Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I closed my eyes

and let out a deep, satisfied sigh.  Somehow I came across this batch of pictures today, and was deeply moved.  These snapshots from 2009 chronicle one of our many, late evening boat trips down the Chena River, onto the Tanana and one of its thousands of sandbars in a constant state of flux, being shaped by the currents.----so I came out of hibernation to add this entry.

These pictures mean so much to me.  Seeing Big Moose's hair tousled by the wind racing Big Fish across the sandbar,  remembering our elongated shadows in the sand or the kids making forts out of driftwood, and attempting to start a bonfire "the old fashioned way" leaves me wishing for those long, warm summer days.  And the sun.  Especially the sun.  We are in a downward spiral into darkness as winter solstice approaches, so these pictures give me hope.  Things WILL get better :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh so busy

It is cold, the days are short, Small Fish turned two, the Christmas tree is up and the children are bursting at the seams with excitement. We are insanely busy this week, no time to for another week I'm off the air. Some random pictures:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The First Christmas Card 2010

The first Christmas card this year came from my sweet niece Viktoria, who will turn 5 in a few days, and who lives in Hungary.

"Mi is Boldog Karacsonyt Kivanunk, Viki, es Boldog Szuletesnapot!"

I must go now.  Big Moose and Small Moose are butting heads.  Quite literally.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ice-pocalyps 2010

Fairbanks is iced in. The roads are, quite literally, ice skating rinks. This is not an overstatement: yesterday the whole town came to a halt. Many drivers very optimistically thought their driving skills were solid enough to overcome the challenge, but soon realized there is no driving on this stuff when cars began to slide down backwards on hills, sideways into ditches, and 5 school buses ended up off road. A gravel truck did a 360. Fire trucks slid into fellow drivers. You get the picture.

Things started Monday morning around 7 am, when freezing rain started to drizzle. We were forewarned by the National Weather Service, so when I got up at 6, I obsessively began to look outside at our street. By 8 the street looked as if a Zamboni had licked it into a fine sheen. Overall at least an inch of ice had accumulated in town, more outside. I stopped J from going to work when he was already backing out of the garage, unaware of the quickly deteriorating conditions. When we checked local news and websites we realized that this is the worst ice this town has ever experienced.  These are unseasonably warm temperatures, too but not for long as the temps will drop by a cool 60 degrees by this weekend, and we'll be in -20F -or so say the weather watchers.

School and work are canceled for the rest of the week. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Winter Colors


Winter Eyes

Summer Good Byes

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Talented Big Fish

...has been very busy lately. She loves graphic design. She loves to write. She creates with fierce energy for hours on end, day in and out. Her characters come to life in the digital realm at the strokes of her digi-pen, obeying the drumbeat of her imagination. Her finger tips cast sparks as they move about on the keyboard channeling the stories of her mind. She makes comic books and drawings of all sorts.

Art truly has become a passion for her this past year. She'd draw 4-5 hours each day if it weren't for my well-meaning interventions. "Look at your posture child, move to your desk please" or "your eyes need a break" or "homework,anyone?" Although I love seeing her immersed in creative work, watching proudly as she comes into her own, as she hones her skills...I try to keep her from being plugged in so much of the time. Oh, but to keep her from her art! (*sigh*)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meet Piggy the brown lunch sack puppet

Small Moose felt inspired. Piggy was born. And now he is sharing her with the world....
P.S: Correction... Small Moose has just informed me that Piggy is a boy. We are sharing him with the world.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Condition: (Hypo) Critical

I've had this post in mind since January, but hadn't the time to get to it. It is in a slightly different vein than most posts: it is meant as a revealing look at Fairbanks people-scapes, as opposed to the awesome landscapes which I have posted on before. Well, people are a major part of our lives, arguably playing a role even more influential than the natural beauty that surrounds us, so here goes:

On a January day in 2010, while reading the local paper, two articles stood out to me, both front page news, occupying space side-by-side. I am including the links to both articles, but for those of you wanting to read the abridged version, here is the summary:

Article One:
"Fairbanks air quality remains unhealthy
An averaged pollution reading for the borough was 97.8 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter of air as of 4 p.m. on Monday, according to the borough Air Quality Index. Anything more than 35.5 micrograms of particulate matter is above the level deemed acceptable by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "


(Note: this happens in Fairbanks annually when, during extremely low winter temperatures, there is a temperature inversion forcing a mass of cold air to sit on top of warmer air close to the ground and forces the pollution from cars, chimneys etc. to settle low)

Article Two:
"Frozen Gore’ sculpture returns in Fairbanks to fuel climate change debate
(...)The two-ton “Frozen Gore” sculpture isn’t exactly a tribute. It’s a tongue-in-cheek critique of Gore’s vocal belief in man-made climate change, complete with hot air pouring out of his mouth.
(...) Local businessmen Craig Compeau and Rudy Gavora contracted the piece from award-winning sculptor Steve Dean (...) This year’s version includes special effects, thanks to a system that pipes the exhaust from a Ford F-350 out of Gore’s open mouth. Compeau will fire up the truck periodically this winter to create the “hot air” effect. "

Can you believe it? So air pollution is so bad that the elderly and sick are urged to stay indoors, and we're asked to avoid burning wood and coal if we have alternate means to heat our homes. On the same day, Compeau and Gavora unnecessarily run their Ford F-350 throughout the day to create special effects for their dumb statue. And do so proudly.

But how can they get away with it? Well, perhaps some of the reader comments posted in response to the air quality article provide explanation (note the spelling :)

The air seemed fine to me. I've been breathing all morning.

Tell a lie often enough and even you will belive it. (...) Our elected officals should be screeming bloody murder about this latest EPA suptidity, but no they are all looking for where they can a job when their terms are up.

A few weeks ago the FNM printed interviews of half a dozen citizens asked what they thought of the air quality. It was not surprising that none expressed an opinion that it was ruining their health

This is just a small sample of local ignorance. I didn't even include the comment that pointed out how radon was also "supposed to be" dangerous, but it hasn't killed the poster so far. Stop the press! Radon toxicity is just a government conspiracy!

17 comments, and all of them in favor of bad air. I guess scientific facts are irrelevant for some.  So long as they believe hard enough in whatever narrative, it can be truth.  Everything is a matter of a belief system.  Radon is harmless and particulate air pollution is not real.  This way one can live their whole life in blissful ignorance of facts, AND lecture others who live in reality.  Talk about getting caught up in fighting for (against?) one problem, while contributing to another.  And so it came to pass that Compeau and Gavora, in a misguided, emotional and reactionary attempt to discredit the scientific fact of global warming (because they don't believe in it), proudly soiled the communal bathwater.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

From Green to Bare, From 60 to 30: Fall in Fairbanks

Oh, no, don't you blink, or you might miss it! "What?", you ask? Autumn in Fairbanks, of course! It lasts precisely 4 weeks sometime between the end of August and the end of September.

So the story goes like this: sometime during the last week of August you notice that birch leaves are starting to turn yellow. The next day you wake up and realize that many more have done just that, and a few even have given up and fallen to the ground. Two weeks later you realize the birch trees are half bare, and your yard is blanketed with what was shed. Two weeks after that, the birch tree in front of your house looks positively winter-ready. Also, you go from temperatures in the mid-sixties (18 C for you Europeans) one week to mid-thirties and below the next ( 2C).

Kids went from shorts to coats and hats / gloves virtually overnight. Winter is here. The slide show above chronicles this process via the annual death of our birch tree at the end of the driveway. The first photo was taken on August 28 (very few yellow leaves) and the last on September 25 (bare branches).

And now the harvest moon can no longer hide behind the veil of foliage. Brrr...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Comments Fixed

My dear, loyal followers (the both of you :)

The Post Comment link has been fixed. So comment away, but be nice... I have mad computer skills and will totally track you down.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Those elusive, yet flamboyant Northern Lights

A couple of nights ago J and I had the privilege of watching a superb celestial dance show put on by the northern lights directly overhead. The display filled the sky clear across our town, and was so vivid.... we haven't seen them like this for a couple of years. Admittedly, I am no photographer, and my gear is appropriately amateurish.

I took this picture -not impressive by any means and easily outdone by a few Google image searches. However, this image is mine and so is the experience which makes it, for me, better than perfect. I saw the lights, I felt the crisp autumn breeze mixed with these northern colors caress my skin, and J and I held each other under the weaving sky. Life is good.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Grandmas are great, but Grandmas who knit are AWESOME!

My children are very fortunate in that they have a wonderful grandma who never fails to remember birthdays, Christmases, Easter and even second-rate holidays such as Valentine's Day. She sends cards, packages and lots of love. It sure is good to know that someone under this Great Blue Sky cares about us.

So the other day we received a package full of knitted goodies for Small Fish. Here she is modeling the luscious bathrobe, and the exquisite hoodie / pant set Grandma made, and having fun while doing it. More pictures to come of the other wonderful items. Thank you grandma, we love you!
and, here it is....the tulip skirt, snapped by Mommy finally for the blog update:

Monday, August 23, 2010

"I want to lick it!"

Location: North Pole, Alaska, 16 mi South of Fairbanks. Population 2200. Home of world famous Santa Claus House, and 44 candy cane light poles.

(and a McDonald's, a Wendy's, a Subway, a Taco Bell, and a Pizza Hut. I guess even elves need to!)

It is a place of wonderment for all. Small Moose can hardly take the sight of the huge candy cane light poles. "I want to lick it!" he exclaims, reaching for one. Cute.

OK, so this happened years ago, when he was two. But we always think of him when we drive through town. Like we did the other day, following a fun filled trip to Birch Lake. To us, North Pole will always be the place of lick-able light poles.

(Winter scence. Source:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Small Moose, Big Brother

Small Moose: "Mom, I'm building a house out of pillows!"

Me: "How fun! Will you let Small Fish in? Look she's knocking!"

SM: "She can never come in. It's MY house."

Me: "But she is your baby sister and you always have to protect her."

[This must be a good opportunity to teach a life lesson somehow....Great! I got it!]

"What if there is a snowstorm and she's freezing outside?"

SM: [rolling his eyes, and with a self-evident tone]
"It's a RAIN storm!...... AND she has an umbrella!"

Me: (sigh) "I stand corrected."

Small Moose turned 5 two weeks ago :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Subtleties of Living in Alaska

Eight signs that you live in Alaska (probably not mentioned in your travel guide):

1. You realize that virtually every home you visit has multiple thermometers, placed strategically outdoors so they are visible from most rooms in the house.

Part II of this observation: talk of the weather is a real topic of interest, as opposed to empty space / awkward silence filler.

2. You find yourself in a heated debate about the current temp when you drive around during the winter months, and get a dozen different readings from the many digital clock-thermometer signs businesses put up outdoors. And by the way, over time you get to know all of them, and know which ones are most accurate.

3. You don't see your neighbors at all for 9 months of the year, but when they emerge for summer, they spend the entire season weatherizing the house for next winter.

4. Children -even preschoolers- are marched outside for fresh air or recess up to -20F (approx.-30C) daily.

5. You find yourself hoarding winter gear for every member of the family. Over time, you accumulate enough boots, coats, face masks, hats, scarves, mittens, snowsuits and pants to put an REI store to shame.

6. You call winter jackets "parkas."

7. Your new mantra: "Duct tape fixes everything." In fact, you may even own a parka so old, it is held together with duct tape in several spots, but you won't throw it away "just in case" (see point 5).

8. You find a moose tooth in your car during cleaning.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Moose Molar: or, when you know you're Alaskan

So the other day, while picking up in the far back row of our vehicle, the one I rarely dare venture into, and clean even less, and never without steadying my heart first (I never know what horrors await) this is what I found. A moose tooth. Which is not the worst thing I've found in my car, not by a long shot.

Not too bad, I thought. At least the skull wasn't still attached. Big Fish found it by the river the other day, but I didn't know she kept the car.

And then, it hit me: Big Fish really is interested in wildlife, and maybe she will be a vet after all. Furthermore, I felt Alaskan. For a brief moment, it was so tangible. Because life is mundane most days. Wherever you live, there you are. Living in Alaska can be exotic, but those moments seldom reveal themselves. Yet, this moment for me, was one of those. Usually I find notebook pages, drawings, pencils or remnants of nacho chips under the seats. And now, moose molar in back of car.... I checked it off on the list.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Proper Summer Treat for Adults

This Campari-Citrus Sorbet is a frosty, fruity delight made with either orange or grapefruit juice. Well, and Campari of course! Very smooth...thank you Mowielicious! Recipe here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Oh, Alaska!

A conference I attended recently brought me to Anchorage, and J and I decided to take the whole family and made a road trip out of it. Driving through the Alaska Range is always breathtaking. Here is a sample of what it looks like just outside of Denali National Park. This was taken on the way back home, as we are driving from Anchorage up north, about to reach the small town of Cantwell just outside Park borders (find Cantwell on the Google map below). The video quality is not great because I compressed it a lot for internet use.

View Larger Map

When we stopped at the Cantwell gas station, I snapped a picture of this ad. It is SO Alaskan.

Here is Big Moose in Denali Park at the Crow's Nest restaurant.

And here is the wildest moose of all, our very own Small Moose:

Big Fish has been the quiet, reserved type lately, but I managed to snap a few pictures of her.


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