25 February 2009
24 February 2009
Sebastian Schnuelle arrives at the finish line in Fairbanks, AK (this year it
started in Whitehorse, YT). Photo by John Hagen & taken from the official
Yukon Quest Page.
It's been a very exciting Quest this year - we all thought we knew exactly who the winner was from the start and then he fell out due to a penalty (well deserved in my opinion although he seems quite sore about it) and then it seemed equally obvious who was next in line but he got stuck a day before the ending of the race on Eagle Summit. It's one of the things I love about dog mushing - the winner is never a given.
20 February 2009
This image is from my trip up on the Alaska Marine Highway this January. It exudes serenity and peacefulness. I'm feeling somewhat wordless today - the week escaped me, somehow it's Friday but I missed Wednesday. I have fun weekend plans - more skiing, a dinner date, a new book club to attend, and the Yukon Quest Dog Race to follow. I'm feeling dreamy and tired now as I snuggle with the D. Cat on my lap and the D. Dog at my feet. Did I mention the D. Dog caught himself breakfast the other morning? He was most pleased with himself.
19 February 2009
awww! Thanks to Step-wise Girl for nominating me for the Inspirational Award! I'm very flattered. I think I'm going to follow CAE's example and only nominate one blogger at the moment. I'm going to nominate Dea over at the Huffblog. She inspires me by the way she takes life by the horns even when it challenges her greatly.
18 February 2009
My grandmother, I call her Oma, is a pretty amazing woman and the fact that she has made it to 90 and is the only one of her generation of her family to do so is quite remarkable. She is a survivor against incredible odds being as she was a German speaking Mennonite in a Jewish village in the Ukraine, Russia in 1919. Between the Russian revolution and the second world war she lost everything she had including most of her family - she was always on the wrong side simply by birthright. But she was clever and cunning and she survived and came to Canada as a refugee. At 89 she finally became a Canadian citizen after living there more then 50 years.
However, the exact details of her life are a bit of a mystery as my sister and I found out when we tried to make party favors using an old photo of her. We wanted to add some details to the photo card - where she was born, when she was married, when she came to Canada. This proved much more difficult then we anticipated and of great dispute among family members. We couldn't even pin down the age she was when the photograph was taken. At the birthday she told my mother she was 35, me she was 15, and my sister she was 25.
It was a lovely party - I think she enjoyed it. It was a lovely moment to spend with my family, to see them all there, to all pitch in and create this gift for her. And then I flew all the way back across the continent, picked up the Disreputables, then drove 4 hours in a blizzard to arrive home sometime after 1:30am last night. As a result I'm a bit bleary eyed today. Not to mention the fact that I spent the weekend in a time zone four hours different then my own.
13 February 2009
Location: The boreal forest in Alaska
11 February 2009
10 February 2009
This morning's weather report: "Clear starry skies and a full moon this morning". Then a breif update on the volcano that is trying to erupt. They forgot to mention owls. Just after my breakfast and snowshoe through the woods (our morning walk when there is thick fresh snow on the ground) with D. Dog there came an enormous crash and the snow fell off the roof. I look around, the D. Dog looked around, the D. Cat streaked to the porch door which has a full pane of glass in it. And there, sitting in the snow, was a Northern Hawk Owl, it's tail stretched out absurdly behind it. They look a lot smaller when you're looking down at them - something I have never done before as they're usually perched on the top of spruce trees like funny hats. Apparently it crashed into the window and sat there staring at the D. Cat who stared back, their eyes strangely similar.
I'm not really sure why these past few days have found so many large predatory birds on my porch - I'm delighted to see them up close but a bit concerned that they might hurt themselves. Good thing the D. Cat is an indoor cat! Of course, I didn't get pictures of either - I was too busy looking and observing their every mood - you'll have to forgive me.
Oh...not to be crude...but who wants a pic of my poor toes? Vote by your comment!
09 February 2009
At home it was immediately clear that I had bled rather profusely through my sock and yes, indeed, I had major blister-ripage on both of my big toes - mashed meat. Sigh. You'd think I'd know better by now.
Sunday morning I was being lazy, soaking my feet in brine and watching the D.Cat watching the birds feeding on my porch. The birds are predominantly common redpolls with two variants of pine grosbeak in attendance as well, the russet and the pacific. Occasionally a Stellar's jay would chase the group away. Then suddenly all of the birds vacated, a huge bird soared by, then came back and landed on my porch railing. A rough-legged hawk. It sat there, thumping it's foot against the railing and then chewing on it distractedly. Then it flew straight at the window, bounced off it with its feet, and flew away. Well you can imagine the D.Cat's excitement although the bird was twice the size of her. She ignored my dire warnings of how one ought not to mess with such birds because they would as soon as eat you as be eaten. Lucky for me she's an indoor cat.
Once my feet were bandaged up enough the D.Dog and I went off into the woods again - sans skis since I couldn't bear the thought of putting the boots on. But we made good tracks hiking in the woods for 4 hours where we saw a little saw-whet owl just beginning its breeding calls. By the end though the D.Dog was on a mission for dinner and it was getting colder although not much darker since the moon was so full and we headed home.
I apologize for the lack of photos - I'm needing to get my system back into working condition.
06 February 2009
04 February 2009
Perhaps it's time to get an alcohol thermometer - do you think I can make my own? It has a suitably low freezing point ( -113C , approx. -171F) - the weather gods have mercy on us if we ever get to that limit!
03 February 2009
Not too long after starting grad school she smashed her finger in the door of the bathroom. And it changed everything. It didn't heal, and it didn't heal and then she was diagnosed with subungual melanoma. Cancer is often unexpected and freakish and unfair but this seemed particularly horrible - that such an everyday occurrence (well, everyday to klutzes like me) could suddenly turn the world upside down. She was an amazing woman - she did so much even after the diagnosis - learning to fly, continuing to pursue her PhD. Our paths continued to cross and I would always check in but not being close I didn't want to pry.
It came as a shock to me the other day to stumble upon her blog, Shelski, and learn that she passed away with the with the end of 2008. She lived her life well, she did the things she loved and she will be missed. My thoughts go out to her family.
02 February 2009
I am delighted with having, for the first time, a garage for my truck. I never had any particular interest in garages but I can honestly say that it is a pleasure to get into a non-frozen car and not worry about cracking the plastic seat belt cover by hitting it with my bag when the temperature is 0F (-18C) or below. It is nice not to have to scrape the windows clean or to plug the car in at night to a timer so that it warms up enough to start (although I still do this at work). I like having round tires in the morning, not square ones that must be gently warmed up.
Tonight I was tired, mentally, and I new I needed exercise but the gym, a cold empty room at a Bible College with dust bunnies coating the ground and an erie empty feeling, did not appeal to me at all. So instead I went skiing with the Disreputable Dog. Darkness had already started to fall but luckily the shadow twilight phase lasts a long time and afterwards the snow is still quite bright with a little moonlight. By the end of our hour and half ski it had gotten difficult to see. Not only was I stubborn and refusing to turn on my headlamp but the ice crystals on my eyelashes were starting to freeze together.
01 February 2009
So I finally made it out of the terminal ferry town. They opened the road in the afternoon and as I passed the giant snow plow/ gravel truck belly up in a ravine with all six wheels waving in the air my grip tightened on the steering wheel. One hundred and thirty-six miles is a long way to go when your top speed limit is 35mph. All thoughts of empowerment and hope that had been in my head after watching the US inauguration at the local bar - the only place open for breakfast at this time of year - had fled my head. All focus was on the road. As darkness fell and a blizzard blew up I was absolutely delighted to reach the next town on the road in the beautiful Yukon Territory. My shoulders were bunched up and tight from straining so close to the windshield. At the hotel resteraunt all of the plow drivers were discussing how to get that damn rig out of the ravine - apparently they had gotten the other 3 (!) out of the ditches they had gone in over the previous 5 days but this one was down a pretty steep slope and was proving a challenge. It may be there until spring, spring being sometime in June.
The next day was longish but familiar and I made it all the way to my new home. En route I passed the people who had slept in the hotel room next to me jack-knifed off the road with their trailer blown open at the seams. No one was there though so they had clearly made it to the next town over. Chaos ensued when I arrived at my destination, my rear sore from eleven days on the road (you may remember it took me seven to drive down in the summer). It took a few days but eventually the where's, the who's, the when's got cleared up and my stuff arrived from Los Anchorage and after I had put the pieces of my homemade bed together and dumped the frozen mattress on it and screwed together the pieces of the homemade cat scratching post together I hit the road myself, following the moving crew out to Los Anchorage. I had a shopping mission, and arriving there at the dinner shopping hour I was soon more then ready to get out of town and I headed out to my friend's who had the Disreputables. The Disreputable Cat had quickly taken control of the other dog who is a puppyhood friend of the Disreputable Dog. We spent the night and then headed to our new home.
I've been busy getting new mailing addresses, phones hooked up, internet services, unpacking and cleaning, sorting and making discoveries (why did I pack that?), and filling out paperwork at work. Showing up for work my first day was great - I had a very warm welcome from several people who I've worked with in the past and it felt like coming home. The Disreputable Dog has been so excited to have the scent of snowshoe hare and the, to him, perfect temperature of about 0 degrees F, that his tail wags constantly on our twice daily walks. The Disreputable Cat was fairly anxious the first couple of days but other then a new wariness of strangers she seems to have recovered. We had new snow on the weekend and I went skiing with some of my co-workers and then again the next day on my own. There's nothing better then being able to literally ski from your front door.