Saturday, April 26, 2008

Happy Place! Happy Place! Quick!

How does one deal with another two feet of heavy, wet snow? Or that the winds will be kicking up and drifting the snow, making life difficult tonight? How does one cleanse from loads of irregular operations at work since the state had trouble plowing the runway? Hmmmm.....

How about a retreat into a happy place? Like the Columbia River on a gorgeous summer day?

Perhaps Pawley's Island in South Carolina with warm water and happy kiddos?

Or a gorgeous sunset at Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina? Do you hear all the birds? The egrets, herons, ibises, painted buntings and prothonotary warblers? Can you smell the humidity and fecundity of the tide lands? Ahhhh....that's better.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Siberia Is Burning!

All of Siberia is on fire and we are rubbing our eyes! Spring can bring a little low level haze to the Anchorage bowl; dust blows off the nearby Matanuska and Knik glaciers, the grime from accumulated road pucky. This is different.

The satellite image above, courtesy of the NASA's Earth Observatory, shows the direction the smoke is heading -- east, to Alaska. There is also a decent story at the BBC regarding the fires. Seems like there is nothing in the US press.

This was the sunset view out our sliding glass door tonight. Lovely color, terrible visibility.

Here is a view of the skyline of Anchorage from up in my neighborhood. This was taken on a nice February day. We had had some north winds, kicking up the usual grime.

This is a shot of the skyline this evening. I can hardly see town! YIKES!

Here is photo from March of a sunset, looking across Cook Inlet to the volcanoes. I am holding our visitor, Flat Jetty. See how clear the mountains seventy or more miles away are?

This shot was taken this afternoon from the same spot. Yuck!

Although it is uber-hazy, we did enjoy a lovely family walk out to the pass. Vivi chose her outfit with care. Zoey looks like she should somewhere warmer.

We played with the electro-magnetic field under the powerlines a bit. I reached to move Zoey's hair out of her eyes. I shocked her! She thought I was shooing a bug because there was a buzzing. So, she touched me back. My skin vibrated. At first we thought it was because we were wearing earrings. Nope, Tom and Vivi buzzed, too. I restrained myself from asking a nice stranger if we could touch his neck, but I thought about it.

We took a few pictures of the family. It was a lovely evening.

It has been so very warm the last few days, that the snow is rotten. As we were walking along, Vivi vanished! She post-holed up to her shoulders just inches off the trail. Daddy did a little post-holing, too. Eventually they both got free.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

Psalm 104:10-30

He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.

They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.

The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.

He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.

He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:

wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.

The trees of the LORD are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

There the birds make their nests;
the stork has its home in the junipers.

The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.

You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.

The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.

The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.

Then people go out to their work,
to their labor until evening.

How many are your works, LORD!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.

There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.

There the ships go to and fro,
and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

All creatures look to you
to give them their food at the proper time.

When you give it to them,
they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
they are satisfied with good things.

When you hide your face,
they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
they die and return to the dust.

When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the ground.

Morning Poem

by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Whole Lotta Meltin' Going On

Finally, it is beginning to melt. I won't say more than that for fear of jinxing it all. As you can see yesterday there was mud, lots of mud. Everyone tromped mud into the house. Even the fish tank managed to get mud on it.

We were able to sit outside comfortably in the sun.

Vivi played all over the place. She relished the chance to be outside without a coat and hat and mittens. She even occasionally walked on the snow with no boots on to track down Henry. This resulted in many fine faces.

Our afternoon gave us seven species in the yard. We really enjoyed watching the Redpolls jockey and squabble. The Black-Capped Chickadees chased each other around. The Magpies came in for an occasional visit. There were Ravens way up talking and playing in thermals. The Boreal Chickadees and the Grey Jays competed for suet. It was a raucous and noisy yard. However, at one point it went absolutely still as two Bald Eagles silently glided over head, about twenty feet above. Even Mad Squirrel quit yapping.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Kickin' It Old School

We had a wee bit of a ground blizzard for tax day. The Redpolls were in a feeding frenzy. I had relented and bought seed for them, realizing that any bears silly enough to be out of their dens were staying at a lower elevation. Tom and I were thinking this is a great deal like springs when we were kids, before climate change.

During the night the a north wind picked up and the temperature dropped. Sorry for the blurry photo, the camera did not want to focus on the anemometer. And yes, the readout below shows that it is +12F outside and 55F inside, on the north wall. The rest of the house was a decent 65F.

There was so much new snow over the last week. This snow had not moved anywhere. It sure moved with that north wind. It erased the driveway. Tom missed a day of work to unstick his truck. He had run afoul of the snow gods and got very, very stuck. At least it was my day off, so we got to spend some time together.

Take a look at how the wind can act as an artist, an architect, and mover.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

First of the Season

Friday on my way to work, I was a little early. I stopped at the Airport Park to roll down the windows, breathe a little fresh air, and soak in some sunshine before I stepped into the grey warehouse. I noticed the tide in Cook Inlet was a bit high and on the way out. I was looking at the ice floes booking along, when I noticed a few of the ice floes were rhythmically surfacing to breathe. YIPPY!!!! My first Belugas of the season. They are hard to see here, Zoey and I have spotted at least three. The easiest one to spot happens at about 31 seconds in, about halfway up the screen on the right. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Another Foot of Snow

It seems there is a great deal of moisture streaming up from Hawaii. This coupled with a Siberian high, keeping us cold, is making lots of snow. Sigh...

I am in denial. I am drinking Frangelico in my coffee, trying to dull the pain. I am usually not so morose about the snow, but two feet in a few April days is enough to drive anyone to hang out with a monk.

Now, how many magpies can you see? Look closely. This was a very unusual grouping. We normally see about three or four at a time. Not today.

The boreals were earnest in their pursuit of the suet. I am just glad I could help.

As for the redpolls, they were frenetic. They are eating so very much that they have me in a quandary. It is just about time to take down the feeds as our friend and brother,Ursus Americanus , will be making an appearance soon. I was trying not to buy anymore seed. I don't want any excess hanging around tempting the bears. Now, I may have to buy some to placate my redpolls.

Henry was very, very engaged. He only smacked the window about six times.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Any guesses on what the best way to ensure that a foot of snow falls? Hmmm...any guesses? Any at all? Just scroll down...

One need only bring out the bicycles.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Some Spring Skiing

Tom took the girls to Fairbanks this last weekend to see the USSA Distance Nationals. This is a series of races with many of the best nordic skiers in the country. It was a great opportunity to see excellent racing, great form, and watch a national event staged. Vivi instantly made friends with Laura Valaas and Liz Stephens. These skiers won most of the women's events this weekend.

For the Fairbanks Ski for Women they asked Tom if they could ski with Vivi on the one kilometer race. They kept pace with Vivi, kept her focused, and cheered her on. They even had a photo finish! Vivi had a blast and I think Liz and Laura did, too. For an account from Laura's perspective, check out her blog.

Zoey and her posse had a great time, too. And they all helped raise money for the women's shelter in Fairbanks. Great job, girls.

And, all photos courtesy Tom Grenier.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Vivi Conquers Ohio!

Three weeks ago Vivi and I flew into Columbus for a quick tour of Southern Ohio. We had so many folks we wanted to see, a few things we really wanted to do. As our plane dipped under the cloud layer and I could see the ground, my eyes must have bugged out. The ground was WHITE! Snow, lots of snow. Now what had I just left in Alaska? Hmmm....

When we got to my mom's home I was surprised by all the activity on her little pond. She lives in a lovely neighborhood with a man-made pond that is stocked. So, it is a jumping little scene. I really loved the look of the heron contrasted with the snow.

I even managed to get a life bird within the first two hours in Ohio. There were Ring Necked Ducks on her pond. Not too exotic for you, but I had not seen one. It was so cool. About six or seven individual hung around the entire time I was there. There was also a Belted Kingfisher, but I never caught a photo of it. I have lots of bare limbs where the darned thing was a few seconds before.

The true heart of the trip was all the folks I managed to see. I had a fantastic evening with a bevy of bloggirls! Susan and her gorgeous daughter, Isabelle came. The little girls enjoyed dressing up in all my mother's scarves and hats. Being an excellent Grammie, she has quite the selection and is generous in sharing them. Nina and Kathi were also there. What a delight to share experiences and put that truly personal touch on a friendship that has grown over the miles with common interests. I hope I get to connect with all these women again. Thanks to Mother Mary for the great hostessing. She can throw a party.

We even got one nice day of weather to go to the Cincinnati Zoo. It is Vivi's favorite place in the whole wide world (not counting her pink house). We spent many hours wandering around there, looking at all the critters. Vivi was fascinated with the Red Panda. She really wanted to take it home.

On Saturday March 15th, my nephew was home from college for a mere three hours. Vivi and I figured he could not continue his spring break with out some big hugs from his little cousin. First, we hugged Auntie Liz. Auntie Liz rocks Vivi's world. She loves her Auntie Liz.

Then Vivi put a big squeeze on her cousin, Maggie. Maggie graciously played Barbies for a little while with Vivi. Maggie's stock shot up on that move.

Then she snuggled Nick. He has always been so sweet and loving with my kids. I was so pleased to see all these folks.

And there is more to come, because after we were at Auntie Liz's house we drove all the way to Marietta! Yeehaw!