March 2nd - Dental Woes and Bedridden
I know it's been awhile since I've updated last. I haven't been
in the mood, nor the physical condition, to do anything but lay
on the sofa or in my bed, since having a root canal last Friday.
The root canal area became infected, which then led to excruciating
pain in my jaw, my eye socket, my cheek - my entire head. The
antibiotics prescribed didn't agree with my stomach. Since I couldn't
keep them down, I wasn't healing. I am now on a different antibiotic.
The pain pills they prescribed (first Vicodin, then Tylenol #3,
and now Percocet) also weren't agreeing with my stomach. Needless
to say, I haven't eaten very much over the last 5 days either.
And I'm still in pain. Steve took me back to the dentist yesterday,
so I could willingly get a novocaine shot - which made me cry,
but at least numbed my mouth, and kept me pain free for about
This morning I managed to keep down the antibiotic, and I'm in
pain - but afraid to take the Percocet because of my stomach being
so sensitive. The pain is horrible, and I now remember why I haven't
been to the dentist as often as I should. As I recall, the last
time I went I had the same experience. Dental Phobic doesn't even
begin to describe how I feel about dentists - especially after
There are many activities taking place this month in Fairbanks.
The Ice Art Championships open today. This weekend is the
Nenana Ice Classic, when they
set up the Tripod for the biggest betting event of the year. March
12-13 is Chatanika Days - complete with the Outhouse Races and
snowmachine Tug O' War. The Native Arts Festival also is this
weekend. I hope I'm feeling well enough to go out and about.
March 5 - Little Mushers and the Native Arts Festival
After spending a week wiped out with this tooth pain, I managed
to get myself dressed yesterday and spend a few hours outdoors.
I'm still taking Percocet, but not as often as I was, and I'm
still on my antibiotics. The pain comes and goes, but at least
I can function normally. Eating is still a challenge though -
chewing on one side isn't conducive to enjoying a meal.
My friend April came by to get me yesterday morning. We planned
on attending the Jr. North American Championship Sled Dog Race.
I have gone to many of these races, but this race had something
the others didn't - very young mushers! In fact, the age group
participating was 2-18. The majority of the racers were under
age 10, which made for some real entertainment. How amazing to
see such tiny 'people' handle a sled and dog(s).
The youngest racer was only 2 1/2. She was a real sweetie, with
a steady look of determination on her face as she waited at the
starting line. The 'under 7' group raced with only one dog, and
her dog was just chomping at the bit to take off running. She
managed to stay on the sled the entire way around the track, taking
the curves like a pro. So cute!
After watching the youngsters race, we headed off to lunch. April
had baby Connor with her and he was wide awake and being sociable
as we enjoyed our sandwiches and conversation. Connor's only 3
months old and quite the handsome baby boy!
We visited with each other at my house for about an hour, and
then my tooth started throbbing - necessitating another dose of
Percocet. I think the cold air aggravated it. I napped off and
on over the next few hours until Steve got home a little before
decided to head off to the Native Arts Festival at the university,
even though we knew we'd probably miss the first group of dancers.
Luck was with us, as the dancers were running behind. We arrived
just in time to watch the first group perform. I took a few photos
and then we browsed the craft tables. I saw the most gorgeous
pair of beaver gloves and a beaver lined (and brimmed) hat. All
together, the ensemble would have set us back about $450. Steve
kept insisting on purchasing them for me, but I told him to hold
off. I'd much rather have that $450 to spend during our vacation
in July. Besides, my nerves would be shot if I had to worry about
not losing a glove. (I'm so terrible about losing gloves!)
As luck would have it, my tooth began acting up again - which
meant downing some more Percocet. Forget staying for any additional
entertainment.... It's a good thing Steve was driving. When we
got home, I went to bed almost immediately.
Here are some photos from yesterday's adventures:
March 7 - Photos from the Ice Art Championships - Single Block
Yesterday, I met up with a friend and headed off to the Ice Park.
The single block sculptures are up and have been judged. There
are some very beautiful works of ice art, and I really enjoyed
walking up and down the paths, admiring such creativity. I wanted
to share some of my favorites with you:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Diane!
Today is a very special
day. It is my sister-in-law, Diane's, birthday. It's a very
important birthday, but I won't tell you which one it is,
because when you get to be our age, you don't count years.
Instead, you count memories. And you count the number of
people who love you. And you count the number of people
whose lives you have had an impact on. For isn't that what
moving through life is all about?
I have known Diane (also known to
me as Dee, De, Di, Sis, ... well - you get the picture!)
for more than 20 years. When she married into our family,
she and I became even better friends. I have so many memories
of time spent with Diane over the years; time that we spent
together - just us...
When I worked the graveyard shift
at the Post Office, I'd stop at Diane's house after work
in the morning, just as she was getting her kids off to
school. We'd drink a few cups of tea and chat with each
other for hours.
When I bought my house a few miles
from her, she'd stop over before the kids would get off
of school and we'd have lunch together. We always laughed
together. I don't think we ever exchanged an unkind word
with one another. I realized long ago that Diane was not
only my sister-in-law, but a sister to me. With Diane, I
always knew that I could express myself - even if expressing
myself meant tears or anger. Diane is always quick to offer
a hug or a comforting word, and for that I love her.
When my father got sick with his
cancer, Diane did everything she could to help the family.
She isn't related by blood, but her heart is joined to ours.
She went above and beyond, and for that I will be eternally
grateful. I couldn't be there, but she willingly stepped
up and took the place of a daughter - caring for her family.
During the times my mother has been
sick or dealing with various illnesses, Diane has unselfishly
taken on the responsibility of driving miles and hours back
and forth to hospitals and doctor's appointments with her.
Putting her family on a temporary back burner, Diane would
rush to where she was needed - rearranging her own schedule
to accommodate someone else's.
Diane works outside the home as an
"Errand Angel". She helps the elderly and the
sick with their needs, whether it be preparing meals, going
to the grocery store, or just sitting and chatting for an
hour or two. Her heart is huge and her giving nature is
a blessing to all who know her. And I am so thankful to
have her in my life. She IS truly an angel!
Birthday, De! I love you, Sis! Enjoy your special day!
March 9 - Light Shows and Magic
The night before last, the Northern Lights made an absolutely
stunning appearance over the neighborhood. As I've become accustomed
to doing, I jumped in my car - wearing only my pajamas and a coat
- and drove down to the local playground to get some photos. I
also took a few photos from my yard.
Last night, Steve and I went to see David Copperfield with the
Spivey's and the Trujillo's. Before the show, we tried out a new
restaurant (Players Grill). The food wasn't too bad, but we waited
nearly an hour for it! Thank goodness we got there early, or we
would have been late for the show!
The Trujillo's had seats down on the floor. I think that Rachael
was hoping to be a participant - and I wish she would have been!
We and the Spivey's had seats up on the first level - a good vantage
point for the show.
And what a show it was! It was my first time seeing David Copperfield
perform (except for on TV), and it was absolutely amazing. In
addition to his illusions, he had funny one liners, and also some
heartwarming stories. One of his illusions involved taking a girl
from our audience, who hadn't seen her father in three years,
and sending her to the Philippines! She got into a contraption
with him, and ended up in the 'live' footage being broadcast on
a screen above the stage - which was taking place on a beach.
It made me cry. It reminded me of the scene in the movie "Contact"
when Jodie Foster's character meets her deceased father on the
beach when she travels through the universe.
If you ever have the opportunity to see David Copperfield perform
live - do it! Now I want to know how he did it all!
March 14 - A scenic drive down the Richardson Hwy & Chatanika
What an adventure filled weekend we had! The weather was absolutely
perfect for a long drive down the Richardson Hwy (it connects
Fairbanks to Valdez - with a few little towns along the way).
The best thing about this highway is that it takes you close to
the Alaska Range and always provides a scenic backdrop.
Steve and I left Fairbanks at about 9:30am and began our trip.
We decided we'd go as far as Black Rapids, and then turn around
and come back to town - total distance, about 130 miles (one way).
It was overcast in Fairbanks when we left, but soon the skies
were a brilliant blue and the sun was shining brightly. The temperature
had risen to 41F as well - making it a perfect winter day.
As is customary, Steve and I made a friendly bet on how many
moose we'd see on our adventure. He guessed we'd see two (both
singles). I guessed that we'd see three (a mama and a baby, and
a loner). We were both wrong, as we saw four - a mama and baby,
and two loners. I love moose and never grow tired of seeing them
in the wild!
When we got to Donnelly Dome, we stopped and got out of the truck
for some photos. The wind was whipping at almost 30mph - making
it feel a lot colder than 41F. My hair was beating me to death
and whipping in front of my camera lens, making for some huge
knots. But I did get a few lovely shots of the surroundings. As
I was taking the photos, I knew I wanted to convert many of them
to black and white. The terrain and its textures, shadows, and
light were in great contrast to one another - perfect for B&W
rendering. I'm posting them here in thumbnail size. Clicking on
them will open them in another window.
take reality...and impose the domination of their own thought
and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a
photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.
- Ansel Adams -
I also took lots of photographs in color. The landscape was ever
changing as we criss-crossed rivers and moved toward the range.
It was truly a sight for the eyes and rejuvenated our spirits.
I can't wait for spring and summer to arrive so that we can enjoy
the wonders of Alaska on a regular basis. More photos:
Then yesterday, Steve and I attended Chatanika Days in the tiny
town of Chatanika - about 30 miles north of Fairbanks. In addition
to the Outhouse Races (a favorite among the attendees), there
was Human Bowling, Snowmachine Tug of War, and Lumberjack Competitions.
We went with Brian and Marcella, and two other acquaintances:
Leila and Jillian.
There were only four contestants in the outhouse races, but lots
of people participated in the human bowling competition. Brian
and Marcella also participated in the lumberjack competition and
tried to beat the best time for sawing a log. They came in third
- which was great, considering it was a lot harder to do than
We took a walk up to the old gold dredge hidden behind the tailings
(rocks piled from when there was dredging going on). This dredge
is now abandoned but was used up until the 1960s. There were snowmachiners
racing on the frozen river and climbing the huge hills.
We made a day of it and came home exhausted. But it was great
to get out in the fresh air and enjoy a wonderful Alaskan day.
|Human Bowling (Brian pushing on left)
|Almost a dead on shot!
|This grizzled guy didn't do well at
|Marcella giving it her all!
|An Army Outhouse Team - the Strykers
|Girls L to R: Marcella, Jillian, Leila,
Guys: L - Brian, R-Steve
March 18 - Ice Sculptures at Night and a Visit with Sled Dogs
Hello all. This week has been hectic for me. I had 4 hours holiday
time coming to me (spring break) and so I worked two 8 hour days
on Tuesday and Wednesday. When I work an 8-hour day, I just want
to relax when I get home.
On Monday night, I went with my friend Dianne to the Ice Park
to view the sculptures with the lights on them. They looked just
amazing. I was saddened to see that my favorite multi-block sculpture
was already broken - a tragedy attributed to the unseasonably
warm temperatures and sunny afternoons.
This sculpture is called "Panda's
Secret Garden" and won 2nd place in the Realistic Division.
The artists are from China. You can
see the sculpture without the colored lights HERE.
This sculpture is called "On
Time" and won 4th place in the Realistic Division and
the Governor's Award.
The artists are also from China.
You can see it only lit with white
Yesterday, I took my friend Rachael, her sister Brenda, and her
niece and nephew out to meet my friend Jan DeNapoli - a musher.
Two Rivers has a lot more snow than Fairbanks does, and the drifts
were very deep in places - which the kids enjoyed.
We got to meet the dogs, pet them, and play with them. The puppies
are now 5 months old - too young to pull a sled, but not too young
to run over us! What an exciting ball of fur they made when they
ran together in their small pack!
|The kids really
had a great time playing with the puppies. These bundles of
fur could easily knock you over with their excitement. They
look so much alike - it's amazing that Jan can tell them apart!
March 23 - Accidents and Willow Catkins...
I know I've been absent for awhile. So much going on.
Brandon was in a car accident early on Sunday morning (early
am). He rolled his car and landed in a ditch. He thinks he fell
asleep at the wheel. There are a lot of other circumstances surrounding
this accident and the behavior of the Onslo (?) County Sheriff's
Dept - which make a good case for a lawsuit. I don't want to go
into it in this forum. We are all thankful that he is alive. He
had an MRI and CATscan and, besides some cuts and bruises - and
a minor concussion - he's fine. Becky said his car is totaled.
She's surprised he crawled out of it in one piece. Thank you,
The weather lately has been very unpredictable. A week ago, the
ice sculptures were melting and breaking due to unseasonably warm
temperatures. Over the weekend, we had a cold front roll in with
high winds. Temperatures plummeted to -15F. It was COLD! The wind
was brutal - gusting at up to 50mph in some areas.
was the first day in a while that the sun was shining and it felt
warm again (low 30's). I took Sedona out for a long walk in the
woods - keeping my eyes open for the moose who enjoy hanging in
my neighborhood. As I was walking down a path, I was looking up
at - and admiring - the blue sky. It was a gorgeous shade of cobalt,
and the paleness of the birch and aspen branches against it made
a lovely contrast. I began taking photos. Then I noticed that
there are actually willow catkins blooming in the upper branches!
This means winter is finally coming to an end! I am so ready for
I've almost finished my online gallery site. You can view it
If you want to check out my web design site, go to: http://www.susanstevenson.com.
March 29 - The joy of Friendship
Sunday, we had a marvelous Easter dinner with Stephen and Susan
Spivey, Rachael Trujillo (James is away training), and Stephen's
father, Butch. Susan and Stephen hosted dinner at their place.
A delicious roast was prepared, along with homemade bread, rice,
corn, and mashed potatoes with cheese. Everything was yummy!
After dinner, we all settled into the living room and watched
"The Incredibles". I'm not big on animated films, but
this one was extremely well done and very entertaining. We enjoyed
it a lot. The Spivey's added a new member to their family - a
bunny who has been christened "Stuie" (Stewart E. Bunny
to be precise).
I went to lunch with Shawna and baby Courtney. As always, lunch
at The Cookie Jar was delicious. It was wonderful to catch up
with Shawna; I hadn't seen her since before Christmas. Courtney
is now a year old... amazing how quickly time passes. She is even
more beautiful now and I had to get some photos.
March 31 - The end of another month
I spoke (via Instant Messenger) to Chris and Brandon this morning.
Chris is now in NC with Brandon and helping him load up the moving
truck. Becky and Pandora (their boxer) left for Salt Lake City
yesterday. Becky and the dog will be staying with her parents
for a while until Brandon gets back on his feet and can send for
her. It's a shame they have to be separated from each other, but
at least they're thinking logically. If there's one thing I can
say about living a military lifestyle - it surely prepares us
for separations. They've been apart many times before; they'll
survive. Please keep Chris and Brandon in your prayers for a safe
trip. They'll be driving the UHaul from Jacksonville, NC to Madison,
WI. I won't relax until I hear they've arrived safely at their
the formal arrival of spring a week ago, Mother Nature decided
to dump a few inches of snow on us a few days ago. While this
made the world look pretty and clean again, it's really getting
old. I'm not really complaining, as I find it beautiful up here
no matter what the season. However, a little color would be nice.
Six months of winter feels so much longer sometimes.
When I left work yesterday, I stopped at the river to take a
few photos. There were ducks splashing in the water, but they
got spooked when I showed up and flew off. I heard on the news
that some geese have been spotted in Delta Junction. This is good
news, as hopefully they'll be on their way to Fairbanks soon.
Once the geese and then the sandhill cranes arrive, spring has
Steve and I have made plans for block leave - which is scheduled
for June 25 - July 10. We'll be taking the camper around the state
again, this time in a counterclockwise route. But we're thrilled
to have reservations to go on another bear-viewing trip on July
4th! I am so excited about that!
While in Seward, Steve will be taking an all-day halibut fishing
trip, while I go on a wildlife/glacier cruise. I not particularly
happy about doing the cruise without him, but all-day fishing
just isn't for me. Besides, I talk to anyone, so I'm sure I'll
meet some very interesting people. I look forward to the photo