December 9, 2013
November 28, 2013
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie
On this Thanksgiving Day, Steve and I are joining my friend Amanda and her family for a delicious dinner with all the *fixins*. I am blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life; people who I consider family. The holidays are always a little difficult for me.
Being so far from family during these Hallmark Holidays, as we are bombarded with Norman Rockwell-esque commercials and advertisements, can be a little depressing. Text messages and phone calls bring a smile to my face, and warmth to my heart. I am so blessed to have so much LOVE in my life.
Wherever you are and whomever you’re with, I hope that the spirit of Thanksgiving warms your heart and surrounds you with love, laughter and gratitude.
We are steadily losing daylight, as we approach Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year. The darkness only really bothers me in the afternoon, when the sun starts its path to the horizon soon after 2pm. As soon as night falls, I feel like the day is over - even with another 8 hours till midnight! The lack of daylight can upset the body clock, which is why a lot of folks find they want to sleep all the time, or - on the opposite side of the spectrum - have insomnia (as I usually get in winter). I’m back on my Vitamin D regimen and sleeping well, thank goodness.
These short days also mean spectacular sunrises and sunsets. The sky turns into a painting of orange and yellow stripes and streaks, and bathes the earth in warm light. The tops of the frosty trees glow in the light, making it look a lot warmer than 10 or 15 below zero.
We’ve had some snow accumulation over the last two weeks. We finally had enough that Steve had to pull out the snowblower for the first time this season. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the expense of buying a snowblower a few years back, but it really has made snow removal so much easier. I hand shoveled our driveway once, and it was grueling! I think Steve likes being out there, with his ear protection on, feeling the hum of this machine vibrating through his body, as the chute tosses snow into the woods.
REST IN PEACE, BARBARA
On November 17th, we received the sad news that Steve’s mother was in the hospital after taking a hard fall at home. Linda (Steve’s younger sister), has been living with and taking care of his mom, and we were glad she was there to get her to the hospital.
When we got the call that they were keeping over overnight for observation (she had a pace maker and was having some cardiac episodes), we full expected that all would be well, and she’d be going home the next day. That never happened unfortunately.
The next day, Linda called us in hysterics. Steve could barely hear what she was saying, so she passed the phone off to the duty nurse. Unfortunately, Steve’s mom had taken a turn for the worse. When Linda called, they were doing CPR on her. A few minutes later, she was gone.
Steve talked to his mom a few days earlier, and all seemed well. She was having some struggles climbing the stairs in their home, and were planning to move her bed down into the first floor dining room. She was alert and sounded great. And then a few days later…. she’s gone.
Life is just too short, and you never know when someone’s time on this earth will end. It can happen suddenly and without warning. This is why it’s so important to tell people you love them… to hold them tighter when saying goodbye… because when they’re gone, they’re gone. *sigh*
RIP Barbara. I hope you’re in the loving embrace of your beloved Ed, your parents, and family who left this earth before you.
This photo was taken at our wedding, and is one of Steve’s favorite images of him and his mom:
Last week, I had the awesome privilege to talk to a wonderful group of Junior Girl Scouts about photography. They are on their way to earning their Digital Photography Badge, and one of the requirements is to talk to a professional. My friend Alaena is the troop leader and invited me to talk to them. I had such a blast, and they were really excited and inquisitive about all things photography. This summer, I’d like to go with them on a field trip to Creamers Field - with cameras - and do some shooting. I think that will be fun.
Here’s a photo of me, Alaena, and the future photographers:
I was in town running errands a few days ago. The sky was a lovely shade of blue, and with the snow on the ground, it looked really pretty. I took a few photos from the windshield of the truck (Thank you Steve for chauffeuring me around town!).
These birch tree sculptures are at the entrance to Fairbanks Airport. I found a little bit of information about them online:
“Simple modern forms reflect the character of the local landscape and are meant to evoke the image of birch tree forms. The 10 ‘trees’ are constructed of five-inch diameter steel pipe fastened to steel piles driven to a depth of 16 feet. Translucent ‘LUMAsite’ panels and curved, painted steel bands are layered to create the birch tree representation. The ‘trees’ are 24 feet in height and spaced to imitate a birch forest setting.”
They do look like birch trees as you approach (or depart), although up close you can see all the different pieces that went into constructing them. I like them!
This is the Cushman Street Bridge. The flags represent all 50 of our United States:
Another photo of the flags, but this photos also shows the steeple of the Immaculate Conception Church. This church used to be on the other side of the river, and was rolled across the frozen river years ago, on big poles.
A pretty drive on Fort Wainwright. I love when the sky is blue against pretty white snow:
The other night, Amanda and I stopped in at Pioneer Park (Alaskaland) to take photos of the cabins decorated in holiday lights. I love going there in all seasons, but there’s something very special about walking through Gold Rush Town in the winter, when all is quiet and the lights bring warmth to a winter night.
Most of the calendars have shipped. Hopefully, they’ll reach their destination by this weekend. It was a wonderful year for calendar sales, but I do have a few extras from cancelled orders. If you missed the ordering period, and are interested in a calendar or two, email me or comment here, and I’ll add you to the reserve list. I am going down this list to find homes for the extras.
In closing, I want to again wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Hard to believe that November is almost gone, and December is nearly here. Time just FLEW by.
Until next time…
November 15, 2013
Snow fell about a week ago. Not much, really - an inch or two. After the snow stopped, the grass was still visible; sticking up out of the white powder like razor stubble on a chin. In my mind, it didn’t really qualify as *THE* snow, but in actuality it did qualify, in that it will be here until spring.
It snowed again the next day. Not much, but enough to cover the grass. Even though you couldn’t see the green blades, you could still see the grass texture beneath the snow. We still had a ways to go. I smiled when I found snowshoe hare tracks in my side yard. They were the only thing marking the perfect white blanket of snow.
Two days ago, the snow really came down. With the snow came the usual limited visibility and slippery roads. Fortunately Steve was off from work and able to take me to town to run some errands. My car does fine on slippery roads, and I’m quite capable of driving on them. But I do feel a lot safer in a big truck. He’s an awesome chauffeur, and a fantastic lunch date too.
This was my view from the truck on the way into town. As you can see, visibility wasn’t the greatest.
We had to stop at Sam’s to fill Steve’s truck, and while he was pumping gas, I watched a green Mustang make a turn out of the Sam’s parking lot, and right onto a curb-height concrete divider. This divider was invisible beneath the snow, but once the driver got stuck up on it, he wasn’t going anywhere. He got out of the car and stood helplessly. Thank goodness the temperature was in the 30s.
The craziest thing about this happening is that just 15 minutes earlier, I turned to Steve and said “Wow! You can’t even see where the road ends and the sidewalk begins!”. The snow made everything blend together in a huge field of white. That young man stuck on the divider could easily have been me, or anyone not familiar with the area.
When Steve finished fueling up, he walked over to help the guy. Another man followed. And then another guy in a truck pulled up with tow straps. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find a non-plastic part of the car to hook them to, as the clearance was next to nothing. So they all began to push him back off the curb. His tires were spinning pretty good before finally catching. He made it off the divider, but as he drove away, I thought I saw something hanging from his undercarriage. I hope he didn’t do too much damage to his car. Steve said he was a young soldier. Maybe the guy is new to Fairbanks. What a welcome!
Here are some photos I took while out and about with Steve a few days ago:
The snow continued to fall, and the wind began to pick up. By the time we got home, twigs and small branches were being ripped from the tops of trees and strewn all over the yard and driveway.
Two nights ago, we had a terrible storm. Steve had to go to work in the morning, so he went to bed early. I wasn’t tired yet, so I turned the TV on and got comfortable on the sofa. The power flickered and then went off. A few minutes later, it was back on again. A little while later, it happened again. The wind outside was howling and I could hear trees snapping and transformers exploding off in the distance. When the power went off again a third time, I powered down the TV, the DISH receiver and our laptops.
I lay there in the dark, listening to the fury just outside the windows. I got up several times to look out the window. The smaller birch trees were nearly bent in half. Spruce boughs the size of Charlie Brown Christmas trees littered the driveway. The movement of the trees turned our motion detector floodlight on and off - over and over. Finally things calmed down and I managed to drift off to sleep.
As soon as it was light enough, I took a walk around the property looking for damage. We lost a couple of smaller birch and spruce trees in our front yard, but they fell into the woods and not across the driveway or worse, on the house or camper. The once perfect snow is now littered with debris.
There was a widespread power outage, and from what I understand, there are still folks without power today. I am so glad we didn’t lose our power. I’m also glad it’s not below zero. I hope things are up and running for everybody soon.
Earlier this month, we had several nice aurora displays. On one particular night, I started photographing from my driveway and road, and then drove over to Nordale Road with Steve, where I met up with Amanda. We didn’t stay out too long. The lights were nice for a short time, but then faded. As they faded, the temperature dropped 10 degrees, and the wind picked up. Amanda and I decided to go home shortly after.
The last week has been mostly cloudy skies and snow, so even if the aurora is up there dancing, we can’t see it.
CHICKADEE BEAK DEFORMITY
A few days ago, I glanced out the window and saw a lone chickadee standing beneath the feeders, eating dropped seed off the top of the snow. I didn’t really pay it much mind, as birds are regular visitors - especially chickadees. It seemed a little odd to me that the bird was alone. They usually swoop down on my feeder pole in small flocks.
I walked over to the door to get a better look at him. That’s when I noticed that the upper part of his beak was very long and curved downward. I remembered reading about beak deformities a few years ago, but until now, I had never seen a bird afflicted with this deformity. Not only chickadees have this abnormality. Ravens, woodpeckers, stellar jays, and magpies can also develop deformed beaks.
Nearly all of the species affected are year-round residents of Alaska. The Alaska Science Center suspects that factors responsible may be unique to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. There is an online form you can submit to report a sighting. I did that and also emailed them the photos I took. I received an email thanking me for my report and photos. You can read more about beak deformities at their website.
These birds with deformed beaks are able to eat by turning their head sideways. This is how the bird at my feeders was eating the seeds scattered on the ground below. I’ve since added some hulled sunflower seeds to my feeders, mostly for him, as I’m sure trying to break open the hard shells isn’t easily done. He’s able to peck at bread (even though I know it’s not the most nutritious thing for him) so I continue to toss the ends out there for him (and the occasional raven who stops by and steals the entire slice)
I saw the bird again today - a week after my first sighting, so at least I know he’s surviving. I hope he makes it through the winter.
My 2014 Alaska Calendar has been ordered and as soon as they arrive, I will begin shipping. I expect this will be by the end of next week. Thank you to all of you who ordered a calendar! It was a great year for me, and I am honored to have some of my images hanging in your home or office!
Until next time…