Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Little Girl the Husky Eats an Entire Moose

My mighty hunter, Little Girl the husky, loves being on moose patrol out in the yard and surrounding woods. It is her number one joy in life to try to herd the mooses out of her yard. They will have no part of that and mostly ignore her. She exacted her revenge this Christmas. I've never seen her take down and consume an entire moose.

She has never been a food-thief. She has never taken food off counters or the table. My newer dog, Hunter, came with some very bad habits so Little Girl has seen the benefits of checking out those surfaces. Mom and Gramma are here with me this week for the holidays, visiting from Illinois and Wisconsin. We made Christmas cookies together, and we frosted them one evening. The next night, before we got them boxed up for friends, we were in a different room and heard a patter of paws in the vicinity of the dining table. We returned just in time to see Little Girl drag away the moose and take it to her spot on the living room carpet to devour. She showed no signs of remorse.

Monday, December 29, 2008

View from the top

Playing tourists, Mom, Gramma and I went to Alyeska and took the tram to the top. I had never done that. This is their first visit here in the winter, from Illinois and Wisconsin. We got the combo package for tram lift and lunch at the top. That was a highlight of our time together.

The views were magnificent, and perhaps just as neat was the fact that it's Christmas break and the ski resort was teeming with teens out of school. Their energy was fun and showed how Alaskans love to have fun in the snow, even if it was -15 degrees at the top of the mountain. The alpenglow on the mountains this time of year is extraordinary. Watching the mountains turn pink and orange was gorgeous. We also enjoyed watching little planes buzz around below us, closer to the valley floor, down by the hotel, which appeared tiny from our vantage above. From our table at lunch, we overheard kids exclaiming about skiers who hopped off the edge outside the restaurant to do a double diamond run. Those looked as close to vertical as I can imagine. We also saw a helicoptor ferrying heliskiers into the back country to drop them into virgin powder.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snowboarding at Hatcher Pass on Christmas Eve day

My mom and gramma are visiting from Illinois/Wisconsin for Christmas. It took them 3 days to get here, with the winter storms going through the Lower 48 and back-ups at the airports. Once everyone had slept enough, we went out on errands during our 4 hours of sunlight today.

On the way to Palmer, I decided to drive up to Hatcher Pass because neither of them has seen how glorious it is in the winter. They've mainly visited in the summer and fall before. I may actually prefer Hatcher Pass dressed in for winter than the lush green of summer. It's so breath-taking. The winding Little Su river is covered by ice a good 18" thick, then layered with about 3 feet of snow on top of that. There are spots of open, rushing water, where you can see the layers of ice and snow on top of the river, beside the open spots. The mountains are fluffy and thick with snow. And everywhere is white white pure white. So gorgeous.

I took them up near the top to see kids getting dropped off by dads in pick up trucks. The kids strap on snowboards, hop up, then disappear over the edge, off the road. They'll get a ride up with the next dad waiting at the bottom with a truck. Mom and Gramma enjoyed watching youth being so active in the mountains on an eight degree day. We commented how much more serene and beautiful this was than hustling around in a mall somewhere.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Mooses

I couldn't figure out why Little Girl hadn't come back to the door after I let her out the last time for the night. I went outside to see if I could see her in the moonlight off the white snow. I perceived a big dark something and went, oh, mooses! Then I saw her, and saw she was 10 yards away or so, watching them. When I came out, she decided to be the defender and started barking at them. They paid her no mind. They kneel down on their front knees by the chokecherry tree to nibble dried cherries off the ground. It was snowing pretty hard, a very pretty night time sight.

It occurred to me that all I'd need was a baby Jesus in a creche to place by that choke cherry tree, and maybe some industrial big lights on a stand so a camera could capture that picture?? Then I could catch them in the act of nibbling and get a great photo that looked like they had come to adore the baby Jesus. Wouldn't that be a good photo for a Christmas card?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Talkeetna Bachelor Auction

I've wanted to go for years, but I finally got there: The Talkeetna Bachelor Auction. Nowadays it's a little more fancy with more hoopla than in former years--sexy music on cue as the guys strut the catwalk. It's not held at the bar any more. Now it's in the new community arts and theater building, the old hangar. But the spirit is still the same: it's done in the spirit of fun and celebrates the traits of the quintessential Talkeetna man.

Never, ever have I seen a grizzled, straggly haired 70 year old take to the stage to Too Sexy For My Shirt and then do a pretty convincing strip-tease, if you can get past the saggy tummy and man boobies in glaring day-glow white. He may yet find his perfect mate to help him start a sustainable commune lifestyle above the Arctic Circle--he clearly has several good years left in him and has a few moves to please the ladies, from those hip thrusts he showed off. He fetched $135 and was given a rousing ovation for sharing his talents with us.

Amongst those looking for "a special lady with a full set of teeth" or "my soul-mate who has a boat, and a motor," there were a mix of fine-looking young men, accomplished and interesting prime of lifers, and then the older gents. The night's top bid went for a silver-haired fellow in a Western jacket and cowboy hat. When asked why women should bid on him, he replied that he was a conductor on the Alaska Railroad, had been for 44 years, and retirement was 25 days away. Those gals were lining up for a chance at that pension! His bidder won a date with him for a whopping $1150.

It wasn't quite the laid-back affair I had heard about. Now everything was spiffed up quite a bit. They had the two gay guys in town do the theatrical lighting and the music, and the woman taking tickets primped for the event. She was wearing a set of Carhart's coveralls and bunny boots to be next to the cold entrance, but then had her hair pulled back pretty and was wearing the most delicate, perfectly-sized strand of pearls to accent her outfit.

It was pretty evident who the townies were, in their women's Carharts and boots, and then the entourage from Anchorage who'd caught on that this made for a fun Girls' Getaway Weekend. There were about 100 women in cocktail dresses and plunging necklines, teetering around in pointy heels (I have no idea how they made it from their cars into the building). You could tell them by their clothes, their shiny hair, and their straight teeth, kind of like how you could tell Americans by their straight teeth and perms when I lived in Europe in college. At the end of the event, they suited up, putting on their celery and cerise Patagonia and Northface (clean) jackets to giggle their way along the main street.

It was very, very fun evening, and just that right mix of wierd and odd in an Alaskan way. See . Just like the saying up here, The odds are good, but the goods are odd.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Marking the Important Moments in life with Guns

This weekend I was present for two conversations about guns that really said a lot about Alaska to me.

I was at the hospital bedside of Charles, a dear elderly man in our church. He suffered from terminal cancer, but it was his kidneys that put him in the hospital right before Thanksgiving. Friday he started to really perk up and was his usual comical self. Saturday, he was in and out of it but we figured he just needed rest. His wife Rachel had gone home to shower for the first time in three days. While Rachel was out, a call came in from one of his sons. We held the phone to his ear as they talked briefly. We heard him mumble "You get all the guns, except for your mom's .38." That nearly cracked me up, in spite of the gravity of the situation. When Rachel returned, Charles was sleeping and we relayed his comments to her. She said she didn't want the .38, she wanted the .45. This from Rachel, a long-haul trucker who's 82 years old and maybe 100 pounds. Charles heard us discussing it and roused from sleep to tell her which gun she should have. They agreed that the 9 mm Glock was her favorite and easier for her handle. Charles passed away the next morning.

Also this weekend, I had lunch with a new friend who's only been in Alaska about 10 months. She's living in an apartment and her next door neighbor, a man about her age, has been getting friendly. They chum around some evenings and he's helping her learn to play guitar. She said she's been clear with him that she's interested in just being friends. She said recently she mentioned something they'd done for fun to her co-worker, a long-time Alaskan named Margaret. She said that he'd taken her to his favorite spots to target shoot. Margaret said, "He took you shooting? That was a date." My friend said, oh, no, they were just friends. Margaret said, nope, it was a date. And if she got a gun from him for Christmas that was an engagement present.