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Wednesday, December 27, 2017


For the last couple of days we have been doing a lot of this - ice skating on Lee Lake out in Bells Flats.  It is sort of amazing that there is ice.  The Lake at Abercrombie was not even frozen on Christmas Day and yet we had good skating out at bells Flats.  Stuey and his cousins all use long blade skates with nordic ski boots attached.  Nora uses hockey skates and I am on figure skates.

Yesterday the highlight of my time on ice was a game of football.  It was super hard to anticipate both your own and the receiver's momentum and throw a complete pass.

The ice was not the smoothest I have ever seen, but it was hard to beat the sunshine!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Opening Presents


At 6AM Stuey pokes his head through my bedroom door, 'Dad can we get up now?'  'Can we at least open up what is in the stockings?'

At 7:15 AM dad has his coffee, a pad and paper to keep the thank you letter list, and the fire is lit.  Now it is present opening time.  They start with the stockings which are supposed to be from Santa but everybody knows is from me.  Lots of socks, some food, knick knacks, and camping gear.

And then we start to open presents.  I was impressed - they did it one at a time.  They would bring one to me, and then Stuey and then Nora.  They even tried to carefully open the presents so that we could re use the wrapping paper.  This is not the way it used to be!

Nora and Stuey liked getting gifts from the doggies.  Stuey got an Alutiiq Museum water bottle from Tank while Nora got an Alutiiq Museum hat from Sheba.  They gave the respective dogs hugs.  Stuey got a mask/wood carving knife from me while Nora got sea otter slippers.  Daddy got to watch and take pictures.

And then it is all over - no more presents.  But it's still Christmas.  It is Christmas all day!

Christmas 2017

Yesterday morning after decorating the tree and putting the presents back underneath

Until yesterday there had not been much Christmas spirit at 4002 Cliffside.  I cut down a tree, but did not decorate it.  A plain, unadorned spruce tree sat in the middle of my living room for over a week.  I did buy presents for the kids and sent off Christmas cards, but that's about it.

And then yesterday the kids got back from their Caribbean cruise.  Thump, thump crash.  I could hear them running up to the front door and crashing on in.  'Dad we're home'.  They brought home the spirit in a big way.  In just a 1/2 hour we had the tree decorated and the lights up.

Christmas Spirit had arrived at 4002 Cliffside.  Patrick

My deer backstop ceviche dish (with shredded apple, shallots and Kiwi) for the Museum Staff party 

Checking out the loot as they put the presents back under the tree

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Many Moods Of Pyramid

Sunrise on the mountain

I've been climbing up Pyramid to go skiing a lot lately.  There is no snow below 900 feet so if I want to ski why then I have to climb a mountain!  Some days it has been beautiful while on others miserable.  But always worth the climb.  Always different.

The last few days there was an epic snowstorm above 1000 feet.  Each day the doggies and I would climb as high as we could stand the blowing snow in the eyes.  At 1800 feet there is a plateau where the wind increases dramatically.  For the last few days that  place has been a nuclear wasteland.  Like really SCREAMING wind and BLOWING snow.  It was 40 mph sustained at the airport so who knows what the doggies and I were experiencing.

And then today it cleared off overnight and at dawn I climbed up to view the sunrise.  No wasteland today - just a dramatic wind sculpted landscape.  The theme of the morning was pink sky and shades of grey. I did not take the doggies because I was worried about breakable crust - they hate breakable crust because it cuts their paws.  

When I got home I took the doggies on a hike to Abercrombie.  No blowing snow, but lots of other doggies to meet and socialize.  Patrick

Getting close to the nuclear wasteland - time to turn around

Doggies waiting for 'go time' when they get to chase me down the mountain

Pink sky above - clouds catching the dawn alpine glow

Look closely and you can see my ski tracks into the north bowl

My 12 Favorite Photos of 2017

Taken for the Plantlore book to Show a Sphagnum moss lamp wick

Here are my favorite pictures of 2017!  Picking them all out I noticed that I seem to have more people pictures than usual.  Normally I tend to be more heavy on the landscapes. I also noticed that my new water proof camera has made a HUGE difference.  The pictures with the old point and shoot actually have the same number of pixels BUT the color quality is no where near as good.  I just wish I'd gotten a full sized sensor rugged camera years ago!

And on to 2018!  Patrick

Stuey and his soccer team mates seem like warriors

This shows camp cooking really well - Ray and his hedgehog mushroom medley

The color and composition works!  Nora on Pilar

Ayakulik Flats in the Refugium

Ayakulik Camp Sunset - it really did look like that!

Uganik River and the trees changing color - pictures from the plane don't usually turn out

I could not have taken this panoramic with my old point and shoot - the color is detailed and individual images stitched together with no distortion at the edges

This was October 23rd! I caught Brewster perfectly!

Skating with a rising full moon at Abercrombie - I wish I had had my new camera!

I liked this one so much I put it on our Christmas card - the subtle petroglyphs make the photo

Whale pass from the top of Whale Island - I later surveyed all the coastline in sight by kayak

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Getting Pasted

Well yesterday we were getting pasted with snow.  Today I am not so sure!  Yesterday it was pouring rain and 39 degrees in town, but when I went skiing we had over a foot of new snow on the mountain.  It was too deep for the doggies!  It put me in a GREAT mood.  Then around 6 PM last night it warmed up to 41 degrees, and now this morning it is 43 degrees with screaming wind and hard rain.  I fear it is now raining to the top of Pyramid.

So from ecstatic to crestfallen .. ... Patrick

Friday, December 22, 2017

9 Almost Favorite Photos of 2017

GREAT expression and joie de vive BUT drab colors and no 'punch'

2017 has less than 10 days left to live.  It is time for the end of year lists, and the one I always do on this blog is my favorite 12 photos of the year.  Last year I had no problem editing my photos down to 12 of my favorites, but this year I found I got to 21 and could not cut it down further.  So I decided to break it down into my favorites and almost favorites.  Any of the almost favorites could make the favorites depending on my daily mood.

So here are the almost favorites.  The Honorable Mention photos so to speak.  The favorite photos are to follow tomorrow or the next day.  Check the captions for why I decided not to make a particular photo a part of the final 12.  And let me know what you think of my choices - after you see the final 12 of course.  Patrick

I used to love this one, but I wish I could see the weeds in the water better and the point to the left annoys me

I REALLY do like this one but it just seems a little cliche

Boys being boys - awesome capture.  But still blah colors and no 'punch'

I REALLY like this one, but also took it recently and it really has not settled in yet.  It also needs to be looked at closely to get the oomph

Cliche - and it is my old point-and-shoot and now I can see the flaws

It is Oystercatcher eggs in a nest made of rocks and shells, and that is what makes it a good photo - not the composition

Another Favorite from early in the summer - it's just that my new camera would do so much better of a job with the colors and grain


Yesterday at 7:28 AM I attended a Solstice Bonfire.  This was BEFORE going in to work.  I think Solstice bonfires have to be in the dark, but usually they happen in the evening.  It's pretty cool to have one in the morning before the sun rises.

Everybody had just gotten up and was drinking coffee and eating breakfast.  A few people who did not have to go to work had mimosas or Baileys with their coffee.  Kind of cool to see the darkest it will get in the mornings.  Afterwards I drove to work in the dark and I did not get truly light until close to 10.  But now every morning it will get a little lighter.

Happy Solstice!


Thursday, December 21, 2017


I'm told that living in Alaska during winter that I should watch my vitamin D levels.  I gather that most of us Alaskans do not get enough.  Maybe I should get my levels checked.  That said I suspect I get more than most because I do try and get outside every afternoon.  And it is often sunny.  I often don't wear a hat or gloves either - sometimes hiking up the mountain I even roll up my sleeves to cool off.  I know that come spring my face and hands are tan while everyone else is Snow White.  So how much vitamin D am I soaking up in the sunshine?

Yesterday in the sunshine I do know I got at least a couple nanograms worth!  On the ski down I had a wipe out and just lay there in the sunshine looking at my skis.  It was a pleasant moment in the warm sunshine.  Patrick