Thursday, July 26, 2018

Very Important Rhubarb Report

I harvested half the rhubarb last night, cut it up, divided it into 1-cup portions, and froze them. I couldn't bake any thing. It was too dang hot.

The remaining rhubarb is still hayooj:

Selfie for scale:

Also found these "knife shave noodles" at the Chinese grocery store, so had to try them:

I made cod with long beans in black bean sauce. Super tasty!

In other news, we have a new Window Spider. I've been watching her. She rebuilds her web every night! But it must be long after I have gone to sleep.

Last night, DL and I got to watch her in action. The fly landed in her web. She scuttled down fast as lightning to tackle it and wrap it in silk. Then she attached it to a line like a sled and climbed back up towing it! Then she turned around and reeled it up:

Then ate her meal at leisure from her perch!

Super cool! She is the same kind as last summer's Wi Spi. Do you think it's like in Charlotte's Web, where a baby will stay in mom's old home? Maybe we will have Wi Spis like this for a very long time!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


It has been this hot since Sunday:

Too hot; the ladies are flat:

And that is all I have to say today.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Today, the SUN came out in CORDOVA!!

Photons! Photons! I got all bombarded with photons!

I found salmonberries, and they were ripe!

And lots of these slugs. They have a hole in their right sides:


Oh crap! Multiple reliable sources say they are invasive and we should kill them!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cordova shenanigans

Cordova has a maritime, moist climate that never gets either as warm or as cold as Fairbanks. A lot of Alaskan coastal towns remind me of my childhood home of San Francisco--cool, foggy, sea-smelling. Seagulls fly around calling and shrieking, while sea mammals play in the harbors (sea lions in San Francisco, sea otters in Southeast Alaska).

This is the old Cordova school. It dates to 1925, the heyday of Cordova's first existence as the terminus of the railroad that carried out ore from one of the richest copper strikes the world has ever seen.

Nope. Nothing creepy here.

Stephen King wouldn't be interested.

A lot of "older" (even just older than a few decades) structures around here look creepy just because they get weathered so quickly, and they get covered with green moss and other growth. Dead trees fall over and rot and get covered with other plants. Vines and fungi grow on standing trees and block what light would otherwise filter through. I can understand now, really for the first time, why there are so many "lost in the woods and creepy things happen" stories and folktales, and why there are horror movies like the Blair Witch Project. Even peeking into bits of woods from the sidewalk here makes me feel a visceral discomfort I've never felt in the Interior, or in the California redwoods of my childhood.

My eyes say 'super pretty', my heart says 'no thanks!'

This stairwell was almost tempting, but isn't that where Johnny and Becky went up to make out, and they saw a shadow and green lights, and were NEVER SEEN AGAIN?!? (They say that if you say "Bloody Mary" three times in front of a mirror at midnight on a full moon, you'll see what happened to Poor Johnny and Becky!)

The woods in Interior Alaska are not even remotely creepy. I mean, you could get hypothermia, or get attacked by a bad person or wild animal, but there is no feeling of anything otherworldly or supernatural. There is such little opportunity for growth, with the limited growing season and nutrient-poor soils, that the trees grow tall and straight and don't branch out until the very top (where efforts made toward leaf production for catching light get maximum return). There is no such thing as speckled light. Light in Fairbanks is often low and off-color--pink or orange sunlight, or pale white moonlight--but it's still and direct and doesn't play games. Everything in the Interior is hard and clear and has clean edges. There is no room for ghostly shadows or creeping goblins. Maybe that's why, despite a rough-and-tumble Gold Rush history, there are hardly any ghost stories. Ghosts have no credibility in the crisp Interior. (It could also be that the Native Tanana and Koyukon peoples were historically a peaceful sort, unlike their constantly warring neighbors to the South).

Monday, July 16, 2018

Cordova and her beauty

The last time I went to Cordova, I tried to take some photos of scenery in the rain, since there are none on the internet. A google image search for "cordova alaska" shows nothing but beautiful sun and blue sky. Even "cordova + rain" and "cordova + rainy" gets no good shots. I think their tourism industry is very good and only letting the 5 sunny days per year get photographed!

Anyway, when I arrived in Cordova, it was the same Cordova I know and love. I snapped this photo from my hotel window:

Now we are in fishing season, so we can see the swings of the electrical demand every time a ship comes in and the processing plant kicks into high gear:

Here is a photo of Cordova's only electric vehicle!

I think almost all Southeast Alaska communities are great candidates for electric vehicles--they have inexpensive, reliable hydropower, they don't get that cold, and they aren't on the highway system, so range anxiety is not an issue!

View from my walk to dinner:

This is my favorite place in town: Baja taco, an informal taco joint. It cannot accommodate my huge research team, so I only get to come here on the nights when we do not have group dinners.

After my taco dinner, the sun came out!

My goodness, it was breathtaking! I walked to the end of the walkway into the harbor:

And finally saw the Cordova of postcards:

I could not choose my favorite among these photos:

Here is an ancient boat:

Another postcard photo:

I saw two of these signs in town! I love this!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Good Eats, and misc photos

Once, when I was maybe 14 and my sister 17, my mom took us to a Chinese restaurant, something we did regularly, but not frequently. In San Francisco in those days, most Chinese restaurants were Cantonese or Hong-Kong-based, which is not Of Our People, so the food was different, for us. (Nowadays, there are way more dumpling and noodle houses, which is the Food of Our People.) We had a few favorites (tomato-beef chow mein being one of them). On this day, our mom ordered "Singapore noodles". What was that? It was a dish of thin rice noodles, flavored with yellow curry, and fried with shrimp, sliced char-siu, and green and yellow onions. It was delicious (and obviously very memorable to me!). I was all, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE, SINGAPORE NOODLES? My mom was blasé. "Oh, you like it? Yes, it's tasty..." she shrugged. (And she let me go 14 years without trying it?)

Anyway, the other day, I recalled this memory, and looked up "singapore noodles" on the internet. I found a recipe that looked almost exactly like my memory. Apparently, Singapore noodles are not from Singapore, but developed by Chinese people in China supposing what Singaporeans ate. Much to my delight, they also don't require any spices, seasonings, or other pantry items that I don't already have!

I bought thin rice noodles:

And cut up the stuff (I added fish cake and sautéed in the green onions, since I recalled that, although it's not in this recipe):

And cooked it per instructions:

It came out awesome, and I will definitely make it again. It does require a separate vegetable though, since it doesn't contain any of significance:

With the leftover noodles, fish cake, and char-siu, I made noodle soup the next day:

Roses! The season has come and gone for these so fast, but I was happy that they came around to brighten our days:

Rrrrrroooooo!!!! She is adorable, right?

Here is a photo of Cricket doing her Sphinx thing:

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Summer Stuff

We have put up our firewood for the next two winters (until 2020!). When I was single, I used to order green wood to be dropped off in March or so (before the sap would run), but then let it sit there all summer, and wait until it would freeze in the fall to split and stack it. Splitting frozen wood is easy, and I don't get all sweaty when it's cold. But it drives DL crazy to see an undone chore in the yard, so he goes out and works on it during summertime. Then I feel guilty sitting there like a lazy ass, so I go out and we split wood side by side.

It's very annoying to be out there swinging a maul when it's 80 degrees and 60% humidity, when we cooooould be doing this in the falltime when it's coooooold (ya know?!?), but his diligence and sense of responsibility are the traits I love most about DL. And he doesn't ever ask me to help, so I can't blame him for my discomfort (and the interboob sweat).

Loooook how swwwwwweeeeeet the Roooooo is being:

"Hold my hand"

Cricket is pretty cute herself:

The Mosquito Magnet is super effective!

It's very satisfying to watch the bag fill up with the little mofos!

The rhubarb is super happy this year!

Monday, July 2, 2018


The supposedly motion-sensing paper towel dispenser in my office bathroom reminds me of my own insignificance.