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!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alaska Where.....

ALASKA, where.....

.......everybody pulls through.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


One day in July The Fisherman had a rare half day off. He'd heard there was good fishing from the beach in Nikiski so he went up there. He had a nice peaceful day on the beach hearing the Inlet's waves and smelling the salty air. I can't even remember if he caught anything but he had a very pleasant day in the midst of an otherwise tumultuously busy fishing season. 

And he brought me home a rock.

But not just any rock.

This is The Perfect Skipping Stone. It is flat and perfectly round. I mean, PERFECTLY round. I even traced around it in my journal and, yep, it's just perfectly round. No question about it.

Don't believe me?

Nikiski isn't really a quaint little community. It's an industrial community. The industry is oil.
I like to make note of street names that are cute, funny or quaint. I've included some of them from an earlier trip to Alaska in this post

Nikiski has Chevron Rd. and Tesoro Rd. 
Oil company names. Charming, eh? I had to laugh.

Nikiski may not have much charm as a town but it does have a very nice new friend of mine. She's a homeschooling photographer mom who sells some of her work at the shop where I'm working this summer.

I found my way to the beach which is just past some sort of oil related business in a junkyard looking port along the Cook Inlet.  But since I love rust, I had a picture taking blast!

When I found this chain, I was enthralled. I love the big heavy links.

It was located on a huge tire sitting on the boat ramp.

It takes up such a small portion of the tire that getting a perspective is kind of hard. So I put my foot up on the tire to show just how big this thing was. The links of the chain were about 2.5 inches or more long.

And then I found some more rusted chain hanging around.

And some rusted cable.

And some delicate fireweed blossoms in a nice contrast.

And some not so rusted chain. These links were even bigger than the rusted ones.

Kind of a chain smile.

A chain frown.

Or maybe more of a grimace.

But Nikiski isn't all rust and metal. Of course it's surrounded by beautiful Alaska wilderness. My Nikiski beach combing day gave me a beautiful blue sky and the peaceful lull of water lapping the shore. I found a bunch of cool rocks and even an agate or two on this beach.

And I had the company of a bald eagle the whole time. How cool is that?