Thursday, December 20, 2018

blue-ish funk

So, it's the holidays.  Ho hum.  Not really feeling it, I have to admit.  Before Thanksgiving, I was all about hearing carols in stores and on the radio.  I was thinking about baking, decorating our house, putting up the tree - all the regular stuff lots of people do this time of year - with excitement and enthusiasm.  

Then I traveled to Oregon for surgery and, in part, a short vacation.  While I enjoyed my time in Portland quite a bit aside from, you know, pain and soreness related to anesthesia and an incision, I returned to Anchorage feeling decidedly not in the mood for merry making.  And I've been unable to shake it since which is troubling me a bit.  Decorations are up.  The tree has long been decorated.  Lights are around our big living room windows.  Christmas cards we've received are on display.  The mantle is chock full of candles and various holiday brick-a-brac.  Pine swags adorn the stair railing.  Hand made, intricately cut paper snowflakes are taped to our windows.  It's clearly festive in here.  I mean, the sun is actually shining today which is not really something we've seen a lot of in these last weeks.  So what gives?

Perhaps I'm being obtusely unaware of any deeper reason.  However, while recovering from surgery where my vitamin D and calcium levels are being closely monitored, I'm inclined to think this sort of blah attitude is directly related to this plus short hours of daylight (daylight being relative since we've been getting snow almost every day and the sky's color makes me feel like I'm living inside a golf ball).  

If you asked people of means here in Anchorage, I bet many of them are looking right past the holidays to their upcoming winter vacation somewhere far, far south of here like Mexico or the Caribbean or Hawaii because that is what lots of Alaskans do to shake the winter blues.  Every single year.  At least that is what I'm told.  They leave for a few weeks so the long winter nights don't seem to drag on for as many months.  They seek beaches and weather warm enough for bathing suits and sandals.  Sounds lovely.

So, what to do?  I'll take walks and encourage Tim to bake if only for the sweet aroma of his cookies.  I'll watch Christmas movies (even if that means going down the Hallmark channel rabbit hole).  I'll take my time wrapping presents to put them under the tree.  We'll plan a non-traditional holiday dinner to mix it up a bit.  I'll call my family back in New York on the day they all will gather to celebrate together.  I'll snoodle with our kitten as often as she'll let me.  I'll read the latest Brené Brown book that is now downloaded to my e-reader.  Last, I'll do my best to be mindful and practice gratitude for all of the positives in my life, of which there are so many.  

I think with that last sentence I'm already feeling a bit better, more in the spirit of the season.  

Happy holidays to whomever reads this blog.  May the remainder of 2018 and the year ahead be exceptional.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October. - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Last week I found myself wondering if Anchorage has a fall craft show tradition like many places in the lower 48.  Autumn weather makes me want to bake, walk through fallen leaves, attend craft shows, and get creative in my craft room so I looked online for any hint of seasonal shows.  I wasn't disappointed.

I never tire of Czech glass.  These beauties came from Wicked Good Beadz.

Last weekend alone, I had my pick of the annual Make It Alaskan Festival, a Bead Arts Market hosted by the Alaska Bead Society at the Anchorage Museum (the museum was well worth the trip by itself!), AND the Alaska Bead and Gem Show.  No kidding.  Tim and I visited all three events and met many fun, interesting, creative and friendly people.  There were so many beautiful things to look at and be inspired by at each venue that I regretted not bringing a notebook to jot down ideas.  

These lovely clay pieces are from Lila Koberstein of Aurora Bead + Craft.

We met a lovely woman who makes focals for her gorgeous jewelry with delicate and colorful tatting, a husband and wife team who carve wood, antlers, and old vinyl records into everything from clocks to back scratchers, a man who takes years to create individual pieces of art by layering pigments from rocks and minerals he collects all over the world, a woman who creates one-of-a-kind pieces with up-cycled beads, creative soldering and unique ephemera plus many, many others.  

Tim fell for this bear ornament so he also came home with us from Aurora Bead + Craft.

At the museum we saw stunning bead work, and we were able to wander the collections and exhibits as well.  We eagerly learned a lot about Native Alaskan culture and history, listened to live performances, and appreciated the many works reflecting Alaska's bygone days and modern artists.  I've a feeling we'll visit this museum often.

Some lovely lampwork focals and beads by Susan Kaplan of Kaplan Creations.  The bead pair reminded Tim and me of looking at the Royal Society Mountains from McMurdo Station in Antarctica. 

By Saturday afternoon, after several trips through the Bead and Gem Show, my mind was racing with designs and plans.  I am very happy with the beads I purchased, and I really enjoyed chatting with so many innovative people. sit down and get making!

Strands of Czech glass from Odie's Odds and Ends.  The vendor at this booth has a holiday home rental where she also keeps a cabin full of beads (glass, stone, pearls, etc.) for those who want to shop while on vacation.  Brilliant for her, dangerous for people like me!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm. - Willa Cather

Here are a few photos from a ramble around Potter Marsh a few days ago.  Salmon are still running up the creek to spawn, the grasses, undergrowth and trees are all changing color, and although the prolific waterfowl of spring and summer has dwindled, a treat was to be had as three common mergansers preened and swam along Rabbit Creek.  

Friday, September 28, 2018

Hatcher Pass

A few weeks ago, Tim and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and took a drive that led to an unplanned hike.  We were rewarded with this gorgeous view - Gold Cord Lake.  En route we passed an old cabin built in the 30s, and we were lucky to spot a pika scurrying across the rocks. 

On the way down we heard lots of chirps and soon spotted several Arctic ground squirrels.

To get to the trailhead for our hike, we walked part of the road leading to Independence Mine.  On the way back to our car, we decided to take a look.  We were too late in the season to gain access to the visitor center or take a guided tour, but there were plenty of displays along the paved pathways providing information on the history of the area.  Having acquired a few blisters on our jaunt up to Gold Cord Lake, I was content to read a few of the panels and then use binoculars to look at the mining structures and various buildings from a bench with far-reaching views.  

Here are some other photos form that day:



Wednesday, September 26, 2018

To be whole. To be complete. Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from. - Terry Tempest Williams

August was quite a rain-filled month in Anchorage.  All of that moisture brought forth an abundance of mushrooms, seemingly everywhere.  I may have become slightly obsessed with seeking them out and photographing the various shapes, colors, sizes and textures.  Some were smaller than my pinky finger while others were larger than my booted foot.  It all felt a big magical in combination with the mosses, trees, ferns, grasses, fallen leaves and birdsong that accompanied our forest walks and park ramblings.  I continue to be excited while exploring more of Anchorage's green pockets and wild spaces within city limits and a bit beyond.

September has proven to be one of the warmest and driest on record.  We've enjoyed week after week of gorgeous fall weather, and getting outdoors to enjoy it has been my top priority.  Realizing winter will soon be here with shortened hours of daylight, I've been keen to take every opportunity to embrace autumn in Alaska.  

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature—the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter. - Rachel Carlson