Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Quickening of the Year

That's what this point of time--half-way between the Solstice and the Equinox--is known as...

The Quickening of the Year.

Candlemas, Imbolc, Groundhog's Day...

We have reached that point in time where--although it is still deep winter in these northlands--the days have begun to grow noticeably longer. I look outside as I go for my second cup of coffee in the morning and am surprised to see that it is growing light. Or that the yard is still clearly discernable after the five-o-clock news.

I took advantage of my time at home this week to--slowly and finally--put the Christmas decorations away. It took me thre days to get the tree ungarnished and packed away. That corner of the living area looks a bit naked but it is nice having a bit extra room.

I stood cat-watch while Denny opened the attic access and stowed away box after box of seasonal merriment. But none of the four-footed ones showed any interest in seeing what Daddy was doing through the hole in the wall.

With the holiday decorations down, I brought out the box of the glass bottles that usually sit on the high dining room windows and dusted them off and put them back in place. The high windows are popular for being cat-proof. At least so far. Since we moved the cat tree.

Blues skies, clear light and cold, cold, cold--must be time for February.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Trip to Soldotna

Up before dawn to hit the road again.

I guess it's nice that we are still in the season where "up before dawn" doesn't entail setting the alarm clock.

(I hate alarm clocks...)

Anyway, it was back to Soldotna for a post-op check-up. The dawn was coloring the whole sky when we stepped outside just after nine this morning. Click on the photo to make it larger. I love the way the pink and blue in the sky form bands around the horizon. This view was actually looking away from the dawn, toward the northwest.

We saw eight moose between our house and Anchor Point. They contrasted nicely with the bright snow. By the time we reached Soldotna, we had seen eleven moose, including one that was standing in the road--fortunately in the opposite lane--when we rounded a corner.

There aren't any pictures of all these moose because Denny doesn't believe in stopping for anything but the most urgent calls of Nature when we are on a road trip.

In fact, I snapped this picture from the bridge over the Kenai River as we were heading home. Considering that we were zooming along at forty-five miles-an-hour, I think it turned out pretty well. The larger version shows Mt. Redoubt above the remains of a fog layer that was covering Kenai-Soldotna when we arrived. We are looking west across the mouth of the Kenai River and Cook Inlet. I think it was about two in the afternoon.

We saw three more moose on the way back home.


My brain was a little fuzzy because my post-op visit took a turn somewhere in the middle and became a pre-op visit. I am still not feeling 100% from the laproscopic-thingy they did last week but I am now scheduled for surgery (a hysterectomy) next Tuesday.

I guess since we know it needs to be done, there is no sense screwing around. The sooner we get it done, the sooner I can start healing. I have waited six years to get to this point and I figured this would probably be how things resolved. It just gave me some mental whip-lash to be sitting in the office waiting room at 10:45 and then be walking out of the hospital--having gone through all the pre-admission tests--one hour later.

Since this has been a possibility for some time, I have had time to think about my emotional response to the surgery. And although I know it will be a big physical ordeal, I don't expect any emotional reaction--except relief--to saying good-bye to parts that have served out their warranty and would only be a source of problems in the future. I mean--it wasn't like I have been using those parts for the last few years and the malignancies that grow in those dark and secret places tend to be hard to detect.

Besides, as I told Denny, I live in a houseful of spayed females and they are still all-girl. Having their example is very heartening.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Late January Sun

I felt well enough today to stand around outside for a while as Denny worked on some projects. The movement and fresh air felt good after being inside for so long. The afternoon temperature was in the mid-teens. My feet got cold because I had taken the felt liners out of my boots. I bought new liners last year and the boots have been too tight ever since. I may have to wear them with heavy socks in the future because although I hate having cold feet, I hate having cramped toes even more.

As the sun climbs higher in the sky with each day's transit, we are beginning to feel some warmth from it. Water was dripping off of the roof in places and under the blue sky, the snow took on a warm softness.

As the long shadows indicate, the sun is still far to the south even at midday.

The Chevy pickup--parked in the shadows on the north side of the house--wore a beard of icicles.

Click for larger views...

Cross-posted from Northern Life

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Checking In

Surgery went well though the anesthesia left me nauseous. I didn't think the hospital would ever release me. As it was, they kept me about four hours post-op. We didn't get home until after five but I was just happy to see home again.

But the exploration went well. Further surgery is indicated but that should relieve my symptoms. At least there was no sign of malignancy--and I am glad for that.

Got to go back to sleep now. Just wanted to check in.

Monday, January 21, 2008


I am sitting in a bowl of milk this morning.

Work was very quiet yesterday due to the strong winds and poor flying conditions, so I anticipated that traffic would be more brisk this morning.


The skies cleared late last night, turning the moist air into fog. Since I arrived at work this morning--shortly before six--the visibility at the airport dropped from two miles to less than a quarter-mile. Before day-break it made it very dark outside--I couldn't see the lights of the terminal across the field--or even the runway lights. Now that day has broken (presumably) the view outside is milky white with ghostly impressions of trees and buildings in the vicinity.

Since the minimum visibility required for aircraft to make an approach to the Homer airport is a mile, not even the big boys are flying. So my morning reverie is broken only by the telephone calls from folks wondering what the visibility is and when conditions are forecast to improve.

Some of the callers feel moved to tell me that they can see clear across the bay from where they are.

But no one can see the runway.

And there are no photos of this utter whiteness because I cleverly left my camera at home today.


I head up to Soldotna tomorrow for exploratory surgery.

I hope that sounds more terrifying than the actual event. I am trying to maintain a Positive Mental Attitude. I keep telling myself that knowing what is going on is better than not knowing. And I can't ignore the condition any more--it is starting to impact other systems. I am reasonably sure that everything is benign and my life will continue on its merry way once this is dealt with but there is always that niggling fear that I will wake up from surgery to news no one wants to hear.

And then life will never be the same again.

But for now--PMA, okay?

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Sitting here at work in the pre-dawn darkness, listening to water drip off the roof through the open window.

A sudden pulse of warm air is turning all our glorious snow into mush. The temperatures and moisture in the air make it feel like spring, though in the darkness, the sound of rain recalls our sodden autumn. So this January morning feels a bit out-of-time.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Pink Dawn

The snow was pink for a while this morning.

Click for larger

Friday, January 11, 2008

And Even More Snow

I took this picture about sunrise this morning. It has snowed pretty much continuously since Tuesday night, finally stopping about seven this morning. But judging from the sky, we will probably get some more snow shortly.

Denny cleaned out the front yard area yesterday, piling up the snow with the backhoe along the far side of the driveway. The fine snow is light and fluffy and normally wouldn't restrict our movement too much except that there is so much of it that if you stray off the road or path, you are left floundering.

I took this photo from the east side of the parking area, looking to the west.

If you click to enlarge the photos--the vast, unpainted area in our structure is the new shop area, under construction. The back and side are painted but we haven't done much with the doors yet. Further back, the taller portion of the building is clad in metal and houses the original shop and home area. Our "house" is a two-storey section at the back of the main shop, partioned from it by a firewall. We expanded our living space out the western side of the shop, not visible from where I took this photo.

The pictures I take looking "out back" from our house are facing south in one flavor or another--like the photo at the top of this entry, taken from the back deck looking southeast.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Blue Dawn

More snow...

It's a freakin' winter wonderland out there...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More Snow

In the last twenty days (since December 20th,) we have had measureable precipitation on thirteen days and only two days with no snowfall at all...

The fine, dry snow lies twelve-to-eighteen inches deep on the back yard and over two feet deep places where the wind has filled ditches and depressions. I am glad to have my mukluks with the drawstring tops that keep snow out.

Denny cleared the back deck the last time he was home but this evening the snow lay six-to-eight inches deep on it--and more was falling.

I broke trail to the woodshed this evening, bringing in a goodly supply to warm up for tomorrow. The woodshed is actually a tall covered area adjoining the back deck, enclosed on one side and the back but open facing the house and deck. The metal roof is waterproofed with those blue tarps, which keep most of the wind-blown snow out as well. The structure has been a great addition to the house and makes the chore of hauling wood quick and easy.

Monday, January 07, 2008

It was just past five yesterday evening when I got a phone call was from the FAA Regional Operations Center in Anchorage, asking me if I was aware of the plane crash at Kodiak.

Of course I wasn't. Kodiak is well outside of our service area. Unless it happens right in front of us, we usually learn of aircraft accidents the same as everyone else--on the news.

But it turns out this aircraft was just airborne off of the Kodiak Airport for Homer when it experienced some sort of problem and tried to return to the field. The plane ended up about one hundred yards short of the field in the water. Of the ten people on board, only four survived.

The aircraft flies in and out of here often enough that I recognized the call-sign. I had seen it on the contact list when I came on duty. It had already made one round-trip from Kodiak to Homer before it took off on its final flight.


This information was on-line this morning:

Anchorage Daily News


I recognized the pilot from his photo in the newspaper article. He had spent some time at the station over the summer, checking the weather at Kodiak--because the Kodiak weather is always crappy in the summer. He seemed like a real nice person and a very competent pilot. I am sure his lost will sadden many.

I didn't know any of the passengers, as the Old Believers tend to keep to themselves, but the names are very recognizable, being old Homer-area families. What a tragedy for all of them and what a sad Christmas this year brings.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


This is what was inside that box of chocolates from Belarus that I bought at the warehouse store.

I was surprised at the number, condition and appearance of them--I had gotten some products that were obviously shelf-worn or past their prime from that store in the past, so I wasn't sure if these would even be edible.

Oh, they were, they were....

All in all, it was a nice selection and I was glad I let my curiosity win this time.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Homer Lights

Driving home after my evening shift, I have a opportunity to admire the various holiday lighting schemes around town. Tonight I drove around and took pictures of those I especially liked.

The Catholic Church, down in the old section of town by the beach, chose a traditional scene for their lights.

All the commercial businesses do white lights. I liked the way this sundries shop in the old section of town chose to use theirs.

The flower and boutique shop wrapped many lights around their bannisters, then lit the interior of their windows.

I liked this traditional way this window looked--a lighted tree highlighting the scene. Very home-y.

The liquor store in red and green....

I liked the quiet, lovely way this business lighted their windows.

The gazebo in the small mid-town park.

I like trees done all in one color.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Happy New Year Chocolates

Okay. Our little warehouse store carries a variety of goods from overseas in celebration of the global economy. I buy pickled peppers from Eastern Europe, marmalade from England and candy from Japan. So I was intrigued by this package of chocolates from Belarus.

The box was fairly light--only nine ounces--and I wasn't sure exactly what it was that I was buying. There was a label on the back that said "Happy New Year Chocolates"--perhaps Christmas was discouraged under the former regime and is just now making tentative steps back into their culture. That sure looked like some version of Santa Claus / Father Christmas on the back of the sleigh.

Then I read the maker's mark.

That sold me.

I just had to have a box of chocolates from "Crapmak" under the tree.

I'll let you know how they are.


So I am a bit disgusted at myself regarding Holidailies. I was so proud of having made a post for every day of December--even if I was really busy--even if I had nothing to say--even if it was only a photo. I did it!

So I logged onto the Holidailies website today and discovered to my horror that the posting period ran from December 1 to January 1.

That's right. I should have made a post on New Year's Day.

I can't even claim to have been busy or wasted from partying. We had a pleasant but quiet evening at home and I was off work on New Year's Day. I could have very easily made a post. I just didn't register that January 1st was a date I needed to post on. I made the assumption that Holidailies ended with year's end.

Oh, crapmak!