Friday, April 30, 2010

Signs of spring

  • The tripod fell down yesterday (Nenana Ice Classic)
  • Robins, geese, cranes, etc are back
  • Bugs are back
  • Hummers are back out too, somehow they too disappeared during winter (low mileage per gallon???)
  • It rained!!! First time since... September?
  • Mud season by our house where the sun doesn't shine enough to dry things out
  • Mud season by the river, too, resulting in some bare knees after the muddy pants got taken off
  • and still by the river, one can actually see into it, perhaps even half a foot! Now before the glaciers start melting and sending a lot of silt down the river, when one can see barely two inches in.

  • Things are about to go green. The buds on trees are about to break. Yay for that, too!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Painted nails

Yesterday, Sonja asked if, when she is big, she can paint her nails. I said something non-committal. Looking up a minute later, I realized Emilie had taken destiny into her own hands, and had already finished all the nails on her left foot, and was working on her right. I wonder form where does she even know about painting toe nails.

In honor of the robin that arrived by our house yesterday and was singing loudly this morning, I changed the blog header. Spring is here officially now that the robins are here. Yay!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Hot chocolate"

Hot chocolate (aka in swiss german 'schokie', since it started when Lena was visiting here) made from the mudpile of dirt that will hopefully turn magically into a garden.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April weekend

We had a nice and relaxing weekend. On Saturday, we went to see the baby reindeer at the university farm, followed by a walk through the botanical garden to enjoy the warm sun. Unbeknown to us beforehand, there were a lot of cool trees to climb on.

This tree by the reindeer was sporting most of the kids pretty quickly.Then the tree by the farmhouse was a popular spot too.

We only managed to make it some fifty yards further before the next tree climbing opportunity presented itself.
And after some playing in the kids house, going through the big maze, climbing up a big hill of dirt, and playing in the sand, there was one more tree and rock wall to climb before we headed back to the cars.
In the evening, Elsbeth et al treated us to a salmon dinner. On the way back, we stopped by the Tanana. No more skiing on it.
But, there was fun to be had by breaking the ice along its edge - the needles of the ice are delightful. Or may be I should call them candles since this ice is called candle ice.
On Sunday, we headed to Chatanika to walk and play by the dredge that's right across the Chatanika Lodge.

Elsbeth, Elias and Emilie look down from the tailings onto the dredge down below.
The dredge from the other side.
After several hours of walking and climbing across the tailings, making rock towers, making rock walls to make a 'house', and otherwise entertaining ourselves in the warm sun, we headed back the quarter mile back to the lodge for lunch. On the way, while Tinu watched all four kids, Elsbeth and I explored the dredge for a couple minutes.

There are a lot of staircases.
And a lot of levers.
And overall, it is one gigantic piece of history. That thing moved tons of rocks, and must have made enormous noise when operating. It is amazing to drive along the road and see the miles of tailings that this machine and others like it turned over in search of gold and piled into 30 ft or higher continuous snakes of rocks.

After lunch, the kids checked out some of the outhouses on skis, left from the outhouse races last month. One of these years I will have to come to those.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

California visit

Over the easter weekend we had a nice visit to California so that the kids got to see their cousins and aunt and uncle and grandparents and many animals at the SF zoo. Fun trip. At the end, parents and "adults" as well as "adoults" elsewhere got banned from pretty much every but one room in the house.

Unfortunately the british cousins were supposed to be returning to Europe this past weekend. We'll see how long it takes them to return given the situation of the european airspace. Sounds like they are opening it up, though the volcanic ash cloud may return any moment. And, the cloud got blown over southern end of Greenland too, so Martin might have been impacted too, but he is not supposed to be heading out of field back to civilization until next weekend.

Fried squirrel, first mosquitoes, and a flying bunny

Pfew, what a day it has been. Yesterday I had some sort of stomach bug, so I came home early to get some sleep. Then later got the girls, and went to sleep with them, taking some cold medicine to help me sleep. By 3am when Sonja started crying, I realized it was a bit dark in our house. Normally, there are some nightlights around, the alarm clock shows time, and the oil monitors have the temperature settings showing. All was dark. And quiet. Some fifteen minutes later when I could no longer sleep, I decided to call the local electric company. No known outages in my area, I was told, and asked to check the main power breaker. So off I went to take a hike. Flipping that main breaker outside did nothing, so I called them again, and they said they will send a crew over. Only some time later did I think that I could have waited until the morning - with the temperatures we've been having, reaching 66? F yesterday, and 40s or 30s at night, the house doesn't cool down as quickly as during the middle of the winter, and so it doesn't really matter that much if the heaters are running or not. Anyways, I figured by that time whoever was called was on their way. An hour later I got woken up by a strong knock on the door. The crew apparently went all over the place and couldn't find the meter. So I went with them. The problem ended up a fried squirrel - just like five years ago this time of the year, a squirrel electrocuted itself on our powerpole. I don't know what squirrels are doing up there, we have plenty of trees around to climb up. Anyways, the crew got the problem fixed, and by 5am we had power again. And one of the guys said that he is getting the rest of the day off, so that I shouldn't feel bad of getting him out of bed at 3am. Good for him. I won't.

It was as the crew were replacing the fuse high up on the pole that I heard the first bugs of the season. Here they come. Just as the snow is almost entirely gone.

Talking of the disappearing snow - this year we had so little snow, that we didn't even have a problem getting to our house this spring, and drove every single day. In the past, every year we had to park the car up along the road and walk the rest of the way for a week or so because the driveway got too icy, but not this year.

So the last story of the flying bunny is a sad one. I took the dogs for a jog/walk. Cooper was loose and somehow managed to flush a bunny so that the rabbit came flying out of the bushes straight at me, elbow height. Saphira was on the 4 ft leash and was quicker than me and got to it first. By the time I growled at her enough and she let go, the bunny was still alive but probably with a broken neck or similar, and was not hopping away. So I let Cooper finish him off. Poor thing. Still with its white coat. I wish I would have caught him when he jumped at me. Oh well.

To end on a happy note, the kids helped me after dinner to do some water diversions in our driveway. Sunny day. Plenty of water coming down everywhere from the last of the snowmelt. Fun was had by all. Big and small.

To finish off, a picture from a couple weeks ago when we came back from California. Very nice aurora. We haven't seen much of it this winter.