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Monday, December 22, 2014

Solstice Sunset with Stuey

Yesterday afternoon I climbed Pyramid with Stuey and the dogs and caught the sunset sunshine on the shortest day of the year.  The low light made for some spectacular photos.  There had been an ice storm so up high the ice coated bushes and grass sparkled.

The snow near the top had a bullet proof crust and Stuey was sliding all over the place.  I had to break trail for him because he was too light to break through the crust and would end up sliding backwards.  We found a low angled hill and did some 'sit down' sledding on our butts.  Patrick

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Confused Yarrow

This morning I noticed a yarrow plant blooming in the yard.  I checked around and clover is growing in the garden beds and the hanging baskets still have flowers.  It's been so warm this fall that all the plants are confused and think it's a light deprived spring.  I must admit I'm confused too - what is going on?  When will it finally get cold and snow?

On the clover if you look closely you can even see some slug damage.  That's super bad - it means if we don't get some cold temperatures to freeze off the slugs there will be a plague of nasty garden slimers next summer.

I hope I'm not mowing the lawn in january.

Anyway, I did take the dogs up the mountain this afternoon, and I was heartened that there was even some new snow up there -  baby steps forwards to winter.  Patrick

Friday, December 19, 2014

What made my pack so heavy?

Recently on a day trip goat hunt/hike (read about hunt here) I brought along a tent, sleeping bag, and woodstove.  I figured you never know what will happen and the days are so short and nights so long.  Maybe I'd shoot a goat and he'd fall in a ravine and we'd have to spend the night.  So I brought along emergency gear, and the tent, while small, has slept three in the past (click here to see that hunt).  That morning when I picked up Philip and Adelia I felt a little insecure about my huge pack, and I almost, but not quite, decided to dump gear.

Anyway, it was a long day and on the last climb, as Philip and Adelia flitted on up the hill in front of me, my pack felt REALLY heavy .  Philip had carried my pack for a bit while I was stalking the goats and commented that he was surprised at how light it was considering how bulky it looked.  This got me a bit insecure and I pondered if I was just old and out of shape.  How heavy was my pack?

So when I got home I weighed the pack on my digital scale and it came in at 38 pounds.  That's pretty heavy for a day hunt pack.  I immediately wondered about the weight-cost of my emergency gear and weighed the tent, sleeping bag, bivy and woodstove all together.  I was shocked to find they only weighed 6 pounds!

So what had made my pack so heavy?  I weighed out the different parts and was surprised to discover that the bow, game bags, satellite phone and case, ice axe and crampons weighed 16 pounds!  That's what weighed the pack down!  I was particularly shocked at how much the game bags weighed.  Anyway, what made the whole exercise interesting was that the emergency gear really did not add all that much weight.  Maybe it's time to get some light game bags and dump the SAT phone case.

Seek Outside Evolution Pack empty = 4 pounds
Bow and arrows = 8.5 pounds
10 degree down sleeping bag, bivy bag, tent for 3 and woodstove = 6 pounds
3 Game bags, SAT phone and case, crampons, and ice axe = 8 pounds
Bone/wood saw, puff jacket, rain pants and jacket, food, knives, range finder and binos, water bottle and misc stuff = 11.5 pounds
Total = 38 pounds


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Birdin' with the Brownies

Birding with the pros last weekend-Jeanne P on the left and Rich M in center. 

This past weekend I learned that my Brownie Troop  knows their birds and I was so appreciative of local birding support.  

Earlier this month,  our Troop   began an  Alaska Council Bird "Try-it" patch. It involves learning about several different species of birds,  different bird habitats, feathers, etc.  Patrick came to the first  meeting and we walked over to Near island to do some birding with the girls. The girls were curious about bird watching and especially enjoyed the prospect of learning bird songs to go along with sightings. 

 The following week I contacted Rich M of our local Audubon chapter asking for help with getting my troop exposed to the Annual Bird Count which was this weekend. My hope was to peek in on it with my troop somehow-show them that this world of bird counting and tracking exists. Give them a taste of the excitement and planning around it. 

 I underestimated just how  excited my troop would be about birds.  Rich graciously offered to present to our troop the day before the bird count-bless his heart! He did a powerpoint presentation on Kodiak birds.  He asked them to guess which birds they saw on the slide show. "Varied Thrush! Blue Heron! Kingfisher!" the girls were shouted out. Just as I was guessing Chickadee for virtually every bird during the "guess  the bird" slideshow, the Brownies had a lot of right answers. 

The girls shared stories about birds around their houses, as well as questions for Rich about Kodiak Birds.  I was glowing with joy inside with pride about their interest. I was glad to be pursuing the birding patch with them. 

Time and time again, I am realizing how much I learn from being a brownie leader. Every meeting is a new adventure!


Bird pre-lim work..week 1. Girls learned about various Alaskan birds, feathers, bird calls, etc. 

Hot cocoa break on Near Island

Group picture. Birdin' with the Brownies on Near Island

Shine a light

It's been a pretty dismal fall here on Kodiak - rain and temperatures 5 to 10 degrees above normal.  Grey skies, low light and mud. I know what I want for Christmas - some cold and some snow.  Snow reflects light and when it is cold it is also generally sunny.  We NEED some of that weather.

But Monday on Pyramid I was just happy the sun came out.  Patrick

Monday, December 15, 2014

This Year's Christmas Tree

Last week Stuey and I harvested this year's Christmas tree, and carried it home.  It's not the biggest tree that we've ever had but it is symmetrical and bushy.  Yesterday at Nora's insistence we decorated it as a family.  Zoya and I had intended just to watch the kids decorate but Nora did not want to decorate alone with Stuey.

So we all decorated the tree together.  It was nice to find all the old decorations - the same ones we put on the tree year after year.  In the past we often wrote the yearly events on the new for the year decoration.  There was a sad moment when we found the one from 2003 when Katie the dog died and we welcomed Roxy dog to the family.  Roxy passed away last year.  Time is passing.


Zoya reads the 'Katie Dog bone decoration' - the one that welcomes Roxy to the family.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Garden Still Kicking

Kodiak's non-winter does have some benefits.  It's almost Christmas and the garden is still going strong! The kale is still growing and producing better than it has all year.  The parsley is alive and well too.  Even the lettuce lasted almost until the end of November, before it got too bitter to eat. I also recently noticed that the carrots I did not pull by accident are still green and growing.  I'll have to check and see if they've continued to grow bigger.  I guess I did not have to pull them way back in October after all.

And best of all, the few slight frosts have 'sweetened' the kale. It tastes FAR better than it did during the summer.  I wish I'd grown parsnips and brussel sprouts!


Thursday, December 04, 2014


This morning as I took a bath, Nora sat on a little stool in the bathroom and studied me and drew this portrait. I took it to work and hung it up. 

Tonight was a  productive Thursday night where we moved Stuey to a bigger bedroom…a guest room which has a bunk bed in it. He's been requesting it for months and tonight after work I rolled up my sleeves and took the lead with it. He's thrilled to be sleeping up high; the only bummer is that he can't use Tank as a pillow anymore.

To catch up on kid quotes…

Stuey from the top bunk, "How many quarts is this? Jumping off this bed?"
"Quarts?" I replied.
"No, no, I mean pints" Stuey says.
"Oh you mean feet!" I correct.

"Mom, you know the cool thing about Adelia? She's graceful and yet on the elk hunt she shot the biggest elk!" Nora- as she and I were making cookies. The day before we went to the Isle Bells concert where Adelia played bells beautifully!

"But the Wis-kin has 42 points?" Stuey, when watching his first Wisconsin Badgers Game.

"Who are you voting for?" Stuey when deciding which team to root for.

"I didn't read all of it because my eye bulbs were so tired" Stuey at end of night ready for bed.