Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Glance at the Life: the Neighborhood

Here is an example of why I must try to carry my camera more often whilst walking the dogs:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Glance at Our Life: the Front Yard

This boat was in our front yard before we moved in.

But it used to be in one piece. Right before this year's freeze-up, someone brought over a trailer and tried to move it. It broke in half. The two pieces were left, as is, where fallen.

I wonder what will happen to them after break-up.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday to my mom!

We had hoped to be able to celebrate your birthday with some tundra adventures! Hopefully we'll be able to persuade you to come up for another winter event.

In the meantime, here's a picture I snapped, in Iowa, after you took my dare that you wouldn't offer to help the kitchen make our late-night and starving order of a round of tenderloins! For a lady who doesn't believe in frying foods, dear Mother, you sure make a fine Iowa Tenderloin sandwich!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

What a fantastic, fanta'bulous, fun day at the local post-office:

J. came home with a box of gifts, all the way from a dear mother in Iowa! Oh, how we loved all the treasures that we unwrapped! All of them! Thank you!

We also exchanged gifts between ourselves. After so generously permitting me priority-use of his XtraTuf mud boots over the last three years, J. bought me my own pair of wellies.

I love them! I feel so stylin'! and prepared!

For the first time since I moved to Alaska, I'm actually prepared for break-up!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Glance at Our Lives: the Satellites

For those who may have thought that all those references to satellites was a family trait-inclined exaggeration........

These satellite-receivers provide our link to our long-distance telephone and internet service. I took this picture while on a snowmachine trek to the A.C. to buy Tillamook butter. Someday I'll take the necessary moments to introspect my way into an understanding of why riding a snowmachine on a simple errand makes me just so darn happy.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Glance at Our Life: Public Art

There is something incredibly beautiful, up here, about the interaction of nature and man-made detritus.

I don't quite know how to describe it. The juxtaposition of the temporary convenience of the man-made things, as highlighted by the stable and permanent context of nature. The discarded value of the man-made thing, as highlighted by the perpetually renewed value of nature. The chaos of the man-made versus the humble significance of the environment into which it is installed.......

Oh, help me here! Waxing poetic will not get me to the description of the beauty I'm trying to describe.

I suppose words themselves can't provide sufficient description. I should post examples, such as these examples of the electrical lines that keep our neighborhood in electrical heat and operating lightbulbs.

(Forgive me for the quality of the photos. I have not yet mastered the secret to flash-less photography, and it is hard to focus on taking pictures when I'm juggling our two canine hooligans.)

For the best photographic examples of this slice of Alaskan beauty, I highly recommend perusing Genevieve's pictures of their adventures in and around Unalaska. Especially this one, which shows a prime example of "industrial remnants set against dramatic backdrops." (Yes! Now there's an excellent description.) She posts pictures of of WWII bunkers, and mountains of fish nets, and public displays of shipping containers. And the pictures of little Paxson are, without a doubt, too cute for my skills in descriptions.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pictures of Dee's Visit

I'd like to resume the photographic tale of Cousin Deirdre and the Fabulous Mike's visit to the Kuskokwim-300. I will spare you the details of the reasons for my delay. I won't even go into the topics of procrastination or distraction. I won't talk about the corncakes I made to heat the hovel when our heat went off and it was cold, and windy, and 60 Below. Or about the piece of art that one particular fur hat sewing district attorney gifted to me….indeed, I won't even talk about how he sewed a fur hat out of green astro-turf. (Though I will – soon – and in the meantime shall pause, for just a second, to again ask you to join me in persuading Tom to start a blog of his own.) I shall even restrain from talking about my favorite fried egg sandwich in town.

I'm going to save all that for later.

Here – and now – I shall, finally, resume the photographic tale of a visit of two very fun folks, the memory of which still has me glowing from the combination of good people, good times, and smoked fish.

So, here we go……

When we left off, the ever-adventurous Cousin Deirdre and the Fabulous Mike had learned their snowmaching skills on Mission Lake and then demonstrated their snowmaching prowess on a trip down the Kuskokwim River. After going through a few sloughs, and past a few wintered-up fish camps, we returned to town, crossed Mission Lake, sped through Alligator Acres, and popped over to Pat's to meet Hugh Neff's dog team.......

After playing with the dogs, Mike got to work and helped Hugh to swap out the "regular" runners on his sled for a pair of "race" runners. (Do keep in mind that only a few hours before, Mike got to work and helped a pizza delivery guy that knocked on my door to pull his car out of the ditch in front of my neighbors house.)

If ever there is a musher that is generous with his time and enthusiasm for dog mushing, it is Hugh Neff. I really am grateful to him for taking time out of his day-of-the-race morning to talk with my visiting family about dog-mushing and to let us play with his team!

Be sure to look for him in the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod. He's good people!

Eventually, we had to leave to start our official race-day volunteer duties. Our next race-related endeavour took us to the neighborhood called Kasayuli. This time we drove - I drove. Cousin Deirdre and the Fabulous Mike were too polite to express any fear at the prospect, and I am very happy to say that we arrived safely....and early! Oh, that Cousin D - she has always been such a good influence on me! In any event, we were on truck support duty, assigned to help musher Jim Lanier get his sled to the start line. Our pick-up is not equipped to transport dogs, and so we were there - literally - to transport the sled. Alas, there was some confusion and a dash of chaos with the folks that were assigned to transport the dogs. Eventually, fortunately, a plan was hatched. Bethel-style - meaning we made it happen with the resources we had. Here is the team getting the bulk of the team loaded up into a pick-up equipped for transporting dog teams.

The other dogs rode inside our pick-ups. One rode in the cab of my pick-up (while Mike rode in the bed of the pick-up, making sure that the sled and gear did not fall out - oh! he's a good man!), two dogs rode in the bed of my friend's (with his wife and my cousin Deirdre, each holding onto a dog), and a few rode inside the jeep of Jim Lanier's host family. But they all arrived! A little later than we had planned, but well before the last musher arrived. Without any delay, Jim Lanier got his sled set up and started the process of moving the dogs from the pick-ups to their harnesses.

And then, amidst an excitement that I may never be describe though I hope never to forget, we lined up and helped Jim Lanier get his team to the starting chute. Cousin Deirdre and the Fabulous Mike jumped in and helped, even though I'm fairly certain that they hadn't ever handled a team inside the starting chute of a world-famous dogsledding race amidst an eager and excited crowd. They were incredible.

(For the record - I wasn't the only one that thought so. Indeed, the very next morning after the race start, we stopped by the Saturday market at the Cultural Center and Cousin Deirdre discovered that there was an entire crafts table devoted to pictures of Deirdre and Mike at the starting, postcards, greeting cards, magnets, photo albums, etc.!)

One Mr. Lanier's team was off, we were free to watch the rest of the teams make their way through the chute. Here's few pictures of the crowd. They don't do justice to the scene, but I suppose they make a good introduction.

And once the last team was through, we wandered over to the Hovercraft to partake of the free hotdogs and hot chocolate being offered to the community. Alas, they had run out of everything! And so we settled for a picture.

(Why - yes! This is the very same Hovercraft that carried us to the village of Akiak where Josh proposed to me last April!)

The night continued with fireworks. And I introduced that poor duo to more people than they could possibly have dreamed they'd meet in such a short amount of time. And then I had to enlist their assistance in moving a stack of frozen lasagnas from one pick-up to my pick-up. And then, exhausted, we came home. And slept. Hard.

The next day, though, the adventure continued...........

The Akiak Dash !

As I near the end of this post, I must make a confession: this summary of Cousin Deirdre and the Fabulous Mike's visit is abbreviated. I am purposefully reigning myself in, lest I unleash the verbosity and gush about how much it meant to me that my cousin would travel so far, in winter, to visit us. In my determination to post something, I am not posting nearly enough to properly describe how fortunate I find myself to have a cousin that is also such a dear friend. But, like I said, I'm abbreviating here. Condensing all these days and adventures, and moments of gratitude, into one blog post.

But even with this quest for brevity, I would be remiss if I failed to make a few references to a legacy of cousinly rivalry.....more specifically, to a match of Scrabble and to a certain card game called Spit - actually, to a tournament of Spit that is well over a decade old!

Dear Dee - I do look forward to being 70 years old and still competing for the Ultimate Spit Championship!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Democracy in Action - Tom Style

Tom, very graciously, sent me several pictures of our local democracy in action.

But friends I can't post them.


It's quite simple - I can't bring myself to post all the pictures that he sent to me because I do not want you to be distracted from this one:

It's Tom. Wearing one of Tom's home-sewn hats. Caucusing for Obama. At the Caucus. Wearing one of his home-sewn hats. He has a collection of them, by the by. And goggles. I like this photo. A lot. I'm also in a sustained effort to persuade Tom to become a professional hat maker. He should consider this paragraph part of that effort.

Ok. Fine. You're right. This is fun. I'll post a few more of Tom's photos, even if it could potentially distract you from the one above. But someone needs to explain to me why Tom doesn't have a blog himself. He has far too many photos and stories for his mere Friendster page.

Tom actually sent a bunch of great photos, including great photos of the Clinton and Kucinich camps. But, alas, I'm not sure whether any rules apply to the mixing of caucusing and blogging. And though I could act out of an abundance of caution, and simply seek out their permission, these were direct face-to-face photos and I find myself as equally reluctant to seek the permission of my neighbors to post their picture as I am to risk offending any of them for not doing so. All this is to say, that I ultimately hesitated myself out of posting those great photos.

Hopefully this photo by Tom will appeal to map-lovers everywhere, and make sufficient amends for my blogging cowardliness:

Super Tuesday !

A Pre-Post Postscript: I am going to do it again. Yes, folks, I am going to - again - interrupt the photographic tale of Cousin Deirdre and Fabulous Mike's trip to Alligator Acres in order to insert a random story of the day-to-day life since they (oh so sadly) left us to return to their urban adventures. Love me. Hate me. Be entertained. Be annoyed. But, in all cases, do forgive me - for the interruption, and also for interupting the interruption in order to apologize for interruptions.

Lest I lose you to my verbosity, I shall dangle a bit of a the left is a glimpse of what I still promise to provide as soon as I can get Blogger to permit me to upload the rest of the photographic evidence of their visit.

After seeing my good friends' post about their experience with Democracy in Action ..... Unalaska style, I feel it is only fitting to post about:

Democracy in Action......Bethel Style!

Those who know me, or who have talked with me in the week since the announcements were first made on the one radio station that there would be a local Democratic Caucus, know that I have been very excited about this. Some of you have even received emails from me in which I talk about all the anticipation. Some of you have received emails in which I solicit opinions as to whether I should bring cookies or porkchops. Some of you received both.

The good news - what has me doing my daily cartwheel of glee - is that the actual experience far exceeded anything I could have imagined. I can't believe that I didn't discover this fine process until my thirties. My friends, I can't help but think that all primaries should be replaced by the caucus. The caucusing process might just be the key to restoring some genuine splendour and roots to American politics. It certainly did for me.

But the bad news is that I didn't bring cookies or porkchops. It is hard for me to admit this. Embarassing, actually. I brought, my friends, store-bought donuts. From Swansons. Go softly with me. I was sick the night before, and chained to my desk the day-of. The homemade contribution was, sadly, impossible. But the best news - and perhaps a contributing factor to why I so loved being a part of the evening - is that the Bethel Democratic Caucus was well-equipped with homemade foods - there was salmon dip, and bean soup, and a rice pot, and cookies, and salsas....and, yes, donuts. Noone knew how to get the coffee pots to brew coffee. But there was more than enough water to go around. The Obama table even brought fresh fruit and two veggie platters, and it was fun to see the kids running around, eagerly digging into a fruit bowl for apples.

The statistical summary of the evening is that the Bethel majority went for Obama. But there's always so much more to an event than its statistics and summaries, aye? There was quite a bit of debate, at the start, about how to determine the number of people in attendance. And then there was some debate about how to organize and assign corners so that the unexpectedly large number of attendees could stand in recognizable groups. Eventually, it was decided to divvy-up the room based on the 8 rafters in the ceiling to create 8 "stalls." And one person was assigned to each stall to hold up a sign of a different candidate. Most of the attendees were gathered in the stalls at the far ends of the room. There was a stand, however, in the middle of the room, for Kucinich. Sure, Kucinich has left the national presidential race. But he was still on the Alaska ballot. And a lot of people - seven or eight - decided to make a pitch for him. However, they did not have enough to meet the 15% requirement, and eventually those in the Kucinich stall had to disperse and select between the two candidates that did: Obama and Hillary. There was some banter across the room, and some stumping. Not alot, mind you. And I think it would have been better to have more. But there was some, and I definitely feel more involved in the political process for having witnessed it. Eventually everyone had staked their position and the numbers were counted. I don't remember the exact number of people in each camp, but I think it was something like 58 for Obama and 38 for Hillary. Ultimately, 8 Bethel delegates will be sent to the state convention to vote for Obama, and 5 for Hillary.

Unlike my good friends in Unalaska, I didn't get any photographs of the actual caucus. Fortunately, though, my buddy Tom did and it looks like he may let me post them here.

While I wait for them .......

I recommend listening to the local radio's coverage of the evening. I can't provide an actual link to the actual story, but I'm hoping that if - a little bit after Thursday morning's news - you click here and then click on "English news", it will include the story and interviews from the caucus. (It's my humble opinion, of course, but I do advocate for setting an alarm just to be sure you get to hear it!)

And here are some pictures of the context for the evening to tide you over until I get to post Tom's pictures.

Here is the flyer announcing the caucus.

Here is a picture of the outside of the Imaculate Conception Church, where the caucus was held. I took it from the steps outside of Swansons, when I popped in to buy the donuts.

Here is a close-up. Do you see the map to the caucus?

The crowd starts to arrive...........

And here is Puck, at the end of the evening, playing politician. For the record, I did not take my dog to the caucus. But, with Pamela as my excuse, I felt like this would be a good way to sneak in a cute picture of him.

And here is a photograph that symbolizes a very big and earnest thank you to some very good friends out in the Aleutians!

(p.s. - are those MickeyD burgers at your caucus?)