Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cappy confides in Marc

Clink on the pink arrow to listen to the conversation.

More Juneau Water

Just out from town a very short walk is Gold Creek (click here for approximate map location - look for Gold Creek-Flume Marker) which is another water resource that provides water to the community. Its such a pretty place and they have done a great job of making it accessible to foot traffic. You can walk through the forest on a covered flume or walk on the gravel road that travels along the creek. The road also branches out to the Perserverance Trail which climbs up the backside of Mount Roberts – one of the mountains that our house faces. Here's one of the dams at the flume trailhead.

With all the snowfall there was a lot of water this spring.

And its really loud too! I took this little video with my little pocket camera – it might take a minute or two to load up depending on how fast your internet connection is. Click here to see Video.

Just sittin on the lanai…

on my comfortable soft seat…taking a sip of my cool drink every now and again from my conveniently placed drink holder…lookin fast cuz' its red! It's a Kona Lanai mountain bike and its much more comfortable than the bike I had in Fairbanks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Weekend Triathalon

We had this great idea a couple of Saturday's past to take a bike ride along the Salmon Creek to a dam where there's a lake that provides some of the Juneau water. There's a nice traffic-free bike path to the trail head that we have already ridden on and then there's a road back in that's closed to traffic except for the maintenance crews. We took snacks to have a picnic and were going to stop at the grocery store on the way back to pick up one item for the next day's hike already scheduled with some friends.

Have you ever had one of those days where you're walking (riding, skiing, etc.) and it doesn't seem to matter which direction you're going but you're always heading into the wind. You can even turn around and the wind suddenly changes directions. Sorta' like those stories of walking to school uphill, both ways (even though that can often be true, right Valentine kids!). Well this was one of those bike rides. It was about 7 miles from our house to the trail head all with a headwind. We got to the closed road and stared up at the 500 ft elevation gain within the first 200 feet and as far as you could see. This is where the cross-training began. We had to maneuver through the gate and might have been able to make it riding up hill if we had had some momentum going but we had to start uphill at a dead stop and it just wasn't going to happen. (It was slightly embarrassing when we got passed by the jogger but I wasn't supposed to mention that).

The trail did finally level out and began to follow the creek through a lovely narrow little valley with lots of wildflowers and small waterfalls heading towards the creek.

There were several small bridges that went over the creek and the water was really flowing.

When we got to the end of the road at about 3.5 mile there was a powerhouse for the dam. Along side it was a steep trail through the woods that went up and over the dam. The trail followed a large water pipe. We stashed our bikes and took our backpacks with our picnic and headed up the hill.

This shows the dam about half-way up the hill.

It was a lovely trail but got really steep at the end of it. We were pretty low on energy when we finally stopped for lunch. Then we hiked back down, got on our bikes and were back at the trailhead in maybe 10 minutes. Its always faster on the way back and this was a really fast trip because it was all downhill. But wait - we still had the bike ride back to town, a stop to the grocery store and then back home - all in a headwind that had changed direction while we were hiking on the trail.

We were pooped but it was worth it!

Weekend with Oso

I mentioned before that we had a house guest last weekend. One of Tim's co-workers had to go to Anchorage for a shoot and asked if we'd watch her dog, Oso for a couple of nights. We've been hiking with Terry and Oso and he's been over to the house a couple of times so it seemed like it might work out just fine.

He's a nice dog and has good manners especially around other dogs. In fact that's one thing I've noticed about most of the dogs we've met on our walks - they all have very good manners. I think it might be because there are so many places you can take your dog off-lease so they are more used to being socialized around other dogs. Often they will walk right past each other or stop and give a good sniff and then move on. Its great! The only time there might be an issue is when there's a stick, ball, frisbee, or other throwing object that grabs everyone's attention! Or maybe its the breeds of dogs that you'll find here. There are a lot of goldens, labs, and many breeds from the hunting and sporting groups, and mixed breeds.

Oso is a Chow mix: he's got a blackish tongue and some red down her back. Oso means "bear" in spanish and he does look a little like a little bear.

Anyway, we had a nice weekend full of a couple different walk - mostly to the beach just down the road. Right after you go through the Treadwell Mine area you can cut down to the beach and walk on the beach - I guess all the way around Douglas Island. We didn't want to do that – but we did walk quite a ways down to a small cluster of cabins, some pretty large.

I found I nice spot to sit - a southeast alaskan love seat!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunny Day at Saint Therese

It was a beautiful day when we visited the Shrine of Saint Therese. The wind, which is often very strong here, was just a gentle breeze and the tulips and other bulb flowers were still in blossom accompanied by the wildflowers that were beginning to show their flowers. It was one of those rare blue-sky Juneau days that have become quite familiar to us so far this year.

As we walked around the grounds you would hear the humpback whales breaching along the coast and you would see the silver flashes of the herring in the shallower waters. We watched for awhile but as the crowd grew the whales must have felt our presence and moved on to quieter waters.

This is truly a special sanctuary that if given more time than our brief visit allowed, could provide one with plenty of opportunities for reflection and meditation.

To quote a friend's observation while walking around the stone chapel and the stations of the cross, even the devil's club finds refuge at the shrine!

Photography tools and resources

Here's a website that lists 90+ online resources for photography from blogging to editing to photosharing. Several people have asked me about photo-related sites lately and this might be a good place to start. I also noticed that there are over 100 comments to this main post but I didn't look through them. There might be even more helpful information contained within the comments.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

An overnight visitor of the 4-legged kind

Oso spent a couple of nights with us this weekend and we had fun going for walks and eating cookies. Here, Oso and Cappy engage in a staring contest. We aren't sure who won!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Birds from the Deck

We've added a new bird from the deck: a Harlequin Duck. You can see these sea ducks all winter along the coast, especially down by Auke Bay. They nest in the woods along rushing waters. You can see them in the interior along the Chena River, usually along the small streams that run down from the mountains and drain into the Chena. We've seen several of them along the Granite Tors trail and now that they have added that trail to make it a shorter loop I bet the chances of seeing them more often have increased. Remember Melody when we saw our very first one – you were with us when we had our bonfire on the riverbank the summer after you turned 21? and Tim and I were so excited we almost fell out of our camp chairs. Well guess what - we were almost as excited this time!

restaurant review #10

We recently met some friends for dinner at the restaurant in the Goldbelt Hotel along Eagan Highway downtown. The restaurant is called "Zen" and yep, you guessed it they serve food with an asian flare. It was friday night but the place wasn't crowded and we had a quiet table in the corner so we could talk. The decor was very nice and the table settings looked clean. We noticed that the chopsticks were stainless steal so I was hoping for sticky rice.

As you can see on their web site they have quite a choice and between the six of us we ordered quite a variety: Thai curry Shrimp, tofu and black mushroom stir fry, Kung pao chicken, shrimp with veggies, and Gen Tao's chicken. I think the Generals was my favorite - a little sweet and a little spicy. It was served with crisp broccoli. YUM. The tofu and black mushroom stir-fry was also pretty good.

They have a lunch special for $9 that includes and entree, miso soup or hot and sour soup, and
rice which sounds like a pretty good deal. I'd like to try the Szechuan String Beans and the sesame chicken.

So I give it a thumbs up for another try but we'll have to save up our nickels because like other dining experiences in Juneau, its on the pricey side.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ignoring the Warnings

Study: Inkjet printers are filthy, lying thieves Inkjet printer low-level lights often light up when ink cartridges have plenty of ink remaining in them. I've been ignoring my low-ink reminders and waiting until the output is too messed up to be acceptable.

Homemade Ice Cream in small Quantities

This sounds like a pretty good argument for relating exercise with eating - Ice Cream in a Bag gets created by shaking a mixture of ice/salt and ice cream ingredients in plastic bag.

Ever since making a trip to Seattle where they were serving Guinness ice cream I've wanted to try making ice cream out of Alaska Amber or maybe the smoked porter. So I might have to give this a try this weekend and I'll let you know how it works out.

I've also found these recipes that sound interesting:

Guinness Ice Cream
Guinness Ice Cream 2
Stout Ice Cream
Heineken Ice Cream
Raspberry Labmic Ice Cream

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

CDE administrators visit CDE Southeast

Curt and Shauna meet at the southeast CDE branch this week to collaborate with Cappy. Cappy reports that the Juneau branch is working hard to meet the goals set forth and says, "…hey, it doesn't rain that much down here. I don't know what all the fuss is about."

Tahini Rotini not tini on taste

Here's a new recipe from a vegan cookbook I picked up at the library called Vegan Planet. It has about 400 recipes in it. I started flagging recipes that I thought sounded pretty good and realized that I might as well just buy the book since I'd be copying most of the it anyway. (Did I just say copy?) They let you have library books for 2 months with a renewal but I wasn't sure that would be enough time to try them all.

So I tried this recipe because I liked the name Tahini Rotini (with Broccoli and lemon). You make this middle-eastern flavored sauce and pour it over pasta and steamed broccoli. I must admit that we didn't go total vegan - Tim grilled some chicken breasts that were sprinkled with greek seasoning and we sliced those into 4-5 slices and served them with the sauce.

2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 c cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 c tahini (sesame paste)
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 T tamari or soy sauce
1/8 t cayenne
1 c veg stock or water

1 pound rotini
2 c broccoli florets
2 T toasted sesame seeds

In food processor (or blender) combine garlic chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, tamari, and cayenne pepper and process until smooth. I had to add some of the veg stock because it was a little too thick for me blender. Transfer to saucepan and heat over low. Add stock and simmer. While the sauce was simmer I tasted it and added some dried red chili pepper and more lemon juice.

Cook pasta as directed. During last 5 minutes of cooking time, add broccoli to pot. (or steam the broccoli first to your desired doneness and set aside and then cook the pasta – this is what I did)

Drain pasta and broccoli and place in serving bowl and pour over the sauce. Sprinkle with lemon zest and sesame seeds.

This serves 4

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Laurie Ellen runs aground

There's this little steamboat that looks like the African Queen that chugs by the house several times a day going from the cruise ship dock down the Gasteau Channel down towards the old mining site of Treadwell. She's called the Laurie Ellen and she's a cute little boat that runs by steam produced by burning wood. Yesterday as I walked down the stairs from my loft I caught a glimpse of the little boat running very close to the house. I was thinking that it was a good thing that the tide was high!

Well today the captain wasn't so lucky!

At one point a jet boat was trying to pull the boat free - little did they know that they were actually getting pulled up higher aground - if they would have drug the steamboat backwards they could have been free. I also saw the coast guard for a few minutes. I think they communicated with the captain and then they took off - leaving a pretty big wake.

As the tide went out the boat was left high and dry. We saw the passengers putting on their life jackets. We knew that the tide was going to continue to go down and in a matter of minutes the people could walk all through some muck up over the bank and catch the bus back to town if they wanted to. They were caught up on gravel, crushed shells, and other debris so it would have been a relatively easy walk. We often walk along here looking for interesting shells and glass balls (which we never see).

Pretty soon the coast guard came back with a rubber boat and they began taking passengers off - women and children first! The tide was continuing to recede and the little rubber boat was dragging and getting high centered. One of the coasties waded up to his knees to push the dingy off. They could only carry a couple of passengers at a time of the larger vessel so they had to make a couple of trips.

Everyone got off safely and got wisked back to the cruise ship dock. The captain and mate are waiting with the boat until the tide comes back up (about 8 pm) and they should be able to float off. I walked out and asked if they needed anything. I know they have a cell phone so they could have a pizza delivered. Maybe I'll take them a ham sandwich.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Floor Plan Creator

This web 2.0 tool, Floor Planner, looks like it might be fun to play with especially, lets say, if you've just moved into new office space and need to visualize how your office could be set up or how you'd set up a conference room or if you're planning to build a retirement house and need to see how your furniture will fit into the floor space the architect has drawn for you. This web tool includes furniture that you can resize plus you can create different color schemes! There's a free account for creating one project and theres 5-6 various other levels for those who might use it more often. One complication is that all the measurements are done in meters. I didn't take time to delve too deeply into it so there might be a preference that you can change to make this conversion easier.

Monday, June 11, 2007

More Birding news

We have a couple of new birds to add to our birding lists this week:

From the deck we saw Pigeon Guillemot swimming in the channel. The red feet are a quick way to identify them.

We went on the last of the spring migration Audubon walks on Saturday. It was out the Amalga trail heading toward Eagle Glacier. WOW - what a beautiful trail. It started out going along the Eagle River and then headed up and over into a meadow area filled with fresh water (so I guess it was really a fresh-water marsh). We were looking for a Virginia Rail and Sora which have both been seen in this area in year's past but we never did see them.

We did see a Common Yellowthroat after searching for awhile which is a new bird for us. We also saw a humming bird (probably a Rufous), Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Lincoln's and Song Sparrow, Mallard, and a few mosquitoes.

There's a National Forest Cabin at the end of the trail (5 or 6 miles in) which is by the glacier. We didn't make it that far. It was an incredible hike and I think we went about 1/2 way so I'm looking forward to an opportunity to see the rest of the trail. As soon as we get the rest of our camping gear from Fairbanks maybe we'll even see about renting the cabin for an overnight.

Interesting salad

I found this salad in The New American Plate from the library and thought it sounded interesting enough to make. I served it on a bed of spring greens. The cookbook is from the American Institute for Cancer Research and has some pretty good information about portion size, managing your weight and ways to lower your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases.

Jicama and Orange Salad with Mint
1 medium jicama (about 3/4 pounds) peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 mediam carrots, peeled and julienned
2 small seedless navel oranges, peeled and sliced
1/2 T olive oil
2 T orange juice
2 T honey
1 T lime juice
8 fresh mint leaves, slivered

Combine jicama, carrots and oranges in a bowl. Combine olive oil, orange juice, honey and lime juice, add salt to taste. Whisk the dressing and pour over jicama mixture. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours stirring occasionally to coat mixture with dressing. Sprinkle with mint before serving.

I'd like to try it again and use some vinegar - but I'm not sure which one - maybe balsamic but I'd hate to interfere with the colors of the jicama and orange - is there a white balsamic? I think it would be equally good with canned mandarins. I'd also like to add some kind of cheese - I don't think feta would be good but maybe some blue or gorgonzola, or papillon. I might even go for some sliced chicken breast or grilled tuna to make a entree salad for a warm day.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Friday night Concert

We've been hearing that the Friday night Concerts in the Park have started up for the season and it was such a lovely day out we ventured downtown to see what was going on. I understand that most often the concerts are moved to the Civic Center due to rain. It wasn't raining tonight and there seemed like a pretty large crowd of folks. There were three groups which was a pretty interesting grouping of acts: The Pride Woman's Chorus, Tlingit Gospel Choir, and the Juneau Highland Bagpipe and Dance group.

Our friend Susan used to be in this chorus and has written some pieces for them so we were hoping they might sing one of her songs but they didn't.

This lady sang a solo - she and her partner are moving out of state so this was the last time she would be singing with the chorus.

And a duet…

I didn't get any pictures of the Gospel Choir - turned out that they just started singing together a couple of weeks ago. It was nice to hear them sing in their language though!

And the bagpipe group - actually started their processing down the pier and marched by the cruise ship into the park and gazebo area - quite impressive. They played several songs and had 10 or 12 girls performing several dances–even one with knives.

Of course not all of the crowd was appreciative of the music. I think he was one of the bagpipers kids…

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lots to do around here

Two activities for those wanting some excitement: take the Tram up to Mt Roberts or go waterskiing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Thai Spicy Chicken (Laab Gai)

This is one of my favorite thai dishes to make, especially when its warm out. Its a spicy ground chicken dish with red chili, onion, and toasted rice that you roll up in lettuce leaves.

4 T vegetable oil
2 lbs chicken breast, finely chopped
1 stalk fresh lemon grass, finely chopped
4 T green onion, chopped
1 res onion, finely sliced
1 t ground galangal (Kha)
4T fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1/4 c fresh lime juice
2 dried hot red chilies, roasted, crushed
2 T ground toasted rice
8 leaves of green leaf lettuce
12 mint leaves
1/4 c fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Heat the oil and add the chicken. Stir-fry until cooked. Drain the chicken and place it in a mixing bowl and add the lemon grass, green and red onion, galangal, fish sauce, lime juice, red chilies, and ground rice. Mix well and set aside. On a bed of lettuce leaves, arrange the chicken mixture and garnish with mint and coriander. Serves 4-6

To make toasted rice put about 3 T dry rice in a frying pan or wok and heat over moderate heat, stirring frequently to keep the rice from burning. When the rice turns a deep golden color then remove it from the heat and let it cool. Grind into a fine powder.
So that's what the recipe is and here's my variation:

Instead of frying the chicken breast I used 1 lb ground white turkey meat, simmered in water and drained.

I couldn't find any galangal and because of Tim's occasional seafood allergies I didn't use any of the fish sauce.

I also left out the fresh coriander.

I did add about 1 1/2 T sugar to the mixture and also washed up some spinach leaves to go along with the lettuce leaves. Everyone had their own pile of leaves and made their own little turkey roll-ups.

This is from Delightful Thai Cooking, by Eng Tie Ang

Space Saver Staircase

This is interesting: storage drawers in steps. Check out this blog posting which shows a staircase that has pull-out drawers on the step faces. It might be a pretty difficult project with pre-existing stairs and would be much easier to implement from the start. There are plenty of comments on the site that talk about safety, shifting stairs and binding drawers, middle stringers, size of drawers, etc. I think it would be a great place to designate a drawer to each kid and have them put their outdoor clothing in their drawer.

Local Gardens

By the time I got back here from Fairbanks a lot of the bulb flowers here had bloomed and were past their prime. These tulips are planted by the road along the way to the beach. We've seen so many different colors and varieties of tulips, daffodils, and other bulb-types that I don't know the names of. Its all amazing to me that so soon after "winter" all these flowers are in full bloom. I'm really anxious to see if some of the plants I've seen will continue to blossom throughout the summer or if this is the big scene and we'll just see a lot of green for the remaining months.

This was a blooming tree we saw up by the flume.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Birds from the Deck

We've seen several new birds from the deck:

Violet Green Swallow
Barn Swallow
Belted Kingfisher
Marbled Murrelet

The rafts of scoters have moved and we see only small groups of 10-15 on occasion. We also don't see the mallards, buffleheads, or goldeneyes. They all must have moved on to nesting grounds. The large groups of gulls have moved on too (they were noisy anyway…).

We do still have the eagles, especially when our neighbor smokes fish which he does a lot. He's got a nice outdoor gas smoker and smokes pounds of salmon filets. He's been very generous in sharing some with us. It usually doesn't last long!

I don't have to worry about keeping on task when I'm working in my office with this "Eagle-Eye" right above my head. They really like this peak which is right above my desk. I can look up and out the window at their tail features! So don't worry Boss, I'm workin'!

Weekend walking

We met up with the Juneau Audubon for one of the last spring migration walks they are sponsoring. This time the walk started along the Mendenhall River and make a loop to Moose Lake. There are several small lakes in this area with pathways running from one to the other offering multiple ways to get to them, around them and back from them. It'll be a great place to explore on bikes. On this occasion first time birds for us were the American Redstart which is distinguishable by being almost totally black with orange on its wings (M) and Western Wood Peewee which has the behavior of a typical flycatcher–when its feeding it flies up and around back to its perch.

It was a nice walk and really emphasized the importance of being able to bird by ear. We were just starting to identify birds by their call in Fairbanks and the "regular's are a bit different down here so it will take some work. For instance, right across the street we see and hear the beautiful call of this bird:

So we think its a sparrow but can't quite get a good idea on it. Luckily it seems to be nesting in the area because we've seen it many times. So hopefully one day it will sing its song in a tree that or pole that's a bit closer to us!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Grilled Acorn Squash

We talked about making a giant meatball and making stuffed acorn squash for dinner the other night but then settled on grilled chicken and trying grilled squash too.

I cut the squash into rings (with skin on) about 1.5-2 inches thick and cleaned out the seeds and pulp. Then I marinated them in olive oil, black pepper, garlic, and rosemary. We let them sit for maybe an hour while we walked down to the beach. Tim put them on the grill, turned them several times and cooked them for about 20 minutes over a low-slow fire so they cooked slowly. The skin peeled right off and they had nice flavor. If we had had more time we might have put a skewer through the middle with a piece of zucchini in the hole. Depending on the vegetable you might need to nuke the squash so that both veggies get done at the same time.

New Digs at CDE

With not very much notice my office in Fairbanks is moving to a new space. They are packing and moving this week while waiting for the phones and internet to be put in. It all happened pretty fast and seemed to happen at a very busy time. I had already gotten rid of most of my stuff in January but I packed up my desktop and misc equipment and tried to pack up some of the general office supplies while I was in town last week.

The new office is located just down the road on University Avenue South - the old Bower's building on the corner of Davis Road. We'll again be split on two different floors with the bookstore being housed on the first floor close to a loading dock. The rest of us will be on the second floor working within cubicles and/or glassed-in offices some with outside windows. So good bye Hot Licks, hello…

Here's one of the design team spots – I think it fits Sage nicely!

And a spot reserved for me: