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If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, there are probably some repeats. But there are some new ones, too. Sorry for the delay between posts; we just get wrapped up in whatever we’re doing and forget to write about it.

I’ve had sort of a stressful two weeks. Actually, a bit longer, for the linked project, but even before that, this whole summer has been project after project after project after project. That’s just at work. At home it’s been … well, more stressing about the projects we’ve put off, I guess, than actually getting projects done. Remind me to post photos of our shed destruction, though! That was a project!

Like I said, stressful summer. I was beginning to get pretty spazzy, to be honest. So, even though we have a kit to build an 8’x10′ plastic shed in our yard, we opted to take the day off, to go to Seward. We haven’t been to the Alaska Sealife Center (ASLC) for far too long, especially considering how close it is! (Well, it’s less than a 3 hour drive…) It was a great call.

Last night, we drove down to Beluga Point, just because it was pretty. (OK, and I was antsy.) I love it when we catch sunset there!

Then we drove back north to home, slept, and drove back south, well past Beluga Point, to the ASLC. I got a glacier picture on the way down; it turned out pretty well, considering I couldn’t see the screen of the iPhone as I was taking it.

We got to see all of the usual suspects at the SeaLife Center, plus the baby walrus, cuddled up with an ASLC staff member in the I See You. But we didn’t really take photos, that much, this time. Except of puffins, of course. There was a very cute tufted puffin who clearly wanted some attention:

And a juvenile puffin who took a nap. Sort of. (In the one photo, you can see him peeking at the camera.)

The murres were particularly funny today, and a baby guillemot got pretty squawky, as well.

In more mammalian circles, Woody the sea lion wasn’t in his usual pool; two lady sea lions were in his place. And the harbor seal was hilarious, swimming right up to the glass and looking at people.

It was a pretty great visit! And then we had late lunch at the Smoke Shack (the restaurant in a converted Alaska Railroad car) and drove home to Anchorage. Definitely a nice day away from our responsibilities. Tomorrow: back to adulthood. (Well, and I’m making a terrarium at a friend’s house! :))

Yard stuff

It’s summer in Alaska, which means we’re all way overscheduled and trying to get more done, both at work and at home, than we possibly can.

We finally decided on a plan of action for the yard. Or, at least, that we should have a plan of action? We’re in the process of taking apart the shed (which is adorable, so it’s heartbreaking—but it’s also full of terrible mold that we’re both allergic to), to be replaced by a pre-fab shed from Lowes or Home Depot. We’re also taking down the chain-link fence, or maybe just part of the chain-link fence (so we can move the gate), and we’ll either build our own fence out of wood and chicken wire, or we’ll hire a professional to move the gate for us, or something. So, here’s our yard from this weekend (it isn’t wildly different now):

Like I said, we know we need a plan. And that’s half the battle. Or something.

Once we’re done with the Tour de Cure on Sunday, we’re taking off work for the first full week of June and starting our container garden, destroying the shed, putting up the new shed, and hauling things out of our yard. We’re getting rid of yard waste from our attempts (so far) to get the plant life under control, the dead canvas carport that didn’t survive winter winds and snows, the shed, the stuff from inside the shed (except for some cool doodads, which we’ll photograph soon), and so on. If we’re very fast, we’ll also have time to paint at least one of the rooms in the basement. Or maybe finish painting the kitchen, finally! It’s not the most vacationy of vacations, but it’ll be nice to have some of this stuff done!

Car stuff (and free stuff :))

We’ve also solved the car problem. A coworker of mine is moving out of state (which is a bummer; I like her), and she’s selling us her Honda CR-V for a bit below KBB value. It’s like a 10 year old car, with 100-some thousand miles on it—and not a pickup truck—but it has AWD, comes with both regular and studded tires, and is available for a good price, from someone I know took good care of it. I feel good about the purchase.

We won’t actually buy the car until the end of June or beginning of July—she kind of wants it for driving around Anchorage, before she leaves—but we’re pleased to have the decision made, anyway.

Another coworker gave Dale a telescope, which he’s pleased as punch to have. He’s trying to find or put together a sun filter for it, for the upcoming Transit of Venus. A third coworker gave us some delicious salmon and halibut from last year (all vacuum packed and flash frozen, so it’s in great shape).

So, in several respects, it’s been a pretty good season, so far. :)

Coral injured herself (minor)

I seem to have done something stupid to my foot. It’s almost as if I stomped really hard on something and then immediately forgot what would have to have been blinding pain, given the awful achy bruised feeling in the front of my heel. I’ve bruised the bottom of my foot before, but never so painfully—and I remembered what I had stepped on, to do it, in the past!

Someone on the internet is trying to convince me I have plantar fascitis. I hope they’re wrong, because that would make my plan to bike 15 miles on Sunday, in the Tour de Cure, a really stupid idea.

Also, you’re supposed to ice plantar fascitis, which I admit I haven’t tried. But heat makes my foot feel much, much better. So I find myself hopefully pessimistic about the accuracy of that internet diagnosis. :) I’ve got an appointment with a doctor next week, for other stuff, so if it’s acting up, I’ll talk to her about it.

That last one wasn’t big enough news for how rarely we blog, but it’s what’s on my mind.

Wildlife

The “wildlife” in the house is all doing fine. The birds are a little whiny and moody, probably from getting too many hours of light, but they’re happy enough. There have been several bird-baths, now that there’s less danger of drafts. And Ella Chinchilla is fuzzy and up to trouble, as you’d expect. She can fit under the door and out into the room full of books… and cords… and grown-up furniture, so Dale’s rigged up a solution involving a blanket and something heavy, to keep her where it’s safe (both for her AND for our stuff). It seems to work OK.

The outdoor wildlife is getting into the swing of summer. Baby moose are being born (none in our yard, but we see Facebook and Twitter photos of baby moose in friends’ yards now and then!). One of the bike/walking trails in town has warnings attached to it, because there are multiple angry moose mothers around; they’re very dangerous, this time of year. (No, the Tour won’t go through that area. At least not the 25k route.)

We also saw our first flotilla of ducklings over the weekend! They were itty-bitty, but there were 10 of them. More will no doubt be on the way, along with goslings and … baby swans? What are they called? We’re not actually sure where the pair of swans ended up, so we may not see their babies.

We no longer live a short walk from the beavers, so we haven’t been keeping an eye on them. I imagine they’re doing fine, though. :)

Aaand… that might be it for news. :)

It might come as a surprise to some readers of this blog that Dale and I are planning to start raising ducks. (It will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s spent more than an hour with me, lately, I think. I’m very excited about it!) But that is totally the plan. Two ducks, both girls, to live in a fenced-in part of our yard, along with our garden. They’ll keep each other company—unlike chickens, ducks can be happy in pairs—and lay eggs and keep bugs out of the garden. When they stop laying eggs, we’ll get a third duck, to lay eggs, and the first two will keep her warm and happy with duck-company.

A delightful plan, right? But the only duck farm we know of, up here, is hatching ducks in late May or early June, and I have to be at the American Library Association conference for almost a week, in late June. Call me crazy, if you want, but I really don’t want to miss a full week of my ducks’ development! They’re only babies for such a short time, and it’s really important that they bond to and trust Dale and me. (It’s important more because I want them to be nice pets than for any other reason. You can raise ducks who don’t trust you. It’s just not as fun.)

So, as hard as it will be for someone as impatient (and excited) as I am, we’re going to put off our duck plan for a year. (Yes, I’m technically supposed to go to ALA Annual again in 2013, but it’s the very end of my position on the NMRT board—my position actually ends half-way through conference, because of its late timing in 2013—and my predecessor in this position didn’t go for her last conference, which makes me think it’s probably OK.) That will give us time to build a really great duck-house, to make sure the place we want to put the garden-and-ducks will work, and to get some other projects done, this summer.

I guess it’s good that I’ve started so many marigold seeds; without ducks to protect my plants from bugs, I’m going to need them!

Other projects

Other projects for this summer: 1) Make the arctic entry into less of a “breezeway,” as our friends have started calling it, and more of an acceptable piece of the house. (Insulate under the floor, fill in the spaces letting air in, and replace the door.) 2) Plant an apple tree. And possibly a cherry tree. 3) Take everything out of the [incredibly moldy] shed, spray down the inside with a bleach solution, see if the sunlight will kill the mold on everything from the shed, and either refill it or drag off all the stuff. 4) Replace our back stairs & ramp with something less death-trappy. 5) Turn our front stairs around to face forward, instead of sideways. 6) Move the front gate, and set up a nice walkway through the yard. Plan for, but probably don’t yet implement, a patio for yard parties. 7) Dig out the flower beds and plant pretty things. 8) Run electricity to the front of the house, for grilling parties. 9) Replace the gutters. 10) Paint the two basement “bedrooms” and the places we missed in the kitchen.

That numbering system is meaningless. It’s just the order in which I remembered projects. Some of them have to be done sooner; some can be done later. Though I’ll be pretty disappointed if we don’t get through it all before next winter. Out of all of it, the front gate and front stairs are probably the ones I could most stand to put off, followed by the shed.

In current-project news, the contractor is coming back soon to replace the bathroom fan vent. It started dripping, again. This time, the dripping is down the outside, and I find myself really concerned about the insulation in our attic, some of which was put in by said contractor. If he doesn’t take responsibility for any of that being messed up, it probably isn’t the end of the world, since we also have a fairly serious roof leak (at least, we hope it’s a roof leak and not a hot spot), which is dripping slowly down one of our newly-painted walls and into the basement stairwell, of all places; we’ll have to get that repaired and then have a bunch of insulation pulled out and put back in, anyway. Extra insulation was one of the things on our energy rebate list, so that’s not so bad.

I’m very nearly finished with unpacking! We have several boxes of books and games, downstairs, but we have a place for them! I think I’ve gone through all of our “random stuff” boxes. Our basement shelves are almost ready to be taken down, and then we will sand and paint the drywall down there (Dale’s sanding, I’m painting, I think) and get the place a little more ready to serve as a fun hangout. We’re going to buy an inductive burner for making beer in the basement kitchen, which will be excellent! It’s still chilly down there, but we’ve found that our portable heater makes it a lot more acceptable. Rugs of some variety would also help. (If we were willing to go all crazy-retro, rugs on the walls would help A LOT. But we’re probably not. Insulating those walls, for real, was also on our energy rating list, but it’s a big undertaking. In the short term, we will content ourselves with hanging up fabric. It *might* not even look cheesy. … But it probably will. :))

And, finally, I have little seedlings coming up, and they will be more than ready when the snow melts and the garden—actually, a set of half-barrels—can safely take them. I didn’t buy Alaska-specific seeds, which my gardening book tells me (belatedly) I should have done, so that’s too bad. Here’s hoping Lowes was responsible in what they stocked, right?

Anyway, the house and life have been keeping us busy, but things are good. I’m a little bummed on the duck decision, but I think it’s the right one. I would be far more sad to miss a week of duckling antics, right?

Hi, everyone! It’s the time of year when people start thinking about their summer vacation plans, apparently. We’ve been getting questions about when is a good time to visit. Tourist season is mid-May through mid-September. But summers also fill up quickly, and “When is a good time to visit?” becomes a more and more complex question to answer as time goes on. Especially if we’re getting multiple visitors, which, now that we have space to put people up, is a more likely occurrence. 

So we’ll try to solve the problem with technology! We made a Google calendar, which we’ll block out with *BAD* times to visit. If the day is marked, we have something we can’t get out of. One of us might be out of town, even. Or someone else might be in town. Anything that makes it a bad time to visit will go up on this calendar. Hopefully, that helps. :)

Dale and I took part of a week and drove up to Fairbanks, then up to the Arctic Circle (66 degrees 33 minutes–the farthest south point where the sun does not set on the summer solstice), with a brief stop in Denali National Park on the way home. But this post isn’t about that trip, because we haven’t sorted through those pictures. This post is about the second half of that week, up through today. :)

We ended up home earlier than we’d planned to, when we took the time off work, so we decided to put the time to good use: we painted the other bedroom (which is where the birds and the TV live), bought and hung shelves, unpacked nearly all the rest of the boxes (mostly books and games) onto those shelves, and planted our garden in the back yard. We’re still short a few kitchen things, including a shelf to put the cookbooks on, and we need to get some kind of table for our plants (and possibly a printer) in the living room, but this apartment is feeling more and more like home!

I might take pictures for a “virtual tour” of our place, since not everyone’s going to be able to visit right away, but for now, here are pictures of our patio, the shelves in the spare room, and our garden!

Only half of the garden is ours. (It was freshly watered in the photos, so you can probably tell which half. Our landlords planted in their half the day before.)