Friday, September 30, 2011

Snow is coming down!

It probably won't stick, but yay!

Whatever's-Wilting-in-my-Fridge Stir Fry

With chopped fried eggs for protein, all fried in bear fat for added flavor, served over brown rice. And I am finally done tackling my last cabbage!

And here are the dowgs chillin' in the yard:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Red Skwerl

Skwerls do not hibernate so, just like their cartoon reputation, they must gather and store food all summer to last them through winter.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mississippi Revisited

A weird thing happened to my camera when we were in Mississippi... the data card wasn't fully inserted, and the photos wrote directly to the camera somehow. Anyway, I only just the other night found the data cable to pull them off, so here are a few shots I'd like to share.

Photos from the cypress swamp:

A photo from the wildlife conservation center:

A crappie! LOL! Yup. Toilet humor. That's why you love me. :)

And, of course, I have more gluttony photos:

Mmmmmm brisket and greens.... and bacon.... mmmmmm... :P

This cafe was awesome!

Western Virginia beats Starkville, Mississippi for both climate and natural beauty, but Mississippi wins the prizes for food, hospitality, and the overall warmth of its people. I might just have to vacation there after I no longer travel there for work.

Puddn'! I swear! If I didn't already have two home states to juggle, I might just have to claim Mississippi!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jiao-zhe party!

The great thing about jiao-zhe parties is that you can put your guests to work!

Hmmm... okay, wait, are they the guests, or am I the guest, if I do the prep work and the teaching but it takes place in their home?


Of course, I had to photograph the dowgs:

This is Charcoal, their house dog:

He's a big, huge, 110-pound galoot who sits in his mama's lap until she can't feel her legs. They have a working team of huskies in the yard, and poor Charcoal gets made fun of for being so big and goofy and awkward in comparison. But he is certainly loved. :)

Charcoal's paws are almost the size of Linden's head. Even though my girls are retired, they are still considered "real dogs" and occupy a higher social rung than poor Charcoal.

Photographs of black animals crack me up:

Do you remember this one I had taken of my friend Carl's cat, Dog?

It reminds me of this other one I took of a backlit owl:

The resemblance is uncanny, is it not?

Monday, September 26, 2011


Ah boogah boogah! Ol' Man Winter is coming! We had a hard frost last night, and the Minor News aftercast reported on Sunday's first frost.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

First Frost!

Last night, the clouds cleared the way for night to draw the heat from the earth, and this morning, we had our first frost:

I went to walk the same route as yesterday, and found the puddles covered with panes of ice.

Flowers sent back from Lake Minchumina, the hometown of my sweetie, where he is currently cleaning and fixing up the family property and, oh yeah, getting more moose and fish!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fall is still falling

When I looked out the plane window as we landed yesterday evening, I was delighted to find that I had not missed all of Fall! However, the evening was nippy, and you can definitely tell that colder weather is coming. Here are photos from a longish walk this morning. We haven't dropped below freezing yet, but a lot of the mud has disappeared, because at the end of summer, the thaw layer has penetrated deeply enough to allow the ground to absorb liquid water. I walked maybe 6 miles of trail and only stopped to wring out my socks twice. Anyway, wool socks are still warm when squishy.

This is what my yard looked like this morning:

Walkin' down the street:

This is the same view as in here, only that photo was taken two weeks earlier, last year.

I guess if you're the lone birch in a spruce forest, you go nekkid quickly:

The power line trail, with the aspens in the distance hanging on to their leaves:


The girls still find things to munch on, even as the weeds go into dormancy:

The road home:

The willows give more color than the aspens and birch do nowadays.

When I got home last night, a neighbor had just gotten back from his hunting trip, and the family was feasting on the best parts of the moose--the backstrap and the tongue--and invited me over as they knew I had just gotten back and my fridge was empty. So the girls and I headed over and stuffed ourselves silly. My neighbors are the best!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Equinox!

From tomorrow onward, you Lower 48ers will beat us for daylight hours. :)

I am finally on my way home from a long, full week at the 50th Anniversary ISTVS Conference. I must say, I had an absolute blast. It's so great to hang out and talk with other people who are in the exact same research field, and be able to jump into any conversation and join without having to describe all of the background of what you are talking about first.

Another super cool observation I made was that, of about 140 or so attendees, there was a goodly number of women (about 15-20, which is an impressive ratio for engineering), the conference head was a woman, and the incoming President of the ISTVS is a woman! The other women in my age group (grad students, post docs, and recent graduates) were all similar to me, not just professionally, but in the way we viewed our roles in society. Woman engineers of my generation are the beneficiaries of the generation before us, who had to fight very hard for equal rights in the workforce. While my sisters and I would never accept any discrimination either, we have the privilege to take for granted the easier trail our forebears have blazed.

One minor, but delightful consequence is that we don't have to overcompensate to hide any sign of femininity, and we can have long hair and wear dresses and look feminine. Gone are the days when equal treatment with men meant dressing like a man, thank goodness! Moreover, as I've posted before, while we are all feminists in the truest sense, none of us fit the stereotype of man-hating feminists. We are mostly married or otherwise in stable relationships, and will have or not have children as we like, not due to Societal Pressures.

Aaaaanyway, since this was a 50th anniversary conference, it turned into a big shindig with local tours, wine tasting, etc, and I had a ton of fun. I got on really well with the other participants. But all that being said, that way of life is Not Quite My Thing, and I am anxious to get home to my cabin and take long walks in the woods and sit on my porch and sleep in my minimally cushioned mattress with Autumn and Linden on either side of me and know I can call on my neighbors in a pinch. While it's nice to know that wherever I go, people seem to like me, the society of recent acquaintances is never as satisfying and nurturing as the society of longer-term friends and family!

Oh also I need to include in my Virginia Report: Western Virginia is very beautiful, I mean, really stunning, with densely wooded green mountains with trees of every sort. I was sorry to find that I was a bit early for fall and I didn't get to enjoy two falls, as I had hoped, but it was still gorgeous.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Conference photos

I totally just won an award at an awards banquet for being the only conference attendee to do my research via dog team! Here are a few photos.

Here I am with my adviser:

Here I am with the PR lady who'd been snapping with her camera almost non-stop. I finally got her to get to the other side of a camera!

Here my adviser and I are goofing off with another conference technical committee member. I won't name names since we are being so silly and I'm not sure if they want to be publicly searchable via these photos:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The PFD Amount has been announced...

The PFD amount has been announced at to be $1174. Better than a kick in the pants, I say.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Waiting impatiently...

Now that the cusp of fall's beauty has passed, I am anxious to be into cooler weather and drop below freezing. Why? Because the trails will freeze and become accessible again! Once snow comes, it'll be even better, so I can ski, but for now, I'd be happy just to be able to take long walks in the woods again.

The brief time of year when the ground has frozen, but snow hasn't yet come in large quantities, is a fleeting time window during which some trails are at their best. The summer is just plain awful, if not completely impassible, due to mud, and later into winter, they are steep enough to intimidate all but the strongest skiers. Overnight trips to certain places become out of the question, as I am not a good enough skier to trust myself with a full overnight pack. I will only ski with a full overnight pack on pretty flat terrain.

I already overnight trips planned to two different hot springs with two different groups of friends! Yay! C'mon, ground! Freeze up for me!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

On Ol' Murph

In which I have my arse handed to me in a steamed bun eating contest

Let the lady protest first: This thing was for speed, not quantity. Otherwise, I would have kicked all of those haole butts. As it is, I didn't even make the top three... Nevertheless, thank you Sipping Streams for an excellent meal!

I'm ready!

M came with me. M and I could out-eat all of those people for quantity, but neither of us eats quickly. What's the pride in that? Harumph!

And here I go...


And that's the best I could do, in ten minutes!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The chameleon I've become

I've spent some time gathering together professional-looking clothes for an upcoming conference. I tried on some dresses and suits and checked out my appearance in the corner windows, which become mirrors against the dark night outside. This conference is quite hoity-toity and includes a formal banquet, so I also got to business with makeup and examined myself in the mirror.

I was pleased with the results, but I must say, this exercise always surprises me. Apparently, I can transform into a different person with a change of clothes and a ten-minute makeup job, and not merely appear to fill a role but actually to become that person. As I approach 34, I am still youthful, but I'm no longer the mere girl I once was, and I fill out both clothes and personalities much better than I ever did before. I attend fancy shindigs in the Lower 48 with no-one suspecting I live in a 16x20 foot dry cabin heated with wood. I attend my neighborhood association meetings here in Ester and no-one suspects that I am still included on many lists of Silicon Valley movers and shakers. I feel blessed that I can do this, but it's also a bit unsettling as I realize how easy it is to change to fit a mold of others' expectations. And I wonder, if I can and do change so easily, then who am I?

The best answer I have come up with is, I am all of these things. I am each of them at different times, and to be one is not to deny the others. To take away any part of this is to take away part of who I am. So yes, I am a *very* happy log cabin dweller with a weakness for fancy parties. I wear pearls and Carhartts (though not at the same time, usually!). I split wood, I haul water, I garden, and I can walk just fine in four-inch stiletto heels (though not on my own dirt road!).

Oh, here is my latest photo dump...

I pulled up my potatoes last night. Lovely, aren't they? I had forgotten what kinds of potatoes I had planted. The upside of having a bad short-term memory is that life is full of little surprises, such as beautiful jewel-toned potatoes!

Slept in a bit this morning as I waited for the rain to subside, which is usually does in the early mornings. Still had a drizzly run, but the sky cleared up as I got home. I snapped this in the front yard, looking up at a birch sapling:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scenes from the Hood

I snapped these on my way to the farm for my last pickup of the season:

And here is said pickup:

Here is a flower from my neighbor's garden:

I had been curious about the fate of that poor, sun-starved corn, so she saved me one, informing me to just cook and eat the whole thing:

I was well into my teens before I learned that baby corn was actually, you know, baby corn. For some reason, I had thought it was an entirely different creature, perhaps the stamen of Cala lily or something. Like you know how baby carrots are actually ground down bits of adult carrots? Something like that. It turns out that baby corn is actually baby corn. So there you have it. Call me edjumucated.

I left with gifts:

That is pickled zucchini, kippered salmon in olive oil, and nasturtium jelly. The nasturtium jelly is very beautiful, no? It reminds me of a sunset.

My neighbor is very proud of her nasturtiums, of which she harvested all of the last yesterday evening:

When I got home, I made my own jam, using a quart of blueberries and my wee, tiny harvest of aqpiks:

And here are some snapshots of our Fall mornings, with the waning gibbous moon setting as the sun rises and the fog burns off:

Beautiful, no?