreground

I’m not happy these days. I feel too overwhelmed: the store (work), complicated family issues (mother’s health), my uncle’s cantankerous Spring restlessness…

[daily log: walking, 1km;]

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Caveat: Poem #2824 “Another bus-riding poem”


On the bus, today, …

… I saw fields green with the young spring barley.

… I saw a man kneeling beside the tollway next to his SUV, which had a flat tire.

… I saw a banner with a Japanese flag and the words (in English): “Don’t give up, Japan.”

… I saw a motel designed to look like a Russian Orthodox Church.

… I saw a single broad patch of snow on a hillside of brown grass, near Gongju.

… I saw a shed on fire, in a field, with a great billowing cloud of white smoke.

… I heard “Aguas de março” sung by Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobim, on my mp3 player.

… I saw a cow sleeping in some dirt.

… I saw a reproduction of a watercolor painting of Paris’ St.-Germain Square on the wall over a urinal at a tollway rest area.

… I heard grumpy old people with thick Jeolla accents pronouncing Yeonggwang as Yeom-gang.

… I saw a tall young man with tight jeans and shiny purple combat boots yelling into a cellphone and dropping his iced coffee onto the pavement.

… I heard Talking Heads’ “Found a Job” on my mp3 player.

… I saw brick farm houses with solar panels on their flat roofs.

… I read 50 pages of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore.

… I saw many, many pine trees dancing under the sky, their roots sunk in the red-gold earth, looking like ink-drawings.

… I heard The Cure’s cover of David Bowie’s “Young Americans” on my mp3 player.

… I saw tiny villages packed up into narrow valleys, limned with leafless trees, where all the houses had blue tile roofs.

… I saw an angry-looking euro-dude with Miami Vice sunglasses, spitting onto the sidewalk like a Korean.

… I saw a giant statue of a squirrel.

… I ate something vaguely resembling tater-tots, with a spicy sauce.

… I saw a bridge over the tollway that had trees planted on it.

… I saw hundreds of plastic greenhouses, filled with hothouse vegetables growing, looking like large worms swimming in formation through the still wintery fields.

… I heard Juanes’ “Fijate bien” on my mp3 player.

… I saw families having picnics at the graves of their ancestors at random locations on hillsides alongside the tollway, and there were many children hopping happily, too.

… I saw a crow perched on the sign that indicated the Yeonggwang County line. I was almost home.

– a “prose poem” I wrote long ago, in March, 2011. It memorializes a bus trip from Seoul down to Yeonggwang, South Korea, where I was living at the time.

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