Saturday, January 15, 2011


I judge days in Alaska by several criteria. One is whether or not Mt McKinley is visible when I head in for the day. The other is whether or not I see a moose during the day. One of the two makes it a good day. Both on the same day makes it a great day. Yesterday, I experienced a PERFECT day in Alaska. As I sat in a dog sled riding through the woods I reflected a bit on my time in Alaska. This year is starting out differently and it looks to be moving in a much more positive direction than the last few years of my life.

The last year was a bit rough financially. I had some unexpected bumps and continued difficulty finding a renter/buyer for the house in Minnesota. To say things were tight might be an underestimation. I look from pay check to pay check and plan what I can and can't do/pay based on that. I now will be getting a bit extra each month due to an error in how I was paid over the last two years; I have not been getting pay for carrying the pager like I am contracted to. I only have been paid for the time I was called in. So in addition to a bit more on each pay periods check, I will be getting two years of back pay for time on call!

I have been talking with a new realtor/friend and she found someone that might be interested in renting the house in Rochester. There is also a pediatrician from here in Fairbanks who was accepted into the pediatric cardiology fellowship at Mayo. The Human Resources person at her clinic and I are good friends. The friend is going to put a bug in the doc's ear about a place to live in Rochester. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel and the home I love so much back in Minnesota will again be alive with activity.

Relationships over the last year have been interesting. Letting go of the relationships in the past has never been easy for me. On the other hand, I am sometimes too eager with new relationships. A few came and went over the last year. The year started with a very scary relationship and I am grateful to be out of it. I was never hit or struck but words and threats can leave deep marks. I was courageous enough this summer to do many outdoor activities alone but I have always wanted to have someone to share those adventures with. It's early but there is someone new in my life that is making those adventures more enjoyable with his company.

Yesterday I took a friend with to go mushing with another friend from church. It was -15 out, the sun was shining brightly, the mountain was visible all day, and I saw 5 moose throughout the day. I ended the evening with a group of girl friends I cherish to the core. As the new year starts I find there to be a bit more peace. As we neared the house yesterday with the sled, my friend let me take control of the dogs. Maybe it's a reflection on the year to come...I'm at the "reins" and if I need to put the breaks on I have the ability to do so but I think this might be the year to let the puppies run!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


This blog was initially created as a form of communication between myself and my friends spread miles across the country. For a while it became a venting tool. Then it became a log of new adventures in new parts of the country. Eventually, it became nearly abandoned other than my occasional HNT and my updated book list. Facebook, work, and travel all seemed to replace the outlet I had developed. I miss it. I miss writing. I miss the friends I communicate with mostly via an online media. I miss putting my thoughts to text. It's time to make a resolution and get back on track.

I do not know which track I will take. My motto for many years as been "I chose the one less traveled and that has made all the difference" along with "not all who wander are lost". With those words in mind, I'm sure it will end up a bit of this and some of that. Work is a bit off limits now that I'm a "federal" employee for the DoD. Alaska is becoming more of a lifestyle than just an adventure. I am still reading as much as I can get my hands on. There are some cobwebs to be dusted away and things that need aired out. I'll get to those too.

For now, I'm going to gradually work my way back into regular posts. I doubt I'll ever be a daily blogger but I going months without anything to share has not been enjoyable. I feel like something has been missing. Time to fill the void and find my voice again.

Friday, December 31, 2010

What I Read...

This year was a bit slow in terms of my usual reading list. However, I am blaming it on being out and about too much. While I was grateful for all the time I got to spend playing in Alaska I was a bit overwhelmed with too many other commitments at time this year and a bit too much traveling and not being at home. This year's goal is to hit 50 but also to write my own again. I haven't journaled in forever and my blog has been horribly neglected.

I opened the year with a book I found on my sister's book shelf and ended it with the most long, drug-out book I have ever read/listened too. A few comments for those that might want to turn a page or too...
  1. The Keeper's Son by Homer Hickam
  2. Purgatory Ridge by William Kent Krueger...This is a series I discovered near the end of last year that is written by a Minnesota author and all the books are set in Northern Minnesota. Just the setting makes them a good read for me.
  3. Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic's Edge by Jill Fredston...Up there as a second place in my favorite Alaska book so far.
  4. One Shot by Lee Childs
  5. Proof Positve by Philip Margolin
  6. No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
  7. The Chopin Manuscript by Jeffery Deavers and others...first "serial" manuscript I read. First and last chapter by the same author but after that each chapter is handed to a new author with no previous knowledge and no clue of where it's going.
  8. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson
  9. Shutter Island by Dennis Lahane...Disappointed by the book AND the movie!
  10. G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton
  11. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
  12. The Face of Deception by Iris Johansen
  13. Blood Hollow by William Kent Krueger
  14. The Bone Thief by Jefferson Bass
  15. Shadows of the Koyukuk by Sidney Huntington as told to Jim Reardon...If you only have time to read one book about AK in a short time, read this one!
  16. Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters by Peter Vronsky...Did you know that a female serial killer will go nearly 3 times as long as a male serial killer before they are caught?
  17. The 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  18. H is for Homicide by Sue Grafton
  19. Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 by Brian Burrough...Follow this book up with a trip to the Crime and Punishment Museum in DC, worth it.
  20. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larrson
  21. The Copper Bracelet by Jeffery Deavers and others
  22. Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larrson
  23. Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen
  24. Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer...Did nothing but make my blood boil and I WORK for the Army!
  25. Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
  26. I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton
  27. Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman
  28. Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood...Second worst book of the year but at least it was short!
  29. Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo...May be a new favorite author. Main character is a former Amish woman who is now the chief of police in her home town. Lots of moral conflict.
  30. Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger
  31. Spider Bones by Kathy Reichs
  32. The Killing Game by Iris Johansen
  33. Port Mortuary by Patrica Cornwell...Iwas so distracted the last two months of this year I nearly missed my all-time favorite author's newest book. Thank God it was Christmas vacation.
  34. 61 Hours by Lee Childs
  35. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky...Ok, I can say I read it. Do I have to remember the "suffering" of reading it?
A VERY short list for me this year What happened?

New Year's Resolution...

START WRITING AGAIN...both my blog and journaling. I need an outlet!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

HNT...The prep begins

Friends invited...Check
Groceries bought...Check
House cleaned...Check
Macaroni Salad...Check
Topping for brie...Check
Champagne, wine, brandy, scotch, OJ...Check
Sweet potatoes baked...Check
Two brandy pumpkin pies...Almost

It's my favorite night/day of the year! I'm cooking for my Thanksgiving orphan dinner.

Back in college I lived too far from home to go home for holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter because they were only four day weekends. I was never left alone in the dorm though. Multiple people had me at their houses for the holidays. I remember watching the Macy's parade wrapped up in huge down comforters at Coree's house only to discover the turkey hadn't been thawed. I remember Easter at Rhonda's house with the best home made strawberry shortcake ever with real half and half poured over the top. I remember breakfast of deer sausage and eggs at cousin Russell's house before a late Thanksgiving dinner. I remember after church dressed up dinner with Heather's family in the "old" neighborhood.

Now I'm older. Ever since I was married during graduate school I have returned the favor. I host an "orphan dinner" on Thanksgiving and Easter. I remember the first one in our apartment in Phoenix with yeast rolls that tasted like mom's but didn't rise. I remember Easter in the apartment in Helena with tables running from one side of the house to the other. I remember my first Thanksgiving in Alaska with the house still full of boxes and 23 people crammed into my little log cabin.

This year is a group of friends from work and outside of work, old and new. I'm glad they can share this day with me in my home. I truly feel honored to invite people into my home to partake in a day of thanks. I'm grateful for them all and I revel in the preparing their meal.

To you and yours...Thank you for your friendships, your memories, and may God bless you with a day to be grateful for! Happy HNT!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

HNT...All Jacked Up

Halloween isn't complete without a pumpkin carving. Note to self though, if doing something with tiny pieces DON'T get a pumpkin that is three inches thick! The little carving tools aren't deep enough on the first pass. Oh well. My witch didn't turn out to bad and I have enough pumpkin to chop up, boil down, and can to be used for pies and more throughout the year. It's a process but we'll see how it turns out. The 25 lbs of Honeycrisp Apples I boiled down made some crazy good applesauce.

Happy HNT!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Midnight Munchies

Alaska finally has a sunset again. This was last week one night around 10:30 pm taken off my back deck. About 1 hour and 45 minutes later it was dark, completely dark. Finally, darkness at night and cooler temps. Both of these returning make for a much happier Moosekahl.

I have been tending my garden somewhat tenderly throughout the summer. I admit to neglecting it at times and I lost some spinach b/c of that. If you don't pick it while leaves are ready it will bolt. My bolted while I was in MT. I had a few things that aren't doing as I thought they would...cucumbers and red peppers. I can handle those things. Ruby likes to eat at the grass but she leaves the garden beds alone.

Remember the pretty Romanesco? Any form of cauliflower is a absolute favorite moose food. The temps at night have been getting cooler, which means moose are moving down from higher altitudes. My moose is back. Haven't seen it yet but it's been here. Can you tell how I know?

The moose likes the leaves of kohlrobi but doesn't like the veggie. Those are teeth marks!

This moose LOVED the Romanesco but didn't even nimble that pumpkin plant.

This moose really likes Kale. So much for kale in my Zuppa Toscana.

This moose left evidence behind.

Definitely not dog prints!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Becoming an Outdoor Woman....2010

I was encouraged by several friends who have participated in the past to attend the Becoming an Outdoor Woman weekend sponsored by the Department of Game and Fish. I thought about it and decided it was a great way to spend a weekend. The weekend includes four workshop times with a very long list of class options. I was given a very nice backpack for a going away gift and while I have used it to travel I haven't actually tried packing everything I need in it to hike somewhere and spend a night. The first class I signed up for was Backpacking which included a lecture to cover gear and how to pack it as well as a hike and then a night in the woods, not at a campsite with "amenities".

Our instructors covered gear, food, training and more for us before we hit the trail. This was our trail buddy, Tessa. She was super excited she got to come along. Can you tell?

The original plan was to hike to a place called Inspiration Point. However, our instructors summed up the class and decided it might take be better to go to a place called Mitchell Point which was not quite as steep as the other hike. It was still a stunning view of the Tanana River Valley! I had to take a couple pictures looking over the edge just for Dad. He always worries about me in the high places I like to go to.

My pack was somewhere between 40 and 50 lbs full but I made it and actually felt pretty good. I also enjoyed it so I think I can get into this with a little more practice and a lot of training.
We hiked back off of Mitchell Point and then went even further down the hillside and into a clearing to make camp for the night. No maintained campsite, no platform. Just find a spot, smoosh the vegetation down a bit and make it home. It was actually really comfortable to have a bit of insulation and brush underneath the floor of the tent. I ended up sleeping like a log. I don't think I woke up once in the night.

The biggest challenge backpacking is cooking and eating. I had no idea where to start with that. We got to use various portable cooking devices like the JetBoil, PocketRocket, and Whisper light to heat water to add to Mountain House backpacking meals. The meals are good but they have some drawbacks. Each package is 2 servings so you either eat it all or have to pack out your garbage. Also some of them had really high sodium content. Overall, they tasted good though. I had Chicken and Rice and then we also made a raspberry crumble to share.

Our instructors had actually left some supplies at our campsite prior to us getting there so we were able to try out a few other things which might not be practical when backpacking but are definitely doable when car camping. Banana boats are a Girl Scout treat....Slice one unpeeled banana to make a slit. Stuff the slit with marshmellows and chocolate chips. Wrap in foil and throw in the fire. Very yummy. A few others tried coconut macaroons. Stuff a piece of chocolate inside a piece of french bread. Dip it in sweetened condensed milk and roll in coconut. Again, roast over fire and enjoy!

I had chosen to have a campsite for the weekend b/c it was $25 cheaper and then that money covered the $10 rental for my next class, Rappelling. Because of this, I was up at 6:00 am , broke camp, repacked the backpack and hiked out of camp to go back to the main area and set up my tent again at my designated camp site for the rest of the weekend. This was my road out at about 6:20 in the morning. I was hiked out, reset up, and to breakfast at the mess hall by 7:10 am! Not a bad start. How come it's never that easy to get up and moving on a Monday morning when it's work you are headed to?

I had three more classes ahead of me and the stories will follow. We were at Lost Lake Boy Scout Camp which was a phenomenal site with wild flowers, berries, peaks, rivers, and a lake to enjoy. I truly love where I live.