Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Signs of Spring

Last week Zoey helped me pick out some gorgeous hanging baskets. These were a surprise since they came from the grocery store and not one of the swanky nurseries around here. They smell so fresh and we immediately noted more butterflies around. It makes me so happy to have lovely flowers at my door. Next we will get some violets, petunias and other pretty blooming things to make some pots. YIPPY!

Another sign of spring is the annual raiding of the garbage can. Sigh...

I woke up to find my garbage strewn all over the end of the driveway. The can had only been at the end of the drive for about an hour and a half. I did not hear the initial assault as my window was closed, it was a bit windy last night.

The garbage everywhere left me wondering how to safely get it all back in the can so the garbage guys could take it away. When I first got up there was no bear there. He reappeared.

He sauntered back over to the can,

judged his approach,

rooted around,

found what he wanted,

and went to his happy place in the hemlock.

Who knew that blackies would not want the fishy butcher paper and prefer coffee creamer?

Now our search for a NEW bear-proof garbage can takes on a new urgency.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Vivi's Brain

My children seem to have ceaseless imaginations. Zoey is forever composing stories and scenarios in her head. She makes a musical game out of chores for Vivi. It's like being in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Vivi came up with some zingers the last few days.

On Friday as we were driving out to Pepere's I heard a deep voice from the depths of the backseat asking me to turn around. There was a little man sitting in Vivi's seat, a tissue for a mustache. This little man's name turned out to be Peaches Apple Pumpkin Bubblegum, The Mustache Man. I love his deep voice. This seems to be an extension of Beard Face, a persona developed by Vivi when she was about two. She would take her hair near her ears and bring this hair to her mouth and talk in a really deep voice.

Vivi also asked on Thursday evening if we could build a house that was a giant robot. And this robot could walk us into town, take us to the market. Then she thought about it and wondered if this robot might scare people. Hmmmmm....

Friday, May 18, 2007

Art Intensive and Salmon

This week and last my friend, Stephanie, has been working with Zoey on an art intensive. Both have been reaping rewards. Zoey is so engaged! And it is adding really cool dimensions to all her work. She has been learned about grey-scale, backgrounds, dimension, context, the color wheel and all in a few one-on-one sessions. I cannot wait to see where this goes.

Vivi has had a good time, too. She has been learning to tie flies with Diane and getting to know all the teachers at Mears Middle School. Vivi is so excited the she is one of Diane's students. She loves to feel that she has a teacher, too.

And in other news, the Copper River Red season opened on Monday. To honor that, I cooked wild Copper River coho. It was way on sale! YIPPY! This turned out great. I lightly salted and peppered it, cut some fresh dill, sliced lemons and then put some pats of butter on the fillet. Once it was wrapped in foil, I popped it in the oven to bake. About an half hour later we had delicious, moist silver salmon. Ohhh baby! Raise those omega 3s!

And the news these last weeks. YIKES! Bill Allen pleading guilty (read it here), Ben Stevens on the brink, it might even touch Uncle Ted. Alaska hasn't had a shake-up like this in quite a while.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Going Solo

Okay, so I may not have any great images of hot bird action like Susan, but I have what great literature and films strive for; longing and fulfillment. Here is the sweet male junco sitting atop my neighbor's NOAA weather station, singing for a mate. He is so dilligent. He has been there for days. Tom thinks he is telling all the gals that he is fabulous and he has a line on some sweet suet. We are also hearing a varied thrush and some boreal owls. The sound of the owls is how I know spring has come to Glen Alps. What a great sound.

We think our little man has himself a sweetie, there were two juncos spotted skritching around the side of the house and playset the last few days. They have been very devoted. Also, the soloing at the top of the tower has quit. Good luck, you honeymooners.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What a Half-Hour Can Do!

Tom and Zoey did a fund-raising run for the university ski team this evening. They ran from McHugh Creek to the head of the Turnagain Trail near Potter Marsh. When we got to the start Zoey's friend Jake and his dad, Mark were there. Zoey was excited that she would have someone her size along.

While getting instruction from the starter, a bald eagle literally hung out above the racers for a good thirty seconds, then soared over the start. This is not the best picture, but at least you get the idea.

The race began, the kids looked strong. I guess there were some lessons learned about pacing a four mile run. And yes, Zoey's hands were still blue from the dyeing. She has that Celtic warrior thing going on. Vivi and I had about 45 minutes to dink around before we picked them up at the finish.

We went to the turnout at Potter Marsh and racked up a list of birds in just 40 minutes:
Ring Necked Duck (2), Canvasbacks (at least eight), Northern Pintail (2), Greater Scaup (at least six), Trumpeter Swan (4), American Widgeon (6), Horned Grebe (1), lesser Canadian Goose (bazillions), Arctic Tern (lots), Northern Shoveler (2), tree swallows (lots), Bald Eagle (2), Common Raven (1), and Mew Gulls.

No pictures from the marsh, the battery on the camera died. Sorry!

Spin Spin Spin

The wool and spinning intensive continued today. We got to play with fleeces that had just been sheared. Zoey was amazed at how much crud can be in the fleece of a sheep. Zoey picked out some very nice, tawny colored fleece. When she cleaned it, the fleece was VERY white. I wish I could have caught the look on her face. Once the fleece was cleaned she dyed it with Koolaid. Zoey's hands were an awesome green-blue.

Zoey now wants me to get carders so that she can endlessly card wool. She really enjoyed the process and the feeling of the repetitive, meditative motion.

Then Mary, a homeschooling mom, taught the kids to spin with a drop spindle. It was a bit difficult for some. However, most enjoyed giving it a try. Zoey now wants her own drop spindle that she can use off the top of the stairs. I see a few head bonks coming.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


This is the backyard of Penne's farm. We are looking at her hive of russian bees. Zoey and I spotted dark-eyed juncos and white-headed sparrows at Penne's farm. I think I could live there, although, I am not sure I want the work of the sheep.

Thanks to Penne for sharing her farm, and thanks to Happy for helping it happen.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Barn Goddess

We got treated today to a trip to Honey Hill Sheep Farm fun by Penne! She is an amazing woman. I'm not sure if you could see in these pictures, but her cap says "Barn Godess." Oh boy, is that true.

Penne had been up to all hours birthing lambs and had the grace to host a herd of homeschoolers.

One of the hallmarks of homeschooling is the inclusiveness of it. There were ALL ages there. There were highschoolers down to preschoolers. Sometimes the preschoolers ask the most cogent questions. Vivi certainly got a lot out of this farm.

The new mamas were so protective of their babies. And all the babies had this gorgeous black coats. Hmmmm....that will make nice wool. These are all Shetland sheep.

Zoey loved the chickens. She spent a great deal of time ohhing and ahhing the poultry. She even came up with a plan to have them at our home, including a solar electric fence for all the predators. Zoey, it is still a "no." Sorry, darling.

I did end up buying some roving from Penne, I cannot wait to spin it up. Vivi picked out a very girly bat. She wants a hat and scarf. I hope I like spinning this yarn, since she sure likes that roving.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Saturday In The Park

On Saturday Tom and I took Vivi to the Alaska Zoo. It is a nice little zoo, with a fabulous sense of humor. One summer they had an empty enclosure with the sign "off exhibit." Being the height of bug season, they put lots of "Off" in there, every variation of the bug dope they could find.

This time they had a purse loaded with stuff for the ravens to pilfer. Or perhaps it's a place for the ravens to stash their pilfered stuff. The ravens seemed to appreciate it, and I liked the homey look. Just for the record, all birds at the Alaska Zoo are unable to live in the wild for various reasons.

While at the zoo there was so much bird song all around. It was a lovely, warm (50F) day with only a few fluffy clouds in the sky and a slight breeze. I kept looking to the trees, trying to find who was making what noise. I had an epiphany. One of these uber-birder types needs to make an a#@ end bird guide. How many times do you get to glimpse the underside/backside of the bird? do not see that angle represented in too many guides.

We wore out Vivi. She is still suffering from the never-ending illness. She napped in the car as we drove to Eagle River to pick up her sister. While there, we talked Tom's dad and brother into taking a walk at the Eagle River Nature Center. It is a lovely trailhead into the Chugach State Park. You can hike it all the way to the Crow Creek Mine and into Girdwood. It is a national historic trail.

While in the park I got a nice earful of a varied thrush, but did not get to put my eye on it. We wore Vivi out again, but she was happy to hike with us.

Eagle Eye

Friday evening Tom, Vivi and I went for dinner at Chair 5 in Girdwood. Zoey was at her friend, Sarissa's birthday. To get to Girdwood we had to drive by Potter Marsh. First we went behind it on the Old Seward Highway. With Tom driving I was FINALLY

able to spot the eagle's nest. There was even an eagle in it! Can you see?

Then we drove back towards Anchorage so we could see the various ducks and geese in it. The light was not great, but we did see a trumpeter swan, a horned grebe, and a canvasback couple. I showed you them earlier. It was very peaceful and calm. Vivi even spotted the swan. She made up a whole story about the beautiful swan princess. We then continued to Girdwood as we could hear our tummies growl.

We had to drive back by the marsh on our way home, so we stopped again. The light was better, but the viewing was all gulls all the time. They were playing with the breeze and doing I do not know what. To view the gulls and the marsh we were looking east.

If you looked west you got a gorgeous view of Mt. Susitna, the Sleeping Lady.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Thursday with Potter Marsh

Who said that my children could both get sick and not be able to fly anywhere on my vacation? Hmmm....who gave them permission for that? Who said Zoey could have her most serious flare up in years just now? At least they had the good sense to turn the weather a bit nice so I do not feel so glum and stuck.

Yesterday as I talked to three different doctors' offices regarding Ms. Zoey, I also managed to sneak in a trip to Potter's Marsh. Boy, was it worth it. Sorry for subjecting you to fuzzy, reachy photos, but I was truly at the limit of the digital zoom.

The girls and I got treated to the unusual flying of an Arctic Tern. There were at least two of them there. They hovered right off the side of the car and dove for some little yummy in the marsh. They looked like giant, overgrown hummingbirds. It was quite the treat.

There was also a red-necked grebe there. I had heard there was a horned grebe, but I could not find him. The red-neck was just fine by me.

And, our final spiffy species was two-fer. We got to see a canvasback date. Aren't they lovely.

Again, sorry for the fuzziness, but I still wanted to share.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spring Recital

Zoey played and sang Waltzing Matilda for her recital piece last night. She handled her first experience with a microphone very well. She has a very confident stage presence. It was touch and go whether she was going to sing. She is on her second course of antibiotics to get this never-ending illness to go away. She is back on the albuterol, she is back to feeling punky. It is breaking my heart. I hate seeing her this way.

Zoey looked so grown up and beautiful. She was wearing a lovely dress my mom sent her and asked to have her hair curled. Vivi wore a dress and golden shoes, too. She wanted to be as spiffy as Zoey. Aunt Jane showed up for the recital, as did Lupe, her husband, Kelly, and Mark, Sheryl and Branson Gustafson. We all (except Jane) went to Twin Dragon afterward. YUM! Zoey and Branson ate SOOOO much. I just love how supported my kids are. Thanks, everyone!

All indoor photos here are credited to Tom Grenier.