Thursday, October 31, 2013

Richardson Highway gorgeousness

I love the Richardson highway!

Here are some carry boo. TwoYaks says they are likely of the Macomb herd:

I'm very pleased with my photo of this fella:

Some others had already shed their antlers:

I reeeeeeaaaallly don't mind this drive:

Rainbow Ridge--not so rainbowy when dusted with white stuff!

Nelchina 'bou! Two! Two caribou herds in one day! Ah, ah, ah! Vahnderful!

Gulkana Village!

Apparently, it had been icy a few days prior. Slow down and stay safe, everyone!

Ready to cross the mountains and get home again!

Hello, Mount Hayes! You are looking particularly lovely this afternoon! Thank you for watching over me as I approach home!

And as I approached Donnelly Dome, the sun came out:

The sun hit its magical point as I got into the heart of the Delta valley. It was rich and warm and washed everything with golden light:

Suddenly I saw a temporary sign that read, "Caution! Air drops occurring!" A minute later, I saw these military people jumping out of a plane!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weird pseudo-fall continues...

The weather still sucks. The trails froze for one delightful day, and the girls and I ran on them (leaping! bounding! no leashes! flying!). But temperatures became really weirdly warm, and that night, it rained. Ugh. No more trails now.

And that is all I have to say for today.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


Inupiat older lady from Kaktovik to younger white lady in Fairbanks: "Yeah. It's so bad this year. The sea ice is still three hundred miles out! The polar bears are still hanging around town and can't go out to hunt. They're hungry, and it's not safe to walk around. They sneak. The put their paw over their noses like this and blend into the snowbanks! I won't buy candy this year. I don't want the kids trick-or-treating. It's not safe!"

White lady "Maybe you could just get together in a safe place and do something fun for them. They do that in some Lower 48 places that aren't safe for kids. They'll gather the kids and give them candy in a store or a church."

Inupiat lady: "Oh, it's not safe down there either? They have..." --pause-- "Black bears?"


And now... top o' the Minor News today: Winter worshipers wonder when snow is going to get to Fairbanks.

I mean, come on already!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I'm a perfect square!

Hello to all fourteen of my loyal readers! Today, I am 6^2 years old!

This has definitely been a year to remember. I completed my PhD, and finally spent a full year single, after having been in back-to-back monogamous relationships since I had been 18.

You know how you can't really control what lodges in your memories? How you might plan an exciting day, and but you forget about it soon afterwards, but you remember for the rest of your life that one time you shared a PBJ with a flock of pigeons? Well, my highlights of this year, I am sure I will remember for the rest of my life.

1) I will remember how my friends and colleagues gathered around me for my dissertation defense. I had never been nervous in front of a crowd before--I grew up dancing in a professional company, I did speech and debate in high school, and I really like to teach. I can give spontaneous talks about anything, and my audiences are generally appreciative. However, that day, I was so nervous! I was thankful that I had a class to teach that morning, so at least that chunk of time was taken care of, leaving me less time to fret and jitter around my office. However, when that room filled with people, including long-term friends, colleagues I had only met in the previous year, department faculty and staff, and my own students, I immediately felt better and was able to deliver my presentation with no problems. It is customary for refreshments and snacks to be provided at a dissertation defense, and a colleague of mine made an entire beautiful sheet of four kinds of cookies! Colleagues came to support me who were neither engineers nor snow scientists. That meant a lot to me. So, from that I learned: (1) Always to attend talks given by friends. It might mean a lot to them. (2) The perfect expression to wear during their talks (look alert, smile slightly, nod your head every now and then). Also, when I returned to my office and promptly wrote thank-you emails, one response was "Your welcome." I learned to let that slide. If someone's done something for me that warrants a "thank you", I need to ignore a "your welcome." In fact, I developed a coping mechanism for that. I think of "welcome" as a noun. So the friend is saying, "It's your welcome. I welcome you to my kindness." See? :)

2) After my Catholic upbringing and years of sampling various religions, I finally committed to one and was baptized at St. Matthews Episcopal Church, right here in Fairbanks. I was asked to find a sponsor to be a godparent, who was already Christian and not my biological parent. Most of my friends are atheists or Mormons, so I had to think a bit and came up with the perfect person. My "Aunty" D who since I was 14 years old played music for me to dance to...

When I filled out the official paperwork, I was pleased that I now had an official tie to both Alaska and Hawai'i, my "other" home states. It's interesting to think that however diverse CA, AK, and HI are, they still have a lot of similarities, and that I am a child of the West after all. When I had first wanted to leave the Sili Valley, the other place I had been considering was New England. I'm glad now that I did not make that choice. I don't think I would have fit in as well there.

I'm glad I waited until I was not only an adult, but a middle-aged, adult, before being baptized. An infant does not freely choose, and neither does a child who has been raised in the religion all his or her life. I treasure my atheistic scientific training, and I love that the Mormon missionaries continue to visit me. But I feel things in Christian churches that I cannot deny, and so I chose the branch of Christianity that ordains women, hosts blessings of the animals on St. Francis' feast day, spoke out against South African apartheid, and accepted gay people as "children of God" and "entitled to full civil rights" in 1976.

It rained all day the day of my baptism. My pastor SF talked about the importance and the symbolism of water. After my baptism, he said, "You know, the Eastern Orthodox tradition says that you get your guardian angel at baptism. Pay special attention to Autumn and Linden tonight! The next morning, he took to Facebook (because of course) to share his thoughts as he prepared for a trip to the Lower 48:
"has ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA where he will be this time tomorrow (except there won't be a birch tree out a window, singing golden praise to God), but he watched 35 years old Daisy, equally having no idea what was coming, walk into her Baptism and Future last night with eyes open with Wonder & Complete Trust, and he hopes that he can do the same, flying off into The Unknown this evening."

3) My long-sought year of being single finally came to fruition. I anticipated challenges and loneliness, but really found... surprisingly, absolutely none (well, none that I attribute to being single. Life itself always has challenges!). I attribute this independence to the years I was with DN, who traveled for his work about 70% of the time, and who was a workaholic and seldom left the office the other 30%. I grew to love my own company and to plan to see people and do things without him. I also learned to take care of my own home, car, and self. When the time came that I knew I had to leave him, the concept of "being on my own" didn't frighten me even one tenth so much as it would have years prior! Since then, I've had several other relationships, but I always knew that I could afford to keep my standards high, and I never cried or begged for this or that from a partner. If he freely offered what I wanted, great; if not, buh-bye! But since being truly single I have experienced the light, delicate dance of the Casual Date. I had always been plunged from one relationship to the next, almost always with people who had been prior friends, that at the age of 35 I had never had a First Date! In the past year, casual dates have been amusing, funny, perplexing, horrifying, delightful, and always eye-opening!

4) Being an engineer, my colleagues and friends have always been predominantly men. (It's also one of the reasons that despite having an absentee father and a handful of bad partners, I'd never become a Man Hater. It's impossible to hate almost everyone you know! There are bound always to be some good people in there that it's impossible to hate!) However, since coming to work in this research center, my colleagues have been intellectually diverse and mostly women. In the past, I had heard horror stories about mostly-women offices, but I haven't experienced much of it. I do know that some of my colleagues don't like each other particularly well, but they are professional about it, and I myself am juuuuust socially inept enough not to notice when they slight each other. So... lucky me! The office idiot gets to experience all of the camaraderie and none of the cattiness! Mostly what I feel for these women is that I feel embraced and respected. I told you how they all sat through my defense without understanding a word, right? But they look out for me every day, and I them, and it's often the little things that can push me over a difficult hump and back to the correct path. And... I'm not gonna lie; I LOVE when I get back from lunch dates and find them all hovering and giggling just behind the window. "Who was THAT?" and pumping me for details. I never had that as a nerdy, unpopular teenager, nor as an already-engaged engineering student in college. I'm getting it now, and it's fun!

5) I also quit eating like a glutton, while accumulating almost 30 points towards The Hunger Project! And... I had a personal record at the Equinox! Not a bad year!

Happy perfect square year to me!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Photo dump

The sunrise from my desk:

Three dowgs sitting for a biscuit. Mr. Charcoal was visiting for the evening:

Weirdly enough, local gardens are still producing. I scored these gorgeous turnip greens last night:

Wanting as little as possible to interfere with their flavor, I put them into a plainish noodle soup (the only flavors--white pepper, green onions, cilantro, and chicken stock):

Another noodle dish:

If I play my cards right, and also alternate between Chinese noodles and Italian pasta, I can eat a different bowl of noodles for every meal for a week! :~D

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall this year is different

My annual fall tradition of watching frost grow in the White Mountains did not come to fruition today. Too bad; I'll have to look at old photos for a sparkly frost fix.

It was still a lovely day though. That slanting, rich, golden light of Fall is something that always takes my breath away, whether in the Silicon or the Tanana Valley, San Francisco or Fairbanks, Santa Clara or Anchorage, the San Bruno Mountains or the Alaska Range, the Sierras or the White Mountains. That light has a magical quality.

This is P's dog, Jack, posing nicely:

As does Linden:

And Autumn:

GINORMOUS PAW TRACKS!! At first, M and P and I thought wolf! But then realized that there were no claw marks, so decided on lynx.

Gorgeous views:

M watching a distant storm:

Happy dowgs!

There were still lots of blueberries. They were rich and sweet and not yet fermenting:

Three! Three kinds of berries to eat! Ah, ah, ah! Vahnderful!

Friday, October 18, 2013

White sparkly stuff, please!

This unseasonable warmth (mid 50s F during the day, high 30s F at night) is very comfortable, but also unsettling. It's also super duper DARK at night without any snow. I changed the batteries on my headlamp, only to find that my headlamp still appears dim, with nothing reflective at night to catch the light. Today is a full moon, and this morning, its illumination was not even half so brilliant as it is when there is snow on the ground.

The girls have already quit shedding though, and they are putting on winter coats on schedule. I'm very anxious for cold weather to come so the trails will freeze up and we can walk and then ski on them!

During our late-coming, cold, snowy Spring, I remember thinking, What if Summer doesn't come? That's not possible, is it? The sun keeps coming, and it does get warm, even if it seems like it won't. So, too, does winter have to come, whether it feels like it or not.

I just hope that we get a good blanket of snow on the ground before super cold temperatures come! We need that insulating blanket to protect us! Whenever cold comes before snow, people's pipes freeze.

I, of course, have no such worries on my own behalf!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Equinox finish photos!

Photo credits: Colby Wright Photography

I just lovelovelove that there is no charge, no watermark. The Official Equinox folks say pretty much, here's the flickr, help yourself, thank the photographer! Small-town races, my friends!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Three sisters

Rounded out with veggies and cheese, because veggies and cheese are good:

The girls cleaning their fangs:

Edited to add:
AAAAAAACCCCKKKK! Behbehelephant!!! Dwinking miwk!

Photo courtesy of Ramat Gan Safari Park

More photos of wee ickle Lalana here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tanana, Redux

What a change in weather from a week prior!

The village clinic:

Fish wheel:

Several of them:

The test fish wheel run for Fish and Game. The operator, PM, uses it to estimate the number, weight distribution, and species distribution of salmon coming down the Yukon:

One is still in the water. Better get it out soon!

Logs being pulled out for the biomass needs:

The water is silty. I picked up a piece of jade. It's downstream from the mouth of the Tanana, so who knows where this jade came from?

The Yukon looked gloomy:

A wind turbine is up where I had seen the met tower the previous week. This person moves fast!

Fog at the outlook point. Compare.


In other news, Fairbanks' beloved Fox "Spring" well has run dry. Oh noes! I used to full up from there on my way home any time I went to the White Mountains! But that's just because I like the taste of it; "saving" two cents a gallon by using "free" water is not thaaaaat exciting to me, since it's a drive all the way across town...

And in other other news, wildlife troopers have arrested some jerks who chased down and shot a moose from their boat. The butt-holes denied it, of course, but I'm just gonna point out that calling your boat the Critter Gitter does nothing for your defense.