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Thursday, August 2nd - August already?!

The house is so quiet now that the kids are gone. It's hard to believe that their visit is already over. I thought the time would never get here, and then it was over with too quickly. Isn't that the way it always is? I do hope that they can come for a visit in March (2009). It's a beautiful time of year in Alaska.

The Tanana Valley Fair opens tomorrow. Steve and I will probably go sometime this weekend. I really enjoy the different exhibits and seeing the 4-H animals, as well as breathing in the smells of fair food (funnel cake and cotton candy! Yum!). Of course, I'm also interested to see how my photographs fared, but I'm not getting my hopes up too high. Alaska has quite a few talented photographers living here. With all the beautiful scenery, it's difficult to take a bad photo!

My friend Abby submitted some of her jewelry to the Fine Arts Division. She makes gorgeous glass pieces, and her husband makes glass beads. She assembles the pieces into spectacular necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. I am really pulling for her, as she is so talented! This is her first year entering the competition too.

I'm going to start taking Middle Eastern Dance lessons on August 24th. (Belly dancing!) The lessons are held on Friday nights from August until May, at which time there is a public performance. I'm excited about learning something new, and I think it will be good exercise too. The best thing is that it will get me out of the house during the winter months.

Steve was offered a job today! I don't want to write about it until he completes all the additional paperwork, goes for his physical, and gets his work schedule. In the meantime, he has about 10 more resumes floating out there - for positions that would be more convenient and pay more. What if someone else calls him and offers him a position? I don't know what is worse: putting out a lot of resumes and not hearing anything, or hearing from several potential employers and having to make a decision. I just want him to enjoy his next position - wherever it is - and not to work too hard physically. He worked hard enough in the army; and he's no spring chicken. *grin* (Of course, age is just a number, right?) I am thrilled that he was offered this job; he's been so stressed out lately.

There aren't any photos to share today, but I'm sure I'll have some from the fair at some point.

Enjoy August!

Monday, August 6th - "Faster Than a Speeding Pullet"

Tanana Valley Fair poster"Faster than a Speeding Pullet" - that's the theme of this years Tanana Valley Fair. The Tanana Valley State Fair is the oldest fair in the state, around since 1924. This annual fair features livestock, games, rides, horse shows, arts and crafts, competitive exhibits, quilt shows, giant cabbages, contests, special events, stage entertainment, and more than 300 booths and fabulous food. Additionally, there are fireworks and free concerts and other entertainment. It's definitely a wonderful community experience.

The fair runs for a week, and almost always brings rain. Well, that's what some folks say anyway. It always seems to rain during fair week, and this week hasn't let us down. While the first two or three days were mostly sunny, the rain started yesterday and hasn't let up yet. But this doesn't keep Fairbanksans and the local community from coming out anyway. Funnel cake and cotton candy still tastes good in the rain. And so do those huge turkey legs and elephant ears!

Steve and I decided to go to the fair yesterday, as it was Military Appreciation Day and our ID cards saved us $1 on admission. The rain came in fits and spurts as we drove to the fairgrounds, and I'm glad we thought to bring jackets with us.

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Sunday, August 12th - A little bit of this and a little bit of that...

Steve's surgery went fairly well. He has had problems with his shoulder(s) and his elbow(s) since the late 1980s. Over the years with all the abuse, his shoulder bone had developed frayed edges where the rotator cuff slides beneath it. Periodically, the bone would catch on the tendon and pinch it - causing great pain. This also limited Steve's overhead motion. Last Tuesday, the doctor shaved off the ragged edge and filed the bone to a very smooth (and slippery) surface.

Steve also suffered from 'tennis elbow', and in order to encourage new bone growth, the doctor drilled 10 tiny holes deep into the elbow bone. The doctor explained to me that the blood will fill those holes and new marrow will generate and the bone will become stronger, and the tendons will have fresh bone to adhere to. (Or something like that)

The surgery required general anesthesia with a tube down the throat, etc. Everything went well, until Steve was in recovery. While there, he began to panic because he couldn't breathe. In his mind he was saying "take a breath, lungs", but his body was not responding. He started to sweat, his oxygen levels plummeted, and he complained of chest pain. They automatically gave him an oxygen mask, hooked him up to a 12-lead to make sure he wasn't having a heart attack, and whisked him off to x-ray to see what was going on with his lungs. Everything was normal - thank God.

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Friday, August 17th - Chicka-dee-dee-dee

I want to start this entry by sending out a Happy Birthday wish to my brother Steve. His wife (my SIL Diane) is throwing a picnic/BBQ tomorrow in celebration, and I wish that Steve and I could attend. I love you, bro! Have a great day!

The weather has been absolutely beautiful lately. While we've had the occasional rain, we're having what's called a Pineapple Express. According to Wikipedia: The Pineapple Express is a Pacific Ocean subtropical jet stream that brings warm moist air from Hawaii (where pineapples are grown) to the U.S. West Coast states of California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, as well as the Canadian province of British Columbia. I don't care what the explanation is; I just know we're enjoying this! As I type this entry, it's sunny and 72F. Absolutely gorgeous weather for an August day.

Steve and I filled a tray with sunflower seeds and placed it on the deck so that our cat Airborne could watch "Bird TV". The chickadees have always been a friendly bunch, and allow me to get close to them when I fill the bird feeder or suet cage. I wondered if they'd be as friendly if we went out on the deck while they were swooping in for some seeds. Steve decided to see how they'd react to him.

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Wednesday, August 22nd - Chena Hot Springs & Good News

On Saturday, Steve & I decided to take a drive to Chena Hot Springs Resort - about 60 miles away. We stopped along the way to hike a little bit near the Tors Rocks and explore the campgrounds and river accesses along the way. It was a beautiful, sunny and very warm day - absolutely perfect for taking in the sights.

When we got to the resort, there was a "Renewable Energy Fair" going on with free food and handouts and seminars, etc. Instead of free hotdogs and chili, we opted to pay for lunch and eat at the restaurant. We did a lap through the tents and display booths, before heading off on a 3 mile hike around the resort and down the nature trail. We ended up about a mile from the resort, on the highway, and had to walk back - but it was great exercise and such a gorgeous day! I took quite a few photos along the way - mostly of the gorgeous Fly Agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria). They remind me of Alice in Wonderland with their bright orange coloring.

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Sunday, August 26th - Sunflowers, Creamers Field, & Chena Lakes

It has been a beautiful weekend. The weather has been perfect - with sunshine, blue skies, and warm temps. The overnight temps have been on the chilly side, but the days are warming up quite nicely. I wish it could stay like this for another month, but I know that won't happen.

On Friday, I had a lovely lunch with my friend Karen. We ate at Lavelle's. I've never had lunch there, and decided on a salad with grilled chicken. It was very good. Mostly I enjoyed the company. We'll definitely have to do it again soon.

After lunch, I had to run a few short errands, but had my camera with me and plans to go to Creamers Field to see the sandhill cranes. It's that time of year again: the fall migration of the cranes and geese before winter hits. The fall always brings more birds than the spring does, and the fields are alive with flapping wings and territorial squawking. It's really a beautiful time of year, even though their appearance signifies that summer is indeed in its final stages.

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Tuesday, August 28th - Northern Lights and a Lunar Eclipse

Last night was an awesome night! After reading about the lunar eclipse, I made plans to stay up and photograph it, even though it wasn't due to occur until 2am Alaska Time. It was difficult to stay awake, as I had suffered from insomnia the night before and was only functioning on 4 hours of sleep. But I didn't want to miss this event and hoped for a clear night.

A little after 11pm, as Steve climbed the stairs to bed, I glanced outside and saw the moon - huge and bright and hovering just above the treetops. I put my camera gear in the car, kissed Steve goodnight, and drove off in search of a good vantage point for the eclipse. I considered driving down to the Chena Lakes Dam, where I imagined there would be other photographers patiently waiting for the eclipse. Halfway there, I changed my mind. I really wanted to stay close to home - particularly during the wee hours of the morning.

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©2007 Susan L Stevenson