Thursday, January 29, 2009

Shadow Pattern

I started this bag pattern around the Christmas holiday but finishing it up got put on hold for various reasons. I modified the pattern roughly from this fair-isle felted tote pattern I found in Ravelry and changed the side pattern to strips like another bag pattern I saw that I really liked. The shadow pattern came from my Mosiac Knitting book. I liked how Lion Brand "Fisherman" yarn felted up so I used it again for this bag.

The sides are a little poochy, a result, no doubt of not carrying the yarn as tightly as I did for the patterned sides. I was hoping that when it felted it would all come out about the same size.

I used a large post office cardboard box as a mold - it seemed to be the perfect size. This box has had two feltings molded on it and is about shot.

And the final product - I'm very happy with how it turned out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Grand Canyon Fly-over

Ever impressive Grand Canyon - even from the air, the beauty of the canyon's depths and color stratification is breathtaking.

I didn't get much time in Phoenix to do very much but one does have to eat and there were some good choices for dining right around the hotel and conference center.

One place I wanted to go but never had the chance is a small placed like Matt's Big Breakfast at 801 N 1st St. When I first saw this small square block building it was Saturday morning on my way to the downtown market. The line went out the door, around the block and down the street. From what I gather, its not a place to go for a healthy breakfast but if you're in the mood for greasy hashbrowns, thick slices of bacon or waffles, then you might want to check it out.

Here's some placed I did make it to with good results:

SAM – interesting menu with Spanish And Mexican food. I went with a large group and was amazed at the service. Without even asking the waiter gave us separate checks, all correctly itemized; the dishes were delivered to exactly who placed the order and all special requests were fulfilled. The menu was really interesting with a wide variety of items. I think most of us had something southwesty. I had shrimp tacos which were served with a mexican coleslaw. This is the same place that serves the white chocolate pecan tamales!

My Big Fat Greek Restaurant – unless its made at home I don't get a chance for greek food very often. I had a combo meal with spanikopita, pastisito and roasted potatoes with a lemon sauce and a baklava cheesecake to take back to the hotel with me. I have to say I was really disappointed in the cheesecake. It wasn't very good and I didn't finish it. It was bland and had a doughy crust. The potatoes were really good and this recipe I found is similar. I made too much sauce for the amount of potatoes I made but it was very tasty. I will add more lemon juice next time and would probably slice the potatoes so there is more surface area touching the sauce when it marinates (maybe even steam them a little before marinating). I used little swedish taters.

One note - I was sitting near a little girl about 4 who had a dvd player set up by her Dad so that she could watch movies while he talked to an older couple (maybe the grandparents). That was a first for me. It seemed to be that she was old enough to participate in conversation and start learning how to eat in a public setting. In fact the older lady kept trying to engage the little girl in conversation. But then, I don't have kids so what do I know.

Probably the best spot for dinner was a little doorway where you got a big slice of pizza, a green salad, and a big glass of wine (from a bottle) for $7.50!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Statehood Quilt

I saw an article in the Juneau Empire, a while back about a statehood quilt that was being put together by quilters all over alaska. Some of the panels are really impressive - take a look at all the pieces on flickr.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Totem Raising

I noticed a small blurb in the newspaper's Around Town events that there was to be a totem raising at the new high school on Friday afternoon. I haven't been to such an event so I thought it would be interesting to attend. I assume it would be outside and since it was during the school day, the program wouldn't be too long since it had to fit within the school schedule.

I set off dressed warming for the outdoor adventure, camera charged, and ready to go.

Well, I was wrong. I was wrong on many of my assumptions. The totem was already raised and in place so it was like an unveiling. And it wasn't outside, but rather in the main entryway of the new school. And although it was supposed to fit within the school schedule the intention was to take the entire afternoon for the festivities. One of the master of ceremonies apologized to the elders at the beginning of the dedication, that they would have to push things along and keep things moving to keep it as close to 2 hours as possible. I thought, well, ok. I could do that.

I don't know that much about Tlinglit culture and the two master of ceremonies were very good at explaining what was happening and why, as the events and their significance related to the traditions. And as each person involved got up to speak, their own take on what was going on came into play. Most of the short speeches were spoken first in Tlingit and then in English. And there was a lot of Gunalcheesh's (thank you) being traded back and forth.

The carver is from Haines and he brought with him his dance group to deliver the gift. I have noticed at other gatherings that making a dramatic entrance and exit are all a part of the activity, something I don't remember as being as significant at athabaskan gatherings.

After the totem was unveiled, its traditional for the carver to perform a dance to signify his release of the totem and giving it to the recipient. You can kinda see the guy with a hat and white shirt holding up a couple of carving axes (I'm sure they have another name). I couldn't really see his steps but he danced around the pole and the others sang a song that he had written, called The Mandarin Song. He said that he had come up with the design and worked on this pole for a year so you can understand the emotional attachment he must have felt when giving it up.

From the program:
The bottom figure of the totem pole is a Tlingit woman. She wears a traditional button robe. She represents our grandmothers, mothers and aunties, and the strong nurturing forces that guide us in growing up as we develop our individual potentials. The drum she plays represents her knowledge and experience.

She teaches and encourages youth to climb the tree of life, and reach for their future ideals. They hear her encouraging drum beats and begin to climb the 25-foot tall red cedar totem pole.
I thought it was interesting when the carver introduced one of the younger boys from his dance group. Apparently the carver had the boy lay down on the tree, hugging it and then traced his outline on the tree. His sister is on the other side. How cool is that! The boy said a few words about being a part of the process and hoped that the kids at the high school liked it.

The glass faces represent the youth of the generations to come, the children of the future.

So this is probably one of the first electrified totem poles. The faces are made of glass and they light up. The carver mentioned two children who helped make the molds for the faces. That must have been an interesting process.

The glacier on top of the totem represents the Mendenhall Glacier, and represents the land. The river flowing from the glacier is the Mendenhall River, representing the life of the land and the Aak'w Kwaan, the first Tlingit nation who lived here.

The top of the totem pole is the Falcon, mascot of Thunder Mountain High School.
I couldn't get the top part of the totem and after 2-hours, I had to leave the party before it was over so I couldn't sneak up and get a close look. Look at the Juneau Empire Story for more close up pictures. You can actually see me in the group photo - can you pick me out?

Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year - and welcome to the Year of the Ox.

We celebrated with a spicy green bean and beef stir fry and some miso soup. We started out the weekend with some vegetable moo shu made with some of the produce from the weekly food box including baby bok choy, carrots, mushrooms, with some bean sprouts. We steamed the mandarin pancakes (aka flour tortillas) in the rice steamer and they came out perfect and not rubbery like you might get when cooked in the microwave.

They say that, "The Ox, or the Buffalo sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Those born under the influence of the Ox or Buffalo are fortunate to be stable and persevering."

Famous people born in the year of the Ox include Barack Obama. Sounds like a good fit to me and with this blessing he should be up for the coming year's issues!

Monday, January 12, 2009


I've ended up here in Phoenix for a follow-up conference with a group I spent a week with in Seattle last June. This is the 89th annual AMS (American Meteorology Society) conference. It just so happens that the last three years it also coincides with an Imaging conference for photographers. A guy I talked to in the elevator said that the photographers have attributed the bad weather they had at the last two conferences to the AMS because the AMS folks would have appreciated the inclement weather and the photographers were glad they this year they were all in agreement that the weather should be pleasant. It has been in the 70s during the day and 40s at night - and well, very pleasant.

I was not able to get in the main hotel for the AMS conference but instead ended up at the main hotel for the photographers. Its a different crowd. There are alot of black jeans and turtle necks at my hotel and the lounge and common areas are much more lively then at the other hotel. Everyone has a camera here and everyone at the other hotel has a gps and says "actually" a lot. The small group I'm with at AMS is a lot more humble – mostly educators at 2-year colleges who aren't specialists in the atmostphereic sciences but have been tasked with taking on assignments a bit out of their comfort zone. People who say "I feel like a goose out in a hail storm" And then there is me, completetly outside the hard science area but able to give some suggestions about best practices for online education and what seems to work well for success of students.

But anyway - enough about that! I just had my favorite tamale - a white chocolate pecan delicacy wrapped in a corn husk!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Moon over my hammy

I've been thinking of my dad lately, he would have appreciated this.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

WInter Storm Warning

We made an agreement to survey the Boy Scout Beach once a month on the first weekend of the month so we had to venture to the beach for COASST. The road and parking area was nicely plowed and actually much better then the highway! Thank you David! We had our snowshoes and had great fun making our way out to the beach. A few others have gone in and a skier must have gone in earlier in the day or the evening before. There were a few places where the snow had drifted but it wasn't too bad. I mean, we never sunk up passed our thighs!

When we got to the beach it was low tide, very low tide and the beach was covered with a layer of snow. It was impossible to see anything and the wind was wicked. We made our way with the wind to our backs thinking about how cold it was going to be on the walk back. We were deceived many times by the small pieces of driftwood filled with snow that looked like turned-over bird wings but we didn't see any bird remains to identify. And the wind died down when we turned around and the walk back wasn't too bad. The trail out was nice as we had packed it down on our way in. Ran into a couple of skiers (Dave and Kristi) who were also out enjoying the day.

Statehood Fireworks

There was a tiny little blurb in the "Around Town" section of the Sunday Juneau Empire and I don't think Tim believed me until we arrived at the new high school's parking lot and saw others gathering, but it truly was the Statehood Fireworks Display! As often happens, the show started out pretty slow and with snow falling for most of the day and during the show I'm sure there were some difficulties keeping things dry. But finally after a few single bursts the real show began and it was a good one.

There's nothing like standing out in 20 degree weather to enjoy the warm, happy feeling of fireworks, well, ok, maybe standing out at minus 30 below is a little more dramatic!

Santa put a Statehood Almanac under the tripod tree so be warned that you're going to get some facts from it through the year!

Alaska entered the union on Jan 3, 1959 as the 49th state with a population of about 225,000, of which almost a quarter of the residents were Alaska Natives. As of the book publish date the population is 691,354 and about 17% being Alaska Natives. In 1959, the federal government owned 100% of the lands and in 2000 the feds owned 65%, state 25%, private 1% and Alaska Native Corporation Land 10%.

Monday, January 5, 2009

More Mendenhall Glacier

New Year's Day was another blue-sky day for Juneau and the temps were hovering around the single digits. It doesn't get this cold here very often and days like this remind me so much of typical winter days in the interior. We decided to head out towards the Mendenhall Glacier to see what the waterfall looked like and to take a walk out on the lake towards the head of the glacier. The waterfall was pretty much frozen over except for two or three spots where you could still see flowing water. We didn't get very close but I bet you could see the flowing water underneath the frozen top layer. It would have been cool (!) and probably risky to see.

It felt like we were on a pilgrimage to pay tribute to the mighty ice. As we headed towards the face of the glacier, there were two pathways, most likely set for x-country skiing, that had been packed down by skiers, snowshoers, and walkers. There was a constant line of people walking out and back towards the glacier. I almost felt like we should be chanting or something. I settled for a "Happy New Year!" or "Great Day!" as we passed other worshippers.

I don't know if you remember but I took a couple of pictures on a previous visit and posted them that showed ice skaters right up close to the face. At that time I didn't think that I would ever venture on foot to the same spot as they were. But we did - we got up as close as we could.

And yes, it was windy cold and my face was frozen! As we approached we started hearing all the popping you would normally hear on the ice - movement of water, the glacier advancing, sunlight hitting the long-frozen ice chucks. We didn't dawdle for too long and felt much more comfortable about 100 feet farther away.

The walk away from the glacier had the wind to our backs and the sunshine on our faces and I was actually hot when we got back across the lake.

I don't expect to ever get this close again - certainly would not do it in a kayak!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Happy New Year Everyone! We spent a quiet new years eve with Marc at the house. Tim had schedule a special showing of Mr. Whitekeys Alaska History, first 10,000 years on 360 North so we popped a bottle of champagne and prepared ourselves for some laughs. It was quite funny but a little Anchorage-centric for my tastes. I can say though, I did learn more about the state by watching this show…

We got these New Year hats for our first new year together after we got married. We've shared them with guests and have signed them each year so its pretty interesting to look back and see who we've spent the end of one year and the beginning of another year with.