Monday, June 29, 2015

Sorta clear sky and good eats

The rain is gone, but the smoke has not come back, thank goodness. Although the fires are still growing, and none are contained. Please keep your fingers crossed for some more rain, and for the safety of our fire crews!

DL and I were curious about what the valley would look like, so we took a quick drive to an overlook spot at a high point on the highway. It was... not terrible:

You could definitely see a lot of haze:

The view from my office window today is hugely improved, from this last week!

Due to my lovely local farm's fire, they are not offering CSA subscriptions this year. The upside is that it forces me to get my butt to the farmer's market and actually choose my own food. It's a challenge. :) Last weekend, I got a huge, beautiful bunch of turnip greens, a salad mix, green onions, radishes, spinach, rainbow chard, some Chinese veggies, and some incomparable Alaskan tomatoes:

Also, these super-rich alpine strawberries, a full month before they normally ripen:

Hmmmmm... do you think our fine Russsian farmers grow these in a greenhouse and get them to ripen earlier? Our wild strawberries have only just been pollinated and are tiny, hard, and definitely green!

Also, very lovely, thick orange eggsies!

When I got home, my lovely friend and neighbor DB roundly scolded me for buying veggies when her garden was brimming full, and she had grown extra Chinese veggies just for me! I will only get greenhouse treats from the farmer's market now. :)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Things are looking up over here!

1) It's been raining. Not enough to put out the fires; there is still a long list that is growing daily; but enough to improve air quality and help the fire fighters a little.

2) Booger came through surgery just fine! The vet said that the tumor is not growing more, he removed 90% of it, and he felt comfortable to do this over and over until she dies of something else. A long time from now. :) I'm sure glad we decided against sending her to Washington for radiation therapy; this seems like a much better way to go! When I picked her up that evening, she was bouncy as usual, as if absolutely nothing had happened. She's not even favoring her opposite leg! I'm supposed to keep her on limited activity for 10 days, which I'm not sure she understands... I walk the three dogs out together, but after she poops, I bring her home, put her cone on, and take Autumn and Starbuck for a longer walk without her. She protests at first, but when we get home, she is happily lying on the couch, cone and all, so I guess it's not so bad.

Here are photos of a very dejected, limping totally clueless and happy Linden!

Immediately upon returning home. "Hey! Where's supper? Aren't I cute?"

Napping this morning:

It's just one clean incision this time. It'll heal up nicely!

Usual couch shenanigans:

3) Apparently, it's illegal to deny same-sex couples the right to marry now. Cool beans.

4) I have a four-pound block of cheese in my fridge. FIVE! It's a FIVE-POUND BLOCK OF CHEESE!


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Notes from here and there

The smoke has been dreadful. We have fires on all four sides. Here is a map showing active fires currently burning in Alaska:

It looks terrible, and it *is* terrible, but I wonder what that map looks like on a "normal" year? I know we have lots of small fires that never make the news. Anyway, this is the worst I've sever seen it, and people are making comparisons to 2004, which was apparently the worst year on record.

A local radio station, K-Wolf 98.1, quickly put this map up:

Haha. Very funny.

Here are some photos from before the smoke came:

Booger in a sunbeam:

Booger smiling from her nap:

Aaaaaahhh I miss his clear blue sky!

Sammich time!

Booger selfie!

Happy goober dogs!

Happy dignified dog!

Roo at her other favorite spot in the house:

Our first "real" summer Alaskan produce. Check out that giant basil!

Midnight Sun Festival downtown!

Check out this St. Bernard. He is HUGE!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Pretty much the entire state is on fire, with new ones starting daily.

For the life of me, I will never understand how everyone here complains about summer rains, when we get them!

As for me, I am missing winter:

Today, my view looks like this:

Edited to add: Here is a list of fires in the Interior.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Latest Linden report

Linden, the Booger, my fourteen loyal readers will recall, is 16 years old, still loves to run, and looks like this:

Booger's had a malignant tumor on her wrist, and it's back for the 3rd time after 2 surgeries. Our vet said that he could not get clean margins, and it was fibrous and bad, and while it was unlikely to metastasize, it would always grow back, and worse each time. (It's a 'hemangiopericytoma' if anyone is curious.) Sure enough, it's back again, and he said that there was nothing he could do. This type of tumor does not respond well to chemo, and we wouldn't want to do anything to compromise Booger's quality of life even if it did. In time, it would grow so big (though without pain) that it would cut off the blood supply to her paw, and she'd be so uncomfy we'd have to put her to sleep at some point. He estimated about a year. At that point I burst into tears. He said, "You've taken wonderful care of this dog..." I then blubbered, "But look at her! She's like a puppy! She's not like other 16-year-old dogs!" He then said he'd make some calls to canine oncology experts and get their take on this.

A few days later, he called back. Apparently, radiation treatment is the only thing recommended for this type of tumor. The likelihood of success is high, and the side effects are low. The only catch is that we don't have it in Alaska. Booger would have to be sent to Washington state for a course of 3.5 weeks. Now that's a problem. We don't know what a month of Booger being in Washington will buy us in time and quality of life. A year from now, which is her projected life span WITH the tumor, Booger will be 17, which is already a good run for a dog. Hell, 16 is already a good run! But if she's still otherwise in great shape at 17 and I'd know that otherwise she'd have had yet another year without the tumor, I'd kick myself for not having taken this chance now...

DL and I noodled over this for a bit and decided that we would not do it. Part of it, I'll confess, is my own selfishness. A month without Booger would be like a month without sunshine. A month taken away that she could have spent hiking with us and eating cheese on the couch. But I hope that my interests are also aligned with Booger's. My friend and neighbor MR laid it out well for me. "What would Booger want if you could explain this all to her?" I answered immediately, "Booger would not want to leave us." So there you go.

The good Dr. F. did say that had she been younger, he'd recommend amputation. I wonder if, when the tumor has reached a certain point where we're looking at euthanasia, we might consider amputation as an alternative then instead? Booger would be a GREAT candidate to be a tripod dog. She's not a moper or a brooder. She's active and playful and lean, she has a high pain tolerance, and she's... not exactly the brightest bulb, so she'd probably forget pretty quickly where she had left that leg and be just fine! Dr. F. is out today, so we'll call him Monday and propose that to him.

In the meantime, he has agreed to attempt to remove what he can of the tumor one more time, which will be next Thursday, so please wish Linden a speedy recovery! And who knows? Maybe this time it won't grow back!

My mother has pointed out several times that she worries for the state of my health, since Alaska doesn't have, in general, as good quality of health care as the Lower 48. Here is a situation that illustrates that. Had we been living in my native Bay Area, I'm sure I could have taken Booger for inpatient radiation therapy at one of the many big vet hospitals there. But on the other hand, we don't know if Booger would have made it to 16 in the Bay Area, with the worse daily quality of life she'd have had there. She might have died at 15, which is already a good life span for a dog, and we'd have said, "Thank goodness for the great medical care in California! Booger made it to 15!" and we'd never have a cancer story. One just never knows!

I guess we are all dealt just the hand we are dealt. It's a privilege to be handed the most unusual dilemma of how to care for a 16-year-old dog that cannot be treated the same as other 16-year-old dogs because she is so healthy and active! Any other 16-year-old dog would be recommended for only palliative care, with no long-term horizon. With Autumn and Linden, I am still given lectures about minding their fang health and about limiting the bacon! :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Photo dump!

1) My insurance lady has... this. I think I'll need to make adjustments to my account like daily from now on, because I need to go into her office.

2) Who's afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf?

3) Stormy lately!

4) To bee, or not to bee, that is the question:

Friday, June 12, 2015

Last Photos from Palmer Trip!

Last photos from our Palmer trip! It was mostly rainy, to our mild disappointment, but it was still beautiful, and we snuck in very short hikes in between showers.

1) Our lunch stop was in a community called Glacier View. It is ever-so-mildly touristy, with a stunning view to the Matanuska Glacier.

DL sez, "Did you get that moose in the photo?"


2) We walked down to a creek to eat.

It must be very windy there at times; downed trees were everywhere:

A pretty fairy slipper!

The girls took naps while we admired the scenery:

The clear, rainwater-fed creek joins the silty, glacier-fed river:

My fuzzies:


The rock around there was very brittle!

Mini wolf at mini Half Dome!

3) Later that afternoon on our drive, we saw a sign that said, "Middle Fork Trail", and that could only mean that it led to the Gulkana River, so we walked a bit of it:

Spring things were in evidence, such as alder cones:

Blueberry flowers:

Dogwood blossoms:

Spruce tips:

The flowers of the magical, mystical, phenomenally tasty arctic raspberry:

And of course plenty of mud:

And moose turds:

The ladies had fun:

4) Rainbow Ridge! Almost home!