Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Reading List

Archiving my 2010 Reading List....

Going Rogue, by Sarah Palin

Erik's Story - the story of an Alaskan Down Syndrome artist

Bo's Cafe, by Thrall, Lynch, & McNicol

Dream Spinner

A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23, Phillip Keller

Lunch At Toad River, by Sally Lesh

Time Bandit, by Jonathan and Andy Hillstrand

A Walk to Remember, by Nicholas Sparks

Son of Hamas, by Mosab Hassan Yousef with Ron Brakin (autobiography of a former Muslim-now Christian who is the son of one of Hamas' founders)

Home to Holly Springs (The Father Tim Novels #1)

At Home in Mitford (Mitford Series #1), by Jan Karon

A Light in the Window (Mitford #2), by Jan Karon

A Common Life (Mitford #3), by Jan Karon

These High Green Hills (Mitford #4), by Jan Karon

The Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller

The Lance Mackey Story, by Lance Mackey (Iditarod Champion)

Understanding Mourning, by Glen W. Davidson

Suddenly It's Spring, by Mary Lovel

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Copper Moose

Well, I just posted some photos to Facebook and figured its ABOUT TIME I get them up here on my long neglected blog.
A couple years ago I launched an earring business.

 I've always loved earrings and had an absolute blast when I learned how to make them. "Earrings for Everyday" I call them.  I named the business Copper Moose Creations.  I went gung ho for a couple years, seeking to sell at festivals and also wholesale to stores.  About the same time The Fisherman's photography business was born, I seemed to reach a discouragement phase with the earrings. I transferred my enthusiasm over to his photos and things on the earring front have been dormant ever since.  But I have never lost the dream of resurrecting the business. I love the earrings and love making them. Earrings have always been a creative expression for me - whether I bought them or made them. Thoughts of breathing new life into Copper Moose have been flitting through my mind for several months.

In the meantime, I have all these earrings sitting around and I thought I'd show them to you. A sampling of them, at least.
You'll notice in the fourth photo that my Trademark is a real twig on the cards that the earrings hang on. It seems like all my life I've been bringing the outdoors indoors. Baskets full of twigs, branches, pinecones. Rocks. And now, living in the woods, my front porch has a variety of big branches that are just too pretty to leave in the forest or burn in the wood stove.  So when I thought of the twig, I was thrilled. It was perfect for me!

Anyway, enjoy looking at some of my Copper Moose earrings.

Wire Wrapped Amethyst

Pearls and Copper

Bronzite & Turquoise

Pearls and Copper



Shell and Copper

Lapis Lazuli, Shell, & Copper

Shell and Pearls

Turquoise and Copper

Can't remember the name of the yellow stone (it's not Amber)

Sterling Silver

Shell and Copper

Sterling Silver "Pumpkins"

Garnet, Still Can't Remember Yellow, Green Aventurine and Copper


Um, Forgot Again Green, Garnet, Green Aventurine and Brass

Pearls and Sterling Silver

Green Aventurine and Garnet, Turquoise
Wish I had made the cool Raku Ceramic Salmon, but alas...

Red/Orange Aventurine, Copper and Brass


Green Aventurine and Copper

Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver

Faceted Cranberry Pearls,  Sterling Silver, Copper, Garnet

Faceted Cranberry Pearls, Sterling Silver, Dark Green Aventurine

Faceted Cranberry Pearls, Sterling Silver, Copper, Green Aventurine

Faceted Cranberry Pearls, Sterling Silver, & Dang I Can't Remember Yellow

(Note the "Alaska" card. I was marketing to gift shops in Alaska for a time)

Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver

Copper - Shell - Shell, Garnet & Brass

Friday, November 12, 2010

In Abiquiu, New Mexico

Tonight I am sitting in an old adobe library on the grounds of a place called Ghost Ranch. It sits nestled in among some of New Mexico's most beautiful mountains of varied colors and textures.

I had never seen the special hues of New Mexico's landscape before this week. When I was in college I studied the art of a painter named Georgia O'Keeffe. She did simple bold paintings of mountains, rivers, and close-ups of flowers. Her style was daring and her independence unusual for the era of the 1940s. I thought it would be interesting to someday see the area in which she lived and painted.

When I signed up for the CLASS Christian Writers Conference I had no idea it was in the very area of New Mexico that Georgia O'Keeffe was so passionate about. I'd seen her name mentioned on the website of the conference location but it didn't really sink in for me.

As I drove into the little town of Abiquiu this past Tuesday afternoon, I stopped at Bode's General Store. I thought I'd pick up a postcard commemorating the fact that I'd been there. There, in the back, were postcards of dozens of Georgia O'Keeffe paintings. Then I saw the table full of books about her. "Wow," I thought, "this must be the very area where she lived. And I didn't even know it until now.


Not until I'd been on the grounds of Ghost Ranch for a couple hours did I realize that it was the EXACT location where Georgia O'Keeffe lived and painted. Her house is still on the vast grounds somewhere and tours are given.  What a fun surprise. [I've since learned that the house she owned on the grounds of Ghost Ranch was her summer home. The Presbyterian Church owns all of Ghost Ranch, but Georgia persuaded them to sell her a small acreage of it. There is no access to her Ghost Ranch home and no tours are given. Tours are given of her winter home in the town of Abiquiu. The Abiquiu house also serves as the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. ]

This is the Dining Hall where we eat our meals in the company of professional authors and editors. The Bunkhouse containing the little room I share with my new friend, Connie, from Illinois, is located just behind where I'm standing taking this photo.

I arrived Tuesday, November 9th. The conference began Wednesday and ends Sunday. It has been a really good experience. Really good.  I am determined to get to bed at a decent hour tonight. The last three nights have been successively later as I've talked with people and been in the library I'm sitting in now, editing and rewriting my piece for our daily critique groups. First night bedtime was 10:30. Second night it was 11:30. Last night it was around 12:30. Tonight, it's going to be 10:30 again. Ah, sleep. A good remedy for fast-paced, jam-packed days.

If I have time tomorrow night, I'll write more about it and post more photos of the beautiful setting. 
 I'll now gather my laptop into my backpack, bundle up in jacket and mittens, grab hold of my giant flashlight and make my way through the darkness across the field in front of the Dining Hall and to my room.
Good night, everybody.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Jeans In Alaska

I love this photo.

I don't fully dry our jeans in the dryer, so when I came back to our camp I laid some jeans out on the trees to finish drying.  The combination of denim and green spruce branches just grabbed my eye. I had to grab my camera.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Alaska This and That

I've mentioned before one of our favorite practical places in Soldonta, The Soldotna Wash & Dry. It is here that we wash our clothes, take $5 showers, and have internet access.

It's a big, clean, bright laundromat that has four showers available.  They provide a towel, wash cloth, floor mat, a tiny bar of soap and 20 minutes in the shower room for $5.  There never seems to be too much of a wait when we go and we have felt free to not be so rushed as their 20 minute rule suggests. The rooms are tiny, but if Room #4 is available, it's the handicapped accessible and there's plenty of room to spread out all your stuff!

It was right about here in the parking lot where last year The Fisherman and I came upon two cars stopped, each with a woman driver.  One petite young girl in the lead was being screamed at by an approaching huge Somalian woman. She was cussing, and yelling, and threatening this little 19-year-old-looking girl for supposedly turning abruptly into the parking lot nearly causing the mean and mad woman to hit her.  The Fisherman intervened, getting out of the van and approaching between them just before the big angry woman arrived at the girl's open car window.  They were yelling back and forth, but you could clearly see the young girl's disadvantage..and her smarts for staying in her car.  The Fisherman diffused the situation and eventually the irate and out of control big woman got back into her car, muttering and cussing all the way, but willing to drop it and move on.  Whew!  I was nervous.  That young gal was angry, too, feeling she did nothing wrong because she'd had her blinker on. If she'd have gotten out of her car, we are confident she would have been assaulted.  We were glad it ended the way it did.

The Wash & Dry is located right next to a fur trader, complete with a moose head on it's outside wall.

When I did laundry one day, I came out to the van to hang up some of the clean clothes in the back.  We'd been at our property when the roads were wet and the van was covered with a the white-ish/grey film of spattered mud produced by Alaska's grey dirt.  I came out to find the standard "Wash Me" written in the dirt of our back windows.  My response?

Upon delivering the next load of clean clothes to the van, I thought my reply sounded a little harsh.  So, I explained...

I generally don't trust a restaurant that serves a multi-cultural menu.  There seems to be a lot of these Mexican-Italian combo places in Alaska.  Let me tell you, it's tough to find good Mexican food in Alaska!  Twenty years ago when we first visited our best man, Todd, he took us to a Garcia's in Anchorage.  Yes, my Arizona friends, it was of the same Garcia's that we have in Phoenix. We couldn't believe it.  But it's gone now, and we're not in Anchorage much anyway.  Down in Soldotna, we've found this little dive that serves a decent chicken chimichanga. Though it lacks a certain richness in flavor, it's not bad. And it's the best place we've found.

I grew up in the big city. Holidays, such as Labor Day, are big retail days. People have the day off and they usually go shopping or out to eat. Restaurants, shops, malls, they're all open on Labor Day. Not in Alaska.  The Fisherman went on a fishing trip with the guys one day, leaving me the whole day to do as I pleased.  I was all set to do some shopping.  The bead store, the book store, gift shops, and a nice lunch were all on my list.  But this is what I encountered nearly everywhere I went.

Sigh.  Things are different in Alaska.  When it's a holiday, everybody goes fishing, not shopping.  Even store owners, evidently.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Homemade Road

Part of our every spring and fall in Alaska seems to be road work.  Last year, you may recall, we did a bunch of road work.  (Here and here.) Well, The Fisherman did a lot of road work.  I did a lot of watching, encouraging, and large rock removal while he ran the backhoe hour after hour.  We used gravel we found on our own property to build up the road a good 18 inches.

This is the result of last year's efforts.

It formed a good base and held up pretty well but it just wasn't quite deep or solid enough. We consulted with a gravel company and learned that our gravel is good for a base but not sufficient for a finished road.  We calculated we'd need almost 20 loads of their Pit Run gravel and were thankful for sunny skies on the scheduled day.  Using the gravel we had was still very much worth it. It saved us about $6000 of having to buy it!  So we're super grateful we have it and were able to create a nice thick base with it.

My first amazement of the day was when we realized the guy was going to BACK his way into our road.  Here he comes now:

Our road is about 1200 feet long, has several hills and has some curves to boot.  I was pretty impressed that he backed his way all the way to our cabin!


He then opened his back gate and made his way down our road, dumping the load of gravel as he went.

This was not like our Arizona road gravel dumps, which I showed you photos of in this Catch Up post.  We needed about 12 inches of this mixture of sand and rock for this Alaska road.  In some spots, in the valley between two hills, we wanted even more.  The Fisherman has done a lot of work cutting down the highs and filling in the lows, thus making the hills less severe.  We wanted to continue those efforts and improve things even more.  So, with the standard 12" in most spots and deeper dumps in other spots, the road was a mess for awhile, downright impassable, during the dumping hours.  We couldn't have gotten out if we'd wanted to, the truck being parked up at the cabin.

BJ was our Backhoe Wonder Man.  Once he got some reinforcement, in the form of another driver bringing truckloads of gravel from the pit, BJ set about really impressing us with his skill on the backhoe.  He took to all that dirt and pushed and dragged it all around so efficiently and quickly, it soon started looking like a road again.  He did a perfect job.  Perfect.  He was so quick, so skilled, it was fun to watch.  The Fisherman learned a lot from him...for the next go round of base work on the remaining half of our road we haven't worked on yet.

Here's BJ taking a break talking with The Fisherman at the end of our road by the cabin.  He even did us a favor by running over a cleared section that had some young alder shoots growing a couple feet high.  A couple passes of the backhoe tracks and a couple scrapes of the scoop, and those babies were outta there! The whole area to the right and beyond out of the photo was getting thick with young alder shoots.  We needed to take care of it this year before they got too big and strong to mess with.  BJ helped us out a lot.

I can't believe I didn't take any photos of the finished work!  Duh.   But after BJ had pushed and dragged the road so beautifully even and wide, just before the last truck full of gravel dumped its load, he got into the dump truck and wheel packed the road he'd spread.  We thought he'd make one or two passes and that we'd have a soft spot high in the middle.  No.  BJ backed the truck up the hill to the cabin and drove it down again several times, carefully and precisely covering nearly every inch of the width of the road.  We were so happy!  And very impressed.

Next year I'll get you some pictures of the finished road.  We learned that an important part of the setting up of a new road is the winter.  The snow and cold of winter play a part in setting up the road and making it stronger for the spring.  We're looking forward to seeing it next summer and seeing how the winter continued the Eternal Road Work.