November 8, 2014

One kind word can warm three winter months

Filed under: Aurora,Calendar,Everyday Life — Susan Stevenson @ 4:04 pm

The title I chose for this blog entry is a Japanese Proverb. I feel it is quite fitting, as I have been spending time over the last week making local calendar deliveries. I have heard many kind words. The joy in my heart is overflowing! The best part of making local deliveries is catching up with friends who I mostly see online, but don’t often get to spend time with in person. It has been absolutely wonderful!

Renata and HubbyOne buyer of my calendar is a couple from the Chicago area, who happened to be in Fairbanks on holiday. I met Renata and her husband for lunch one day, and then we took a short drive to Pioneer Park so I could show them around. Later that day, they drove out to Chena Hot Springs with the hope of catching the aurora as well as taking a nice long soak. I don’t know if the lights came out that night, but I do hope they had a good visit to the springs anyway.

I took this photo of them in front of one of the cabins in Gold Rush Town. Renata keeps a blog, but it’s written in Polish (their native language), and even though I have tried to follow their travels, Google Translator comes up with some interesting interpretations – making it a little bit of a challenge. At least I can enjoy their photos.


The weekend before Halloween, Pioneer Park hosted a wonderful event that included trick or treating, games, decorated cabins, entertainment, face painting, and more. My friend Amanda invited me to go along with her and her son, Marc – who was a Transformer.

The decorations were wonderful, and there was a great turnout. I loved seeing the kids in their costumes, and the volunteers who were also dressed up and passing out candy to the trick-or-treaters. The cabins in Gold Rush Town were decked out with lights and spider webs, and friendly ghouls and other creatures welcomed little trick-or-treaters.

After making the rounds outdoors, we went into the Civic Center arena to warm up and to watch the entertainment. A few Storm Troopers were on hand, with a neat backdrop, so people could take their photos with them. Also Elsa and Anna from Frozen made an appearance. Dance Theatre Fairbanks entertained with some lively dance to songs like Michael Jackson’s Thriller and other holiday appropriate tunes. There was also a costume contest, which was cute. We stayed until the sun went down, lighting up the sky with brilliant orange and yellow.

Transformer Marc Halloween at Trick or Treat Town Wizard of Oz Ghouls in Trick or Treat Town
Amanda and Marc Clowns - SCARY! Trick or Treat Raven Sculpture
Amanda and the Headless Horseman These fence-sitting witches were cute I loved the skeleton families at the picnic tables
Ghosts in the trees These two were so cute. I think it might be mother and daughter, or maybe sisters The Storm Troopers were a big hit
Dance Theatre Fairbanks The SS Nenana in the orange light of the setting sun


With darkness, comes light. The northern lights, that is. I haven’t been out all night chasing lately, as I’ve been quite busy with calendar shipping, and other photo work. And honestly… I’ve been so tired! I’m having a hard time adjusting to the cold. The beginning of the winter season is always a little difficult for me. I just don’t want to go out in it – or venture too far from home. Fortunately, I can get a good view of the aurora without leaving home, and that’s satisfied me thus far. I do hope to do some bona fide chasing before I leave for WI in December, especially now that my calendars are mostly in their new homes.

At the end of October, I was already in my pjs and preparing to head up to bed, when I took the usual last look out the back door. A bright band of light stretched across the sky over my house. The temperature was below zero, and I was not in any mood to go outside in my thin pajamas, so I set my camera on the tripod, turned off the lights, and took a few photos through the glass doors. You just can’t beat having a view like this from inside a warm house!

Aurora through the back door


September 20, 2014

Autumn – Nature’s Grand Finale

Filed under: Aurora,Calendar,Everyday Life,Photography,Roadtrips,Wildlife — Susan Stevenson @ 2:32 pm

When the bold branches
Bid farewell to rainbow leaves —
Welcome wool sweaters.

~B. Cybrill~

Autumn is nearly over already. The cooler morning air and longer hours of darkness seemed to turn the leaves faster this year. One moment there were small patches of yellow in the birch and aspen trees, and the next moment, brightly colored leaves swirled in the breeze and carpeted the lawn. It was rather sad, honestly.

Our summer was short-lived and very wet. The trees in my yard didn’t change gradually, as I recall in year’s past. Peak foliage lasted only a day or two and I don’t feel I had time to truly enjoy the transformation.

The abundance of rain brought mushrooms to both the woods and the lawn. And moss. In fact, we have large patches of moss in the lawn, where grass usually fills in during the summer. I fear next year will bring a lot of yard work, as we will need to till under many areas and re-seed.

I didn’t pick berries this year, but from what I understand there was a pretty good crop of blueberries. Some say the rain made them more plump and juicy. The farmers market certainly didn’t have a lack of blueberries. Vegetable gardens, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well. My friend Amanda has a huge garden and she was quite disappointed in her harvest. Last year she had enough beans to feed them throughout the winter. This year, she only had enough to fill about a dozen canning jars.

Steve and I took advantage of the beautiful weather. At least with the transition of fall, the rain stopped. Chilly mornings and afternoon temperatures in the 70s were quite welcome. We took Raven on long walks, and visited the trail at Chena Lakes several times.

About a month ago, I scrubbed and sanitized my bird feeders in preparation for winter feeding. Each week, I have more visitors. I am happy to see more woodpeckers – both Downey and the larger Hairy woodpeckers. The chickadees are back, although not in the great numbers I expect I’ll have in winter. Nuthatches and Juncos continue to visit, along with Gray Jays who really love the suet and leave a mess on the deck and under the feeder pole. I adore these feathered visitors to my home.

Autumn in Alaska Cranberry Leaves Birch Leaf
Birch Trees at Chena Lakes Birch Trees at Chena Lakes Birch Trees at Chena Lakes
Autumn Leaves at my house Autumn Leaves at my house Female Hairy Woodpecker
Female Hairy Woodpecker Female Hairy Woodpecker Female Hairy Woodpecker


If there’s one thing I do love about autumn, it’s the return of the aurora borealis. And the stars – so many stars! Autumn is a great time to view and photograph the northern lights. The rivers and ponds aren’t frozen, and the water reflects back the colors in the night sky. Although it is definitely chilly at night, we’re not yet having the bone chilling temps of deep winter.  This makes aurora chasing SO much more fun and enjoyable.

We had a Supermoon in September, and with clear skies, I was able to photograph this Harvest Moon from my driveway. I used my zoom lens (100-400mm) and cropped this image from the original so you can see the details in the moon. It’s hard to believe that this shining cratered ball is nearly 239,000 miles from us!

Super Moon
September Supermoon - Harvest Moon


September 6, 2014

2015 Alaska Photographic Calendar

Filed under: Calendar,Everyday Life — Susan Stevenson @ 4:32 pm

It is my pleasure to offer this 2015 Alaska Photographic Calendar, featuring photographs I’ve taken throughout Alaska. The images I chose are a good representation of the Alaska I know and love. I hope you enjoy this peek into my world.

This is my seventh calendar! Thank you very much to those of you who have ordered my calendar in years past. To those of you who have never ordered a calendar from me, it is my greatest hope that you are pleased with the quality and care that I put into creating the 2015 version. (Scroll down below image for more information)

2015 Alaska Calendar

You can see the above image much larger, at this link: )

My calendar is printed on one of the finest printing papers made today. With one of the thickest weights (130#), the paper is also acid free, archival, and Forest Stewardship Council* certified paper. (*FSC is an independent, non-profit organization that protects forests for future generations. FSC-certified paper comes from responsibly managed sources.) The calendar is 8.5×11 when folded, 11×17 when hanging. My calendars are printed and produced in the USA.

I only place one bulk order. I am not in a financial position to keep hundreds of calendars in inventory, so the only way to ensure one is reserved for you, is to contact me during the pre-order period. Once the calendars are gone, they are gone. What this means is that those of you who purchase a calendar are, in effect, getting a limited edition product.

The price of the calendar will remain the same as it has been for the last five years (which includes Priority USPS shipping anywhere in the US). Please email me for shipping costs if you live outside the US.

One Calendar – $27.00

Two Calendars – $26.00 each

Three + Calendars – $25.00 each

Fairbanks/North Pole if personally delivered – $25.00 each

If you would like to be added to the order list, please email me directly at with the following information: Your full name, your email address, & total number of calendars to reserve. The pre-order period will remain open until September 21st.*** My goal is to have the calendars packaged and shipped to you (after payment is received) by mid-late November. NO MONEY IS DUE NOW. You will be notified before I place my order.

I accept payment by check, cash (if local), or paypal. Further information as to how to make payment will be provided when I invoice you. Thank you for your interest! And many thanks to those of you who ordered a calendar last year, and in years past!


***I have been asked by a few locals if I could wait for the PFD payout before collecting payment. I am happy to work with anyone regarding orders and payments, and/or holding calendars until a time when payment can be made. Email me and we can certainly discuss an arrangement that works well for both of us.