Saturday, June 30, 2012

Thursday, June 28, 2012


As if it isn't headscratch-and-eyeroll-inducing enough to read about Anchorage residents' suffering when they have a cold snap of 0F/-18C, today we have a (front page!) report informing us that Anchorage is suffering from mosquitoes.


I'm gonna go with no sympathy for you.

Here are my veggies for the week:

Today, Autumn is in surgery having a benign tumor removed. It's on her wrist, so I wanted it out before she snagged it on a bramble or cut it post holing come winter. Linden is hanging out with me in the office, as I don't trust either of those savages home alone without each other:

"Oh; are you taking a photo of me?"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Can women have it all?"

Flying around the internet lately is a rather well-written (though, in my opinion, needlessly long) article entitled Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, by one Anne-Marie Slaughter. "It all", of course, being defined by a high-powered career and making babies.

I, clearly, am nowhere near having it all. I have chosen non-motherhood, but that's merely because I have no interest in being a mother, not because I gave up motherhood in favor of my career. I have a career that is satisfying and pays my bills, but I do not attend "glamorous receptions" hosted by the President on weeknights.

And I, as a PhD candidate, Silicon Valley boom-and-crash veteran, and alumnus of one of the top engineering universities in the world, am supposed to be more ambitious than most!

But, sadly, I do not have it all. Right now, for example, I do not have an HDMI cable to hook my laptop to my monitor (even though I ordered the danged thing a week ago!), so I have to hunch over my laptop. I also do not have a puppy and cannot ever have a puppy, unless I ever have spawn of my own that will be home in a summer to raise and housebreak said puppy. I also have a pretty lousy lunch since I was running late this morning and didn't have time to make anything better. But, sigh, that is life.

I kind of am tired of the phrase "having it all" because it implies that women who have both a career and children have everything a woman could ever want, and should be deliriously happy. However, we all know women who have both of these things and are not happy. We also know women who neither have nor want both of these things, and are a range from unhappy to happy. As I've mentioned before, I think happiness is more a result of temperament than of circumstance. If you ask a happy person whether he had a happy childhood, he will truthfully answer yes, even if it is later revealed that his dad was a drunk and they seldom had enough money for food and rent. While the unhappy person frets about the bruise in his avocado and wonders why he always gets the bruised ones and never gets a perfect avocado, dammit! Why do all of the bad things happen to him?!?

So, I don't have it all, and I'm okay with that.

In the time since I started this post, my HDMI cable has arrived, so now I have use of my monitor. I also have:

* About a hundred mosquito bites.
* A very good tea stash in my desk drawer.
* A bag of chocolate chip cookies.
* A really excellent nectarine.
* Insufficient napkins in my drawer to consume my lunch safely, but I'll deal.
* Some cool work projects, and free reign from my managers to request any tools I want to get them done.
* Neon-bright fuchsia suede sandals.
* A view to a window. After four years of working in an interior office. I am observing that it is raining outside. How novel.

That's not bad. Not bad at all.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hot weather eatz

tofu with soy sauce, sesame oil, green onions, and cilantro; and cucumbers with lemon and mint:

eggplant for grilling, marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, and dried hot peppers, recipe from BT:

Fireweed abloomin' round the hood:

It blooms from bottom to top. When the top buds open, we are two weeks from the first frost...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Heat continues to wave...


(No, I'm not getting one; they are Lance Mackey's.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Heat expected to stick around.

I am hot and sticky and covered with mosquito bites.

I am sneezy and itchy and irritable.

I can barely run three miles without feeling exhausted.

I dream of nimbly running the frozen trails in thin-soled shoes, the dogs off-leash, all three of us leaping, bounding, exhaling frozen vapors, the sun shining orange, I, as close as I will ever come to flying...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Happy Solstice!

Today is the first day of summer!

It never fails to strike me as peculiar that it'll have been blazing hot for over two months on the "first day of summer". And that there'll have been snow on the ground for about three, on the "first day of winter".

Happy longest-day-of-the-year!

It's hot. I feel sticky and gross.

My CSA shares from Rosie Creek Farm started three weeks ago. But this is the first time I remembered to take a photo for my nine loyal readers:

Things are also coming along splendidly at JB's farm, which we helped plant a few weeks ago:

Linden approves:

This is my favorite kind of kale:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Your silicon2tanana digression

... courtesy of MP, who's always very good at getting me to procrastinate and go off on tangents and down Wikipedia wormholes, etc, etc.

So here we have the male Bird of Paradise. This video is two minutes long and is astonishing, narrated by David Attenborough, and totally worth two minutes:

If your attention span doesn't last two minutes, here are screen grabs for you, along with the premise.

See, ordinarily, he looks like this:

When he sees a potential mate, he turns around, rearranges his feathers, and does this:

All I can say is, when I had first met G, if he had approached me like this:

Then turned around:

And then spun around again looking like this:

I would have responded by crapping my pants, absolutely not by sleeping with him.

That is all.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Notes from here and there

1) I saw my first fireweed blossom of 2012 last weekend.

2) Here is a photo of the coolest mailbox installation ever:

The mailboxes are on an I-beam, which is supported by winches.

3) Here is a photo of a pink blossom on campus:

4) Here is a photo of a very Fairbanks-like sign. This is why the census workers' jobs were dangerous around here!

From the road, I caught a glimpse of a play set in the front yard as I drove by. The juxtaposition was a bit startling.

5) It was a beautiful day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mysteries solved, Meese, and a last photo of Millie

First up in today's report: moosage!

Fuzzy behbehmoose:

Mamamoose was nowhere in sight. I wonder if behbehmoose had just been given the boot as a new behbehmoose got borned?


Hemoose diving for tasty aquatic weeds:

glurg, glurg, glurg, snorffle

Up on Murphy Dome last weekend, I finally saw something I'd been curious about for years. Why, I had wondered, do we never see blueberry and cranberry flowers? All summer, just green, and then--POOF! Berries everywhere, with no sign of the flowers from whence they had come. But guess what I saw?

Cranberry flowers!

And blueberry flowers!

The view was also gorgeous:

There were lupins:

The dowgs, hanging out near the Chatanika dredge:

Linden in goober position, sitting on one butt cheek:

Miss Millie B. Doofus, Late Ruler of the People's Republic of Bunnistan, enjoying one of her last bananas on earth:

My collection of fuzzies, passed out on a warm evening:

On other news, the Alcan, the highway that goes to the Lower 48, is currently washed out by rains, so the supermarkets are low on produce. Thank goodness for our local farms, who continue to provide!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This conversation...

...Has happened to me about ten times now. It commences when what I take to be an absolute stranger approaches me at the supermarket, or on the UAF campus, or at a park, etc.

Other person: "Hello! Hi there!"

Me: Oh, hi!

"Do you live around Cripple Creek?"


"Do you have two huskies?"


"I'm one of your neighbors! I see you walking them around our neighborhood, being dragged, like this!" And the person proceeds to demonstrate:


And a friendship is born.

And pity, like a naked new-born babe...

Yesterday evening, G and I were at the museum for a talk about Taiwan, and afterwards, as we stood around admiring the view from the panoramic, south-facing windows, the talk turned to my own family history, and my estrangement from my father, and his estrangement from his own parents, and the various sorts of lively Things That Occurred in my family life in the wake of my parents' failed attempt to reconcile in Taiwan. As I cheerfully prattled on, I didn't register G's increasingly aghast look. When I turned to face him, his eyes filled with sympathy and kindness. "I'm so sorry," he said. "That sounds like a rough thing to have gone through."

I bristled. Haughtily marched off to the restroom to regather my thoughts, then returned and abruptly brought up another subject.

When we got home, I picked a fight over several other irrelevant things--something he'd done a week prior that I hadn't liked, and for which he'd already profusely apologized; then an offhand comment that he made that I twisted to view as offensively as possible.

I realize that I don't take sympathy or pity well.

Here's the thing about sympathy. I can only think of two basic ways to respond, and neither seems quite right. One can say, "Ah, thank you for your kindness, but it really doesn't bother me." That has the advantage of cutting the topic short, but it might not be true. It's a great technique for strangers or acquaintances, but when it's a partner or a friend who deeply cares about you, it doesn't feel good to lie. And it doesn't do anything to promote the relationship or to accept the proffered affection.

The other option is that one can say, "Yup. Indeed. It does suck." That has the advantage of truth, but it teeters dangerously close to opening the way for drama, tears, and self-pity, none of which interests me.

So I don't know what the answer is. I do know that Miss Manners- and Dear Abby- type folks say that when sympathy is offered at a funeral, for example, the only proper response is a "thank you," no matter what other emotions you may be feeling at the time. The idea is, the giver of sympathy means well. And it's only because they care about you, that they feel sympathy at all. So you should take it as a kindness, whether or not you like, want, or need it.

The only problem with this model of behavior is that, in such situations, you are the one who is in pain, but it's others who are made to feel better when you graciously accept sympathy. I find it bewildering that in your time of pain, you have the additional job of making others feel better about you. And yet, there seems to be no way around it. They feel inadequate, and the onus is on you to make them feel better. And, the cherry on top is that this whole mess of awkwardness stems from their love and absolute good intentions for you!

I can't wrap my mind around it. But clearly, stamping and hrrmphing about like an angry rabbit is not the answer.

And after a mostly sleepless night and then a run in the cool morning rain, I more deeply appreciate G's love and mental fortitude.

And I shall continue to work on letting go of the past. Why be resentful of things that happened decades ago, when fate has smiled so kindly on me in the years since?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Miss Millie B. Doofus, Supreme Ruler of the People's Independent Republic of Bunnistan, 2002 -- 10 June 2012

Miss Millie B. Doofus, Supreme Ruler of the People's Independent Republic of Bunnistan, sez, "So long, and thanks for all the cilantro."

Friday, June 8, 2012

Too... bloody... hot

It's been topping out at about high 70sF/25C.

That sounds darned pleasant for, say, Arizona, but it's not for Fairbanks. It's been a heavy, muggy heat, pregnant with rain that threatens and rumbles but won't come. Both the dogs' physiologies have rebelled with diarrhea and general malaise. I feel sticky, sweaty, itchy, and disgusting. Miss Millie Bunn, who had been ailing anyway (losing weight, missing her litterbox, refusing to eat hay and pellets and eating only fresh greens, etc), convinced us all that she was dying, as we handed her bits of cantaloupe and raisins and cilantro, encouraging her to enjoy "her last day on earth", although she is still patently very much alive.

Yesterday, I ripped my flannels off the bed in a huff, and replaced them with the crisp sheets that feel like hospital sheets. Just in time! Last night, it didn't cool down at all.

One of the downsides of the light-all-night thing is getting up at what you presume to be an early hour, and stepping outside to the sun blazing up high in the sky, like the glory of god.

And the girls are all, YAAAAAAAAAYYYY! It's MORNING! Let's bounce off the walls!

The upside of summer is these beautiful wild roses that grow everywhere, in brambly thickets that perfume the air:

The girls enjoyed their vet visit today. Air conditioning + stone floor. What's not to like?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Life must be Different in the Villages

Yesterday, I sent a work-related email to the City Manager (what small rural villages have instead of a mayor) of a rural (i.e., not on the road system) Alaskan village, population 310 as of the 2000 census.

The email address was citymanager@cityof(townname).com

I got in response an auto-reply:
The City of (name redacted) has changed its email to (first name of city manager)(town name)

gci is the local internet service provider.

It would be as if I had emailed the mayor of Springfield at the email address, and gotten an autoreply:

The City of Springfield has changed its email to

So much cultural and sociological information in one line, and in its delivery method!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

*barf* here's a post

Not much to report as I am slammed at work. However, I can't keep all eight of my loyal readers hanging, so here are some miscellaneous photos.

A luahoano, photographed through my sunglasses in attempt to get all of the colors:

G, J, P, and me, off to the prom:

Miss Millie B. Doofus, Supreme Ruler of the People's Independent Republic of Bunnistan, had her grass hopper completely full of wild greens for the first time this year:

There you have it. The ol' photo dump post. Enjoy!