Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is this the Left Bank?

It seems that all my cool sightings lately come on Tuesdays, after piano lessons. Yesterday when I was unloading the groceries I looked out the window and saw about eleven birds on the powerline. They were watching all the action at the suet feeders. I do not normally see a flock of birds on our lines. I looked closely and realized they were Bohemian waxwings. Hot damn! Yes indeedy! I have never seen them at my house. Thanks for the visit, please come back anytime!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Zoey received her new biathlon rifle yesterday. She and her dad tinkered with it until 12:30AM. Hopefully, Zoey will now make her goal of earning a spot on the Alaska team for the 2008 Arctic Winter Games. Cross your fingers!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Full Moon Yurt

Eagle River Nature Center

We have a had a reservation for the Rapids Camp Yurt at the Eagle River Nature Center for about two months. We have been so looking forward to camping out there in the fall, with a full moon. The kids have been calling it the Yurt of Terror since it was so close to Halloween. When I woke up on Saturday morning this is what was on the front page of the paper and my task that morning was to pack up for our reservation at the Yurt. Hmmmm.....

Our friends Joe and Sarissa were coming, too, so a plan formulated among the outdoorsmen and we decided to go, but go making lots of noise and taking a mobile bear re-education program with us. We also knew we had Coho the Wonder Dog tagging along. I had all confidence we would be just fine.

We counted no less than six signs with about this same wording in the two miles it took to hike out to the yurt.

We spent the evening near the river. The men pumped water.

The girls spazzed out. They had fun with the little eddies of the river being in various states of freezing. Here they had managed to pry a piece about an inch thick out and have some fun with it.

They also tested the strength of the ice, no one fell in, but it did come very close. After holding the ice the girls were ready for a fire.

The next morning it was time to hike out.

In the morning before we hiked out Vivi had found some beautiful fur on several trees right at about her eye level. The kids were trying to guess what critter left it (Science Chimp, you would be sooo proud). They were sticking to wild animals. The color was right for several locals, and with the bear attack first in our minds the kids were convinced it was brown bear. Once I got my hands on it, I was pretty sure it was llama or alpaca.

When we ran into these folks. They cleared up a mystery for us. It was from this handsome llama named Skilly.

There were loads of high bush cranberries left on the bushes, some watermelon berries, and rosehips all revealed by the leaves leaving. I tried to get a shot of this gorgeous bunch of cranberries with ice rime on them, but the camera would not cooperate.

Fall was revealing sights not seen with all the foliage of summer.

Vivi spotted this juvenile bald eagle checking out the slow, late salmon in the beaver lake.

Isn't she lovely?

As we neared the visitor's center we ran into the witch of the hollow tree and her intrepid bear cub assistant. Vivi was awed! They were setting up for their annual Haunted Trail party.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Project Runway

Do you remember the play that Zoey was in this summer? It was a take-off on Three Billy Goat's Gruff. This play had a scene stealing young man playing a little troll named Grotto. He stole my Vivi's heart. All she has wanted to be for Halloween since this play is a troll. No more mermaids, no more princesses, no more frou-frou girly costumes for my Vivi. A troll, with bells on her shoes.

Tonight I finished the shoes. Halloween can be a very snowy affair, so these are really sole-free over boots for her snow boots. She will be warm and safe and a truly awesome troll. My fabulous mother has done the rest of the costume to Vivi's specifications, including sparkly green fabric. With a little up-do on the hair and some face paint she will be the troll of her dreams. Next week I will show you a pirate and troll who are related. Can you wait??

Boo Brothers

We have been very busy with preparations for Halloween. The pumpkin on the left is of Vivi's design but Daddy's execution. She was great with all the slimy parts. In fact, I think she quite enjoyed dealing the the pumpkin guts.

Zoey designed and carried out her work of art. She calls it the Jack-a-polka-lantern. You may not instantly spot the polka dots she put in with a melon baller. It was very fun around that house that night. Cojo was hoping for some pumpkin droppings. I'm not sure what she would have thought of them had she gotten any.

Yesterday Zoey was having a resurgence of ear pain, so she laid down with a hot water bottle. Vivi and I wanted to do something to make her feel better. And what could be better than cookies? I had super-special assistant Vivi in the kitchen. We even talked about halves and wholes as we measured.

And our downy boy has been visiting at both sides of the house. I really enjoy watching him at the feeder. It looks like he might not like to share too much.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Road Home

Now that the fish has quit flying and the construction season is winding down, I can get out of work a little early. When there is no activity at the warehouse it is hard to stay.

Today I cut out early and drove home looking at the alpenglow. This is one of the few rewards for dwindling sunshine and loads of snow. The mountains will just blush with the sunset. This was not even climax alpenglow, but it was enough to make me happy, slow my heart rate, make me breathe deeply.

After I parked the car and took the groceries into the house, I walked to the end of the driveway and said "hello" to the Alaska Range. The sunset across Cook Inlet was gorgeous, back lighting these two active volcanoes. That is Mt. Redoubt on the right and Mt. Iliamna on the left.

I came inside to start dinner when Zoey called me to the suet feeder. We had a downy woodpecker! Just this week we started drawing woodpeckers. They are interesting to watch and so calm. The mountain that is out of focus below the woodpecker is Mt. Susitna. She is also called Sleeping Lady. Dave has a nice post about the legend of Mt. Susitna. It's worth a look. Happy Sunday, all!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rant Ahead!

I think this might win for bird feeder with the best view.

My lovely mountain retreat is about three miles from any major thoroughfare and about 2200 feet above Anchorage. It is about seven miles to anything in town, including piano lessons and writing classes. I choose this place to live and I love it. I try to only go down the mountain once each day, so as to save gas, wear on the car, and my sanity. This is my first year where I have really felt like a taxi driver. I have always tried to schedule a day each week where I do not drive. It is great in that if I can actually accomplish it, I will not drive for seven weeks in a year. It feels wonderful and relaxing when I pull it off.

This school year I have not been as successful in making that happen. I will drive everyday for about 20 weeks. Yuck! Sheesh! It really seems to suck my soul out of my body. I know I am whining, but please! At least I might get more knitting done (if Vivi lets me).

All this running around makes me miss some interesting stuff up here. For instance, when we got home from Zoey's science class (and the laundromat) there were new visitors to the feeder.

"Hey, Zoey, quick, quick, quick!"

"What do you think that is in the cottonwood? No not the grey jay, WITH the grey jay?"

We had three pine grosbeaks in that cottonwood tree next to the house. At the same time we had a hairy woodpecker at the suet on the other side of the house. I have never seen a woodpecker at my place before! And the grosbeaks haven't been seen since March. Now I have to figure out how those grosbeaks like to eat.

All this new activity makes me wonder what we are missing when we are gone.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

She Got Her Wish

Yesterday was Zoey's birthday. She was born on a Friday the 13th. I think that is such a lucky day. I am having a hard time with this birthday, I really do not want her to grow up. Selfish, I know. At the same time I am waiting with rapt anticipation to see the young woman she will become.

Zoey wanted her birthday party this year to be at the Alaska Rock Gym. We managed to pull it off. She had cookies-n-cream cupcakes and good friends. Cassidy is climbing like a champ.

Sarissa showed up with her mom and brother. Sarissa and Zoey share so much and are such good friends. They always have a great time together. Mary, Sarissa's mother, liked shocking my mom by telling her that Mary has spent many nights at Mom's house. My mom was open-mouthed, she thought she had never laid eyes on this woman before. Mary is my friend from high school, we went to church together, played together, shared secrets. And now our girls are doing much the same. To Mom's credit, it had been a decade or two since they had seen each other.

Vivi had a great night, too. She got to go in a full body harness and climb like all the rest of the kids. Vivi has been waiting to do this since she was born. When she was about six weeks old Zoey had a birthday party at the rock gym. Vivi stared and watched all these people flying through the air and climbing. I think her desire to do everything Sissy does was born on that day.

Even the adult belay slaves (myself included) had an enjoyable time. We did not get to climb, though. I think maybe we will have an adult climbing night...

This is my mom, looking lovely holding her Vivi.

The other thing about Zoey's birthday is that it is usuallly bracketed by the first measurable, non-leaving snow of the year. And Zoey ALWAYS wishes for that. She cannot wait for the snow to come, and misses it all summer long.

She got her wish in aces. Here is what will be about eight inches when the snow quits this evening.

Wish me luck, I always mourn the passing of summer. Sigh....

Friday, October 05, 2007

Grasses bent with weight,
Chickadees bathing in snow,
October morning.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pen Pals

After my little rant regarding my mail, I did receive a great package. Ruthie over at Nature Knitter sent me a lovely gift.

She shared some of her fabulous grape jelly and a warm hat she knit. I need to buck up and learn to do some new things with yarn. I am strictly a knit/purl gal. I think it is an attention span thing. As soon as Ruthie becomes my neighbor, I will branch out. Seriously, though, thank you Ruthie. Something will be winging your way shortly.