Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Well I'm hot blooded, check it and see

Yet another -40F morning at the cabin.  I have sealed off the big window upstairs and when I took a peek at it this morning ice was a good 18 inches up the window and building.  When it warms up there will be a flood of water to deal with but so be it.  The truck started like a champ and the air is so clear it hurts to look at.  I drove Angela to work this morning and then went to bLowe's and bought some trim wood for the next phase of counter top, should have it assembled today and maybe even installed.  The ice fog is thickening but hasn't really dropped to the ground yet, -50F is projected for the end of the week and that should lower air quality significantly.  I'm off to create more sawdust in the garage.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Get up dogs, you ain't tired.

It's -35F at the cabin this morning in Fairbanks, Alaska which is just about the right temperature for the holidays.  We have had a great time with the family over the Christmas week and I've enjoyed adventuring with my nephew.  
We built a massive snow fort outside Grammy's house.

Bonfire party at Sam and Jillian's Christmas Eve.

Then Jillian and I took the dogs out for a run before she took off for the Gin Gin 200.  I put Max in the sled with 9 dogs out front.  He was wrapped in good gear and a sleeping bag and the only complaint was "I can't see!" when he slipped down into the foot of the sled.  About 6 miles out he fell asleep and slept the whole way home.  When we pulled into the yard I scooped him out and put him in the snowbank while we put the dogs away.  This picture shows him in his wad of sleeping bag next to the sled.  It was about -5F at the time.  When he woke up he said, "What am I doing here?"  I'm sure barking dogs and a snowbank are a bit different from most of his nap surroundings.
Now I just hope Jillian makes it back from the race ok- the weatherman actually said it's cold enough to freeze warts today.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night

Happy Holidays everyone, don't forget to stop and make a snow angel from time to time.

Monday, December 22, 2008

If We Couldn't Laugh We Would All Go Insane

Well I'm back in Fairbanks and it's good to be home.  The sun down south is great, and I'll write about that in a bit, but the Lower 48 has crowd control problems we just don't deal with up here and I'm glad for that.  Crowds suck, and that point was driven home with a night of hell at the Seattle Tacoma airport where we got weathered in on the way back from Mazatlan.Here's a shot I took about 9pm Saturday when AK Air was still feeding us the line that we might get out that night.  Snow was coming down hard and over 4 inches was on top of the plane.  I figured we were doomed and then I saw this:
When Jolly St. Nick can't get home for Christmas what chance do I have?  And so it was at 1am they officially cancelled our flight, sent us back out through security and said get in line for a new ticket.  There was well over 1,000 people already waiting in line and beside the line people were sleeping everywhere in the most horrible open mouth broken neck positions that only the truly exhausted can perform.  
We stood in line all night, inching along and trying not to calculate the hopelessness of it all.  Finally, at 6am we stood in front of an agent.  He looked nervous and unskilled and happily informed us there was a flight out in the evening, of December 24.  Angela went white, then gray, then red and said very calmly, "That cannot happen."  Meanwhile I had a brief vision as the next 3 days stretched out before us.  There were riots, burning luggage cart tires, cannabalism and the leering faces of TSA agents eating fried chicken from behind the security lines and laughing as families huddled under in-flight magazine covers for warmth.  
I had to do something, and quick, so I put my finger to my left temple and whispered, "Help me Obi wan, you're my only hope."  I have uttered many oaths, phrases, curses and movie lines in my life but none with as much yearning of spirit and soul as I did Sunday morning.  Almost instantly a new ticket agent walked up and took  our man's place.  She dismissed him with a quick nod and a wave, cracked her knuckles, and looked over the top of her computer at us with calm determination.  Once she knew where we had to go her fingers blurred and the keyboard grew hot as she typed her demands into cyberspace.  
She mumbled under her breath as she worked her Jedi magic, "I'll enter you both as backslash 'k' upgrades on a dash 9 layover with section P clearance.  That'll get you to Anchorage, then it's just a matter of inputing the high tide coefficient for Turnagain Arm on a leapyear and it's done.  Now do you want window or aisle seats on the 8am flight today?"  
The upshot of it all is that our firstborn must now be named "Tracy" regardless of gender and we got home within 24 hours of when we were supposed to.  We did make it onto an 8 am flight but then spent 4 hours waiting in the plane for a de-icing crew to show up.  It wasn't until the gear folded into the plane as we lifted off that I began to feel some relief.
The Ted Stevens Convicted Felon International Airport never looked so good.  A few other things I would like to mention:  I saw maybe 100 blue blankets passed out to the thousands of sleeping people stranded at the airport, no one but Starbucks stayed open late to feed anyone, and supposedly the airport handed out bottled water for about an hour but ran out before I saw a drop.  

For all the billions that have been squandered on TSA theatrics true terrorism is watching an airport that handles 30,000 people a day shut down.  We will never forget...

Friday, December 05, 2008

I'm Not the Man I used to be Lately

It is December in the Golden Heart City of Fairbanks, a time of sparse daylight hours, cold temperatures, blank stares, frozen vehicles and thoughts of Mexico.  Angela and I have hunkered down accordingly and booked a flight to Mazatlan where we will ingest copious amounts of seafood and sunshine for the next two weeks.  
For those of you staying behind and toughing out the winter I recommend Max Dog's tried and true technique pictured above.  Max cautions that his remedies may lead to atrocious gas and poo breath, you have been warned...

Monday, December 01, 2008

My Baby is American Made

Angela is the proud parent of a new snowmachine today and we are both very excited.  Weighing in around 360 pounds, she's good looking and appears to be fit and healthy.  It was a bit of Craigslist luck and perfect timing and coordination with Rachael in Anchorage but we now have a 2000 model with reverse.  So sweet.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

They Judge a Man by What He's Got and they wanta have more and more

Well this last week was spot on awesome.  I got to go to the mountains and answer the call of the wild for a few days and that does the soul good.  I left Fairbanks under snowy skies and dropped in on Iniakuk through a hole in the fog with my friend Max in his little Champ.  It is a great little plane that is as close to hang gliding as you can get and still have a prop out front.  I stayed with the great Paul Shanahan, Slayer of Large Bears and Teller of Tall Tales.  Here are some pics:
Here's Paul in his kitchen looking for caribou while I take apart my snowmachine engine.  The crankshaft seized so I brought the whole mess  back into town with me.  Damn iron dogs.
Here's Max hand-propping his Champ after dropping me off.
Cutting wood with Paul is an adventure in the improbable showing impossible how to get the job done.  It was -35F, the wood pile was empty, and Paul's wood hauling sled had just lost a battle with a tree.  We had to wrap the chainsaws in sleeping bags so they would stay warm enough to run.  Good times.
Fairbanks in the rearview mirror.
Moonrise over Iniakuk Lake at 4 p.m.  I was headed back to Paul's after looking for caribou and happened to look back over my shoulder.  I had to shut off the machine and watch until my camera froze.  And then I thought about what happened to Luke Skywalker on Hoth and I got the heck back to Paul's warm fire before I was forced to crawl into the warm ribcage of a caribou I hadn't shot.
Here's Max buzzing the cabin as he comes in to take me back to the bright lights and big city.
Paul's plane hasn't run since freeze up and it's keeping his riverboat and outboard motors company on the edge of the lake.
Here's the main lodge, shuttered and waiting for more snow.  There were snowshoe hares all over on highways of packed trails.  I've never seen such rabid rabbit density.
Sunset at 3pm with overflow in the foreground adding a little steam to the cold air.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Watchin' the world go by, surprisin' it goes so fast

Well pictures of the day continue to be skiing in the back forty as Angela and I explore the hood and take advantage of the short rays of November sun.  

Temperatures have been pretty mild without much below zero so it's easy living.
I almost think Mazzy would sleep outside if she wasn't so afraid of the dark.

And finally the upper cabinets are in which means the kitchen is starting to look like a kitchen and we're actually cooking meals there and enjoying the place more.  Next week the lowers and a more permanent running water system.  Although I may have to jump out for a quick trip north...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Where's your head at?

This has been a very strange week and we're only halfway in, I'm not sure if I'll make it to the weekend.  On Monday Angela and I decided to go for a ski on the multi-use trail out the front door.  The weather was nice and there's just enough snow to cover all the grass and roots.  We'd been skiing for about 20 minutes when we came upon a squirrel caught in a leg trap.  Some jackass had a trapline about 2 feet off the trail where it could have easily caught a dog.  The squirrel was caught by about 3 toes so I reached down to release the steel jaws of the trap and he bit the crap out of me.  Probably should have seen that one coming.  So I took off my hat, held the little bastard down, and then released the trap.  He shot out of there like he was on fire and we all went our merry ways.  We soon realized we were not far from Jillian's so I called
 ahead and she invited us in for tea.  I generally like to have a cup of tea after I've been squirrel bit, black tea if I can get it with a band aid and a bit of neosporin.  Jillian had it all and then we were off again.
On the way back I thought we should explore a different route so we did and it added just enough distance so Angela ran out of gas.  For those of you who have not seen Angela in the woods when she's hungry let me just say that getting bit by a squirrel was not the worst part of this ill-fated voyage.  But we made it back in one piece although Angela took a wrong turn at one point and disappeared for about 20 minutes which did wonders for her mood.  Apparently it was my fault for not noticing that she was no longer behind me.  What ever.  But we rallied after some hot soup and went out to Chena Hotsprings for a soak.  The rock pool was 107F which is the hottest I have experienced out there and we had to keep crawling out on the rocks to cool off.  Of course the weather turned while we were out there and we came home in a blinding blizzard.

Tuesday the Nation elected Obama for Prez.  WTF Nation???  I didn't think you cared!  So now we've got that going for us, which is nice.

And then the Chickadees attacked.  They are small but they are viscous.  I do not let Mazzy out of the house when they are around.  But today, during a break in the Chickadees, Mazz and I went for a ski.
It was zero degrees which is perfect for both of us.  Along the way we discovered a homeless shanty town (for real) and I would have taken a picture but I have seen what they pick up at the dump and I didn't want to be pelted by discarded household goods so we gently backed off down the trail.  I had always thought the ski trails would make a good shanty town access... apparently I was right.

We got home just at sunset which is now a bit before 4p.m. and I hung the last of the kitchen cabinets.  I'm very happy about that and look forward to cooking in a real kitchen once again.

You Can't, You Won't and You Don't Stop

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Put another log on the fire

I have spent waaaay too much time in the garage lately but at long last the upper kitchen cabinets are done and ready to be hanged, or hung, or shot.  Actually I've had a good time, just inhaled a lot of sawdust. 
I will be very glad to get the cabinets up and move on to the counter top, which theoretically will be easier now that I've put in some hours.  Famous last words.  
I have to give a shout out to Superior Hardwoods because they are the best wood store in town.  I bought some hardware and birch there the other day and had some questions for Rick the owner but he wasn't there so his wife took my cell number and called me back as I was driving home with the answers.  What kind of shop does that any more?  My only complaint is that they don't have a little coffee area because I would like to sit there and drink coffee while they mill wood.  The shop is so awesome.  Of course sandwiches would be nice too Connie if you're reading this.
But all this woodwork has pulled me far and away from photography and in my eternal quest for balance I will now begin a "shot a day" posting.  I shoot nearly every day but often with just the camera phone whose quality I detest but whose omnipresence I adore.  So the shots will be with the Nikon and more than 2 seconds of my time...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Moods that take me and erase me

Angela and I busted out the cross country skis today and did a 4-mile loop on the UAF Ski Trails.  They need a bit more snow but weren't bad and with the sun out it felt warmer than 10F.  I left my skis up north on accident so I busted out some old wooden relics from the shed, complete with bamboo poles that were about to shatter.  I froze the crap out of my toes since the shoes were too small but otherwise it was a good time.  I'm off to Playitagain Sports next week to gear up...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead when the skies of November turn gloomy.

According to a wise weather source (Jillian), this is the coldest October in many years.  It was -12F at the cabana this morning and it felt about perfect.This pimped out Toyota was in a Fairbanks parking lot, looks like an early 80's model with chrome wheels and enough fog lights for a concert.
Mazzy enjoys quiet mornings, below zero, with a light snow.  She's a Sagittarius boys, spade, with a penchant for heavy petting.

Here's me mushing with Jillian yesterday morning, and by mushing I mean I sat on the back of the 4-wheeler while the dogs pulled us and she steered.  It was a delightful morning, not much above zero, and the dogs loved it.  Jillian just bought an anorak EXACTLY like mine so she looked fabulous.

Here's Jillian talking to her broker on the cell phone while she mushes.  There were probably about 3 minutes in the hour when she wasn't yelling "Sell you bastards, I said sell!"  I wouldn't have minded but my Ipod wasn't working so I had nothing to block out the noise.  
Here's a pic from the front of the team, I think we had about 20 dogs out.  There was nobody else on the trails except for one lonely raven who followed us for awhile.  Pretty sweet to lose yourself in empty wilderness off the back porch and still be 5 minutes from Walmart.  Fairbanks rocks.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Would you, could you, in a box?

The Vet who didn't vet, a cautionary tale.  You have been warned.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Take time with a wounded hand, 'cause it likes to heal

Well I built a little shelf for my sweetie and I didn't cut off any appendages and she's happy with it so that equals raving success in my book.I did it in exactly one sheet of plywood which Home Despot mistakenly sold me for $6.
It was built to match  Angela's girlie little boxes and bins  of somesuch.
I don't mind putting down fake wood flooring but furniture should be real and able to take a beating.  Now on to the damn kitchen...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In beneath the cover of another perfect wonder

It's dumping mad snow here this morning and ba da bop bee da,  I'm lovin' it.
I've got Pandora set to Christmas tunes, the cabin is cozy, and I'm about to start building some furniture.  Before I do, the week in review:

I saw these in Walmart the other day; slippers you clean the floor with.  Pretty good idea but not as good as my Dog Booties You Clean the Floor With™.

Since Angela and I don't step in enough dog poop on a regular basis we went and helped launch Jillian's team the other day.  Definitely got the winter trail blood flowing as we watched 20 dogs rocket Jillian and Sam out of their yard.  Yeeeehawww!
Then I went to my buddy Greg's and helped him move some material for a tear drop trailer he's building.  It's going to be sweet and I secretly hope he decides he needs a bigger one when he's done and he sells this one to me at cost.  Dare to dream.  Its a gorgeous little thing, 4 feet wide and 4 feet tall and will be sheeted in aluminum with a pop-up kitchen on the back.
And finally, the new skating pond.  It is a gem that Jillian pointed out to me and then Andrew and I tested last night (with shovels and some AK IPA of course).  The ice is a bit rough but there are no holes and we'll pump some water over the top when it stops snowing and the temps drop again.  The plan is for Tuesday night Blades of Fury- Fairbanks style.  That means beer, bonfires, dogs, skates, sticks and maybe even a net or two if we can motivate sufficiently.

Sweet, sweet winter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

You Can't Hide Those Lyin' Eyes

I have posted this picture of Max from this summer to prove that the only thing in common with pit  bulls and Sarah Palin is a propensity to attack things they shouldn't.  
But this pit bull doesn't lie, although he does beg, fart and steal couch space...

Monday, October 13, 2008

There's Something in the Way She Moves

Fairbanks is increasingly Fairbanks-looking in the last few days and by this I mean lots of fluffy, dry, sparkling snow, cars in the ditch and trolls at the transfer station.  Gotta luvit.  I believe the transitioning days of rain are done and the snow we have now is here to stay.  I sure hope so any way.Here's a quick cell pic I took as we rocketed past the Igloo on the way back to Fairbanks.  Igloo is a surprisingly welcome sight because it means you're halfway home, of course the fact that you're ONLY halfway is sometimes alarming.  But in this image, with fresh snow, the Igloo looks charming and if there was a dog team out front I think there's a hell of a stock image to be made here.  I've never actually been inside...
Here's Mazzy admiring a heavy snowfall from the protection of the pickup.
Self portrait with thermometer and snowflakes.
Angela poked her head out and saw her shadow which means we will have 6 more months of winter...
Self portrait with router.  The stairs are almost completely trimmed in and I have almost completely lost my mind.  Coincidence?  I think not, now if I can just upload Pandora to my ear protection I will reach enlightenment and can finally listen to Neil Diamond AND the table saw at the same time.  

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Seeds of Change

Fairbanks got another inch of snow last night and this is a very good sign.  I put the feeders out and the Chickadees are stocking up.  Normally they don't hit it hard for another month, I predict an interior winter with over 100 inches of snow and minimal -40F.  You heard it here first and I'm purposefully not buying a shovel now so the big snow will come for sure...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

She hit the floor, next thing you know...

Alrighty, finally a little visual progress.  This week the plywood cabin floor disappeared under a pretty picture of hardwood flooring from the lovely people at Ikea.  Angela and I schlepped these boxes all the way from San Francisco and now here they are.  Next stop- new kitchen counter top and cabinets.
Not so wide open spaces.
Here the monitor was suspended off the staircase so I could slide the flooring underneath.
As each bit was finished I re-appropriated tools and crap so I would have more room to work in.
It may just be a picture of wood, but I happen to like pictures...