The sun was warm
but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.
- Robert Frost
We woke to snow this morning.
And that's no April Fool's joke. We had snow on and off over the
last week. Will spring ever arrive in Fairbanks? The days are
getting much longer and it's very noticeable now. It's dusk well
after 7pm now. And in the morning, the skies are getting light
much earlier. My morning commute is timed to coincide with the
latter stages of sunrise, and when it's a clear day, I get to
watch the range come into view as the sun highlights the crags
of the mountains. Breathtaking...
I've been keeping busy and
my days off are filled with errands and activities. I enjoy meeting
with friends for coffee, dessert, and chatting. Or lunch. Or just
to hang out and watch movies. Today was 'chick flick' day at Rachael's
house. We were pleasantly surprised when Susan Spivey showed up
unexpectedly and watched The Notebook with us. Later, we
watched one of my favorite movies: Where the Heart Is.
(That's the movie about the girl who has her baby in WalMart,
if the title doesn't ring a bell.)
I'm hoping tomorrow is a nice day so Steve
and I can take a drive up Chena Hot Springs Rd. There are two
group campgrounds along the way that have group campsites. I'm
trying to organize a group camping trip (tents) with some other
wives and their kids for when the guys are gone. We may be able
to go in May, while they're at JRTC - or we may just wait until
after they deploy late this summer. Then again, we may just wait
until NEXT summer. Or several times over the course of the year.
I got quite a bit of interest about planning a camping trip, and
I think it will be good for all of us to get out in nature, hang
out, roast marshmallows, maybe go fishing, etc. Anything to keep
busy and make new friends.
Well, April Fools Day is coming to a close.
I didn't have any jokes played on me - which I'm not complaining
about. Did you?
April 3 - Escaping the Snow and Brothers
|We woke to more snow yesterday morning (and it's
snowing this morning too). After several days of snow, we both wanted
to get out for a nice drive. We discovered that if you drive far
enough, you can leave bad weather behind. We left the house in the
middle of a snowstorm and found blue skies and sunshine 40 miles
northeast of us. The sunshine stayed with us for the remaining 20
mile drive all the way to Chena Hot Springs.
Chena Hot Springs is known for its mineral hot springs.
the website: The water is composed of a variety
of different, identified minerals. Many people believe that by
bathing in the water, skin conditions such a psoriasis, muscular
pains, and arthritis may be relieved. The water may be beneficial
for some circulatory disorders and we attract lots of people with
bronchial disorders who claim the combination of steam and minerals
provides breathing relief.
There weren't many tourists at the *resort*. Don't let the term
resort fool you. While there are amenities such as massage, flight
seeing tours, dogsled rides, and an Ice Hotel - this IS Interior
Alaska. You can't just plop a 5-star resort in the middle of nowhere.
Most of the private cabins have no indoor bathrooms. Imagine a
resort with outhouses. :)
Chena Hot Springs gets some business in the winter time because
of its location. Situated at the end of Chena Hot Springs Rd,
there aren't any city lights for 60 miles. Viewing the northern
lights while soaking in the springs (with the temperature at well
below zero) is said to be awesome. I like the drive out to the
resort, because it passes through rolling hills, dense birch and
aspen groves, crosses rivers and streams, and always provides
a glimpse of wildlife. In the summer, we stop many times along
the way to fish or hike some of the various trails.
This is one of my favorite
'scenes' at the resort. I have taken this photo in every
Here to see a photograph of this scene in the middle
of frigid winter.
It's nice to see the snow
gradually disappearing from the landscape.
Redpoll will breed in open tundra, but usually in small
willows and other shrubs in sheltered areas.
It has very
fluffy body feathers that help it stay warm in extremely
cold temperatures. In addition, it has feathers on areas
of its body that are bare in most other birds. If temperatures
get too high, a redpoll may pluck out some of its body feathers
and get rid of some of its insulation.
This campground is located
at the Tors Trailhead. We always stop here when we take
a drive up Chena Hot Springs Rd. In the warmer months, Steve
will toss a fishing line into the river. We were happy to
see the river is thawing.
This dog team was tied up and
waiting patiently to give some visitors a sled ride. They
were a feisty bunch and I enjoyed visiting with them.
This raven sat perched in a tree and
wouldn't fly off no matter how many people stopped below the
tree and looked up at him. So, I figured I'd get a shot of
him (I love ravens!). I got closer to him and started imitating
his cackling. He'd make a sound, and I'd reflect it back.
He looked down at me with his head tilted to one side as if
to say, "Are you nuts?" But I didn't mind - it gave
me the opportunity to get a photograph of his tonsils. *grin*
On a personal note: Brandon and Chris made it to Wisconsin safely.
They drove straight through from NC to WI (22 hours). I'm glad
they are finally together. Next on the agenda for Brandon is to
find a job. Once he gets employment, they'll be looking for a
bigger apartment or a house to rent. Then Becky and Pandora (their
boxer pup) can join them.
I'm thinking of going to Madison for Christmas. It will be wonderful
to see both my boys in one place. I think it's been 5 years since
the three of us have been together in one location at the same
April 6 - Anniversaries and WARM, SUNNY DAYS!
Yesterday was Steve's and my 13th wedding anniversary!
My Darling Husband,
Thirteen years ago today, we stood under an arch covered
in flowers and pledged to spend the rest of our lives together.
I'll never forget the way you looked in your uniform, the
glisten of a tear in your eye as you watched me come down
the aisle toward you. With every step I took, I felt the
warmth of your love from across the room and I knew instinctively
that you would always love me, care for me, and most of
all shelter me. You were, and still are, my knight in shining
Over the years, my love for you has grown stronger - stronger
than I ever could have imagined. Despite the passing of
time, I still look into your eyes and my heart skips a beat.
I still get butterflies flitting around in my stomach as
I make my way home - knowing you'll be there.
I love how you come home from work and, before even removing
your coat, you seek me out for a kiss. I love how you tuck
the covers around me in the middle of the night. And how
you let me fall asleep with my head on your chest.
I love how we can be at two different ends of a crowded
room and sense each others glance. How our eyes meet and
you wink at me, and I feel my face flush as I smile. After
all these years, your glance still makes me feel giddy.
I look toward my future - our future ... standing side
by side, holding hands, sharing adventures. With you, all
things are possible.
I love you, Steve. In a way that I can not put into words.
Thank you for thirteen years of happiness. I wish for a
hundred and thirteen more.
When I got home from work, I was surprised to see Steve home
before me. As soon as I entered the house, I smelled the scent
of roses. I made my way into the living room and saw a huge vase
of roses - yellow and red, as has been custom since the first
year we were married.
until our 12th anniversary, Steve would buy a dozen roses. Of
that dozen, there would be a red rose for every year we were married,
and yellow roses to make up the difference. On our twelfth anniversary,
I got a dozen red roses. Now that we've passed twelve, Steve figures
it's time to just add to the dozen. So this time I got a dozen
yellow roses, and one red rose - signifying the 13th year. Next
year, if he can get an order placed to a florist from Iraq, I
should get a dozen yellow and two red roses... and so on - until,
on our 24th anniversary - I'll have a dozen yellow and a dozen
The meaning of yellow roses has changed over the years. In the
Victorian era, they meant jealousy! Now, yellow roses signify
strong feelings of pure joy, gladness, happiness and friendship.
It also signifies familiar love and domestic happiness. Yellow
roses also symbolize fun and freedom. Domestic happiness... we
definitely have that! And we always have fun! Red roses symbolize
romance, beauty, respect, courage, passionate love and unity.
(I happen to prefer yellow roses to red - they make me think of
spring.) Steve took the photo at left (sorry, it's a bit blurry!).
Last night we had an FRG (Family Readiness Group) meeting and
talked about the upcoming training schedule and deployment. We
touched on all kinds of other important stuff (wills, powers of
attorney, etc.) that we've talked about many times over the past
few months. I suppose they just want to make sure we're all prepared.
Because of the meeting, we didn't get to celebrate our anniversary
the way we wanted - a nice, romantic, home cooked meal and champagne.
So we did it tonight instead. Steve barbecued a pork loin, steamed
some green beans with garlic, and grilled some asparagus. It was
delicious, and the smell of the pork barbecuing - along with the
50F temperatures and sunny skies - made it feel like spring had
The happy sound of dripping is all around us now. And the deep
puddles are appearing all over the roadways again. "Breakup"
is definitely upon us! Which means we'll be sloshing through puddles
and still removing our shoes at the front door. But the results
are so worth it! I look forward to "green up" and new
buds and leaves. I look forward to flowers at the Botanical Garden.
I look forward to exploring the state again this summer.
night before last, the Northern Lights made an appearance. These
sightings will grow fewer and further between until they disappear
once again as the days get longer and longer. The stars were brilliant,
along with the lights, and a friend pointed out that I caught
the constellation Cassiopeia in this photo.
The Myth (from
Cassiopeia was the wife of Cepheus, the Ethiopian king of Joppa
(now known as Jaffa, in Israel), and the mother of Andromeda.
The queen was both beautiful and vain, and the story of how her
vanity caused great distress is told in relation to the constellation
After promising her daughter in marriage to Perseus, Cassiopeia
had second thoughts. She convinced one of Poseidon's sons, Agenor,
to disrupt the ceremony by claiming Andromeda for himself. Agenor
arrived with an entire army, and a fierce struggle ensued. In
the battle Cassiopeia is said to have cried "Perseus must
die". At any rate it was Perseus who was victorious, with
the help of Medusa's head. Perseus had recently slain Medusa,
and he retrieved the head and waved it in midst of the warring
wedding party, instantly turning them all to stone. In the group
was both Cepheus and Cassiopeia. A contrite Poseidon put both
father and mother in the heavens. But because of Cassiopeia's
vanity, he placed her in a chair which revolves around the Pole
Star, so half the time she's obliged to sit upside down. The Greeks
considered that this was an undignified position (being upside
down, and also the normal way up, in a chair).
The Alaska Range has been beautiful lately. Yesterday, the clouds
were textured and swirling above the peaks. I drove to the overlook
at UAF and shot five frames, which I stitched together in my editing
program to create this panorama. At normal size, I could print
out a panoramic 12 feet long or more, without losing any detail.
Wouldn't that be an incredible piece of artwork?
April 9 - A drive to the top of Murphy Dome
Yesterday morning, I picked up my friend LuAnn and we took a
drive to the top of Murphy Dome. The road that leads to the top
of Murphy Dome is about 15 miles from Fort Wainwright, and then
it's another 5 miles or so to the summit. Elevation is 2930'.
From the top of Murphy Dome, you get a 360o view of
the Alaska Range (including Denali on a clear day), the White
Mountains, and rolling hills of open tundra. It's an awe-inspiring
view! Also, at the top of Murphy Dome, you're above the tree line.
There are a few short spruces growing, and various scrub bushes
- but mostly it's devoid of anything taller than moss and other
ground cover. However, in July and August, the berries are ripe
for the picking in the boggy, tundra areas. Berries common are
raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, currants (a little harder
to find) and rosehips. I look forward to some berry picking this
The landscape is punctuated by a few tors rocks. They make for
good short climb to an even higher vantage point, a spot to sit
and rest, or even a place to enjoy a picnic lunch. Nothing can
compare to sitting atop one of these formations in the peace and
quiet of what feels like the top of the world.
Yesterday, we were glad to find that although the snow isn't
gone yet - the hiking/4-wheeler/snowmachine path was beat down
pretty well and made for an easy walk. We made our way to the
first group of rocks and snapped photos of the landscape. It felt
almost moonlike - especially when covered in snow. Having the
USAF Intercept Station perched up there - looking like a spaceship
- only adds to the 'we're on another planet' feeling.
On the way to the top, we were happy to come across a pair of
Ptarmigans (Alaska's state bird). The male ruffled his tail feathers
as he pursued the female across the road. Mating season, perhaps?
Ptarmigans are not known for their 'smarts'. If you see them in
the road, it's best you slow down and let them make their way
OFF the road at their own pace. If you don't, you'll most likely
hit them. Unfortunately the two we saw yesterday, met their demise.
We saw their poor dead bodies in the middle of the road on the
way home. I suppose not everyone 'brakes for birds'. So sad...
We also saw a moose enjoying some grazing on the low hanging
branches of the birch trees. We stopped to get some photos of
her. Her belly was hanging low with pregnancy. I look forward
to late spring when we'll see more 'little' calves roaming the
woods with their mamas.
All in all, it was a gorgeous day - with temperatures in the
50's, sunshine, and beautiful blue skies. The snow is melting
quickly and puddles are everywhere. But, alas, it is the 'ugly'
season here in Fairbanks with mud, puddles, brown, brown, and
more brown. And dirty snow, potholes, grimy cars, and slush. Fairbanks
isn't the most beautiful city in Alaska, but at this time of year
it REALLY leaves a lot to be desired. Fortunately, there are places
nearby (like Murphy Dome) where I can escape to, and take in the
magnificence of this great state.
Steve and I went out to dinner with a few of his coworkers last
night. We ate at Lavelle's Bistro and really enjoyed the meal.
It's a bit pricier than some of the other restaurants in town,
but the food is fabulous, the wine list is extensive, and on Friday
night there is entertainment. Last night there was a jazz quartet
performing. They were great!
On the way home, the sky was colored pink with sunset and the
range was highlighted in color. It was a few minutes until 9pm
and still light out! I had forgotten how quickly we regain our
daylight hours after the long, dark days of winter. With an additional
7 minutes of daylight every day, we'll soon be in the middle of
summer - and the midnight sun. I asked Steve to drive me up Birch
Hill so that I could get a photo of sunset on the range.
We stayed up late (past midnight) - not unheard of when the days
are so long. In the summer it is amazing to have the sun shining
in the window at 1am. We have to force ourselves to go to bed
or we're exhausted the next day! But with such long days, there
is so much time to explore. We've often taken a long drive after
dinner - knowing we'd have endless sunshine accompanying us.
And now for some photos:
Standing atop Murphy Dome and
looking out toward the White Mountains, you can see one of
the rocky outcroppings. Notice the rolling hills of tundra
and spruce that go off for miles and miles. This area between
Murphy Dome and the White Mountains is called the Chatanika
River Valley and Minto Flats.
The path you see here is used
by snowmachiners, four-wheelers, and hikers. It continues
onward for miles. Although the walk down is easy, the walk
back up is strenuous. In the summer, the area on both sides
of the path is spongy and called 'muskeg'. This is where the
berries grow. In addition, fly agaric mushrooms, various mosses,
and small-leafed ground covers also thrive. The landscape
becomes a patchwork of colors with various shades of green,
red, and yellow.
Army Air Defense Command Posts
(AADCP) were a crucial communication link connecting to NORAD
control centers in the early 1950's. AADCPs monitored the
skies to determine whether aircraft were friend or foe.
Murphy Dome was converted
from a ground-controlled intercept site to a surveillance
station in the early-mid 70's.
April 12 - Happy Birthday, Daddy - I miss you...
I believe that imagination is stronger
than knowledge, that myth is more potent that history.
I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts, that hope
always triumphs over experience,
that laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that
love is stronger than death.
~ From the movie The Crow ~
John Edward Smalley
Today is your birthday, and if you were still here on
earth with us, you would be 71 years old. I think about
you often, and miss you tremendously. Sometimes, when
I'm alone in the house, I think I catch you out of the
corner of my eye. I whirl around, hoping to actually see
you... or your spirit. Hoping to see the smile you always
had for me - your little girl.
When I'm out exploring and I'm standing in the middle
of God's beauty, I often think of you and wish I could
show you such splendor. And then I realize that you see
it - and so much more - even though you are not here in
mortal form. In those moments, I wonder if you're looking
down on me and smiling, happy for my joy, as you always
And when I am being spoiled by Steve - almost as much
as you spoiled me - I hope that you can see that I have
a man by my side who loves me and takes care of me. Because
I know that no matter how much I proved my strength and
independence to you over the years, you wanted me to be
taken care of. I am, Daddy... I'm in good hands.
I wish that your time on earth hadn't been cut short.
You would be so proud of your grandsons and the young
men they grew up to be. Just like you, Daddy. You were
such a wonderful, loving influence on them, when they
didn't have their own father in their lives. They miss
you terribly too.
I'm thinking of you today and wishing I could have one
more chance to hear you laugh. Or feel your strong arms
wrapped around me. Or hear your voice on the phone. I
thought that it would get easier as the years pass, but
it hasn't. My heart still has an empty place in it. I
love you and miss you, Daddy.
April 12, 1934 - June 18, 1996
April 14 - "Break Up" and Puddles
When "Break Up" comes to Fairbanks, all of the snow
melts quickly in the warmer temperatures and puddles appear everywhere.
Large puddles, small puddles, deep puddles, shallow puddles. Puddles
on the roads, in the intersections, on the sidewalks, in parking
lots... collections of water that act as mirrors. I love the puddles
for their reflections. Especially when the water is still. Yesterday,
after work, I went in search of puddles.
||"Spring is when you
feel like whistling
even with a shoe full of slush."
~ Doug Larson ~
If the road into Denali is open this weekend, I want to drive
into the park. Usually it's open to mile 15. If the road is plowed,
it will be open to mile 29.5. I'll be calling the park ranger
to see. *fingers crossed*
I met my friends Dianne and Susan after work today at McCafferty's.
I got my old standby (Grande Mocha Latte) and chatted with Dianne
until 4pm - when she had to rush off to a dentist appointment.
Susan and I stayed and chatted until 6pm! It's been a long time
since we've had a chance to visit with each other, and it was
great to catch up and talk 'girl talk'. I'm so glad we made the
time to spend together. I've missed her company. I know we'll
be spending a lot more time together after August and the deployment.
It's great to have good friends here who have good marriages.
Together, we'll get through this deployment.
April 17 - Geese and "The Great One"
This past weekend was magnificent! It is weekends like this,
that make me especially thankful that I live in Alaska. My joy
began early on Friday morning, when I learned that the geese have
returned to Creamers Field. The sandhill cranes have not yet arrived,
but I know their return is imminent. I grabbed my camera and headed
off to Creamers to photograph the geese - a first sign of spring.
two geese were very loud and boisterous with one another. While
it may look almost like a mating dance of sorts, I think this
was more a show of territorial rights.
I like that the goose on the right is just wandering off as if
he/she couldn't be bothered with the posturing of the two on the
As I snapped photos, more and more people arrived - sitting in
their cars with binoculars at their eyes - watching the first
few signs of spring arrive.
Yesterday morning, Steve and I got up early and headed out the
door to Denali National Park. Denali is 125 miles west of us.
After checking the website over the last week, it was finally
updated to show that the road was finally plowed past mile 29.5
(Teklanika). When the road is plowed - and before tourist season
begins (May 21st this year) - you can drive into Denali as far
as Teklanika. Any other time of the year, only buses are allowed
past mile 15 (unless you're camping). This is the time of year,
that Steve and I make our journey into the park in search of wildlife,
views of Mt. McKinley (Denali to Alaska locals), and serenity.
Although we aren't the only ones who make the trek into the park,
traffic is light and it is easy to truly feel alone in this wide
expanse of grandeur. We seem to be 'batting 1000' as Denali was
visible for us - as she has been every time we've ventured into
the park in the past!
I took my tripod with
us, so that I could get a photo of me and Steve. This was
taken at mile 30 - the furthest you can go by vehicle during
the off season. We walked an additional 3/4 mile down to
the Teklanika River Bridge for additional photos - and to
stretch our legs.
We saw skiers and snowshoers
walking on the frozen river - carrying heavy backpacks -
no doubt heading off on a camping adventure.
Mt. McKinley (known as
Denali to the locals) stands much taller than the rest of
the mountains in the range. We have found that she is most
visible early in the day. As the morning progresses, the
clouds roll in and obscure her majestic summit.
We've been lucky so far
- she has been visible every time we've ventured into the
The scrub brush has a
burnt reddish/brown color and lends a nice contrast to a
cold and snowy landscape. I love the cloud formations that
form over the park too.
In the middle of the photo,
you can see a glimpse of the road that leads into the park.
|I love to photograph the
railroad trestles on the way to Denali. What an added bonus
to actually get to photograph the train as it crossed!
We traveled this stretch
of road on foot after parking the truck. Standing amid the
tall, towering peaks is a very humbling experience.
Someday, I'd love to pack
my bike and pedal into the park even further.
The willow ptarmigan is
a small grouse with a red comb over its eyes. The comb is
larger in the spring and summer. It has rusty brown feathers
on its back, neck and head mixed with white feathers on
its wings and stomach. In the winter, it has feathers on
its legs and feet that help protect it from the cold and
snow. In the winter, it is all white except for a few black
feathers on its tail.
This ptarmigan has already
molted a bit to regain his/her dark feathers to hide in
The road into Denali traverses
higher elevations of snow-covered tundra, and also winds
between tall rocky cliffs. Dall sheep can be seen atop the
hills. (We didn't see any this time)
The terrain is gorgeous
and makes the drive a treat for the eyes.
This young bull moose
already has the 'nubs' on his head that will soon become
a majestic antler rack.
It was my first time seeing
a male in the wild. Now, my goal is to see one with a full
April 21 - April showers? No.... how about blizzards?
Lucky for Steve and I to make our trip into Denali on Saturday.
On Sunday, almost the entire state got hit with snow. We got several
inches here in Fairbanks, and it was estimated that Denali was
going to get a foot of the white stuff. A friend of mine decided
to make the drive to Denali on Sunday, and was turned away at
the gate because the roads were hazardous. How fortunate we were!
The snow was totally unexpected and the resulting fender benders
were indicative of our inexperience in driving on treacherous
roads. It seems many people got too comfortable with the dry roadways,
and another large percentage have already removed their studded
tires. (We have to take them off by May 1st). Not me... I'm always
the last to take my studs off. Rather to be a procrastinator than
have to deal with slippery and snowy roads.
I was worried the geese would leave Creamers Field - thinking
that they had landed in the wrong place. *grin* But I was wrong.
They're still hanging around, but had to do some foraging to get
to the seed and grain that lay buried under the cold, wet stuff.
Fortunately, by yesterday, all the accumulation had melted away.
The unfortunate thing is that we still get down below freezing
at night, so the morning light reveals icy patches on the roadways
stopped at Creamers Field yesterday on the way home. The skies
were a gorgeous shade of blue; streaked with white clouds lower
on the horizon. It is hard to explain just how blue the skies
can be here. After watching the geese for a little while, I continued
home - stopping at the Chena River for a photograph. The Chena
River runs through Fort Wainwright behind our MWR (Morale, Welfare
and Recreation) building. That area of the river is usually the
last to thaw. It was good to see watery patches in between the
ice floes. I think this photo shows the blueness of the sky pretty
April 24 - Happy Birthday, Chris (April 23rd) and more Geese!
It's hard to believe that twenty six years have gone by. I can
remember carrying you in my belly as if it were yesterday. I was
18 when I conceived you - and you were excitedly planned. Your
dad and I had just bought our little house in Levittown, PA -
an exciting thing for an 18 and 20 year old. People told us we
were nuts... that we were getting in over our heads with a mortgage.
It was a little house, but it was ours. Soon after, your father
and I decided we wanted to have a family and fill the two extra
bedrooms. Mom Mom wasn't very thrilled when we told her I was
pregnant. She was only 41 years old - "too young to be a
grandmother", she said. Well, we know how her attitude changed
when you came into the world.
Those first few months were tough. At 19, I had no clue that
there was so much work involved with having a human being totally
dependent on me! In the meantime, Mom Mom was having the time
of her life. She got to cuddle a sweet-smelling newborn, coo to
you, and then hand you back when you got cranky. I could tell
she was really warming up to this 'grandmother' thing. :)
As with all first children, there was a lot of learning going
on. I didn't have any good books to read about child-rearing,
and they wouldn't have helped anyway. There was no other child
like you anywhere else in the world, and I'd have to learn from
scratch. I did the best I could.
You probably don't remember those 4 and a half years you had
with me before your brother came along. Or maybe you do.... The
sun rose and set on you. You were my cuddle buddy. We took walks
all the time. We'd splash through puddles; pick flowers and put
them in a jar full of water. We built snowmen, and snow forts,
and I'd pull you on a sled through the neighborhood. We'd eat
hot-dogs and macaroni and cheese, because it was your favorite
meal. (I didn't know very much about nutrition, that's for sure!)
When your dad worked graveyard shift, I'd feel you climb into
bed with me in the middle of the night. Your chubby 2 year old
body always felt so incredibly warm when I wrapped myself around
you. I never felt so content in my life.
The years seemed to move in fast forward and soon you were heading
off to kindergarten. I still have the picture I took of you with
your Pacman backpack climbing on the schoolbus and waving goodbye
to me. I cried like a baby that day.
And then you were graduating from grade school and heading off
to junior high. You used to pedal your bike more than a mile to
school because we lived just outside the bus pickup line. Every
morning, when you left, my heart would go into my throat because
I knew you had to ride on some busy streets and I worried.
Not long after, I met and married Steve and I pulled you out
of the only life you knew and took you to Georgia, so that we
could start a new life. What an upheaval that was for you. Leaving
behind friends and family to start new in a place 800 miles away,
in a lifestyle that neither of us knew anything about. Fortunately,
you did make friends quickly and learned to love living in a place
where there were red clay canyons and hiking trails nearby.
I remember when you fell in love for the first time. Mandy...
It was so all-encompassing for you. She was the girl you were
going to marry. You spent every moment with her. I relived my
teen years - and the emotional roller coaster - along with you.
You and I talked a lot then. About life, love, sex, goals, dreams.
I was so happy that we had such an open line of communication.
I didn't have that with my parents. I loved to hear you talk.
I loved that you confided in me. It was probably the first time
that I felt I was a good mom, and had done OK - despite the hurdles
we had faced during our 'single parent' years.
And then you graduated from highschool. Where did the time go?
I was so proud of you as you crossed the stage to get your diploma.
Making highest honors, being published in Who's Who two
years in a row... so smart! I know we both wished that Pop Pop
could have been there to see you graduate. We were all still hurting
deeply over losing him the year before....
Not long after, you decided it was time to leave the nest. You
wanted to move to FL to live with your dad, stretch your wings,
explore new territory. I felt my heart rip from my chest when
I said goodbye to you. Eighteen years had flown by in a nanosecond.
I wanted to go back and start over... I wanted more time with
you. What a hard day that was...
Today you are twenty six years old. But you will always be my
baby. My first born. The chubby cheeked, and chubby legged toddler
who chased butterflies in the yard. I can close my eyes and be
transported back to a time when I was the center of your universe.
When it was just you and me.... learning, exploring, loving, laughing,
growing. It makes me sad that now those days are only as real
as my memories.
I love you Chris. I am so incredibly proud of you, and the man
you have grown into. You have a caring and loving heart and a
giving spirit. You have a wonderful, positive outlook on life...
and one heck of a sense of humor. Be proud of who you are. I am!
Love always, Mom
geese have arrived in Fairbanks in numbers. Yesterday, Steveand
I stopped to get some photos, and we were excited to see that
four sandhill cranes had also arrived. This is the true sign of
The photo above took me by surprise. I didn't even notice - until
I downloaded - that I had caught this group of four geese in a
different stage of wing movement. I wonder if it was just a 'freak'
thing, or if they fly with alternating wing movements on purpose.
|The goose to the left (center
of photo) is the Greater White Fronted Goose. They have white
on front of face just above bill and are the only North American
goose with orange or yellow feet and irregular black bars
or blotches on its gray underparts
|The snow at Creamers Field is quickly
melting now and leaving huge puddles in its wake. The geese
(and pintail ducks) have been enjoying the water... swimming,
foraging for vegetation beneath the water, and even playing
||These two geese found a mound of snow
to explore. They were the only two who had wandered off on
their own, which is why I titled this photo "Where'd
While out shooting, my camera malfunctioned. I couldn't get the
autofocus to work. While I can still shoot in Manual Focus mode,
the camera doesn't respond on autofocus. I did some research as
to the problem and discovered that the Canon Digital Rebel is
good for about 30,000 shots before things start to malfunction.
I've taken nearly 32,000 photos in the last 13 months. While my
camera is not beyond repair, it will need to be sent off - as
we don't have any camera repair shops here in Fairbanks. I will
not go without a camera. I can not go without a camera.
So.... it looks like I may be upgrading sooner than I thought
I was going to. I've had my eye on the Canon EOS 20D (a professional
grade camera) for some time. I'll be checking prices and probably
purchasing one soon. It takes the same lenses my Rebel does, so
that helps. In the meantime - once I get the new camera, I will
send off the Rebel for repairs. (Yes, I have a sickness... I can
not function without my camera *laughs*) Anyway... for anyone
who takes photography as seriously as I do - the only solution
is to have a back-up camera at all times. That's what I keep telling
April 28 - Willow Catkins and Red Squirrels
Slowly but surely, Spring is arriving. I see little signs around
me. Melting snow... puddles... a trickle of water in the drainage
ditch behind my house.... mud - lots of mud!
When the snow disappeared from my yard, I felt like a pirate
discovering treasure. Children's small toys, which lay buried
for months, finally came into view. They belong to the neighbor
kids, but I say "Finders Keepers"! *grin*
Another sign of impending "green-up" is when the willow
catkins explode and go to seed. I saw that yesterday. Maybe we'll
have green leaves by Monday. That's my prediction. I hope I'm
red squirrels have been feisty lately. They scamper and run along
the fence line, up and down trees, in circles, jumping and playing
with each other. You can see their exuberance. It makes me smile.
Chattering, they scold me and Sedona as we pass too close to their
tree. I sometimes wish I knew the language of squirrels.
I am soon to be the proud owner of a new camera. I took the plunge
and ordered the Canon 20D. I also took a bigger plunge and ordered
a 100-400mm zoom telephoto lens. The lens cost more than the camera.
YIKES! I have never spent so much money on electronics before
in my life. I intend to have my Rebel repaired as a backup. Both
the 20D and the Rebel use the same lenses. This new lens will
hopefully get me even closer to the bears when we go to Katmai
in July. I'm so excited about that!
I was very hesitant about spending so much money, as I am very
conservative with my spending. But then I thought about the upcoming
year-long deployment, and my passion for photography, and how
my passion is going to keep me sane while Steve is away... and,
well... it's a worthwhile investment. I ordered the camera/lens
today. It won't be shipped until mid May. I can't wait.
The sandhill cranes haven't arrived in full force yet. A few
stragglers have made a landing at Creamers Field. Maybe next week,
we'll have them here by the dozens. One thing that has arrived
is mosquitoes. Lots of them. Buggers.