Friday, March 26, 2010

Well, that ought to help...

Experienced high winds today with gusts from 45-55 miles per hour.

THAT ought to help dry things out around here!

Long before we bought our property I decided that I hate the wind. Breezes I love. Wind, I pretty much hate - at least when I have to be out in it with my hair flying in a dozen or so different directions. Or when we're driving the highways in it. When strong winds are hitting you nearly broadside, to keep from going off the shoulder to the right you have to compensate by turning into the wind, toward the center line. Oh, but then suddenly the gust of wind will be passed, there's no more resistance and your steering wheel is still turned in such a way as to drive you right into oncoming traffic across the center line. Love that. So basically, you're trying constantly to merely stay safely in your own lane, not driving off the road to the right or into oncoming traffic on the left.

No, I'm not real fond of strong wind. We bought the land in winter and didn't have any idea that every single Spring and Fall we would be assailed with strong winds as the forerunner to the change of seasons. It can get so strong sometimes that it even gets scary. Our house is very sturdy and I have the uncommon benefit of knowing exactly how it was built, where every stud is and that we have extra sturdy boxes built in between the studs at the roof line for just such strength. Having built our own house, literally, it's pretty neat knowing what all is behind the walls and under the floors. But for some reason, though I'm safe and sound in our sturdy house, the strong winds creep me out. Not right away, but they eventually get to me.

When we first moved to our property, we lived in an ancient mobile home that came with the land. It was about 12 feet wide by 55 feet long. We lived in it for about a year. Man, oh, man, when those seasonal winds hit the side of that flimsy mobile home it would literally crash and slam into it. It sounded like something was hitting the side of the place! The windows were cheap, too, and we would sometimes even see the curtains move when a gust of wind crashed into the house and forced its way through the cracks around the windows. Though sometimes I get weary and a little uneasy in our real house now, mostly I have a feeling of safety and gratitude for such a sturdy, cozy, warm shelter.

Today's winds, I suppose, mean that Spring is here! Yippee! and Finally! After 90 inches of snow this winter, we are happy to see spring arrive. You never know though. We could still get snow for the next couple weeks. We got another inch or so just Monday night. Tuesday we woke up to a fresh blanket of white that melted off by evening. Though I don't like the springtime winds, I am VERY excited they are here to dry out our land and hopefully stop the influx of water into the basement. With ditches and winds, it already seems to be slowing. Another "Yippee!"

.....And now on to an apology. Sorry I haven't been posting much lately, folks. We've just been kind of overrun with busy-ness lately. I have lots of posts swirling around in my head that I want to write. I just don't have the time to devote to it like I would love to. Please hang in there with me...I'll get some things posted eventually!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thawing Out

We're thawing out rapidly around here.
This is a photo I took last week of our "river" out front.

Remember the photo of the solar panels from last week?

Here they are today.

The ground I walked on to get to this vantage point was brown but not dry. It was completely squishy, saturated with snow melt.

And with a couple days with these temperatures, it's no wonder.

We got some shallow trenches dug that branch off and go around the house.

There's still a lot of water coming in the basement but we can manage by vacuuming it up about every 36 hours.

It's a pain but still, it's better than fire season.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A + B = C -and- C = D


+ B

= C

- And -
C = D

We came home from 5 days in Phoenix to 2 inches of water in our basement. I guess it was pretty warm while we were gone. We Shop Vac-ed up about 40 gallons. This will be our life for the next 5 weeks or so. Keeping up with it everyday should be easier than our rude surprise upon returning home. And eventually it will taper off as things dry out around here.
We have yet to install a drainage system to hopefully avoid this problem. Our land has a slight incline to it and not only do we get absorption from what's immediately around our house, we also get some of what comes from uphill.
We've had 85 inches of snow this winter. It's going to be a looooonnnnnng spring of mud, muck and water in the basement. Hopefully we'll get a ditch and drainage built soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

OK, I'm Into It

I've all but forgotten that the Iditarod started Saturday. I was in the valley for the weekend. Being out of sync, off schedule, and out of routine, well I just forgot. But now I've just checked in with and caught the bug again. I have a handle on some of my favorite and familiar mushers, where they started and what position they're in now. So, I'm "on it" a little bit now.

I'd love to post some photos but the best I think I can do legally is post the links to some photos I've found on the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Stock websites. So, if you're interested, here goes and click away.

All of these photos were taken at the Official Restart on Sunday. If you remember, the race starts in downtown Anchorage on the first Saturday of the month. Because of cumbersome geographical hurdles to deal with by starting in the state's largest city, somewhere along the historical line of the race, they decided to do a Ceremonial Start in Anchorage for the fans. The Official Restart was moved to the next day in Willow/Wasilla about 50 miles outside Anchorage. Lots of people show up for the start, but just as many show up for the restart.

Here's "the incredible Lance Mackey" loving up on his dogs before his start - winner for the last 3 years, a throat cancer survivor, and 4 time winner of the equally challenging 1000 mile Yukon Quest.

Dee Dee Jonrowe is also a cancer survivor. She has survived breast cancer and is an active supporter of breast cancer research and awareness, and thus she clads herself and her dogs in pink. Dee Dee is also a Christian. She's in her 50's and has been running the Iditarod for about 20 years or more. Pictured with her, I'm guessing, is her "Idita-rider". For the Ceremonial start guest rides are auctioned off for each musher. The Iditarider gets to travel with the musher from the exciting start to the stopping spot about 11 miles away. Here's a great photo of Dee Dee.

Here's another musher I've grown very familiar with. Jeff King is known as The Winningest Musher because he has won so many sled dog races. He's won the Iditarod 4 times and is really working for # five. I read his book, Cold Hands Warm Heart, two years ago. His home and kennel is up near Denali National Park. When we drove up there two years ago, I looked closely along the road and I spotted what surely has to be his place along the Parks Highway. It had tall log posts with a cross bar, marking the driveway. Resting on the top beam was a laser cut iron piece of a sled and full team of dogs. The name of the road was Hickory, the name of his beloved dog that tragically died when Jeff decided to leave him in the house one time when he went to visit a friend's house for the evening and his cabin caught fire.

I like this next photo. It shows something I have always heard about but never really seen in a clear image. It was taken at the start line as a musher is getting ready to go. The announcer is probably counting down through the loudspeaker, getting very close... Four. Three. Two. The photo is of the "handlers" holding back the sled until the announcer says "Zero!" The dogs are so excited that they jump and leap in the air waiting to go. They pull on the harnesses, lunge forward, wanting to be set free to go. They have to be held back so they don't go before they're allowed. This is a great shot of how much strength and energy they have, and how much strength and energy it takes for four people to hold them back.

Here is the winner of the 2009 Yukon Quest, Sebastian Schnuelle. Don't ask me how to pronounce his name; it seems every announcer pronounces it differently. He's German born but lives in Canada. He is known for his thick accent, big smile and huge wild hair. He came in 2nd in last year's Iditarod so he's the one to watch this year as he's sure to be right on Lance Mackey's heels the whole race.

Here's Martin Buser resting up before the restart. He's one of my absolute favorite mushers. It's not a very good picture of him but I think it's a funny one. I like him because he is so full of smiles. The guy is always smiling and has the best attitude! He's a cutie with his dimples and his happy approach to life. Every musher I've read about adores their dogs and makes it their aim to have happy dogs, but Martin Buser seems to have found some great means of keeping his dogs extra happy. He designed these giant hamster wheels for his dog yard. He did it because the dogs love to run. It's not part of their training; the dogs just get in there on their own and run because they love it. They get on when they want to and they get off when they want to. He's Swiss born and has a lovely accent. He, too, has won the Iditarod four times. In 2002 he won it in record time, a record that still stands. As he crossesd under "the burled arch", he was given a big US flag which he waved proudly. You see, after he finished, he took his oath of allegiance and became a citizen of the USA. Here's another photo of Martin. The scars on his cheek are from frostbite.

Here's an interesting musher. You've heard of the Jamaican Bobsled Team? The very real Winter Olympics Bobsled team from Jamaica was the inspiration for the movie Cool Runnings with John Candy. Well, here we have the Iditarod's first ever Jamaican Dogsled team. Newton Marshall has trained with Lance Mackey this year and he entered the Yukon Quest as a rookie last month. Now he's running the Iditarod. How cool is that!

Here's some more dog photos, showing their excitement as they impatiently wait to finally hear the "Hike!" command from their musher and they get to take off. More and more jumping sled dogs.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Iditarod - Saturday

The Iditarod starts this Saturday. I haven't been as into it this year. During my first Ididtarod I was in the big city with "regular" electricity. I left the computer on all day and was nearly glued to it during any free moment, often staying up late at night to check and recheck the standings. I'd estimate when my favorite mushers might make it into the next checkpoint, checking their time, who was in the lead, how their dogs were doing. I had a blast. I got on discussion forums, read blogs, and frequently checked the websites of favorite mushers to see how their spouses or kids would update us. I would calculate the speed and mileage a musher accomplished on his last run between checkpoints, and then try to figure when he/she might reach the next one. And then...sometimes I'd stay up till midnight or later to see their check-in get posted to see how well they were doing, see if anyone passed them, if they advanced in position and whatnot. I was definitely hooked. I was as avid a fan as anyone can be "watching" a sport without actually watching it.

My second year as a fan (last year) I had just started this blog a few weeks before. I wrote about it quite a bit as the race approached. The race began the day after Mom's emergency 911 day. She was in the hospital and failing during the whole race. I would come home from the hospital in the late evening and check in to see who was where and what was going on. My interest level was something entirely different; I was exhausted each night, full of emotion and concern, and afraid. What time I did spend in fan-ness was a good diversion from the serious situation at hand. I wrote a couple posts about it.

This year, it's different again. Different in a different way. Living off the grid using solar power makes it different. While our solar system provides well for our needs, we're also very cautious about how much we use. We might even be, to a degree, unnecessarily cautious. But we've just always been that way. We're careful to turn lights off behind us, not leave things plugged in, and we turn our computers and the TV off by power strip when not in use. We're careful to not put too much demand on the system at once by not using the "big-spenders" like the microwave and water pump, along with multiple other things like the TV or computers. During the day when the sun is shining and we're charging really well, we can use quite a few things at once. But when the sun goes down and we're draining the batteries to use electricity, we get pretty conservative.

And we definitely don't go off and leave things on while not using them. The laptop uses much less power but we still don't leave it on. It will make being an Iditarod fan a little more cumbersome. Going upstairs to turn the modem on, going back downstairs where I use the laptop, plugging it all in, waiting for it to power up, waiting for the internet to come up, then getting to Well, I just got spoiled my first year. There will be no "casual", spontaneous, or all-day checking of Iditarod stats. :( So I haven't been as excited about it. I didn't even subscribe to the Iditarod Insider this year, where you get access to email articles and frequent video clips of the race. I'm just not sure I'll be that into it. As the race gets underway I'll see how my interest develops. I may yet subscribe to the Insider thing. We'll see.

Someday I would love to attend the start of the race, both the Ceremonial Start on the first Saturday in March and the Official "Restart" the next day. We've got it on our "List". On that same List is to someday go to the FINISH in Nome, too. Wouldn't that be something. Now, if we could just get the winner to cross under "the burled arch" at a time other than between 1:00 and 4:00 a.m. that year....that would be just great!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tedious Defined. Tedium Lived.

I am doing a series of Biblical word studies. I'm using Bible Gateway, an online concordance. I'm putting in my key words and receiving the resulting lists of verses and references. To make them useful to me over a long haul I'm copying all these verses and pasting them into a document from which I can print and place them in a three ring binder.

It's wonderful except that the format comes out all funky when pasted into a document. The scripture reference comes out at the end of the previous verse, rather than at the beginning of a new line. At the end of the verse there's also this extra line containing links to the whole chapter and such which is useful only when you're actually online.

The words I'm looking up have anywhere from 16 to over 300 references in the Bible. Over 300. Three hun-dred.

Tedious Defined:
Going through my pasted documents and placing the cursor in front of EVERY scripture reference and pressing enter. Then, going back to EVERY scripture and deleting the unwanted line (so I don't waste 3 ink cartridges and 400 pieces of paper printing the unwanted lines.)

Tedium Lived:
for the last two hours. For 3 hours another day and 2 hours yet another day. For ? hours tomorrow.