Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Big One

March 27, 1964. . .

Time in Alaska is divided into Before the Quake and After the Quake.

We lived in Fairbanks at the time. That fateful Friday afternoon, I was sitting in the bathroom (why does all the interesting stuff happen while I'm on the pot?) and felt the floor begin to shake. I thought--Oh, Richard is dancing in the living room--and finished my business. Richard was in the throes of adolescence in 1964 and given to spontaneous outbursts of clumsy dancing. It wasn't the first time the floor had shaken.

The floor was still bouncing when I went out to the living room and no dancing was in progress but the family was gathering there and beginning to figure out that it was an earthquake. By then, the quake had been going on long enough that the lady across the street was loading her kids into the family car. We watched through our big suburban 1960s picture-window while our house quivered and creaked. "Where does she think she's going to take them?" my mother asked.

We all had a laugh at that.

A few sidewalks cracked in Fairbanks. That was about the size of it and we went about our day.

Now, you may not remember--or know--how crappy communications were up here in the early 1960s. Telephone calls went through cables and required operator assistance. Television was a blend of local programming and tape-delayed network programming. We would see video of national events the day afterwards--if that soon--and prime-time programs came one week late to Anchorage and two weeks late to Fairbanks.

Satellite communications were non-existent for Alaska.

So we remained unaware of what had just happened elsewhere in our state until later that evening, when our regularly-scheduled programming was interrupted by bulletins and fragmentary reports--all by radio--no video or pictures. Seward was in flames. Anchorage was in ruins.

We would learn later, as bit and pieces of information came in, what historic force had brushed past us. And like everyone in Alaska ever since, we live beside reminders of that force.


This is a photo of the M Street area in Anchorage. The large structure at top center is the old Providence Hospital and Sisters of Providence buildings. The pile of rubble in the upper center is what remains of the Four Seasons apartments. They were just being finished and so were unoccupied when the floors pancaked down. See that horizontally-striped building at upper left, at the crossroads where the big crack begins? That was where we first lived when we moved to Anchorage in 1965. By then the rubble of the Four Seasons had been cleared away and my brother skateboarded on the bare concrete slab.

From there, we moved out to Turnagain Heights--the famously unstable terrain pictured above. Most of that crumpled, broken area would be set aside as Earthquake Park--too dangerous to build on. We lived in the upper left of the photo, two streets over from a road that ended in mid-air.

My brother and I explored Earthquake Park, playing amid the jumbled terrain and oddly-angled trees that remained as testaments to the power of the earthquake even after the debris had been cleared away.

Images from the USGS Photo Library
Click the images for larger views.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Passive Solar Cat

Max maximizes his enjoyment of fresh air and sunshine.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Digging Out

The back deck...

The path by the wood shed, heading toward the shop...

The shop door, with Max's pet door beside it...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Promise of Spring

Despite the snow drifts piling up outside, one of our geraniums has decided to bloom...

The snow is deep but the days are growing longer.

Friday, March 12, 2010

After the Storm

The view out the back window. The skies are clearing.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Our morning view out the back window....

Somewhere in our back yard is a big yellow wheel barrow...

View out the kitchen window...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

More Snow

We had to dig our way into the shop this morning.

Max enjoyed our sttentions as we warmed up and tended the fire. There is a certain tranquility in the quiet routine of our winter mornings...

In the front carport, the wind has sculpted the snow into graceful patterns.

Monday, March 08, 2010

A Break in the Storm

Snow clings to part of the window as the weather briefly clears...

And the Forecast Is For....

Snow spreading north in the morning. Areas of blowing snow. Snow accumulation up to 2 inches except 3 to 8 inches around Kachemak Bay. Highs in the 20s. Northeast wind 20 to 35 mph with gusts to 50 mph along the inlet in the morning.


Snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to one quarter mile or less around Kachemak Bay. Numerous snow showers elsewhere. Snow accumulation 1 to 3 inches except 3 to 6 inches around Kachemak Bay. Lows in the lower to mid 20s. Variable wind 15 mph becoming southwest 10 to 25 mph after midnight. Around Kachemak Bay...west wind 15 to 30 mph increasing to southwest 30 to 45 mph by midnight.

Numerous snow showers. Areas of blowing snow around Kachemak Bay. Snow accumulation up to 2 inches except 2 to 4 inches around Kachemak Bay. Highs in the 20s. South wind 10 to 20 mph except southwest 25 to 40 mph around Kachemak Bay.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Spring Blizzard

See the entire album on Facebook.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Alaskan Cats

Most days you will find Lena and Grendel--two old lady-cats in their mid-teens--sharing a bed in front of the upstairs glass door. On a day like today, with the thermometer just below the twenty-degree mark and the west wind spitting snow, I am glad they are snug and safe.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Space-Age Technology

I was clearing off Denny's end of the kitchen counter a while back and happened upon a small box labelled: Borg Warner.

And I thought to myself, well, if this indeed is a Borg warner, shouldn't we have it installed someplace where we will see it when the Borg approach?

So I put it in the entry.

Let's see if it works...

Monday, March 01, 2010


Max is always glad to see us come in to feed the wood stove in the morning. His bed in the rafters stays toasty warm but he has lived outside too long to take warmth for granted, I guess.