Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Makes you think ...

First sunrise over the compound for 2009!

...when your driving down the highway at midnight out plowing and the road just gets up 50 feet in front of you and walks off. ? Yeah, I didn't think that kind of thing happens either, but it did. A snow covered moose standing in the middle of the snow covered highway makes for an awesome deception....until it walks off! Gives you a real false illusion. Next thing I was looking for pink elephants! We did have a white Christmas. It snowed all day long and made for a long night and following couple of days out plowing. Nice Christmas present though! Our Christmas was
great with lots of food, and memory making. And so here we are on New Years Eve....woo-hoo. Past 2 days have been at a high of -11F and the nights getting down to -28F. Cold out.....yes! You learn of things not to do when your dealing with this kind of cold. For those with 'cold sensitive' gums.....don't smile. Most especially while you are walking. When you step out of a warm room into the outside....don't take in a breath. Do the inhale thing before you walk outside. If you are standing outside and you figure on farting....move over 5 feet after expelling. Gas is heavy and in the extreme cold will just sit there hovering like a bad cloud. Although you can use that to your advantage to really mess with others around you!! In general be patient. Alot of things just stop working when it gets that cold. What I enjoy is when it gets into the minus 30's, to throw a cup of water in the air and watch it shatter on the ground as the water turns to ice in freefall. Some people will be out snow machining all night tonight to celebrate, some will be watching fireworks....some will be launching those fireworks to be watched. I know I speak for at least one other member of this tribe...Maryann....we will keep our happy asses warm and in front of the fire tonight, as it is already -20F and dropping and it is only 6:30PM. Maryann did an oil change and tune-up on the electric blanket, so she is all ready for another cold one. I find myself with little words this evening, so I leave you with one thought. How can you make the new year better for just one person, excluding yourself? One 'act' can change evrything! Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The darkest day...another year!

Once again we find ourselves at the darkest and shortest day of the year....winter solstice. And once again we find ourselves huddled mindlessly in the corner of the basement, aglow by a solitary candle.... Able to pull off for the 2nd year what many before us have vowed that they could never handle...what many look at as an insane form of grit or unbalance. Will we make it for the 3rd winter of this bitter cold obscurity...... ?

Looking out our front door. The sun's position this morning at 11:35AM! Notice how it is just barely skimming the edge of the horizon?!

On a much brighter of a note, or notes we find ourselves in celebration for a multitude of reasons. John is 18 years old this day of December 21st 2008. yes, bless his parents for they have survived his 18 year reign of dominance on our patience, nerves, and attention. We can now sit back knowing we have successfully raised him to be the wonderful man that he has become. Was it easy....seldom is parenting ever so. But the gratitude of watching him grow and the successes and challenges that he has conquered makes all of those moments that we contemplated pulling our hair out well worth it! What becomes of John now....for his 18th birthday we gave him $100.00 dollars and a one way plane ticket to a destination of his choice...see ya son! Actually I am going to pay him to stay home for a few years longer (snicker snicker). And as a pure example of this kids determination, when he returns to school after the "Christmas" break, he will be getting out of school at 11:30AM from now until he graduates. Why, because he only needs 22 credits to graduate, and as of now has 27 credits!! So he is going to skate the second half of his senior year, Kudos, young dude! Welcome to the real world! All joking aside, Happy Birthday! We are so proud of you John, and we love you, son!

Another of reasons for celebration would be the end of a long hard run for pops. As of Monday, my dad will be officially retired from the City Of Stockton. After years of "keeping em in line", and standing his watch to keep order and civility in the city, it will now be someone elses' problem! As a code enforcement officer, the man never held a lack of excitement in his days, and has done the best to his ability to keep the city streets abundant and rosy. Friends....he made many. Pissed....still others ended up! Jackasses, they were abundant, and ever present even amongst his ranks. But like a super trooper of sorts, he prevailed the daily grunt and grind and served his time well and with honor. What will become of his days now, less the excitement in the 'adventures of inspector Smiley'? Somehow, I tend to think the city has not seen the end of him. My father...sit still and relax....yeah, ok! But whatever his endeavours will become, we wish him the best and congratulations for all his persistence, hard work, and dedication through the years. They say life begins when you retire, so enjoy it dad, and find some comfort in your life now! We are proud of you!!

And so we find the end of our descent into darkness and mark the beginning of a new period of light. A time to let go of all that has held us back and bring in a period of renewed hope. We will find ourselves once again with healers, hippies and natives celebrating, singing, drumming and eating around the sacred bonfire of this days Winter Solstice, attending one of the many celebrations that will be happening around the peninsula. Hopefully a scoche warmer than last years festivities. Alaskans do take the Winter Solstice serious. So to everyone, let go of that which has burdened you and held your soul, and welcome in a new period of light. Refill your soul with the hope of a new year and the dawning of new light!

Friday night we went to Johns' High Schools hockey 'home' game. They have an ice rink here in Nikiski at the community center where they play their home games. This was our first, so it was a new and enlightening experience for Maryann and I. Enlightening because next time I am going to wear my insulated cover-alls! Mind you, we loved going to the hockey games at the Stockton Arena when we lived in Dorrington. We would travel the 2 hour drive in a caravan with a group of friends from Arnold and Dorrington, and always had a great time. It was cold...but it was an arena! I mean, we were in the warmth of a huge crowd in an arena, right! Short of pond hockey, this arena here in Nikiski is a 'rink' surrounded by a metal roof and 3 metal walls, open on one side. T.H.O.'s, man! For the most part it is standing room only, with the exception of a small set of metal bleachers. Metal bleachers, in a large walk in butt thinks not! Anyways, it was fun. Maryann as usual was more entertaining than the game itself! Watching her enthusiasm and excitement as faces were pummeled into the Plexiglas, and bodies slung across the ice into the plywood walls. Lets not forget the Zamboni! Yes, my wife is just hilarious when she is around hockey! And this night was of no exception! Johns team won with an amazing comeback the 3rd quarter. And I obtained an official souvenir! Yes, we were standing on the glass directly behind the goalie, and I watched in amazement as the puck was struck from about half way out and flew through the air, almost in a suspended animation, wobbling towards the goalie....only it was about 12 feet above the goal. As it came into the net at the top of the Plexiglas, two thoughts went through my mind in slow motion yet an instant, like this; "....this is righteous, if I was 12 feet taller and my head the goal, it would be a hole in one, or slapshot....or whatever they call it in hockey lingo....thank God there is a net between me and the puck...." Looking up as it made contact with the net, the second thought; "...Oh crap, there is an open slot between the top of the Plexiglas and the bottom of the net....I think I am about to...." Yes, that was the extent of the two thoughts that went through my mind, the second thought being cut short as the damned puck hit the net, fell through the hole and clobbered me on my head. Thankfully, the net dampened the sheer force and torque of the puck. Unfortunately, once again, my head found itself an unwilling victim of a 'gravity' related event! But, I got a cool souvenir! It's an official puck and was autographed by John's friend Anthony, who is #77 on the team! When the scouts find him and he makes the NHL and becomes famous I can say I have his autograph!! So for now we wish everyone well, and to make sure and have a very 'Merry Christmas'. Stay safe, be sober, and enjoy every ones love, comfort and company this 'Christmas season'! Good night to all.....and to all a good night.

-Our love.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pictures and a post.

I was out Friday morning at the crack of dawn (9:45 AM) and fortunately had the camera armed and ready. It was one of these mornings that I just needed to expand my thoughts and fine tune my hemispheres...and what better of a time or place to do so. I found myself blissfully wandering about, in a quest for early morning tranquility. This is what I found. I would have to say, thank you Barb for your beautiful comment, and this is for you....
The dawn alpenglow was beautiful on this usual, pictures do no justice for the real experience. An ocular orgasm, of sort...
Overlooking Russian Mountain, the sunrise spills into the fog rising above the Kenai river. This was truly an awe inspiring moment for me and I could not think of a better way to have begun my day!

This would look like snow on the trees but was actually 'Hoare Frost', a result of temperatures below freezing with a high humidity in the air. This was just minutes after the initial sunrise and you can see the alpenglow forming on the trees. I believe it was 86% humidity and it was -2 below 0 when the sun came up.
The illusion of blue was very apparent this morning overlooking the bay shortly after the 10:15 AM sunrise.

About a month back while doing the annual shopping run at Costco in Anchorage, Maryann had a pretty wild idea....let's build a gingerbread house! Sounded cool...but would it fly? Turns out the thought of building a gingerbread house for Christmas was a hit for John and a few of his friends....and Maryann! They all got into it the other night. I was strictly an observing bystander and Kenai milled around the action waiting for crumbs to fall to the floor. Since there was really no 'love' involved in it for him, Cherokee found little interest in the event and resided to his under the dining room table lair. All in all it was a fun night, and a chance for grown-ups and young people to bond and have fun. It was, as Jordan would say, legit!
Future engineers of Alaska....hard at work planning, framing, frosting and building.
The elitist "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood" side....
The refurbished "Ghetto" (Mr. Roberts hood) side...
Jordan, Nina, Ian and John....and there award winning "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood/Ghetto" Gingerbread house.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Artificial last, controversy and hope.

Sundown from the road at 3:10PM

I am currently happy....happy I tell you! I think it could be my new 'Happy Light' that finally came in the mail. Or, it could be that eggnog latte I had a little bit ago from Starbuck's at Freds. Or both?! Yes, I find myself in a moment of utter bliss as I soak in the rays of my little fake sun, bouncing off the walls and hopped up from my latte high. Cool thing about my own little sun is that it's portable and can be moved anywhere for all occasions! I tried to expel some of my 'powered by latte' energy in sanding the walkway to the garage, and around the parking pad. It is that time of year again, where gravity is your nemesis and the Ice Capades have once again become a standard for life here. Our warm up the past week had found us back in the low to mid 30's and a chance for all the snow to melt just enough to glaze over. And to add to the fun, a lite layer of dry snow the other night to top the everywhere is just slick as all get go. Including our walkway to the garage! You know it is funny how my head is always a magnet to anything hanging low and my ass is utterly attracted to gravity pockets! I am the only one in this tribe that constantly finds myself in 'hang-time' and sliding on my butt. Oye! The dogs are too funny. They have permanent cramp-ons built into their paws, and nary will lose a wince when running across vast ice fields. We took a walk on the beach with them in Kenai the other day, only to find the dogs in a free for all romp on the icy beach as we were confined to limited areas that were ice free zones. They had fun! Speaking of beach I have found myself in thought lately.

Almost a year later, and many broken promises we in Nikiski still find ourselves without our beach. It was about this time last year that our public beach, which so many locals enjoyed daily was closed in the name of 'Homeland Security'. At least that is what we have been told. Personally I feel like that is a bunch of hokum. The more prominent rumor is that Peak, the company that owns the OSK dock which supplies the platforms out in the inlet (the "official" alegation is that Homeland Security is concerned about protecting the supply dock), closed off public access to the beach due to insurance purposes. Peak owns the access, through their yard, to the public beach and therefore shut it down about this time last year. Now we do have a few alternatives besides driving 15 minutes south to Kenai. We can drive 15 minutes north to Captain Cook beach. Or there is the new road that the Borough cut to a different stretch of beach (which is about a joke), on the taxpayers expense. Remember, the taxpayers lost the right to enjoy "their" public beach and now have to pay through taxes for access to a new beach... Or, if this isn't a poke to the 'Homeland Security' vindication, there is the stretch of beach that is still opened for public use behind the Conoco Phillips LNG plant. The beach that gives direct access to a number of Liquid Natural Gas holding tanks and complete exposure to the pipes that run out to the tanker loading docks off shore.....have I said too much! Opps. Apparently this security scenario isn't as important to Homeland....Arrgh! Just annoying. The closed beach was prime romping grounds not only for community but for local set netters who have been fishing those shores for generations. Funny thing is when the McGahan family who homesteaded that area sold that land to the OSK dock years ago, it was under the condition that right of way would be granted for public access to the beach that has belonged to the public since before statehood. Yeah.

On a happier note, Nikiski is the newly projected home for the a wind farm. That's right. They are going to put in about 10 wind turbines which will initially power the Tesoro refinery, and eventually may go on to add power to our grid down the line. Being right on the inlet, we do get some pretty heavy and consistent wind through here. The people of Soldotna are pissed. Apparently, since Soldtona is a little more inland and not as susceptible to wind as we are, they were not considered for such an experimental run. Whiners! This gig kind of ties in nicely to Palin's proposed plan to make Alaska an energy independent state. Makes sense. God knows we have gas! Despite the environmental controversy we do have a plentiful supply of tapped and untapped oil. As long as there exists nature we will have a good supply of wind, in many areas of the state.

We are adjusting to our second winter nicely. It is easier this winter to wake up and get going than it was last winter. Getting out of bed was a stinkin chore last year! Body just wanted to sleep what with all the darkness. That and having an idea of what to expect. I mean, last year was amazement and anticipation each new day. Kind of miss that feeling really, but I have to say it is a little easier going in this winter. Today the sunrise is at 10:05AM and sets at 3:54PM and if your not careful in planning your day, you do miss out literally on "the day". I have a small bizarre at the Aspen Hotel in Soldotna Saturday which I am looking forward to. Nothing as big as the Christmas In Kenai gig a couple weekends ago, but should be fun. Sad thing is that I ran really low on pottery inventory the last run. Still a good selection, just not as much as I would like... what am I saying!! This is a good thing from a sales point of view! Also, I am still tossing around whether I want to sit in a class for traffic school Sunday, or do the on-line course....decisions. Mike took the on-line course and is off the hook now. John opted for community service to wipe out the fine, but still has to do the traffic school thing.....bunch of scofflaws we are....oh the shame! For now, we strap down for the ensuing 'darkest day', excited that after that day passes we will find glory in gaining light, and the passing of another year. I put in a new link on our 'favorites'. The Boehme family lives "way out here" in Nikiski and is blogging their adventure in this new land, and God knows we love adventure! It is good writing and a humorous perspective on their story. Yvette, where have you been?? We keep checking and no posts... Hope everyone is well, and please do stay safe during this busy time of year. We miss family and our friends but still feel blessed to be where we are, as this is where we truly wanted to be. We are blessed and pray the same for all of you. Take care for now.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Today has found me, finding sanity, and some of the recuperation needed from a long and busy week! The lord above took mercy on my tried body, and countermanded the 6" of snow the weather forecasters had called for after Thanksgiving. Sad, yes, as the chance to plow had me excited as all get go. Happy, indeed, as I really wanted to focus my attention to the weekends' bizarre! Mind you, Maryann was ready to take the reins at the space in the event I had to bail to tend plowing, but it was alot, or would have been alot of work for one person, and on that note I am grateful she was there to assist. It was busy, busy, busy!! As well I enjoy being there to be a part of it all. It is always amazing and gratifying to watch people around pottery. I have to confess, I have the same fetish as most when it comes to pottery. The chance to feel each piece, the smooth and shining lines, the colors... When you actually find that piece that litterally calls out to you... It is just a very fulfilling feeling for me regardless if people end up buying or not. But hey, it is always good for the potter when people buy, aint it! Mind you I have never done the Kenai gig before so I have nothing to compare it to, but despite some of the comments on how the economy affected sales for alot of vendors, I feel like I did exceptional on sales! It is a good thing as I now am about out of clay and need to finance a shipment. Down in Dorrington I was spoiled. I had Quyle Kilns just 25 minutes down the highway who not only were potters themselves, but clay manufators as well. So clay was abundant, cheap, and readily available for me. Now I made sure to haul around 500 lbs on the moving truck when we came up, good thing. But that is dwindling now and it is time to anti up. Shipping will be twice as much as the clay itself, bummer, but after extensive research on shipping options and other logistical intell, there is really no way around the cost. So I prepare to bit down, hold my breath and just go for it! If all goes as planned I will have a pallet of 1000 lbs of clay here at the compound the first week of 2009. Is it just me or did the year fly?? Just doesn't feel right to me that 2008 is almost over. We were invited to our Realtors house for Thanksgiving dinner again this year. It was a fun time and nice to be with the closest thing to family that we have here. Lori is actually a gourmet chefette as well as a Realtor, and man can that woman cook. She added a flare to all of the typical dishes one would expect at a Thanksgiving feast. For example, yams au gratin as opposed to the yam standard! Oh I could go on, but it would simply make me salivate all over the keyboard. And the hor d vours (spelling?) were simply to die for. Fondue baked in pumpkin spread over peta crackers to name one! Lordy the scraping from the inside of the pumpkin was almost as good as the fondue itself! In fact, I was speaking to one of my clients this morning and he was asking me what we did for Thaksgiving. When I told him we had gone to Loris for dinner, he lit up and grinning from ear to ear said we are part of the 'secret hand shake' club if we were able to go to her place for dinner! He highly sugested that if I could get adopted by them it would be in my best interest. And no wonder as to why! She tells us to make plates to take left overs, right. I took que and got my plate to start serving the take homes. Maryann and John are sitting there smug, like, no worries, dad has us covered.... Bullcrap dad does! Call me a selfish tyrant but when it comes to left overs at Lori's it is each person for want left-overs you best be on it, man!! They figured me out real quick. Needless to say we all had a good celebration, and a good weekend and now I am out of steam. We were really surprised this last post to have found a comment from a 'stranger'. Apparently, she had gone looking for info on the "Christmas In Kenai" celebration and found our blog! Unbenounced to me until now (I have a low tolerance for technology), if you google "christmas in kenai" our blog posts rank 2 and 3 out of about 4 for the search! Cool beans, eah!? Anyways it was interesting as this family jumped off and did what we did, sounds like a year after us and conincidentally enough live in Nikiski as well. Not sure if they would want us to put their site on our 'favorites', but if they would not object to it I may, as it was good reading and a story right up our alley! Who knows, two books may evolve out of Nikiski! lol The sunrises are to that point now that I live for, and so wish I could see each and every one daily. We had a bit of a warming trend last week as it narrowed into the 30's but the night before last we were reading -0 on the temp gauge, and last night was getting there before we checked in for the night. Funny, we let the dogs out and their time in the exposure is alot less at that temperature. It's all about whizzing out a few ice cubes and "we're done, let us in". And who could blame them at that! John passed his E.T.T course and is now official, so he is pretty stoked about that and we are so proud of him. That is it for this round. I am still waiting for my 'happy light' to arrive, and bask in what little sunlight we get. It's a bit of a challenge when it is so cold your nose hairs freeze upon breathing, but the things we will do! Hope everyone is safe, healthy and ready to boot out the old for the new. Our love to all!!