Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tracking Moose

Mom got glimpses of plenty of wild creatures of the non-human variety in her days in Alaska:   brown/black bears on a mountaintop as we flew overhead, bald eagles and hundreds of salmon as we rafted down the Kenai river, mountain goats, puffins, cormorants, anhingas, kittiwakes, common murres, terns and gulls as we cruised the waters of Resurrection Bay.

She did NOT see a live moose her entire visit.   But not for lack of trying.  David and I had seen two moose peering through a chain link fence next to the highway on our way to a park in Anchorage, while mom rested at the hotel.  Mom kept her eyes on the forests and meadows our truck passed through in all the days the followed, searching for the elusive moose.  David spotted another while in town, running an errand while mom and I were out chasing wildlife and scenery on one of our tours.  No such luck for Mom.

The evidence of moose traffic is all over our property in Sterling, in the form of moose scat - "nuggets".  One afternoon mom and I followed several series of tracks close to our hangar, trying to determine their (we found large and small footprints right together) exact path and hopefully get a glimpse from a safe distance.  Sharp-eyed tracker Dorothy spotted this:

Hair left on the branches as the moose rubbed against it.  I put it in my pocket to bring home so our grandkids could feel its coarseness, but i forgot about it and lost the hairs when I did laundry.  Mom went out another day and found more hair caught in another branch, but no moose.

On our last evening on the Kenai peninsula we took mom past locations where we had seen moose on previous visits - no moose now- to a restaurant that served good food and whose walls were covered with stuffed and mounted salmon, haddock, bears, caribou, elk, foxes and MOOSE.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bruce!

I'm listening to fireworks outside my window and thinking of our 4th of July brother, and how you were so afraid of the Florida thunderstorms as a preschooler.  I have one mental picture of that time of you running across the lawn screaming with both hands clamped over your ears.

Sometimes I think about how challenging it must have been for you growing up in a family with three sisters, always outnumbered; but then I think about what a wonderful man you've become and I wonder if putting up with all those females helped shape you into the patient and kind yet effective leader.

We are proud to be your sisters!  Happy Birthday!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Visit with Baby Bennett

Mom and I visited Amber, Sam and baby Bennett for a few minutes yesterday.

He's regained his birthweight and still has lots of hair.  Mom's assessment:  "He likes to eat and sleep and poop.....gets REALLY red when he cries.   Sweet baby.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Alaskan Awe

It's been so long since anyone posted, I thought I'd post a few of my pics from some of our Alaskan adventures (mostly Anchorage area and Kenai peninsula) for your enjoyment and also to spur you on to upload some of your favorite places (local or far away).

Appreciation of the beauty in our backyard and the adventures we can have on the road are, to me, one of the wonderful gifts that mom and dad gave to us.  So please, log on to share some memories or photos that make you smile with gratitude or sigh with sheer awe.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sneaking Strawberries

As children, my cousin Allison and I were forbidden, by my uncle, to enter his "sacred" strawberry patch under any circumstances. He also forbade us to pick apples off of his tree, but you'll soon read that we were less than obedient. However, I like to refer to it as simple curiosity over disobedience. One day we wanted strawberries so badly that we thought if we picked a few and ate them it would go unnoticed by the great harvester himself. We picked a handful each and gleefully ran into the house searching for the sugar jar. One at a time we reached our innocent hands into the sugar jar coating each strawberry with sweet goodness and savoring each bite. Once finished we freely returned to the world outside where hiding places were waiting to be discovered, forts were ready to be bulit, mud pies ready to be made, trees anxious to be climbed, and dusty roads waiting to be stirred up. The strawberries were far from our mind, but the sugar jar was well aware that it was no longer snowy white, but had remnants of red from the little hands that had so innocently used it to coat their strawberries. Not only was the sugar jar well aware, but my uncle had also made the discovery. To say the least our punishment was easy, because the laughter seemed to take away the sting and still to this day the story is told at many family events. Oh what a joy it is to reminisce about moments in our life that bring a smile and laughter!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Strawberry Fields

Mom missed out on the mini birthday celebration (hats, brownies, candles, ice cream & song) I had planned for Sunday, because she drove home Saturday evening instead of returning home Sunday as I thought she was going to do. So today, now that Sam and Amber are on their way back to Kentucky, Kyle & Michelle and kids and David and I are back in our weekly routines, I want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! Thanks for coming and spending your birthday weekend to cheer on Michelle and me at the triathlon and to endure all the uncertain plans, hectic activity, and kid clamor with such flexibility and good humor.

Since we drove past those newly planted strawberry fields on the way home, perhaps you - or others of us could share some memories of picking berries or other produce?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sandy's Adventures With Wheels

Rollerblading through Walsingham Park is a pleasurable and peaceful endeavor to me, but weekend mornings can be a bit challenging with the increased traffic on the winding path of the 6 mile pedestrian trail - groups of walkers engrossed in their conversation spread across the entire width of the trail, the under 6 set who haven't yet mastered the art of continuing to pedal straight ahead while staring at the oncoming skater, cyclers cresting a blind curve at the exact moment I'm passing some walkers, and lots and lots of dogs of all sizes with all leash lengths.

This morning, a woman's remonstrance to me "Try not to fall!" got me thinking about some of my other adventures with wheels....

A basic understanding of the "...equal and opposite reaction" principle might have stood me in good stead on the day I willingly collaborated with my friend, Patrice, to stand on a skateboard - yes, I, who did not own or know how to ride a skateboad - and hold onto a rope attached to the back of her bicycle. The theory was that she would tow me along. Well, after the first 2 feet she towed an empty skateboard because I was lying, unconscious, on the pavement. I came to consciousness to the sound of her sobbing, "please don't die, Sandra, please don't die..."

I haven't stepped on a skateboard since.

When David got his pilot's license (no, this is not our plane pictured above), he was so enthusiastic about the joys of being PIC (pilot in command - don't laugh - it is a true acronym used in all the general aviation literature) that he simply couldn't imagine that I wouldn't love flying a plane just as much as he did. Faced with my reluctance, he tried to trick me into falling in love with it by suggesting - no URGING - me to take a "pinch-hitters course" - the theory being that I would learn how to land the plane if he became unable to do so.

After more than 20 hours of instruction and numerous bouncing landings , the only thing I knew for sure about piloting was that I should NOT try to be the PIC. I persisted through three different instructors, a near mid-air collision, and clipping the tail of another plane parked on "the college ramp" when I taxied in, physically and mentally spent at the end of a lesson. I believe that incident cost us several thousand dollars in repair work.

Then, in the season of empty-nest, I decided I would enjoy our motorcycle rides even more if I was driving my own bike instead of squeezing in behind David on his Harley. I thought about how much I loved bicycling and how I needed to be taking on new challenges - since the flying gig hadn't panned out - and learning new things. I imagined myself motoring around our city and across the nation - the freedom, the exhilaration! During one of our visits to the local Harley store for parts, I got the inside scoop on a private instruction class put on by the dealership. The female salesperson told of her experience with such enthusiasm and hope -"Small classes...nobody fails...the instructors just keep helping you until you get it..."

I talked with David, plunked down the cash, and found myself in the Shriner's parking lot on the coldest weekend of the year. I had passed the written part of the course with flying colors, had made it through the first day of riding instruction on our 250cc (I think) student motorcycles.

Hindsight tells me I shouldn't have been wearing brand new, totally inflexible, dense soled boots that weekend, that I should have INSISTED the teacher let me do the Saturday afternoon shifting drill over again so he could see that I really wasn't getting the feel of it, that I shouldn't have doubled up dosage of my cold meds and given myself a practically sleepless Saturday night....

Long story made tolerable? I saved myself from being kicked out of class (yep - the instructor had already pulled a 400 pound rider from the squadron) by up-shifting up when I should have down-shifted, and applying the brakes just before I hit a wet patch on the curve...I came to consciousness 15-20 feet from where I last remembered being, with my classmates gathered around me. Apparently I'd been out long enough for them to all slow down, park and dismount. I had to get stitched up just above my eye, and I pretty much lived on ibuprofen for a few days while my twisted ankle and banged up knee recovered. The bruises were about the most colorful I've ever had.

In the interest of keeping his wife a few more years, David got me a much smaller motorcycle for Valentines Day that year. I was thrilled, and for a few weeks, practiced on the mostly quiet airport road to our hangar. But I had changed from a rider who rode "with" the bike, leaning into the turns with confidence, to a "stiff as a board" rider that the hangar pilots laughed at. I signed up for a repeat class a few months later, but woosed out and cancelled. We still have the bike and I'm not ready to give up on it yet, though I haven't ridden it for several years...

These days my dream scenarios of riding in the open air of Florida feature convertible automobiles, bicycles, and kayaks.