Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Alaskan Freezer

In the above photo you see my freezer. I wish I would have done a better job with the photo. All you can see is the berries, bananas and ice cream (Tillamook Chocolate Peanut Butter rules around here). On the top shelf you find King salmon all sealed and vacuum packed and the door is loaded down with vension.)

This summer something happened that hasn't happened in my 3+ years here in Sitka, I now have a true Alaskan freezer! This means the contents of my freezer is overflowing with foods locally caught, shot or picked. Currently I have 3 king salmon, (each about 15ish pounds of meat) caught by yours truly (okay my husband caught two of them) venison (not as much of this because we don't have a riffle yet) so we rely on others good will and finally lots of lots of berries.

Late summer early fall every year berries come. A few years ago there were tons of salmonberries, last year there were lots of huckleberries, this year the berry of choice has been blueberries. We had blueberries everywhere!!! Sitka had more blueberries than we knew what to do with, many of the berries were never picked many of this seasons berries ended up unpicked and rotted on the vine.

After picking pounds upon pounds of berries came the question what was I going to do with them all??

I made my share of muffins and crisps, but I discovered my love: blueberry banana smoothies!!!

Here my 2 most delicious of recipes (they don't have to be handpicked berries) but if they are look out for the worms... blueberries are notorious!

Recipe #1 (my first discovery)
1/4 c. of blueberries
1 frozen banana (this must be frozen it brings out the sweetness!)
soy milk or almond milk - regular milk is just okay
a few sprinkles of ground ginger

Recipe #2 (I think this is a really good one for cold season, plus just stinking delicious)
1/4 c. of blueberries
1 frozen banana
orange juice
vanilla yogurt

Recipes for salmon and venison upon request, though I still don't feel like an expert in this field.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a blog about a wedding

This summer, as most of you know, I was married. I guess I always knew that I would get married, but never did I EVER imagine getting married in Alaska. But nor did I ever envision myself living here!? However, now I find that both have taken place.

At first the location of the wedding seemed impossible to decide. If married here I would compromise who could come, loved ones near and dear to me would not be able to attend. But South Carolina still didn't make sense. I hadn't lived there in 10 years, Aaron knew no one, minus my parents, grandparents and brother, and the remainder of my friends and family were spread out all over the country. But did Sitka make sense? It was so far away for both of our families, not to mention expensive. Plus Sitka doesn't even have a venue for the occasion?

However, in everyway Sitka was the perfect marriage spot for us. It was perfect in everyway but one which is impossible: that EVERYONE we know and love couldn't be there with us. Though that imperfection makes me excited about Heaven, where we will all be together!

Thanks to all those who helped make it happen! Thanks to those who sent cards and came to parties. Thanks to those who gave gifts and bought plane tickets. Thanks to those who thought about us on our special day. It was special and the memories live on... Now onto the adventures of marriage!

Photos to come...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bear Lake

October is not typically the perfect month for hiking. Just this Tuesday we were getting 100 mile and hour wind gusts and roofs were being blown off houses, yes, I saw this! At work I was radioed to come and look at the kayaks that had been blown off the rack and had big dents knocked in them. However fortunately this week I found some wonderful windows of hiking opportunities. These are the photos from yesterday's hike, Bear Lake which I had not climbed since April 28th, 2009! My previous hike on this mountain snow covered the alpine and ice covered the lake. This time, fall colors were out in all their Alaskan glory!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the snow is back

While on a hike with Em on a beautiful fall day in September (we had 2 weeks of glorious sunshine and 70 degree temperatures... not normal) we decided we should have our friends all try to guess the first day snow would hit Verstovia peak. Verstovia Mnt. is in a sense the momma mountain here in Sitka. It is the backdrop of the town and frequents all photos.

When I returned from the hike I immediately put out an email to our friends. The responses then began to trickle in. Yesterday I woke up and on my run it was confirmed, the snow had arrived. Snow had hit the Sisters, covered Bear and Clarance Kramer and yes it had also dusted the top of Verstovia.

Oct. 3rd was the winning date, the snow is now back! The mountains will probably not be clear from snow again until sometime in June or July. Winter has arrived on the mountain top.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Welcome Home

Well it has been a summer and now it is becoming a fall.

This all became official last week when Aaron and I returned from our HONEYMOON in Victoria, BC and jumped right into work. Currently I am employed at Mount Edgecumbe High school, a boarding school for students all over the state. 90% + of those students are Alaska native and they come from small villages all over the state. My job at the school is to be a recreation coordinator. This consists of planning activities for these students to participate in and then leading them in the activity. It actually doesn't seem like work at all. I hang out with some of the kindest high schoolers in the country and take them out into the wilderness.

This summer was a whirlwind. I was in a huge push to finish my grad program! Which I did!!! And if that wasn't enough I planned a wedding. I also moved, twice, and hosted 36 friends and family here in Sitka for a week. All of these things were wonderful, well minus the grad school, but now I am glad things are settling down. Today I spent the morning picking huckleberries and catching up on errands. It is good to be home.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

water, whales and dreams

Before moving to Sitka I was a mountain girl all the way. I loved snowboarding, hiking, trails, the way the blue glow shined as the sun came up and went down across the the Blue Ridge Mountains. I loved having something painted the foreground while I biked along the blue ridge parkway, I loved the leaves changing in the fall and I loved the music that came from the mountains.

Since moving to Sitka I have realized that I am just as much a water girl. I love swimming and paddling and I love hearing the whales sing their songs. This past winter I made the best purchase since my arrival in Sitka, a kayak. I bought a 20 foot expedition boat. Since the purchase of Whale Song (it's name) it has taken me to remote forest service cabins and on quick day trips to remote sunny beaches where I sit and watch the seals and otters come alive. This week it will take it first multi night adventure to our resident volcano on an adjacent island.

On my kayak's maiden voyage I took my new kayak out with dozens of humpbacks spraying swimming alongside my boat. Now in this summer season I feel a since of loss without the whales here. Spring and fall and even winter the humpbacks are very active and I watch them feed along the coast and hear them sing from atop mountains but in the summer the whale activity is low.

Since their departure I have kept the whales with me in my dreams. I dream about kill whales and humpbacks. I dream about giant Orca pods arriving in town and men and Orcas falling in love. The water has become a part of my blood just as much as the mountains have stolen my heart.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

what's the weather like?

In Sitka we are obsessed with the weather. It is funny because most of the time the weather is the same: cloudy and cool with a light rain. If it weren't the whole world would live here, it is truly indescribable beauty. I had a friend who finally escaped Europe after the volcano eruption who said it was impossible to give the beauty here any justice. Just yesterday the mountains were all glowing in a way I had never seen them glow, this beautiful red color was radiating off the mountains to the southeast and to the northwest the sunset was rippling across the ocean in a million and one colors with a snow peeked volcanoe as the back drop. So the purpose of this posts isn't to brag about Sitka's beauty but to decribe how different I have climatized here.

So when the sun comes to Sitka, the town refuses to be indoors. Never would you ever sit inside on a sunny day, it just doesn't happen, only for those unfortunate workers trying to make a living, and a handful of those call in sick, sun days as opposed to snow days have been brought to school board meetings several times. So this week in Sitka, the weather took a turn for summer, it was in the upper fifties, sunny and beautiful. With this heat wave on Tuesday I hit the trail, excited to be wearing a cotton t-shirt. However right after I headed out the door I noticed that my run was almost unbearably warm. I felt much like a puffy marshmallow and swollen all over. My south carolina childhood almost seemed like a dream than a reality. How did I ever believe that I used to live a life where 5_ was a cool day? And Wednesday, after my run I also found myself putting on sandals to bike to work when the temperature gage still read 47 degrees. So weather is relative. What once was winter is now a warm summer day.

Today again unfortunately our weather turned cold and windy. Not that that kept me from my run, in fact I felt much stronger. I carved off 3 1/2 minutes from my balmy Tuesday run.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spotted Pony

To all my fellow banjo playing friends out there. Here is a tune you have got to learn, it is called Spotted Pony:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Year of the Baby

So I know in China this year is the year of the tiger, however in my life it is the year of the baby. It all happened again this morning when I awoke to my cell phone beeping. I checked my voicemail and one of my dear friends and former college roommates left this message (make sure you tag a south accent onto it because she sure has it):

"Emily I'm calling you at 8:15 am my time which I know is 4:15 your time, but I don't really care at this point because I've been calling you multiple times this past month and you just never call me back. But I am going to have to go ahead and say this over the phone. I wanted to tell you in person but I'm going to have to tell you now cause who knows when you're going to call me back. Dale and I are going to have a baby. I am four months pregnant. Again sorry I had to tell you over the phone, by now you might already know if you talked to Amy or Brian or anybody...."

Well I hadn't talked to Amy or Brian, but I was not surprised. Not at all. So far this year my two best friends from high school: Jeannie and Rachel, my two roommates from college: Amy and Katie, my dear friend Brooke who I was the maid of honor in her wedding, as well as both of my cousins Anne and Rachel, have been pregnant or had a child.

So after a run with my roommate Emily I went ahead and finished Brooke's baby gift, because now Katie had stepped in line. Little Blueberry's gift (Blueberry is what Brooke and Derrick temporary name for their baby) can be seen above. This is what you call a Mei Tai Baby Carrier. If you google just that you should be able to find a pattern. And if you have any questions feel free to send them my way because I haven't stopped making them all year!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sitka Folk

Yeah for Sitka Folk and all the people that are involved to keep it up and going, cough, Lon Garrison and Ted Howard. I clam to be involve, but typically just sit at meetings and listen to the groups they've booked and get excited about bringing fantastic groups to Sitka. This year they have gone ABOVE and BEYOND their line of duty. April Verch and Crooked Still being two major reasons. We had nearly a packed house at each show, which is HUGE for Sitka and our 8,000 person town. April Verch was here this past week and knocked my socks off and everybody elses. She is a fiddle playing, step-foot dancing, singing phenomenon. I recommend her and her bands latest album Seal the Blue if you don't already own. it. My favorite is track 11, He's holding onto Me, it's hauntingly beautiful.

Sitka folk is such a BLESSING to me here and inspiring to all who attend the shows. THANK you SITKA FOLK!!

And for all you non island dwellering alaska living friends, I don't get introduced to a lot of new music up here so please always feel free to pass on groups, people I need to know about! And then maybe even with some luck Sitka Folk could help get them up here!

retiring fabulous

So for the last hmmm... 2 years or so fabulous has been my favorite word. This may be longer actually?

Well for years it has frequented my vocabulary. I haven't done a daily count, but I would say it flowed freely out of my mouth out as I expressed myself and feelings. I would have called it my favorite word. Recently, however, this is not the case. I have adopted a new word

Like fabulous it:
*is fantastic to say,
*it is a positive describing word (adjective),
*it begins with an f and finally
*it is three syllables

If you haven't guess it already the word is... fantastic.

This word has been used recently because:

1) The weather outside has been so sunny and glorious,
3) April Verch came to town
4) My aunt, uncle, and three cousins will be here in 4 days
5) Herring season is here which means so are the whales

Things that are less fantastic:

1) I still haven't finished my taxes,
2) It is NOT spring break for grad school
3) I have to write a grant, scary!
4) And I have to work on job applications

Monday, February 15, 2010

2 Love Stories

So this post has nothing to do with my wild and crazy Alaskan adventures though I do hope to publish some of those soon because they have been happening, despite the LACK OF SNOW! All you lower 48ers have taken our snow this year! Instead this post tells of 2 people in my family and a little bit of the life they walked.

Story #1:

Last year on January 17, 2009 someone very near and dear to our family pasted away, she died on her 110th birthday and lived a wild and courageous life growing up on the plains, moving to Oregon and then Wyoming to live and teach 50 years on Indian reservations. Her name was Aunt Monnie, and she had 4 sisters. She was my great aunt. She never married. She loved horses, had beautiful penmanship, loved fashion, and a fabulous story teller, up until even the day that she died. She stood at 4'9'' tall and weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 pounds and her shoe size was that of a child.

This winter I made earrings for each of her nieces and gave them as Christmas presents in remembrance of her life. Here is a photo of the earrings. The earrings were made out of a necklace that was willed to my mother when she died. I wish I had taken a photo of the necklace before I disassembled, ah retrospect. It was a multi-chained necklace made mainly out of coral and had these birds, frogs, and turtles as the accents. It was much more elaborate than anything I have ever worn and it was just one of many of her pieces of jewelry. She was always dressed to the nines, up until the day that she died.

Story #2:

Aunt Monnie only had one sister who was married, Dorthy. Yesterday this love letter for Dorthy, written by my great-grandfather, the man that she woul
d eventually marry, arrived in my inbox from my Aunt Bird. It was written in 1925 to my great grandmother who apparently was living in Oklahoma at the time. The letter was written from Flat Rock, Tennessee. Obviously Dorthy returned my great grandfathers sentiments, at least eventually. Someday I hope to hear the rest of the story. You can click on the photos for a larger image. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Born to be a rockstar!

When I was home for Christmas Aaron looked through all 20 of my childhood photo albums, he then preceded to pull out his favorites and try to find just the right lighting and angle to take descent pictures of them. This particular photo was my favorite of his favorites. It is a picture of me, my little brother Joseph, and my dad. It make me happy to see this glimpse of one of my favorite childhood memories, listening to my dad sing his songs. Often times I hear myself still singing along to those same old tunes he used to sing, and now I find myself sharing them with my friends. Maybe I wasn't born to be a rockstar, but I know I was born to sing and make music with friends.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bear Mountain

Above the trees
reaching for the apogee
staring at the sea
joie de vie