Saturday, August 30, 2008

Backyard Flowers

Our small backyard was aglow with sunlight this morning...

I thought the backlit nasturtiums looked particularly pretty. I planted Whirlybird mix in an old metal milk jug, looking for a trailing effect. Despite the cool summer, they are doing well.

These violas, growing in the shade by the porch, are "volunteers"--sprouted from the seeds of last year's plants and fighting their way through the horsetails to sunlight. Unexpected and welcomed.

Nature provides the white clover. I know they are considered weeds by most folk but I appreciate their enthusiasm for our poor soil and their tenacity, resisting our footprints and such. And their sweet, subtle fragrance, carried on a warm breeze, is delightful. I wish I could capture it.

Last year, I tried drying some clover blossoms but once they were dry, the fragrance was gone. I tried in vain to find an essential oil of clover on-line. Apparently the scent is hard to extract, so we have to enjoy it like we do all our flowers--beautiful and ephemeral. All too soon only a memory, like summer itself.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Quiet Day

A strange and quiet day. I woke to the unreal news that our governor had been selected as the Republican running-mate, news that left me feeling both excited and bemused. There's more on that topic over at my Northern Life blog.

So, while I listened to the morning news programs on television, I made some coffee and did some baking.

Almost as good as sex

I'm not a coffee-yuppie but this stuff is better than almost as good as sex. On one of my last days at work, one of my colleagues made a pot of this coffee and I was smitten. It is one of my small indulgences.

And since I had a pot of coffee to linger over, I had a hankering for some pastry to nibble on as I did so, so I whipped up a batch of chocolate/peanut-butter chip cookies with walnuts. While those were in the oven, I tried to figure out what to do about the plums.

They had been sitting in the refrigerator long enough that they were beginning to get soft.

Where we lived in Washington, there was a wild orchard of cherry and plum trees on the property. I learned plums--the hard green buds turning into purple fruits, the fine sheen of plum dust over the dark reddish-purple skin, the feel of a ripe plum--not too hard, just on the verge of softness under the skin. A too-soft plum holds no appeal to me.

I know that people stew prunes and thought I would cook the plums into a sort-of compote. But a cooked-fruit paste sounds more tempting to me if it's between a pie crust. So, I thought I would mix the stewed plums in with some canned pie-filling and make a pie. But--alas--no canned fruit in the pantry. So I mixed some dried cranberries (Craisins--orange-flavored) and a little tapioca in with the pitted plums and juice. Stuck between two frozen pie crusts and dusted with cinnamon-sugar, it didn't look half-bad. (Pie-crusts are not my strong-point.)

The results of my morning's work.

It was a fine late-August day, with an on-shore breeze keeping the air cool despite the sunshine. Downtown was fogged-in most of the day, so sometimes we get a benefit from living on the bluff.

Like most Alaskans, I cherish my quiet life far from the mass of humanity. I live on the edge of wilderness. There are bear- and moose-tracks through my yard. But I can look up and watch the over-flying jet airliners miles above me. Their shadows move across my rustic home on their path connecting the major cities of the world. As the news of the day reminds me, the rest of the world is not really that far away.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Flowers of August

When you buy your flowers as seedlings, you are never quite sure just what colors you may get. I was lucky that these violas match the snapdragons so well.

These are a new color of snapdragons--Crown Candy Corn. I have seen them in other gardens around town.

I really like the colors of these. I can see why they are so popular.

Lilac Cosmos. Or so they say. Looks more pink than lilac to me, but I like the color just the same.

Candy Corn Snapdragons and hot pink Dianthus.

Nature's garden supplies the Nootka Lupine (Lupinus Nootaktensis).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Still Raining

Another gray, humid morning. I really don't mind--it suits my lethargy and gives me an excuse to avoid outdoor work. I have been so tired this past week--maybe a delayed reaction to losing Frieda and Houdi. I was so caught up in trying to get the house presentable for our visitors that I am still processing the loss of those two cats.

The Back Rooms and the Shop are both down to a four-cat population. We have discussed shuffling the cats around but their social groups are well-established and there seems to be enough disruption and re-positioning each time we lose someone that I don't want to add to the stress right now.

Still Raining

My usual breakfast--followed by vitamin C and D tablets and a couple of fish oil capsules.


Friday, August 15, 2008

What August Looks Like

Another drizzly, humid day. This is more typical August weather for this part of Alaska.

The plants soak up the warmth and moisture in a last spurt of growth before the frost.

I'll want to remember this lushness during the coming winter, remember when the vegetation was so tall in our yard...

Life in Alaska is all about changes.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On The Kenai River

On the Kenai

The weather continued to cooperate so we went on our annual float trip on the Kenai yesterday.

We put the Zodiac in at the bridge in Cooper Landing, at the outlet of Kenai lake and float down to Jim'sLanding--the last take-out before Skilak Lake. It usually takes us three hours. This is the Dodge and the raft before we launched at Cooper Landing.

At the launch area

The morning clouds still clung to the higher terrain above the river but there was enough sunlight to dazzle the eyes and reveal the river's unique color.

David on the Kenai

My brother was visiting Alaska for the first time in five years, showing his old haunts to his new bride and letting her meet us in our natural habitat. They had a good time on the river.


Our captain made sure we had a fun, safe float down the river.

A couple of bends before the take-out spot, the river flows past this huge rock with its colorful lichen. I always find myself wondering what geological processes left half of this immense rock looming over the river and what became of the other half.

Big Rock

(Click the photos for larger views)