"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Right Place, Right Time

I tried to make a speed run into Seward yesterday afternoon to get some supplies for a project I've been working on. The thirty-mile trip took an hour and a half.

The return trip took slightly more than thirty minutes. Neither had anything at all to do with traffic.

Wondering about the disparity in travel times?

Here's why:

Above Moose Pass.

Trail Lake

Note the two rainbows in this picture. Not a double rainbow, but two.

In this shot, a yellow float plane comes in for a landing.

Another shot of the two rainbows.

And this followed and enticed me for many, many miles.

Vote Here! Vote Now!! Vote Often!!!

My friend Jim in Halibut Cove is fond of saying, "The key to indecision is flexibility." With that in mind, I'm going to let you guys pick the winner of Name That 'Shroom.

If you haven't a clue as to what I'm talking about, you need to scroll down and read the post below--"Audience Participation." Then read the comments which are found by clicking on the "comments" word at the end of the story.

As for the flexibility part, (and to cover up my indecision) you can either vote for the writer (which will count as five votes), or the individual writer's name/entrants for the 'shrooms.

Get that? I mean, if you think all of Rilly's are the best, just vote for Rilly and I'll tally that as one viote for each of her names.

However, if you like Beth's "Does this dress make me look fat? (she stole that from under my skull)" vote for Beth Number Four and Rilly Number One and ....you get the idea?

If you split 'em up, each 'shroom name counts as one vote. And don't be surprised if I skew the votes in favor of the ones I like 'cuz this is my blog and I can cheat if I want.

In the meantime, I'll post my pathetic names because I said I would. But, after all of yours....well, "pathetic" is the right word. Plus, I'm still stuck in the real estate/dwelling mode.

Fireplace smokestacks. (You ever stepped on one of these puffballs? There's a reason they're called puffballs.)


Subdivision with monochromatic painting covenants.

Little red schoolhouse.

Plate tectonics. You should have see the size of this one.

Polls are open. Commence Vote here, vote now, vote often--but if you want to vote for "dress makes me look fat" ten times, you have to do it in ten comments.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Audience Participation

Recognize this?

Yep. It's a food processor. It chops, grinds, shreds, juliennes, dices, purees, and generally makes a mess.

Here it is with the bowl off.

Here it is with a funny-looking square thing fitted on top.

Now, you get to choose from any of these things with holes in them....

and screw it into this thingy...

And voila! You now have a pasta maker.

Back in the days when I liked (had) to cook, my husband and I would invite friends for dinner and make them push pasta dough through this thing while I took care of the rest of the cooking and my husband continually tested the beer to make sure it was cold enough.

Anyway, when we made our guests into indentured cooks, we called it "audience participation."

They loved it.

Or claimed to, anyway.

The trick in making pasta was to FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS, because that dry, crumbly mixture WILL INDEED go through those holes and come out transformed into fresh pasta.

We didn't believe it at first. Wound up with eight pounds of fresh spinach linguini before we FOLLOWED THE DIRECTIONS. Not even Pablo Parrot can eat eight pounds of pasta.

What I have in store for y'all today is a blog version of audience participation with no calories and guaranteed to be 100 per cent fat-free.

Remember my Real Estate Market According to Fungi? If not, it's listed over on the right in Archives and you can go to it to brush up on the skills you'll need for the following.

So here's the deal.

I'm posting five photos of mushrooms. You get to write the captions and post them under "Comments". The easiest way to do that is post under Anonymous and then sign your name to it. If you write the best group of five captions and want a prize for it, I'll figure out something to send you. I promise it won't be a mushroom.

I already have mine written and I'll show them in a couple days, but mine don't count in the prize judging.

In the meantime, here are the mushrooms-in-waiting:






You don't have to continue on in the dwelling/real estate/etc. vein, but whatever you think of outside of it better be rip-snorting good.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Patti

Just got back from Anchorage where I went to see Eat Pray Love with a dear friend, who is celebrating one of those big decade birthdays.

This is her begonia. Literally. She loaned it to me to pamper this "summer" because she was going to be traveling a lot. It didn't grow very big but it packs a punch in what it did do. I've never seen such perfect, glossy leaves.

And now, 'cause every youngster and youngster-at-heart should have a carousel in their lives often, here's an Alaskan-themed one for Patti:

Caribou with Snowy Owl saddle.

Moose with Wolf saddle.

Dall Sheep.

King Salmon

Grizzly Bear

Walrus with Otter saddle.

Happy birthday, dear Patti.

Love and hugs, G

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ouija Poetry at 1 a.m.

Do the following lines make any sense to you?

Fjew jr;lsa/

Dkjr s


Xndn f

Enfkkdan ek;anc oaeh g4 ajf

D aekvne

Asken cog

And wog,


Can you see words, or hints of words? Maybe only wee suggestions of words?

Don't feel bad. I couldn't either. I thought I saw "flew" in the first line, but other than that, I was stumped. For the past week, while my online writer cohorts were madly dashing off poems based on that utter nonsense above, my internal planchette remained stuck on stupid.

Why, you might wonder, did I use the word "planchette?" Because the above is a writing exercise called "Ouija Poetry." The idea is to type randomly, hitting the space bar and hard return occasionally, just as if you were typing real, readable lines. Instead, you create a chaos of letters and lines--and then search for a hidden message within the chaos.

As I mentioned, I was stuck on stupid. "Flew" was the only word I detected. I went online late last night and notified my friends that I couldn't participate in this exercise posted by Ann Linquist, a writing instructor. There's a link to her site over there under "Come visit my friends..."

Anyway, I posted my message of defeat and went through the routine to turn off the computer. Just as I hit the final button, I glanced down at the sheet of paper next to my keyboard--the one with those nonsensical lines printed out for my perusal.

The word "Xanadu" jumped out at me. I took the paper to bed with me. Then I got up, turned the computer on and Googled "Xanadu." That led me to a fascinating story of how Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to write Kubla Khan.

I turned off the computer and went back to bed with my printed research. A half hour later, I turned on the computer and posted this at Ann's site:

Flew the lines from out his pen
Of darkness dreamt in profound sleep,
A vision fueled by opium
Of Xanadu
And Kubla Khan,
Just fragments penned—not for print.

And when he opened up his eyes:
“In a vision I once saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played.”

‘Mid Apocalyptic omens of war.
In his creating he’s asked away,
Inspiration lost—
Or perchance stolen
By an Abyssinian maid.

Thus the work remains undone,
Only a dream, he tells us now.
But be he master to his work
Or slave to all he writes?

Well, it isn't meant to be great poetry. It's an exercise in searching for hidden themes, messages, and words--hence the Ouija tag. But, when something happens at 1 a.m., it's rather suspect, isn't it?

You really have to read about the creation of Kubla Khan to understand what I wrote.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunsets and Moonrises

Well, last night's sunset couldn't start to rival the preceding night's spectacular at Tern Lake (see previous post)....

...but the full moon ascending was pretty darned nice.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Kingdom for a Sack of Trash

The following photos of tonight's sunset at Tern Lake are brought to you courtesy of a sack of forgotten garbage.

I'd loaded up the truck late this afternoon with trash and recyclables, and drove the twelve miles to the Crown Point transfer site where we drop our trash into huge green semi-bear-proof containers. I stopped at several pullouts along the way and picked up litter, which I also loaded into my truck.

When I reached home again, I discovered I'd forgotten to take the kitchen garbage, which was the whole reason for going to the dump in the first place, that and stopping by the post office to get my mail. The other stuff could have waited, but the kitchen garbage was making its presence unpleasantly known.

So, I put the kitchen garbage in the truck and headed for the Cooper Landing transfer site, only nine miles away. Of course, I stopped along the way at a couple more pullouts and picked up the weekend's litter.

I was almost half way there when I remembered that the Cooper Landing Senior Citizens group closes the gates to the transfer site at 7 p.m. They have a bear problem over there. I stopped at another pullout, picked up litter, looked at the sky, and headed back to Tern Lake.

This was going to be special, so I stayed around the lake, just waiting.

Yeah. Special. It really isn't as dark as it seems in these shots. They're backlit and I stopped down the white balance a notch or two so the camera would capture the true sky colors.

As I said, courtesy of a bag of forgotten trash. Had it not been for that, I would have spent the rest of the evening inside, writing a post for this blog. I'll have to do that tomorrow.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Litter Notes and Other Nonsense

First some nonsense, then a big announcement.

If you think litter-picking is dull days of trudging along a highway picking up flotsam and jetsam, think again. There's real drama out there, people.

To wit:


See below. This paragraph wants to be underlined, so I'm fooling it.

I was driving home at 10 o'clock last evening, traveling about 55 to 60 mph, less than the speed limit. There were cars ahead of me, a tanker pulling doubles IMMEDIATELY behind me, and an idiot trying to pass him. The sun was down behind the mountains and the colorful clouds were gray again.

I could see the vegetation on the sides of the highway, but I couldn't distinguish individual trees and bushes because of my rate of speed. Suddenly I knew there was a moose up ahead on the right side of the road. I slowed.

Sure enough, a couple seconds later I saw a cow moose in my headlights as I passed her. I pulled over a quarter mile up the road and came back. In the deep twilight I could see TWO grown moose cross the road.

Alas, all I got was a brief glimpse of an enormous brown moose behind slipping into the alders and a picture of wet tracks on the asphalt.

Here's the weird thing--I didn't see the moose. I just knew it was there. This happens fairly often. Often enough to remember, and I'm right about a moose being "there" more often than I'm wrong.

So, that leaves me with two possibilities:

1. My brain registers what my eyes see, but doesn't tell "me" about it. Or,

2. (I'm playing the theme song from "The Twilight Zone.")


You know how when you go to the tire store and buy new tires and the guy mounts them on your rims and then puts them on that machine that spins them around? No? Take my word for it. That's what he does.

Then, he puts these little lead weights on them. They help balance the tire so your vehicle doesn't wibble-wobble down the road and shake your fillings loose.

They're really crimped on there by that little flange.

You'd think your tires would stay balanced forever, wouldn't you?

Think again.

I've been saving them since last summer when I learned a friend melts them down and makes fishing sinkers.


So ironic I found this bouquet where I did. Across the highway and up a bit, I found a draft of a love letter a month or so ago. I knew it was a draft because the back side of the printed pages had hand-written notes and better phrases. He was wishing his ex-girl a good life, though they were no longer a couple.

Wonder if there's a connection, or if this section of highway is romantically jinxed?


I stopped by Tern Lake one night to clean up a bit of litter. I was the only one there, other than this muskrat that swam circles in front of me, trying to figure out what I was. My camera was in my vest pocket, but I didn't dare reach for it for fear I'd scare him off. I got it out during one of his panic dives. It made almost as much noise when diving as a beaver slapping its tail.


A contractor re-did the highway a little ways north of me a couple years ago. Some person who wasn't thinking approved the use of a stick-on lane striping product. A very expensive product.

At first thought, it seemed like a good idea. As soon as the pavement is compacted, a crew comes along and lays on the yellow and white lane stripes. Viola! Finished highway.

It's supposed to last years, which means no annual painting. Sounds good.

Darn stuff started coming up right away--and it was August.

When winter arrived and the snowplows started plowing, great huge chucks and little tiny pieces came up. Next spring when I went out to pick up litter, I almost cried.

No matter what I did, no matter how many beer cans, candy wrappers, or soiled diapers I picked up, that section of road always looked littered. Still does. There are far too many pieces for one person to clean up in a lifetime--and more just waiting for a snowplow.


I never, ever tire of this view. This is descending from Turnagain Pass toward salt water--Turnagain Arm itself. You can just make out a slice of the water. The valley across the Arm is called Twenty Mile.


For some reason, this paragraph wants to be in bold face type, so after four tries, I will submit to a higher power. Sometimes you find the right flower in the right place and magic happens, as it did with these monkey flowers in a tiny creek.


I've been finding an unusual number of Q-tips along forty plus miles of highway--in rest areas, along the highway, behind guard rails.

I think I finally found the mothership.


The State gets federal highway funds to chew holes in the pavement. They're called rumble strips. A big ol' machine rolls along and gouges these deep ruts in the center and on both fog lines. They wake you up when you drift out of your lane.

So, I wondered what this was all about a couple weeks ago. The ruts were gone and what was left was a recess in the asphalt.

Ah. They're filling it in. Naughty, naughty. Not supposed to put rumble strips along here. Looks like they filled in three or four miles.

We hate them. They're terribly noisy when your tires hit them and you can't see them in the winter because they're covered with snow. Doesn't stop them from making noise, though. The highway guys hate them because they hold water, which causes all sorts of problems.


The following two pix are of Jerome Lake. It's a long, skinny lake in a narrow mountain pass. Because of this, the water often looks black, which is a very dramatic effect.

Except when you want it to look black. This sleeping loon got washed out in the reflection of vegetation. Shot this with a 200mm lens, then cropped it. That's why it looks so grainy.


Beats me. I heard someone say "Beam me up, Scotty," and when I turned around all I saw were these shoes.


See the guy leaning against his truck? I rescued him. Kind of.

While I was cleaning up this pull out, he asked me what to do if you got bear spray in your eyes. I just happened to have a can with me, so I read the directions. "Flush with cool water." His eyes were very red and weepy.

Gave the guy a couple bottles of water. He told me he'd been in Whittier earlier and a black bear had tried to climb in the back of his truck where all his gear was, so he gave it a spray. He thought he must have gotten some of the pepper on his hands and then it got in his eyes. I think he might have gotten some wind drift.

He'd been sitting there for three hours, unable to see well enough to drive. He couldn't read the label on his can to see what to do.

A half hour and lots of eye washing later, he could see and off he went.

And now...


See that road sign on the other side of the road? I've been looking for it.

Here it is in close-up.

Now, watch for it....

Keep watching....


And the creek itself.

What this means is that I have now picked up litter from Mile 23.5 all the way--every step, every foot, every inch of the way--to Mile 75.2. Four hundred and eighty-three bags of litter. I did, however, do a few sections twice. But, this is seven miles beyond my usual stopping place. Just wanted to see some new territory.

I do both sides of the road, meaning I walked 52 miles and back for a total of 104. Plus 8 more for the four miles of Sterling Highway.

That's like walking from home to the far side of Anchorage. Except, someone would have to give me a ride home....

Aren't I just a glutton for punishment?


I leave you with this picture of what I think are Northern Black Currents against a guard rail post. The leaves are beautiful, but the berries are bristly and I don't know if they're edible. I just really liked the subtle colors.