Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down...

I'd planned on writing all about how beautiful Alaska is in autumn. A few days ago the trees were at their peak and everything glowed yellow. We had sunshine and blue skies every day. Then we had a windstorm. I don't really know what else to call it. During the fall and winter, sometimes the wind just decides to blow. No rain, no snow, it just blows. It blows hard. We're talking hurricane force winds here (and I'm really not exaggerating. Really!). It blows for a few days and usually our power goes out because a tree ALWAYS lands on a power line. My sister five miles away ALWAYS still has power. That is when I curse the power company. The kids slept in bed with me the first night of our windstorm because our power went out (surprise!) and they were scared. I should rephrase that sentence. The kids slept in bed with me while I got smothered and kicked all night and nearly died of a heat stroke from our collective body heat. However,  I don't blame them for being scared. I was scared too, but that's not really something you tell your kids when you are trying to comfort them. I thought for sure the next big gust of wind was going to bring a tree down on our roof and our roof would collapse and squash us. In the end, the wind did bring a lot of trees down that night, but none on our roof. Luckily, all the trees here are pretty skinny, so even if they do land on a few roofs, the roofs can take it and no one gets crushed in their sleep. What a relief! Phew!

So thanks to our wind storm we no longer have lovely gold leaves on all of the trees. Now we have lovely gold leaves on everything but the trees. The trees are so sad and naked now.

Here are the fall photos from three days ago that I took. When it was still lovely. 

This is the color that nearly every tree turns in the fall. We have mostly birch and cottonwood and they all turn a beautiful goldenrod color in autumn. Some are slightly more brown like this one.

Others are a beautiful bright yellow like this one.

I loved this view from the tire swing. Sadly my children will not get to enjoy this view this year. The tree is now bare.

While the trees turn yellow, many of the plants and bushes turn red.
Yellow leaves above...

and red leaves below.

But the devils club turns yellow. It has to be obstinate.

I believe that this is highbush cranberry.

More red berries. I don't know what they are. I don't dare eat anything after watching Into The Wild. He ate something that looked very much like something that was supposed to be edible. It was a close cousin of what he thought it was. It was also very toxic. He died. I like to learn my life lessons from movies so I decided that I will eat nothing that I can't name with 100% certainty.


This was my garden a few days ago. Poppies, phlox, lobelia, pansies, and more. One of the traits that I inherited from my mother was my love for flower gardens.  My garden is now in a very sad state.

This poppy came from seeds that I took from my moms garden when I visited Michigan last summer. We went and snatched a bunch of seed pods and I took them to Alaska with me. They LOVE Alaska. They've been going crazy all summer.

I loved this one. She just opened and her pod was stuck on her like a little hat. Her hat is long gone now thanks to the wind.

Just so you know the full effects of what a windstorm can do to beautiful fall days.

Before windstorm.

Same view. After windstorm.

Before windstorm.

After windstorm.

Some of the trees clung to their leaves for dear life and still have a few to show for their effort. I admire their tenacity.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

This morning

Here's a little view into my morning. 
The kids were brushing their teeth upstairs and spotted this moose in the back yard. 
Then we came downstairs to look out the big bay window and spotted her friend with her.

They were young. They've visited us before. They like our backyard and our neighbors front yard. They also like my delphinium. They must not be toxic to moose, as they are to humans, because they ate the whole blasted stalk of flowers. They were kind enough to leave the rest of the plant. They just ate the flowers.

This is my view from my computer desk this morning. Autumn is in full swing. In fact, we are at the peak and headed for the down slide now. I don't like the down slide because once you hit the bottom it's winter. After our really gloomy summer, I'm not quite ready for winter yet. At least our fall has been beautiful. It has been sunny and gorgeous for the past two weeks. 

This is the view of my boy's creation. He started digging this pile of dirt a few weeks ago because he wanted to bury something. He didn't care what, he just wanted something to bury. And to play with DH's post hole digger. Burying a rock or an old busted up toy is much better than burying his sister. I was not so lucky as a kid. As the youngest of four I was the thing that got buried. They were kind enough to leave my head poking out. And they didn't leave me there, obviously, because here I am.

This is also where toys come to die, so I suppose it is appropriate that he wanted to bury them. The thing that I find most funny about this whole scenario is that there is a sand box about 15 feet away and yet he has been playing in this pile of dirt. Until a week ago it was a mud pit. I finally put the kibosh on the hose. He'd already done enough damage.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fun with Produce

Things are just big in Alaska. The state itself is just plain huge. Our borough (Alaskan for county) is the size of West Virginia, just to give you a little perspective.  So I suppose that it would only be fitting that the worlds largest produce is grown here. The summer days with about 20 hours of daylight are really helpful for growing large stuff. I'll tell you a little secret though. A lot (if not all) of this stuff is started inside a greenhouse in the middle of winter. While we may have a lot of sunlight, it still is simply not warm enough to put that stuff outside. I learned a valuable lesson concerning tomatoes this year. I bought three lovely tomato plants this spring. I planted them in my garden. Fall has arrived and I do not have a single tomato. It is just not warm enough here. I need a greenhouse. 

Meet the world's largest pumpkin. He weighs in at a whopping 1,101 lbs. 

Second place.

And this measly little guy was in third. They were all pretty close to weighing a half ton. That's a lot of pie.

The other big highlight of the fair is the winner of the largest cabbage contest. I think the winner this year was around 90 lbs.

This is a big zucchini. A 7.25 lb zucchini to be exact.

Here is a little man made of produce.
I think this particular contest with produce had to be my favorite. This section was to see who could create the best little creatures out of veggies and such. I loved this. This is definitely something that I could get caught up in if I ever entered. How fun.

I don't know what this is supposed to be but I love his nose. He reminds me of Walter Matthau from Grumpy Old Men.

This one looks like the cabbage version of anime.

One hungry little caterpillar.

I'll be honest, I don't know what this is supposed to be. The sticks/antlers in the head make me think deer or moose, but the leaves stuck to the back like wings are really throwing me off. Anyone have a guess?

Love this guy. He looks like a Muppet. Or he could also be a character from Wallace and Grommet.

This one won the grand prize and I can see why. I love that he can stand on his own four feet. I love the bean tusks and flowered trunk. My favorite part is the flower/moppet of hair on top of his head. He just makes me smile. I first think of Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street and Heffalump from Winnie the Poo. Obviously my first thought should have been 'elephant.'
Can you tell I have young kids? I didn't think so.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More fair fun

Here are a few more highlights from our day at the fair.

We caught the tail end of the lumberjack show when we went to the fair last year so we wanted to make sure that we got to see the whole thing this year. It really is entertaining.

There is ax throwing.

Log cutting.

I don't remember what they called this, but he was standing on a board wedged into a cut on the tree, and then they chop the top off. One guy nearly fell off.

Don't remember what this is called either, but two guys race to the top of the poles and back down. They pretty much just free fall back down to the bottom. Scary.


And log rolling.
The whole show is scripted, and it happened to be the same show with the same jokes as last year even though the people were different. It reminds me of my rodeo days, listening to the clowns do the same routines and same jokes all season long. Sometimes even year after year.

Now we move on to animals.  Considering that their aren't that many farms out here, there really weren't that many animals. At least not compared to Michigan.

There were some awfully cute pygmy goats.

Baa, baa, black sheep.

Some beautifully feathered bird that unfortunately has the ugliest head God ever created.

You met this fellow earlier. He tried to get my camera, but I was too quick for him.

And finally some bunnies. Their red eyes always throw me off a bit. Cute but still kind of creepy.

And finally we came to see the show Cavallo. The guy here is juggling while he stands on the back of a horse that is running around a ring. It really is amazing. It is a wonderful show with vaulting and other tricks on horse back. Vaulting is basically gymnastics on horseback. I always figured gymnastics was hard enough on the ground, but someone, somewhere along the line decided to do it on the back of a horse. I guess they really needed a challenge.

Here he is standing on two horses. If you look closely you can see it.

Now there are two people up there.

And now, notice the guy flying through the air? He just did a back flip off the horse in front.

And he lands on the horse in the back. AMAZING! If I can ever figure out how to get a video off of my phone and on to the computer, I will post it.

Had to get some pictures of the kids at the fair.

It was bright...

The hula hoop queen had to show off her mad hula-ing skills.

Bumper cars.
I don't think that Princess Blondie quite understood the point of the bumper cars. When they got out after their ride she said "That STINKIN' car ran into us and now my stomach hurts!"  Then I had to explain that the whole point of bumper cars is to run into people. Perhaps I should have explained that to her before they got in.

Sonny Boy loved this little obstacle course.

And what trip to the fair would be complete without a ride on the Ferris wheel? I kind of wish we could see it at night. I bet it is beautiful all lit up.

DH and Princess Blondie are up there somewhere.

Ah, there they are.

And then on our way out, we saw a bike demonstration.

It was the highlight of the fair for Sonny Boy. Perhaps even the highlight of his life thus far.

The only thing I could think the whole time I watched it was how much it would hurt if they crashed. That is just asphalt below them. I'm not sure they would have any skin left if they fell. They did talk a lot about the importance of safety equipment after their demonstration though.
They do know how to make mothers happy.

Coming up in our final installment of fun at the fair, Produce: Alaskan Style. We grow 'em big up here!