Thursday, April 26, 2007

Thursday Trials

I have three days off of work each week. I try to get the middle of the week off, it works with our homeschooling pretty well. It also means we need no daycare. For at least ten weeks now my days off have been dominated not just by schooling, but by car troubles, house repairs, and sick children. While the weather was bitterly cold, I was fairly content to not have freedom. As it has warmed up I have been a bit antsy.

I was thinking that this week was going to be THE WEEK. The week that broke the streak. Tuesday we did some schooling, Vivi tried out some new letters, Zoey had a great piano lesson, I got the last part for my windshield installed. YIPPY! Wednesday is my day with Vivi. Zoey goes to a six hour class, so we get some time together. This Wednesday Vivi was easily upset, a bit lethargic, rather clingy,and finally she napped on the couch at noon. All odd behaviors. I took her temperature, or as she calls it, her ear number. She had a fever of 102F. Shoot and bang. Another week with a sick kid. Well, Wednesday was kind of windy and overcast. Sigh....

Thursday dawned gloriously beautiful. I snuggled Vivi on the couch lots and cleaned my desk. I gave Zoey a math test and then introduced a new concept. I was going to have Vivi lay low, stay quiet, not exert herself too much. Our pediatrician always advises that the kids can do darn near anything as long as they are not sporting a fever. Well, Vivi did take some ibuprofen. It did REDUCE her fever. She WANTED to go outside.

I snapped and chucked the kids in our zoomaroom and bolted for the Coastal Refuge. There have been loads of sandhill cranes, Canadian geese and snow geese spotted there in the last few days. I have been jonesing for a look at loads of sandhill cranes since they are usually more solitary. It was warm but a bit breezy at Oceanview Park. We walked down to the refuge and into the alders and willows. We saw the fattest, nicest black-capped chickadee who did not give a hoot we were two feet from him. He just eyed us with curiosity. And we heard gazillions of sandhill cranes. It was too boggy and we were walking with a feverish four year old. There was no way I was going to cover the ground I needed to cover, nor do it without loads of whining. I gave up. This is the last chance I will have until Tuesday to do this. Darn it!

On our way back to the car we were treated with a juvenile bald eagle flying about 10 feet above us and then perching on a tree by the train tracks. We had also had an adult fly over our car not too far from our home, and another adult on our way back up the hill. I guess it was a day for eagles, but I really wanted cranes. At least I got outside.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunday Sunset

It was ten o'clock at night and I was standing in the tundra and half melted snow of the side yard in my work heels, clicking away. The sun was setting just south of Sleeping Lady and the sky was doing the most amazing things. The play of the light on the clouds was stunning. I am so glad my family loves me, because I barely said "hello" to them when I came home. I wanted to hold that sunset forever. I had to get it. When I came home from work on Sunday I grabbed my camera and scooted outside. Click on the image to enlarge and look at that pink in the left sky. Yum!

Sunday also involved a barbecue at work. I work with some very talented men. These guys can cook! Leo did the meat. He marinated it for a whole day, it was tender! And then he babied it on the grill. I don't think I ever met a twenty-year old guy with that kind of patience before. I brought oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They were pretty good, too. And Francisco! YIKES! That man and his wife should open a restaurant, taco stand, or burrito wagon. I would live there, I would be big as a house, but I would be HAPPY. Please note that our serving table was a forklift with a pallet. My co-workers are good cooks and excellent problem solvers.

And a bunny update for any one interested in the progression of bunny fur from winter to spring. This snowshoe hare seems to perfectly match the rotting, dirty snow. He also disappears when he steps into an alder stand. I am continually amazed at how Mother Nature perfectly adapts.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Me Thinks A Lynx

AKA CSI AK: Chugach State Park

Hey, Science Chimp! Tom and I found this and a puff of fur about 20 feet away on the road during our lovely morning walk. There was no gore to be seen. I think a lynx got it and not the resident GHO. Any speculation on your part?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Taming Tresses

Vivi takes her haircuts very seriously. She got her first haircut at less than two years old not because she needed it, but because she wanted it soooooo bad! Her sister and her momma each got haircuts, so clearly that is what you do as a girl.

Her wanting her haircut also makes it easy on me. When her hair was longer in the back she had some serious hair nests that caused no small amount of tears. Tears when I tried to tame them from her and tears of frustration from me. I was not sad to see those days go.

Vivi is a walking advertisement for the fabulous Laura. Laura cuts our hair and does a SUPER job. Not only that, she is thoroughly engaging. My girls love her. She and Zoey get on famously with their shared interests. Laura volunteers at Bird Treatment and Learning Center. She is doing a babies presentation on Saturday at Animal Control, if you are in Anchorage you should check it out. We think she is also going to get an saw-whet owl soon. She and Zoey talk raptors and tropical fish.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Brine, Rinse, Repeat

This is red salmon from last year in a brine. I smoked it yesterday and it is yummy. The ritualistic part comes with the emptying of the freezer. We want our freezers empty of last year's fish so we can stock it with NEW fish!

After the fish brines overnight in brown sugar, kosher salt, cayenne and black peppers it is time to rinse. Some folks leave this sugary brine on, but I find that makes it too salty sweet and not enough of the salmon flavor comes through.

Next comes the smoker. Ours does a great job on little amounts of fish. If we were ever to become amazing fish slayers we would need a more serious smoker.

Once the fish are in the smoker the babysitting commences. Wood chips need to be soaked and changed every hour to an hour and a half. We literally babysit the smoker to keep interested Black Furry Friends out of it. One year my sister and her kids were visiting from Dayton, Ohio. They had seen moose, eagles, porcupines, and even some whales, but they had not seen a bear. Tom had been trout fishing, so we decided to smoke his trout. While the trout was smoking we were in the house, visiting, eating and maybe drinking beer. I guess our smoker was tempting, because out of the hemlock sauntered a two-year-old Furry Friend. He sniffed, tried to get closer, but was shy. We let the kids get a good look and then scared him away. He got a very mild re-education on humans. I sure hope it took.

Now the enjoyment begins. Hmmmm....fresh smoked salmon, with cream cheese, on crackers, in salads, any way we can think of!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quiz Time

Any idea what this is? involves a ritual of spring. At least it's a ritual here in Alaska.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tasks and Rewards

Our Thursday seemed to be dominated by a two hour wait in line at the post office to process the paperwork for passports for my girls. Zoey and Vivi waited in this interminable line for ages! We all had to be there so that we could swear on a stack of Bibles that everything was correct. And, I suppose, to see that neither parent was pulling a snatch and grab. Sigh..... We made friends with the folks around us. There was a cute eight month old baby that Vivi entertained. Zoey got on with the woman behind us. She works at our favorite local yarn store. It could have been worse, but Ohhhh, it could have been better. At least we also mailed our tax return! YIPPY! Another tax return GONE!

Zoey started to feel punky again before we left the post office, so we bribed the girls with a promise of food when we were done with our icky chores. Zoey is still fighting this virus. It brings up old bad memories of "gassing the baby." She was afflicted with RSV when she was about 16 months old and has permanent lung damage from that. We spent at least a year and a half giving her nebulizer treatments many times a day.

To reward ourselves we went to the Bear Tooth. The beer and the burritos were excellent as usual. Tom and I lapsed into food induced comas. Nahhhh....

We scooted by Spenard Crossing/Eastchester to see what kind of migrant waterfowl was there. There were lots of lesser Canadian geese but nothing else distinguishable with it being backlit and all.

We did get to see Mr. Beaver cruising around, patrolling the lagoon. That was a nice surprise. Tom and remarked about how much more game we see in town than when we were kids.

Vivi was disappointed with how little time we spent at the lagoon, but Zoey was really feeling her virus. So she wanted to curl up on the couch and veg. To make up I promised Vivi we would go for a walk.

We had a good time hopping in puddles, playing with sticks and seeing what was going on in Moosie Meadow. She wanted to go all the way to the Poweline, but the snow is too rotten. She found that out herself. Smart girl!

Vivi and I do not get as much time together alone as Zoey and I. These little walks become a window into her world. I love learning how her mind works. She is so verbal and imaginative. Her world view surprises me everyday.

We were treated to a lovely sunset. Each day we get to see the sun setting further and further north, later and later. We are now starting to get into that time of year when we do not sleep! This time of year Sunset Theatre really takes hold. Often, Tom and I (and whomever we can lure over) will sit on the deck with an adult beverage and a musical instrument. It should be good with Tom's new MandoBird.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Raw Spring

After our coldest March on record the spring break up has come. We are through the worst of the nasty car part. However, we are just in the beginning of the long, brown and grey phase.

Zoey has had a fever and cough since Saturday. I snapped today when she coughed very consistently from six in the morning until she got up at nine. We went to the doctor this afternoon. She thinks it is a virus and we need to stay on top of her asthma meds. We just need to give her tylenol to reduce her fever.

To reward us all for our time spent at the doctors I decided we would drive down Turnagain Arm. The tide was going out and we stopped to watch at Beluga Point.

Look at that cool ring of salt water ice around the island. All the grey in the water and the ice is glacial silt. It is so fine that is in suspension in the water.

One of my favorite things is the twisting of the hemlock that happens here. The winds bringing weather in from Prince William Sound howl up Turnagain Arm. This dead skeleton of a hemlock shows the shape beautifully. And look at the lichen and moss on the rocks. I just love Beluga Point.

We turned around at Beluga Point and headed back home. We stopped at Potter Marsh to see how it was thawing out. It looks like real progress is being made in that department. There is some scuttlebutt in the Anchorage birding community that migrant water fowl are stacking up in Prince William Sound waiting for the lakes and marshes to thaw out in Anchorage. This should bring them winging in.

We drove home from the south. We always get a view, just barely, of our house. It is to the right of the giant putty monstrostity of our neighbor and to the left of the bright red one. I love seeing our house from this road, it means we are close, so close!

Double Bunny

This winter we have had an abundance of wild life to view. We have lured them in with lovely black thistle and sunflower seeds. We have tempted them with delicious suet. Our viewing season on the birds is coming to an end. We need to remove the feeders and seed so Brother Bear is not tempted to our home. And soon we will not see our bunnies every morning. They will be less bold for food. There will be no need to be so exposed to eat, nor soak up the sun. I've been photographing them like mad. Today we were treated to double bunnies feeding together in our side yard.

Do you think this is like a snowshoe hare date?

I love the view of the bunny standing up to get an alder twig.

Then enjoying that twig like a Cuban cigar (can you see it?).

I wonder what is so delectable that on several occasions since the snow has receded I see them burying their little snouts in there? It is full of moss and crowberry bushes.

I also wonder if the lynx cycle is up. We have been having many hopping visitors.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Recital Dress

Thanks, Grammie! It is beautiful.


Happy Easter All! I hope you are enjoying this celebration of spring and new life. Here in Big Pink we decorated eggs the old fashioned way. It made a great science lesson in plants, berries and dyeing. Zoey read an article about dyeing eggs with all kinds of plants. We hot dyed eggs with tumeric and hibiscus. The tumeric was gorgeous, golden and rich. The hibiscus was supposed to turn out lavender. I suppose if you squinted and were fairly color blind it would look like lavender. I thought it turned them grey. They seemed to perfectly match the egg carton.

We also cold dyed eggs in several kinds of berries. We used blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. The berries were messier and harder to reclaim. We let them set for 48 hours to saturate the color. They had a cool mottled effect that reminded me of batik. The blueberries were the most successful with the richest color and the easiest to clean. I would do those again, but not the blackberries and the raspberries. The seeds and pulp stuck to the eggs too much.

Zoey even made me a Tucker egg, complete with halo. We still miss our old friend. Sigh....

Then came the ritual hunting and gorging on candy part. The girls dug into that wholeheartedly. The chocolate bunnies from our friends in Germany were a huge hit.

Vivi loved finding lots of fun Easter stuff in her doll house. She and Zoey were wowed by the playdough eggs.

Then it was time for a cool down. Vivi snuggled her new Beanie Baby bunny, Nibbles, and DeeDeeDa. Zoey snuggled Cojo. Cojo picking up on the fact that Zoey's fever returned from the night before. Now it is keep Zoey mellow on the couch with old movies. I think they are watching Mel Brook's "Silent Movie" now.