Monday, October 18, 2010

Wintery Weather

Sunrise 8:36 a.m.   Sunset  6:18 p.m.

It's true, we've been having wintery weather.  The kind that makes your toes wish for a pair of warm, fuzzy slippers when you skitter to the rest room in the middle of the night.  The kind that brings a lovely green glow the sky and the most amazing moons I've ever seen.  Though, you won't have known it today.  

Today we had overcast skies, but I didn't mind because the air warmed to a lovely 37 degrees.  I even wore short sleeves, with no coat, because frankly, I get darn tired of wearing a coat by spring time in Alaska.  So I was a rebel, and went without.  Dear God, please don't let me get sick.

I would have taken some pics of the auroras and the moon, but I've been busy.  Readying the house, the pets, and the suitcases for our trip.  Where are we going?  I'll tell you in a minute.  We have an awesome house/pet sitter.  For us, it's the best of both worlds, and worth every penny.  He takes care of the house, keeps the home fires burning, literally, and keeps the pets happy, fed, played with, and anxiety free.  Which in turn, leaves us anxiety free.  See?  No complaints.

Brent and I are off to Minnesota.  They've been having lovely weather and I certainly hope that they keep it around.  As you can tell by today's short sleeves, I am sooooo not ready for winter.  Let me tell you what I am ready for.  Laughter with friends, family, the ones that have known me for so many years that I can't remember when they weren't there.  Mom, Dad, family, family, family, hometown football games, Grandma and Grandpa.  SHOPPING!  Sorry, we have very little shopping here.  Can you tell?  Ha!  Familiar places, familiar faces, my nephews and my darling niece.  My Savannah girl, whom I miss so dearly that I have tears just hoping that she won't be shy, I need a Savannah hug.  She was only 3 when I left.  Shannon.  And more shopping!  

We've been loving our life in Alaska.  And truthfully, it hasn't really hit me how much I've been missing certain people from my "old" life.  Sometimes it feels like years ago, which technically it was, but let's not split hairs here people, other days it feels like we were just packing up that little aluminum trailer and hitting the not-so-dusty trail.  I had no idea how much I'd love it here, or how much my life would change.  How much I'd change.  

So, I'm signing off.  I'll check in when I can, but really, I make no guarantees.  I'm going to savor every moment.  Happy autumn!!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monotone Days

Ches and Brent at Nickel Lake

There is something particularly beautiful about a first snow.  It blankets everything, making all the ugliness of late fall disappear.  The last lingering leaves are coated with hoar frost and frosted off with a topping of light, fluffy snow.  It looks good enough to eat.  And then you do, and it tastes like dirt.  The picture, the thought of snow on your tongue is much more romantic than the actual taste.

This past weekend we headed to our favorite spot in the Donnelly area to roam around and shoot pictures of the newly fallen snow.  It really was beautiful despite the gray skies.  It's been pretty bleak here, and a glimpse of sun would go a long way right now.  But I have to admit, it's pretty.

Saturday we made a trip to Fairbanks for some things that we needed.  And Brent needed a haircut.  He's picky, to say the least, and he's cheap, which makes the treacherous winter drive to Fairbanks a necessity, in his mind.  The roads were terrible.  Our drive, which usually takes us 1.5 hours took us 2 hours and 10 minutes.  Too long.  Along the way there were numerous accidents, and evidence of accidents.  No moose.  Thank heaven for small favors.

Ghost Lake and the Delta River in the distance

While we were in Fairbanks we took the time to meet with my friend Susan and her hubby, Steve.  Susan and Steve had to make the terrible choice to put their beloved Sedona to sleep this past week.  And because I can only imagine how terrible that hurt is, I felt the urge to just hug Susan.  I know that when our time comes I won't be able to handle it well.  But let's not think of that.  You can read Sedona's story here.

We met Susan and Steve, whom I hadn't met before Saturday, at Gallo's in Fairbanks.  The food was okay, as is the case with most Alaska restaurants.  Sorry.  I have yet to find a meal that blows my socks off.  We immensely enjoyed our visit and it was great to have a face to put with Steve's name.  I'm looking forward to getting together with them more.

After lunch we managed to wrangle Brent a haircut and get out of dodge.  The drive home wasn't much better.  We saw some pretty gnarly accidents, a couple tow trucks and some very lucky, shaken drivers.  This is why we needed a relaxing drive on Sunday afternoon.

The above photo is really cool, in my mind anyway. The dark paths are made from animal bodies as they move their way through the tundra, knocking the snow/frost off as they move and munch.  Looks even cooler in real life.  Come on up!

Alaska Pipeline

This week has been pretty quiet.  Now that winter is upon us, we're snuggling in, enjoying the warmth of the fire powered heat, and loathing the constantly wet feet.  I hate socks!  The roads, even locally seem to be lacking at best, and I can only hope they improve as winter rolls on.  There are no animal pics because we have seen no animals.  None. Zip. Zero.  It's so disappointing.

We're getting geared up for a whirlwind trip to Minnesota to visit our families.  As always our trusty house/pet sitter will be watching the homestead, keeping the fire burning, the furkids fed, and the pipes thawed!  :)  That's always a good thing, and he's fantastic.  

Life has been boring.  I've been studying, Brent's been learning, as always, and anxiously awaiting colder weather so he can split more wood.  I have told you about his wood obsession, right?  We've been making lovely berry teas with the fruits of our summer picking, enjoying cozy dinners by firelight, and trying like mad people to keep the electric bill down.  I'll let you know if we succeed. 

Bundle up.  Stay warm! Happy Reading!

**Note:  For the record, the photos have not been taken in black and white.  This is the color of the sky the past few days.  Kinda gloomy, kinda mystical.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Morning

It's a beautiful Sunday morning in the Interior of Alaska.  Beauty, I've learned, comes in different forms here, and your heart will be happier if you learn to appreciate all the beauty Alaska has to offer.  Summer is my favorite season, as the hills, trees, ditches, and mountains come alive.  But early winter or late fall in Alaska has a particular beauty as well.

We got a sprinkling of snow last night.  Not much, but enough to cover the ground.  Our world is slowly turning white.  Hoar frost covers the trees and brings a bulkiness and elegance to ratty old weeds that were previously ugly and brown.  The ground crunches underneath your feet, and you can hear silence every where you go.  The sky is dull and gray, but instead of being depressing it makes the perfect backdrop for the white blanket.  It's a somber feeling, a quiet feeling.

As I sit here sipping tea, made from the berries we picked, cleaned and froze by hand, laced with a bit of fireweed honey, I feel rather content.  The furbabes are snuggled up, napping after a busy morning of breakfast and a little bit of playtime in the yard while their toes adjust to the newly fallen white stuff.  They're happy to be wrapped in warmth from the flames dancing in the stove.

Brent had a touch of the flu yesterday, and I'm happy to report that he is fully recovered.  The sun is rising later, so we were both able to sleep in this morning.  Of course, with later sunrises also comes earlier sunsets, so by 9 p.m. we get awfully drowsy.

Brent is making breakfast, and it sounds like quite a production.  I can see him moving lively and happily in front of the stove, but I do not dare ask what he is cooking.  He likes to surprise me with his sometimes questionable concoctions.  Some day I'll have to tell you about when he blindfolded me in order to get me to eat the dinner that he prepared, early in our married years.

I like winter and all it's ambiance.  Of course that's easy to say since it's early in the year, and not late February.  But for now the world is white, quiet and oh so very pretty.  Of course my urge to drive anywhere is nil.  But my nerve will come with time.

Happy Sunday! Stay warm.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Batten Down the Hatches, Boys!

Well, it's been a while.  And while something tells me that I should feel guilty, I'm not.  I do this for fun, the blogging.  In the mean time, I 'm living.  That means, I share when I have time.  And since we've been trying to soak up every bit of autumn splendor, I haven't had much time for blogging.

The above photo is of Brent and Cash hunting at Castner Glacier.  It's a lovely hike, and I'm sorry that I didn't let Brent drag me out there sooner.  Anytime I hear the word hike, I cringe and dig my heels into the ground.  It's reminiscent of days spent hiking in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  He's drag me around every mountain at least 3 times.  I like to wander, watching the skies change above, not him.  He's more of a get there, get back kind of person.  Not so at Castner, it was such a nice, easy walk.  Easy pace.  Watching Cash and Ches dash in and out of the woods, the water and the dirt.  

This is Brent with the Alaska Range in the background.  This was before the "s" word fell and coated the mountain tops with fresh white powder.  He's standing on top of the world, showing me where he should have shot a moose.  No such luck for these newbies.  It was incredibly warm and while he saw a few cows with calves, no bulls.  Hmph.

Once you reach the peak on which Brent was standing you come down to view the glacier.  Not really what you picture a glacier to look like is it?  But it's awesome.  How absolutely unique to think that you can stand on a glacier.  It's pretty cool and I'm glad I saw.  I'm also looking forward to doing that hike again.  Really soon.

I prefer to be behind the camera, but this is me, holding the bear protection, while Brent snaps a photo.  It was such a nice day.

This is a lovely Soapberry bush.  A favorite food of bears, or so I read somewhere.  Of course, I stumbled upon this knowledge after I left the area, and it made me extra thankful that we had the bear protection along. Something stronger than mace x 100.  Ha!  Alas, we did not see a bear.  I think they're hiding from me.

Fall comes early in the Interior of Alaska.  Sometimes you have to be careful to blink or you will miss it.  This is a photo of the changing colors in early September, on Triple H Road, near our home.  Now the leafy trees are bare, and withered and decaying leaves litter the ground.  I should feel melancholy about it I suppose, but it's lovely to see more sunlight peaking through the tall trees.  And I will admit while winter is long here, it's particularly pretty.  

Lately we've been enjoying unseasonably warm temps.  We got our first sprinkling of snow on Sept. 26th, and much to my delight it didn't stick around.  The days are warm, hovering in the 40's and low 50's, and the nights are crisp.  Each morning we wake to a covering of glittery frost and the warmth of the wood stove.

I have missed the warmth that wraps around you like a soft, fuzzy blanket, except when the nights are warm and it becomes a sauna in here.  I have not missed the headaches that come with puffs of smoke escaping the door and blasting me in the face when I go to reload it.  The humidifier hums in the background, and lets little chugs here and there.

Brent had a nice birthday, I think.  I made him a fairly large dinner, since we so rarely eat out here.  His requests were simple, and I let him choose his guest list.  Since our home is smallish, okay, it's just plain small, we had 4 dinner guests, and 4 additional dogs.  Yes, it was mass chaos in the house of Kings...6 dogs, 6 people.  5 square feet.  I made him salmon cakes and grilled oysters with chili-lime salsa for starters, for dinner we had roast grouse, braised brisket, au gratin potatoes and roasted acorn squash with maple/orange glaze.  We had some slightly over done bread, which is pretty much the norm for me, and for dessert his beloved German chocolate cake.  Straight from home in Minnesota.  Provided by my mom.  :)  I'm not much of a baker, so it was a perfect compromise.  :)  He had a great day with great friends!

I must go, both dogs are alerting to something in the yard.  Knowing Cash it's just a leaf drifting across the driveway...but since Chessa is alert, I think it might be worth the look.

Happy day to you all!!!