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January 1st - Happy New Year!

Resolve to make at least one person happy every day, and then in ten years you may have made three thousand, six hundred and fifty persons happy, or brightened a small town by your contribution to the fund of general enjoyment.
~ Sydney Smith ~

This is my goal for 2008.

January 7th - Easing into a New Year

I spent New Years Eve alone, despite having several invitations to ring in the new year with friends. Steve had to work, and I decided I'd rather spend a quiet evening at home - where I could indulge in some champagne and not have to drive anywhere.

My plan was to watch the ball come down in Times Square (in real time), enjoying the festivities of the east coast, and then stay up until midnight to welcome in the new year in Alaska. Midnight arrived in Philadelphia at 8pm Alaska time and I considered calling my brother and SIL, but wasn't sure if they were celebrating at home or at a party. So instead I called my kids, even though it was only 11pm at their house in Wisconsin. We chatted for quite a while. They were also enjoying a quiet evening at home, playing Monopoly.

I watched a little television, played online games and sipped champagne. By the time 11pm Alaska time rolled around, I realized I had finished an entire bottle of champagne by myself (over the course of 4 hours). No wonder I was feeling drowsy! I called Steve at work, wished him an early Happy New Year and lay down on the sofa under a nice warm afghan watching a movie. I remember looking at the clock at 11:45pm. When I opened my eyes it was 2:41am. Looks like I missed the arrival of a new year again! I suspect I'm not alone in missing the transition from 2007 to 2008.

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January 11th - "The giant trees are bending, Their bare boughs weighted with snow."

After a very enjoyable lunch with my friend Karen on Tuesday, I took a drive around town with my camera. I was thrilled for the sunshine and blue skies, although I wish it would have been a little warmer than -15F.

My first stop was downtown Fairbanks, and the pedestrian bridge which crosses the Chena River from Golden Heart Plaza, to the Immaculate Conception Church. As I stood on the bridge looking upriver, I caught sight of a cross-country skier on the frozen river. I watched the dark figure until it got close enough to see that it was a woman. She was bundled against the elements, and had frost coating the ends of her hair where it escaped from her cap. In only a month, there will be thousands of people downtown on this river, excited about the start of the Yukon Quest. I know I'm looking forward to it.

I decided to drive along the river towards Pioneer Park. There's a stretch of road where the steam that comes off the water coats everything nearby and freezes into thick hoarfrost. This steam is caused by the thousands of gallons of hot water being released into the river from the local power plant. That stretch of river never freezes. No wonder we have ducks that seem to stay all year around.

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January 14th - “Their tails are high and tongues awag-the twin banners of sled dog contentment.” ~ Clara Germani

Yesterday, the ADMA - Alaska Dog Mushers Association - held the first Challenge Series Race of the season (calling it race #2). If things would have gone as planned, and we had enough snow and warmer temperatures, the racing would have started back in December. I've been waiting patiently for the racing to start, so I could go out and get photos, and I was so happy to wake to -19F - which meant the races were a go!

We didn't get out to the race grounds until 11:30am - just in time to see the first teams cross the finish line. I got myself situated along the fence to watch a few teams set up and get ready to leave the starting line. I had my little camera with me and decided to shoot some video footage as well as still photos.

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Saturday, January 19th - Sleeping Soundly

O bed! O bed! Delicious bed!
That heaven upon earth to the weary head.
~ Thomas Hood ~

For more than 14 years, Steve and I have slept on the same queen size mattress. It was a Sealy Posturepedic and gave us many years of sound, comfortable sleep. A few years ago, we both started having problems sleeping, and woke up with aches and pains in our lower back. We put 'band aids' on the problem - first with a feather bed topper, then with an egg crate topper, and finally with a 3" memory foam mattress topper. Each time we added a new mattress topper, we'd get a few more months of comfortable sleep, but soon we'd be back to feeling the familiar aches and pains of a mattress that was no longer doing its job. It was time to invest in a new bed.

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Friday, January 25th

Since I last wrote, we had a nice shift in weather, and the highs climbed into the low - mid 30s for a couple of days. This made it perfect to attend the ADMA Challenge Race #3 on Sunday.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of people who came out to watch the dogs run. I attended alone, as it was a big football day, and Steve was not willing to leave the television. I took Sedona with me, although I left her in the car. I was worried she'd tried to take off after the other dogs. As it was, she was quite excited by the sounds of barking.

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© 2008 Susan L Stevenson