Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Dan and I are going to keep up our longstanding tradition of carving pumpkins and setting them out on the porch for no-one to see, and buying lots of candy and standing forlornly by the door while we get NO trick-or-treaters whatsoever. :)

It seems that our old neighborhood in the Sili Valley was too "hip" for children, and the areas where we've lived in Fairbanks have been too rural. I wonder what kids around here dress up as. I'd be an oven mitt, or maybe Oscar the Grouch, or a stack of towels, haha. Probably not too many fairy princesses around here, unless there is a special one called "Princess Lots-a-clothes" or "Princess Down Comforter."

Anyway, I will be making an orange bundt cake to resemble a pumpkin, and I sent out a mass email to my school friends to see if anyone would like to stop by for cake and tea. We also have a bottle of port that some friends gave me for my birthday. :)

Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone, and drive carefully--there will be lots of little people out and about in dark-colored costumes and poor vision due to misaligned eyeholes in face masks.

Oh--I almost forgot to tell you... I got a 92 on my exam! But the cutoff for an A in that class is 93. Oh well, I wasn't getting an A anyway, because I've already missed too many things on his quizzes. I just don't learn odd vocabulary that quickly, like taliks and thermokarsts. Oh that brings me to something else... is it just me, or is everyone suddenly fond of using medical terms in daily language? Is this because of the prevalence of hospital television shows? If someone hurts their knee, they don't tell me that they hurt their knee. Oh no, they tell me the latin names of the exact ligaments they tore. If they take up swimming, they don't tell me that their arms are getting stronger. Oh no, they tell me that their biceps and triceps and quadriceps and quinteceps and triceratops are getting stronger. Seriously, why do medical terms suddenly come up in ordinary conversation? Maybe I'm just jealous because I can never remember them all. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Photos from here and there

I plugged in my car yesterday at school for the first time this Winter. I didn't really have to. Fred starts up just fine at these temperatures without having been plugged in, but I don't pay for power in the campus lots, so I figured, why not be kinder to him? So I guess this is my personal acknowledgment of Winter. For readers who have no idea what I am talking about, I am referring to plugging in the heaters that preheat my oil pan, battery, and uhhh... well I have a third one but I don't recall where it is at the moment. Anyway, when it gets below about -20F/-30C, you need to power these guys up otherwise your car may not start. This is part of life in Fairbanks. Most parking lots have an outlet for each car. So it goes.

Anyway, photos!

My fuzzy cuddlebugs:

Cuddly wuddly:

I really cannot describe how cuddly these girls are. They are like living teddy bears! :)

Overexposed Mr. B:

Overexposed Miss Millie:

View from our bedroom window this morning:

Leaving our cul de sac this morning:

Sunrise from campus this morning. For some reason, I've only ever once gotten the full effect of a sunrise or sunset on camera.

The girls relaxing post-run this morning:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Views from my building

It occurred to me that I could attempt some scenery shots without leaving the comfort of my building.

Here is the courtyard:

And here is the Alaska Range, about an hour before sunset:

That big peak is called Mount *cough* and those two little ones to the right are called *mumble* and *watermelon*.

That was awesome last night!

We had the most dazzling auroral show... giant swirling green ribbons fringed with red and pink. We walked to the end of our cul de sac and I stared straight up... and I got the odd impression that the ribbons were actually swirling above, like a slow whirlpool. I wish I could photograph them, but I think you need special camera filters, not to mention patience, for that, neither of which I own. :)

Oh well.

Here are some photos taken by Lance Parrish.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I cannot get over the irony of living in Alaska and working in a giant freezer. Nor the irony of putting on more clothes to go into this lab, than I wear when going outside. Well, them's the breaks when you study snow, I guess.

Caribou! Caribou! Carry-boo!

Caribou in Kotzebue!

They're so pretty and prancy-dancy!

The price of the short commute

So... I am starting to resent my new neighborhood. It's nice enough, and our cabin is beautiful, but running up and down Chena Pump is starting to wear me thin. My neighbor down the street commented on the same thing to me while walking her dog, Toby. "Is there anywhere else to go? Besides this way (pointing to the left) or that way (pointing to the right)?" There are lots of little side streets, but most of them don't have sidewalks. Chena Pump has a nice little footpath separated from the main street, so it was fine for Summer, but now that we are out in the dark, it sucks to have all these bright headlights pointing at us.

Our old neighborhood was much less busy, so running on the street and being blinded by the occasional pair of headlights was not an issue. We also had an extensive network of trails that were hardly traversed by motorized vehicles, and the girls could run off-leash. Now, our nearest place to run off-leash is this park where people litter like mad, and the girls keep finding disgusting things to eat and then yakking them up at home. It really ticks me off how disrespectful Fairbanksans are in general when it comes to littering. They even litter tens of feet away from a trash bin, seriously! They litter beside trash bins! It's insane, and it really chaps my ass! Last week was the final straw--someone had left an entire bag of household trash in the park. Never mind that the same road runs right past a transfer station, oh no! God forbid they actually take their trash to the trash place! Let's just leave it in the park! I cannot even tell you how this makes my blood boil. GRRRRR!!

And then the other day I had the cultural shock of my recent life. Some guy pulled over, rolled down his window, introduced himself, and proceeded to ask me out on a date! I was like, eh? If I had wanted to be "checked out" while running, I would not have left the Silicon Valley. I had thought that things were different here, as I had delightedly commented on before. But apparently, not so much. It made me sad, like I had had a loss of innocence. I had used to love when people would honk and wave at me, because, although I could rarely make out who it was as they drove by, I assumed that they were either my former neighbors, a lot of whom commute along my current road, or friends from school. It actually gave me a warm fuzzy when I came to realize how many people I knew commuted along Chena Pump and saw me each morning. I felt safer knowing that if I were to hurt myself and my phone were to go dead or something, it wouldn't be long before someone I knew came along. But now I think the majority of those honkers and wavers are actually oglers! Because most of my friends who commute that way have commented, "I drive by you every morning, but I don't wave because I don't want to startle you..." Well there you go... the difference between a friend and an ogler!

I just keep telling myself, short commute! Short commute! It's such a nice short commute!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Funny column

Apolitical, and pretty well sums up my own feelings:

Scott McCrea speaks to America: Leave Alaska alone

By the way, we had awesome skiing last weekend. Well, relatively, anyway. There was enough to ski like normal human beings instead of picking our way over rocks and between tufts of grass. Once we get serious snow, however, a lot of my favorite ski trails will be groomed for skate skiing and/or dog mushing, and then I will retreat to my former neighborhood for the girls' and my slow jaunts. Skate skiers and dog mushers are very serious in Fairbanks. They don't appreciate clumsy oafs like myself poking and plodding along their nicely-groomed trails with two loose dogs zipping around like puppies on crack. :)

No photos

Sorry guys. I sort of spaced and didn't photograph my birthday dinner. I do, however, have photos of the cake and the cupcakes, neither of which I have downloaded yet, so sorry about that, too. But they will come in time.

Here are recipes, though:

I) Roast Cornish game hen:

1. Rinse hens under cold water and make sure they are thoroughly thawed. Then pat them dry with paper towels and rub them with salt, pepper, and crushed garlic.

2. Put a lemon wedge or two in the cavity, along with any herbs you like (I put bay leaves). Then pull the legs closed and truss.

3) Bake at 350F for 1-2 hours, depending on weight. I baked for 1 hour and 20 minutes for 22-ounce hens. Baste with melted butter about halfway through, and then with the pan juices once there are enough, toward the end of the cooking time.

II) Baked stuffed pumpkins:

1. Slice pumpkins in half, scrape clean, and put onto a cookie sheet, sliced-face down.

2. Put in oven at whatever temperature it happens to be at for whatever else you are cooking. Pumpkins are very forgiving of cooking temperatures.

3. While the pumpkins are baking, heat butter or good olive oil in a skillet. When it is hot, add diced onions and herbs you like (I used sage). Saute until the onions are clear and aromatic.

4. Put uncooked wild rice into pan with enough boiling water to cook. Don't worry too much about the quantity; you can always add more boiling water later if you need to.

5. Turn down heat, cover, and let simmer until wild rice is cooked. This can take about 25 minutes to FOREVER. Dammit, wild rice sucks and is not as convenient as pasta. I had hoped to work it into my carbohydrate rotation, but not if it takes this bloody long to cook!

6. Spoon rice into cooked pumpkin shells, and return them to the oven for the rice to brown.

III) Garlic noodles

This is an Asian dish, but I use Italian pasta because it is more nutritious.

1) Cook pasta in boiling water.

2) Put in butter, minced garlic, and a bit of good olive oil.

3) Mix together.

PPQ Crab, the restaurant that I copied this dish from, has some green flecks in there. I'm not sure what they are, but my simple version nails their flavor with no green stuff necessary. I suspect it's parsley, since quite a few people seem to think that parsley has an affinity for garlic. I've even seen garlic powder with parsley flecks in it. What's up with that? Anyway, to me, parsley is just flavorless, although I guess green flecks make white noodles with invisible sauce look more appetizing. I don't know. Maybe I just lack parsley receptors, because I cannot taste a thing.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Birthday baking results

So last night I made the pumpkin chiffon cake--my first ever chiffon cake, and I was very nervous! I am generally more nervous when I try new baking things than when I try new savory things, because most cake recipes talk about mixers and blenders, neither of which I own. I beat by hand, with either a wire whisk or a wooden spoon. Never the less, I still try new things because the art of cake-baking predates electric mixers, so I'm sure my methods are still usable.

So, the chiffon cake--my cookbook said to handle it veeeeeery carefully, as they are liable to collapse. So, remove it from the oven slowly and carefully, and then let it cool by putting the tube pan upside-down on a wine bottle so that it doesn't collapse while it is cooling. After it is cooled, you are supposed to remove it from the pan by scraping it from the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. It supposedly has a tendency to stick because you are not allowed to grease the pan.

Okay, so here I am, right? Caaaaaarefullly and slooooooowly removing it from the oven, geeeeeently turning it upside-down and lowering it onto the wine bottle, balancing it carefully on top so the bottle doesn't fall over. Then I ponder the question of how I am supposed to scrape it out from the pan when the pan is fluted, right?



Mofo just falls out of the pan onto the counter!! It didn't collapse, though, thank goodness! If it had, though, I'd still eat it anyway! Haha!

I also made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and Hershey's Kisses on top. Passing them out today made me feel like one of those stereotypical chocoholic women ("Oh how I adore chocolate!" (said in inappropriately gushy voice that makes me squeamish)), but what the hell. I had a whole box of dutch-processed cocoa to use up, so there you have it. Plus I wanted to use up the Hershey's kisses that had been in my cupboard and which Dan had "organized" into a plastic bucket so I could have said bucket for storage of flour.

My birthday dinner menu:
Roast cornish game hens
Baked pumpkin stuffed with wild rice with sage and onions
Garlic noodles (doesn't go with the theme at all, but they are for good luck... a Chinese tradition!)
Greekish salad (greens with kalamata olives, tomatoes, sweet Alaskan onions, my own homemade fresh cheese, etc)
pumpkin chiffon cake! (best when served after having been plopped onto the kitchen counter)!

And with that I only have four pumpkins from my stash left, plus five cups frozen in the freezer, for the holiday pies.

Photos of all to come!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Annual Stock-taking

Every now and then, but especially near my birthday, I take stock of my life by thinking of two Arvays. One is the Arvay of 8-10 years prior, and the other is the Arvay of 8-10 years into the future. Are they doing well? Am I doing right by them? It's my own personal reality check.

Past Arvay is easier, because I already know her pretty well. In the current case, she is soon to graduate with her bachelor's degree. She is engaged to marry a man she is not in love with. She is about to start a job she is not particularly excited about. If she had started my now-annual tradition before then, she might have realized that 2008 Arvay would not be quite so pleased with her and would urge her in a different direction. Nevertheless, I consider my mistakes of that time to be nonfatal and educational, and I am pleased with the long-term outcomes of even my bad decisions thus far. But, I know I won't always be lucky, so that is why I turn to Future Arvay.

Future Arvay, I am already indebted to. I took 3-5 years of her income that would have contributed to her nest egg, and passed it up to live in Fairbanks and earn a PhD. To do right by her, I must give her some half a million dollars worth of experience, joy, knowledge, and education. Of these, the PhD is the only tangible one. But I hope that she will always remember the singular beauty of an Alaskan Winter. How any moon over a quarter full provided enough ambient light to walk by. Stark, cold runs at sunrise, through crystalline air, my neck gaitor freezing into shape by my exhaled vapors. The warmth, love, and steady, devoted companionship of two dogs that will have already passed away (a thought that Present Arvay can hardly bear)--their beauty that literally stopped traffic, the feel of burying my nose into the thick, soft fur of their necks, the way they zipped to my side if I slipped on an icy surface, and wouldn't resume their explorations until I was back on my feet. And more specific things: the first heavy snowfall of last Winter, when my normally morose then-landlord stepped outside, looked up at the white confetti exploding from the sky, and laughed out loud with pure joy. The crunch of ice flowing on top of the river in the process of freezing. My own utter delight in seeing my first tiny moose tracks in Spring snow. The gentle, quietly beautiful dawns, the Winter sun hanging low in the sky, layering orange and purple over an otherwise pure white snowscape.The aurora throbbing in the sky, its violent drama juxtaposed against its utter silence. Wind so infrequent that the slightest breeze created a blizzard of long-accumulated snow floating down among the trees. Holding my fingers over my eyelashes to thaw the frost from them so I could blink freely.

The thing about memories is that it seems that you can't really chose which ones you get to keep. You can plan what you hope will be a memorable day, but a few weeks later, you have already forgotten the details. Yet ordinary things sometimes crystallize in our minds and stay with us for life.

I just hope that whatever Future Arvay is facing with the economy and the job market, whether the PhD turned out to be a good decision or not, she looks back on this time and decides that her half a million dollars were well-spent.

Happy National Mole Day!

Happy National Mole Day, everyone! It is today, 10-23, and it lasts from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m. Maybe celebrate by petting a mole at the zoo. Or making chicken mole, although that mole is not pronounced the same. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wahoo! Snow!

Enough to make skiing this upcoming weekend awesome!

Running through a few inches of fresh, fluffy snow is tough. At the end of my run this morning, I was pooped. None of my muscles were sore; it's not like I was working new muscle groups or anything. It's just more tiring to push your way through snow. The girls, of course, are in seventh heaven. :) It's a shame that we are rarely matched for physical capabilities with the weather. Well, we agree on two temperature cutoffs: Below -40 is too bloody cold to be outside for longer than a potty break, and above 65F/18C is too damned hot to run. But in between those two extremes, there is quite a bit of room for disagreement on what constitutes perfect outdoor weather. :)

Anyway, the exam last night was perfectly reasonable, but there sure was a lot of arithmetic, so I probably screwed up at least a bit of it. That's the downside of this "real-world" stuff... actual numbers instead of just nice, tidy symbols in your math. I'm pretty bad with numbers and seldom manage to get the same answer twice even with a calculator. Of course, in the REAL "real world," i.e. the work force, I don't have to worry about my arithmetic, either, because I can ask a friendly coworker to verify my numbers for me. If another human gets the same answer, then I can trust it. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Not much to report

The sky is overcast, temps are warmer, and I am hoping for snow to ski in next weekend. It's warm enough for ice to be slippery (mid 20s F), so the girls and I tread carefully. At temperatures near melting, ice forms a "liquid-like layer" on the surface because of the dangling bonds at the edges of the lattice. This is why you can ski and ice-skate. This is also why you can slip, fall, and whump your arse, as has apparently become a regular occurrence for me. I've learned that falling is a skill. If you feel yourself starting to fall, the goal is to fall safely, not risk worse injury by trying not to fall. There is nothing inherently injurious about falling. You can only hurt yourself if you fall the wrong way.

My not-so-stressful midterm is tonight. This prof is the epitome of reasonableness. He will not give trick questions. For him, the goal is not to point us on the path to a Nobel Prize. It is to get us to learn the fundamentals of his course and arm ourselves with the tools to learn any part of his course in more detail at a later time. Wow, there is a novel teaching style!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Frog Disapproval

"I can't believe you thought that that was acceptable."

This is Mr. Surinam Horned Frog, at the Bronx Zoo.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Have a good weekend!

I will be studying for my first of two midterms. But not too hard. The forecast is calling for cloud cover and snow. That means yeeeeeeeehaw for our household!

Engineering classes are definitely easier than physics classes, so my hat's off to those physics people. They are definitely intelligent in ways that I am not. I know it's kind of common to scoff at people of their type. People like to say, "oh they are so book-smart, but they are not so good in life skills." But it's not necessarily true. Besides, being book-smart is a life skill, because it makes for job skills, and if working a job and putting food on the table isn't a life skill, then I don't know what is!

I think people like to make fun of uber-book-smart people like physicists for the same reasons that people like to think that really beautiful people are stupid. It's not necessarily true; it's just that we like to think that God is fair, and wouldn't possibly give one person more than one fantastic gift. But some people really do get more than one. It's just a matter of odds.

So anyway back from my digression... studying for this midterm won't be quite the nightmare that studying for physics exams was. And that means fun in the snow! Yay!

More piccies

Here is Mr. Grumphus Bumfus Bunn B. Doofus, Esq., coming to grace us with his nightly appearance. Autumn pretty much ignores him. Linden, on he other hand, pays appropriate homage with butt-sniffings, slurpings, etc.

He then retires to a corner and gives us dirty looks. Yes, this really is a nightly routine. Yes, he really does give us dirty looks.

And per request, here we are in all our reflective glory. The flash made evident the superiority of the reflective tape I added over what the doggie vests came with. The stuff on my vest is best of all, but I couldn't find any for purchase all by itself, for sewing onto the doggie vests.

By the way, today is the first morning I saw temperatures drop below 0F. I switched to my wool liner pants to run in instead of synthetic. But I am still in only silk liners under my jeans in the daytime. I've thought off and on of adding a feature to this blog called "What I am wearing today" just to give the non-local readers an idea of what the weather is like. But I haven't gotten around to it. Besides, it would only be interesting in Spring and Fall, when the weather is changing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Here is the newly ice-covered Tanana.

Looking upstream:

Looking downstream:

Ice that froze in a sheet of shards:

Now here we have a bunch of failed self-portraits. The girls were both cuddling with me, but, alas, Dan was still at work, and my arms aren't long enough to get all three of us in one shot. I got close though.

Here is the closest I got:

And here is one where Linden looks extremely cute:

And here is one where Autumn looks extremely cute:

And then it's game over, when they both realize that I'm doing the flashy thing in their faces:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Old man river now rolls in silence

Well, the Tanana River is completely glazed over with ice now, and it looks so... stagnant. I know that there is water flowing underneath, but it's startling to have such a starkly silent river after months of violence. A few months ago, there was the rushing, brown turbulence of flooding. One week ago there were flat ice shards floating down the river like jagged crystal lily pads. Yesterday there was the arresting contrast of the gentle rosy glow of the sunrise against the steady crunch of ice chunks beating together in a crazy cacophony. Today there is a completely covered surface, and silence.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Getting Colder...

When I returned from my run this morning, my water bottle looked like this inside:

By the way, the velcro on the girls' reflective vests stopped working, so I replaced it with reflective belts and epoxied their blinky lights to the new collars of the vests (their blinky lights had a tendency to fall off them). Check it out. Pretty spiffy, eh?

Last year I put off wearing my warmest clothes. It was a psychological trick for me. I'd say, "Well, it's not that cold yet. I'm still not wearing my blahblah." Well, Winter got colder, then warmer, and then it was gone, and I never made it to my nicest, warmest, fuzziest things. Well screw that! This year, I know what's coming, so I know what I need. I also know that I have lots of nice fuzzy things that I can wear right now! Besides, sometimes it is nice to be warmer than merely comfortable, in a nice fuzzy sweater with a nice fuzzy dog or two. :) Rabbits are even fuzzier, but I am afraid of them. :)

By the way, I've learned a few things about whey since most Alaskan pigs are now in freezers and unable to enjoy mine...

1) Getting rid of whey is apparently a nuisance on an industrial scale. Cheese manufacturers pay people to take it away! (awhey! Hahahahahaha!! a-hem. Sorry. Where was I?). Yeah, I read that sure enough, pig farmers are more than happy to feed it to their pigs, but that the cheese makers have to pay to have it hauled there. Weird. I guess when you have that much of it, you can't just pour it in the ground.

2) Whey is a great base for soup! It's mo' nutrisher that way, as my father would put it. Thanks, Dingo Dave, for the idea!

3) Whey makes bread feather-light! Yum! I made olive bread over the weekend with whey, and it was whey-delicious! Whey-cool! Whey-awesome!

My last batch of mozzarella was made partly with goat milk from Autumn and Linden's former family, who are getting goat milk now that these guys are eating more and more solid food. Fresh goat milk doesn't taste gamey the way goat products tend to. I made the cheese soft, and put it into several salads now. Delicious!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy early (or late) Valentine's day!

Look! It's a bunny heart! Awwwwww!

I'm not sure they approve of being called cute, however.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Enough to completely cover the ice and go skiing!

We decided to head to our old neck of the woods today so the girls could run off-leash and free.

Here is Dan sweeping the path to the outhouse. The outhouse looks rather picturesque in the snow.

The view to Quist Farms today:

Happy dawgs!

The weather forecast calls for temperatures to remain below freezing from here on out. Thank you, weather gods! Now we can breathe a sigh of relief about slipping and sliding!

I had been eagerly looking forward to Winter this year. Yeah, yeah, everyone can laugh at the "newbie" who hasn't yet grown tired of the cold, but I just find a snowy world so beautiful. Mid Winter of last year, a friend who lives in Kingston, New Brunswick wrote me the following:

Life in Alaska sounds much like life here. Ice, snow, studded tires, snow, moose... snow, and more snow. However, you remind me not to take the beauty around me for granted. You are finding a joyful fascination in the bright little things that make the north the north, things similar to those that caught my attention when I first moved to this chilly snowy province. They occasionally still do catch my attention, but I don't let them do so as often as I should...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Slippery Slick

Yesterday's heat melted off almost all of the snow, but was not enough to melt through the ground, which had already started to freeze, so the water had nowhere to go. It sat on top of the ground and then froze to solid ice at night. The roads are quite terrible today, so we are staying home for the weekend. I am hoping that it stays warm enough to melt the remaining snow, and for all the ice to melt and run off, and then we can just start fresh with new snow that won't melt and will stay with us through Winter. The thing about Fairbanks is, when it's cold, you want it to remain cold, so we don't have calamities like our roads are having now. And when it's warm, you want it to remain warm. Transitions are always the worst.

Times like these, I wonder how people with "normal" Winters survive. We recently had some colleagues visiting from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was at the beginning of the freeze, so the roads were quite slippery, as they are now. Generally, when Fairbanks has visitors from Outside in the Winter, we worry about them--their health, their driving, their tolerance to the cold. But these guys had no trouble at all. They were comfortable with the weather and had less trouble driving than most locals do. Then I thought about it and realized that since it is warmer in the UP, it is paradoxically less safe to drive in the Winter. That slick-slippery stuff we get during freeze-up and breakup? They have that all Winter. My mind boggles.

Okay, Weather Gods. Here is my request--stay warm this weekend, melt off this dang ice, and then drop below freezing and stay there for Winter! And then--more snow! We'd like to go skiing! The girls would like to go 'joring! If you can manage that, it'd be great! kthxbye!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Volunteers sought for UAF canned salmon taste tests

Oct. 10, 2008

Do you want to eat salmon and crackers and further the cause of science?

More than 200 volunteers who like to eat fish are needed for canned salmon taste tests Oct. 13-17 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Wood Center. Participants will be asked to rate the salmon’s appearance, taste and texture on tests conducted by the UAF Fishery Industrial Technology Center in Kodiak with the assistance of UAF Cooperative Extension Service.

Sampling will run from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. each day in Wood Center Conference Rooms C & D. The taste test will take 10-15 minutes and cookies will be provided afterward. Participants must be at least 18.

Contact: Kathryn Idzorek, UAF Cooperative Extension Service foods research technician, at 474-5391 or

I love the part about the cookies. Because it's really difficult to get people to come eat salmon!

And "foods research technician"? How do I get that title, eh? :P

I've chosen my birthday cake

Oh yeah.

I am somewhat annoyed that pumpkin recipes all list "canned pumpkin" as the pumpkin ingredient, though. I mean, hello? You know that orange thing that you carve up for Halloween? It's edible. Well, not it in particular. I mean, it is edible, but it was bred for carving so it isn't very tasty. It does have many cousins that are edible and tasty, though. Mmmm punkin. I saved a few seeds from local pumpkins and will start them early indoors next year. :)

Warm again!

I was very hot and sticky on my run this morning. I had bundled up against what I expected to be the cold of the morning, but almost immediately on leaving the house, I realized that it was much, much warmer today. I really, really dislike overheating. You can ask anyone who's hiked with me in the Summer. I almost always end up shedding my shirt and hiking in my bra. Being too warm due to overdressing, however, is worse than being only barely dressed and being too warm merely due to the weather. In the latter case, your body cools itself by sweating, and the sweat evaporates. When you wear too much clothes, however, all the layers of clothing block the passage of heat and sweat, and you end up a disgusting, wet, sticky mess.

I know it sounds funny that I complained about cool Summer days, and now I complain about warm Winter days. It's just that I mentally and physically prepare for certain things, and sometimes I have a difficult time adjusting back. For example, if a Winter weather forecast says that it will be -40, I wear a lot of clothes, and say "Bring it on!" If the cold snap doesn't come, there I am, huffing and sweating, and people laugh at me--"What? You're complaining that you're too warm? When it's -30F outside?" It's all context, you see. :)

I think I need a new approach to overheating. When I go outside, and find that the weather is too cold for what I've worn, I don't dream of going further, because frostbite and hypothermia are real threats and are very dangerous. I come back in and change to warmer clothes. Why not give the same treatment to being too warm? When it is too warm, I am not in danger of causing permanent damage to my body, but I do get irritable, I don't enjoy my time outside, and I snap at the dogs. Isn't damaging my relationship with creatures who are partially responsible for my well-being, just as unhealthy as frostbite? Why not come back in and change?

Upon returning home, I checked the thermometer outside. It is 40F/4C. Here is another idea, genius self. Look at that thing before getting dressed. What, hey! I'ma get me a PhD in physics, and I'm figuring out how to dress myself, as well!

Edit: Article!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

You must have been a beautiful behbeh...

Brrrr! It is 12F/-11C outside right now! It seems that cold weather came on rather suddenly this time. Yesterday, I was comfortable outside in certain clothes, and today, I am not merely "slightly chilled" in the same clothes but rather cannot feel my extremities.

The river today is covered with slushy stuff as it starts to freeze. So cool! I've never actually watching freezing in progress before! I'm going to have to take photos! I wish I could carry a camera while running, but I could not handle a camera going ba-doink, ba-doink, ba-doink against my ribs while running! But we really do have the most beautiful moments as the sun rises along the river, and I can never catch them in photos because by the time I am back with a camera, the sun is up...

Anyway, enough of that. I have some very special photos to share today. :)

But before I get to those, here is a cute one of Linden looking ladylike and Autumn looking gangtsa tough.

Now... here is the girls' mama!

And here is Linden being born!

A brand-new Autumn!

Linden already acting like a goofball...

A tired mama. Her daughters seem to have inherited her warm, gentle eyes.

Linden as a fuzzball:

Autumn as a fuzzball:

Their extremely cute brother:

Bunch o' puppies. That's Autumn on the left, Linden closest to the camera.

Another shot of the bunch. Linden is in the front looking away from the camera. Autumn is in the back facing forward.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Misc Photos

Already I am going into the stashes of Alaskan produce I'd squirreled away. Here is a baked pumpkin stuffed with seasoned croutons and sausage, with collard greens prepared Southern style--that is, with ham fat. This was our dinner last Friday, and Dan and I each only finished half our pumpkin share. I eagerly looked forward to having the combined leftovers for lunch today, but when I opened the steaming container from the office microwave, imagine my shock to find the pumpkin shells empty! Apparently, Dan decided to eat the stuffing at some point over the weekend, without telling me! And then replaced the pumpkin halves into the container, without informing me! Hrrmph! How rude! Plain pumpkin without even the benefit of butter, salt, or pepper does not a lunch make!

Here is my last *sniff* to-*sob*-mato from Ann. Through the Winter, we can get Hothouse tomatoes that are shipped from California, but there is no tomato like Ann's tomatoes. After thinking long and hard about how to expend my precious last tomato, I decided on a toasted cheese sammich.

Here we are with our friend's boxer, Luke. He's not really a demon. :)

Self portrait with Linden. Not an easy shot to get! Linden is very needy for physical affection, but paradoxically not very cuddly. She prefers to do such things as jam her snout up your butt crack, or slurp your ear. We are working on her manners!

And here are the girls doing what they do second best:

What else to report? Autumn has come alive with the cold. Linden also prefers cold weather, of course, but she tolerates Summer okay. Autumn, in contrast, gets rather unhappy in Summer. She was still sweet, but acted a little listless and was different enough that I had worried about her physical health. Now she is the beautiful, intelligent, lively dog that I first brought home again.

This is a convenient time of year for grocery shopping. I bought a gallon of milk this morning and left it in my car all day, with no worries that it would either freeze or spoil. Hah!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Oh well... and thoughts on St. Francis' Feast Day

Most of the snow melted away before we had a chance to enjoy it, so no skiing or 'joring for us, but we had a nice walk around Musher's Hall and I built a little bitty snowman. A snow dwarf.

Today is the feast day of St. Francis, so tomorrow we are going to the Blessing of the Animals at St. Matthews, and the girls are going to be blessed. I used to attend the Blessing of the Animals at Grace Cathedral, in San Francisco. It is always a lovely ceremony. It is lovely fun to sit in church with dogs lolling in between the pews and cats mewing and parrots squawking! The mounted police almost always show up to have the horses blessed, and a few people drive in from outside the city with their more rural animals like goats and sheep and llamas.

I remember one sermon in particular. The Very Reverend Alan Jones, a very warm and charismatic man, said something that I really like--that we are all born with "the universal eligibility to be noble," a quote from Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March. I love especially the choice of the word "eligibility" over "ability" or "freedom" because it implies that good behavior is desirable, is worthy of choice. Whereas the "ability" to be noble sounds more like we can take it or leave it, whatever.

"Eligibility" implies that we not only have the ability, but that it is an honor! When I normally hear the word "eligible" it implies that you have met some condition to reap a reward. Like, you have worked for this company for ten years so you are eligible for a better benefits package. Or, you are now fifty years old and are eligible for this retirement plan. "You are eligible to win a prize!" The prize in this case is nobility, morality! It removes the feeling that behaving with integrity is a chore, and replaces it with a feeling that it is an honor.

We are born with an unearned blessing, the eligibility to be noble, and if we throw it away, it is as rude and disrespectful to God as it would be to throw any gift away in front of the giver. May we all rise to our unearned blessings!

Hug your pets today! It is the Feast Day of St. Francis!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Freaking awesome!

We got several inches of snow last night! Let's just hope it stays below freezing so we can keep it all, and go skiing this weekend! Yay! I got the girls new tuglines, too, and they went flat-out bonkers when they saw them! Dancing around the living room. They wouldn't even eat their dinner when they saw me try on my skijor belt! I had to put everything away and sit down on the couch to get them calm enough to finish their dinner. And that's saying a lot, with Autumn's love of eating!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Winter, here we come

I guess this is something of a seasonal marker. I've switched Fred to his studded tires, and in the mornings I put on lights and reflectors to run. I have lights in the front, lights in the back, a reflective vest, and reflective ankle straps. The girls, too, wear orange reflective vests and blinking lights. And we all blink different colors, and the girls' eyes glow green. The entire effect is something like a crazy Christmas display moving down the street. I think we frightened poor Toby, our neighbor's extremely gentle and passive German Shepherd, who normally comes out to exchange a nose-sniff with my girls. But the past few days, he's taken one look at us and hightailed it home! Poor guy.

Here is another old photo, from dinner at Sam's house. Sam's dad took this photo. Don't I make a great dog pillow?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I finally pulled these off the set my sister took. Aren't they cool? She took them from the plane as she took off.

Here is the Tanana where the Chena dumps into it.

And here is the Tanana. I love the contrast of this dark cloud above an otherwise clear day.