Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gentle Melodies on Breezeless Air

Frisbee flies and football spins over a flood lit field in front of me.
Splashes and laughter from a pool behind me.

Guitar and gentle melodies over my left shoulder.
The air in undetectable. Perfect.

It is Saturday night and I am at Grand Canyon University.
How I would love to be 20 again and part of the fabric of this place.

A skateboarder hitches a short ride at the back of a campus golf cart.
"Nothing but the blood of Jesus" harmonizes through the breezeless air.

My heart fits here, anonymous as I am right now.
It is only my 50+ years that is so out of place.

How I would love to be the me that has taken over 50 years to become
But 20 again. And here.

(Written from a bench after an afternoon-to-evening visit to the library today.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

And Now My Brother

I haven't wanted to write about it.

I haven't wanted to believe it.

But, it's time. It has been two months since my oldest brother passed away suddenly. Though it is intellectually very real, it remains emotionally surreal.

He didn't feel well that Saturday. We had his party that night, though his real birthday was three days before. He turned 61. He hadn't felt well all day and was growing tired, weak, and pale. He didn't eat dinner but sat with us all. His son took him to an Urgent Care Center, one he had recently resigned from as Medical Director, that he knew was open late. When they got back two hours later, he told us he needed to go to the ER. He said he was bleeding. Inside.

When his four-year-old granddaughter began bringing him his birthday gifts to open, saying, "Here's your presents, Papa," he mustered the strength to cheerfully open them with all of us around. He smiled and talked sweetly to the children as he did, like nothing was wrong. Like he wasn't even worried. But I know he was. Then, he needed to lie down a few minutes before going to the ER. He was so pale, and said he was dizzy. It was then The Fisherman said, "We should go now. We should do what we can to quiet the house so he can leave with less commotion going on around him." The thoughtful Fisherman. Perceptive and kind.

I hated to leave. I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay and see him all I could.  I was worried. But the Fisherman was right. I went to my brother's room to say good-bye. His oldest son was in there leaning on the bed telling him a story. They were both laughing. I had to slightly interrupt them to say good-bye. I leaned over the bed and Dave turned to me, his face still wearing the smile of his laughter. He lifted his head up and we hugged as best we could. I told him, "I love you. We'll be praying for you." He said, "Love you, too."

It was the last time I saw him. It was an incredibly sweet last moment. The Fisherman gave me that. God gave me that.

My brother was admitted to the hospital over night and was scheduled to have a scope done the next day, mid morning, to ascertain where the bleeding was coming from. He went into cardiac arrest during the scope. They worked on their fellow physician a long time. More and more of us gathered in the waiting room. Pacing. Praying. The tension was awful. He did come back, several times. We had a reprieve for about an hour. But then he went again. And was gone. Gone for good this time.

It was the most painful experience of my life. It was wrenching pain. No! This can't be real! No!


It was my own pain. It was the pain in everyone else's eyes. Red faces twisted with brutal, streaming tears.  Shaking heads. Desperate hugs. Clinging. The Fisherman. My brother Paul. My nephews and niece. My sister-in-law. And so many loving friends. The kids' friends, there for them. We were a mess.

It was just too soon. Too sudden. Too wrong.

"It can't be," was my mantra. Still, I can so easily find the place of "it can't be."

But it is.

The tears keep coming. They will for a very long time, I know.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

25 Thanks about 2013

1.  Going to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on a mission trip -- something about which I definitely need to update my blog. Thank You, God.

2.  Getting my first payment ever for writing a story. I just beamed inside.

3. Finally meeting this beautiful family whom I have loved for years from 9,000 miles away. Messay was The Fisherman's translator on his first mission trip to Addis. They have been dear friends since and it was such a gift to get to meet him and his family. Thank You, God.

4.   Getting laid off from my job. Sounds funny, but because it was God's plan, I can give thanks. With financial difficulties and a commitment to not use emergency or developmental funds to make day-to-day operations expenses, the ministry I worked for reduced to a bare bones staff. I loved the people I worked with and loved our ministry of life to pregnant women facing challenges and considering abortion. But God had a hurdle of trust for me to cross and He provided a dream come true. He has also greatly blessed the ministry with growth. It was a good thing. Thank You, God.

5.  Being asked to give the final devotional to our full staff. God had bouyed me up with the scripture found in Isaiah 43:19 - "Behold I will do something new; now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." For decades I had cherished that verse in a corner of my heart, owning it for little things along the way but knowing that it would be for something big someday. When I lost my job, "someday" had come and I clung to that verse as I knew everything that happens to me passes through His fingers of permission. He was doing something new and, though it was scary, He beckoned me to watch expectantly for it.

6. God swooping in at the 11th hour to provide me with another job within the same ministry. They have a thrift store to help fund their work. I was able to slide right over and work there. Not only did God close the gap between positions so there was no gap, He even spliced the two of them together. My first day on the new job was a couple days before my last day on the old one. Thank You, God.

7. God gave us the excitement -- for a couple weeks -- of the dream of working again in Alaska for the summer. This time, with no job to come back to, I was the one who suggested to The Fisherman, "Hey, why don't we make this the year we stay in Alaska through the winter and give it a try. We could seek out a housesitting gig and get winter jobs. You could work on your music and ministry study, and I could do some writing and quilting." For two weeks, we were all in with this plan, ready to make it happen. Thank You, God; that was fun. And then...

8. God provided me with a dream job. I actually get paid to write for an international Christian ministry. What a huge blessing! Thank You, God!

9.  I have a great boss. Two of them actually. I love both these women and feel so blessed to know them and work with them. In the primary department I work for, I am part of a great team, too. We work hard, laugh a lot, have a weekly devotional time, truly care about each other and we pray together. I am blessed indeed. Thank You, God.

10. Believe it or not, the fact that my office (my very own office!) is near the computer server room and is therefore really cold all year round has made my list of thanks for 2013. Coming from the mountains (with a bit of Alaska in my blood, too) and loving the cold and snow, it was going to be a real challenge for me to move back into the absurd heat of Phoenix after high-tailing it out of here 15 years ago. The fact that my office is so dang cold that I actually had to wear a sweater and put a throw blanket on my lap all summer, was a big blessing. When I left work and went outside to 115 F it actually felt GOOD for a little while. It helped me tolerate the intolerable. Thank You, God.

11.  I have been blessed with a home in my brother's family during our transition time. They have made me feel welcome and a part of the family and I have loved being here. Thank You, God.

12.  I have gotten to live with dogs again for the first time in almost ten years (other than brief dog sitting spells). Oh, how I love dogs! Thank You, God.

13.  God has provided for The Fisherman to continue going on mission trips as outreach photographer all throughout the year. His photographs are wonderful and the images he captures are exotic, beautiful, and heartbreaking. Thank You, God.

14.  Through these mission trips, God has used The Fisherman (The Fisher of Men) to share the Good News of Jesus with thousands of people, giving them new hope that God loves them and provided the solution to the gap between God's holiness and our sin. Thank You, God.

15.  The dream we have for opening an orphanage in Africa. It has been a dream of The Fisherman's for years. And now, it is in the works. Progress is slow, working between two countries, but we are thrilled that things are moving forward. Would you pray with us for this? Thank you. Thank You, God for this!

16.  I have been blessed with nearness to my longest and dearest friends. We have hung out together and celebrated each other. Thank You, God.

17.  I have a husband to who loves God with all his heart and has big dreams for loving and serving people in full time ministry some day as God provides and allows. I am thankful for The Fisherman's heart. He is a good man and I love him. Thank You, God, for my husband.

18.  Silly, but I am thankful for how The Fisherman and I always quote movie lines to each other. We have such fun interjecting a favorite movie line into a conversation where it suddenly fits. From Sienfeld episodes to Back to the Future to Dumb and Dumber to What About Bob? we have a blast pulling one liners out of thin air and making each other smile. Thank You, God.

19. Jesus Calling. Such a wonderful devotional written in God's voice to the reader and speaking right to the heart. Thank You, God, for ministering to my soul.

20. Philippians 4:8 and giving thanks. Thank You, God.

21. I John 5:14-15 and praying with confidence for what we know is His will. Thank You, God.

22. That God protected The Fisherman from further harm in Africa when he chased after a purse snatcher, kept him from getting away, and ended up protecting him from all the people on the street kicking and hitting him for his crime. The Fisherman ended up with a broken thumb but God protected him from worse. The thief's get-away car companions approached to retrieve their friend and at one time were seen rummaging through the car for something, possibly a weapon. So, though we're bummed about the broken thumb and that it's not healing right, we are grateful for nothing worse. Oh, and, bonus! While the Fisherman was at the hospital, other team members shared the Gospel with the thief at the police station and he prayed to receive Jesus as his Savior! Thank You, God.

23.  An encouraging report after my brother's surgery to remove a mysterious cancer. Radiation is in store but no chemo. The report is good but the mysteriousness of it keeps me concerned. More lessons in trusting God. I appreciate your prayers in Jesus name for this matter, too. Thank you. And thank You, God, for good news, for Your love for him, and that Your love will be with him through the radiation treatments.

24. Friends who love and trust God through the hardest of times. How God heals, restores, and brings hope and good. Thank You, God.

25. With The Fisherman home from adventures in Alaska and Africa, and healing from his broken thumb, we are getting our own place. We're keeping our cabin home in the woods and getting an apartment here. From five acres, pine trees, snow, and quiet we are moving into a second floor apartment in a complex of over 400 units stretching across quite a good sized space of big city desert. We begin moving stuff in tomorrow. We are settling together. Thank You, God.

26. Just a few more...bonus thanks:  Sunsets. City lights. Beautiful warm evenings in October. Cold evenings in December. Getting away to the woods. Family. Spontaneous conversations around the kitchen island. A dog chin on my knee. A cat purring on my shoulder. A cozy soft blanket. Prayers for those who don't have a blanket. A God who loves them. Thank You, God.

A happy, blessed, and thankful new year to you all.

Monday, December 30, 2013


The Prayer Boxes, by Lisa Wingate

The Quest, by Nelson DeMille

Kachemak Bay Years, by Elsa Pederson

Blood of Lambs, by Kamal Saleem

Heritage of Talkeetna, by Roberta Sheldon

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life, by Marilee Adams

God's Tribesman, by Rochunga Padaite

A Quilter's Kitchen, An Elm Creek Quilts Novel, by Jennifer Chiavernini

New Year's Quilt, An Elm Creek Quilts Novel, by Jennifer Chiavernini

Monday, November 18, 2013

Catching Up With Big Changes

I suppose I'd better back up a bit and explain some things. In late spring I got laid off from my job. The ministry where I worked in our mountain community was struggling financially. The only recourse was to cut payroll and cut it rather drastically. Five of us in the small ministry were laid off and operations were creatively reorganized. God has blessed and they are doing really well. It was a good move. While this news was pretty difficult to face, we knew that God must have something else in mind. Though it was scary, I clung to Isaiah 43:19 that says, "Behold I will do something new. Now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

With two days before my last day on the job, another branch of our ministry asked me to work for them. Whew! Finances were still tight but at least I had something coming in.

We had been hoping for a writing job to come through but we just weren't hearing anything. We decided we both needed to go to Alaska again this summer. I called my boss from last year, whom I'd been leaving hanging, and said, "I'm coming!" Great excitement ensued. I was thrilled to be going back to Alaska. I was kicking it into high gear with plans for expanding the Alaska business, creating postcards, brochures, and t-shirts. I even said to The Fisherman, "You know, let's just figure out a way to stay in Alaska through the winter. Let's make this the year we try it."

Two weeks later, I got a call from the ministry saying they wanted to hire me as a writer.Though I had been excited about Alaska, shifting gears took me only about one day. This was my dream job. To write for a living? Sweet!

It took a couple weeks of phone meetings and eventually I ran out of work since I'd given my notice with intentions of going to Alaska. It was getting tight and I was getting scared. Things were taking longer than initially indicated and at one point I wondered if they were rethinking their words, "We want to hire you."

It was worth the wait. I got the job! But this meant a lot of changes. First, The Fisherman and I would be separated again for the summer, right when we thought we were going to spend it together in Alaska. Next, it meant I had to move a couple hundred miles away from home, from the woods, and the cool, and the quiet of our five acres. It meant I had to move TO the big, hot, huge, hot, and very hot desert mega-city we'd escaped from about 15 years ago. But, I have family and friends and a long history here. So, it was also like coming home. My brother and his family graciously welcomed me to stay with them until The Fisherman got back in the fall and we could settle somewhere.

The Fisherman took off for Alaska and I packed up enough stuff to make me feel like myself living in my brother's house. As the assaulting summer heat of Phoenix was beginning to really amp up, I moved down into it. My car was stuffed and brimming at all the doors and trunk.

I said good-bye to our summer-sealed cabin in the woods and crunched down the gravel road aiming for the big city. On my way out, clusters of wild iris lined the road and waved me farewell.

Good-bye wild ones. I will miss you.

So, here I am. I've been working my new job for six months and loving it! I write stories about the missions trips for the newsletter and I also write copy for emails, the website, the blog, "and other duties as assigned." That's our favorite (or non-favorite?) job description phrase lately as all of us on our team have been stretching our responsibilities and pulling off some big projects lately.

I am so thankful for my job. I love it. I love the people I work with and I love working for something I find so valuable. We have a great team; we have fun, laugh, tease each other, we work really well together and we work really hard. I guess you could even say the gift of this job is like a river in the desert!

It has been six months and The Fisherman and I are still not settled into a place of our own. As soon as The Fisherman got back from Alaska in late September, he was off again on some mission trips to Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. The trips were so close together that we decided it was wiser to just stay there in between. He was gone a month and just got back last week. He will most likely be back and forth between here and home. It's still home, up there in the woods. We're not going to sell it. It's a great haven. So we're going from five acres in the woods to, probably, an apartment in the big city. Who would have thought!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

25 Thanks About My Day

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

1. Sparky

aka: Dude, Spark, Sparkler, Duderonomous, Spark-You're-A-Dude, One Dog

Sparky's getting to be an old Dude but he still bounces around when it's time for Food for Dogs.

2. Sarah

aka: SarahBelle, Dumber, Say-rah, Pretty Girl, Fluffy Dog, Two Dog

Sarah is obsessed with playing. She dodges pets and goes and gets her ball for you to throw. She's also obsessed with reflections and flashes of light. We play flashlight almost every night. When I took this picture it was about 6:30 a.m. and still rather dim inside the house. My camera has a pre-flash to enable focusing. Here she was looking for the mysterious flash reflecting against the fireplace that had just vanished.

3. Kahlua

aka: Lulu, Luey, Lu, Big Dog, Kahlu, Sweet Girl, Three Dog

Kahlua is the new family dog. She's my nephew's dog really but we all love her. She's a sweet Rottweiler mix whose growth was stunted by Parvo or something as a pup. She was a hand-me-down dog who passed among my nephew's friends whose landlords all said she was too big and had to go. She came to my brother's family and half-hearted attempts to find her a home resulted in the gradual falling in love with her that led the family to make it official and claim her as their own.

Dog Thanks...I love dogs. Love. Love. Love. And these guys all love getting loved. Well, except Sarah. She loves it but you have to chase her down and not let her go. She still tries to gently get away but she can't fool me. Her constantly wagging tail gives her away.

Kahlua always comes and steals loves from whoever is getting them. This morning I was bent over petting Sarah in front of me and suddenly Kahlua's head came from behind and between my knees, brazenly trying to steal Sarah's loves.

More Thanks About My Day

4. A short commute to work. First time in my life.

5. That my brother and his family are letting me (and randomly, us) stay with them during my new job transition in the big city.

6. My job writing at a ministry organization.

7. The chance to help someone understand who Jesus is

8. Being done with a huge project at work and getting reacquainted with my regular assignments

9. Gorgeous weather!

10.  Working in a place where I can take a few minutes out to go to a prayer room and refocus.

11. Positive, Encouraging KLOVE radio not just on the internet but in my car, too!

12. New shoes:

On sale. 15% off the sale price. Plus an additional 20% off that!

13. A difficult conversation turning very good.

14. Really good progress on a huge personal ministry project

15. Fun watching The Voice with my sister-in-law

16. Receiving Facebook greetings from two friends in different parts of Ethiopia

17. That (-crazy-) I have friends in Ethiopia!

18. That I had three meals today, when most people in the world probably didn't

19. Reading the same book as my brother

20. My husband's love and commitment to me

21. Being greeted after work by five dogs: One, Two, Three, plus two visitors, all of them clamoring around me to get and give loves

22. Kitty coming out of hiding from Big Dog (she's still getting used to the new canine addition) and sitting on the back of the couch at my shoulder, purring

23. Appreciating my still new laptop

24. LifeStraws - an amazing personal water purification product for impoverished communities around the world, hikers and campers, and doomsday preppers...which we mildy are. A little.  On a small scale.

25. Having a comfortable warm bed to sleep in at night

Thank you, Father God.

Hey, I'm Back!

OK, I'll get the guilt out of the way right off the bat:

It's been over a year since I've posted!
("You are one pathetic loser!")

Well, actually my last post? I back-dated it so it wouldn't look so bad.
("You can't handle the truth!"  Make that, I can't handle the truth.)

I never even finished blogging about my summer in Alaska.

Because...I got stuck without a photo I needed. The Fisherman took it on his camera and I kept forgetting to ask him for it.
("So what are we going to do? Lie down and die, Bob?")

And I just couldn't carry on out of sequence.
("What are you? OCD?")

OK, I'm out of movie quotes. And that last one wasn't one. It was all I could think of. with that out of the way, I'll move on.

I have an idea for some blog entries. They are along the line of Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts. Many years ago, maybe ten...I'm not sure...before 1000 Gifts anyway...I started looking for gifts from God. I didn't count them like Ann but I did write them down. And last year I took her 1000 Gifts in the Year challenge to keep a journal of three thanks a day  and followed her daily prompts.

I agree wholeheartedly with her powerful message. Giving thanks opens our eyes to God's gifts all around us. Giving thanks changes our perspective. Giving thanks produces trust and drives out fear. Giving thanks makes us aware of God's presence. And where God's presence is, there is joy. And since He is always present, joy is always possible. We just have to have eyes of thankfulness to see.

So... in trying to find some kind of "system" with which to both blog again and revisit an effort at building gratitude and seeing God in my life, my days, and my yesterdays, I came up with something. It's kind of random but kind of not. I'm grabbing the 25 from my 25 Acres blog name and going to occasionally write a "25 Thanks About..." post. (Get it? Instead of 25 Things, it's 25 Thanks? I'm so clever.)

First post coming up.
Oh, and if you're curious about the movie quotes:

"One pathetic loser" is from Dumb and Dumber. One roommate comes home and tells the other he got fired that day. They talk, then the second guy says, "Yeh, I got fired today, too." The first guy says to him, "Ohhhhh, man! You are one pathetic loser!" Yeh, one's dumb and the other one's dumber. (Loved that movie!)

"You can't handle the truth!" is from...everybody?...A Few Good Men. Famous enough to say no more.

"Squirrel!" Oh, I love this one! The talking A.D.D. dog in the cartoon movie Up would be rattling on about something and then mid-sentence suddenly swing his head to the side and shout "Squirrel!" and take off running after the squirrel. Distracted much?

"So what are we going to do? Lie down and die, Bob?" is from the exciting Alaska-set movie, The Edge. A plane goes down and Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin (Bob) are out trying to survive the Alaska wilderness with a grizzly bear stalking them. Something goes wrong and Bob gets discouraged. Anthony Hopkins shouts this line at him. Yeh, I kind laid down and quit. For a year.

Monday, December 31, 2012


To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

The Genesee Diary, by Henri Nouwen

Mosaic, by Amy Grant

Madame Jeanne Guyon, An Autobiography

Savoring God's Word, by Jan Johnson

A Schoolteacher In Old Alaska: The Story of Hannah Breece

The Storytellers Club: The Picture Writing Women of the Arctic, by Loretta Outwater Cox

Alaska: Not For A  Woman!, by Mary E. Carey

Why Alaska? a biography of moving to Alaska

Rivers, Book 3 (children's stories about a blind sled dog - based on a true story), By Mike Dillingham

From Sled Dogs to Float Planes, An Alaska Bush Doctor's Story, by Dr. Jean Pearson, MD

A Quilter's Holiday - An Elm Creek Quilts Novel, by Jennifer Chiavernini

The Christmas Quilt, by Jennifer Chiavernini

Monday, September 10, 2012


Some nice little towns up here in Alaska have some pretty ordinary names. One of these is Homer, at the bottom of the Kenai Peninsula, on the charming-sounding Kachemak Bay.

On my day trip, I made my way from Ninilchik, stopping at Anchor Point for another stamp in my Kenai Penisula Passport, and then came around my favorite bend in all of Alaska's roads: the road into Homer. It's breathtaking.

As you round the bend you come out of the trees and suddenly there appears a stunning view of Kachemak Bay.

I like to stop at the scenic view pull-out with the Welcome to Homer sign.

In August the fireweed is blooming and the hillside is sprayed with pink. I always gaze with envy at the blessed people who have a home on this hillside. Their backyard is my favorite view in all Alaska.

One of my first stops on this day trip to Homer was a little yurt "village" of shops. At one time it housed a more quaint shopping experience than it currently does. Most of the shops have folded up or moved on, being replaced by more practical businesses not enticing to shopping.

The best thing there was this shop:

And in case you missed it, here's a close-up:

Yeah, yarn.


I looked.


I bought...

this luscious skein of silk yarn from India:

I don't know what I'll do with it, since there was only one and not enough to make a scarf out of.
But it was so beautiful I simply had to have it!

Next up, I went to the Homer Visitors Center.

where above the door hung this sign:

Homer is famous for several things.

As you saw in the Welcome sign, it's known as the halibut capitol of the world. Many locals make their living as charter captains or deck hands on the fishing excursions that go out of the marina every day into Kachemak Bay.

Also, singer songwriter, Jewel, spent some time in Homer,singing in some of the bars when she was young.

And, of course, now there's the Time Bandit of the TV show "Deadlist Catch" fame. The brothers Hillstrand grew up in Homer and still live there. We actually got to see their crab fishing vessel moored in the deep water marina a few years ago.

Another thing Homer is famous for is The Spit. No, it's not a bar-b-que restaurant.  And no, it's not the "Split" as many folks want to call it. It's the unglamorous, almost crude sounding, "Homer Spit."
It's the second largest natural land jetty in the world. It's 4.5 miles long and is home to the marinas, RV campgrounds, great beach, charter businesses, restraurants, and lots of cute little tourist shops.

You can see it in the far left of the photo below.

And here's a zoomed in view taken from the same spot. The hillside is covering up much of The Spit as it connects to the mainland.

Another thing along the Homer Spit...Tsunami Evacuation Route signs. Yikes! Yeh, with Alaska being the most seismically active state in the union, they have to concern themselves with things like earthquake caused tsunamis. The tsunamis that followed the great quake of 1964 leveled the whole town of Valdez and nearly leveled Seward, both of which are also situated in Alaska bays.

In Seward, the Tsunami Evacuation Route signs lead you uphill to the highest road leading out of town. It is forced to lead you back down to the main road which becomes the only highway out of town, but at least you're higher for a little of your panicked journey, right? But if you're on the Homer Spit with a tsunami coming, you'd better hurry. It wouldonly  take a 3 foot wave to cover this giant sandbar!

I spent my day in Homer visiting some of my favorite art galleries:

Definitely worth a click.

There are several more galleries but these are my favorites.
And how convenient that they're right next door to each other.

As my day drew to a close and I climbed in the van to head back up the western edge of the Kenai Peninsula, I was happy with a fun day of creative inspiration and exploring one of my favorite places. (Earlier I took the road out of town up the bay for about 14 miles. I never knew it went back that far, but I discovered farms with grassy fields and breathtaking views of Kachemak Bay. I think I could live there!)

On my way up the hill approaching the backside of the Welcome to Homer sign, I glanced in my side view mirror. My breath caught as with a clear view of the stunning Bay.

Mount Redoubt from Soldotna always brings a smile to my face, but Kachemak Bay takes
the very air from my lungs!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

That Tree's Got To Go

We have a lot of dead trees on our property. The Fisherman has felled many of them already. Our "yard" has been kind of a mess for years because we haven't gotten all of them stacked neatly or cut into firewood. We have a lot more clearing and thinning to do, too.

But we have always left a little island of trees in the middle of the "yard". We've liked it. We wanted to keep it. It had one big cottonwood and several small spruce. I don't have a good pictures handy showing the whole island but here's one showing the trunks. Just behind the "slash pile", and just as wide as it, you can see  the island. One trunk is at the left, a couple in the middle and two to the right. A nice big cottonwood trunk is hiding behind two little trunks in the middle.

The Fisherman cut down all the little ones yesterday, leaving the beautiful cottonwood standing alone.
But you can see, it's just to close to our little cabin.

Also, in the photo above, take note of at least two wood stacks (highlighted by the lovely blue tarps, the bane of Alaska). There's a third one out of view. Each of those stacks was between two tall trees. The Fisherman had to cut all six trees down, leaving only enough trunk to hold up our firewood.

Last night, when I got back from work, the lone cottonwood was roped and tied off, way out to the right of it in two places. First thing this morning, The Fisherman took it down.

You can see how it would have hit the cabin if it blew down in that direction.
As it was, The Fisherman took it down parallel to the cabin.

And, it's gone. Down.

No more island of trees. And our cabin is safer.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Boo Hoo, My View

We had a nasty storm system move over the Kenai Peninsula and South Central Alaska this week. All Labor Day weekend the winds whipped. Our little camp trailer shuddered and shook. When we spent the night at our cabin Monday night, the winds whipped again. We were concerned about some trees very close to the cabin.

The Fisherman spent all day Tuesday cutting down trees in the pouring rain. We hated to cut them but it was a serious concern to think that winds might topple them onto our cabin, especially if it happens after we leave for the winter. What a loss that would cause, having a raw Alaska winter dump right into our cabin through wind damaged roof or walls.

Well, Tuesday night, September 5th, it hit. Winds around Anchorage reached 100 mph. They did quite a bit of damage. To the extent that all Anchorage schools were closed Wednesday, including the university. I even heard that, with power outages and wind damage, the Anchorage Daily News didn't get their newspaper printed Wednesday. Power went out for 1000's of residents and is still out for many.

Thankfully, our cabin sustained no damage. No trees fell on it, though one of our favorite cottonwoods came down and the top branches were touching the cabin's front wall. That was close! Two trees behind the cabin fell onto the shed The Fisherman just finished roofing last week, but they also did no damage. Whew!

As for the "yard", well, we had several trees blow over. Because of the permafrost under ground, trees can't get a deep root system. We have trees toppled over, roots and all. The Fisherman had to break out the chain saw just to travel our road in some spots.

And alas, my view is altered. :-(

I'm sad. One of my favorite trees is leaning over, rather ruining that spectacular arrangement of four white trunked trees which I love looking through out to the mountains beyond.

Whereas just last week, this was our view.......

Now our view looks like this......

Boo hoo.

I'm actually quite sad. In perspective, of course, it's trivial. We still have a gorgeous view. We are blessed to have sustained no damage to our cabin on which The Fisherman has done so much hard work to build for us. But I will miss the perfect arrangement of those four trees. The tree that is now leaning over was a critical design element, spacing the four trees at interesting distances from each other. Now there are three trees spaced evenly apart, which is not as interesting.

But gratitude prevails and I am thankful. Thankful for the view we enjoyed for six years. Thankful for no damage. Thankful for our cabin, our shed, The Fisherman's hard work and willingness to provide for us. Thankful for our remaining view. Thankful for those white trunked trees and the mountains in the distance. Thankful that we have been given so much and spared even more.

Friday, August 31, 2012


Another one of the towns on my Kenai Peninsula Passport venture is Ninilchik (Neh-nil-chik). There's not a lot to this little seaside town and as with many wind-whipped, salty-aired communities, it looks a little rundown. Even so, it has some nice appeal to us.

It's around this area where The Fisherman has taken me to see bald eagles on the beach in the early part of the season.  They perch on the sandy cliffs behind the beach and when the boatmen dump the remains of their fish into the water the eagles swoop in for a feast before the waves and tide take the food out to sea. One time I stood and counted all the eagles I could see from my single vantage point. I counted close to 100. It's an amazing place to be. Cold in early May, but amazing.

Here are a couple nice photos of Ninilchik eagles (from 2008) that didn't make the final cut for The Fisherman's photo work. I was with him for these photos and I tell you, it was awesome!

Another thing the Ninilchik area holds is the old Russian Orthodox church, which I wrote about here. Since the U.S. bought Alaska from the Russians, there's quite a Russian influence present. The names of things is one evidence of this. Ninilchik and Nikiski, are just a couple examples.

For awhile this summer I was so busy with work, overtime, and personal business on my agenda that it felt like I hadn't had a real day off in ages. Finally I was able to take another day trip. I headed for Homer but on the way stopped to get my "passport" stamped in Ninilchik.

I'd never seen the cute little coffee shop before. (And I do mean little.) It's called The Buzz. If only I liked coffee, this would be a great place for me. The staff was friendly, the tiny inside was quaint, and it came complete with a couple of locals just hanging out for a bit of social time.

As I walked to the porch I knew this was going to be a fun stop.
The path was sprinkled with some of my favorite beach stones, ones a co-worker calls "sugar stones". They're kind of translucent but it's obscured by a rough, cloudy surface tumbled in water and sand.

The flower boxes were so quaint.

The edges were lined with orange rocks that looked like terra cotta clay from the southwest, or the red rock of Sedona. Being from Arizona and so familiar with this color of rock, I at first I thought nothing of it. But then did a double take remembering how out of placeit is in Alaska.

I learned it's only found in this area between two stretches of beach and is the result of volcanic eruptions from "my" Redoubt and it's sister volcano, Iliamna (Illy-ahm-nah) across the Cook Inlet.

I love this next photo. I like it for it's composition and the single bit of blue color spilling over the wooden border, but that's not the reason I LOVE this photo. The reason I love it is that.....'s a crop of this photo below!

Wow! Can you find it?  When I started messing around with zooming and cropping and saw how clear it came out, I became very impressed and pleased with my camera!

Another charming thing about The Buzz Cafe is their doormat. Just look at that thing!

Being a nautical community, it's fun and creative that they've incorporated
giant dock rope into their porch decor.

It's cool how they started at the center, coiled it up around itself and then hung up the excess
alongside the door.

Another shot of quaintness comes from all the old coffee pots filled with flowers!

So cute.

I love the red table, too.

The Buzz Cafe in Ninilchik. 
If you're ever "in the area" stop by and see how cute it is!