Saturday, June 30, 2007

On With The Show!

Zoey has been in theatre camp for three weeks now. She has been exhausted and wanting more. She is so engaged by all of it. Especially interesting to her is the social scene. Being a homeschool kid her experience with this is limited to ski team and summer activities and chosen friends. This is a mixed age camp, so she even witnessed her first friend breaking up with a boyfriend. Her reaction has been very interesting.

Zoey's role in the Fabulous Fifties Fairy Tales was as Jill of "Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill." She was one of a pair of fast talking, sassy twins in the "Three Billy Goats Gruff." There was a great deal of chasing by the trolls. No wonder she was exhausted!

And the trolls totally rocked!

For more info on theatre camp go to TBA Theatre, Inc.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Here We Go!

For those of you unfamiliar with Alaska politics, things are breaking up here. We made NPR today and it wasn't for any sporting event or natural disaster.

Ted Stevens was for many years in the Bush administration the third in the succession line for the presidency. Ted (Uncle Ted to the locals) has done some wonderful things for this state. He started the Denali Commission so that impoverished and isolated villages could have proper sanitation and safe water, among other things. While he was doing that, his son, Ben was bullying folks as President of the Alaska State Senate. Ben chose not to run for re-election after the FBI raided his senate office last summer.

We are not sure where all this is going to take us as a state. It will be interesting. If you are interested in reading up on this, check out these links. If you have any questions, ask. The back story is so very interesting and goes back to when Hale Boggs and Nick Begich disappeared over Portage Glacier.

Uncle Ted on NPR

Uncle Ted in Salon

Uncle Ted in The Anchorage Daily News

Little Son Ben in The Anchorage Daily News

and for some fun...
Uncle Ted in The Ear

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Very Birdy Walk

Yesterday Vivi and I took a really nice walk around Blueberry Hill. It was before noon and we had loads of birds serenading us. I really want to show you my walks, trace it on a map. Someday!

First we came across a lovely golden crowned sparrow singing "Summer's here!"

Then a white crowned sparrow flew onto this power line and the golden crown flew off. This one did not sing for us. He kind of glared.

While on Blueberry Hill we heard loads of song. Some I even recorded. I have not been able to get it loaded so that it is not sideways, darn it, so I haven't posted it. The most beautiful song was made by a mystery (to me) bird, it was only showing it's rear end. Hopefully I'll be able to i. d. that song.

On our way back we had several violet-green swallows escorting us. One perched on the same power line as the white crowned had about an hour earlier.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Two Sides

The sky was truly amazing last night. Looking north from the deck the clouds were playing a gorgeous part in the sunset theatre. And to the south, out of Zoey's bedroom window, Mama Moon was smiling on us.

Behold! The Chicken Cloud

On solstice afternoon, Tom, Vivi and I walked out to Powerline Pass from our house. We only had a little bit of time before Tom ran into town to pick up Zoey. When we got to the pass Vivi looked up at Wolverine Peak and said "Behold! The Chicken Cloud." Sure enough, it looked just like a chicken. Amazing. She proceeded to shout this to every one who walked by for about ten minutes. Then it no longer looked like a chicken cloud. Sigh....

We walked out the flower trail. This is one of my favorite places in Anchorage in summer. There are so many lovely flowers and the colors play with each other so well. There were lots of lovelies, but no monkshood yet. We will have to wait.

Tall Jacob's Ladder or Polemonium acutiflorum

Delicate wild geranium or geranium erianthum.

A lovely wild violet or viola langsdorfii.

Chocolate lillies are everywhere right now! Vivi loves to smell them. They do not smell too good. I think they like to attract the critters that are into rotting meat.

Frtiillaria camschatcensis.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Low Tide

On Tuesday night we rode down to the beach at Kincaid Park. Zoey's best friend, Sarissa was with us. The tide was very low and the kids immediately took off their shoes and socks and muddied up.

I did not have the trusty camera, but Tom had his cell phone. We had a blast and the girls did not complain at all about the way their shoes and socks felt on the way home. We probably need to hose out the inside of the truck, though.

My girls opted to shower since they did not want to sit in bath water. We grow them smart around here! It was all worth it, the big girls learned a bit about liquifaction in the process and Vivi just soaked it all up.

I love how you can see the Kenai Peninsula behind Zoey in this shot.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Burn, Baby, Burn

On Wednesday, the hottest day of the year we had lightening strikes all throughout southcentral Alaska. One sparked a fire north of here in a place called Trapper Lake. Above is the smoke plume from that fire, it is about 50 miles northwest of us (as the crow flies). Remember the smoke plume looking south on Wednesday evening, that is a fire sparked by some power tool in the Ninilchik Caribou Hills. That one is south of us about 80 miles as the crow flies. Alaska is doing what it does best in the summer, burn.

I went to bed about midnight, it was clear and calm. We could easily see the plume from the Trapper Lake fire. I woke up about 3:30a because my room smelled smoky. In that time the wind had kicked up out of the southeast and brought us the smoke from the Caribou Hills fire. Above is the view out my bedroom window at 3:30a.

And this is looking out the slider at 9:00a. I sent Zoey to camp with her albuterol inhaler. Tom even got interviewed by the local news about the wildland fire danger. You can check it out at KTUU, our local NBC station.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy Solstice

Summer Solstice is here. It may seem an interesting or quaint day to remark upon, since we are so removed from our agricultural roots, however, up here it is a big deal. The length of the day in Anchorage today will be nineteen hours and nineteen minutes. There will be twenty-four hours of visible daylight. The sun will set at 11:40p to the north northwest and rise at about 4:20a to the north northeast. When the sun is below the horizon it will still be light, it will be twilight for those almost five hours. YIPPY!!!! This is the payoff, this is why we try not to leave Alaska in the summer. It is truly amazing.

Some folks climb Flattop, a mountain near my house, and mark solstice with a party. Tom has gone up several times. One time he got to the top and there was a group of kids from a local high school ski team that had parted out and packed up, and re-assembled a trampoline! Most folks just pack up a good supper and something to drink. In the past we have had a party on our deck.

This year we will be at Mighty Bikes, riding in the woods until about 9p, then maybe I'll get the family to walk back to the pass. What are you doing for solstice?

A view looking south last night at a plume of smoke from a fire on the Kenai Peninsula. That was taken at about 11:30p.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Our Ride on the Hottest Day of the Year!

While Zoey is at drama camp, Tom, Vivi and I have been having some nice afternoons together. Today it was hot by Anchorage standards, it was in the eighties. Laugh all you want, but it feels too hot for me after many minus temps this winter.

I have been wanting to explore Far North Bicentennial Park. It is BLM land here in the heart of Anchorage. It has Campbell Creek running through it. I thought that would be perfect, with shade dappled trails and a creek to keep the dog cool and hydrated.

We rode for about two hours. We stopped for a break at the creek. There were many warblers, juncos and sparrows in the trees overhead.

We even had an immature bald eagle take off from some trees across the creek and catch a thermal.

Vivi, Cojo and I all cooled our heels in the mountain stream. It starts above my house! Vivi loved learning about where this creek comes from. I think this evening after dinner we will walk to the pass and take a peek at the creek higher up.

Vivi is doing great on her "sticked-together" bike. She is pedalling occasionally. She learned a big lesson today. She and daddy took a fall because one of her pedals caught on a root. Now she knows how to even out her pedals when a root is coming. I love how fearless she is. And Tom is such a good daddy. Not only will he pedal her on the trail-a-bike, he takes the time to teach her how to ride.

Vivi chose her outfit for biking. I love how her helmet goes with her action sandals. When we first bought her strawberry helmet two years ago, Vivi had to wear it in the truck all the way home. She even napped in it.

Cojo's Here!

What is Cojo barking at?

She is looking at the power lines above the road and barking. But why? Hmmm....

Oh look, it's her kong. The master kong slinger has gotten it around the power lines. Now what? Thank heavens her doggy memory is outstripped by the height of this puzzle or she may STILL be there barking. Sigh...

Now it is time to snooze in the best friends forever doggy bed. Henry and Cojo love each other.

Also, it is now officially hot here in Anchorage and Henry has sought refuge in the sink.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I have ridden my bike everyday for four days now. I love to ride my bike, it lets me get places that my pathetic feet would never allow me to go. However, I have yet to take my camera or some binoculars. These are just to bulky and get in the way of a good clean ride. And, while riding I have been hearing sooo much gorgeous birdsong, that I have to keep reminding myself that it is not safe to bike and bird. In fact, it is like a mantra when I ride. Argghhh.....I think I must be driving Tom crazy with that.

Last night was Mighty Bikes. It is a group of kids and parent coaches that teach the kids mountain biking skills two nights a week during the summer. Many of the same folks that are involved in Anchorage Junior Nordic and Eagle River Nordic are there. Zoey's friend, Sarissa, bikes with this group, too. Since Tom and I do not coach this, we ride. Last year we rode with Vivi in a kiddo seat on the back of Tom's bike. This year we are riding with Vivi on the trail-a-bike. Vivi calls this her "sticked together" bike. She is loving it.

Tom and Vivi and I made it down to the beach at Kincaid Park last night. It is a special place, you do not feel that you are still in Anchorage. For being right on the ocean, Anchorage is not all that tied to the ocean. We are at the top of Cook Inlet and all access to the ocean is by bluff. Our tides are regularly 15 or 18 feet with 30 to 33 feet tides monthly. Our inlet is also full of glacial silt so that water is always grey, sometimes brown, but never true blue. This area is just so raw sometimes. We have very few beaches, in fact I think Kincaid is the only one. We have cliffs and dangerous mudflats.

So, it is a treat to go to the beach. While there I felt like a bumpkin, I was all amazed that the chocolate lilies were already blooming and that the beach pea (thank you for the image) were out and gorgeous. Since our house is at about 2200 feet above sea level and the beach is at sea level, our chocolate lilies are only now even THINKING about blooming.

I will try to take the camera biking with me soon as there is so much to show you. Especially Vivi on her sticked-together bike.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer Blooms

My home sits on a small patch of alpine meadow surrounded by dwarfed hemlock and alder forests. Each spring is an elfin explosion. None of the plants you see are more than three inches tall and some are less than one inch. These are all blooming in my yard right now.

Above is wooly lousewort. It has an interesting name and is not yet at its peak. I'll try to remember to capture it when it is rocking.

A mountain avens.

I think this is a one-colored cinquefoil.

Some dwarf dogwood.

The lovely blackish oxytrope (I kid you not!).

A gorgeous alpine azalea.

And finally, dwarf blueberry. I will eventually make some jam with these!