Saturday, February 27, 2010


I'm staying home this weekend. I have piles everywhere in my house requesting serious attention. Outside the house there is a pile of garbage bags to haul to the transfer station. Inside the house there is a pile of clean laundry to be folded. Inside the closet is a pile of dirty laundry to be laundered. Inside the dishwasher is a pile of clean dishes to put away. On top of the desk is a pile of mail to be sorted through. On top of the bar counter is a pile of tax documents to be organized to mail to the account. On end of the bar counter is a pile of packages to be mailed. On the dining room table is a pile of almost completed journal covers for my confirmation students needing the covers decorated. Next to the bed is a pile of books finished waiting to go to the used bookstore. On the floor next to the bed is a pile of new books waiting to be put on the bookshelf.

This weekend's goal is to diminish piles.

PS: I know my comments are disabled. Os is suppose to work on that for me tomorrow after the symphony mayhem is over.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Scrappin' Retreat

We made it! Mt Aurora Fairbanks Creek Lodge was our destination for the weekend. I scrambled to load everything after work and we made it to the Lodge by 6 pm. It sits on top of peak and you have a clear view of Mt. McKinley when the skies permit. The outside looks rustic and abandoned but it is a true treasure on the inside. The Birdsall Family has operated it for many years and it is a hidden wonder in the hills around Fairbanks. This is Daisy, the resident Golden Retriever. She greeted all of us when we arrived and that spot on the floor is "her" spot. When she moves away from it you can tell because the polish on the hardwood looks different there.
The idea behind a scrapbook retreat is to gather with others who have the same interest in scrapbooking, haul all your stuff to the get away location, and do nothing but scrapbook. This retreat as one additional objective. EAT as much as you can of Brenda Birdsall's cooking. The meals were incredible. Friday night we had steak tips with mushrooms, real green beans dripping with garlic and butter, the biggest baked potato I have ever seen, homemade dinner rolls, real blue cheese dressing and dessert included various crumbles (I had the pumpkin and the rhubarb) with vanilla ice cream!

Justine and I stayed up until 4 in the morning scrapping but when I caught the whiff of the homemade cinnamon rolls at 8:00 on Saturday morning I couldn't possibly go back to sleep. I got up, showered, and got down stairs just in time to enjoy a raisin cinnamon roll smothered in freshly made cream cheese frosting. Combined with a couple cups of good strong coffee it was the perfect start for another day of crafting.

I signed up for this retreat through a Creative Memories consultant I met at my church. Her grandson is in my confirmation class. Turned out she has been doing this retreat twice a year for many years. I first found out I would know a couple people there. One of the doctor's wives has been going plus my confirmation student's mom. I was talking about the retreat over Super Bowl Sunday and my friend Justine got super excited too. She is new in town and didn't know anyone into scrapping. We asked if there was room and we got to be roommates for the weekend and get to know each other better. It was great to bring her along as well as to meet all the other wonderful women there.
Mt Aurora Fairbanks Creek Lodge was a great destination for the weekend being only about 20 miles from my house. Like I said, the exterior looks very rustic but the views on the inside and from the front deck are unforgettable. The weather could not have been any better. We had the windows open in the great room most of the weekend and the temps were nearly 50 degrees. I stretched on the front deck on Saturday morning barefoot with the sun shining bright onto the old wood.

You already met Daisy. She wasn't the only dog for the weekend. Meet Brandy. Brandy is a Bernese Mountain Dog who works as a service dog for a new friend I met at the retreat. Brandy's owner is Laura. Turns out Laura and I have a lot in common with our love of Alaska and the Iditarod. Laura is working the starting line in Anchorage and then is flying to a check point to aid with the race there. Laura was working on an album full of Brandy pictures. You say "cheese" to this dog and she actually poses! What a cutie!
The weekend was a wonderful retreat from the usual activities of house cleaning, laundry, and such. I got 15 pages done in my Alaska summer vacation album. Justine worked on both a big album and a little mini album about her son's heart surgery. We got to know each other as well as some new great women from the Fairbanks area. We will be back up there in October for the next scrap weekend! See ya there!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Packed for the weekend

This weekend I am doing a one night scrapbook retreat. I would like to have been able to do the full weekend but prior commitments for Sunday won't allow it. Here is what it takes to go away for a weekend of scrapbooking. Cases, bags, and boxes of all sorts of things to be creative! The retreat is at a mountain lodge and according to an acquaintance who has gone in the past the food is phenomenal. Homemade breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between. My goal is to start AND finish my scrapbook from the two week Alaska vacation I took this summer. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

HNT...Making Tracks

Not quite half nekkid but I could have been it was that warm out when i was out snowshoeing this weekend. instead of big, thick wool socks I was able to wear these little moose anklets inside my boots as I trekked through the woods and across the lake on Monday in Willow, AK. I love snowshoeing. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed making tracks in fresh snow. Happy HNT!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Close Encounters of the Moose Kind

I had a wonderful weekend but on Thursday the whole weekend could have all been over. I let Ruby out as soon as I crawl out of bed so I'm usually about half asleep when I open the door and let her out. I usually take a little glance though to make sure she's ok. Thursday morning I was at the door in my bathrobe and heard her enthusiastically run down the front porch steps, make her sharp right hand turn and literally heard her come to a skidding stop followed by a growl/bark combo.

I stuck my head out just in time to see and HEAR a momma moose shake her entire body and huff at Ruby as she got herself ready to protect the calf moose standing right behind her. I could HEAR her breathing and shaking. She was about 2 yards away from Ruby and about 3 yards a way from me standing on the porch.

I eagerly and with a squeaky and quivering voice started calling Ruby. She didn't bark any more and she didn't move forward but I had to call her several times before she high tailed it back to the front porch. She did a little "I got pee" dance for the next few minutes as I tried to shoo the moose. Momma came around the deck and looked over the rail into the dining room but I tapped on the window and made enough noise she and her baby took off.

Ruby was quite relieved when I was able to let her back out so she could take care of her business. Thursday night, we eagerly packed up our stuff to take off on Friday morning. I'm glad it was without a moose print on her forehead.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

HNT...Weekend getaway

It is time for a "me" weekend. Thanks to the kindness of a friend I am heading to Willow, AK to stay in their cabin for the weekend. It's about 4.5 hours south of here, just north of Wasilla. So to start the weekend I stopped in and got a pedicure. The last one I had was back in November. So tomorrow morning I'll load up the dog, some books, a journal and my snowshoes to head to the Willow House as we affectionately call the cabin. I'm looking forward to the escape. Happy HNT!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mush on...gone to the dogs

I have not forsaken my blog but I may well be going to the dogs. I hit the ground running on January 4th with a return to work and have filled the weekends in between with a multitude of Alaska winter fun. I have spent a significant amount of quality time with Ruby after all of her excitement while I was away on vacation. She continues to have her love for annihilating stuffed toys. My latest try was a Gallatin Grizzly from Westpaw Designs out of Bozeman, Montana. Within 24 hours his hind leg was amputated and just yesterday the squeeker finally came out. Now Ruby doesn't seem as interested in him. But she hasn't tore apart any of her new Zogoplex throw toys!

Alaska is beginning to "warm" up. Last year January saw three weeks straight with days -40 or colder. When I got off the plane last year on January 2nd it was -56! This January has been surprisingly warm and pleasant allowing for some outdoor fun. Outdoor fun in Alaska in winter is not complete without mushing. I have been busy teaching confirmation class at the church I found and two Sunday's ago the confirmation class and a few others were invited to my friend Gloria's house to go on a ride. Gloria's daughter and I went to Carroll together and now found each other at the same church. While only two of my students came along, we had a good group and a great time.

You can't mush without a little pre-mushing lesson in how the brakes work in case of an emergency. Sled dogs follow a few commands, "Gee" means to the right, "Haw" means to the left, and any version of "Let's go" sets them running. They don't know the words "Stop", "Slow down" or "whoa". They just run.

So if you need help the helper comes and puts one foot on the break while you swing one off. You don't take your second off until the helper is leaning over the handles and ready with their second leg to stop and hold on!

This is Jack. You may remember hearing about him this summer when my friend Megan was here. I almost adopted Jack but Jack took to getting off his chain and running the neighborhood. Jack makes a good sled dog as long as he is in the back.

I was the last person on our loop so I got to ride from the vehicle to home. About 10 feet after this picture was taken Gloria told me I wanted to drive. Not, do you want to drive, but "you want to drive". So we did the brake trade off and I got to drive the team. Wishes I had a picture but we had left everyone else behind.

One of my students took this picture as we got ready to take off. I could have road or drove for miles. A truly amazing experience I will be sure to repeat. Thank you Gloria!

This past Saturday was the kickoff for the first of two LONG sled dog races. The Yukon Quest is a 1,000 mile race between Fairbanks AK and Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. Each year the race alternates the start and this year was our turn. 24 teams of mushers took off from downtown Fairbanks and came through on the Chena River through post. We got together for a day on the river with all kinds of fun.

The tent had a wood stove in the middle of it, we had Arctic portable grills, we had two bonfires, we had hot chocolate and peppermint Schnapps. We made hot dogs, had cookies, and all kinds of treats.

This is musher Brett Sass in the #12 start. He was behind Lance Mackey. Sometime I'll tell you what I think of Lance Mackey. Maybe next month when I'm in Nome for the Iditarod.

This weekend I am taking Ruby and we are going to Willow, AK. We are going to stay at the same cabin we stayed at in October for the Murder on the Train weekend. It will just be the two of us, my snowshoes, a camera, and a few books/journals. Should be a nice get away. Maybe I will get myself motivated to get up to date on the year.