Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's the Little Things

It is the dead of winter and my thermometer reads -20° outside. It's actually a bit warmer than it has been. The sun has shown its face and we are on the upside where we are gaining daylight rather than losing it. Today I walked home with my son and we both looked like jack frost by the time we reached the house. Frosty eyelashes and eyebrows, rosy cheeks and completely layered with the puffiest of coats, mittens, hats and scarves, that is the life we live this time of year. Granted, it may take us a good 15-20 min. to get all our gear on, but when it includes skating, or skiing or sledding or even snowmobiling, it's totally worth it!

During these winter months Carlon will go into town for meetings every now and then. It is then up to me to "hold down the fort" while he is away. Inevitably, something goes awry almost as soon as Carlon flies away. In keeping with that tradition, this time was no different. I began doing laundry and wouldn't you know it, the light was out. Thus began my attempt to do laundry with my head lamp on. I'm sure I was a sorry sight! Shortly after, I went to check the laundry and the load was still damp. The propane tank was out. Go figure. Thankfully our good friend came to the rescue and switched the tank out. So back to doing laundry with my headlamp.

We( I use this term loosely, because I had nothing to do with it) recently installed a wood stove in our home. It has been a nice addition. Carlon has been maintaining it and keeping it running for us. We have been toasty warm thanks to it. Well, when he left, so did the fire. I know absolutely nothing about wood stoves, lighting a fire, keeping a fire going, or anything. When the kids and I returned home we decided it was a bit cold. So, I decided to figure out how to start a fire (my Alaskan friends are probably rolling their eyes at me and dying of laughter at this point, it is VERY common for the women out here to have knowledge and know-how regarding this). So thanks to YouTube, and constant advice from my son, we got the fire going! I felt like Tom Hanks dancing for joy in Castaway when he finally got the fire going. I too danced for joy, while my children laughed at me. I didn't care. Fire!

All this to say, I'm thankful for my husband and all he does. I'm thankful for sweet neighbors who help out. And I'm thankful the Lord continues stretch me and make me learn and grow, even when it comes to building a fire. It's the little things in life that bring a smile, or crazy dancing, or laughter. I'm so glad God cares about those little things too.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Turn

Although Carlon has the opportunity to see some amazing landscape throughout Alaska, rarely do I get the opportunity to go with him.  So, when I have that chance, it is worth documenting, because what may be "just another day at the 'office'" for Carlon, is actually a pretty spectacular day for the rest of us.  Today was one of those days.


This morning after I dropped off the kids (who were totally ecstatic to be playing at their friends' house), I met Carlon down at the beach to hop into the float plane and head into Twin Lakes.  The flight alone is worth it all!  Beautiful scenery and pretty good company, if I don't say so myself!  When we got there we were greeted by a gentlemen who gave us a tour of Dick Proenneke's cabin.  Dick Proenneke is a man who, at the age of 51, decided to survive in the wilderness on his own for about 30 years.  Amazing story!  I highly recommend looking him up online, reading his book or watching the PBS documentary on him.  The cabin has been kept up and preserved for tourists and visiters to see what his life was like.


It was a privilege to be able to see such a place and once again, enjoy seeing another part of this beautiful state, that is so close to where we live.  It was fun to see Carlon in his element, doing what he loves and to be a part of his everyday life. 

On our way back, we spotted two black bear from the plane.  Just icing on the cake!  I was in awe, once again, of what a blessing it is to be here and to enjoy all the great things that are only a hop skip and a plane ride away.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Last night, my children, along with the rest of their school (about 30 students in all, K-12) performed the musical, "The Wizard of Oz". It was a very well done performance, thanks to the entire school and basically the entire community.

The evening started out with a fine gourmet meal, cooked by a great chef, who happens to live right here in our small community. It was delicious! Then, the play was under way. The kids did a great job and it was a tremendous evening for all.

It was such an amazing thing to watch "the final product", after having been a small part in the costumes, props, make-up and other pre-show tasks. I was truly inspired and in awe of our community and seeing the many, many, MANY hands that helped make it happen. If we needed a barn, or a door built, someone outside of the school was on it. If we needed make-up or costumes, a mom or a friend could provide it, or sew it, or mend it. Numerous people worked around the clock to paint, built, paste, fix, hammer or whatever it took to make the play a success. Not to mention, the kids and all their hard work, memorizing lines, singing songs, going out of their comfort zone and standing in front of an audience, rehearsing over and over and over again. So much work went into the success of this play.

I am very grateful for all the special talents and abilities of our small community and how their talents were put to use to make this production fabulous and memorable. What a blessing it was to be involved in such a great thing!

Date night!

Yummy chicken and veggies!

Our little munchkins.

"As Mayor of Munchkin City..."

Dorthy and the gang.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just another day

The other day Carlon asked if I would like to accompany him while he checked the trapline. I nervously said yes. This may sound like a trivial task, but "checking the traps" means, getting in a ski plane and flying to the area (only about 8 min. away) and landing on a remote lake.

We loaded into the plane, with my cross country skis at my side, because, let's be honest, just checking traps is not all that interesting to me, and off we went. It was my first time to ride in a plane with skis and I have to admit, it felt a little unnerving to think we could land on what used to be water, yet at the same time it felt pretty exciting to think I was landing on what used to be water!

We flew over the area to get an idea of where I would ski. Once on the ground, I clicked on my skis and off I went, nothing but beautiful snow ahead of me! It was an exhilarating experience. On top of all that, the sun decided to peek out just as I started off to ski. I met Carlon at the end of the lake just as he finished checking the last trap. So, we loaded up and headed home. Although, it was an unsuccessful trapping day, it was most successful in time well spent!

It really doesn't cease to amaze me at the many opportunities that await me here and that are right at my fingertips. What may seem like a crazy adventure, most often is just another day when living out here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Enjoying the season of winter

As the months have passed, it has gotten nice and cold and winter has settled in. I'm taking in the sun as much as I can for as short of a time as it is out. However, along with winter come all the wonderful activities outside that are right out our back door.

Iceskating has become the popular activity for us this year. I'm amazed at how fast my children are all getting and how hard I have to work to keep up! It is such an awesome feeling to be out on the ice, that in less than 5 months will be a body of water. This year we have had the opportunity to skate on the lake, and out further than last year. As great of a feeling it is to be out on the ice, I can't help but wonder if I would find that one crack that just didn't freeze up all the way. But knowing that is foolishness, we tread on and head out into the vast open ice to enjoy the beauty and fun of skating.

The kids skating on the bay.

Skating on the lake, with a great sunset backdrop.

This was a time when I got to skate across the lake, a long trek.

Last spring Carlon bought the kids and I a pair of cross country skis, so we were very anxious to get snow this winter and break them in. We have had ample opportunity to use them this year and it has been so much fun. The other day, I was able to ski to pick the kids up from school, and ski home with them. It took us a lot longer, due to the tempting hills to play on and ski down, but was completely worth it.

Skiing home from school.

Having fun on skis.

As cold, dark and hard as winter can be, I feel so privileged to be in a place where so much awaits for me to do. All I have to do is take that first step out the door and I can have a variety of adventures. I feel truly blessed.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Big Hike

This summer I had an awesome opportunity to go on what is nicknamed, "The Death March". It's a 2 day hiking adventure covering 40+ miles, no trail, no tent, light backpack(not even deodorant..."it weighs too much") and lots of determination! It is led by a man who knows this area like the back of his hand and we are his little ducklings who rely on his navigation to get to our destination.

We left early in the morning, loaded up on a float plane, and headed out to be dropped off in, what felt like, the middle of nowhere. The plane ride took longer than expected due to cloudy weather and because of the weather we had to quickly change plans and get dropped off at a different location than the original plan. Once we landed, we ended up waiting the weather out until after noon before heading out. Thankfully there was a tiny little cabin we could take shelter in until the rain let up. Then, we headed out. Our new plan was very close to the original plan but we ended up cutting off a lot of the miles due to our new drop off location.

It was a great hike. The first day was pretty gray and cloudy, but it didn't hinder us one bit. We trekked along until around 8 pm. After quickly changing into dry socks, I set up my sleeping bag and bivy sack(wind, rain, bug protector that slips right over the sleeping bag) and hoped for some much needed rest. It didn't come, but I was thankful not to get eaten by mosquitoes or bears!

The second day we got up and headed out around 5 am. It was a cold and rainy morning. Not the best start after having had no sleep. After hiking for about 4 hours, we had to stop due to weather. We were completely fogged in. Our leader couldn't gather his bearings because the landscape was covered. So, we sat for what seemed like hours (40 minutes or so), and waited for the fog to lift. It was VERY cold, we changed out of wet socks, and even pulled out sleeping bags as we waited. We finally headed out even though the fog was still there. After hiking for awhile my toes were finally starting to thaw out and even the fog began to lift a little. I distinctly remember praying and asking the Lord to bring the sun. Literally moments later, we saw a huge peak before us, with the lower portions enveloped in fog and the sun illuminating the top. It was a pretty surreal moment!

As the day progressed we had the opportunity to trek over any and every kind of terrain. We hiked on tundra, rocks, gravel, dirt, mossy marshy stuff, mountainous ground, high and low, through creeks, over snow, through trees, over brush and the list goes on! We saw a fox, several ptarmigan, and even a bear and her 2 little cubs! The weather continued to cooperate and what was once a gloomy morning turned into an absolutely gorgeous afternoon!

We finally made it to our final destination at about 5pm. The sun had come out in full force and we were soaking it in! Despite our fatigue, we looked back at what we had just accomplished and felt it was well worth it. Our final destination was called Twin Lakes, and it took my breath away!

So, into the plane we climbed, sweaty, smelly and exhausted to head home. Upon arriving I was instructed to take a bath and then was treated to a steak dinner complete with fresh rhubarb pie. Life doesn't get any better than this!!

View The Hike in a larger map

The start of the hike, Snipe Lake.

Heading out in the rain.

Me and my girlfriends...we were "the young ones".

The rest of the group.

Takin' a rest.

A nice view.

A nice way to end day 1.

This is where we slept. Getting ready to start day 2.

The fog.

Seeing the hope...that beautiful peak.

Looking down at the Kijik river in the great valley.

Another view of the river.

A good rest stop.

Our first glimpse of the final destination.

There are bears somewhere in this picture...can you find them?

Should we really go down this way??

Yes, I think so.

Walking on the snow toward Twin Lakes!

Beautiful Twin Lakes.

Getting ready to head home!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jalapeno Bagels

It is summer and although school is out, we continue to work on some of the things the kids have learned so that all is not lost. In the mornings, we often have a time set aside, where the kids read or work on some math or write. It's a nice way to keep the boredom syndrome from hitting our household.

Malea was reading a story from her book entitled, Jalapeno Bagels. It's a cute little story about a little boy whose parents own a bakery and he is asked to bring something to school for International Day. He struggles trying to find the perfect thing, since his mom is Mexican and dad is Jewish. So, he settles on Jalapeno Bagels, so that it can represent all of who he is.

After reading the story, which also had recipes at the end, Malea was determined to try to make them! So, after looking over the recipe and deciding whether or not this was even possible with my limited cooking abilities, we decided to give it a try. So, the kids and I worked together and made the bagels. It was so much fun and the kids were a big help! After they were done we enjoyed them with LOTS of cream cheese (to help with the hot spice!). They were very good, but we decided that next time we would leave the jalapenos out!