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Friday, August 29, 2014

My new 'old' bike

My bike and I last week

Recently I resurrected an old friend - my three speed bike from graduate school.  Back in the day when I was at the University of Wisconsin in Madison I rode that bike everywhere.  I used to call it my 'horse' and never walked if I could ride.  Once when the bike was in the shop for repairs I got shin splints from the unusual exercise of actually having to walk to class.  

I rode it in the snow and ice during winter, in the rain, even out on the lake-ice when Lake Mendota was frozen over, back from bars, down railroad tracks - everywhere.  And when I moved to Kodiak the bike came along too in the back of my Chevy S-10.  I'm pretty sure that if I moved someplace else today I would not be able to fit everything in the back of a pickup truck like I did then.

For a few years after I moved I continued to use the old bike here on Kodiak.  My 'old ride' did some hard duty as a 'mountain bike'.  I remember biking to Saltery Cove with my neoprene waders full of ice and in a backpack.  Then I'd use the waders and catch a couple of silver salmon and put them back into the once -again ice filled waders for the ride home.  In the photo below you can see that I also used the bike to ride up the Saltery Cove Road to access summer snow for skiing.

Somehow around 2000 I was convinced to buy a true mountain bike - another Schwinn same make as the old three speed - and for a few years I really got into mountain biking. Meanwhile the old three speed had some gear/chain issues and got retired to the ceiling of my barn.  It hung there for almost 15 years until just about a month ago when I decided to get it repaired.

And then I rode it for the first time in what seemed like forever.  WOW! The old saw is true about how once learned you never forget how to ride a bike.  That bike just feels so right.  Rather than bending down over the handle bars one sits back and enjoys the ride.  It's a perfect 'around town' bike.

At the start of a bike ride down the Saltery Cove road in 1999 - I got my skiis on the backpack.  Back then I tried to go downhill skiing at least once a month

State Street in Madison, WI 1993 - I took this photo while riding my bike.   I always bought my coffee beans at the 'Steep and Brew' seen on the left.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More from our Alpine Hunt

Our big boy from the first evening

Here are a few more images from our weekend hunt.  We spent all day Monday processing the meat from the hunt. Three deer takes a long time to process and we ended up with quite the haul for our freezers.  And deer meat from August is the tastiest of all - way better than the gamy deer from November.

We had a great hunt and in retrospect we even enjoyed the rain.  If it had stayed sunny we would have had a hard time keeping the meat from the first deer cool.  On our arrival we had set up an extra tent on dry ground just for keeping meat dry.  This worked out great and the ground and dry grass kept the meat cool and dry.  Also unlike a tarp the tent did not flap excessively in the wind - and we did get some high winds.


Rolan contemplates our load of firewood while loading the floatplane - I doubt many people fly out their own firewood  (even with wood our load going out was at 800 pounds)

Whooo hoo - meat on the back to carry back to camp

It did get seriously wet - this is me chopping the local willow wood up for firewood

Gregg cuts up salami for the evening meal while inspired by the 'daily hunt'  Lisa draws on her black paper 

We brought along an extra tent to keep our deer meat dry - the 'meat' tent is in the foreground with the 'living' tent (and stove) behind it

Pretty comfortable

Another deer just before it started to rain

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


"I-am-Robot-girl" Nora said, very spontaneously. Her elbows were flexed in a robot-like-fashion and she had a sparkle in her eye as she moved her arms along with her words. "Robot-girl-ready-for-bed. Robot-girl-very-tired".  She spun around in a a small circle as a robot on its final moments might do. I wholeheartedly laughed and said, "I like your robot girl, Nora!"

"Thannnnnk you." She replied.

A few minutes later she states  "You like Stuey's robot  better."

"No I don't, Nora. You're the original. The best robot girl here." I encouraged. As she swung in her hammock chair she looked down at her feet and replied, "okkkkkk."  Silence.


This year Nora and Stuey are in the same class at school-its a mixed 2-4 grades. After a couple of days I asked the kids if they notice each other across the room, to which Nora replied, "No, I don't even notice Stuey is there." and Stuey said, "I'm really quiet. I don't say anything and if I do, I whisper." I think Stuey is moderately afraid of getting into trouble.

Stuey knows exactly which buttons to press to anger Nora and Nora is very sensitive to Stuey's (devious?) moves so their sibling "love" feeds off of each other beautifully at times here at home.

At school, this sibling behavior is a non-issue. Thus far.

It seems that people have forgotten that so many kids used to be (and still are) educated in 1 room school houses around the country and world. And that having siblings in the same class is NOT the end of the world.  Family members have suggested that we move Nora to another school to be away from Stuey. Nora is going on her 4th year at St. Mary's and she loves the school and I would never do that to her.

"How was your day?" I ask the kids in the car ride home.

"Good" Stuey replies, "In PE  we played a fun game...."

"..And then in class, Mr. Brian came to talk with our class." Nora finishes.

Gone is that competitive moment in the car, when Nora would try to tell her story of her day and Stuey would interrupt. And often it would end with someone mad at someone else.

 Now it is collaborative. THEIR class. THEIR experience. Their time looking at the events of  their day  is through a similar lense.



Our Fly Out Hunt

Saturday's sunrise from a mountain top - it was raining by 9AM

This past weekend Lisa, Gregg and I took a floatplane ride out of town for a quick deer hunting trip.  This is not our usual method of getting to where we camp and hunt.  Normally we drive someplace and then bushwhack up through the brush to where we camp and start our hunt.  Consequently our floatplane ride seemed very decadent.  Since we did not have to carry camp on our backs we could take a big teepee, woodstove and other extra luxuries - even beer and soda on ice.  This made for a cushy hunting trip.

The weather report was not good but we brought along some firewood and figured the ti goat wood stove would keep us warm, dry and happy.  When we arrived at our alpine lake it was brilliantly sunny and hot.  We even managed to harvest 2 deer before it started to rain and blow.  Then it was teepee time!

The good thing about a woodstove is that camping is fun even when it rains.  We made quesadillas on the stove, drank tea, stayed warm, and read books.  The teepee is big enough that we could even stand up and walk around.  And when we did go out and hunt in the rain we knew that we had a woodstove to return to that could dry everything out.  We even managed to harvest another deer.

By Sunday evening it had cleared off and we got to bask a bit in the sun before the plane arrived to take us back home.  Patrick

Cushy camp in the alpine - teepee time

Seeking out deer

Hiking a deer back to camp in the rain

Drying out in the teepee

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Saying Goodbye to babysitters is always tough. Especially after a long summer when they have played Monopoly for hours on end, and have been so patient and caring. This summer Marissa was over to our house several days a week when I went to work at the coast guard base. She left for Anchorage to start college and her gentle presence at our house will be missed. 

"How much does the earth weigh?" Stuey asked my long time childhood friend, Nick, and I on our hike up Old Womans mountain.  Nick started the calculations and pulled soon pulled out his iPhone calculator. After about 10 more minutes of density of elements, circumference of the earth type of computations, he came up with a number with 27 0's in it. This put it in the million, billion, billion category.  A google search revealed his guess was 50% accurate, which I was impressed with. Especially since I had to retake a semester of physics in college and a large part of it was big problems with planets revolving around each other and gravitational forces. Bleh!

There is an undeniable curiosity with the life of a paleotolongist, especially in contrast to my work as a physical Therapist. Nick's recent  journeys included a trip to retrieve dinosaur bones from a mining project and then the project of finding space to  house these large animal artifacts begins. Crates of bones with so many stories waiting to be told.

For Nora's 9th birthday, her present was to come into the voting booth with me. (Yes, Stuey wanted to come also but I have zero desire to take him into public places lately-hes in a limit pushing mode recently where he'll tug at my arm, interrupt me and other behaviors that just don't dictate the privilege of being out and about with mommy).

Nora had he chance to practice coloring in a circle or two and enjoyed the whole scene with voting booths. After Nora put the card in the "sucker-uper" machine, we stepped into the evening sun to be greeted by Patrick and Stuey who rode over on their bikes to say hi. By then Stueys disappointment about not voting had waned but I could still see tear stains on his cheeks. Nora and I proceeded to walk home, just the two of us along the bike path.

The first real sign of spring here on Cliffside drive isn't frost, or fireweed…its the first day of school. The back-to-school enthusiasm was so thick the past couple of days that Stuey and Nora packed their own lunches last night, complete with garden carrots and mint oreos. The lunch bags were nestled inside the fridge until this morning when they pulled them out for school.


That's why it's called 'Hunting'

We left camp at 5:30 AM and had been hiking and glassing for over an hour before the sun came up

This past Monday I went hunting with Lisa and Gregg and we did not get a deer - oh well.  We certainly saw a lot of deer and we even passed on a spike, but no big deer to carry home on our backs at the end of the day.  The cold hard reality of hunting is that you are not guaranteed to harvest an animal every time you go into the field.  That's why its called hunting.  Conversely, when a trip to get food is guaranteed it's generally called 'shopping'.  There was no Safeway with a credit card machine up in the mountains where we went.  And those deer are sly indeed.

Still, it was a beautiful hike.  Lisa announced that it just might have been her prettiest Kodiak hike of all time.  Lisa has lived and hiked on Kodiak for a long time too - so that is high praise indeed.  Patrick

Rugged mountains and the sea so close

Fall colors in August - Summer is coming to an end

Jacob's ladder - so called because the leaves look like a 'stairway to Heaven'

The 'salad days' are behind us

The garden is starting to die.  It's producing better than ever, but things are starting to bolt or fall over and turn yellow.  Every year it seems like it takes forever for the garden to start growing (May/June), then it's neat and tidy and looking good for a few weeks (late July), then comes the 'lush' stage when the weeds start to take over (early August), and now the decline.  I always think of it as sort of like the stages of an empire.  Right now I'd compare our garden with Rome in maybe AD 350.  The Vandals are on the horizon!

Lately we have been eating carrots and potatoes like crazy.  In years past I always sort of saved the potatoes until they were completely mature.  But this year I decided that 'new' potatoes are just so darned good that it's a waste to let them mature.  New potatoes are sweet and like nothing you can buy in a store.  Add some butter and parsley and you have achieved culinary heaven.

Ironically, despite the title of this post, our salad greens are still doing GREAT - green and cold.


Lots of carrots!

The peas have fallen over and are turning yellow

Kale is still doing strong - but one tried to bolt

Aphids on a fireweed stalk

Our black pack on a walk in Abercrombie

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wishes Come True

Do you remember how much you looked forward to birthdays as a kid? 

Only a few birthday celebrations stand out  in my mind. Vivid party memories  involve sleep overs and sneaking out in the woods at night with girlfriends. We'd tiptoe down two flights of stairs trying to not giggle then ease our way outside and make our way through the trees on the small trails. We truly believed our parents were sound asleep and wouldn't hear our footsteps on the stairs. 

As a younger child, I remember a birthday celebration with small group of friends on a sunny day down by the large pond near our house.  Running through  the salmonberry busy trails, swinging on the bouy swing with friends and thinking of jumping into the cold pond below, but never doing it.  

And when blowing out birthday candles, I always wished for an Atari video game set. Over and over and over. Until it finally arrived. Then I think my wishes revolved more about wanting attention of boys. Sigh. 

Now as my daughter  pauses and grins at the cake  before she blows out her 9 candles, I wonder what her wishes are and if her dreams will come true. Is she dreaming of events she wants to have happen or something more material, like a doll.  

Several weeks before the party Nora asked me, "Mom, can you be in the pool with me?". 

"Yeah, I can do that. Do you want me in there even if daddy's going to be in there?" I asked her, trying to slyly get out of it. 

"Yeah. I really want you in there, mom. " she replied. 

"Ok. Hmmm. But  I'll need to get the party set up somehow.  Maybe me being in the pool wouldn't work." 

Nora said, "Oh, you can just get out a little early to get things set up."

Alrighty. It was a deal, I would be in the pool. As I thought about it more, this could be one of the last few birthdays where I would get an invite to be IN the pool with my daughter. 

While I treaded water and sat on the side in the deep end, the kids did jumps and flips off the board and took lots of tries at touching the bottom of the deep end. Patrick took underwater posed pictures and there was a shared love for the water with all the kids. The next day, Nora told me, "Mom, thank you for going in the pool with me".

At the end of the day, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else…so close to the action and smiles.  Zoya

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Joy in Waves

On the eve of Nora's 9th, I plugged in the Happy Birthday Lights in the living room-a family ritual. This assured that when Nora rose in the early morning light she would be greeted with the light of the circular letters hanging in the living room.


"Mom, I'm having so much fun!" Nora said so frequently today as we shared the time together with her friends. The later summer sun was kind to us today with temperatures in the 60's on our nearby Mill Bay Beach.   With 1 boogie board and 1 kick board shared between 4 kids, they shared chances to briefly ride the gentle waves which rolled up on shore. (The word "crashed" onshore would be an overstatement.) Squeals of delight came from all four kids as they took turns riding the tail end of the waves onto the beach.

I, meanwhile, sat on the beach blanket on the sand and watched Nora innocently run around in such birthday glory. Thinking of how to help her keep her enthusiastic, curious spirit. And how to release expectations for who I think she should be or do and just enjoy every moment of her.

In those tough parenting moments so many of us can relate to, it can be hard to remember to release expectations. But in the glory of the warm sun on the beach, I am reminded how much Nora is loving life and enjoying every chance she has to run in the ocean waves.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Making Small Batches of Red Currant Jelly

Lately after work I've been making small batches of red currant jelly with the kids.  This summer the red currant bushes in our yard outdid themselves in the berry production department, and the kids have been picking loads of berries.  They store them on a tray in the freezer and then when I get home we have been making small batches of jelly.

The first couple of times we only made three half pint jars, and last night we made 5 jars.  So it is a small batch operation.  Since they made it the kids feel ownership and love to give the jelly away and eat it.  Jelly on toast has never tasted so good.  They've also labelled the jars and made cards for the various people they plan on giving jelly.

Jelly is incredibly simple to make - all you need are jars and lids, berries, sugar, pectin, and cheese clothe.  I generally follow the directions that come with the pectin box.  The most difficult part is that the directions generally assume that you are buying berries and making big batches - they call for exact amounts of berries to which you add so much sugar etc.

Since I never know how many berries we have or how much juice we'll create, I do it a little differently.  I put all the berries in a sauce pan and put in some water - maybe fill up a third of the way through the berries. I turn the heat on and Nora or Stuey mashes all the berries in the pan and stir, stir, stir until the mixture boils.  We then pour the mash into cheese clothe set in a bowl and strain out all the seeds, stems and pulp.

Next we measure and pour the juice back into the saucepan.  This is when we add the pectin - we generally have to guess the amount based on directions on the packet.  And since I am using red currants that have natural pectin I generally go a little on the light side.  We then return the mixture with pectin added to a rolling boil.  Sometimes I add a splash of lemon juice.

After it reaches a rolling boil we add the sugar.  I like to add a little less than an equal amount to the quantity of juice used.  Hence if we had 2 1/2 cups of juice I'll add a little over 2 cups of sugar.  In general the directions call for the same amount of sugar as juice, but this seems excessive to me - and our jelly seems to taste just fine without the extra sugar!

Stirring constantly we bring the syrup back to a rolling boil.  And then we let it boil all foamy, and stirring CONSTANTLY for one minute.  Turn the heat off and pour into the jars leaving a little space at the top of each jar (maybe 1/4 inch).  In the old days I used to boil the mixture until I could get it to 'double drip' off of a spoon.  But the pectin these days seems to set just fine without candy thermometers, double drips etc.

Then following the directions off the packet I put the lids on the jars and put them into a water bath.  I boil them under the water for 10 minutes - and then take them out with tongs.  And viola - the jars seal. The kids listen for the jar to 'pop' indicating that they have sealed.

Pretty easy and the whole process takes way less than an hour total (not including berry picking).


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

School excitement

Nora anticipated the post office arrival of her new school back pack, asking me every day if we could go to check the mail, and tried hard to keep her chin up  the yellow slip item waiting for us wasn't her back-pack. When the box finally arrived, she excitedly ripped open the secure paper taped packaging in the back of the car and she squealed with excitement as she she set her eyes on her new book bag.

The  pack was covered in bright cheerful, comic like birds and it was exactly what she had imagined.  Nora adjusted the shoulder straps on her own and walked around confidently with the empty bag on her bag. Later that evening, she proceeded to put her school supplies into it.

"Where should I put these?" Nora asked as she held up several plastic folders.

"In the big, back section they'd fit well." I guided.

Methodically, Nora filled up her bag with her back to school goodies. Small items in the front, larger items in the back.   She left the boring items for me to bring in on the first day- the bulky kleenex, paper towels and disinfectant wipes. Stuey asked if I could carry in his bulk items as well.

"Mom, you'll come in with us on the first day, right?" Nora asks.

"Yes! Of course! I love the first day!" I respond, knowing in my heart that these years and moments are limited-when I'm invited in and welcomed on her first day of school. Whats not to love about the first day of school energy; all the new possibilities of the year to come. Seating assignments, new crayons, new faces at school. The excitement is contagious.

Nora counts the days until Thursday the 21st of August with as much enthusiasm as waiting for Christmas.

Nora  proclaims, "If I had to pick either first day or school or Christmas, I'd pick first day of school!"

I think Stuey said he'd opt for Christmas.


A Stuey et al selfie :

Sheba! We think she may have some greyhound in her. Such long legs and runs like a greyhound. 

Kids lovin' on Sheba. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

20th Year Surprises

The dark grey motorcycle helmet sat on our entry way table as the reunion party was underway.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out who it belonged to and was quite curious. I went into a crowd of possibilities and asked, "Who drove a motorcycle here?" A long pause ensued from the group and then Carl nodded and smiled.  It was him.

I didn't know Carl well in high school. He was in my periphery…a kind spirit, caring eyes and quieter than many. When he first arrived at our 20th reunion several classmates and myself didn't recognize him and we didn't know he lived right here in town. For a few seconds, I felt sad about this-that there were people right within a few miles who I hadn't acknowledged or seen over the years. But then it just made me more grateful for this 20th gathering of class of '94.

As the DJ started the music up and the disco lights started shining on the wood ceilings,  a small group of us took to floor dancing to 90's tunes. The music brought our spirits back 20 years and I cared less about talking, reconnecting then I did about just being with my classmates. Dancing. Laughing. Being.

Half way through the evening  a song played in honor of my classmate, Tambi Fields, who passed away here in Kodiak several years ago. River of Dreams was one of her favorite songs and as the DJ played it,  we held hands, smiled, cried. Outside on the porch in the misty night, the guys and gals of our class raised their glass in a toast to Tambi.

River of Dreams-Billy Joel

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith
To the river so deep

I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
But the river is wide
And it's too hard to cross

And even though I know the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
And try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out what I've been looking for

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear
To a river so deep

And I've been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I would never lose
Something somebody stole

I don't know why I go walking at night
But now I'm tired and I don't want to walk anymore
I hope it doesn't take the rest of my life
Until I find what it is that I've been looking for

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the jungle of doubt
To a river so deep

I know I'm searching for something
Something so undefined
That it can only be seen
By the eyes of the blind

In the middle of the night
I'm not sure about a life after this
God knows I've never been a spiritual man
Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river
That runs to the promised land
In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of truth
To the river so deep

We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We're all carried along
By the river of dreams
In the middle of the night

 Billy Joel - River Of Dreams Lyrics | MetroLyrics 


Some things will never, ever change…Boys+fire=happy!

good times reconnecting

mother daughter dancing at its BEST

Friday night group shot at Powerhouse Dinner

Cheers to class of '94