Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nice Evening in Juneau

We had a cloudy day and a lovely sunny late afternoon and evening yesterday. We drove out to the airport and walked on on the dike trail that goes along the wetlands. The birds are starting to move through on their way south so we thought we'd check it out and see if there was anything interesting. We saw some shorebirds - I think they were western sandpipers but aren't sure. Still not too good at shorebird identification and we didn't take the book with us.

I encourage you to click on this image to get a better view.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Treadwell Ditch and Mount Bradley

About a 10-minute walk down 5th street in Douglas through a normal-looking neighbor provided a new hiking opportunity for us. You have to look between two houses for the trail head sign; there seems to be quite a bit public access across private land down here. I'm thinking its because we're surrounded by national forest land. In a matter of minutes you'll find yourself away from urban noises and surrounded by numerous shades of green. We decided to check out a portion of the Mt Bradley (map - click on Mt Bradley) trail and see where it connected to the Treadwell Ditch. The ditch used to bring water to the mine area from across Douglas Island. I think it goes for about 16 miles and most of it you can hike. We'll have to save that for a long summer day.

As with other trails, this was well maintained with a gravel pathway and some built in stairs. There was very little boardwalk which was fine with me since it had been rainy pretty heavy for the last couple days. Some of those boards get pretty slick.

I think this is Paris Creek and this creek didn't have a bridge across it but we found a narrow spot that wasn't too hard to get across. The upper creek was much bigger and was flowing pretty good with brownish-runoff water. This one did have a nice bridge that looked pretty new.

Most of the Treadwell Ditch is covered over with logs and moss but this portion was open. You do have to be careful where you are stepping as the logs that have been here for 100 years are rotting out some. We followed the ditch for quite a ways before turning around when we hit another creek that we couldn't easily ford. We also realized that the trail had really gotten narrow and wasn't heavily traveled and was probably a game trail.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Knitted Lace

I really enjoy knitting lace. I love working with thin thread and the small needles. I like having the pattern appear in just a few rows even though I still have to pay attention and count to keep track of where I'm at. I don't normally need to mark my place on paper but I do have to pay attention. Its not something like baby booties which I can almost make with my eyes closed. I have several patterns that I regularly make and add to pillow cases, towels, and other items. Usually I know how long of a piece I need and knit it to fit. I'm not sure I have the nerve to just knit a ball of lace and then have to cut it to fit – I wouldn't mind someone else doing that part but I don't think I would enjoy it much. I'd hate to see the lace unravel before my eyes.

The lace I'm currently making is with cotton crochet thread. I think its no. 2 but I can't find the label and I'm using needles that are size no. 1. I use my double pointed needles because they are the shortest ones I have.

Here's a pattern for Irish Lace

Cast on 10 sts, k one row
Row 1: K2, yo, k 2 tog, yo twice, k 2 tog, k4.
Row 2: K6, p1, k1, p1, k2
Row 3: K2, yo, k 2 tog, k7
Row 4: K8, yo, k 2 tog, k1
Row 5: K2, yo, k 2 tog, k1, yo twice, k 2 tog, yo twice, k 2 tog, k2.
Row 6: K4, p1, k2, p1, k2, yo, k 2 tog, k1
Row 7: K2, yo, k 2 tog, k9
Row 8: Bind off 3 sts, k6, yo, k 2 tog, k1.

Repeat rows 1-8 until desired length and then bind off.

I really need to learn how to knit back and forth on the same needle without have to switch hands. This would save some time – my nephew-in-law Jim showed me how awhile back but I didn't practice and now I've forgotten how. I'll have to see if I can find some instructions on the web or just plan a visit to Seattle to get some help.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Since we're on the subject of food…

Here's one of my favorite desert recipes that my mom used to make quite often. The recipe I have is in my Grandmother's handwriting so its one of those old-fashion deserts that doesn't call for exotic ingredients and is pretty hearty. This makes four (american-sized) servings.

Chocolate Upside-Down Cake
Sift together (ok - how many of you have a sifter?)
1 cup flour (could use other multi-grain flour but would need to make adjustment to quantity)
3/4 cup sugar
2 T cocoa
1/2 t salt (I left out)
2 t Baking Powder
- - - - - -
1 t vanilla (preferable the good mexican vanilla that your friends brings back from their vacations!)
1/2 cup milk (I used 1/4 c low-fat vanilla flavored soy and 1/4 low-fat milk - next time I might use all soy milk)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I left these out but my mom would sometimes use walnuts)
(you could add different spices to change the taste. I think some fresh mint or cinnamon might be pretty good. It might also be interesting if you added a small handful of miniature marshmellows.)

Melt 2 T shortening (I used canola oil) in pan you are going to bake it in. Add dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients and mix it all up. Sprinkle over the batter the following:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T cocoa

and then pour 1 cup boiling water (this makes the chocolate syrup in the bottom of the pan) over all and put in 325 ° oven for 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.

This desert has the tendency to puff up and then fall as it cools. I suggest using a pan a little larger than you think you might need – one with high sides. Once my mom found the right baking pan that forever became known as the chocolate upside-down cake pan. Whenever you saw it out on the counter you knew what would be for desert after dinner!

I also had a recipe for a carmel upside-down cake which I thought I would really like because I would normally choose carmel over chocolate but it just doesn't taste as good. I looked for the recipe but I think I already pulled it from my bulging recipe box because it wasn't something that I'd make again.

Friday, September 14, 2007

100 good things to eat

Need an energy boost? Trouble sleeping? Do you need to hold what you're reading just a little bit farther out from your face? Here's some suggestions for incorporating specific food items into your daily eating to aid in productivity, digestion, filling up without weight gain, and other health related issues. top-100-foods-to-improve-your-productivity

As I scan through this list there isn't really anything on it that I don't like and most of the items are already in the pantry or frig. I was especially glad to see the suggestions for the heart-healthy group - what better way to start with day but with dark chocolate covered bananas, kiwi, and grapes!

But do realize that there may be mistakes, errors, or misnomoers on this list. If you notice the second entry:
  • Raisins: If you need a boost of energy, steer clear of the carbs and grab a pack of raisins. These high-energy fruits are low in fat and calories and rich in antioxidants which help restore your body’s most important cells.
Everyone knows that raisins have quite a few carbs in them (100-115 per cup) so you just need to eat in moderation.

I also thought this table was interesting on which has a Table of Glycaemic Index of Foods. Skimming through the high column I did notice quite a few gluten-free products.

This is making me hungry...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

We arrived and out comes the SUN!

Sitka – what a beautiful place–when the sun is shining! We had a very nice visit with Tim's folks and you couldn't have asked for better weather. One afternoon Tim and I walked from the house on Mt Edgecumbe down through town, past Cresent Harbor to Totem Park. It was a nice little walk and we enjoyed seeing the sites along the way.

The requisite totem pole picture:

The awesome view of downtown Sitka and Mt Edgecumbe from Totem Park

And voted "best view" from a fast-food restaurant – no one minds waiting in the drive-through line here!

Crazy Salmon doing head butts into the metal gate – "com'on guys…all together now…on three, 1…2…3…thump"

St Peters by-the-Sea

Soon before heading to the ferry terminal, we took a short drive to Blue Lake out the end of the road towards where the saw mill was. Tim's Mom said the chocolate factory opened up in the building but we didn't have time to stop. The lake is about 5 miles in on a nice dirt road - we didn't venture down the hill to the lake - we'll have to save that for another trip. I think we might bring our bikes next time and try this trail out. There's also a hiking trail that goes from here over to Thimbleberry Lake - a relatively new trail was completed some time this winter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


The PBR came back to Anchorage for the 2nd Annual Last Frontier Challenge this last weekend. It was definitely a different event from last year - no big opening production with fireworks and drama, no entertainment between go-rounds, quite a few Alaska bull riders, and very few of the big-time names. There was very little advertising done and no write-ups in the paper. Roxi said she heard advertising on the country radio station. The stands were not full so not sure who dropped the ball on that one.

Rune had fun getting signatures on a t-shirt his papa bought for him - he got 15 signatures and a lot of nice comments from the cowboys. Heidi volunteered to take him down to the arena to meet them - so everyone was happy!

Our Cheering section!

Ty, Ryan, Jeff, Tam, Tim
Melody, Robyn, Dennis, Rune, Roxi

I'm pretty sure that the bulls won this event - there weren't even enough qualifying cowboys to fill out the 12 slot short go-round. There were also an awful lot of re-rides meaning the bull didn't perform well enough to give the rider a fair ride. This usually means the bull falls or lays down. Several of them just stopped when they heard the buzzer - maybe a little too well trained. They say its dangerous for the rider to get off when the bull is just standing there because you're never quite sure if the bulls are just going to let you get off peacefully or if they'll turn on you. There were a couple of guys who caught their spurs in the rope and actually pulled off their boots. Guess that's why your mama always said to put on clean socks. Thankfully no one got hurt.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Heading to Sitka

During the summer months, the Alaska Marine Highway changes its schedule so that the M/V Fairfeather runs three times a week to Sitka. With the Labor day holiday giving us that extra day we were able to take advantage of the schedule so we decided to take off for the weekend. During the summer the Fairweather makes alternating trips between Haines and Skagway and Sitka. I think in the winter they only go to Sitka one day a week and the rest of the routes are to Haines and Skagway. The highspeed cataraman cuts hours off the schedule making it a quick 4-5 hour run instead of 8-9 hours. That's a big difference when you don't have a lot of time off.

We enjoyed a relatively nice trip over - a few clouds here and there and some rainfall. It was pretty warm through so we did enjoy time out on the deck. Going through the Sitka Narrows was beautiful - lots of small rocky islands some covered with Sitka spruce and Hemlock.

Probably the highlight of the trip was when they called for volunteers to help with a Man-Overboard drill. Boy is that water cold! They actually threw a dummy (no really) overboard and lowered a lifeboat for body recovery. I don't think they expected to actually pick up a person alive because it took about 45 minutes to slow down, turn the boat around, lower the lifeboat, and find the drowning person. It would be very unlikely that the person overboard would have a life jacket. Its nice to know that they do the drill. This exercise added about an hour to our trip but was something that doesn't happen everyday!

Looks like there might be more online photo editing opportunities coming soon as announced at Photoshop World in SF recently: It looks like Adobe is getting ready to launch a free photoshop express-like web version soon. This will be helpful but I hope that they offer the ability to change resolution – one of the features that is most often missing in current web 2.0 photo editing webware.

Other sources on this topic:
Photoshop Express:

Initial screenshot compared to Fauxto:

Premiere Express:
written using flex (the software Sage was talking about at our last demonstration meeting)