Friday, June 29, 2007

Alaska #2

In the summertime in Alaska, it is super bright daylight outside until well after midnight and then almost immediately after sunset, the glow of the sunrise appears. Fortunately, Max is sleeping in a windowless closet and the shades in the other rooms are quite room-darkening, so the children have been fooled. The light is stimulating and the adults sometimes are challenged to put themselves to bed even though it is technically quite late and we are falling asleep on the couch.

On Alaskan wildlife: Late last night Rob took his camera down to get pictures of the loons on our lake. As he was snapping photos of the two loons, a beaver popped up and swam right between the loons. No sooner had the beaver appeared than along came an eagle swooping overhead. Yesterday, when I said "Mosquito!" to Jasper, he slapped himself on the forehead.

Uncle Kris - my sister Em's husband - has finally gone halibut fishing today. It was his goal to get out there to experience firsthand the "halibut capital of the world." Since we arrived, he has received advice and contact information from all quarters on how and when to fish in Alaska. At least hourly, someone was inquiring as to his progress in preparations and plans for a fishing trip. I suppose we all needed a focus to our week and since our schedules were rather tied up with childcare and meal-planning, we turned our considerable mental energies onto Kris and his outing. In the end, he ended up going on his adventure today probably as much to get away from us and our questions as to actually fish.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


This photo really says a lot about family vacations. The other pictures here are of Loon Lake where we are staying, the humpback mama whale, three cousins getting cleaned up, and an eagle swooping in for a kill.

During the five days we've been en route to or in Alaska I've come up with a number of potential blog titles, including "What Were We Thinking?" Getting to the Kenai Peninsula seems easy enough of paper, but actually converging nine people from three different states and ranging in age from 22 months to 69 yrs old proved challenging to say the least. Alaska, though, is spectacular and worth it. In spite of my somewhat frazzled and chaotic status as a mom of two young children, I knew that my spirit would love to snuggle up to the big, wild and free Alaskan landscape. I am sitting on the couch typing on a computer, but before me is a shimmering lake surrounded by boggy wetlands and big blue sky with a back drop of craggy, snowy peaks. We have seen humpback whales, sea lions, moose, puffins, and a young eagle swooping in to nab a duckling for breakfast. As we arrived at our "cabin," we were greeted by mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds. This place is not kidding around. I can't imagine that if you are born and raised in Alaska that you could ever be happy anywhere else for long. The moose:person ratio would be all wrong...

Monday, June 11, 2007

On the farm

Rob has a new camera so brace yourself for some photo documentation.
Last weekend, we visited Megan and Keith on their farm in north central Washington. Megan used to live in my neighborhood. We became friends and walked and talked a lot. And she was impressive in many ways, but really seemed like somewhat of a city girl. Not so. She and Keith have bought a farm and gone to work like you wouldn't believe - they milk goats, grow and cut hay, tend big gardens, make delicious sourdough bread, raise chickens and then hang them up and shoot them in the head to kill them. And they write and sing songs about life on the farm. I mean, talk about hard-core country livin'!
And, as you can see, the kids were in heaven... The fresh goat milk was enough to send anyone to heaven. It is so creamy and sweet without any hint of what most of us city-folk think of as "goatiness." Megan hand-milks Pork Chop twice a day and then flash-pasteurizes the milk herself.

On the way home, we stopped a park in Cashmere to eat some lunch and let the kids run around. They rewarded us for this stop by falling asleep for the rest of the ride home.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Salmonberries, Tall Mans, Tickling Spiders, Sunshine Soup

Last week, at 7 pm on Tuesday evening while Rob was out late at badminton, I decided to forego an early bedtime for the kids and take a walk to the secret garden - our name for a nearby greenbelt. I convinced Lucy to take the walk by promising we would wade through the creek as far as we could. We were rewarded by finding our first salmonberries of the season growing along the side of the creek. Lucy was so excited and we have since been finding salmonberries frequently and she eats tons of them. The berries come in lovely, enticing colors of yellow and red, but then really don't taste all that great - a little bitter and somewhat sour. Jasper, who usually eats anything, does not care for them, but he does enjoy carrying a berry or two in his hands for quite some time. But Lucy loves them. And the next time we go picking, she wants us to bring Daddy with us or any other "tall mans" we know so that we can get those beauties way, way up top.

Speaking of tall mans, Jasper is still learning his own strength when it comes to insects, worms and other tiny creatures. He desperately loves them and when he sees them, he wants to pick them up, caress them, generally try to make friends. This attention usually works out if it is a beetle, a ladybug or a worm. Last night, as he was sitting upstairs buck naked except for his rainboots, he spied a spider and started to gently tickle it, saying "tickle, tickle" in the high-pitched voice he usually reserves for talking to babies. This did not work out very well for the spider. Sometimes love hurts...

I've been making a very simple blended soup for dinner for the kids recently, containing onions, carrots, and cauliflower. The first time I made it Lucy asked what it was and I had to think fast. If I have learned anything as a parent, it is this: do not say a blended soup has cauliflower in it. In this scenario, it is truly worth it to slightly obfuscate the truth. So, since the soup is a pretty yellowish-orange color, I told her it was sunshine soup. She was intrigued and asked what I put in sunshine soup. I said, oh, sunshine, stardust, dandelion seeds and buttercups, for extra color. She loved this, and while she wolfed down the bowl of soup, we discussed exactly how one extracts such things as sunshine and stardust for soup preparation. Every time I make the soup, we explore these topics further and have come up with many interesting methods (always while the children are slurping up the soup). Last night, Jasper finished up his bowl and then said to me "More sunshine soup, please." Needless to say, I considered my victory complete...

Below is a pic of Jasper doing what he does when we say "Jasper, smile!" It helps to know that Lucy also used to make faces like that, but now, when we ask her to smile, she looks like this: