Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cod Season

The new cod season starts January 1st so our cod/crab crews have been in town for a few days getting the boats ready. After they finish with cod they'll change out their pots and start fishing for opilio. Pollock season, with it's reduced quota, begins around January 20th. The planes are full every flight with crews arriving to gear up the plants for production - after a couple months of relative quiet out here it's time to crank up and get busy!

Good to talk with you today Dad, with I could have joined the crowd for your 75th birthday!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Still Christmas

We got our tree up so late this year, and enjoy our decorations so much, we have no plans on taking anything down for a couple weeks anyway. My niece in Maine gave me this Santa on a Harley decoration and it is way too cool to pack away any time soon!

I won't be posting tommorow night as I'm hiking up Ballyhoo after work and camping on the summit for the night. Hopefully there will be a nice gale blowing up there to make it interesting! I'll be back on Sunday - which is also my Dad's 75th birthday. Cheers!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Die . . . . t

The desk job is not working well for weight control - without assigning any numbers, let's just say I was a lot thinner 3 months ago . . . anyways, Goldfish and I both started dieting the day after Christmas so you can expect moodiness, crankiness, and outright borderline hysteria to commence very soon and continue until we leave for vacation in four months - and that's just from me. I've come up with a pretty nice incentive for myself if I make my weight goal before vacation - should be perfect for the predominantly unpaved roads out here. I miss my beloved loyal V-Star dearly but Zack is taking great care of it in Anchorage and I'm ready for a new 2-wheeled friend - if I lose the weight . . . . .

We walked Chico out at Summer's Bay tonight and for some reason this was my favorite of the pictures I took. Cheers everyone!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Island Dog

We know a few things about Chico - we know he has lived all or most of his life on Unalaska, we know the neighborhood he used to live in, we know he is around 12 years old. What we'll never know is why anyone would drop such an interesting, intelligent creature off at the pound. 14 months ago Goldfish rescued him on the day he was to be put to sleep and we couldn't be happier to have him as part of the family.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Lean Times

I don't know if natural food sources are running low this time of year or not but I do know there seem to be more eagles in the dumpsters lately. When you see them up close like that with the garbage bag of trash for comparison you can see how large eagles get - the one in the top picture looks especially well fed.

Of course all these eagles in the trash just give Goldfish more reasons to think ravens are superior . . . .

Merry Christmas from Unalaska

Nice relaxing afternoon on the island; I worked 4 hours then we finished up some Christmas wrapping and made a batch of soap we dubbed Oatmeal Cookie - it had a cup of oatmeal, two tablespoons of cinnamon, and 4 tablespoons of honey - I don't know if I should wash with it or eat it!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter Dog Walk

As you can see, all the elements are in place out here for the perfect winter dog walk - you have the sideways sleet scouring any unprotected skin, the 40 knot gale, the surf crashing on the beach. . . . ahhh yes, dog walk Unalaska style.

Tommorow I'm working just a half day and we're making soap in the afternoon. I'm also making the usual loaded crab pizza for supper and trying to get my Christmas cards done - possibly before Christmas. All the best to all my friends and family - I know your last minute holiday items are just as hectic - know that people are what is important this time of year, not things. I'm sure my sons realize that - the three of us learned that one the hard way 12 years ago when our house burned to the ground the day after Christmas burning everything, old and brand new, but allowing us enough time to get out of the house safely.

Everyone be safe this holiday, stay off the roads if you can and don't drink and drive. Most of all, remember whose birthday we're celebrating and pause to give thanks. Cheers!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter Storm

There was a nice gale blowing after work so I brought Chico out to Summer's Bay to walk on the beach after work. There were some pretty angry seas and the 50 yards nearest the shore was one mixed up foamy cauldron. It was a bit surreal, like a movie set - picture this, I was driving towards the beach, swinging wide around an occasional snow slide in the road with the windows open, letting the wind howl through the vehicle with Josh Groban singing "Ave Maria" cranked on the stereo, me singing along. The dichotomy of the song super-imposed on the violence of the storm was pretty neat.

We put up our Christmas tree tonight and it looks great! The winds have calmed down so the snow has built up on the tree outside my window, completing the winter scene.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Party

The company Christmas party was this afternoon, it was good fun. The food was outstanding and it was nice to see everyone all in one place at once and meet the spouses and children I had never seen. Tomorrow night we're putting up our Christmas tree and putting a final touch on our decorations.

The picture shows one of the stranger things I saw in Seattle - an honest to goodness statue of Lenin brought over from the old Soviet Union and erected on this street corner. Definitely eye catching . . . . night folks!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Bit More Seattle

It was strange pulling into the parking space at our Seattle office and seeing one of our trawlers parked at the dock. F/V Great Pacific returned to Seattle after the pollock season to get some engine diagnostics done. The Space Needle was right across the inlet and I loved the vibe of the University District where my hotel was located.

Goldfish made it home this afternoon after waiting for a weather window for two hours in King Salmon. Chico and I are very happy to have her home where she belongs. I can't believe it's just five days to Christmas! Dad, if you read this there should be a box of crab showing up on your doorstep sometime on Friday, I'll call you when I have tracking and a better idea of when exactly it will arrive. Cheers!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Greater Sense of Place

I uploaded these pictures last night and completely forgot about finishing the post! Our internet is so slow out here, I normally do something while the photos post but I think this is the first time I forgot what I was doing and went to bed!

Anyways, I took these pictures in Seattle last week, some of you may recognize the Freemont Troll (yes, that is an actual Volkswagon). I thought it was cool the plaque by the sculpture said the sculpture was commissioned to give the neighborhood a "greater sense of place" . . .

I'll post a few more Seattle pictures soon and then get back to Unalaska photography where the snow is piling up outside making for some good photo ops - cheers!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Different Perspective

I'm back on the island - the outside was wonderful to visit but it was nice to be home. The folks at the Seattle office made me feel right at home from the moment I arrived and we got done all we needed to and had a little fun besides - thank Josh and Cindy for everything!

Friday afternoon I got a rental and drove over to Kennewick to meet my sister at my niece's place. Maya and Rachel, thanks for hosting our quick little reunion - Rachel, thanks for making me feel so at home (again) and your efforts in the kitchen! Sis and family it was great to see you, even if it was quick - love you all.

It was a bit surreal being outside - endless choices, everyone scurrying around. Just driving on the freeway at 70 mph was strange after 6 months out here, never really driving faster than 30. Winter came to the island while I was gone in the form of a few inches of snow and while Chico and I walked along the river bank right after I arrived home I looked at the bald eagle on top of the power pole, listened to the ducks making a fuss by the river mouth, and watched a crab boat in the channel - Seattle seemed like a million miles away . . . .

I like the rock in the picture - it is on the beach at Summer's Bay and it is only about 8 inches tall but I am lying on my belly in the sand making it appear much larger at first glance - a different perspective . . . .

Friday, December 14, 2007

Safe In Kennewick

I wrapped things up in Seattle and drove over to Kennewick to meet with my sister and family before flying back to Dutch Harbor. I should be back on the island Sunday after a quick visit with both sons in Anchorage on the way through. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In Seattle

Hi folks, I'm off the island this week while I'm down in our Seattle Office helping with some training. After a quick trip to see my sister, nieces and nephew I'll be back Sunday afternoon. I brought my laptop down but it crashes every time I connect to the hotel wireless so I'm not going to post while I'm away but I will take pictures and post when I get back. I am checking my email once in awhile if anything comes up - all in all, Seattle is great but I miss the island already and the peaceful nest I have there . . . . . cheers from Seattle - Steve

Sunday, December 9, 2007

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like . . . .

CHRISTMAS! We have a dusting of snow again, and the little pond in the moutains at the trail head over the pass has a skim of ice on it, and Alaska Ship Supply has their stock of trees on display. In case you're wondering, the four footer on the right is $82, the hazard of living on a rock in the Bering Sea.

Here is my Christmas Quiz answers:

1. Eggnog or hot chocolate? Umm, neither . . . I like good coffee (my Dad and brother make exceptional coffee) or this Christmas punch that has been in the family for as long as I have - not sure what's in it exactly . . .

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just put them under the tree? Santa puts presents by the tree, or by the stockings.

3. Colored or white lights on tree/house? I'm 44, so when I was little there wasn't all these lighting options - there were big colored lights that got very hot and dried out the tree and burned your hand if you were adjusting an ornament and brushed against one. Today, I like both, and lots of 'em.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Not usually.

5. When do you put your decorations up? We're decorating when Goldfish gets back from vacation. Normally anytime after Thanksgiving is fine with me.

6. What is your holiday dish (excluding dessert)? For breakfast we always feasted on all the leftovers from the open house on Christmas Eve. For Christmas dinner my brother cooks a mean roast - prime rib, rack of lamb, you name it, he's the master.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child. My Mom passed away in 1994 so my very favorite Christmas memories have her in them - we would have an open house Christmas Eve (my Unlce does this now) and have lots of company over, we would "make a tape" for my sister who lived in Colorado at the time so she could "listen in", and we would chose just the right present (just one!) to open Christmas Eve. My Mom did lots of baking, and she would wrap presents in her bedroom and place them at the top of the stairs for me to bring down and place under the tree as she got them wrapped. My Mom was amazing . . . . My other favorite memories are of when my boys were little.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't remember exactly when and how but I remember I held on to the magic of Christmas longer than most. I think I still believe in Santa, actually . . . .

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? One gift on Christmas Eve - sometimes the adults don't open one but the kids always do.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? I admire folks that decorate with themes - my Uncle puts up 4 or 5 trees, each with a theme, each brilliantly executed. My favorite one is the log cabin theme one he puts up in the study. There is also a teddy bear one in the dining room, a Star Wars theme on in the hallway, and one or two more. I used to have some old ornanments but my house burned to the ground in 1995 or '96 and I have been very slowly collecting a few every year to replace those ever since. When I lived in a log cabin on a lake 4 years ago a cabin themed tree would have been sweet. Out here I'm working on a driftwood tree idea with beach combing finds hanging on it. To supplement the mandatory regular tree . . . .

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? I love snow - except for two years in Kentucky when I was in the Army I have lived in either Maine (23 years) or Alaska (19 years) so snow is a part of who I am.

12. Can you ice skate? Sort of . . . it's not pretty . . . .

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I don't really remember gifts, I remember time spent with family and friends. My sons know me really well and always pick something sweet.

14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? Being with family and friends.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? My sister's homemade pecan logs.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? One that has continued for a long time is me, my brother and my Dad having an annual meeting of The Holey Sock Society on Christmas morning. The idea is to see who can show up wearing the most holey, mutilated pair of socks. We even do it over the phone.

17. What tops your tree? The tree at my Dad's house is topped with an angel that has hair from my older sister's first haircut!

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving, by far. I am not materialistic, the things I treasure are my family and rocks, shells, bones etc that I drag home from exploring the world. I love getting stuff for others though . . .

19. What is your favourite Christmas song? The Halleluyah Chorus

20. Candy canes. Good on the tree, good in a stocking, good all the way around.

21. Favourite Christmas movie? I like the original Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. The Bumble used to terrorize me when I was little and I love how the guy throws his pick up in the air then sniffs it and licks it and says "Nothin".

22. What do you leave for Santa? When I was little I left milk and cookies - now that I'm part of the delivery team, I recommend everyone leave Santa a 2008 Harley V-Rod, black with black annodized all the way around. I mean, Santa deserves it, right? Merry Christmas everyone!

Feel free to answer a question or two in the comments section!

Friday, December 7, 2007

No Camera, No Problem

Chico and I headed out to Summers Bay after work; I hadn't even made it to the Memorial when I realized I had forgotten my camera at home. I almost turned around but I was in the Goldfish Honda, Chico was in a carrier in back, and I wanted to get him to the beach and out of the carrier as soon as possible. Besides, I figured I'd see something cool for sure without a camera and I did - puffins! They are a rare sight on my travels out here so I was pretty happy on the ride out.
At the beach, there was a thin dusting of snow covering the sand so I looked right at the high tide mark for pumice, even though I knew it's always further inland. After no luck, I walked further in where the snow as and just looked for pumice shapes and discovered something interesting - horse poop and pumice look exactly the same when covered with a dusting of snow. The wild horses walk the beach as well and their charcoal briquette sized gifts fooled me again and again - they are about the same density as well. One time I picked one up, blew it off, looked at it closely, threw it back on the beach, and then had to pick it back up and look at it again to make sure. I did end up with 4 nice pieces of pumice - I don't want to even talk about what the poop to pumice ratio was . . . .
Anyways, no camera tonight but last night I took pictures of beach collages thrown together by the storm - I posted a couple of my favorites. It is a big surreal seeing king crab legs laying on the beach but there were dozens, picked clean by the gulls.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Too Much - Not Enough

Yup, too much time sitting in that black chair in the top picture and not enough time walking on the favorite beach in the middle picture was making me a wee bit cranky. Chico and I took care of the problem tonight and I found 5 lovely pieces of pumice (my favorite beachcombing finds)- they float! Chico had a good run, we had eagles and seals, and the fresh air was good for us.

Goldfish flew out this afternoon and is safe and sound in Anchorage for a two week vacation. We miss you!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wind Picking Up

We're hoping the winds stay calm for another day as Goldfish is flying out tommorow for a two week vacation but it seems like the breeze is kicking pretty good - of course that could change anytime. You can see that we have lost most of our snow for now but hope to get some in time for Christmas.

A rotting beached whale has been causing problems over at the airport, and indirectly problems for Chico. The problem is all the seabirds attracted by the stench - the airport staff has to fire off seal bombs to scare the birds out of the area every time a plane lands or takes off. Ballyhoo Mountain (with the airstrip at the base) is our favorite place to walk Chico after work - and Chico absolutely hates fireworks. Even after they towed the whale out to sea the stench is still drawing the birds to the area and they are still having to drive them away. I'll be bringing Chico out to the beach for walks starting tommorow night. Cheers!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Finished With the Month

I haven't actually seen much of the outside the past few days as I've been wrapping up the monthly paperwork so here is a picture from when Zack was here (and before all the snow melted) of a WW II gun battery location along the coast with two associated ammunition bunkers. We think it might have been an anti-aircraft gun because of the circular rail allowing firing in any direction. Early to bed for me after a bit of work Christmas card design . . . . cheers!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Feeling Better

A couple weeks ago Chico stepped into a ground squirrel hole (we think) and sprained his shoulder when romping on Strawberry Hill. As you can see above he was recovered enough to entertain company at Thanksgiving but he paid for it the next day . . . . we're happy to report he has now made a full recovery and is back to his normal routine, and up to his old "tricks".