Monday, August 31, 2009

Misc Photos

Linden watching me stack wood on the porch:

Autumn finds the sight less riveting:

Here are my moose curtains! I did moose curtains in the kitchen! Yes, I did! Moose! Curtains!

The rest of the windows got yellow curtains. My friend Peter mightily approved.

They have exactly the desired effect--like bright sunshine!

Here are some of my friends at my housewarming/post comps party:

There was ample food:

And storytelling:

The sillypants twins, when they get tired:

Autumn avoids them and their antics, and tucks herself into a corner:

It was a great housewarming/post comps party! And, I'm most pleased to report, I only have ONE serving of leftover chili to eat! Thank goodness! When I came downstairs Saturday morning to that giant pile of beans I had soaked, I had an immediate image of eating chili for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Way-Cool Blue Shelf

The other day I took a tour of the Permafrost Tunnel. It was excavated into a hillside, where the same ground has been frozen since the Pleistocene. You can see frozen animal parts here and there inside--mammoth pieces and prehistoric oxen.

Tunnel entrance:

The interior of the tunnel:

Part of a huge ice wedge. You can see now why if you're building on permafrost, it's very important not to melt it! Most of the cabins (including mine) are not only insulated to the nines, but also on stilts, so we don't melt the ground.

An ice wedge over our heads:

The trees are starting to turn for Fall:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's that time of year again...

Time for rainbows!

And fractal broccoli!

And bright, beautiful mornings!

Now you can see more of the cabin since I've been fixing it up in the evenings.

Here is the corner with the doofi and the woodstove:

Work done:
* Curtain rods up (at both the tops and bottoms of the windows, so the curtains won't billow into the wood stove and be a fire hazard).
* Doofi pen properly reinforced against collapsing.

Work to be done:
* Have chimney cleaned. (I took it apart to see how big a job it would be, then decided against doing it myself.)
* Make curtains. (accepting suggestions on colors/fabrics!)

Here is the kitchen:

Work done:
* Curtain rod up.
* Sagging shelves reinforced.
* Put in additional shelving.
* Sink recaulked.
* Leak under sink capped.
* Had electrician fix faulty wiring and bring in a 220V connection for my New! Range! that is coming tomorrow.
* Put safety switch on connection for water system.
* Fixed and reinforced ancient table that moved with me from California and had been in danger of collapse for the last decade.
* Put hooks in main beam for pots and pans.
* Put magnetic knife thingy on wall.

The beauty of log cabins is that you can store things by hanging them from the walls. And no need to find studs--the house is essentially made of studs!

Work to be done:
* Make curtain.
* Maybe hang wine glass rack (not sure if I need it now that I have so much shelving).
* Make my way-cool blue shelf from the extra cabinet door that I found, and mount it behind the range. I'm going to wait until my new range is here first, though, so I can decide on an appropriate height and depth for my way-cool blue shelf. :)


Work done:
* Trimmed blinds so that they actually fit windows instead of reaching to the floor.

Work to be done:
* Nothing.

My favorite window. The views from all of my windows are pretty much identical--mixed stands of birch and black spruce--but for some reason this one is my favorite. I stand here and stare outside.

I love my door. It's home-made by the original builder of reclaimed oak from a table or something. It's also three layers thick, so thick that he had to hog out places to fit a standard doorknob and lock.

Also on the to-do list:
* Seal up the insulation around the edges of the floor.
* Take down a big black spruce tree that died in my front yard. More fire wood! My friend Dave is going to help me with this when he gets back from Greenland, where he is doing research on a glacier.
* Put foam board and plywood under the exterior of the floor insulation, which is currently held in my chicken wire. This can wait until next Summer. It's obviously fine enough for now, since it's been that way for eight or so years.
* Trim back the connection to the ski trail (I have my own! connection! to the ski! trail!).
* Stack the rest of the already cut wood and get it under tarps.
* Get a bigger oil tank.

So although this cabin was totally move-in ready, the little things here and there are still quite a bit of work!

Oh guess what? My first and so far only tomato ripened yesterday! I ate ONE YELLOW CHERRY TOMATO! Woweeeee!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes

Irma describes this as a dish for impatient tomato lovers who, in early Summer, cannot wait for their tomatoes to ripen. I had never heard of such a thing! To me, fried green tomatoes are what you do at the end of Summer, when you have sadly given up on them ripening.

Green tomatoes are beautiful, aren't they? The same color as the most precious jade:


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Well, that went worse than expected...

I'll let you know when I find out next week whether I passed.

I'm off to hardware store hop!


Monday, August 24, 2009

After the math

So here is my status with comps... Copying and pasting quite a bit from an email I wrote to a friend...

Of the four exams, I am taking two from physics, which are today and tomorrow, and two from mechanical engineering, which are not standardized and I can request to take at any time. I'm also confident I'll do well on those when they come up, so no worries there. My worries concern the two from physics. Of those two, I took mathematical physics this morning, and am taking classical mechanics tomorrow. Classical mechanics probably won't be a problem. I can do maybe 80% of the problems from the past exams, and I only need 50% of the points to pass. Math physics--HUGE problem. I hardly remember the material from when I took advanced math. I could do maybe 30% of the past years' problems. I almost passed out from boredom when I tried to review my old material. Literally, fell asleep at the table! So I took that one this morning, knowing it would be my sacrificial lamb (I only need to pass 3 of the 4). It went... about as could be expected, I suppose. I'm pretty sure I didn't pass, but I'm as sure that I got enough partial credit to contribute appreciably to my cumulative minimum to pass.

I don't want to spend another Summer studying physics problems, so my backup plan is that if I don't pass these two, I will change my degree from "interdisciplinary studies in physics and ME" to straight ME, and then take nothing but ME exams, which I can pass with flying colors.

Anyway in honor of those of us taking comps, I've decided that we should go to Hot Licks every afternoon this week. My friends, they are such good friends, agreed to this plan. :)

And here are crane photos I snapped this morning. Vaya con dios, you crazy honking birds! Enjoy your Winter in Mexico!

Most of the fireweed in my neighborhood has gone to seed. Yessir, Winter is on the way:

My furry crew relaxing:

The sandhill cranes are leaving!

Right now! All of them at once! The sky is filled with them! I snapped a few photos, but I've got to run to take my math comp! Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lessons Learned by a city girl adapting to a small town...

In Fairbanks, and possibly in Alaska in general, if you need to get something done, you need to talk to a human being, possibly over the phone, but better in person, not over email, and most definitely NOT via an online form that you fill out. It takes ten minutes to drive from one side of town to the other. Going there and talking to a human being is worth your while.

If you absolutely cannot go to the place of business and must talk to a person over the phone, introduce yourself and your connection immediately. Say, "Hello, my name is Arvay, and I was given your name by my friend Stan Dupp at the University as a great eggplant grower. And I definitely need help with my eggplants." Chatting and small talk are not time wasted. If you don't do this and instead burst right into business, it's rude.

Going in person is particularly valuable if you look like me (thank you mom, dad, God, and the genetic lottery)--that is, I am reasonably attractive, but not a knock-out nor a sexpot. I look pleasant, unintimidating, and approachable. Both men and women feel comfortable with me. The downside to looking like me is that when I am in a big city, derelicts and unsavory characters always choose me to talk to and tell their life's woes to. The upside to looking like me is that I almost always get what I need out of conversations. And I get lots of unsolicited help at hardware stores. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Most unappetizing photo ever

I love the food section of my hometown paper, but this, this is appalling. Can anyone beat that for least appetizing photo ever? They even give you another angle of it, here.

Can you beat that?

I keep coming back to it and laughing hysterically.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Settling in

I am seriously having trouble focusing on studying for comprehensive qualifying exams, which take place in one week now, because I keep wanting to work on the cabin. Yesterday I allowed myself one hardware store run, but it ended up turning into a hardware store tour of Fairbanks. I've always found hardware stores to be lots of fun, but they are more so in Fairbanks, where so many people build their own cabins that there are lots of people milling up and down the aisles to chat with.

I divided my "to do" list into three sections--things to be done immediately, things that can wait until after comps but must be done before this Winter, and things that can wait indefinitely. I've already finished the things on the first list, and am sneaking into the second, although I know I definitely should not be touching them and should be studying.

Yesterday I came to the sad conclusion that I had indeed lost my hammer, so I bought a new! hammer! and proceeded to use it to pry out the approximately 234 nails that the former residents had pounded into the walls to hang various things. Awesome! Hammer! It has the perfect leverage angle for me! Then I lost the keys to the shed and proceeded to spend 45 minutes looking for them. Then I gave up and installed my new! power! switch! into the wall socket that I plug the water pump into. Now I have a switch instead of plugging and unplugging it every time I want to run water. It also has a safety so that it will kill the power if it ever detects a short, a nice feature for a switch that powers a water system! I also hung up my new! thermometers! And now that I have two thermometers up, I can say that my house is a home. I also hung up all of my kitchen stuff--the pots and pans, the cutting boards, the magnetic strip for the knives, etc. And I brought a bunch of wood in out of the rain to dry so I can split it soon. I'll need to pile it together and get it under tarps, but that is one of the items on the second list that is not terribly exciting for me.

I am very, very tempted to hit the hardware store today to buy L-brackets for my new! shelves! that I found under the cabin and install them, but no! I will not, I tell you. I will not! The only other thing I am allowing myself to do today is to recaulk the sink and cap off a hole I found in the plumbing underneath (don't ask!).

Here is a photo of Mr. Grumphus Bumfus Bunn B. Doofus, Esq. and Ms. Millie B. Doofus:

He is very happy and relaxed. He loves to move. He thinks it's great fun to hop around new places. Rabbits have a reputation for being very timid. You are supposed to be careful around them, because even a loud noise can startle them into a heart attack and sudden death, or so I've been told. Hah! Mr. Grumphus Bumfus Bunn B. Doofus, Esq., he laughs!

Here are the girls:

And here is the whole crew together:

Oh, and I found the keys to the shed last night! Yay!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Turning over a new leaf

Yesterday morning I did something different from my regular routine. As I kissed Dan goodbye, instead of saying, "Have a good day. I'll see you tonight," I thanked him for eight years of love, warmth, and friendship, loaded up my car with my last things still left in the house, and headed directly to my new cabin in Cripple Creek.

Yes, that's right, folks. I'm back in my old 'hood! I love my little place. It's just absolutely perfect--cheerful and bright, with large exposed beams and an actual staircase to the loft, so the girls can sleep beside me! It's on 2.74 acres of South-facing land with tall trees instead of permafrost. Best of all, the bottom of my hill drops right onto the ski trails, so my weekly ski dates with my friends (as well as the girls' friends) will now take place at my house!

It's been foggy and drizzly the past few days. I am sad for my bundles of beautiful green tomatoes, which will likely have to finish ripening indoors, but I find it an appropriate welcome back to Ester, because one of my favorite memories of living there was my beautiful commute--with shrouds of fog sitting in the pockets in between the rolling hills. It is absolutely stunning in the Fall, when all of the aspen and birch turn golden, and the contrast against the blue sky literally takes my breath away.

Here is my new living room:

I'm back to the crappy college-like furniture since all of the good stuff was Dan's. Well, I do have a nice dining room table, but it's falling apart, and I have no time to give it a proper restoration until I finish qualifying exams. For now, I have that beauty that you see there! But all of the kitchen stuff was mine, and I have good knives and pots and pans, and that's what's most important to me!

My mystery squash survived the move quite nicely. I had these labeled as acorn squash, but I'm pretty sure they are pumpkins! I must have mislabeled, haha.

My lakota squash survived, as well. Moving it was like moving a giant tarantula! I had to gather up all of the fruit-laden vines in my arms while a friend moved the pot, with me trailing behind.

My woods behind my cabin:

All of the fireweed has bloomed to their tops now. Summer is over!

Fred in his new digs:

That motorcycle belongs to the former owners. They are coming to pick it up tonight. It is they who are the proud owners of Autumn squared.

Part of my morning run. Ten minutes into this run, I felt like my soul had just reclaimed something very important it had lost while I lived in town.

Part of my aforementioned commute:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Frost advisory

So now we have a frost advisory. Frost! We live in a strange place.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A nip in the air

Fall is definitely on its way out. And then here comes Winter. Muwahahahahahaha!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blue sky!

I had forgotten what it looked like! That storm has done a fantastic job of cleaning up our air. Please keep your fingers crossed for us that we continue to get rain to put out the fires!

Here is an improved view over this one:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Photos from the Fair

So first of all, I must report that yes, they did have churros, and they made them fresh, piping the dough into the hot oil. And they were delicious.

And this is a corn dog. And I love them. And I did not have one due to limited stomach capacity and prioritization of same. By the way, I had the most delicious, sweet-jeebus-on-a-flat-wooden-stick, dee-lish-usssss corn dog ever at this roadside drive-up burger stand in Delta Junction after my Donnelly Dome hike with M. I don't recall the name of the place, but it's making my mouth water again just thinking about it. Seriously.

And this is a funnel cake. Again, I did not have one. Sorry, Jaykay. I know I seem to be failing you on so many counts today, but the fire-roasted corn and the giant churro had to take precedence.

Now here are the photos!

The current top giant cabbage, 43.03 pounds (that's a quarter for scale):

The cabbage contestants:

Grand vegetable prize went to these crazy onions:

Some prize-winning zucchini:

Here is a veggie monster. Isn't he cute?

Another veggie monster. I love them!

The vegetable hall:

The flower exhibition:

Junk food heaven:

My favorite animal to photograph--the goats! They are totally checking me out.

Smiley goat snoot:

Sheep snoot:

Behbeh goat:

He was totally taken with this bunny:

Isn't his fascination cute?

Pig snoot:

Requisite goat-that-looks-like-an-alien photo:

And finally, a lamb snoot!