Friday, May 29, 2015

First White Mountains hike without snowshoes!

Last weekend, DL and I did a day hike in the White Mountains. The prior time we were there, we were wearing snowshoes!

Anemone narcissiflora:

Autumn just moseying along:

Teeny yellow cups catch the rain:

Cranberry flowers already blooming!

Blueberry flowers were also in abundance, but for some reason I can't photograph them clearly.

Clear view to Wickersham Dome:

The goobers:

My pretty girl:

The group sits together! I told DL to sneak over...

No group photo, but a cute photo of a Linden kissy!

'Twas muddy in low spots:

But very beautiful in the high spots:

Woolly Lousewort:

I looked that up. It's not a new name for Linden!

Autumn among the lupins:

Miss Goober looking all dignified-like:

Starbuckeroo as a WOLF!

These paws were made for walkin'!

For this weekend, I'd like to leave my fourteen loyal readers with a quote:

"The world is full of happiness, and plenty to go round, if you are only willing to take the kind that comes your way."

--Jean Webster

Thursday, May 28, 2015


I insist that you look at the video here on this article discussing the spring goings-on at the Alaska Conservation Center. Behbeh moxen! Wobbly knobby-kneed behbeh moosage!

I read that article and of course, down the rabbit hole I went. Sarah Howard, the behbeh orphan caretaker at the wildlife rescue station, apparently has also escorted a wolverine named Kasper from New Jersey to Alaska. The very end of the article casually states, "He expects Kasper and the [already resident] female wolverine to mate. He said the wildlife center has hired a professional trainer to teach the offspring to do search and rescue for buried avalanche victims."

What the WHAT? Wolverine avalanche rescue is a thing? I think if I were buried in an avalanche and got dug out by a wolverine, my assumption would be that he had dug me out to eat me!

Turns out, this is a real thing:

Wolverine rescue! Whoda thunk?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Scenes from Chez Nous

Starbuck sez, "Dis my Greenie, and I eats it on my couch."

Last weekend, it was hot:

And the rhubarb appeared:

And Autumn dumped her under coat:

And lounged on the couch:

Sometimes there are no words:

Ssssiiiiigh. That faaaaaaaace:

And I made blueberry peach crumble:

(Me to DL: "I'm trying to encourage you to come berry picking with me." DL: "I already like berry picking with you!")

Thursday, May 21, 2015

First official hike of summer

Last Saturday, M and I took a girls' hike. The weather has been very warm, especially for May. It has hit 80F/26C every day since the weekend.

The trail was mostly dry, which is unusual for early May:

A few bluebells had already opened:

Nia smiling!

Booger matching her!

Dowgs chillin in the forest:

These lovely things are apparently called Calypso Orchids.

M pointed out the three pretty blooms to me, and I squatted down to take a photo. Autumn decided that surely I was squatting down to pet her, and flopped down right there... thankfully, she only flattened one of them!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Longevity notes from dogs

The Mademoiselles Autumn and Linden will be 16! Years! Old! in a mere two months. They still cover a good 40 Arvay-miles a week with me, between running, walking, hiking, and skiing. Translation from Arvay-miles to dog-miles is probably about x3, since they run back and forth the entire time. Autumn is quite obviously slowing down, with a dodderiness and wobbliness that has become more apparent in comparison to Starbuck, who at 8 still moves about as smoothly as water. Linden still bounces around like a puppy! Between the two elderly ladies, we also have a variety of broken and missing fangs, tremors in the hips and back legs, assorted skin tags and moles, a bad shoulder (Autumn), apparently leftover cancer cells that cannot completely be eliminated (Linden), cloudy eyes, diminishing hearing (or perhaps the pretense thereof), and other assorted minor maladies. They are the only of their siblings still of this earth. My neighbors and friends used to remark, when they were a few years younger, "Wow! They are 12? They look like puppies!" Nowadays, they are more inclined to remark, "Wow! They are still running around at 16? I can tell they are old now, but they look awesome!"

I had always suspected, based on what I know of their versus their siblings' trajectories, that exercise not only prolonged their lives, but delayed their aging. Of the seven pups that were born alive:

  • 2 were given away as puppies to be pets. They started to look and act elderly at 7, and lived to be 12.
  • 3 worked as sled dogs, retired on the older side (10), and retired to become couch potatoes. They lived to be 13 and 14.
  • 2 worked as sled dogs, but retired on the youngish side (8), and retired to an active home (mine), and are still alive and active at 16.

This small data set indicates to me that we should push our fitness very hard when we are young, remain active, but back off from the high stress workouts when we pass middle age, and continue to remain active well into our twilight years. Other things I have observed from Autumn and Linden:
  • Do not pop out of bed in the morning until you have luxuriously stretched each limb, muscle, and toe. Continue to stretch throughout the day.
  • Cuddle frequently. It's well-known that in humans, affectionate relationships with family and friends contribute to good health.
  • Eat well. I buy only the higher-end dog foods. Mushers often can get away with buying poorer quality kibble since they supplement with fresh meat and fish scraps. Autumn and Linden were from a farm, so they got lots of fresh foods. However, for an all-kibble diet, you need a good kibble.
  • Be even-tempered and happy. The most high-strung and most temperamental dogs in our neighborhood tend to die younger. The calm ones keep poking around well into their dotage.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff. The most territorial dogs in our neighborhood, who are constantly patrolling their borders, tend not to make it to old age either. The dogs who spend most of their time sitting on their porches tend to last well into their white-muzzled and cloudy-eyed years.
  • Do not deny yourself little pleasures in pursuit of being super slim. Yes, it's true that much evidence correlates reduced calorie intake with longer life and better overall health, even in people who are *not* overweight. However, my no-nonsense Austrian vet used to tell me when Autumn was younger that she should lose a few pounds. Over the past few years, she's said, you know, what the hell. She looks great, and we're obviously doing something right. Autumn and Linden (and Starbuck) all upon retirement, put on a whopping 20% above their mushing weight, but all of their other health markers look great! They still get their daily cheese (and occasional chicken, and beef, and sausages, and BACON, and so on and so forth).
Today, I was gratified to find this article in the NY Times' Wellness section: The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life.

Here, I quote: ... researchers with the National Cancer Institute, Harvard University and other institutions gathered and pooled data about people’s exercise habits from six large, ongoing health surveys, winding up with information about more than 661,000 adults, most of them middle-aged...

... unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death. But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent. Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.

The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

An hour per day! That's a piece of cake when you have dogs lunging at the door! Probably harder to self-motivate without them.

Intensity of exercise apparently also has a smaller, but nontrivial, effect. This is contrary to all those articles that tell people that a mild walk is as good as a vigorous one.

Those who spent up to 30 percent of their weekly exercise time in vigorous activities were 9 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who exercised for the same amount of time but always moderately, while those who spent more than 30 percent of their exercise time in strenuous activities gained an extra 13 percent reduction in early mortality, compared with people who never broke much of a sweat.

All of this is reflected in the health outcomes of the seven puppies born in 1999!

Happy 16th year, my rockin' old ladies!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Scenes from Chez Nous

Sitting in on the porch:

Enjoying the sun:

How our neighbors plan a barbecue:

Anyone who walks or drives by is invited!

Starbuck sez, "Do you love meeeeeeeeeeeee?"

Sinkhole outside my workplace:

DL keeps calling the Facilities Services folks to fix it; all they do is pour more gravel inside each time. Within a few hours, the gravel flows inside, and voilà... the sinkhole reappears!

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Beaver in Lowe's!

A beaver walked into Lowe's this morning, presumably to browse for new ideas for his dam:

photo credit: Angelesa Ward

"...the beaver made its way to the plumbing department, where store employees attempted to provide assistance to the wild animal... A cell-phone video of the incident shows employees asking the beaver if there is anything they can help it find in the store. However, the beaver — like many construction store shoppers — seemed to prefer to wander aimlessly through the store instead of asking for help..."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

That sinking feeling...

We* finally finished putting in the danged sink last weekend. We'd been using a water jug over a gaping maw in the counter, over a 5-gallon bucket sitting on a milk crate, for over a year. Somehow, skiing and hiking took priority every weekend, until mud season! No skiing, no hiking, but a sink!

What do y'all sink of that?

I sink it's plumb awesome!

*By "we" I mean with DL doing the actual work and me standing around holding Starbuck's paw and drinking beer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sun, rain, hail, storms, warmth, chilliness, rainbows

If you don't like the weather in Fairbanks in spring, just wait five minutes!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Teef Moxen!

Little musk ox sculptures made with fossilized mammoth teef! How cool is that?

They are in the lobby of the NANA building in Anchorage.