Thursday, April 30, 2009

Springtime in Unalaska

This pic says it all - the snow is melting fast, the sun has been shining (until this afternoon anyways), folks doing some early season fishing from the beach, someone walking their dog, and if you look closely, one boy inexplicably standing on the roof of his house - yes, spring has sprung!

This week is no fun at work, and Chico and I are missing the Goldfish, but I'll get some pictures and a semi-literate post up tomorrow evening - cheers!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

For My Sister In Idaho

Well Sis, I've felt really bad we couldn't find the horses when you visited last summer.  Especially bad because I've been riding a lot out to Morris Cove and I see them every day (I posted a video on Facebook for you) - so if you can spot the horses in the TOP photo, I'll come visit you in Idaho in June.  Okay, okay, I'm coming whether you can see the horses or not . . . 

Today we had a mass casualty drill out at the airport; there were plenty of folks taking pictures including Channel 8 so I didn't bother but I think everything went really well - I know I had fun!

I have a message for Kay - Roger told me to let you know that you and I have something in common now, we both have acted up at mass casualty drills!  Today was wonderfully sunny and Chico and I had a nice long walk after training.  I've got a few blog topics in mind for the next few days but for now it's past my bedtime - cheers!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What a Strange 24 Hours of Weather!

We had a fairly violent wind and rain storm come in Monday night and then by 3 PM today it was like it never happened.  I'm posting happy pictures of birdies and boats I took today since Goldfish won't let me post pictures I took of the half eaten sea otter the eagles were feasting on yesterday!

Sunday night was Book Club at Gigi's - her husband is the Executive Chef at the Grand, and he whipped up some amazing snacks for us, and the discussion was great.  There is a little dark cloud on the horizon for Chico and I as Goldfish is heading to Anchorage on Friday for 10 days.  Somehow Chico and I will have to fend for ourselves - maybe Rich can come over and cook once in awhile??

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Grab Bag - Ballyhoo, Wine Tasting and Wii

View from Ballyhoo.  Clouds were drifting in and out so the visibility varied quite a bit from one moment to the next.

I stopped by the first rock outcropping, maybe 90 percent of the way to the top.  The top stayed completely clouded in the whole time, so I knew there would be nothing to see up there; I didn't have crampons with me and the footing gets sketchy closer to the top on the rocky portions; and I was needing to get back home to make the "what time should I start worrying" time limit I gave Goldfish when I walked out the door.
View towards Hog Island from Ballyhoo.
View from the Living Room Window - the ferry Tustamena departing after spending the day in port.  Lots of folks from Akutan use that one day turnaround for a way to shop in Unalaska.
CB and CD were the first station inside the door, and a great way to kick off the Annual Convention and Visitor Bureau Wine Tasting in the Margaret Bay Cafe at the Grand Aleutian.  There were a total of 7 wine and food pairings and a cheese table (from which, of course, I strategically located our party of five just steps away).
Jed demonstrating his Double Tripple Belgian Ski Jumping technique.

I'm sorry I haven't posted since Wednesday, the week has been busy - I think the between season breaks can sometimes be more frantic than when we work every day for months on end.  The weather has been strange with Spring seemingly just around the corner but never quite arriving.  I was getting restless from too much time inside, and needed more than the daily dog walk so I headed up Ballyhoo on Friday evening and worked up a good sweat.  Last night was the annual wine tasting at the Grand and it was nice to see so many friendly faces together in one place - especially nice to see fellow bloggers CB, CD, Gigi and yes, even the elusive Dan Young.

Tonight is Book Club, and speaking of which, I have some reading to do!  Cheers!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We've Been Fooled Before . . . .

But this afternoon's sunshine felt like Spring might stay sprung this time.  The next four days are going to be busy with EMS training, a Girl Night at the house, a Boy Night at the house, Wine Tasting on Saturday and Book Club on Sunday, so tonight I just chilled out and puttered around on small projects - I fixed the coin feed on the Millipede machine (and ironically programmed it for free play so it doesn't need quarters anymore), I goofed around with the computer and fine tuned the Parallels software (you can run Windows on the iMac and drag files between the two operating systems - fabulous!), we watched skinny Kristine read the news on Channel 8 followed by the Jane and Judy Show (great job girls!), Goldfish washed our quilt and cleaned up a bit for her Girl Night tomorrow while while I'm at training, I tried calling my sister but she was already in bed.  Nice relaxing evening . . . . we got to talk to Cookie Dough at the clinic this morning - finally!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Easter Grab Bag of Posts

I'm spending a lot of time out and about, so I actually have too many pictures so I need to post a grab bag and move forward.  I try to only post pictures I've taken in the last week or so . . . . Above you can see Goldfish and I were very well behaved on Easter, we just made up big salads after we walked Chico on Ballyhoo.  We saw Sherri and Eider up there as well, getting some fresh air.

The Aleutian Arts Council is having an Art Show in one of the banquet rooms at the Grand, definitely worth a look if you haven't gone already!

On Saturday, Goldfish and I celebrated our anniversary.  True to tradition, we had some of our wedding cake (Bear, it was STILL delicious!) and a bottle of champagne from the reception.  I am VERY lucky to have her in my life - all the fun with none of the drama!  I love you sweetheart . . . 

This shade of green is far and away Goldfish's favorite color - she has a purse, a camera bag, luggage, clothes, the cover for her Kindle, sunglass case, cookware, you name it, all in this color.  She was pretty stoked I could match the color exactly in a batch of soap - two ounces of powdered spinach did the job nicely, no color dyes required!

And finally, this is me looking mildly peeved because the spring that was poking through just a short while ago has disappeared under a blanket of white again!  I know it won't last for long, it is in the low 40's as I type this, but still, this year's weather has been a tease!

I actually had both Saturday and Sunday off this weekend and feel wonderfully rested and recharged.  I hope everyone had a fabulous Easter!  Cheers, it's time to walk Chico and hit the hay . . . . 

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men . . .

I like making soap, and only use soap that I make (with the occasional emergency fill-in from an old friend - thanks for the goat milk soap Dawn!).   Ever since I moved out here, I started to form ideas about what a batch of Unalaska Soap would be like.   I made other batches out here - the Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookie came out especially nice - but I was always thinking in the back of my mind about  would make the perfect soap that summed up the island.

This week all the planets finally aligned and I decided to knock out a couple different batches, the first one being an attempt at this mythical Unalaska bar.  I had gathered seaweed along the beaches and ground it fine after careful cleaning and drying.  I had decided on three scents that gave it a sort of Irish Springy-type scent with a splash of patchouli.  I knew I wanted a marbled look, and I wanted the colors of the sea.

The batch was a disaster from the start - without using a lot of soap making jargon, I got over excited (I was finally making my dream batch!) and mixed the oils with the lye solution at the high end of the acceptable temperature range I like to work in so the soap came to a light trace very quickly and then started setting up.  Despite Goldfish's help, all the extra hands in the world were not going to get the colors and scents incorporated then mixed together in time.  We did our best and crossed our fingers, covering and insulating the batch.

This being most decidedly a MAN soap, it was VERY disconcerting to uncover the batch the next day and see nothing but PINK.  Now soap making is half science and half art, so the unexpected does and will occur but PINK?  REALLY??  In the second photo showing the cross section of a cut bar you can see the pink was just a thin rind covering the top of the soap, but I didn't KNOW that until I sliced it . . . . . 

Anyways, I thought this made some cool looking soap, and I was really happy with how the seaweed looked, but there is massive room for improvement, so the quest for the perfect island soap continues . . . . ironically, the second batch, a lovely green colored by spinach powder, came out great because I was relaxed, did a little Wii hula hooping with Goldfish while the oils and lye cooled, and didn't try to get too creative with the scent combinations.  I'll post photos of that batch when I cut it tomorrow . . . . cheers and have a great night!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

12 Step Program

12 Steps - that's how far this snack tray is located from my desk where I spend 11 hours a day.  Early each morning the company baker makes fresh treats, and a galley employee drops this tray off every day around 7:30 am, in my work area and several other areas in the plant.  Trays of the daily snacks are also located in the break rooms, and in the galley on the end of the salad bar.  During the 7 or 8 months of production, these snacks are available 24 hours a day.  Donuts, maple bars, cinnamon twists, pound cake, muffins of several varieties, croissants, brownies and endless varieties of cookies, right next to the coffee pot.  We return the aluminum pan each night when we go to the galley for supper, and it is returned full each morning.

For those working on the production end of things, the snack tray is a source of badly needed calories, eaten hastily with a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate on the mid morning and mid afternoon break periods before returning to a day full of physical labor.  For those of us that have wound up in the white collar jobs, sitting at computers most of the day, working on often intense, deadline oriented tasks, the snack tray is deadly.  Indeed, I call it the "Death Tray".  The combination pictured in the top photo is particularly lethal.

As you know, Goldfish and I are both focusing on getting healthier this year, and are making good progress.  For me, the Death Tray has to be off limits, despite its proximity, because opening that window can end badly if I am having a high stress day.  How do you deal with stress and what are your most challenging temptations?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

No Doubt About It

I need to blog more more often, the pictures are piling up.  These pictures of the Alaska Juris were taken almost two weeks ago when Jed and I were walking by the firing range.  In that two weeks we have lost a whole lot of snow (again), and tonight after work I rode my motorcycle to the end of the road at Morris Cove, with no avalanches blocking the road (again).  It was almost like there were two winters - there was March, and then there was everything else.  March was the only month I didn't ride at least a little so I guess I shouldn't complain!  

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lazy Day Off

With the pollock and cod seasons over, we are just a few crab deliveries away from calling an end to the 2009 "A" season, and with no boat delivering today, we had what for me was just the third day off this year (the other two I was running a very high fever and unable to work).  It's funny, when you work for months at a stretch without a break, you have all these ideas about how you will spend a day off when you eventually get one, ideas you have formulated in your mind as you work all those long days.  Inevitably, of course, it never quite works out as you planned . . . . 

Any first day off has to start with sleeping in, and at least this part when as planned - it was 9 am before I got up and got the coffee pot out of the cupboard over the fridge where I stored it months ago, knowing there was no point in keeping it on the counter when I'd be making coffee at work every morning.  After that I messed around on the computer, working on getting my Story Corps interview into a podcast I could post on make available on-line for my family to hear. 

My vision for my first day off was a bigger hike - at least Ballyhoo, possibly Pyramid, and then making a batch or two of soap in the evening.  While I did work out quite a bit, it was in the form of 40 miles or so on the recumbent bike then a long dog walk with Goldfish and Chico.  And instead of starting a batch of soap, I read and called my sister.  All in all, a great day off though, and my batteries are charged to get the end-of-month reporting out tomorrow!

I also find myself way ahead on pictures, I'm not blogging enough to get ones I like posted so I'll try to blog more often.  This sea lion was not actually yawning, he was giving Chico a piece of his mind the other day while we were walking along the beach at LSA.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Looking Back On March

March came in like a lamb and left like a lion.  Marked by storms, volcano eruptions, ice pack covering the opilio grounds, day after day of cancelled flights, March was a bit of a mental challenge at times.  On a positive note, I read a couple books, logged some mileage, and lost some weight.  I'm getting more comfortable packing the Pentax around when the weather cooperates but still take half my photos with a trusty point-and-shoot I can tuck in my pocket.

I just came in from walking Chico and the wind is absolutely blasting, a reminder that April may have a few tricks up its sleeve as well . . . .