Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Beautiful Day

I really don't think I can let today go by and not make note. Seven years ago today my friend, Malcolm, died in a needless accident. He was on Alaska Airlines flight 261. My daughter and I had just gotten off that MD80 in Puerto Vallarta when Malcolm got on. I had no idea he was in Mexico. The Mexican edition of USA Today had his name listed with several typos. Perhaps I was in denial, not wanting to see that I had a dear friend on that aircraft. Anyway, I spent a week in PVR with my folks, in a daze. Tom came down the next day. Brave soul!

For the first anniversary I was sure to take the day off of work. I needed to be doing life affirming things with my family. That was important. I was watercoloring with Zoey when a new song came on the radio, I looked at the tuner (which has a clock) and saw that it was 3:21p Alaska time. It was exactly a year. The song on the radio was Beautiful Day by U2. I think I got the message, Malcolm, thanks.

And today IS a beautiful day.

(the picture is Melissa, Malcolm's sister, and Vivi)

Saturday, January 27, 2007


This is my busy time of year. It is a REALLY busy time of year for Tom. Tom coaches cross-country skiing on several
levels. He coaches the team at his high school and with Alaska Nordic Racing. This year he has spent a great deal of time developing some junior high skiers. They have been a fun group of kids. They have also really pushed to Zoey to improve and get moving. It's amazing how motivating it is for her to ski with kids just a bit ahead of her and a little older. Some of these kids are homeschooled like her. I think homeschoolers are more adaptive to age differences. Regardless, Zoey's technique has taken some amazing leaps.

And now begins the time of the out-of-town races! Like this last weekend we went Soldotna on the Kenai peninsula. It was
exhausting! Tom taught all day then drove us all to Soldotna, got up at the crack of dawn and waxed loads of skis, coached kids, and still had to be a parent. I had to get trades since I work Friday - Monday. No small feat, weekends are precious.
YIKES!!!! That can make it nerve wracking just getting out of town. Now, this week off of races and up to Fairbanks the next week. I've already got my trades lined out, so I can relax a bit about this one. Exhausting for me or not, it is a great opportunity of the kids. They get to ski in different venues, with different conditions. They have to navigate around places they have never been before to find their race bibs, figure out the course, how does the start work. I think Zoey always takes away tidbit every time we travel for her races. Vivi is champing at the bit to be in the mix. This time she got to race her daddy.

Perhaps the best thing about the races in Soldotna is that there are at
least five bald eagles that hang out in the trees on the trails. They
sometimes fly over the venue just out of arms reach. And when we drive home
we get to see the second biggest wintering grounds for bald eagles in Alaska
-- Cooper Landing. When we drive down we do not get to see it since it
dark. Sigh.... We do get to dodge moose on the Kenai burn. They like it there and when the snow is deep (like this year) they tend to hug the road. We saw six in the space of about 20 minutes. Several of them were on the move. I am sure they were just waiting to leap out in front of the truck and cause a real problem. It was very nice to get to the hotel and have a beer at midnight!

Driving home this last weekend had a surreal
moment when we crossed the bridge at Cooper Landing. This bridge is at a
very narrow spot on Kenai Lake, not quite where it turns into the Kenai
River. This part of the road is narrow and twists and turns and is usually
icy. Not a place to stop even though it is breathtakingly beautiful. At
this spot there was an open place in the ice with two fly fishermen casting
and reeling in. A lovely sight. Also, about 100 feet away from the fly
fishers, swimming in this small patch of open water were two adult swans, two
bluish juveniles and six more swans on the ice watching. I was too far away
to know if they were trumpeter or tundra. And there was just no where safe to stop and investigate. And now I am haunted by this image. I have never seen any swans here this
time of year. Amazing. The light was so flat, and the ceiling so low it
seemed so intimate. When the ceiling is up it is spectacular scenery with
mountains and green-blue glacial water all around.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In Memorium

Via con dios, Tucker.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Have you ever had a friend who is so innovative, fearless, and inspiring? One who's talent seems limitless? I have one who awoke my sleeping knitting muse after twenty years and got me into spinning. She brings out all the wild, good, ideas in me, she gets me thinking on a grand scale and makes it all seem possible. I love to be around her and see what bubbles up. She even loves my kiddos.

Stephanie took the idea of Vivi's tricked-out dollhouse and made it her own for her daughter. She made this really wonderful dollhouse for her girl's fifth birthday and even let Zoey and Vivi add some decorating touches. At the same time she helped me get my spinning started with my new wheel. I hope our friendship and collaborations continue on forever.

Monday, January 08, 2007


It has been rather cold here. Not too much outdoor time. I really do not want frost nipped ears and noses. They hurt! We have also had the part-time dog quite a bit. She is so sweet. We have been reading, felting, coloring, spinning, and hanging with the family. Oh, and trying to figure out all the secrets of the new camera. It's been fun. Vivi took her first picture. It's the one at the top with Zoey reading. I think it kind of looks like a VerMeer, a Dutch domestic scene, a study in light and dark.

And at the end of the first session of Anchorage Junior Nordic there is a city-wide jamboree where kids from all the groups get together at Kincaid Park for races and fun. Well, Zoey took first CITYWIDE in girl wolverines. Can a promotion to the Hawks be far behind? Hmmmm...good skiing little one.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Budding Naturalist

Zoey has taken up birding. It happened spontaneously, in walking our part-time dog she has spotted a few places in the neighborhood where birds congregate. We are now in the process of setting up a great feeding station. Zoey cannot wait for the little flocks to start coming. She is only slightly more patient than Vivi.

I really want to get her working in her sketch book, keeping her poems and drawing birds. She already tells me she is no good at drawing birds. I tell her to keep trying! She'll never be able to draw a bird if she doesn't try.

We think we've got a hoary redpoll here.

Snowy, snowy

We woke up to more than a foot of snow falling since we went to bed. That is more than an inch and hour. Holy cow! It is really light, fluffy, dry snow. The outside temps have not cracked the double digits. Look at the snow hats on the dead hanging baskets. WOW!

And look at the tree house. That thing is so full of snow. I'm chilly just thinking of playing in it.

The dog and the girls frolicked in it for quite a while. I had to pop some hand warmers in Vivi's mittens, but then she trooped right along. It was tough moving for her, since the snow was almost to her waist. Sorry for the flat light, can't help that as we can hardly see across the street, much less Cook Inlet.

Zoey and I are trying to set up a good feeding station for the local birdies that winter here. They are a hardy bunch and colorful.

And Tom has gotten even more unimogg time in this break. I am sure he is thrilled!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

What a lovely start to the New Year. We went to our friend, Stephanie's for New Year's eve. The girls all played together, the Christmas tree was ritually burned, there was dry champagne, Diane and Darryl came by, too. All in all a good time. It got even better when Stephanie broke out the Prismacolor Sticks. These are colored pencils unencumbered by a wood coating. We sat at the medieval feasting table all drawing, from 4 year olds to 45 year olds. It was wonderful. There were talents in each other that we did not know existed. I loved it. My camera was in the truck, sorry! Somethings are just too good to interrupt for a photo.

Then today was a glorious day with some clouds and loads of blue sky. Tom plowed since it snowed last night, we drank coffee with creamer and coffee with Frangelico. I made bean soup. We worked on a puzzle with Zoey and played dollhouse with Vivi. Tom and Zoey waxed skis. We all snuggled, some on the couch, some in the rocker. Cojo got a ham bone.

I truly hope the rest of the year is as centered and peaceful as today. And I hope that for all of you as well.

Then the sunset came. WOW! And I get to share it with you via my Christmas gift.

Alpenglow on the south facing snow bank.

I love me some blue shadows on snow.

The sun setting due south at 3:53p.

Mt. Spurr with a steam plume.

Look at this Fata Morgana, click on it and behold the resolution! Thanks, honey, I love the new camera.

Boxing Day

My friend Melissa invited us for Boxing Day tea. She made lovely cucumber and egg sandwiches, cookies, and Lady Grey tea. The grownups even got to have some bubbly. I felt like Myrna Loy in "The Thin Man", champagne in the afternoon. The girls had a great time with the cocktail monkeys. Melissa has a wonderful home. It is an old log cabin from an early homestead in Anchorage. It is solid and warm, and beautifully appointed with Melissa's excellent taste.

The Day

I think it lived up to expectations. I did not get to photograph at the height of the toy explosion, darn it! There was just so darn much going on. We will have to settle for a picture of Frank Sarah, the beloved Christmas tree, after Santa made his visit.

Vivi had her dreams come true. All she seemed to want was a set of tools and these Disney princess shoes she pitched a fit about in Costco. Santa made that happen. Zoey got a needle felting kit that she took to instantly and a perfume science kit she cannot wait to try. I think they were both pleased with the haul. My mother made them each the coolest baggy flannel pants and they got nice night gowns. The showcase was the gorgeous wooden dollhouse Vivi received. Thanks, Santa.

We had the big dinner with my sister, Jane, our friends Jake, Stephanie and Gwynnie, and Auntie Sarah. There was great ham to eat, and fabulous side dishes, not to mention spectacular company. Thanks to EVERYONE!

The Frenzy is over, the frenzy. Never before have I thought of the Christmas season as such a rush. I did put on a big Thanksgiving dinner and then a big Christmas dinner. Both were with people we love and had a great deal of fun, but it is work. I worked up to Christmas eve and Tom taught right up until December 22nd. He also put on the first 100 meter nordic sprint in North America ( we think) the week before Christmas. It was a big deal. He had it end in a Grinchtacular, with each high school having a grinch that had to ski to a chimney and bring back as many gifts as possible. There were rules about each Grinch and their costume. It was hilarious. The above is the Bartlett High School Grinch.

Mom left on December 27th. She got the last seat on the Chicago flight. I was so grateful to my sister, Jane. Jane took Mom to the airport and waited around to be sure she had a seat. I was at home lying on the couch with a fever. I did have to drive Mom to the Retreat House, but that was okay! That was one of the more intense rides down the hill ever. We got caught in eddying snow devils that left us unable to see. YIKES!!! It was blowing about 70 mph. Too bad I do not have any pictures of that, I guess I thought it was more important to keep my eyes on the road.

We have had a great deal of snow in December. We broke our monthly record from 1953. It made up for the bone dry and cold November that preceded it.

This was my ride to work on December 23rd.