Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Black bean and corn salsa

By the way, since when has canned corn gotten so fancy? I went to get a can of corn for this, because I was too lazy to use a pot to cook either fresh or frozen corn, and was totally overwhelmed--there was the regular yellow sweet corn, there was white corn, and there was even that white and yellow supersweet hybrid. Since when do they sell that in a can?

And here are the girls the other morning:

They are very unimpressed with our recent warm weather (60s F, high teens C). Linden has begun to shed in gobs, but Autumn has barely started. She is quite uncomfortable, poor girl.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Food Photos

The more I photograph food, the more I understand why they use plastic and silicone and whatnot to make the "food" to photograph for advertising. Real food just doesn't photograph well.

That being said, here are two house favorites chez nous.

Our regular salad. Eaten probably 3 nights a week, especially in Winter when lettuce is one of the best vegetables on offer.

It consists of romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, a few slices of sweet onion, feta, kalamata olives, and a pepperoncini. Sometimes I substitute another cheese for the feta, but the rest is sacred and must not be changed. Ever. :)

Sunday morning French toast, this week featuring crowberry sauce:

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Swan at Creamer's field:

Here is what they look like as behbehs:

(Photo by Craig Ely at the Geophysical Institute, taken last Summer)

In other news, I saw (and killed) my first mosquito of the season today. BOOOO! Mosquitoes suck. Haha! I made a pun! I didn't plan that, honest!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Liquid water outdoors

Yesterday at the end of my workday I stepped outside to see liquid droplets falling from the sky. What. Was. That?? Liquid water? Outdoors? I had to recall back to September. Oh yes, rain! It was raining! And that should do it for even the die-hards, that were willing to ski on some icy, slushy stuff. I took my skis out of the car yesterday evening and put them away.

I wasn't wearing enough clothes, either. I had forgotten that in Summer, clouds mean it's colder, not warmer, because we have this thing called the sun, which when not blocked provides warmth. It's also kind of novel to be outside, not wearing sufficient clothing, and be merely uncomfortable. You say, "Dangit, I should have worn a warmer jacket." But you are merely uncomfortable, not in danger of frostbite, or hypothermia. All you say is, "Dang." You don't say, "I'd better get indoors as soon as possible, or I may lose some fingers or toes." It's so novel.

It rained through the night, and at some point the temperatures must have dropped below freezing, because there was the lightest dusting of snow on the ground this morning. The night before last was the first night it had not dropped below freezing this Spring so far.

I am anxious for the ground to thaw now so I can bust it up and put in my seedlings. They are growing so quickly I may have to transplant them into bigger pots before I have a chance to put them into the ground!

Here are the girls relaxing:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Better behbeh reindeer photos than I can take


Sixteen behbeh reindeer! I need to go visit them again!

And in other silicon2tanana reportage, here we have a patent admission that "street cleaning" serves the explicit purpose of generating revenue via parking tickets. When I lived in Berkeley, you couldn't park on the Northbound side of the street on the second Wednesday and the fourth Tuesday of every month, and you couldn't park on the Southbound side of the street the third Tuesday and the first Monday of every month, except during months with 31 days, when it was reversed, and during leap years, when it was reversed again. Or something like that. Anyway, however it was, I figured regular parking tickets into my household budget.

Do you know how many parking tickets I've gotten in Fairbanks? I'll give you a minute to guess. Oh yeah, none. God bless the oil revenue, that's all I can say. The state doesn't have to scheme money from its citizens.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poor moose!

A bunch of schoolkids in Palmer taunted a moose until he fatally injured himself.


I'm glad the News Miner commenters are all outraged. It shows that respect for life is alive and well in Fairbanks.

Looking at the end

The end of taking classes, that is. I am in the middle of my last math homework. Ever. Can you believe that? This fall, I am only taking one class--upper division undergraduate level quantum physics--and then I am done with classes entirely. But later in life, I could see taking more physics and engineering courses for amusement, but not math. That's it for me. I am officially done with math. Whoa. This is ending a math career that has spanned twenty-seven years!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

North or South

California and Alaska share some general geographic similarities. They are large states with two major population centers--one near the middle and the other at the Southern end. The rest of the large states, including the broad expanses of land to the North, are sparsely populated by unique people and generously gifted with natural beauty.

It also seems that California's and Alaska's two major population centers share other commonalities. Stereotypically, people in the Northern one (San Francisco/Fairbanks) pride themselves on their uniqueness and grassroots-yness, and look down on their Southern neighbors as superficial Wal-mart sellouts with identical McMansions. People in the Southern one (Los Angeles/Anchorage) deride their Northern neighbors as being unwashed, patchouli-scented hippies.

It's quite funny, really.

I was prompted to think about this when I read part of an only marginally-related column today, entitled "Something People On the East Coast Don't Realize," by The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle:

You know the song, ubiquitous in the late 60s, "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" I was just in the shower, where it occurred to me -- with the penetrating insight that only comes to people in the shower -- that the song makes sense to everybody in the country, except people familiar with California.

The narrator is from San Jose and lives in Los Angeles. And he keeps asking directions to get back to San Jose. Directions? You go North! What person from San Jose would need directions to get there from Los Angeles?

Is the song really made for non-Californian sensibilities? The lyricist, Hal David, is from New York, after all. Or was the song a subtle but blistering (and rather unfair) commentary on the brain-atrophying effects of long term Los Angeles exposure? If the latter, then the song is actually . . . FUNNY. It's about a person who went to Los Angeles and lost his (or her -- it's usually her, as in Dionne Warwick) mind, and now can only babble incoherently to a stranger while asking for unnecessary directions.

I like that.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Misc photos from the weekend

On Saturday night, our friend Carl and his band played music at the Clearwater Lodge, in Delta Junction, so we thought we'd make a drive down to see them. It was a beautiful drive. We saw the sunset and lots of meese and bald eagles. The pub was right on the river.

Here is a photo I took just for ladies who have eaten at the Spice Islands Cafe in Mountain View. Yeah, we thought that women's bathroom was bizarre. The Clearwater evidently expects you to continue right on with your conversation with your friend while you pee. (The bathroom was too small to back up enough to fit it entirely within the frame, but you get the idea.)

And you can even keep up the conversation while you wash up. This is the opposite wall:

The next day was Chinese Easter Sunday. That's the day we cook up our half-priced ham, which we bought the day after Rest of the World Easter. My friend Ness makes these rice crispy bunnies.

She also made these caprese thingies. Then she cut crosses into them so she could honestly tell her grandmother that she did something Catholic-related for Easter the next time she talked to her. Linden was very, very impressed.

Here is the ham. I glazed it with Moose turds, wine, and brown sugar.

Here is Sam. She drooled. Not like a St. Bernard, but a lot.

Here is a spice cake I made as a vehicle for crowberry sauce. The crowberry sauce looked just like blueberry pie filling, except without the flavor.

Here is Linden cleaning her teef this morning:

And Autumn doing the same:

Chomp, gulp, buuuuurp

A former place of employment of mine got eaten.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Here is the Tanana today:

Yup, no more skiing on it.

Whole wheat fettucine with smoked salmon and asparagus in cream sauce, topped with capers:

I'm not sure where this dish started, but it seems to be a staple in a lot of restaurants in the Bay Area.

And in other news, nine years ago today, Bunn arrived at my door, a newly-abandoned Easter bunny. He was so very, very cute that when no-one claimed him, I decided to keep him.

It's our bunniversary!
It's our bunniversary!
Happy, happy, happy, happy, happy bunniversary!

Here he is guarding the Cave of Caerbannog:


"What, behind the rabbit?

"It is the rabbit!"

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beautiful and mysterious

Every seed is a miracle, isn't it?

It's amazing to think that outside, under the snow, are so many unquiet slumberers just waiting to burst forth.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

SEM Micrographs of Autumn's fuzz

I was wondering whether the dogs' toehawks had any special morphological properties (such as microbarbs) for traction.

It turns out they don't.

Here are some hairs from a toehawk:

They look the same as the hairs from her back:

Her undercoat, however, looks remarkably like that of an alpaca. Here is Autumn's undercoat:

And here is part of a fuzzball from my favorite alpaca sweater:

No wonder huskies are so huggable and fuzzy. They are the same as alpacas!

And just for fun, here is a sample of Bunn's hare hair. He has some that have two cortices under one protective sheath. How cool is that?

I didn't find any of these in a fuzzball from my angora sweater, so either angora bunnies do not have these coarse hairs, which would make sense since they have been bred specifically for their soft fur, or the coarser hairs are sorted out in the processing to make a softer sweater. Or maybe Bunn is just a hare with rare hairs.

By the way, the scale bars are off by 2x since these micrographs are downsized by .5.

A (partial and growing) list of flavors that are sweet by American convention, but are delicious in savory foods


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My neighbor's dogs

These are our neighbor's dogs. His cabin is next to and parallel to ours, so when I go to the outhouse, I can see his dogs behind his house. They are very vocal and love to bark and howl. My friends misjudge them by this and think they are mean, but they are not, just vocal. They are 11 years old and still healthy and strong. Alaskan dogs tend to be very healthy into old age, and I don't know whether it's environment or genes. Two of Autumn and Linden's brothers were given to friends as pups. This family moved to New England and kept the dogs as more conventional American house pets. They recently returned to Fairbanks, and the two dogs appear to be much older than Autumn, Linden, and the rest of their siblings. They are on special "geriatric" foods and have various health issues. But anyway back to my neighbors...

This is the girl. I forgot what her name is, but her humans call her "princess." This is the one that Linden wants always to attack. On her account, Linden is not allowed outside the house off-leash when Princess is out.

This is her brother. I don't recall his name at all. He's a really sweet guy. He was never taught not to jump on people, so he jumps on people to say hi, but he does it so gently. He puts a paw on either of my shoulders without leaning any of his weight, and gives me a politely unsloppy kiss on the cheek.

Autumn and Linden's former mom thinks that these two might be Mackenzie River huskies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy National Half-Priced Chocolate Bunny Day!

Don't forget to go out and buy yourself a half-priced chocolate bunny today!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring has sprung

in earnest, now. Today I took my last ski down the river with the girls. The snow was slushy, and there was a patch of open water on the South-facing side of the river. So that's it for us. I have no intention of going swimming in skis!

I spent a good part of today putting away my Winter clothes and taking out some Summer clothes. Away go the ski pants (*sniff* *sniff*), the Sorels, the heavy gloves and mittens, the thick wool sweaters, the merino wool base layers, and the silk long underwear. Out come the unlined shoes, the hiking boots (yeah!), the T-shirts, the rain shell, and the older, threadbare jeans that I like to wear in Summer. I came upon, and realized that I hadn't worn, the warmer boots I had excitedly purchased on deep discount last Summer. I also hadn't worn my heavy insulated jacket all this past Winter. I relied entirely upon adding more sweaters under my lighter coat, and I was warmer and more comfortable that way.

The girls are starting to shed, so I gave them a quick run-through with the curry comb and the little rake thingy, but only came up with this:

Here they are relaxing in the house.

And what have we here? The first behbeh reindeer of the season for the campus reindeer herd!

Awwwwwwww! Behbeh reindeer! I wish I could hold him.

Happy Easter, everybody! Bunn and Millie were up all last night dyeing and delivering eggs. :)

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I've started all of mine today, in Dixie cups in my office. I put in basil, several types of early tomatoes, sweet peas, shelling beans, and eggplant. Also some zucchinis and yellow summer squash, and several types of winter squash and sugar pumpkin. I'd like to be able to do leafy greens, but I figure I can hardly beat what they sell at the farmer's market, and I just don't have the space.

In other news, Autumn and Linden's former family is going to have puppies! Autumn's replacement, the current leader, a girl named Arrow, was bred to a stud from outside the farm. His name escapes me at the moment, but he is a son of Zorro, Lance Mackey's former lead dog, who is now retired after extensive surgeries to fix him up after he was hit by a snowmachine. I can't wait to meet them! Yay puppies! I'll get to cuddle them ALL but not have to feed, potty train, nor clean up after ANY! Yay! :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Here is a cute photo of Sam from Dan's birthday dinner party:

On Dan's actual birthday, we went to The Turtle Club. They are known for their prime rib and their truly enormous shrimp (a plate of four is considered "for large appetites"). But to me, the most outstanding thing on the menu is their deep-fried halibut. It is the best I've ever had. It is better than you can imagine deep-fried fish can possibly be. It's like deep-fried fish nirvana.

Okay next topic is this "Spring" thing we are having. Temperatures are coming above freezing every day now, and the city has scraped the hardpack off the roads and it's time to take Fred to the tire shop and have his studded tires swapped for his Summer tires. This weekend will be the last time the girls and I ski on the Tanana before I won't trust it any more. How sad. It's been a really great neighborhood playground for us. See how happy they are in the photos I've taken!

Now what are we going to do for fun? Hrrmph!

My final topic today is... does anyone have any suggestions of what to do with crowberries? A friend of mine left a gallon or so of them on my car one day last summer (don't ask), and they got buried in the back of my freezer and I've only just re-found them now. What should I do with them? I was thinking I'd better not put too much work into them, just in case after all this time, they have picked up some fish or other freezer odors. So I was thinking of just making them into a kind of sauce (like cranberry sauce), and then serving it with ice cream. That way, if they're no good, we can still eat the ice cream. I'm not sure I want to invest even the time to make a pie crust.

A brief internet search pointed me to another Alaskan food blog, though, so I've added it to my sidebar there to keep Dingo Dave company. :)

Happy dog

Here is a happy dog from today's paper for you to look at.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Potluck is different at UAF

The signup sheet is being circulated, and here is what's on the list so far (names have been deleted):

1. Niqipiaq
2. fish
3. Dried Fish
4. ??
5. Fried Moose
6. Caribou and rice
7. Moose chili
8. cupcakes
9. Chicken
10. Sushi
11. a dessert
12. mac and cheese
13. Hot dogs
14. soda pop
15. Curry Moose
16. ??
17. Cookies
18. Fruit
19. Salad

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dan's birthday photos

Today is Dan's birthday, so we had his birthday dinner party last night.

This is how you chill beers in Spring in Fairbanks:

Here are the boys drinking Dan's birthday scotch with ice from Castner Glacier:

Have you ever had a scotch on 1000-year-old rocks?

Here is Dan's birthday cake. I made a carrot cake using my beloved bundt cake pan:

I also made a spanakopita, a leek and tomato quiche, and garlic noodles. I forgot to take photos. :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Here comes the sun...

It was quite warm today on the Tanana. As I skied out with the wind at my back, I removed my hat, gloves, jacket, and scarf. The girls were panting with their tongues lolling out, and they weren't even pulling me. Just running around having fun.

Here is the same view as in this photo:

And here is Autumn:

And Linden:

In other news, Fairbanks now has a Chinese tea shop. How nice. I hope they sell bulk tea for my larder, so I won't have to order online any more.

And in other other news, IBM does not want to eat Sun any more.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

halibut on salad

Pan-fried halibut with guacamole and corn on salad:

I'm not sure if "pan-fried" is the description I want. What do you call it when you just slap the thing on a hot skillet with no oil or anything and just let it cook and then flip it and let it finish cooking? Like searing, only cooking through? Huh.

Autumn smiling in her sleep:

Linden smiling in her sleep:

Friday, April 3, 2009


A former place of employment of mine is being eaten.

I have not read enough about this to have formed an opinion yet. All I can say for now is, I hope my friends that still work there are not at risk of being laid off.

In other news, we here are having a quite chilly Spring. But the girls are happy, and I am glad that we are having ski season extended. :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sad and happy news to report

Seven weeks ago, the lead dog of a local mushing friend of mine died after giving birth to five live puppies and one stillbirth. It was very sad, but my friend was pleased to have five beautiful puppies from her star leader. She bottle-raised them and is now in the process of weaning them. I have gone to see them several times... they are absolutely adorable little fluffballs!

Now my friend had a dilemma. Without their canine mama, who would provide proper training for them as they grew up? Whom could they emulate to learn basic sledding commands? She tried putting them in the dog yard with several of their aunties and uncles, and none of them showed any interest, and in fact one of the pups got snapped at by an annoyed boy.

Well, guess who showed interest in them? Autumn and Linden did! So guess what? She will be bringing those pups to ME! Autumn and Linden will be raising them! And as it turns out, they use a lot of the same breeding lines as Autumn's and Linden's former family does, and we sat down and worked out that Autumn and Linden are great-grand-aunties of these kids! Isn't that adorable? Autumn and Linden will be raising and training their great-grand-nieces and nephews! Awwwww! Isn't it sweet!

There are two boys and three girls. One boy and one girl are solid white, and the other three are black and brown. Their names are Ava, Riley, Pointer, Sassy, and Ontario. Awwwww! Puppies!

Edit: Happy April Fool's Day! No houseful of puppies for me, thank goodness! Puppies, they are adorable, but not for me! :) Props to anyone who noticed that the first few letters of the names sort of suggest poisson d'avril.


This morning I woke up to the room flooded with light and I popped up muttering, "Forgot to set dang alarm." But then I looked at the clock and it was 6:25. This daylight thing is pretty interesting! At night, it's light until around 8 or 9, too. It sure goes fast once it starts!

Linden is of the lone opinion that we should all get up when the sun rises. She wakes up and sits quietly, wide-awake, not daring to wake up the rest of the household. But when she hears a sound from any of the rest of us, she starts talking. "Woo-woo!" Not howling, mind you, just saying, "Woo. Woo-woo." I guess it's her way of saying, "Well, you're awake! You'd might as well get up!"

Here are some photos of the fuzzy crew relaxing at home. Look at Bunn's ears! They look like airplane wings! He could be a hareplane!