Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ups and Downs

Vivi and Zoey are going to be in their cousin, Kristen's wedding in June. Kristen sent Vivi her dress this week. It fits like a dream and Vivi feels so special in it. She asks almost everyday (if not several times a day) how long it is until she gets to be a wedding girl. She is very excited!

We all went to Tom's ski team banquet. Yeah! It is the end of high school skiing this year. He held the banquet at the Alaska Rock Gym. That is always a hit, it really beats the cafeteria for ambiance, but the acoustics are similar.

Zoey got some good climbs in and had fun, too. Which was good considering she had just gotten the news that she has a fractured heel. She is so bummed. She and her Alaska Nordic Racing buddies were planning to ski the 25k Tour of Anchorage this weekend in costume. Maybe I can try to get her to some aid stations so she can cheer her friends on. She also will not be racing in Salcha in two weeks. I guess we will be spending some quality time at the pool.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sunset Bonus

The sunsets the last few days have been gorgeous. I bundled up just to go to the end of the driveway and shoot the gorgeous pink light on the hemlocks and alders. I turned to face west and got a lovely look at Mt. Iliamna. The wind was blowing from the north, moving snow off the mountain and the sun was setting behind it. The snow looks like fire or lava (which is possible, it is an active volcano). The bonus was as I was shooting it a raven came up from below and into the frame. Amazing! The ravens roost somewhere in the state park. Since the park is just east of the house the Anchorage ravens fly everyday home over our house. I love to be outside and hear their powerful wing beats right above my head. I also love to hear their vocalizations. They make the coolest sounds.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

President's Day

Zoey got invited to go spend the night in some snow caves in Chugach State Park. Outdoor Daddy needed to see these caves to make sure they were safe for his girl. He is a good daddy. So, yesterday we walked to the caves. It is not too far from the house, but it was a bit nippy, especially in the shadows. The above picture is the view from the cave entrance. That is Mount Susitna, also called Sleeping Lady.

Zoey and Vivi played in the caves as Outdoor Daddy did his home inspection. Afterwards, we strolled to Powerline Pass to see just how wintery it still is. Vivi was making Tom be King Kong and she was Blonde Girl. As we walked home I could tell the light was setting up for a lovely sunset.

Daddy approved the caves and Zoey had to pack up for the short hike in. When she came home today she was sleepy and happy, and cold. She was quick to tell me that she was cold ONLY from the blowing north wind on the hike back. It was -2F and blowing 30 mph from the north when she showed up on the doorstep. Her report on the cave was that it was nice and warm but kind of stuffy. She wants to go sometime with her daddy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Red Poll 'Riffic

Some of today's action at the feeder. And you get a look at our dwarf hemlock.

The Big V

We had a nice Valentine's Day around here. Vivi got a lovely Valentine's Day Barbie. She is in heaven. All day yesterday she asked every ten minutes "Is it Valentime's Day, Momma?" When I would answer her then she would bellow "Happy Valentime's Day!!!!" You would have thought it was the penultimate event. Vivi and Zoey spent loads of time this last week making some great Valentine cards.

Zoey got her very own copy of "Birds of Alaska Field Guide" by Stan Tekiela. She was so excited. She took it to bed last night and came down with it tucked under her arm this morning. I also got six episodes of Richard Nelson's radio program "Encounters." Tom and Zoey were both stoked about that. I feel like an evangelist when I talk about this show out of KCAW in Sitka, Alaska. This show has done more to fuel Zoey's love of the natural world than almost anything. For about four years now every Thursday we tune into the radio and listen for half an hour.

The day before the big V day, Tom got an Epiphone Mandobird. He is so happy with it. There was only one thing missing. He did not have a comfy strap. He was improvising with some leather thong. I got the bright idea to make one for him for Valentine's Day. It was a marathon. It would have gone faster had I been able to farm out Vivi, but no such luck. Below are the materials I started with.

A mere six hours later and this is the finished product. It is just a bit too long. I may have to tuck it or find some high tech solution. It made Tom happy. It is way more comfortable than the leather. And, I got to knit with bamboo. Very cool. Tom gave me a new phone, a Razr. I have always had Nokias, so I feel like I am learning a new language. Not too surprising, the girls are better at figuring it out than I am. Wish me luck! I will not be defeated by a phone.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hey Momma!

Vivi: Hey Momma! What did you look like when you were little?

Me: I looked a lot like you.

Vivi: Did you have a smart brain and big muscles like me?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Heavy Medal

We spent the weekend in Fairbanks for the final series in the Besh Cups. And, YEA! I did not frost nip any part of my body, I did not need to soak in the bath for 2 hours to try to bring up my core temperature, and Vivi did not lick the fence, this year. What I am trying to say is that is was warm for Fairbanks. One year I got off the plane and it was -45F. And Vivi had just thrown up all over my coat and her snowsuit. Joy!

Zoey had good races at Fairbanks' premier nordic venue. It really is lovely at Birch Hill. The trails sit atop this ridge and are surrounded by a thick birch forest. The designers of the course not only had the athletes in mind, but the spectators, too. You watch the racers start, finish, and catch them about four times all with moving only 100 yards. If you want to walk or ski a bit you can see some dramatic ascents up killer hills and screaming descents. It is a fun place to watch some elite skiing.

Zoey has had some breakthroughs in technique and training ethos. She generally wants to work on her skiing! Yippy! Next year, she will need it all. She ages up a division and many of those girls have hit puberty. YIKES!!!

We got to bring our friend, Candi, with us to help with the girls. She even jumped into the classic race on Saturday. Our ski friends now all want to hire the Racing Nanny! Go, Candi!

Actually, I cannot say enough good things about my fellow ski parents. We had a nice Saturday night trashing the MacPheters hotel room. Pizza, wine, kids crafts, homework, all crammed into a small hotel room. There was lots of talk and some imbibing. Fun!

My friend, Mary, has this awesome buggy for her baby (sorry you cannot see Eli, Vivi was blocking him). It has skis on it now, but you can change it to be towed behind a bicycle or used as a jog stroller. If I were ever to have another baby here in AK, that would be on my wish list. The protection it offers so you can actually get outside in winter is freeing!

Zoey won fourth place in the j4 girls division, Sarissa took second. These girls are great friends and really take care of each other. They warm up together before races, they often train together. In summer they are in Mighty Bikes together. I hope their friendship continues. Sarissa's mom is Mary. She and I were friends in high school. It has been a wonderful experience to become friends again as adults. And a boon to have kids that like each other, want to spend time together, and have common interests.

Sarissa, Eli, Vivi and Zoey all kicking back, waiting for the awards ceremony. Another good trip to Fairbanks. And no one got sick!!!!

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Gang Problem

Why are there thirteen magpies across the street from my house? Hmmmm.....

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Big Meltdown

Vivi went to the window this morning and announced "The whole town it melting!" I agreed instantly. Anchorage is in this weird zone. Sometimes it acts like it is in the interior of Alaska. We often share in the high pressure that tends to dominate the interior in winter and keeps us fairly dry and calm. Anchorage is sheltered from a great deal of the energy of storms that come into Prince William Sound (thank you, Chugach Range). Most of our winter weather comes across the Bering Sea and goes into the north Pacific and then up Kodiak Island, into Prince William Sound and somewhat into Anchorage. Lately, though, we have been catching the Pineapple Express. A series of vigorous storms has brought warm, moist air all the way from Hawaii and directly into Anchorage. The Chugach can only slow this march.

It is quite a contrast from earlier this winter when we had a long, below zero cold snap. Also, in contrast to the record breaking snow levels we experienced in December and January. Yesterday when I woke up it was +49F and today it is +47F. My mother called from her beach condo in South Carolina and it was +43F. Another thing that comes with these tropical blasts is wind. We have been having lots of winds that are steady in the 30-40 mph range. Sometimes, they are bigger winds. One birdfeeder has been knocked down very consistently. The squirrel has been happy.

So, Vivi is right the whole town IS melting. Look at these photos compared to earlier ones, from last week even. I drove on dry pavement in town on Tuesday, I have mud in my driveway. There is exposed tundra in my yard. The snow has been moved off the mountains, either through wind movement or evaporation, look at Rusty Point! I just wonder what is coming next. Could we get another enormous St. Patrick's Day dump?

Disclaimer: All the above explanation is from a complete non-meteorologist point of view!