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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ice & Fish

Sunday afternoon Nora, Stuey and I went ice skating on Lake Gertrude in Abercrombie State Park.  Doug D and Tanner joined us for a bit.  We did the usual races, drag whip in the sled, and Nora and I would do our 'tea for two' dance.  Tea for two is when I skate backwards and pull along Nora by holding her ski poles.  The long poles sort of make it like a waltz or something.  Then in unison we sing, 'tea for two .. ..'  and go around the lake.

Anyway, as we were packing up to leave Eric M showed up with his ice auger and ice fishing equipment.  Stuey and Nora were intrigued, and watched as Eric bored a hole in the ice.  Stuey helped by scooping the ice shavings out of the auger hole.  The ice was 2 feet thick! 

Then Eric started fishing and I was thinking, 'oh no - this may take a while', and I sort of had a feeling that Stuey was not leaving until Eric caught a fish.  Nora got bored and went up to the car.  And then Eric caught a fish - a little landlocked silver salmon.  Probably 2 or 3 years old, but they do not grow quickly in the lake.  Eric gave Stuey the silver and we took it home for dinner.  Stuey ate the whole fish. 

I'm thinking rabbit hunting next weekend.



Sunday, January 29, 2017

Back on Ice

Earlier this month we had some fantastic skating on all the local lakes.  But then it snowed, rained and I just assumed that the good skating conditions were history.  So this weekend it was a pleasant surprise to find smooth snow-ice at Abercrombie.  The ice is white and not black because all the snow that was on top of the black ice froze - hence 'snow ice'.  Yesterday it also made funny noises when you skated on it because there are in effect 2 layers of ice, and the top layer would crack on occasion.

Anyway, I was super happy when Stuey wanted to go skating.  So off we went, and for a couple of hours we had the whole lake to ourselves in the sunshine.  Patrick

The golf course is pretty icy too, but good enough for skate skiing

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Weather Luck

They say that the third time is the charm, but today it sure wasn't.  In my case with the weather after work this week the first two tries were the bomb, and today was awful.  Monday went as described in my last blog post - awful weather that miraculously cleared.  And on Tuesday it was pouring as I drove out the road and then a blizzard at the Pyramid parking.  I was sure it would be awful, but then it cleared off as miraculously as it had on Monday (see photos).  Another gorgeous ski when I had expected a soaking.

Well today I got my soaking.  Just like yesterday it was a blizzard at the parking lot.  I actually dared think maybe I'll get lucky again as I headed up the mountain and into the snowstorm.  But it was not to be.  I only got half way up the mountain before the high winds and blowing snow made it impossible to go any further.  My eyes are still a little sore from the blown snow battering they got (I hate goggles). Oh well, at least it was snowing.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Across the lake into the trees

'lower canyon' - nothing open! Note otter tracks

This morning I woke up to snow, and it continued to snow after I drove in to work in the dark - snowing HARD, snow swirling in the street lights, blotting out the horizon. It was supposed to turn to rain so there was a certain feeling of angst. Would it continue? As it brightened up outside I'd check frequently to check if it was still snowing.  All was good (and my car did achieve a nice mantle of white) until around noon when it started to rain.  Drat! But maybe it would still be snowing at the golf course.  .. ..

So at 1PM when I got off work I rushed out the door to go skiing before it got too mushy.  It could only get worse right?

I got to the antenna field and it was all a misty fog and the road was not plowed.  So to play it safe I decided to park at the outlet to Buskin Lake and ski across the lake to the area above Buskin Lake where I usually cross country ski.  In years past I used to do this a lot, but the last few winters Buskin lake has not frozen solid.  This was the first time I have skied across Buskin lake in at least 3 years!

And it was as I remembered it - a big white open expanse.  I passed a few open holes where bubbling methane from rotting vegetation on the bottom kept the ice from forming.  I could see the bubbles in the black water.

I got to my usual haunts, and into what is known as the 'alder tunnel' - an old military road that is now lined with alders.  I looked up and noticed a patch of blue.  It had not only stopped raining - it was clearing up.  By the time I got to the canyon at the headwaters of the Buskin it was blue skies above.  Wow!  That was not supposed to happen.  Some days you just get lucky with the weather.

I dropped down into the river bed and skied up into the canyon.  This is another ski we have not been able to do for a few years.  I noticed some tracks on the snow connected with a long skid mark.  Mr otter seemed to be enjoying the snow too.  I'd see where he dropped into holes in the snow and travel under the ice for a bit before popping back up out of the holes to continue his journey bounding and sliding through the snow.  You can see his tracks if you look carefully at the top photo.

I got far up into the canyon and then it was time to go home.  Mr otter tracks continued on up into the canyon - maybe on his way to Sheratin Bay. On the way home it completely cleared off and the mountains were white against the black trees. A spectacular afternoon ski.

At the beginning of the new blog last fall I often related what songs my iPod played for me in the car.  The idea being that it catches my mood in that I only notice songs that 'grab my psyche' so to speak.  Today on the way back from my ski the iPod picked 'There you go' by Johnny Cash, 'Kodachrome' by Paul Simon, and 'She talks to Angels' by the Black Crowes.  Not sure how Kodachrome fits in there exactly, and I don't know any heroin addicts, but Johnny Cash sings it like it is.

The true canyon

Upper Buskin River - homeward bound (going downriver) - with otter tracks going upriver

Trees silhouetted black against the sunlit mountains

Alder tunnel with tracks

View of Pyramid on the way home - Buskin Lake to the right

Monday, January 23, 2017

Trees and Shadows

Sunday morning the pack went for a ski at the golf course.  Tank, Sheba and Brewster prowled the alders along the edges of the fairways attempting to jump rabbits while Stuey, Nora and I skiied.  I was SUPER happy that Nora and Stuey wanted to ski rather than sled.  Although, it must be said, Stuey was not in the greatest mood.  It was mostly Nora and I skiing together while Stuey did his own thing.

I was struck by the tree shadows on the snow and tried to capture the image.  Looking into the sun the shadows were quite dramatic and mirrored the tree trunk silhouettes against the sky.  In the foreground the snow sparkled in the sunlight.  It was very hard to capture the 'sparkles'.

Brewster found a frozen dead baby deer and followed us carrying the entire front quarter attached to the head - meat, hair, jaw and all.  Eventually I took them from him and put them high out of his reach in a tree.  But on the next lap he scrounged up another quarter.

This morning it is snowing, but it is supposed to turn to rain.  The winter recreation scene is getting a reset.  New snow conditions to come.  Patrick

Trees and shadows using the 'drama' setting on the camera

Same view after 1/2 hour or so - note how the shadows rotated at the sun moved viewer's left to right

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Some Sledding

Yesterday I was crushed when the kids did not want to go cross country skiing.  They wanted to go sledding.  And so off to Jeremy's we went to see if Emmy and Laura Bell would go sledding with us.  They have some pretty impressive hills around their house!

All did not go well.  Stuey had some impressive crashes and ended the day very unhappy and with bright red ears.  And Emmy got dragged behind a speeding sled that did not stop.  Stuey and Nora bickered. 

But all went well too.  There were some exhilarating rides.  and not every ride ended in a painful crash.  We went sledding.



 Yesterday when I took the dogs for a walk in the park a raven joined us.  It was extremely odd, and had me thinking 'Edgar Allen Poe' like thoughts, and of omens and auguries.  Ravens are big and impressive, and very very black.  And he or she was making the strangest croaking and clicking noises.

Raven arrived with whooshing noises as he flapped through the trees, and a lit on a branch. The dogs noticed him and barked.  I thought it was neat and took his picture (top photo).  It got odd when the raven continued to follow us as we followed the trails through the park.  Whoosh woosh then click, click.  And then a rolling 'errrrr errrrrghhhh gah' croak.  I'd take his picture again and then he'd flap ahead to the next perch.  More whoooshh, whooosh.  At times he would point his beak straight up in the air and open and close it (bottom photo).

This continued all through the park, and even for a bit after we left the park.  Finally, when there were no longer any more spruce trees nearby to land in - he flew off and left us.  Very Odd.  Patrick

 Here is a link to a video clip of the raven making his croaking noises - calling my name.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Cold but dry

Nora and Stuey out shoveling walks and driveways before the sun

Yesterday and last night we got some more new snow.  The biggest snowfall of the winter - at our house anyway. This is kind of surprising because it was not all that big of a snowstorm, and yet it has felt like a snowy winter so far.  But in reality it has just been a cold winter.  We have not gotten much snow at all (only 9inches total), but what snow we have gotten has stuck around.  Even with yesterday's snow we have still are at only a little more than half the snow we had at this point last winter and whopping 20 inches less than normal.

Another factor, is that much of the snow this winter has been 'ocean effect' snow.  This is snow that is created when warm wet air off the gulf turns to snow when it hits land.  It generally only falls at the north end of town and is under-represented at the airport where they keep the snow fall records.  For instance, in this recent storm they got less than 3 inches at the airport - but we got around 6 inches at our house on the north end of town.  Patrick

Note only 9 inches of snow to date - that's 20 inches below normal and half what we'd had by this time last year

Exhibit Opening with Kids

During a pause in the exhibit opening conversational chaos, I was wondering where Stuey ran off to when Nora came up and told me that 'she was going to help light the lamp'.  'Phweww', I thought, 'at least she's busy'.  And then I ran off to find Stuey and make sure he was not adding to the chaos elsewhere (and to keep him occupied I eventually set him up on YouTube mindcraft videos - bad me).

Exhibit openings are a big deal on the job for museum curators, and here I was at the 'Living Alaska' exhibit opening with my kids.  The exhibit highlights all the art purchases by various museums around the state through the Rasmuson Foundation's Rasmuson Art Acquisition Fund.  It is a traveling exhibit and this was the Kodiak opening - a big deal.  Sven H curated the exhibit and was even back in Kodiak for it.  My job at the event was to talk to people and take photographs, but it seemed I also had some parental duties.

I heard April announce that the opening ceremony was to begin and rushed over to photograph it.  And there was Nora lighting the lamp.  What an incredible honor!  I had thought that by 'helping' she was setting up the table, getting the wick and oil into the lamp, finding a lighter. .. ..But no - there she was in her St Mary's uniform, in front of everybody, helping to light the lamp with an Alutiiq elder.  It is a tradition to light the ceremonial lamp with the youngest and oldest present doing the honors - passing on traditions to the youth so-to-speak.

For me having Nora up there was the highlight of the event and made all the kid, 'dad-I-want-to-go-home', 'cowboy-wrangling' worth it.


Pre opening using Nora to set the light correction/exposure on my camera (too purple and too low)

Whoa - go easy there boy, leave a little for everybody else!

Nora helps light the lamp for the opening ceremony

Sven in his element signing the Exhibit catalogue - note camera, he's never without one

Thursday, January 19, 2017

One Tough Puzzle

Last night Stuey and I finally finished the 'snow scene' puzzle.  That was one tough puzzle, and it took us over a week to complete.  The puzzle process completely stalled after we finished with the edge pieces, blue sky and tops of the trees.  That part was easy. The rest of the puzzle was all just shades of white and blue, and the pieces were impossible to differentiate.  For a while there we got maybe just one piece an hour.

It was all about perseverance.  We resorted by color shade, and then resorted again.  Little break throughs would occur and we would finish one little area or another.  And then we would get stalled again.  But finally in one great rush we got to the point where every piece had a home.  Puzzle complete.  So satisfying - perseverance pays.  Patrick

Sunday, January 15, 2017

New Snow

For the last couple of weeks the weather has been cold, but the skiing has been lousy.  Great ice skating weather but boilerplate conditions on land.  Then on Friday we got some rain and snow and after work I went up Pyramid and found 4-5 inches of new snow.  Whooo hooo new conditions on the mountain! However, it was still snowing and misting, and I could barely see to ski.

So when I woke up yesterday to glorious clear weather it about killed me to go off to attend an all day meeting.  DRAT.

And then the unthinkable happened - an all day meeting did not go all day!  I had time after the meeting to race up the mountain and get in a ski before the sun set.  Absolutely glorious.  Patrick

Conditions last Wednesday before the recent storm - pretty icy and the very definition of 'boilerplate'

Stop, Drop, and Roll

Last week I helped car pool a St Mary's field trip to the fire station.  I always enjoy seeing Nora and Stuey in their 'element' interacting with other students.

I was impressed with the fire station tour guides, and I even learned a trick I plan on using when I give school tours at the Alutiiq Museum.  At the very beginning the guide asked the students the difference between a question and a story.  And made it a rule - no stories, only questions.  It completely forestalled the drawn out non-questions that are usually rife on such tours.

I was also impressed with how much safety information the guide squeezed into his tour and still made it fun. I even learned that a land line is not such a bad thing (I still do not own a cell phone).  When you call from a land line to report a fire the fire department automatically knows where to go.  Take that cell phones.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

Favorite Pictures of 2016

Awesome light and I had just finished carrying a pack full of reindeer meat to camp when the sun had burst through.  I dropped my meat and grabbed the camera.

It's already January and I just realized that I forgot to pick out my favorite photos of the year for 2016.  I usually do this post in December (click here for last year).  Most of the year was on the old family blog and many those photos have been purged.  So this year the selection to choose from was a bit smaller.  Still I had enough good pictures that I had a hard time cutting it down to just 12!

I like this one because the river is like a snake

Stuey and the 'big cats' chasing him

I fully intend to take this one again in better light - look closely for the petroglyph faces!

Hard to beat!  Christmas card for 2017?

Rounding Spruce Cape - Last year for the kayak exhibit we needed a 'stormy weather' picture and I did not have one.  Now I do!

A bit of a cliche - but hard to beat a sunset over the Shelikof when it is glassed off

Artist taking picture of another artist - I like the tree trunks

A quiet moment by the lake during a walk in Abercrombie - I think Nora refers to this moment in her 'dad' essay (see December 2016 blog post)

Gotta love the red boots

Sun burst and the best powder skiing on Pyramid in years

Sunset skate ski - I think I like this one because of the light but it is also compositionally 'complex'