21 June, 2010

Solstice Celebration

Today was the first sunny day all month - and it's summer solstice, which is always bittersweet for me: beginning of summer, beginning of shorter days.  Sure, it won't be noticeable for a few weeks, but my heart knows it and mourns just a little.  (Winter solstice is the same for me: "official" beginning of winter, but also the beginning of longer days.)  My friend Jennifer invited me to go hike Blueberry Loop after work, so we could take advantage of the sun - sweet!
Unfortunately, by the time we were headed up the road, there were angry, dark clouds surrounding the area we intended to visit.  So instead we turned south for a drive.  Beluga Point is always nice - I've never seen the whales as they're cruising up the inlet, but the view is worth the drive.  We took some pictures - do you know how hard it is to get a decent picture in the self-portrait mode?  I mean, without cutting off heads, including the pretty background, and avoiding my 50 chins??  Well, we were lucky and got a few good shots - Jennifer's contagious smile helps a lot!
Not wanting to go home just yet, we backtracked a bit to McHugh Creek.  It's an area for exploring and hiking and goofing off, with a pretty water fall to boot (which we didn't make it to - I guess that's for another trip).  We started wandering around the area, looking for... yup! geocaches.  =)  Apparently there are several in the area, and the search gave us a little direction for our aimless wanderings.  (Note: We were using Jennifer's iPhone as a GPS.  How handy!  We could get directions, information about the cache, and the distance - just as if we had a regular GPS.  We also got pictures we used as hints to help find the caches.  Nice!)
We found an overlook - the same area where they did the rappelling I posted about here (I was too chicken to do it, but Anita did - and loved it!).  Then we wandered into the woods.  Can I just say that I absolutely *LOVE* my new hiking boots?  I've been wearing them to work on Fridays - Jeans Day - and on my charity walks to break them in, but today was the first day I've been hiking in my hiking boots.
I'll never be the spry little mountain goat that clambers over every gnarled tree root and boulder in the path without a care in the world.  My lack of grace and my vertigo ensure that.  But today, we were climbing up and over and around and back again...  and I didn't cry like a baby.  Not once.  Oh. My. Goodness!!  (Okay, there were a couple spots where I may have hyperventilated and peed myself a little, but not one salty droplet escaped my leaky faucet eyeballs.)
And we found the cache.  And made it back down in one piece, without ever encountering a bear.  A serious adventure!  No crying, successful climbing, two for two in cache finds, and no bear maulings.  What more can you ask for on Summer Solstice Eve?  What?  You're asking for the sun to come back out and play?  Okay.  Just for you.
And that is how I celebrated Summer Solstice.  My legs are jello (strawberry with Cool Whip, if you please), that's slowly firming up into what's more like those jello shapes (instead of just the bowl of jello).  By tomorrow, the first day since December that's going to be shorter than the previous day, I'll be recovered and ready for... Blueberry Loop - if it's not raining, like the forecast says it will.  So I leave you with a view from my deck at 11:30pm tonight.
Happy Solstice, everyone!!

20 June, 2010

Mayor's Marathon Run

A year ago Greg ran his first marathon (see my post here).  So even though he's participated in several runs already this season, and even though he opted to only run a half marathon, this one was special to him.  Which means that I again left the warm, sleepy haven of my bed (up by 7am - much earlier than is warranted on a Saturday morning) to provide moral support.
In my semi-awake fog, I didn't run any of the participants over, and I was only grouchy once - when Greg was asking about my silence.  My reply (in a slightly surly tone): It's morning, I'm not awake, and I haven't had enough caffeine yet!  But once we were on site, it was hard not to catch some of the enthusiasm floating in the air.  Glad I wasn't participating, but the excitement and energy from everyone there was contagious.
According to the announcers at the race, there were a record number of entrants in the half-marathon - 1900 runners.  All those crazy people up way too early on a drizzly Saturday morning.  I suppose the cool, slightly damp weather was better for running than a warm sunny morning would have been...
If you open the picture above so it's larger, you'll be able to see the two arrows I put over Greg and Jeff.  I was trying to get a shot of them taking off, but lost them in the crowd.  I just happened to notice that Jeff had already passed me, so turned my camera and snapped a quick shot hoping I could find Greg in there somewhere too.  I was lucky.  He's just barely in the frame.  Sweet!!

Killing time for me included a trip to the convenience store for some Rock Star and then to work for an hour or so.  Then back to the finish line, in the hopes that I'll be able to watch them finish.  I was really lucky.  When I pulled into the parking lot, there were no spaces available.  A lady on the sidewalk flagged me down and asked for a ride closer to the event area.  Turns out she's a massage therapist and needs help hauling her table and gear so she can help rub down the finished racers.  Handy for me, in that I got past a police barricade (and got a really close parking spot); handy for her, in that I got her as close as you could get in a vehicle - and other support people were there to help her carry her gear.  =)  Without that fortuitous event, I wouldn't have been able to find a spot and hike to the finish area in time to get pictures of the finish.
Greg finished the 13.1 miles stiff and sore (he's still hobbling just a bit), in 2:30 and change.  One would think that after a celebratory lunch, he'd head home to soak in a tub and relax.  If that's the case, one does not know Greg.  He changed clothes in the car on the way downtown to photograph the roller derby bout that was part of the Summer Solstice Festival.  I dropped him off and then went home to take a nap.  =)

Congratulations, Greg and Jeff!! 

15 June, 2010

Cousin Larry

I always love it when family comes to town!  It was almost a year ago to the day that I first met Greg's cousin Larry (see post here).  Fortunately for us, that wasn't his last trip to Alaska.
Visits like this give me a chance to glean a little bit about Greg from the "Before I Knew Him" Era (and sometimes I even get something new from the "When He Was Little" Age).  This can be interesting or scary, depending on the event and who's telling the story.  =)  I'm glad we were able to get together for a little bit - seems it's been an eventful year for our cousin  (congratulations on your engagement!!!; glad you made it through the layoffs; good luck on selling your house!), and it was so nice to visit for a while.
All too soon, dinner is over and it's time to go our separate ways.  But this time, we know we'll be seeing Cousin Larry in July - *sweet*!!

12 June, 2010

In Honor of...

Mom Morgan
Aunt Carol

Note: Just noticed (thanks, Janet!) that I put those I was walking for on the "In Memory" side - indicating they had died.  This is not the case for either - they're both survivors and admirable (breathing, heart-beating) women.  My participation in the walk, and this post, is In Honor of Mom Morgan and Aunt Carol.

Today was the annual AK Run for Women - an event held to support survivors of and victims to breast cancer alike, as well as a fund raiser for research for the cure.  Each year I participate, I marvel at the many, many lives touched by breast cancer, and the many, many people who love and support those that have suffered.  I watched a father and small child in front of us, walking in memory of a loved one.  Could be a mother, a sister, a wife, an aunt...  A sea of pink ball caps indicated those directly affected - you couldn't look in any direction, except to find someone who has battled (or is battling) breast cancer.
It is touching and awe-inspiring to see so many people brought together for such a cause.  I am moved almost to tears at the thought of the love and support this means, and can't help but think "There, but for the grace of God, go I".  My heart is full and my prayers today are for each of these women, most especially the ones I know: Greg's mom, and my Aunt Carol.

06 June, 2010

Sunday Productivity

I felt the need to be a little bit productive today.  I mean, more than just tending my crops and beating people up on Facebook; more than settling in to finish one of the two books I'm currently reading; more than what I normally enjoy on a lazy Sunday-afternoon-before-I-go-back-to-work-on-Monday.

It's relatively nice today, if a wee bit windy, so maybe some outdoor chores will fit the bill.  I need to finish planting my flowers, and they need some water (since the rain forecast for the last couple days didn't materialize); I have some Weed B Gone that I need to spray on the lawn before the 2-foot-tall dandelions in the neighbor's yard go to seed; the annual flowerbed (Greg's domain) is growing well, but could probably use some weeding and watering...  I'll start my productivity in the out-of-doors.
It took some time, and I think tomorrow my muscles will remind me of the work I've done today, but the flower planting is finished!  I had the help of a weasel...
...which looks like it could be a nasty weapon, if someone ever attacks me while I'm prepping the front flower bed for planting.  Poor little flowers were dry as a bone by the time I got them in the dirt.  But now they're fertilized and watered, so I can only hope my neglect is short-lived.
I also washed the glass in the sliding door, which removed the last remnants of the mini-volcanic dust explosion we caused last Fall from trying to use the shop vac without a filter (definitely NOT recommended - unless you need a good laugh and want some extra cleaning to do).  I even cleaned the rails (inside and out) for the doors.  It's amazing how much dirt and grime can accumulate (and a dead bee - wonder how long that was there?!?) in such a small space over the course of a year or so.  It took at least two dozen Q-Tips and several paper towels to get it mostly clean.  It disturbs me some that I can't get it all out, but the only way I can see to get it as clean as I want is to dismantle the door (which is way too much effort, so I'm telling myself to be content with where it's at now - and that's already at least 95% better than it was before).

I'm satisfied with my productivity for the day - I even made dinner (pasta and garlic bread - how hard can that be?) - so now it's time for some farming before bed...  =)

03 June, 2010

Let the Planting Commence

Whenever I buy my flowers, I wonder if I got enough for my pots and the front bed.  This year was no different.  With the flats all grouped together on the deck, it always looks as if it's going to be sparse when I get to the flower bed and I may have to pick up a few more.  Then somehow they multiply.

I spent an hour filling the pots tonight.  I gave new homes to 28 plants and have two full flats and a partial left over.  That's another 42 more (yes, the answer to the universe and so much more).  That's three rows of 14 (spaced 5" apart in my 6' bed); or two rows of 15 and one of 12; or four rows of 10 with two squished in somewhere... So many options, and I don't think I'll be needing an emergency trip to the flower store.  =)
I'm done for tonight, but hope to have the front bed planted before the weekend.  Then it's up to the wee buds to unfurl their little roots and make me some blooms!