Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The sun rises over Kachemak Bay from behind the Kenai Mountains.

I took this from the top of Baycrest Hill on my way home from the veterinary clinic this morning, after I dropped off Wilson--now known as "Max"--for dental work.

Poor Max. When he came to us in October, a circular wound was healing on his head, just above his left eye. I since have gotten the sense from him that he doesn't see as well from his left eye, and he tends to sit holding his left leg up, although he lets us palpatate it and apparently doesn't have pain there. But we can tell that something bad happened to him and it involved his left side. So we weren't surprised to discover his lower left canine tooth was broken off just above the gum line.

The vet tech was grim-faced when she told me that teeth don't usually leave nice round holes--it was probably some-thing man-made that left Max with a round scar. So, the popular theory is that he was shot in the head with a pellet- or small-caliber gun and probably left for dead. It would go some toward explaining some much of his fear and insecurity. Our boy Max has had to live with considerable pain in his life.

Wilson aka Max aka Fiona aka Large Marge

Then he found his way to our door.

The broken tooth has been extracted and now he can start to heal.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

February Sky

The longer days are allowing some of the snow and ice on the roof to melt in the afternoon. This curl of ice hangs off the roof at the entrance to the shop.

But our temperatures don't stray above freezing for very long and this icicle has been suspended for a week or more.

Beyond is the clear, cold sky of February, which promises more winter to come.


Today is George Washington's birthday. If I had it together, I would have baked a cherry pie for the occasion.

Maybe tomorrow--it is too fine a day to spend in the kitchen.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Do you ever stand in someone's kitchen and read their refrigerator? (When did refrigerators become a household totem?)

You can see where our priorities are...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Winter Sunshine

The cats enjoy the warmth of the sun through the windows. The bird-feeders keep Mimi focused while Twitch is glad for a quiet spot to sun himself.

The western view--toward Cook Inlet and the colors of sunset as another day closes.

Morning View

Daybreak is coming earlier now. It is light outside by eight in the morning and by nine the sun is casting long shadows across February's snow.

Yet despite the lenghtening hours of daylight, time seems suspended. Subarctic February stretches like a featureless desert across both the landscape and the calendar.

A procession of powerful Pacific storms continue to batter western Alaska but we here on the Kenai Peninsula have seen little effect save for warmer than normal temperatures. Usually a stretch of clear weather would send the mercury down to zero or lower but the thermometer has been making daily excursions above freezing, even under the icy blue skies.

February has traditionally been a "big snow" month. So far, that hasn't materialized.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Out My Window

This is our evening view looking south. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

As it set, the sun tinted the entire sky pinkish-orange.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sky View

As I drove home from town this afternoon, I was intrigued by the regular waves of clouds across the sky.

So I took the back road home to capture a picture looking south over Cook Inlet. (Click to enlarge)

Once a weather nerd, always a weather nerd.

I also find the intricate tracery of the cottonwood branches against the sky beautiful. These trees are more interesting naked than most are.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Looking Back

In 1908, my great-great-grandfather, Willard Tabor Payne, built a house at 3111 North 8th Street in Tacoma, Washington. For a decade, the house at 3111 North 8th was known as "Granda and Grandma Payne's house." My grandma Merle and her siblings played in the back yard or posed for photographs on the front steps.

Here--in 1910--great-great-grandpa Payne is watering the lawn and saplings. The house was to be his last residence. He died there in September of 1917 at the age of 68 years. Afterward, his widow, Lydia, went to live with her daughters and the house eventually passed out of the family.

I was curious to know if the house still existed. The north side of Tacoma is full of old neighborhoods and gracefully aging homes, but I was surprised when I found a street-view in Google Maps that showed Granpa and Grandma Payne's house still standing after a century.


Cross-posted from Merle.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Wilson, resting on the bed. You can see where the vet shaved him to drain his abscess.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day


Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.

--Edna St. Vincent Millay

Friday, February 13, 2009


Some of the cats realize that the birds on the other side of the glass are just there to mess with their heads...

Twitch refuses to be drawn in...

...while Jasmine naps just inches away from the feeding frenzy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Winter Whites

Frannie and Twitch share the window sills for bird-watching.


Denny discovered a lump on Wilson's shoulder on Sunday. We monitored it and when it became tender and swollen, we suspected an abscess. So I took Wilson into the vet yesterday, when he was shaved and drained and prescribed antibiotics. He already seems to be feeling better.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why Cats Hate Glass

Now that we are in deep winter, the birds have begun to respond to our offerings of bird seed and fat. The chickadees and nuthatches are with us fairly constantly but in no big numbers. The winter songbird influx this year was led by the juncos and an occasional pair of pine grosbeaks. Over the past few days, the pine siskins (aka "the little stripey finches") have arrived, a couple dozen more--it seems--every day.

Our cats are--of course--seasoned bird-watchers and are glad for the break in winter's monotony.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ice Moon

We got up at four to see if we could catch some of the partial lunar eclipse. We didn't see much but I did get this picture of the moon and the icicles on the eave.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Fresh Snow on Augustine Volcano

Augustine--a familiar sight on our southwestern horizon, sparkles under fresh snow and sunlight in this view from the AVO's webcam.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Friday, February 06, 2009

Good-Bye, Fiona...

...hello "Wilson."

Turns out that the big tabby girl isn't. A girl. I guess I am not quite as good at sexing cats as I imagined I was.

Anyway, it became apparent last week that big awkward Fiona was--in actuality--a neutered male. So we tossed a few names around and finally settled on "Wilson." (Though I was all for "Mr. Fiona", I deferred to Denny's suggestion.)

Anyway--that explains a few things we were wondering about Fiona's personality.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Snowy Day

Well, it *is* February, after all. Time of the long snows.


Between snowfalls and settling and wind blowing westerly and easterly and back again, we seem to have about 12-to-15 inches on the ground now. I like the way it softens the edges and makes even our yard full of vehicles and equipment look cozy and tranquil.

Not only long snows but long--or longer--days are part of February at our latitude. We welcome the lingering of daylight into actual evening hours but what every Alaskan soon realizes is that despite the lengthening days, the weather can still be bitterly cold and winter is just beginning its second act.

It still feels like a long ride until April.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Another Moon-Dance

I took these pictures last Saturday about four hours apart as the quarter-moon passed across the southern sky.

The photo above was taken through the high living room windows, the one below from the back porch about seven that evening.

Venus emerges from the dusk to join the moon. Enlarge the phots for a better look.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Change in the Weather

The wind kicked up Sunday evening just about dusk. By Monday morning, the wind was driving a fine, cold snow.

By the time the storm had passed, we had around fifteen inches to our snow pack.

Despite the precipitation, our temperatures remained cool as polar air fills in behind the low. We saw the mercury dip to four degrees below zero this morning.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sunrise on Mount Redoubt

All is still fairly quiet on the summit.

Photo courtesy of the Alaska Volcanoo Institute's webcam.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunset on Mount Redoubt

A small puff of steam from a vent near the summit is lit by the sinking sun.

Photo courtesy of the Alaska Volcanoo Institute's webcam.

Small Alaskan Town

One on the major intersections in our town and the only one to sport a real traffic light. (You have to drive seventy-some miles north before you hit the next stop light.) You wouldn't believe the angst and drama that preceded its installation--fears that it would ruin the ambiance of the town. But it has made getting around a lot smoother, especially during the summer.

I snapped this last Wednesday as I was leaving the post office.