Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New Subscribe by Email Widget

I understand that there were some problems with the old subscribe by email widget that I had so I've updated the widget and hope that it works better. If you have previously subscribed to be notified by email when I post a new entry, you might need to do it again with this new service. Just enter your email address and you should be good to go!

Must be summer…

We had the first cruise ship of the season arrive early this morning. Here she is leaving at around 2pm to mostly blue skies (I'm more optimistic about cloud-cover than I was in Fairbanks). We should be seeing more and more of them as summer begins. It's summer, isn't it?

Bright Blue Sky at Berner's Bay

We enjoyed a Saturday Audubon trip from Auke Bay to Berner's Bay on a catamaran a couple weekends past. It was a bright-blue-sky day with a gentle breeze and fresh snow on the mountains. For a donation of only $40 we got a 4-hour cruise up Lynn Canal. Plus we had lost of Audubon members on board who are much better spotting and identifying the birds then I am. It was a little chilly while we were underway but when we stopped it was warm.

We saw Bald Eagle, Herring Gull, Barrow's Goldeneye, North American Crow, Canada Goose, White-winged Scoters, Surf Scoter, Pelagic Cormorant, Bonaparte Gull, Rock Sandpiper, Oyster Catcher, Black Turnstone, Pidgeon Gullimonte, and Marbled Murrelettes.

Claudia came down to spent the weekend with us and we had a lot of fun catching up on things. Here Claudia is enjoying the sunshine while keeping an eye on the captain in the boathouse.

I'd like to say that this is me in this kayak but I was on the bigger boat enjoying the calm seas and the blue skies wishing I had my transparent bottom kayak so I could join these folks.

Along for the ride were some local friends– here's Terry and me. We have some awesome binoculars, don't we!

Interesting Websites

Printable Paper - 100s of different styles of printable paper: graph, lined, music with staves, ledger – free downloadable pdfs…from DIY

Baconmania - more things to do with bacon: Tiara (who knew the instructions would have a safety warning (and I'm not talking about risk of heart attack) or a knitted scarf pattern and more…from DIY

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mango, Grapefruit, and Avocado Salad

We made this salad while Claudia was here from the grocery boxes we've received recently. Since we were enjoying cloudless sunny skies and raising temps it seemed like the perfect salad to have for "summer." This recipe was modified from

1 cut up grapefruit, segments cut away from membrane
1 mango, peeled and cut up into small cubes
1 avocado, peeled and cut up into small cubes
1 T fresh chopped ginger (I used ginger paste)
1/4 cup olive oil (I probably used 2 T)
2 T sherry wine vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
Salad greens

The recipe called for 1 1/2 T mint which I didn't have and I thought it was just fine without.

Monday, April 28, 2008

See-thru Boating

Tim found this really cool transparent canoe that looks like it would be fun to have in a place where there was clear water. I noticed that the water around here is much clearer in the winter than at other times of of the year. I'm sure it has to do with currents, growth and death of sea plants, pollen, etc.

Here's a site that has the canoe, a folding kayak that weighs only 26 lbs, and a clear-bottom folding kayak that only weights 21 lbs.

Doesn't that look like fun!

Knitting update

I've been working on several knitting projects that I haven't posted so here's a look at the final products:

Fingerless Gloves

Made from Regia Sock Wool (blue) and some self-striping sock yarn that I no longer have a label for.

Felted Bowl

Lacy shawl

The pattern was over 24 rows so I had to pay attention to where I was all the time. I was doing really well until the last 15 inches or so and then I kept making mistakes. I think I knitted at least 45 inches just to get it finished up. The shawl is 11" x 68" and made from Princess (40% merino, 28% viscose, 10% cashmere, 15% nylon) by Classic Elite Yarns.

Fancy facecloth and some locally made soap

This was made for a variety of 100% cotton yarn. Shh…I made a mistake when I started joined the pedals together and K2 tog all the way around instead of K2, K2tog, K2, K2 tog...thus the embellishments in the center for the flower.

Wash mitten with soap pocket

again made from a variety of 100% cotton – I hope it doesn't stretch very much when it gets soaked with water.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Avalanche Takes out PowerHouse

Some of you may have heard that an avalanche yesterday took out some electric towers/powerlines therefore cutting our source of hydro-electricity that powers Juneau.

I've mark the spot on google maps where I think the dam is located - might be off a bit but you get the idea. Look for my spot marked Sneetisham Dam.

You can see how steep the terrain is - this was taken a little farther down Stephens Passage this summer when I went with the Holmbergs to Tracy Arm Fjords.

The article in the Juneau Empire says it might be 3 to 4 months before the towers are replaced and repaired so that means we'll be burning diesel fuel for the summer as our main power source. That sucks. So if you're planning a visit down here bring an extra sweater and a flashlight - we might be on ultra-power conservation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

and the beach was littered with bodies...

In the Sunday, Juneau Empire, there was a photo and article about the tanner crab annual molt. We went down to the North Douglas boat launch to see all the empty shells. The crabs leave their shells and start growing their new ones as they grow bigger. From the article in the newspaper:
A crab preparing to molt pulls the minerals out of its shell into its bloodstream. It takes in water, which makes it swell in size. The swelling splits the crab down its back, right down the line where a human would to clean it. Then the crab backs out of its shell - carefully. Exiting takes between 10 minutes and a half-hour, Bishop said.
I'll have to find out how long it takes the naked crabs to grow their shells back – it seems like it leaves them very vulnerable until they have their protective shell back.

There were piles of shells–its just too bad we weren't around when the meat part was there!

Kiwi Fruit Abounds

We thought we might some folks over to the house on Friday event who were visiting from Fairbanks but it didn't work out. I had some nice fresh fruit from the Full Circle Farms grocery delivery (kiwi and strawberries) so I made up a fruit pizza in anticipation of their visit. If I make this again, I'll definitely make the cookie crust is smaller portioned sizes as it doesn't holdup so well if there's only two of you unless you sit and eat the entire thing in one sitting. Luckly I decided to hold off on the assembly until it was closer to their arrival time. I just cut the cookie into smaller chucks so none of it got soggy and wasted. One change to this recipe - I didn't have any whipped topping but I did have vanilla yogurt so I just used that instead. I don't think I used the 1 cup like it called for - more like 1/2 to 2/3. I thought it worked out pretty well. (aka yummy)

There seem to be an abundance of kiwi fruit in the fridge - I think they may be procreating in the fruit drawer in the fridge and although I do like them just sliced up fresh I've been looking for other recipes. I found this one Kiwi Pork Midora that sounded pretty good. I might try it out this week.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Small Set

Its so rewarding to knit infant clothing! The pieces are so small you're able to complete them quickly although the infants do grow out them quickly too, don't they!

Regardless, here's a little pink outfit for my favorite great niece–due in June. I've been holding onto the pattern for a bit now and was happy to have the opportunity to knit it up. I read somewhere that babies heads are usually much bigger in proportion to their bodies so I 'm thinking I may not knit sweaters that you slip over the head anymore. Since I don't have much experience with baby heads I think I'll take their word for it.

I really like the basket weave pattern (k4, p4 for 4 rows and then opposite for 4 rows) that goes down the front of the sweater and around the hat and booties. I've gotten a little bored with my normal bootie pattern and think I'll start using this one for a change.

Some people have left over coffee

Tim's folks were visiting this weekend and the day they left to catch the ferry they didn't get a chance to drink the coffee before they had to leave the house. So we had some left-over coffee and I hated to pour it down the drain. I really love dark, slightly sweet bread (and the same for beer for that matter) and I often will often a dark bread using coffee (or espresso) and a mixture of flours (rye, whole wheat, white) but I diodn't have any rye flour and I'm not planning a grocery stop for awhile. So I did a web search and came across this recipe for Iced-Spiced Ginger Bars. This was a good find because I've been wanting to make some ginger snaps but just haven't gotten around to it and this recipe sounded like it would satisfy my ginger fix and use the left- over coffee as well. I just made a 1/2 recipe and baked it in a 9x9 pan. I decided to replace the eggs with ground flax seed so I used 2 T ground flax and 1 T water to replace the 1 egg the recipe called for.

YUM! This cake is very moist, spicy with the cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and richly dark with the coffee and molasses. I kept some of the coffee to add to the icy but I decided not to make the icing because the cake doesn't need it.

The coffee was made from decaf beans so it won't keep you up all night either! (well maybe the sugar will...for a minute)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Folk Music of Folks

The Alaska Folk Festival is going on this week, the 34th annual. Every night there are 15-minute acts that go for 3-4 hours. The event is free so you can come and go as you please. We went last night and stayed for a couple of hours. The auditorium was packed and the gathering areas and hallways outside the auditorium were also packed. People were warming up and impromptu jam sessions were setting up through the hall. There are workshops, special guest artists, dances, and lots of music. I don't think I've seen so many fiddles and mandolins in one spot before! We listened to cowboy campfire songs by a 75 year old guy from Tagish; a duo playing Bob Dylan on guitar and mandolin; a really nice younger group that we heard up at the Island Pub a couple weeks ago, called One Aisle Over, mix of blues, international, rock with some very nice vocals; a young girl (high school) on fiddle and her fiddle teacher on guitar playing her pieces for a NW fiddling contest she's going to next week (a hoe-down, waltz, and player's choice sequence played one right after the other) – this really got your toes tappin'. Then there was a group of ladies who sang three different songs - a really nice duet by two girls we've seen in Perserverance shows, a yiddish song, and a hawaiian song including some hula dancers and the final act was a band that will be playing at another local club featuring folks songs with heavy bass. The thing was the bass' amp wasn't working so we only got to see him strutting around on would have been funnier if he'd have been overweight (…heavy bass…).

I took my spoons with me last night, hoping to get picked up but the opportunity didn't arise. I'll keep them in my back pocket when we go later this weekend.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sea Lion Action

While walking in Crescent Harbor in Sitka a couple weekends past, we came upon a fishing boat filleting out some halibut and engaging the interest of four sea lions. Boy, these guys were HUGE! We see them around here lounging along the breakwater at the Douglas Harbor and often swimming out at Point Louisa but I guess we've been pretty far away. Tim has often told me when I've talked about kayaking, that these bad boys often try to get on top of your kayak and mess with you. How would I react?

Here you can see how long their bodies are all the while getting the sealion "evil" eye.

"It's mine, no its mine" sharing a bite together...

Getting a good whiff..

Group shot!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Gene Stratton-Porter

I've been a fan of Gene Stratton-Porter since I was very young and stories that center around nature and the environment may be helped influence me in my love for the outdoors and those who live in it. Books like A Girl of the Limberlost, The Keeper of the Bees, The Song of the Cardinal, and the Harvester provide a glimpse into characters who strive to maintain their naturalist lifestyle often against the odds of progress in the modern world. Besides the genre of writing who wouldn't have respect for a woman who wrote books in the late 1880s to early 1920s who hyphenated her last name!

I just finished reading Her Father's Daughter, one of her books that I hadn't read before. A story about an orphan living in So Cal who makes her way by writing articles for a regional magazine about plants in the area that you could use for food or medicinal purposes. She gains the friendship of the most popular white guy in the school who is struggling to be at the head of the class with the competition being an Asian boy. The story takes place after World War I ends and jobs are scare when racism was rampant. I was shocked when I started picking up on the anti-any-color-but-white dialogue. Come to find out that her work was influenced by a situation that had occurred in LA where she was living, similar to that in the story. She was concerned about not the survival of the white race, but the dominance of the white man. She didn't only fictionalize the incident, but there are pages and pages of monologue expressing her concern.

Since reading this novel I'm making it a point to read some of her other works just to see if I can see a progression from when she first started publishing to the end. Of those books I've already read, Her Father's Daughter falls towards the end of her writing career with The Keeper of the Bees being one of her last publications. Its been awhile since I read the bee book but I think I would remember if she had written with such conviction about whose passion I find distasteful.

google earth/wrecks

I attended two lifelong learning lectures last Friday at UAS that gave me more of a chance to learn about the natural history of the area. It also gave me a chance to go to the campus but I didn't have time to visit with anyone. Car trouble, wouldn't you know.

The first session was hyped at using google earth to fly around SouthEast Alaska which we did a little of but it really was more about the environment and geology. Led by a retired high school teacher, the presenter was energetic and had great examples. I'm sure the kids at his school miss him. He was excited about his topic and very entertaining. I'd love to find out if he gives geology tours during the summer - that would be a blast. He demonstrated some of the ways that he uses google earth and some of the ways his student's used it for science fair projects. What a great tool. Here are a lot of layers and add-ons available that people have created to really take advantage of its features.

The second session was on shipwrecks of SE Alaska - namely the two most famous: Princess Sophia (1918) and the Princess Katherine (1952) and the presenter not only a gave a good background on the history of the incidents but she is also an underwater diver and photographer. She had some great slides of fish, creatures, and the actual wrecks seen from underwater. I asked if she had any on a website or in flickr and she said not yet but she's working on it. Since this was advertised as Lifelong Learning there were several people in the room who grew up in Juneau and remembered when the Princess Katherine wrecked on Lena Point very close to town. Apparently the first mate on the bridge forgot to tell the guy at the wheel to adjust a correction the mate had made earlier and ran aground. Due to the weather and the tides they couldn't get off and the ship sunk. Everyone was able to walk off so that was good. Apparently until a few years ago the wreck was in really good condition with a lot of the structure, furnishings, stained glass, etc. still in tact. I'm not sure of the legalities but the presenter referred to it being recently pillaged. (at least it wasn't burned and pillaged–that would be really bad–arrgh).

I recently finished reading a book about the Princess Sophia, Sinking of the Princess Sophia, Taking the North Down with Her - what a tremendous tragedy. Described as the worst wreck in the Pacific Northwest – all 285 passengers/crew perished – its place in history being trumped by the ending of WWI. Waiting for better weather to try to evaluate its passengers, after being stranded on the reef for about 14 hours the ship sank. Watch out for Vanderbilt Reef!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Beautiful Weekend

We had a beautiful weekend down here with bright blue skies and a lot of sunshine. The actual temps weren't that high but you could feel the warmth of the sun. At one point our thermometer said 80° but its a new thermometer and we got it at Walmart and we're not so sure its very accurate. For the first month we had it it didn't deviate much around the 40° mark which made us suspicious. But it was indeed a beautiful–glad to be here–weekend.

Every spring we usually keep a weekend list of birds that we see just to keep track of how the spring migration is going. On Saturday and Sunday at the house we saw Bufflehead, Barrow's Goldeneye, Northwestern Crow, Surf Scoter, and Mallards and we saw Bald Eagle, Raven, Rock Dove, American Robin, Canada Geese, Harlequin Duck, Red-Breasted Merganser, White-Winged Scoter, Glacious-Winged Gull, Pelagic Cormonant, Hooded Merganser, Varied Thrush, Herring Gull, Snow Bunting, and Boreal Chickadee around town and on our walks. I'm not going to link each of these birds to a description but if you're interested you can look them up at the Cornell All About Birds website.

I've been working on this little blanket for a friend in Fairbanks who's expecting soon. I just love working with the OH MY yarn - its so incredibly oh my soft - almost like chenille only softer. This blanket was just getting to right size to cover my lap and be nice and cozy when I realized it was the right size for a baby (and I was running out of yarn!)

Plus you get a bonus when you finish a skein - a handy dandy foam OH. Now I just need to figure out what to do with them - it would take 3 to make a can cozy but it really doesn't get that warm here to need one; I can get my hand through the middle for a protective wrist bangle; if I had a real coffee table or end tables I could put them around the legs to act as a vacuum protector…

OH the possibilities...