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Friday, December 30, 2016

Sunset Skate Ski

Yesterday in the late afternoon I took the dog pack for a skate ski up in the alpine.  Everything was brightly lit with a golden glow.  The dogs chased after me and the occasional rabbit.  I bombed all over the place, and could not resist another attempt at capturing it on video.  I noticed that the camera tried to make the snow white and took away the golden glow. Oh well.

Back at the house I took care of a sick Nora. The dog pack racked out on the couches and snored with the occasional 'chasing rabbit' twitch.  We had planned on going to Anchorage but Nora woke up with the stomach flu.  It was a quiet evening at the Saltonstall house.

Good thing we had not left for Anchorage a day early!


Gaining Space - Nurturing Lifelong Passion

The garden one of my particular passions back in 2000 - it is still going strong in 2016

One benefit of the dramatic changes to my life this past fall is that my world is now less cluttered.  No where is this more apparent than in the house.  An amazing amount of stuff followed its mistress out the door.  And slowly but surely the kids and I have been cleaning out cabinets, closets, and even rooms of the detritus of abandoned hobbies, pursuits, and even passions.

Totes full of 'self help' and 'how to' books.  Gear packed away in closets that once related to an avid pursuit that somehow, at some point lost its inspirational focus.  It no longer fed the soul, and into the closet it went - cabinets literally stuffed with stuff.

In the kitchen there are now empty shelves, and in all the cabinets there is enough free space that you can slide things around and actually see what is in there.  In the living room there is space on the bookshelves.  It is getting easier to find what you really do need.  Rather than 3 or 4 half empty jars of peanut butter in the fridge there is now just one. 

A few days ago Stuey asked, 'will cleaning out the closets and rooms mean there are less spiders?' Yes Stuey it does.

I believe a cleaned out and organized house with plenty of space helps to nurture pastimes. In a very real way a clean and organized house also clears the mind.  And not only is everything easy to find, but it is right there at hand and ready to use.  In an organized space it is difficult for gear to get 'out of sight - out of mind'. Also while less stuff means less choices it also means that you can do a few things really well.  It brings focus, and you tend to stick with things, and learn how to do them really well.

I believe in passions that last a lifetime. Pastimes with bottom. It is important to persevere with your hobbies, and I am convinced that an uncluttered house will help us here.

I've found that in many of my hobbies I tend to plateau or even stagnate at some point.  This is what happened with tele skiing. I got to a point were for years it seemed I'd get no better.  I just could not do a tele turn in deep powder.  And then suddenly the Heavens parted and it happened - I kicked it up a notch and reached a new plateau. A plateau where I could do tele turns in deep powder. A place that could only be achieved by 'putting in the time' - perseverance pays.  Patrick

Nora picking up and learning what I hope will be a lifetime pursuit

Thursday, December 29, 2016


While cleaning up the house the other day the kids found some St Mary's projects from last spring.  One of their projects was to write about an important mentor in their life.  Nora wrote about me.

I read it and it put me in a good mood.  A really good mood.  I think whenever I read it it will put me in a good mood.

Thank You Nora! 


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Joe Floyd L'il Dribbler All Stars

Coach Danelski and the rest of Stuey's team

L'il Dribblers basketball ended back around Thanksgiving.  Stuey actually missed the tournament because we went to Maine.  But this year they picked a group of all stars to continue playing in December.  And Stuey made the all star team!

Anyway, the culmination of the L'il Dribbler all star practices was a game between them at the annual Joe Floyd high school basketball tourney.  One half of the all stars was coached by Mr Danelski and the other by Mr Horn.  Stuey was on the Danelski team.

The L'il Dribbler all stars game was immediately after a game between two big kid teams from the Anchorage area, and the gym was packed.  'Oh my', I thought, 'this is way bigger than I thought it was going to be!'  I even had to pay an admission fee of 6 dollars.

The game began and all the high school players cheered very loudly for the 3rd and 4rth grade L'il Dribblers. It was awesome to see the players of today cheer on the players of tomorrow.  Stuey even scored 3 points!  His team lost but wow what an experience!  Patrick

Players getting announced

Stuey on the bench

Running Brewster

'What? You're not fiddling with that camera again - let's go!'

Yesterday I took Brewster for a skate ski at the pass.  It was perfect conditions - a couple inches of powder on top of a solid carvable crust. We cruised around in the alpine for almost 2 hours.  Brewster got to see and chase a few rabbits and even a cross fox.  The powder in the sunshine was glorious.  I know that Brewster got a workout.

Sometimes I wonder if this sort of uber exercise is a good thing for Brewster.  I know the exercise is good for Brewster, but I wonder if he sort of gets addicted to it. Too much of it and he gets SUPER hyper when he doesn't get the super long walk/run. 

When I got home and took the other dogs for a walk Brewster was still totally hyper for the second walk.  He might be too fit!

Anyway I made a video that shows what it was like running brewster in the alpine.  Patrick

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas with a smaller pack

This was our first Christmas as a smaller pack.  And it seems that at times the old adage 'the more things change the more they stay the same' holds true.  The biggest change from last year is that instead of 7 we are now 6.  Looking back on the day I am struck by how much everything stayed the same.  And, funnily enough, nothing was planned out - it all just happened that way.

Like last year, on Christmas Eve we went to Evening Mass at St Mary's, and then on Christmas day we opened presents around the tree in the morning, took the dogs for a family hike in the forest, and cooked up an elk roast for dinner with friends.  Later in the evening we sat around the fire in our new chairs and read our new books.

All dressed up for Evening Mass

Nora refused to be photographed at Evening Mass

I think my favorite part was the Evening Mass at St Mary's.  It was Nora's idea to go.  Last year they were in the Nativity play, but this year it was their friends in the play.

While at the event I realized that Christmas is not Christmas without some sort of prayer or contemplative thought.  Christmas needs meaning or it becomes just presents and crass commercialism.

Our family is not Catholic, but the mass and liturgy still hit all the right points.  I almost cried shaking hands with all the people in the neighboring seats (actually I did cry but just a little bit).  Nora knew all about how to read and sing the carols out of the books, and told me that if I did go to communion I'd have to cross my arms in front of my chest because I am not Catholic.  The priest told the Nativity story and it was all about the 'little guy' and the 'unimportant' people and why it was so significant that Jesus was born in a manger and not a palace.

With the meaning of Christmas out of the way, Christmas morning was all about opening presents.  I was impressed that the kids lasted until almost 7:30 before starting to open presents.  And at first it was a mad rush of ripping paper and squeals.  I could see that it was going to be over far too quickly, and instituted a policy of opening one present at a time while the others watched.This worked out really well, and the kids managed to savor a whole hour of present opening.

Looks like when it freezes back up we'll have some good skating!

Later in the day we all took the dogs for a hike in the woods. Stuey brought along one of his favorite Christmas presents - a new 'wrist rocket' sling shot.  I told him the rules - no people, animals or windows.  And he seemed to stick to them pretty well.  On the hike we met a few neighbors and all laughed about the inevitable broken windows.  I was relieved to hear them laugh, and we all agreed that broken windows are a part of youth and way better than some sort of inside digital or battery operated experience. Nonetheless, Stuey will lose the slingshot if I see him breaking rules; this was the same thing I was told as a kid. Funnily enough, and this is something me and the neighbors all seemed to understand, is that learning how to break the rules is also a part of growing up (and Stuey you better not be reading this!).

And no, Stuey did not take a potshot at Nora - only trees and inanimate objects

For Christmas dinner we had Lisa and Gregg and John S over for an elk roast flavored with homegrown garlic, and served with roasted carrots and beets from the garden and a big dish of Yorkshire pudding.  I looked back at the pictures from last year and saw many of the same people sitting at the same table with the same red table cloth (click here).

This year the elk roast was a huge piece of backstrap and I used my 'red neck' sous vide recipe (click here) to cook it up. This year instead of resting the roast at 128 degrees I kept it at 130 for an hour or so.  It came out perfectly, and I even noticed John cutting up his slices of meat on the plate with a fork!

Happy Holidays from the smaller pack!  Patrick

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Crust Cruising at the Pass

 For the past week the downhill skiing has been so good on the mountain that I have not bothered to go cross country skiing down low.  But yesterday I decided to give it a try, and boy was it good!

It's been years since we had such good skate skiing at the pass.  There is a deep base and there was just enough fast, refrozen, soft stuff on top that I had complete control of the skis.  I was able to bomb through the trees and fly all over the place.  I had a ball and wished I had not spent quite as much time downhill skiing during the week.

Today my upper body is pleasantly worn out from the workout.  All that double poling to maintain speed.  And at the airport it says is it raining and 37 degrees.  So it looks like the ski conditions will be changing.  Oh well, but at least I got in one good crust cruise.  Patrick

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Solstice Bonfire

 Tuesday night I was getting ready to cook dinner when we were invited to an neighbor's impromptu Solstice bonfire.  We could hear the fire crackling and see the flames flickering through the trees from the front door of our house.  I grabbed a pack of hotdogs and we stumbled our way along the cliffside footpath to our neighbor Brian's house.

We came out of the dark trees and into the brightly lit circle of the fire, and found a group of neighbors all gathered round the fire.  Nora, Stuey and I cooked hotdogs for dinner, and later I had a few beers and talked by the fire while the kids chased around with the other kids.

An impromptu  bonfire gathering - the ultimate wintertime Kodiak moment.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Pleasant Surprises - both before and after the storm

The driving actually wasn't too bad because they had plowed to dirt on Friday - no slush on ice

Sunday morning I looked out the window to a hard rain and driving winds.  The trees were all shaking and there were whitecaps on Mill Bay.  It looked like a day for staying inside by the fire with a book.  I had the good book and really did not want to go outside.  

I put off going outside until 11:30 and got soaked getting in the car.  My plan was to go skiing in the rain, and come home to a hot shower.

But then something amazing happened.  As I got closer to the mountain the rain turned to 'cat's paws' and then full on snow.  By the time I got to the parking lot it was a full on blizzard and there was almost a half foot of new snow.  

I climbed to the very top.  For some reason it had not been windy on Pyramid and the snow was not wind effected up high. Nobody but me on the mountain and I got to make the first tracks down the mountain.  Deep powder - I had to limit the turns to keep my speed up! 

What a pleasant surprise!

This is the parking lot and that's my car on the right

The next day I was in for another pleasant surprise.  I drove up to the pass expecting a rain crust, and indeed, at the parking lot everything was icy and rock hard.  I was sort of bummed I had not brought my skate skis.

I had Brewster with me and climbed on up the mountain.  And not too far up above the parking lot I found that it was all POWDER.  REAL POWDER.  The kind you don't usually find on Kodiak.  And glorious sunshine.  When Brewster followed me down the mountain he was disappearing under the snow between bounds.  It was unbelievable.

So 2 days and 2 very pleasant surprises.


My friend Dale's powder pic taken with his phone

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rain to Ice

Wow, that looks Medieval!

 This weekend the weather could not make up its mind.  On Friday it started with rain.  Then on Saturday it was gorgeous and cold. But the skiing was awful - an ice rink.  Finally, on Sunday it closed with rain and snow.  And the skiing was back to fantastic.

Friday afternoon I was impressed with Nora when she asked me to take her skiing at the golf course.  The rain had held off all morning but it started to rain HARD just as we loaded up the dogs and headed out of town.  We got to our destination and it was looking pretty medieval outside.

But once we got out of the car and started 'doing' it wasn't so bad.  At least the snow was soft and we were outside.  We did a big figure 8 loop and the dogs bounced all around us as we circum-navigated the golf course.

We also achieved a milestone of sorts.  Every year it seems we have to get Nora new boots.  Sometimes she barely gets to use them before they are too small and are passed on to Stuey.  But on Friday I noticed that Nora's feet are almost as big as mine - we tried an old pair of mommy boots and they fit!  A little loose, but Nora is still growing too.  It seems the days of forever obsolete kids boots might be coming to an end.  Nora is graduating to adult hand-me-downs.


But hey the XC skiing was good

Saturday was boilerplate once everything froze