Lunar Eclipse

 Posted by on December 21, 2010  Alaska
Dec 212010
 

There was not a cloud in the sky last night during the lunar eclipse, and we had a great view through our front windows. The last lunar eclipse to occur on the Winter Solstice was in 1638.

Mike Weber, photographer, lunar eclipse beginningEntering earth’s shadow.

Mike Weber, photographer, lunar eclipse, near totalNearing totality.

Mike Weber, photographer, total lunar eclipseTotal lunar eclipse.

Mike Weber, photographer, total lunar eclipse with OrionTotal eclipse and Orion. See Betelgeuse?

Mike Weber, photographer, total lunar eclipse with starsTotal eclipse.

Mike Weber, photographer, lunar eclipse, emerging from shadowEmerging from the shadow. See how much brighter the moon is here compared to the last image?

Brilliant night–even when it was dark.

Voting in AK

 Posted by on November 2, 2010  Alaska
Nov 022010
 

Once again, we had to make arrangements to vote outside the normal time and place. I applied to have mail-in absentee ballots sent to a location on our current journey. Mike got his ballot last week.

When mine still didn’t arrive today, I called the election office in AK. Whoopsie! They never sent mine.

Do I have access to a fax? No.

Well, too bad, so sad then. Bye-bye.

Hrmph.

And then I get a phone call from Carol at the election office. Do I have a computer and printer? Yes…I think so…maybe. Carol emails me a “Sample Ballot” posing as a “By-Mail Replacement Ballot” which she tells me will be turned into an “Official Ballot” upon receipt in Fairbanks. There may be toads, newts, and a large black iron vessel involved in that transformation. I’m not sure.

After downloading an appropriate printer driver, I am, indeed, able to print my ballot and get it in the mail several hours before the deadline.

So, did I get special treatment, or is this the way things work all over?

After the Hurricane

 Posted by on October 5, 2010  Alaska
Oct 052010
 

A little wind, a lot of rain, and spotty Internet access, that’s what we got. Now, however, we have this:

The weather forecast for today was rain, too. The only rain around here is spruce cones being hurled to the ground by industrious red squirrels. They clang on the metal roofs and thunk on the ground. Watch your head.

Hurricane a-Comin’

 Posted by on September 30, 2010  Alaska
Sep 302010
 

We are again at the Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge for a couple of weeks doing some post-season work and post-season play. Even here, the sun’s been shining most of this month–and this is a rainforest. But no more.

It’s been raining for two days, and this is the marine forecast for the weekend (the highlighting is mine).

…HURRICANE FORCE WIND WARNING FRIDAY…

.TODAY…SE WIND 30 KT EXCEPT E 40 KT NEAR THE COAST E OF MONTAGUE ISLAND. SEAS 13 FT. SHOWERS AND ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS.
.TONIGHT…E WIND 30 KT EXCEPT E 45 KT NEAR THE COAST E OF MONTAGUE ISLAND. SEAS 17 FT. RAIN.
.FRI…E WIND 50 KT INCREASING TO 65 KT IN THE AFTERNOON. SEAS 20 FT. RAIN.
.FRI NIGHT…E WIND 65 KT BECOMING SE 45 KT AFTER MIDNIGHT. SEAS 27 FT.
.SAT…S WIND 40 KT. SEAS 22 FT.
.SUN…S WIND 15 KT. SEAS 14 FT.
.MON…SE WIND 20 KT. SEAS 11 FT.

The lodge is well protected, but we may see some dramatic weather tomorrow. I love the drama of this place, even the blustery wet kind. We’ve got a cozy cabin, lots of wood, some books, and stitching supplies. We’ll weather the weather just fine.

Changing Seasons

 Posted by on September 29, 2010  Alaska
Sep 292010
 

I think we set some weather records this month. Most of September was sunny and mild. Absolutely gorgeous.

And then one day it was winter. Just like that. On Saturday, I gathered the last batch of peas, and on Sunday, Mike and I harvested the carrots, beets, garlic, onions, and potatoes–while it snowed.

The freezer is jam-packed, the garage smells like onions (that will go away), and the potatoes are growing thicker skins. The garden beds are put to bed. We’re all ready for winter.

Well, mostly.

I’m not sure what this plant is thinking, but I admire its determination against the odds, its valiant effort in hopeless circumstances, and its pretty flowers.

Cranberry Mystery

 Posted by on September 16, 2010  Alaska
Sep 162010
 

Last year, in an attempt to make jellied cranberry sauce, I discovered cranberry butter–or cranberry taffy, cranberry tar, cranberry glue, take your pick.

I loved my cranberry butter.

This year, I’ve picked a bunch of cranberries so I can make both. With the first batch, I aimed for jellied cranberry sauce and got it. Woot!

With the second batch, I aimed for cranberry butter and decided to try adding allspice and cinnamon. Now, last year, the butter was an accident. I don’t know exactly why or how I got the gloppy stuff I did; to the best of my knowledge, all I did was triple the recipe. For the second batch this year, I didn’t triple the recipe, but rather tried a shorter boiling period, reducing the liquid less.

It didn’t work. I had two batches of jellied cranberry sauce, one spiced. I haven’t decided if I prefer it with or without the spices.

So I tried a third batch.

Since I liked the butter so much, I thought maybe I had inadvertently added too much sugar. I like sweet. Maybe I mis-counted the number of cups I added. So I tried adding extra sugar this time around, and I stirred pretty much constantly.

I now have three batches of jellied cranberry sauce: one regular, one spiced, one extra-sweet.

Hrmph.

I’ve searched for cranberry butter recipes online, and what I get are recipes that combine cranberries with butter-butter, the dairy kind. I have recipes for apple butter; I have recipes for jellied cranberry sauce; I have a recipe for cranberry ketchup. They’re all pretty much the same. I can’t figure out what alters the texture, what makes the liquid set up and what makes it gooey.

I’m not giving up. I’ll keep experimenting until I run out of cranberries. If any of you kitchen or cranberry gurus have ideas or advice, I’m listening.