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Monday, May 28, 2012

Photo Day....

I promised myself that I would make a bit of an effort to increase the posts in this blog.  One way I am going to do that is to just do a few 'Photo Days'.  I constantly take pictures, they not only document everything but they also provide endless inspiration and Happy.  I hope you enjoy these peeks into our world!

Once the ground was cleared we started working on the garden space.  Digging up willow stumps and the larger rocks, removing trash and snowmachines and the larger stones.
So of course a few days later it snowed heavily for a couple days.  Cause I almost forgot I lived in the arctic.  Here you can see some of the finished boxes my husband made from salvaged wood.

A polar bear claw pendant, capped in whale baleen and scrimsahwed with a ancient Inupiaq design.  I call this one 'Twist'.  more info and pics at:

Some lichen sunbathing on a rock.  For some reason it looks so exuberant.

My brother picked up the camera and got a shot of me.  We were watching my husband and my brother in law butcher two caribou for transport. 

A American Golden Plover.  Eying me suspiciously.  Because I was acting suspiciously.

A polar bear fur, pearl, seed bead and bone hair pick.  The pearls were leftovers from my wedding.  More pics/info at

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tomato Anxiety....and other random spring things.

A quick update on my mini garden.  My tomato plants have developed something wrong with them.  Their thin baby leaves develop puckered pale spots, that have a little bit of shimmer to them.  The spots spread from the bottom leaves to the top leaves.  Which leads me to think it might be some sort of deficiency.  The weird part is that whatever it is is is only happening to my spoon tomato plants.  Every time I google the ailment it leaves me more confused that anything.  I've made a very diluted mix of epsom salt and aspirin and have sprayed in on a few plants to see if that does anything. I did notice that these plants also grew incredibly tall and wobbly, despite my lowered lights, and they were the only ones to grow that way. 

I feel like such a noob! all nervous and twitchy and confused.

I also have a plastic bin filled with a mix of random types of tomato plants.  I have been snipping the smaller weaker and slow to germinate ones as they have grown.  It feels like a gladiator ring, with me as the emperor, as I watch an incredibly slow fight to the death.  I know I should thin them more but I feel so guilty that I have to do it in the first place.  Next week I'm going to try and separate the healthier ones and give them their own mini pots, and hope some survive the transfer. 

I found out that the gardener voice in my head sounds exactly like my Okie step-grandmother from California, who has two giant green thumbs.  When I was young we would patrol her huge garden and search for snails which she would mercilessly toss onto the road.  She grew a redwood tree in her backyard, and I remember thinking that she had magical powers of some sort to make plants grow like they did.  She referred to any disease of her plants as 'gunk.'  She once gathered salt drowned roses from the sea (I'm sure some people tossed them in for a memorial or something) they were nothing but sad looking parched sticks, but she babied them in rich soil and love and grew several rose bushes from them.  Too bad she never grew tomato plants. 

Mystery illness.  I removed a section and photographed it and put it in my journal. 
My little plants, trying to survive me. 

this is the type of art projects we have in this household.

wolf fur pin.  Art has always relaxed me and comforted me. More pics/info and up for sale at: 

I also collected some cottonwood buds this year and decides to sell some of the balm I made.  It is also known as the balm of gilead.  But I add a bit of chamomile and aloe...we use it on our frostbite and sunburn...which we always get at spring! more info and to purchase visit:

See why I didn't want to take a picture of my future garden? lol  My husband has been sneaking snowmachine carcasses back there.  Either that or they are breeding.  There is also an argo under that wood.  Once our front yard is cleared of snow this is all being moved to the front. Sometime in the next week. 

While I was taking that last photo I realized that there were several sets of little eyes trained on me.  A flock of these tiny birds were sitting in the bushes watching me.  I was a tiny bit afraid. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spring Time at the Gates of the Arctic.....

The moment that I realized it was spring?

I was sipping my first morning cup of coffee, doing that weird blank just-got-out-of-bed stare out the window.  You know the type; unfocused, heavy lidded, that morning limbo gaze that is almost as comfortable as the cup of coffee.  After a minute or two I noticed something odd.  There was something sitting on the pristine snow right outside the window.  It had a weird texture.  An unrecognizable shape.  I stared at it for about five minutes, my mind was having trouble trying to name it.  To tell you the truth I was a tiny bit scared.  It was like seeing an alien, or a mermaid on a distant rock in the ocean, or maybe even odd mole on your foot.  It did not belong.  I stared at it till the coffee was gone and the last sip at the bottom of the cup was ice cold.  My husband came in the kitchen and I glanced away for a moment to greet him...and when I turned back to resume my puzzled stare I instantly recognized it.  A laughed a bit nervously.  A flood of actual relief crested over me.  It was gravel.  Plain old stones peeking through melting snow.

Ah. Spring.  

Spring here in the arctic is not what you would call pretty.  If Winter is a vain, beautiful, mean woman, then spring is an awkward teenager boy covered in acne and all gangly and squeaky.  The snow melts and freezes in quick bursts leaving the ground randomly wet and crunchy at the same time.  Layers of debris and animal poo and things you didn't realize you left in the snow emerge in ugly glory from what was once white and clean.  The willow bushes shed the heavy snow and sit on the horizon looking like a bald mans brand new hair plugs...or maybe barbie hair.  Even the dogs scratch miserably at their shedding fur as it falls off in heavy smelly clumps.  Early spring is uncomfortable and wonderful at the same time.

The weather gets warm enough for me to emerge from my winter hibernation, and I disappear from the modern world at least every other day.  Ice fishing for lake trout and arctic char, trips to the tree line to gather alder bark and cotton tree buds, and general driving around in the melting arctic watching what the animals may be doing.  The sound of chittering squirrels and singing snow birds always makes one smile and laugh. 

It's also when our 'adventure times' begin.  We usually use this term to describe any situation in which we are in the boonies and we will face some type of hardship or we are doing something with a smidgeon of danger.  Just a smidgeon mind you.  Like if a snow machine breaks down and we have to load it on a sled and drag it home.  Or on the way home we encounter a heavy snow blizzard and whiteout conditions.  But sometimes we try something new and these are also 'adventure times'.    Personally I think it's our way of completely refusing to become a complete adult.  As long as I don't get frostbite or end up in water (which has happened once or twice) then it's always said with a grin and high five. 

Some spring time photos.....

Lake Tulugaq has spots that never freeze at all during winter.  My husband and his older brother got a caribou over the hill while I sat at the edge of the lake and tried my luck at fishing. 

At Lake Chandler about 30 miles away, you can see how thick the ice is.

A big danger in the spring is snow blindness.  Northern Alaska natives have physically adapted to combat this, with slanted eyes and brown pigmented eyes.  We still wear sunglasses or eye protection though. 

My husband butchering a caribou in the 'hot' spring weather.  At this time of year the caribou are gathering together in larger herds and are slowly making there way north for the summer.  In our area they will pretty much be gone all summer long.

Adventure Time.  My husband convinced me to take a 'shortcut' over the mountains to lake chandler.  It was crazy, and I decided never to do that again!  It was a series of steep climbs and drops and narrow crooked ravines.  My ears popped at least 8 times because of the quick elevation changes. 
There were several times I had to get off the snowmachine so he could do maneuver the snowmachine better (sometimes my squealing was a distraction).  Here I am posing next to the snowmachine in what I call my 'sleeping bag' outfit, head to toe fluffy down. 

Aunty enjoying the view at the trees.

Bens family has finished building a spring cabin on their property at the trees. 

Niece Josie tells me about hows the weather and temperature has been while they were there.

Josie took a photo of me.  I think she did pretty good.

Josie again with a lake trout that a cousin caught at Lake Chandler.  In the background is a Swedish family friend that has been visiting Ben's family every year for about 17 years.  He has no idea what 'swedish fish' is.  Yes I asked.
Garden update picture!  Some pepper/tomato and echinacea plants. Today they are being put into larger pots that finally got here in the mail!