Friday, January 30, 2009

Here Comes The Sun

Ha, ha. I bet you have that song in your head now, don't you?

A quick word, before I continue on my usual rambling about myself...

Thank you to everyone who showed some support on my last post, either through the blog or email. I would love to take just a minute to (hopefully not embarrass!) but ask those of you who don't mind, to take a peek at what one of my readers, SIMON had to say.
And for the record, Simon, if you ever decide to keep a blog, I would love to read it! First, you live where my heartstrings call me. I have a not-so-secret envy of people who walk the streets that Laura Ingalls used to walk. And I hope you are right... that maybe one day, my little Beans and my Little Nugget will care to read what I wrote... my thoughts on our own little life.
I think you should go for it! (And when you blog on blogspot, you can put settings that only allow certain people to read, post comments, or other things. I opened my comments to the public, to see what was out there because I'm willing to handle some, ahem, "constructive" (?) feedback... but you can avoid comments from the peanut gallery if you don't want them! Just so you know!)

Also... I want to clarify my own anonymity. It's Husband-Induced, mostly. I had to beg and plead to be allowed to keep a blog, and posting even a single picture on this blog was a month long begging and pleading. MY reasons for staying anonymous are because we have three beautiful children, with another on the way, and while we have a general trust in most human beings as a whole (none of us have intense fear of strangers), we stay semi-hidden because the thought of cuckoo Internet predators and other weirdos and stalkers just don't appeal to us.

I have decided, however, that my "Anonymous" reader stays "Anonymous" because he/she is either
1. My former Landlord
2. Has their own Internet safety concerns
3. Could actually be someone famous, like Angelina Jolie, or Brad Pitt (how cool would THAT be??)- and CAN'T divulge thier identity
4. Is Bushy The Squirrel, from my early entries, and is offended by the way I have portrayed her and her little baby squirrels for freeloading in the old North Pole house.

SO, readers.. (including Mr/Mrs "Anonymous", who is apparently still reading, despite the torture), let us continue on with our usual lives, and mention it no more...
Without further Ado...

Like I said, "Here Comes The Sun"...
The days are slowly and surely lengthening! We took J to work this morning, and already, at 8 am, I could see the faint hint of dawn setting in.
Dawn and dusk are incredibly beautiful times here. The sky is still "dark", but a shade of indigo that slowly lightens to a blue-grey, then, as the sun peeks over the mountains (at least on the days clear enough to see it),begins to come alive with streaks of pink, orange, sharp bright blues, and eventually, the bright yellow orange glow of the sun makes its entrance between the mountain peaks.
Nowhere have I seen a sunrise like it. Amazing. It is my favorite time of day to stand by the kitchen window, cup of coffee in hand, and watch the sun as the snow blows off the trees, and steam come off the mountains as the sun warms them, just a little.
Day is getting longer now, too... almost like a "normal" day. I have noticed glimpses of the fading sun in the sky as late as 4:30 pm now, and dusk simmers in the sky for a good hour most evenings, giving the impression that there is some daylight from about 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, or close to it.
Dusk is another beautiful difference from the lower 48. Early in the afternoon, the sun loses it's "noon glow", and even though you can see it in the sky, it begins to change from a bright yellow ball, to a deep orange ball in the sky. To see it's "light" you really have to look at it to know it's there. Sure, there's "daylight", but the sun seems separate from it, looking more like a large Harvest Moon in a sky of daylight, instead of night. As the orange globe begins its descent between the hills, the reverse of sunrise takes place, leaving sharp pinks, reds, and oranges in its wake, and finally fading into pale blue, to indigo, to black night sky.

I wasn't expecting the effect of this on me. It's no secret that I truly love the winter here, other than the cold temps. (I WOULD prefer temps around , say, zero, as opposed to 40 below!) Other than that, I find winter to be a beautiful and amazing place. I never tire of the changing winter scenery... and it DOES change! Some days, you can see the sun, some days, a pale grey sets over the sky, some days, the snow is falling, and on other crisp (and very cold days) the sun will shimmer off the frozen snow, where you can see new moose tracks, and hope for a glimpse of the animal. There is a sense of awe when an animal or object appears... a fox makes a sharp, dark red contrast on the otherwise stark white landscape, or a large moose suddenly appears through the tree line.
Also no secret that while there are things I love about the summers here, I have a sort of reversed seasonal affective issue, where the 24 hours of daylight becomes tiresome to me, and I deal with a sort of summer "funk" when there is an absence of light. (Not complaining about Alaska, mind you. Everywhere I have lived, the longer summer days has sent me into some sort of weird funk. Maybe I'm part vampire, or something? Hmm. Have to check the family tree for that one.)
So I am surprised to find myself feeling the same things many of the seasoned residents feel around here... a happiness for longer days, and looking forward to the spring temperatures.

It's nice to talk to some of the other people around here... it seems like the general consensus is along the following lines:
Early winter is fun. The snow is "new" and exciting to see, at first. The days are still temperate, the days still have some "normal" hours and structure.
Not for me, but many people I have talked to, December to February is a cumbersome time to many local residents. By then, we have had several months of snow. And with the temps below freezing, it's no longer "new and exciting" to trek outdoors, start the car, shovel the walk, or get snow off the car. Many people (even die-hard ice fishermen, snow machiners, and dog mushers) stay inside more often when the weather gets below 20 Below... venturing out for necessities, but not much else. Those few months of isolation and cabin-fever can really get to a person. (Once again, not me, so much. Sure, I like to get out and tire of indoors, but being a homebody, I actually love the excuse to pull out a crochet project and not go start the van!)
As the weather "breaks" and the daylight begins to come back, people are anxious and happy to get out again... even venturing out into weather or temperatures that might have stopped them from going out a few weeks ago.
I have observed with some curiosity (and relief, since it has been getting J out of the house a bit, too), the number of people in our little town taking up outdoor sports in the last few weeks. J and a neighbor have been ice fishing once a week, with plans to add snow machine trips to the weekly adventures. And the offers for snow machining, ice fishing, hockey scrimmages, and various other activities have been rolling in faster than we can keep up with or accept them.
Local stores that spent several weeks a bit "empty" have suddenly filled with what I call "the lingering"... people who are in IGA to do much more than buy groceries and hurry home. They are stopping in the cafe, poking their heads in at the bank or the local coffee shop, and, well, lingering... chatting with people they haven't seen in a few weeks, making plans to get out of the house, and most of all... talking about spring. The guesses on when break-up is going to happen are starting to be peppered in among the local gossip, and I was even told excitedly by a local business owner that I chat with often, "Rumor has it, we are going to have an early and warmer spring than last year!"

Maybe some fellow Alaskan Residents can make sure I have the record straight, but it seems like the seasonal cycle is kicking into high-gear. Spring IS coming... eventually. And like I said, the talk around town sounds excited for it. Won't be long before we start hearing of all the summer plans people are making, instead of the vacations many have taken or are taking now, to get out of the cold.
(Susan, I can't wait to hear how Hawaii was for you! I am happy here, but can remember the feel of sand between my toes, too!)

I find myself getting excited about it, too... strangely enough.
Spring means that this new baby will finally be here.
Spring means that our road trips through Alaska will be returning.
I don't know how much gold-panning we'll do with TWO babies in tow, but it does mean a return of picnics, walks through parks, fishing on unfrozen waters, gardening, and longer days to visit with our North Pole and Fairbanks friends, without having to worry about getting home before it gets too dark.

Meanwhile... I was recently told of "The Ice Park", coming in February, which sounds like a fun way to finish out some of our first winter in Alaska. I'll have to find the kink and post it, but it's basically a bunch of ice sculptures, slides, and other things made of ice. Oooh... Ahhhh....
Ice is one thing we definitely have plenty of, so we might as well do something cool (ha ha) with it.

(This is where people who don't care to read our family updates could probably tune out:)

Our last midwife visit went great! I kind of went in, guns blazing about how I was tired of being a medical anomaly, and the midwife was pretty receptive to letting me be "just a normal pregnant woman". The one exception... if we aren't doing all the medical intervention, she asked if we could do a simple test, every two weeks, that basically shows if there is a risk I might go into labor in the next two weeks.
For the medically curious, it's called a Fetal Fibronectin Test... you can google it, so I don't have to get overly "graphic" here, but basically, it shows if there are physical changes in body fluid that happen in the weeks just before labor. Until I get to 37 weeks or so, we WANT to see "negative" results. Which is what we got this time around. Looks like labor won't be in the next two weeks (or at least an incredibly low risk of that!), so this little one is still cooking away, and getting big.
I am now getting kicked in the ribs and the hips at the same time, and had to buy the next size up in maternity clothes. J assures me that I am still sexy and beautiful, but I mostly feel like a lumbering cow, and am rethinking my decision to not "moo" through labor. I mean... maybe it will just come naturally, since I am morphing into a cow now. In fact, if I get much bigger, I won't have to worry about mooing like a cow through labor. I will be making beluga whale sounds instead.
Well, we had good news, and go back in another two weeks. Hooray!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Beans is a sicky AGAIN. Looks like she picked up another little cold, and the pediatrician has warned us that croup and RSV are going around. We stayed home from playgroups this week, but other than a little extra fussiness and lots of nose blowing, we are holding down the fort.
And in REALLY good news: we actually saw a pediatrician that we loved! She also took a look at little Beans' weight, said she was finally coming back on some sort of "curve", then made me feel extra good by saying, "Well, judging by the two of you (J and me), it doesn't look like she would be destined to be a very big person anyway." (That is the best thing you could ever say to a pregnant beluga whale, ever!)
She was very supportive about STILL (yes, still) nursing, and listened to our crazy hippy diet and told us that she thought we were on the right track. Which I already knew. But it was nice to hear a "professional" say that. She also agreed that we did the right thing, avoiding the poptart, bologna, and mac and cheese diet that one doctor advised us to start.

Other quick news of no important note:
We lost one of the channels on TV that we actually care to watch (NBC apparently made their digital conversion already). Between that, the moron in tech support I talked to who took 30 minutes to tell me I needed a converter box that the install guy says I don't need, and realizing that the only channels of the 55 channels we pay for that we actually watch are: PBS, NBC, and ESPN during college football season, it just wasn't worth a converter box. Especially when I can download all those things online OR get them from Netflix.
So, we ditched the cable.
On that note, a heartfelt apology to my teenage boys, who when they come to visit, are going to be more "bored" than they could ever imagine. Just think... no cable? No video games? What is a guy to do all summer???
The fresh air will do you some good, fellas. And I promise, (well, I hope, anyway) the bears WON'T eat you when you go fishing with J. Just keep you head up, make lots of noise (which you are already good at), and run fast. Just kidding. Don't run. The bears will give chase.

That's our update this time around. Coming up in the next few weeks, more playgroups (once Beans doesn't have boogers hanging down to her chin), more ice fishing (for J) is likely, especially since he returned with dinner again- this time, two good sized "land-locked salmon". (They have a real name, but I don't know what it is.) They were tasty, whatever they were, and leftovers were turned into a special dish (Salmon Fettuccine) for Beans, who has recently asked for "noo-noos" (noodles, for those of you who don't speak toddler) for every single meal this week, including breakfast.
Also on the agenda, a snow machine trip for J, if the weather holds out, but we are predicted for 20 or 30 below again this week.
The following week, ANOTHER trip to Fairbanks to see the midwife. No more shopping. I'm burned out on shopping. And most of all... glad to be back home in our own little nest. Time is going by quickly, and it has dawned on me that I should start getting our little nest ready for a new little bird (or nugget) to be here.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!