24 December, 2006

Merry Christmas!

So I still haven't sent out the Christmas Letter. It's written. We have the list of people to send to and most of the addresses. It's just a matter of printing the letters & envelopes, then sending them. But somehow there just hasn't been enough time. We were up until after 1am last night, just wrapping presents. The time crunch must have something to do with my habit of procrastination. It's probably why I didn't get the last of my shopping done until yesterday (the 23rd, although Greg remembered one last gift and had to go out today - it was *crazy*!). Oh well. I think we're ready for Christmas - but the letters will be late. Hopefully we'll get them out this week.

The day before Christmas Eve (the 23rd) we had a *huge* snowstorm. This is the third storm in the past week - according to the news - all dropping loads of snow, but this was the most. Lots of big, fluffy flakes that came down for a long, long time. Greg had to shovel the driveway, deck, & stairs since we had company for Christmas Eve. This pic is only from the last snow dump - we'd already cleared away the snow from the previous ones. Fortunately the snow was light since the snowblower isn't working.

Huge snowfall - but light & fluffy

So tonight (Chrismas Eve) we had friends over, ate food, visited, set up luminarias, visited more, had a gift exchange, and then visited some. Very nice. I was reminded once again of what great friends we have. We are truly blessed.

This is the 4th year we've done luminarias. We saw them in New Mexico years ago (has it been that long?!?) when we went down for Christmas. Dad sent back supplies for us, and the next year we set them up. They're beautiful. And (funny enough) this is the first year we've done it at our own house - previous years we've spent Christmas Eve with friends or family and shared the fun with them.

Luminarias - closeup

Luminarias lining the deck railing

Cool shot of the luminarias - didn't hold still for the long exposure

We hope that your day tomorrow (today) is filled with happiness. Merry Christmas!!

21 December, 2006

Winter Solstice

Starting tomorrow, days are getting longer - wahoo!! It's one of the things I look forward to in December. I know that it's the "official" start of winter, but to me it means that we're on the downhill slide... From an article in the Anchorage Daily News:

"The sun rises today at 10:14 a.m. and sets at 3:41 p.m. for five hours and 27 minutes of daylight. But after today, the daylight outlook gets brighter."

05 November, 2006

Phase III: The Finale

Well, the snap dragons fell over again. And the fuschia didn't fare as well as it could have (were I to have watered it more). So I'll probably try something different next year. Of course, that's what I say every year - we'll have to see next year if it actually happens. The petunias were *marvelous* and will be part of the retinue next year.

August was really rainy, but we lucked out for some of September. These pics were taken in Sebtember. Nights were chilly then so I didn't expect new blooms, but the ones already there hung in 'til the last. I didn't get pictures of the front bed - it was overgrown with color and the snapdragons were pushing forward. I think I overloaded it, because lots of the plants didn't grow as large as they were supposed to. I'm thinking I'll do nicotania for the back row next year - it can be fairly tall and has lots of different colors. And we'll just have to see what's available for the rest.

Deck pots and a closeup of the petunias

Hanging pots with the back bed & sunlight in the trees

Epilogue - October 26th, Growing season's over

04 November, 2006

Party Time, again?!?

Fuzzy Hair

Sara came to visit for a while, and we had a blast! Prior to her visit, I got to spend some time with Jeannea (we took her camping!) for a bit. And then while Sara was here, Amy came up for a few days - wahoo!! But because of the proper alignment of the stars, the phase of the moon, and some dancing in the dark... Sara was able to stay for quite some time (almost 6 weeks!). And it was *fantastic* to have her here. Greg is so busy that I have lots of ME time - which I enjoy, don't get me wrong. I do lots of reading or quilting or playing on the computer. But it was great to have someone around to talk to and do things with. Fortunately, some of Greg's commitments are ending soon, so we'll have more time together.

It's been a busy time, and I dragged Sara around to help with or participate in everything that was going on:

  • Wallyball (every Tuesday)
  • Surprise birthday party for me (I didn't know about this until that night!)
  • Party for M
  • Mystery quilt party
  • Candle party
  • Shopping for Halloween costumes
  • Lots of shopping with Greg - for supplies, costumes, presents
  • Hosting a Halloween / birthday party
  • Handing out candy to the kiddies

Wow. Sounds like we're party freaks. And while we do enjoy having company, lots of these "parties" were not at the house. (Although we have plenty more coming - it's the holiday season, after all!) Sara was the first of the three of us to finish her Mystery Quilt - the day before she left. Since we all have the same colors, it gives me a good idea what mine will look like, except the border & back fabrics are different. Exactly the same, only different! I'll post pics when I'm done (but don't hold your breath 'cuz I've got a few projects to finish before I work on that one). I guess I'd better get a move on!

Party Time, M!

22 October, 2006

It's Been a Long Time...

It's been a while since my last post. Hope you haven't given up on me... Summer was busy - camping, visiting, and having fun, in addition to working and all the routing things. I have plans for the camping pics, but may post some later... to remind me of the good times while I'm freezing this winter. I *do* have pics for Phase III of my planting season, but they're on real film and are currently being developed. So that's part of another post.

Another birthday has come and gone. It was a good one, and once again I look forward to the next year being a fantastic! (One of these days I'll post a "Year-in-Review" entry.) I am fortunate. Friends & family threw me a surprise party - wahoo! And I got a new digital camera (among other things - including a popcorn maker almost as tall as me. Yeah!!), so there's no excuse for not posting now. We took lots of pics and I was excited to use them. But since it was new equipment, somehow I hit the wrong button and deleted them all. Permanently. Including the pictures Greg took of the IT Expo and the SuperTech competition. And my birthday. And my niece & nephew. I was bummed! But now I know how to delete individual pictures, the whole lot of them, and where to go (if you haven't already taken the card out of the camera) to retrieve what you've accidentally deleted. This camera is *much* fancier than my first. We'll get along... soon.

Here are pics from the job site. I love the colors!

10 July, 2006

Phase II: Growth Spurt!

So I went flower shopping - always fun - with friends and came home with a few new (to me) flowers for my plantings. I always love petunias - they come in so many colors, they're easy to maintain, and they flower profusely throughout the *short* season. I'm trying my hand at snapdragons again - they always fall over, but I keep trying. Same with fuschias (they don't fall over, but they're very sensitive about water - or lack of it - and I keep trying them). Lobelia is a great filler and also comes in lots of different colors. I have some Compact Innocence - a small, white flower that smells *divine*! - some Nicotania (sp?), some daisy look-alikes in yellow and orange, and lots of others that I can't remember (they're the new ones). These pics were taken the end of June.

Front Walkway, Deck Pots, & Hanging Pots
(you can kind of see the perennial bed at the back of the hanging pots)
Front Walkway Pots & Annual Bed (front yard)
Thanks to Amy who gardened with me vicariously (we were chatting on the phone) and helped get most of the pots planted. And thanks to Sheri, who helped plant the front flower bed (the annuals) by laying out the color scheme and passing the poor root-bound babies over to be submerged in fresh dirt. A great sport - she comes all the way up here to visit and I put her to work helping plant the flowers! (I suppose that's better than the cleaning Sara did to help get ready for a party she didn't even attend. I'm working on being a better hostess...)

24 June, 2006

Phase I: Plant Preparation

Spring Snow

I've been looking forward to planting flowers since about January. Planting means that the nights are at least 40 degrees - and days are warmer than that! So I figured I would blog about the process. Phase I: Plant Preparation is just before everything happens. Can't purchase the flowers yet because they can't stay outside yet (and the cats would eat them if they stay inside - impromptu salad bar!).

So these pictures are taken in May - including the snowstorm. I'm a little behind the times, since we're using the camera that takes actual film - we haven't replaced the digital yet, and I still miss it. I'll be taking pictures for Phase II this weekend (to be posted sometime in July-ish?), and Phase III will be pictures from the end of the season (that being August / September).
Deck Pots
Hanging Pots
Perennial Bed (back yard)
Annual Bed (front yard)

Memorial Day Weekend

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Seward fishing for Halibut. Seward is a harbor town about 2 hours south of Anchorage (less if your foot has some lead and you can avoid getting behind the campers, buses, & sightseeing vehicles that always seem to go so much slower than I want to go and even the posted speed limit). Big cruise line ships come into Seward and drop off passengers bound for Anchorage. It also hosts the Mount Marathon - where crazy people run up the steep side of a mountain growing in the middle of town on the 4th of July. (According to the blurb on about the run on the Seward site, http://www.sewardak.org/ : "a mile and a half up and a mile and a half down, complete with cliffs, waterfalls, and a wonderful view.") I believe the area is glacier cut - because of the steep mountains that come directly to the water. And that's a good guess for just about anywhere in Alaska, anyway. It has a deep harbor and when we go out to halibut fish, we usually anchor out in about 300 feet of water. Halibut are bottom fish and they like it dark, cold, & deep.

Seward Harbor

This is an annual trip we take with some friends on their boat. It's always a good time, but this year it was especially good. You see, the weather is generally chilly when we go. But this year, there was a warm spell and we had some really gorgeous weather. We went out Saturday & Sunday, home on Monday to do some flower planting and get ready for the week ahead.

View from the fishing grounds

I love how flat the water was!

We only caught one fish, but it was a beaut! Not overly large (about 80#), which is good. Mid-range in size means we're not taking "the chickens", it's still good eating, and you get a bit of fun reeling it in. Greg did all the work - reeled it in, then took it to the dock, filleted it, and took what was left to the meat packers. We've had our halibut a couple times - it's one of my favorite fishes for eating. Yum!!

Big Fish

Side Note: It's amazing how quickly one gets used to amenities. Then when they're taken away, we feel the loss and almost can't function properly without them. Take my digital camera. We got a *cheap* camera just to learn with and have fun. I didn't use it for the longest time, but eventually found it handy. Then I started blogging and the ability to take pictures, have them immediately, then write about what I was thinking of when I took the picture was phenomenal! Well, our camera died (because it was cheap). And I've been mourning the loss for quite some time. So now my posting is delayed because we had to finish taking the rest of the pictures on the roll, then get the film developed. *SIGH* We've been investigating a replacement, but for one reason or another still haven't made the addition to our family yet. Soon...

30 April, 2006

Quick Trip

Last weekend we made a quick trip down to SLC to see family. Mostly to visit with M, but we got to see family and meet our new sister-in-law, Marideza. We left Friday night from Anchorage and arrived (via Minnesota) Saturday morning around 10am. The weather was great... didn't have to wear jackets, trees were blooming, green grass & leaves, mid-60's. Practically the opposite of Anchorage - our grass is still dormant and the trees have buds, but no leaves, and temps have been in the mid-40's. Mom picked us up - we hadn't told Amy we were coming...


We brought all the hats we collected from Game Night the previous weekend and a couple other surprises for M. We got to visit (and do some shopping - wahoo!!) with her on Saturday, and we spent Sunday at mom's house playing games and visiting with everyone. Sheri & Amy joined us for a very early breakfast (3am) before Sheri took us to the airport to catch the flight home on Monday morning. (Jeannea picked us up from the airport, since she'd already made it to Anchortown to come visit - thanks, Jen!!)

Family Hat Testing

It was a whirlwind trip, but I loved every minute of it! The best part was getting to spend time with M. Of course, I enjoyed spending time with the rest of the family and meeting Mari too!! I am very lucky to have a great husband who loves & supports me.

M - I hope #3 goes as well as possible for you!!

Game Night, Hat Party, pre-Easter Shindig

We had another get-together at the house a couple weeks ago - Game Night - on Easter Eve. It was originally scheduled to happen while my sister (M) was here. A week or so before she was scheduled to come up, she called to say she wasn't going to be able to come right now - she just found out she has cancer: Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (a non-Hodgkinson form), stage III - her 3rd chemo treatment is tomorrow. For such a sucky deal, there are lots of positives: they caught it early; she's young & in good health; this type of cancer is extremely rapid growth but chemo is especially effective against rapid growth cells (they'll do testing after the 4th treatment to see where things are at); and M works hard to keep a really positive outlook.

So we changed the focus of the party just a bit. Still Game Night, but we asked people to wear hats and bring one to donate to M if they felt like it. We told them we were going to take a pic of everyone toasting M - we toasted her a couple years ago when she got into med school - and give it to her with the donated hats. My sister Sara came in the Monday before - we tried to change her departure so she could stay for the festivities, but no luck. So she helped prep for the party - cleaning & shopping went much easier with her help!

Heather & Sara - Hat Shopping

We decided to have ham & deep fried turkey in honor of Easter. Mmmmm!! In addition, we had all kinds of food: fresh spring rolls, curry egg rolls, fruit, devil'd eggs, green salad, potatoes & peas, salmon salsa (courtesy of Sara), cookies... and more. It was *delicious*!!! Everyone ate and visited for a while, then we played Battle of the Sexes - boys against girls, of course! (Girls won - was there any doubt?!?) =)

Must be story time?

And we spent the rest of the evening having fun and enjoying good company. It was very heart-warming to see all the support from our friends for my sister, whom they've never met. We know some really *fantastic* people!!!

Here's to you, M!!

12 March, 2006

One, Two, Three-and-Four, Five-and-Six

I always enjoy watching people on the dance floor that really know how to dance. I'm okay at the "white man shuffle", but I've never been very coordinated or graceful. So it's nice to watch a couple move around the floor together - they have a rhythm (no "real" vowels in that word!), sometimes grace, and they look like they're having fun. Someday I want to be one (well, two) of those people.

Ages ago, I convinced Greg to take a dance class with me: West Coast Swing. We had a blast! But we never did end up practicing the steps, so a couple years later here we are and I can't remember a thing! But I was talking to some girlfriends, and found that they were interested in dancing too. We didn't let the boys choose - we didn't have confidence that they'd agree - and we made plans for dancing. I found beginning WCS lessons - they meet weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays.

We went this past Friday - and I had a blast! Even though it was years ago, I started remembering some of the steps from our class. I hope the others had fun too... Our previous lessons were different - we spent more time learning the basic steps before we learned moves; we spent two hours a night, once a week (so had more time to cement the moves); and it was a community learning course instead of meeting in a bar - less noise and confusion while we're trying to figure out what to do with feet and hands. And I guess that WCS is one of the more difficult dances to learn - in part because there are so many different moves that can be done. But it was still lots of fun.

We're on for dancing on Tuesday night. And starting next month, lessons will be for Night Club 2-Step. I've done that one (very briefly) too, and I had lots of fun. The steps are easier (if I remember right) and it's very versatile as to the kinds of songs and the tempos you can dance to. So, I haven't started putting on paper my "List of 100", but this is definitely one of the entries!

20 February, 2006

Poker Night

I always enjoy having people over to the house, usually more than I enjoy going to socialize at other people's houses. Not sure why that is - it definitely means more work for me... I have to clean the house, sometimes decorate, prepare lots of food. Lots of planning and works goes into having people over to the house... for me, anyway. We sometimes go to other abodes for celebrations and get-togethers, but I really do enjoy putting them on at our house. And in that spirit, Saturday night was POKER NIGHT - Wahoo!!!

We had a bunch of friends over with the promise of food, and the tantalizing hope of winning the pot. We play (on the few occasions it has happened to date) Texas Hold 'Em. It was a blast!! We had loads of food... so much that we had to put the bacon wrapped scallops (those didn't last long!!), some chips & dips, and the veggie tray on another table. Of course, desserts had their own spot too!! The food "theme" was finger-food... that way you could make several rounds between hands or just munch whenever. Several people brought dishes to add to the eating experience - a real group effort in "fine dining"!! When it was time to play, we consolidated food and then ran two tables for a while.

This shot is before food consolidation...

We play for a $10 buy-in per person, and we had 11 people playing on Saturday. It makes for great entertainment. We had people show up between 5-6pm so we could start on the eating right away. The last guest left around 3:30am - we were all yawning, but I was very satisfied with the events of the evening. We ran two tables and then consolidated to one after a few people lost out. Those of us that were out early had a chance to eat some more (of course!) and then started a game of Mexican Train (a domino game). I had as much fun there (more almost) as I did playing poker. We had a really good group of people. Definitely a game night to do over - and I don't think we'll wait as long (last Poker Night was in July or August 2005).

We're planning on having a Game Night when my sister M comes to visit. I'm already working on details, altho I have some time... Not sure if it'll be Poker Night, or Cranium, or maybe group Trivial Pursuit. Last time we had Game Night, we had about 30 people over and never did get around to playing the game... but it was still fun, and that's what really counts!!

Our grand winner had never played poker before - congratulations Cindy!! =)

04 February, 2006

Remember... Don't look directly at the sun!!! Posted by Picasa

Is it summer yet?!?

One of the hardest parts of being in Alaska is the long, cold winters... but as with anything, there are benefits (of a sort). Some of the coldest, most miserable days are also the prettiest. It gets so cold that it hurts to breath and your nostrils can stick together - but that coldness forms ice crystals in the air that clump together and eventually coat everything with a crisp, clean layer (or several layers - depending on how long it's been cold enough to freeze your extremities off) of pristine frostiness that glitters everywhere.

That's not snow... It's ice crystals!! Posted by Picasa

We've made it through January... *finally*!! The days are noticeably longer, and I can dream that it's going to start warming up soon. Although, if tradition holds, we'll probably get a *huge* snowstorm sometime in February or March. It's sad when you realize it's "warm enough to snow" and are glad of it. I keep my sanity by starting to plan what kinds of flowers I'm going to plant in the flower bed, how many pots I'll get, and where they'll go.

We're going to a Superbowl Party tomorrow - get to watch the ads on a 42" plasma flat screen. Wahoo!! And I don't have to clean the house for visitors - another BIG WAHOO!! So today I just have to do laundry and grocery shopping (mostly for goodies for tomorrow!!). It'll be fun to chill with friends and watch the game (more like watch the commercials!). If I have to pick a team, I'm going to root for Seattle - they're lots closer to me (geographically speaking) than the other guys... whoever they are?!?

I'm still learning how to use this blogspace. I finally figured out how to get a picture on, but not how to do two in one post or update my profile with a picture. I'll keep learning and before I know it... I'll be a whiz! Or at least able to do the things I keep trying to... =)

Go Seahawks!!

19 January, 2006

Cold Showers and Hot Coffee

So my dear husband (who showers first) took all the hot water today. As I was toweling dry he came in to brush his teeth and I asked if he had started laundry. (He has a habit of starting laundry or the dishwasher when *he's* done showering, somehow overlooking the fact that I'm not done and now there's multiple areas fighting for hot water.) He said no, which means that he hogged all the hot water while he was in the shower, leaving none for me. I don't know if I'd have felt better knowing I was freezing because clothes were being cleaned? Maybe so. Either way, it was a quick shower!!

Fortunately, there was still coffee in the pot, so I nuked some and used that to help warm up after the shower. Sometimes I'm not so lucky, but this morning ended up good. I'm not sure if I would have preferred a hot shower and NO coffee?? Or cold showers on a regular basis with the guarantee of coffee... I don't want to have to make that choice.

I found out yesterday that my little brother is probably getting married the beginning of April - but haven't heard "officially" yet. Not sure if we'll be able to make it down for the festivities. I was checking out flights yesterday and it's going to cost a small fortune. The whole thing puts some kinks in my plans - and you know it's all about *me*!! I suppose I'll just have to adapt and make the best of it. =)

I still haven't started my List of 100, but I have been exercising - more this month than last month, which is what I'm aiming for. I'm looking forward to Spring - warmer temps (it's snowing today - which means it has warmed up since yesterday... good & bad) and picking out flowers for my flowerbed.

13 January, 2006

The best is yet to come...

When I had my last birthday (in October), that's the way I felt - this is going to be a *fantastic* year, with the best yet to come!! And so far I haven't been disappointed. In honor of that sentiment, I'm doing things for myself: exercising more, eating better, enjoying friends & family, sharing my happiness (which is where this blog comes in). I know it won't all be roses, and you'll all get to share the pain when it's not, but for now Life Is Good!!

I'm looking forward to lots of things this year - it's going to be an exciting one! My brother is getting married; my sister M is going to come visit; I'm going to work on things just for me: exercise, building my knowledgebase, exploring new hobbies. I read an article a while ago where the author talked about a "List of 100" - it's a list of things she wants to accomplish sometime over the course of her life. I'm going to start my list this year and see where it takes me. Come along for the ride!!