Friday, May 29, 2009

Out Exploring

We were out hiking in the valley last weekend, checking out a couple little lakes up in the mountains.  The third photo is a kind of neat view of Ballyhoo - if you enlarge it you can see the cruise ship that was docked for the day.  In the last photo you can see Chico checking out the house with the blue roof - it is for sale, and Chico was giving the neighborhood a close look as we were thinking of making an offer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Unexpected Pleasures

Sometimes at night when I am returning from walking Chico I see this image on the front doorstep and it always fascinates me - the shadow of the eagle projected on the wall right by my front door, the intersection of the steam pipe and the shadow, the harsh yellow of the sodium lights contrasting with the midnight blue of the late night sky.  I have a coffee table book called Beneath the Roses by Gregory Crewdson where the photographer has gone to enormous lengths to stage scenes to photograph, to great effect, but to me the best scenes will always be the ones you stumble upon when you least expect it.  

What kinds of everyday images make you stop in your tracks and wish you had your camera in the area where you live?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Where Has The Week Gone?

These pictures are actually from 6 days ago, amazingly, and I think that was the last day it was sunny.  Not only has it been a bit dreary on the island lately, the week has gone by insanely quickly!  I had a visit form Susan Lynch at work a few days ago, dropping off a couple yoga mats as a "Pat on the Back Award" - I think she actually just wanted to eyeball my belly and make sure she is still ahead in the contest.

In the top photo, right after Goldfish took the photo, Chico started running out towards me.  It is a 600 foot drop to the rocks on either side, so I was trying to shoo Chico back without either of us falling off the little knife edge - pretty comical.

This evening after work was some good training up at the Public Safety building and we're all hoping for some nice weather for Memorial Day weekend!  Cheers and good night . . . .

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bear's Birthday Party

Elaine's fabulous Trifle - she was paid off no doubt by the shiny gal below . . . . 

Lauri and Susan looking fabulous - 41 pounds in three months, great job!  As you may have guessed, Susan was at the Disco party in the next room over and was just stopping by.

ZS getting up close and personal with Alena!

CB took a break from dancing to chat with the birthday girl.

Elaine is hiding behind Nemo . . . . Nemo is stuck to the birthday chicken - a long and interesting story, and Bear is very happy to be a new member of the club!

I'm stunned to see I have no pictures of the elusive Bear, the guest of honor that night.  Let me publicly say Elaine is in such deep trouble for grabbing the check for the whole party at the end of the evening . . . we're going to stuff money under your mattress while you're on vacation 'Laney!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Low Tide in the East Channel

During low tides the East Channel marker lays almost flat on the rocks and it looks like there is just enough room between the rocks and our dock for big boys like F/V Arica, which draws almost 20 feet when loaded, to sneak through.  In reality, as long as they stay centered they're fine - you can see the eagles throwing a little party on the skiff stacked on the stern are totally unconcerned.  Smaller boats like the sport fishing boat in the bottom photo sometimes don't even use they channel, they just cut across the gap.

This weekend was fun, we went to Bear's birthday party on Saturday night then we hosted Book Club tonight.  I'll get some birthday pictures posted tomorrow!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Willow Ptarmigans

The willow ptarmigan is the Alaska state bird and one of my favorites for a lot of reasons, some of them related to the large number of them I have killed and eaten over the past 20 years.  Their plumage changes with the seasons and they are masters of camouflage once their seasonal change is complete.  They make some of the most unique noises in the animal kingdom, hard to describe really, and they will sometimes explode from right underfoot as they sit tight on the ground until the last minute, relying on their ability to blend in with the surrounding terrain.  

These days I no longer hunt ptarmigan - is has always just been an excuse to get outside in the winter and snowshoe around in the fresh air anyways - but photographing them is still great fun.  They are gorgeous birds, and I thing the old World War II buildings make interesting backdrops to capture them "on film".

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

High Slack Tide in the River

Last night I was walking Chico along the creek, taking our customary stroll through the neighborhood before retiring.  The rising tide and flowing creek had fought each other to a perfect draw, and the water was neither flooding or ebbing; combined with the almost still air and the late hour - I took this picture at 11 PM, you have to love the Alaskan summers - it was as if the whole island was holding its breath.

I'm rather fond of the bottom image, where I took the top image, cropped it, then flipped it upside down.  The water has become the land and the ripples make it look like the church is being viewed through ancient glass like you find in old Victorian houses or perhaps through the fogged lens of a fading memory.  The picture has a story to tell but what is the title?  "Reflections on Faith" perhaps?  Walking along an isthmus of land, what many believe to be the oldest continuously inhabited coastal community in North America, it is easy to reflect on all that has come before, and all that will come after we are gone.  What do you think of when you view this scene?  Click on it, blow it up, and think for a second.  (Besides "Steve, why didn't you bend that blade of grass out of the way before you took the picture??")

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all those great mothers in my life (and yes, Goldfish makes the list because Chico gets better care than lots of kids out there).  Also, Happy Mother's Day to Sharon, Alena!, Melanie, Jane, Jennifer, Kym and my sister-in-law Sherry, all amazing mothers, and Dog Mothers Bear, Elaine, April and Lauri!

Just Desserts - Plan B

Goldfish made a couple loaves of Blueberry Cream Cheese Braid to bring to the Just Desserts concert but we ended up going camping instead.  The wind died down and we had nice weather but were a little surprised to see the light snow falling when we poked our heads out of the tents this morning.   The bread was fantastic and went well with Joe's excellent cowboy coffee!  

Friday, May 8, 2009

What Determines Beauty?

Same eagle, different picture.  A good illustration that what we crop out of our lives when we focus intensely on a goal can be just as important as the goal itself.  Out here in Unalaska, those of us with 80 hour work weeks are constantly having to decide how to spend the other 88 hours - sleep usually gets low priority . . . .

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

View from the Bedroom Window

I'm always posting pictures from the living room window of the East Channel, Iliuliuk Bay, and beyond, the Bering Sea.  Looking out the backside of my place is Haystack Hill and - below and not in sight in the picture above - Iliuliuk Creek.  There is usually an eagle on top of that pole at all hours of the day, and the first thing I do when I walk out the door for an evening dog walk is to peek a look at the top of the pole and see if I'm being watched.  You can see the snow is gone on Haystack and the grass is just starting to show a little life.

The creek is full of pink salmon in the summer and I fall asleep to the sound of their splashing as they move up the creek.  A few silver salmon can be found among the pinks but I find what the eagles are watching for during the 9 months of the year when there are not salmon present is the lowly Irish Lord, a type of sculpin that is known in Alaska for both its abundance and its propensity for eating anything and everything.  They are quite the sport fishing disappointment when caught in the pursuit of ling cod or halibut but from what I have seen from the bedroom window, eagles are more than happy to pick through the boney flesh for a meal.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wow Weather Sandwich

This was an odd week - we had some gorgeous weather, it stormed pretty good for a few days, and then more gorgeous weather.  You can see the pass still isn't quite open - but Roger has been working on it!

Work has been pretty intense as we order everything we need to start the next season that begins in June and everyone in the engineering office is leaving for vacation except me and a couple fill-in guys.  Goldfish will be back tomorrow, her oral surgery was a success but it remains to be seen how much "wisdom" she gave up by getting all four out at once.  I begged her to score the 4 teeth from the dentist so I could make a tribal necklace to wear but I'm fairly certain she didn't - because she knows I would follow through . . . . 

I've been having a tough time adjusting to my own mortality lately; this was supposed to be the summer I got my open water scuba certification and attended Fire Fighter I class to go with my EMT training - these have been goals set in stone for a year or two, goals I had my heart set on.  Instead, it appears I am going to Idaho in June to get shoulder surgery to rebuild and repair my rotator cuff and whatever else is torn up in there.  This isn't due to an injury, it is due to a lot of things over many years and it is finally time to take care of it.  It is a little hard to accept because I thought 45 was a bit young to wear anything out, no matter how active a lifestyle has been over the years.

I guess what helps me is thinking about all those things that wore the shoulder out - chopping lots of wood, paddling canoes, pulling tens of thousands of salmon from gillnets, rock climbing, wrestling with my sons, rowing boats, 5 years of military service, lots of weight training, sport fishing, carpentry, fixing cars, riding (and wrecking) motorcycles and snow machines, always the big guy that was expected to lift the heavy stuff and more than happy to do it, to help folks that couldn't . . . . looking back, I realize there is nothing I would change, nothing I would take away from my life experiences to make my shoulder last longer, so I'm resigned to get it taken care of so I can move forward, so I can refocus on my goals.  There is always next year!