Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chilly weather

It's been a might cold here the last several days. Buck and I went herding in the Valley yesterday where it was -11 degrees. We met up with some friends today to play at the park, but only stayed about 45 minutes- it was below zero and the dogs' paws were getting too cold. They'd all have one paw up in the air at a time, trying to get them warm. I took some picture of the sunrise while we were there. The sun technically rose at 10:09 here today, but the pictures were taken at 10:45 and it's still not up over the mountains:

These next ones are at 'mid-day'- around 1:30 when the sun was at it's apex:

That last one is cruddy, because I only have my old camera, but I wanted to try to show how high the sun gets in the sky. Also, most of what you see on the trees is frozen fog, not snow. We've had a lot of it lately, in fact, the first two pictures I took at noon when the fog was still out. The last two I took about an hour and a half later at the same spot in the park.

And finally, two pictures at 'sunset' yesterday at about 3:40pm. The sun has clearly already set behind the mountains. It goes behind the mountains at more like 2:50pm.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Four day weekend the second

I'm in the midst of my second four day weekend. This one is going to be even more enjoyable because I know at the end of it, there's only a three day work week and then another four day weekend. Whoo!

This is the first time I've had a minute to post because not only have I been busy with work, but last Friday, Buck, Pandora and I added a new member to our family. Introducing, Scout! A red speckle Australian Cattle Dog that I got from a shelter in Iowa with the help of one of their awesome workers.

She and Buck have been getting along really well. She's real submissive, so there haven't been any arguments or even any snarkiness between them. They wrestle and play together at home and we go to a ball diamond nearby to play ball. Scout is a bit faster than Buck, but he can pull out all the stops and beat her when he really wants to. Mainly, she just likes to chase him while he goes after the ball. She had her first day at day care on Wednesday and she did real well. Finally got worn out- Buck was trying to get her to wrestle that night and she was too tired. Heh!

We haven't ventured to the dog park yet because she gets a bit overwhelmed by lots of dogs all at once. She tends to bark at strangers when she first sees them, so until she gets over those things, we'll stick to playing in smaller groups where there aren't so many people constantly coming and going. She has a little work to do on manners- she pulls on the leash on walks and forgets to listen the first time when asked to do something. But she does know how to sit, stay, come, down, etc. She's already learned to wait patiently until given an 'ok' when getting in and out of the truck, to get her feet wiped off before going upstairs and to walk slowly up the stairs so as not to be so noisy and wake the neighbors. She's super smart and I'm sure will have no trouble learning lots more. Heck, it's only been a week and she's managed all that all while settling in to a strange new place. From that alone, you can tell she's a great dog.

Here are a few more pictures:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Four day weekend!

We have a special dealio happening at work the next couple of weeks, and it means that I have to work next weekend. But because of that, I get four days off this weekend (including Veteran's Day) and a four day weekend starting on the 20th. And then I get another four day break the weekend after *that* for Thanksgiving. Heh!

It also means that I'll be working nights/evenings the next couple of weeks, which is good for me. That way Buck and I can actually go outside during the week when it's light out. The sun is setting at 4:40 now and isn't up over the mountains yet when I leave for work, so this will be a nice change. We can maybe get out in the mountains for some hikes when there's no one out there to bother us. Now if we could just get some more snow in the Chugach, we could even go snowshoeing closer to home.

Anyway, now I'll have time this weekend to get my list of chores and errands done and still have time to get out and enjoy the weather. It's going to be nice Saturday and then they're calling for snow all next week. Come on, snow!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hatcher's Pass Snowshoeing

Buck and I went up to Hatcher's Pass to find some snow for snowshoeing. We found it, but so did the many, many skiers. We're hoping that the snow starts falling in the Chugach so that we can go snowshoeing on flatter trails rather than up such steep hills.

The sky was a really gorgeous deep blue though and it wasn't nearly as cold as I thought it'd be- just in the teens not single digits and no wind. Add to that how hard we were working to traipse around uphill in the deep snow, and we were never cold. Here are some pictures- click to view the larger view, especially on that last one.

The view back down towards the valley. Very different view than the last time we were here (in Sept.).

The sun disappearing over the mountains at around 3pm.

Panorama 1

Panorama 2

Panorama 3

Really pretty blue sky and Buck refusing to sit still long enough to pose.

Buck likes to play in the deep snow, as long as he can get out of it easily.

Still a couple spots on the rivers and streams up there that haven't frozen over completely yet. I liked the way the ice formed on this one.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Night of the Living Dead...king crab!!

The Alaskan King Crabs have started coming in off the boats. My boss told me about a place in town that he buys them from live. It sounded like a cool thing to do once. I went by the place and told the guy to pick me out a little one. He lifts this huge mother out-that was a small one! Um, ok, I'll take that one. Little did I know that he gave me the evil zombie crab just in time for Halloween...

(if you are squeamish about the death of a large water spider, skip this)

First, he tried to escape his 2 ft. x 1.5 ft box:

Luckily, the plastic and cardboard combo was too much for it to get past:

I prepared the death chamber:

Then, after measuring the death chamber and the crab, I realized he wasn't going to be able to take one last swim. Time for Plan B:

I prepared to do battle:

Back-up in place? Check.

Plan B involved a 10 inch chef's knife and a softball bat to drive it home:

But the zombie crab survived!!!! Eeek!!

Attempt 2- the knife was driven all the way through his brain, but still the evil crab lived!!!!

The world must be spared this evil being spread. The zombie was then dissected...

...and eaten so that the world can live another day in safety and free from the fear of zombie crabs.

That's a regular big dinner plate, by the way. It was BIG! Easily two feet from leg to leg. It's body was the size of the 21 quart pot's lid!

I really underestimated how freaking creepy that thing would be. I had to take it outside and let it halfway freeze (which only took an hour in our weather- hee!) so that it would be unconscious when I killed it. Then, it took major psyching myself up to do it- and then it didn't work! That thing wouldn't die! Anyway, that'll be the first and last time I go with the live crab option. eh! Next time, I'll just have the guy at the store kill it and then take it home and cook it up right away. Large aquatic spiders are even more gross to kill than normal ones. *shudders*

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I'm working on getting tucked in for the winter. The studded tires are on the truck, the two windows that open in my bedroom are vacuum sealed and the steps outside my apartment that I kept slipping on last winter have those grit strips (that look like sandpaper) applied and nailed down with roofing nails. Now I just need to get the sunblocking film off the windows and my new blinds put up. They're thick enough that I think they'll block some of the cold coming in.

I've been finally moving on getting some of this done, not so much because of the snow starting to fly, but more because the temps are dropping faster. It's 22 right now and feels like 11 degrees because of the wind. We don't get wind too often in Anchorage, but when we do, it feels a lot colder. Anyway, it's feeling a bit like it did in January and it's only October, so it's spurring me on to get things ready.

We got a dusting of snow last night, but the ground keeps thawing back out about once a week, making everything mud again, but not staying thawed long enough for the ground to actually dry out. It's fairly irritating. After nearly six months of it, I'm really done with mud. Especially when one owns a white dog. Bring on the snow- at least then all he gets is wet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Buck's Finter herding

Buck did a pretty good job herding today. He's getting the gates down pat (he's to stay in a spot I put him in until released) and that's pretty much the hardest part at this next level. Since the next trial isn't until the 4th of July, we have plenty of time to practice (heh!), but he's come a long way since the last video I had taken of him, so I thought I'd share.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


It would seem that there's a new season that's been created here in Alaska the last few days- I'm calling it Finter. Buck is very confused about seasons just creating themselves and was hoping you folks could help him figure out what season it actually was. Here are some examples from our walk this afternoon to aid in your decision making process. He appreciates the help.

Buck says, 'These leaves are green and yellow but they have fallen on top of *snow*. (click to inspect larger images)

Buck ponders, 'Here the leaves are yellow and the grass is very green, but shouldn't the snow be on top of all of it?'

Utterly lost, Buck says, 'What the heck?! A GREEN tree, fully leaved *and* snow?'

See? Don't you all agree with me? Finter, baby. Buck just enjoys running around in the snow, sniffing every footprint, and then curling up all warm and snuggly inside. Snow = good, whatever the season.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The new widget on the right

I put up a new widget on the right-hand side of my blog there. *points* The past couple years one of my favorite bloggers (who I've been reading for years) started a contest to see if her readers could scrabble together their collective pocket change and help public school kids get things they need.

The first year she said if we all raised $30,000, she'd shave her head. We did, and she did (hilarious video of that here). Last year, she wanted to see if we could do $50,000 and if we did, she'd dress up in a tomato costume (her website is named Tomato Nation) and dance in Rockefeller Center. We did, and she did (that funny video here). Actually, last year we kept right on going, all the way to $100,000. That's right, her readership (along with some rich/famous folks making some donations when we reached certain marks) raised that much for kids to get books for their libraries and uniforms for their sports teams, all kind of cool stuff.

This year she's shooting for $100,000 again even though it's a crappy economy right now. But her readership keeps growing (she's hilarious even if she is a Yankee fan) and she figured out that she's got about 10,000 people that visit her site and if they can all chip in $10, we can make it happen. And if we do, she's taking the tomato costume on the road to Washington DC and is going to dance in it in front of the White House. LOL!

I'm putting this out on my blog because maybe you have $10 that you can spare for kids who need it. You can even choose which kids or projects to give it to. Just click on that widget over on the right.

I love getting the chance to do this every October because it's so cool to see how the little bit of money I can afford to chip in can make such a big difference. Those of us that aren't rich don't typically have an outlet where we can see giving small amounts making a visible difference. When a project on DonorsChoose gets funded, the teacher that requested it writes a thank you e-mail to the people that helped. When you donate $100, you get a letters from the kids and pictures of them enjoying the gift you gave them. How cool is that?

Anyway, help if you can, follow the progress if you can't.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Another non-rainy weekend, another hike

Buck and I went to herding Saturday morning, and he did spectacular! We had a mean sheep on our first run that kept charging him and finally head butted him- he was not pleased and neither was our herding instructor. I kind of failed at my job of backing Buck up and helping him, but I wasn't sure how much to get involved. After he got butted, I whacked the sheep with the stock stick a bit, but it was just being a punk- still kept charging him and did the same to another much more bitey dog. That sheep got put up (and will hopefully be lamp chops soon) and Buck had no trouble with his second run. He had a good 'stay' and got the sheep through the Y and Z gates with no trouble. Good stuff.

I was going to go hiking after herding, but I had a splitting headache. I think my eyes were unaccustomed to this sunlight business, so I took a nap and then made a bunch of food for the week.

We then met up with some of Buck's dog buddies on Sunday morning and then went hiking for a few hours with his best Chessie friend, Brownie. Didn't get tons of pictures this time, but McKinley was looking very cool with the super clear skies.

It's been pretty chilly- getting down past 30 each night for the last few days. I was going to break out the wool coat this morning, but went with the fleece for fear of looking like a wimp. When I realized it was 27 degrees out, I decided to go with the wool tomorrow. Especially when paired with a shortsleeved shirt. Heh! I need to buy a couple more long-sleeve t-shirts to replace a couple that are worn out. They are handy for layering.

Foraker, maybe Hunter, and McKinley. (click for larger size)

Anchorage Bowl and Susitna- I love how tiny the 20+ story buildings look next to the mountain.

This is why if you *think* you've seen McKinley (at Denali National Park), you haven't. This is 200 miles away and look how huge it is. It's like twice the size of the mountains around it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hatcher's Pass

Buck and I went on a hike/berry picking expedition today up in Hatcher Pass (is it Hatcher's Pass, hence the possessive? I don't know). Hatcher Pass is about 13 miles north of Palmer and a bit further south of Willow. There's an old mine there that you can pan gold at, but it's closed this time of the year. We went up a different direction toward a gravel road that leads over a pass to Willow. There was a decent about of snow up high and just enough down low to make me slip and fall about five times or so. I had a couple quart baggies in my Camelbak from a previous hike where I thought there might be berries, so when I saw there were still some blueberries, I pulled those out and started filling them up while Buck played. He got bored playing on his own, though, so I only filled up one quart bag and then a little extra. I picked some as we hiked around.

We went up toward the top of the pass and got into some deeper snow. I wanted to see the view from the top, but it was acting like it was about to start raining (or maybe snowing-it was pretty chilly), so I called it quits. The pictures with the deeper snow are from when we were higher up. Buck enjoyed playing in the snow again, so he'll be happy when winter comes. Well, until I make him wear his booties to keep his feet from getting torn up. LOL! He was splashing through the many little creeks and he still wasn't whining about being cold or acting like it bothered him, so maybe he's toughened up to the cold already.

Anyway, you can click here to open a slide show of the pictures from our hike up to Hatcher's Pass, but here are seven of my favorites (click to make big):

This is Buck's 'hero' pose. LOL!
Hatcher's Pass

I like how this one yellow tree really stood out.
Hatcher's Pass

Quite a bit of snow.
Hatcher's Pass

Blueberries! I got about 8 cups.
Hatcher's Pass

Lotsa blueberries.
Hatcher's Pass

Purty Fall colors.
Hatcher's Pass

Decent valley shot. Lower elevation than the Pass, hence no snow.
Hatcher's Pass