Friday, June 26, 2009

Rainy Season

Yes, Alaska DOES have a "rainy" season, and we are in it. We've had rain all week, and the forecast for the weekend and next week is... you guessed it, rain.

It's okay by me though. I actually really like the rainy season here. Maybe I still have the old Alabama weather programed into me? Rainy season in Alabama meant hotter, more humid days. And wind with our rainy season generally meant hurricanes (and tornadoes). Thanks, but no thanks!
Alaska rainy season generally means overcast days, a gentle pitter-patter of raindrops (perfect for curling up with a knitting project and a cup of coffee while Disney does the babysitting), and a cool breeze.

This week's adventures have been fun for everyone. And I'm not even being sarcastic about that.

J took off earlier in the week to Fielding Lake for some fishing. He and a buddy brought home a 26 inch lake trout and three grayling, all of which are sitting in my freezer, until next week.
J reported that Fielding Lake is beautiful, and a good place for wildlife viewing. And by "wildlife" I mean that he reported lots of moose, caribou, and bear tracks. And, he reports, there is still SNOW up there! So strange, but in all the pictures of him fishing, he is actually wearing his winter coat AND thermals.

Meanwhile, Beans, The Little Nugget, and I spent the week doing our usual assortment of play dates, bread baking (including a mean sourdough), laundry, knitting, and container garden tending. The tomato plants have flowers, the kohl rabi is starting to sprout, and the lettuce is starting to look serious. Meanwhile, I should have listened to the advice of more experienced Alaskan gardeners concerning my pepper plant. Seems that we dipped below freezing (or close to it) a couple nights ago, and the poor pepper is struggling to hang on. It also looks like the high Delta winds might have gotten the best of my basil plant, and appears that something might have taken a taste of a couple plants on the back deck, but overall, things are growing and (sort of) surviving.

We took a break from the "same old, same old" to take a drive to Birch Lake this week. In addition to being a beautiful lake with great fishing, the Air Force has a nice campground tucked away back there. We drove through the forest to the campground to check it out.
J and I immediately got Camping Fever, which is a sudden desire to purchase a ton of camping gear, pack up your kids and fishing poles, and head out into the woods. Our drive ultimately ended in Fairbanks, with a trip through the camping gear aisle, and we officially have reservations for next week at the Birch Lake campground.
That said, we aren't exactly going to be "roughing it". The campground at Birch Lake makes the pretty comfy summer camp my parents sent me to when I was a kid look "rough". The cabins are equipped with a stove (like, a real one) and a fridge. The roughest it's going to get is that we won't have running water in the cabin we rented.
But ya gotta start somewhere. I suppose if we survive cabin camping, we'll move up a step to renting a camper.
The drive home was full of excited talk about campfires, fishing, and s'mores. I have my shopping list ready to go, and by my next update, there should be stories of lake trout roasting on an open fire.

But the highlight of the drive home was a black fox, trotting down the highway with his dinner in his mouth. As usual, I was left wondering why I never bring my camera...

Another drive this week took us further into bear country, as we headed south on Richardson Highway. We drove down to see the Greely Campground and scope it out for a future camping trip. Definitely more on the lines of "roughing it", but beautiful, and overlooks the river.
Along the way, I spotted several hares, and as I was commenting to J about how we would have had dinner if we had brought the .22 along, a flash of gray leaping through the trees revealed that a LYNX had beaten us to hunting.
WOW!!! That was pretty awesome to see.
In addition to the lynx, there was the usual assortment of moose sightings, and LOTS of hares. The moose are starting to make appearances with new little babies, and I've sighted several new mommas with twins this year. The baby moose are adorable. They are still the size of small horses, but a beautiful fawn color, and behave like little nervous wrecks, refusing to get far from their mommies.
We ended that drive with a stop off at a rock quarry that we initially thought was a small lake. No fishing, but beautiful scenery, and would make a nice kayaking stop one afternoon. Beans and I skipped rocks for a bit, picked a few wild flowers to take home and identify, and as soon as J pointed out HUGE moose tracks and some kind of large mammal scat, we headed on our way. Good thing, we learned later. As we retold our tale of the "awesome lake" we found to a friend of ours, he informed us that the field we were about to go trekking on was where someone has a trap line set, and the trapper has been pretty successful with everything from fox, coyote, wolf, and bear.

We spent the rest of our week catching some outdoor time between rain showers, and then finally donning rain boots and jackets for some fun at the park today. Enjoying the great outdoors has a rule: If you can't beat the weather, at least dress for it.
We are quickly acquiring wardrobes for every type of weather.
*As a side note: I can't believe how hard it is to find a rain coat in a 2T! It's ridiculous! Apparently, if you are smaller than 3T, you just have to suck it up and get wet. Period. Luckily, Beans doesn't mind, and actually really enjoys the opportunity to get soaking wet. *

That pretty much sums up our week. My weekend is sure to be full of baking, cooking, and shopping for our upcoming camping trip.
Meanwhile, I'm off to enjoy a slice of homemade blueberry cheesecake and a cup of coffee, and watch the next band of showers come through.
Next week promises stories of camping and camp fires.

Until Next Time,
Happy Moose Trails!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Longest Day of the Year

And in sarcastic humor that I can only attribute to years of living with my dad, I would like to point out that the day is not actually longer. It is still 24 hours. (And my dad would be quick to point out that 24 hours is an estimate, not exact, which is why we have a "leap year", an extra day to cover the extra minutes in each day).

And speaking of dads, I hope all of you remembered that it is Father's Day today. I just BARELY remembered, and with the time difference, almost didn't get the phone call in to my dad. Luckily, I managed a quick hello and short chat. (And also fessed up to nearly forgetting.)
I also managed a VERY brief hello to my father-in-law, but just as we got past the hellos, the girls started proving that they can scream louder than I can talk. I'm pretty sure my father-in-law was laughing as I got off the phone to tend to the girls, but that's okay. Next month, he and my brother-in-law will get to hear the screaming up close and personal, since they are coming for a visit.

In my humble defense for forgetting it was Father's Day, J and I rarely celebrate such holidays. His work schedule hardly even allows us decent time to celebrate major holidays like Christmas and Easter. We even forgot all about our anniversary this year. I know. We're weird. But, hey. I do know he's the father of my children. And he must still be my husband, because he keeps coming home for dinner, and keeps sending his paycheck.


So, the summer solstice is here! Most loyal readers know how I feel about the long days here. For those just tuning in, um... not my favorite thing about Alaska. Maybe I was a vampire in a past life, or something crazy, but I really do long for NIGHT in my days.
That said, I'll admit that this year has been better than last year. It's been a gradual shift to full daylight. It's only been in the last week or so that J has had to listen to me grumble about how midnight and 4 am look the same to me. And it's only been in the last couple weeks that the full daylight has kept me awake and confused me in my night waking.
I find that I wake several times a night now (and not always just because of a new baby in the house!) and find myself seriously confused as to why everyone is sleeping when it's broad daylight outside. Until I look at the clock and discover that it's actually 4 am, and I'M the sucker that should be back in bed.
I am also finding that the long daylight hours make me feel a bit frenzied. When I wake (accidentally) at 4 am, I find that the daylight makes me feel like I should be awake and being productive. I have sudden urges to go to the kitchen and start baking bread or making coffee. The frenzy continues through the evening, when 10 pm sneaks up and me and I find that I still have so many things I want to do while it's daylight. Then the reality kicks in. Um, it's going to be daylight for close to 24 hours. And if I actually haul myself out of bed at 4 and start baking, or keeping myself up until the dark comes back, I'm going to be awfully tired when the girls finally wake at 8:00, and I am ready to take a nap.
I generally force myself back into bed, content to snuggle with the New Little Nugget, who is confused NOT by daylight, but as to why I would even consider removing her milk supply from the bed.

Like I said, this year IS a bit better than last. I no longer find myself gazing out the windows at midnight, marvelling at the light. I no longer find myself a complete insomniac, hoping without hope that the sky will suddenly darken.
No. These days, I simply grumble about how room darkening shades only do so much, and pray for rain, since the cloud cover makes things dark enough to justify turning on a light from time to time.
Besides, now that the solstice is here, we are on a "losing" streak. "Losing" about 6 minutes of daylight each day.
Or as I see it, gaining 6 minutes of night... glorious night.


We missed all the Fairbanks activities for the solstice this year. I had every intention of doing The Midnight Sun Run and various other things in the 24 hours of light. Then, I got a reality check and realized that I would much rather get my girls to bed at a decent hour, and avoid the whole "I missed my nap and now you are gonna pay, momma" drama.
Yeah... Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, the Moose Nugget Household has had a chaotic weekend. Both girls have colds. Little Nugget is on a growth spurt, which means the milk factory (AKA "mom") is working overtime. Beans is on a sudden streak of independence (like, even more than usual), and today, this independence has resulted in one tired, frustrated momma.

If anyone out there understands the following interaction, by all means, post comments:
Beans is trying to do something on her own. Suddenly, she calls for "help". I attempt to help, which results in her screaming, "NO! I'm do it!" Okay, fine. I say, "All right. You do it." This results in her screaming, "HELP!" I attempt to help, which results in... you guessed it. Full blow tantrum.
I'm at a loss, dude. Seriously. I found myself in an Einstein moment.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results."

Another Beans moment today...
The never ending request for juice.
I just want to say that we NEVER have juice in our house. Aside from the fact that it's empty calories and mostly sugar, it gives Beans a horrible upset tummy.
For some strange reason, she has started demanding juice.
I have pointed out that we don't have juice.
I have taken her to the fridge to have her show me what she THINKS might be juice. (That results in standing in the open refrigerator screaming "JUICE!" at the top of her lungs, by the way.)
I have offered water instead of juice.
I have even attempted to bribe her with C-A-N-D-Y or popsicles, since we have no juice. Every response is met with screaming and tantrum. Over juice that doesn't even exist.
What is THAT about?

It's not all bad, though. Her independence is working up to trying to use the potty (hooray!), and even (dare I say...) weaning. The "I'm do it!" phase also means more time for me to sit back and play with the New Little Nugget, who has been flashing a sweet little smile, cooing, and even trying to giggle from time to time. And in spite of the challenges, it is amazing to watch the strong and determined personality of my "little" Beans come out.
* As I type this, however, she is finger painting with spit bubbles on my dining room table. Awesome. *

Things I thought I would never say in my life:
"Please stop spitting on the table. It's rude." (Not to mention, totally gross, dude!)
And the highlight of my day:
"We do NOT lick the potty!" (Um, she actually looked at me and asked, "Why?")

And that, my readers, is what brings me to (almost) the end of the longest day of the year. The sun is bright and shining, with no sign of the moon for the next, oh, several months. I'm headed to seal the cracks in the room darkening shades and convince my toddler that there is no juice in this whole house, and that she should just take a bath and go to bed.
After that, I'll be scrubbing the dining room table, and goggling ways to make the potty safe for human consumption.

The good news is, tomorrow will be 6 minutes darker than today. *grin*

Happy Moose Trails!