Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Brad beat me to it: I have never seen an orca in the wild. Now, he has.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

CGC Munro Boarding

Although the big guy is not in this photo, I thought loved ones might enjoy seeing the Munro, the sea state in the Bering on a nice day, and the boarding team in action.

Sled Dog Try Outs

Tok seemed to think he was posing for those magazine ads for dog mushing.

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb?

Mother Nature does not adhere to her nursery rhymes in Alaska. Last night, I boarded the Era flight in Anchorage, bound for Kodiak. We de-iced, and as we lifted off, people who had been stranded-- either in the lower 48, in Anchorage, or both-- clapped. Our normal 1:10 flight took almost 90 minutes. As my fellow passengers and I peered out the window, most of commented on how we had no idea where we were. The islands and ranges passing below us where not the usual route home. When I landed, a fellow coastie wife picked me up and ask, "So, did you see it?" "See what?" I asked. "Oh, the volcano blew again at 7:30 PM. Heh. We lifted off at 7:22 PM.

Volcanoes, blizzards, avalanches, and flooding aside, it is great to be home in Kodiak. The snow in the back yard is frozen solid, so Tok and I can walk on top of it as we play. Tok's captions:

Ok. I sat. Now put down the camera and throw the ball.

Special delivery!

Ooooh, what's down here?
Yay! Snow!
I got it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Seattle: My dose of urban chic

This past Sunday, I enjoyed a return to urban life. I strolled through Pike's Market, where I bought plums and flowers. After placing the flowers in a vase back at my hotel, I made my way to the Seattle Art Museum. With the free visitor's pass from the hotel, I took the escalators to the top floor and meandered around the visiting exhibit, Life Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness. It features the works of Paul Revere, Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer, covering paintings, prints, photographs and decorative arts.

Although the patriotic exhibit was my highlight, I enjoyed a smaller show featuring George de Forest Brush. His Indian paintings displayed Crow, Shoshone and Arapahoe as they hunted and plucked cranes and flamingos. The striking white and pink stood out against the vivid green and brown mangrove backdrops. And I had to giggle that I saw flamingos on the day that is our wedding anniversary.

The gallery's regular works featured an amazing porcelain room that Uncle George would have LOVED, and some amazing paintings. Among them: the Triumph of Neptune, Lighthouse at Camden, and Mt. Rainier.

The month of March is Dine Around Seattle, where you can get a three course dinner for $30 at select restaurants. My team and I ate at FlyingFish, and we feasted on calamari, mahi mahi, lamb, and hot pots. The vibe was great and the portions perfect.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Redoubt Erupts

It's official: Murphy lives in my shadow. The dern volcano erupted last night, and I am in Seattle. I am scheduled to return to Anchorage tomorrow afternoon and stay there through the weekend. When I know more about my flights and FAA's safety measures, I'll let you know. Beloved neighbors are taking care of the pooch, and the house is locked down and watched.

P.S. To all those who I said it would erupt when I left town: you all owe me $20.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ana Sofia's Baptism in Argentina

My beautiful god child and her mother traveled home to Argentina for her baptism. Her parents opted to do two baptisms: one for the Argentine god parents and one for the Americans. Instead of jetting setting to Argentina, I'll be headed home to DC in September for a combined birthday and baptism celebration on Labor Day weekend. Until then, I will have to soak in the beauty and happiness of seeing my dear friend and her daughter, among family and loves ones.

The Race

This past week, as Tok and I snow shoed with a group of friends. As we grabbed a snack in the golf course parking lot, another dog owner drove in with her canines. Like us, she was there to take her three dogs out in the snow. She saw my snow shoes, and complimented Tok’s mask. “How old is he?” “11 months.” She nodded and replied, “Ah, too young to harness yet, eh?” I nodded in return and her partner joined her holding harness. “Ready to let them out?” I pulled Tok’s lead closer to me. Already their three dogs were barking greetings to my pup, and he was whining in return (Huskies whine, as if talking to you).

After the commotion, one of the owners called over to me, “Have you been watching the race?”

The race. If you live in Alaska, you follow it. Very much like living in the Carolinas, you know that “the race” denotes NASCAR; here, it means the Iditarod.

Having gone to a school and befriended many animal rights activists, “the race” had always been talked about from another point of view: a PETA-based point of view. And whereas, I understand from where they come, and how animal rights activists can demoralize the theory that these dogs “like to run,” I have to say, I think otherwise.

When we welcomed Tok into our lives, I started to read. Like any good student, I researched the hell out of malamutes and huskies. I wanted to know their tendencies, how to train them, what to look out for, and how to care for him, specifically. Besides the basic reads about the breed itself, from the local library, I checked out a series of dog mushing books. I read about the history of mushing:

-- The evolution of the racing dog from the basic pulling dog that delivered heavy loads over icy terrain.
-- The tricks of the trade to rearing and caring for multiple teams
-- The amount of money necessary to provide adequate and humane care
-- And the unbelievable compassion and connection a musher develops with his or her team(s).

Tok is a mushing dog, through and through. When on a hike with a multitude of people and other dogs, he MUST be in the front. He gets excited to go out on his leash and pulls with all his might to go faster and further. He learned to hike at my pace, so when Brad came home this fall, he literally pulled Brad from the back of the “pack” and up past me. One could argue that he is just being a puppy with all that energy. And to a certain extent, I agree; but I can tell when Tok is being either a) a puppy, b) a malamute, c) a husky, or d) a combination thereof. Following the advice of the books, I have not fitted him for a harness; his bone structure is still too frail for such pulling. I check his feet after each outing, and he has no issues with my handling his pads and nails; we have that trust. He went from a six foot lead to an eight foot lead, and now trains on a 16 foot lead.

I learn from the champion mushers’ teams to understand in what else Tok needs to be trained: absolute following of verbal commands (we’re working on it- the husky in him is easily distracted), careful approach of other dogs and animals on the trail (his puppy nature dominates this task, but again, we’re working on it), and knowing when to slow or speed up the pace.

Recently, on an icy trail, my yak tax were not enough to keep me in balanced. A few times, Tok was able to scramble up or down a hill. He would look back and see me, and with that visual cue, I called out, “Good boy. Sit. Stay.” He sat, stayed, and waited for me to come up the hill. The reward was a hearty scratch behind the ears and, “Good boy. Up. Hike!” and he was off.

And on the golf course that day, with me in a pair of snow shoes, he ran—well, for a little bit...for as long as I could ran with him. I meant what I said: "we" are still learning.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Room with a View

The Downtown Anchorage Marriott upgraded me to the 19th floor, which is the concierge level. Instead of joining fellow visitors on 20th floor for the free hors-d'oeuvres and drinks, I opted to get some work done and take in the view. I moved the desk to the window and soaked in the Chugach Mountain range as it fades into Turnagain Arm.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Eagles in the Horizon Upland Facility

As I drive along Rezanof with canneries below me, eagles are strewn among the trees, crags, and rough hillside. Horizon Lines leases a small upland facility to store some of their conex boxes. Eagles enjoy the vantage point, and I enjoy having an actual parking spot to take good pictures, albeit on private property...but hey, it's Kodiak.

This is a sample of the many we see flying above the canneries.Say "cheese"

Mallards, Comorants, and Eagles, Oh My!


Comorants swimming in Mill Bay with Monashka in the background.

What a landing, eh?

The Puffin

No, not the bird, the publication. I am a member of the the Kodiak Audubon Society and am the "Editor in Chief" of their monthly newsletter. It is a simple four to six page document that details "Birds About Town", advertises for upcoming Bird Festivals (migration season is coming!), and provides readers with important dates for lectures and events, such as the 20th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

Every month I cull info from fellow Board Members and local non-profits alike. A local printer makes 50-60 color copies that I assemble with my trusty stapler. Once labeled and stamped, they head into the two bins at our USPS: on-island and off-island (we have several off island subscribers, such as other Audubon clubs in AK).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cost Savers

In Kodiak, we have a wannabe bulk item/warehouse store. It is called Cost Savers. I shop their wine section because it has the best variety and offers a 10% discount when you buy 6 bottles or more. With the amount of dogfood and wine our house consumes, I am a frequent patron in this bulk item store. All the cashiers who are authorized to check out customers buying alcohol know me by name. It got to the point where I just kept one of the wine cases/box to reuse when I restock my bar.

And yet today, I made myself look like a bigger lush.

I pulled into the parking lot, hit one of Kodiak's infamous potholes, and started to hiccup. I walked into the store, selected my six bottles (*in my defense, I am hosting a dinner party tonight and going to one on Friday*), laid them on the counter, and a cashier greets me, "Hello!"

(Hic) "-ello," I squeak. He breaks down laughing. He waves his arm over my wares and says, "You know you are going to start rumors: walkin' outta here with six bottles and hiccupin'"

I blush. What do you say to that? Do you deny being tipsy or just shrug and laugh? I chose the latter in a vain attempt to keep some pride. Alas, give this Rock about half a day, and I'll be the bug-driving, malamute-hauling, alchy coastie wife. Yay. (hic)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tok on Old Womens

What a looker.


And then there was light. Lots of light. I have not had to take out my sunlamp in a few weeks, and it has been glorious. We are up to ten hours of sunlight each day. With that sunlight comes a warm front that teases us into thinking it is spring. I am positive that a storm will hit within the week, sending us all back into reality; but for now, us Rock dwellers will covet the warming trend, deliriously.

I have a busy month ahead of me, and I hope to finish all my indoor projects within that timeframe. Come April, I will be outside. I plan to landscape the backyard. Along the back fence line, where Tok likes to dig in the mud, we need some fillers. Our neighbors' yard all drain down into a small riparian area that leads to our pond. That riparian area is our fence, so I will plant some bushes among my established, raised flower beds, and prevent erosion. Tok will not be happy that I have- yet, again- circumvented his desire to get dirty, but I will enjoy the color added to the back yard.

And while I am out there, I may plant a tree or two. Our local greenhouse has a chokecherry that would be great addition off the back porch. It grows up to 25 feet, and would be planted well-enough away from the porch and foundation. On the back porch, when we finally thaw, I will plant a small batch of gladiolas. Every time I see these flowers, I think of my parents' home in South Carolina. With my tulip bulbs already in the front yard, I would like to have some color and nostalgia on the back porch.

And then there are the plans for an herb garden, but I need to consider how to keep Tok out of that fanciful expenditure. He ate all of my herbs leftover from the Holloways! Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Old Womens Mountain

The warmer temperature prompted me to take Tok up on Old Womens, a popular trail that can be accessed from Aviation Hill housing (CG housing). In hindsight, I should have worn my snow shoes, but I ascended with only a few falls into the snow drifts. Tok took a couple of spills, too. Having learned to hike with me on a 8 foot leash, I graduated him to a 15 foot lead. This bright red leash gives him some freedom to stop and sniff and still stay ahead of me- a must for his husky nature. He likes to lead. I told you: he is my dog, through and through.

Old Womens gave way to some spectacular views of our town, the ranges that surround us, some eagles, and the ever-present Barometer. Enjoy.

Looking back at Kodiak.
ISC Kodiak. Note the taxiway for our C130s. USCG and the Kodiak Airport share a runway.
Why can't every other day I fly look like this?
Barometer and Pyramid
Devil's ProngsBarometer from the ridge
Kashevaroff MountainThe eagles were soaring over Womens Bay; and eventually, they came closer so I could capture these other shots.

Move over Heidi

For those who understood the Tool Time reference: bravo.

For the rest of you: I replaced my kitchen sink faucet. It was too short for the sink, and I had felt myself leaning over to the do dishes. While in Anchorage, I harassed some poor Home Depot employee in my search for a faucet that I liked and could take home on the plane. I settled on a Delta, which has a sleek brushed nickel finish and makes dish duty much easier on my lower back. The following photos document my workspace (complete with beach towel to catch any water), the old faucet, the directions, and the final product. The whole process was much easier than I thought it would be and took me less than an hour after cleanup.