Worst Time of the Year

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Picked up a bit of a cough last week.  Hate it when I have a bit of a cough, because a bit of a cough will make me cough at night keeping me up.  Bit of a cough gives me a full on cough medicine haze for days as well.  So … any spelling or grammer errors … blame on the meds.

When I mentioned my cough to someone, they said, “Yeah, this is the worst time of year.  Because the winter is dragging, the lack of sun hurts our immunity, on and everyone gets sick.”  What is funny to me is that, this is at least the fourth “time of year” someone told me was the “worst”.

I was told the worst time of year was September, because it never stopped raining and you are becoming aware the summer is over.

I was told the worst time of year was November, because the holidays weren’t here yet, the snow hadn’t accumulated enough to play in, and the days were getting really short.

I was told the worst time of year was January, because the holidays were over, it was cold, and the days were still pretty dang dark.

Now comes mid-February, when its still cold, its still dark, and it’s still winter. 

From what I have been told, though, at least this time of year we have something to look foward too.  Feb 22nd through March 3rd  Anchorage has the Fur Rendezvous (or Fur Rondy for short), which I’ll probably be blogging alot about — cause it sounds awsome (looking at the schedule of events there are things like “outhouse races” and “running of the reindeer”). 

The end of Fur Rondy is also about the start of the Iditarod, the most famous and longest dog sled race in the world.

Soon after, people start preparing for the “Breakup” – the time of year snow & ice melts and the state of Alaska becomes one big puddle.  It’s the right of Spring here, leading to the summer months.

Stuck inbetween will be days of cold and snow and cold and snow and occasionally stuff … but from all suggestions … while this is the fourth “worst time of the year” this is likely the last.

Live from the Salt Pile: Snowmageddon

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Picture if you will, a poor rookie news reporter standing outside in the cold next to a three story pile of salt.  She’s wrapped up in a jacket that is supposed to make her look like she is at the tip of winter weather fashion sense; but all it really does is accent how red her cheeks are from the biting wind.  Her thin gloves grip the microphone tightly just to hide the fact she shivers uncontrollably.  Her only need to report tonight is just to say the county trucks are ready to roll to keep the roads safe and clear.  Down where I used to live in that belt of states from Kansas to Kentucky and even further south – this is the sign of the end, this is the picture of Snowmageddon!  Usually this happens in November or December, but they aren’t afraid to send that poor rookie out to be filmed in front of the salt piles in January or February.  (So yes, the world ends in Snow two or three times a year)  In that southern part of the mid-west, big snow storms are about all that really happens for snow.  It isn’t really snow covered, but brown dead leaves sometimes interrupted by dirty piles of ice.  Storms make the roads tough for travel for a day or two, accidents happen, people buy snow blowers, a cold spell comes in, it warms up, and everything is back to winter’s normal brown.

When I moved up here, I think other Kansas (and maybe me too) pictured Snowmageddon on a daily basis.    Constantly we would have a flood of weather, have to dig out, and the world would be one constant standstill.  And that poor reporter, day in and day out standing next to the salt pile. 

We are getting a fair bit of snow in Anchorage the last couple of weeks, but its not like that.  We had storms that dumped a lot at a given time, but for the most part the snow becomes a constant.  During snow days, you plan accordingly.  Give yourself extra time, give others extra time.  Plan to shovel – including the driveway, the sidewalk, the deck (snow build up can damage it).  Keep your shoes near the door to keep the floors clean. 

With time, it will clear up and stay to the side, and getting around gets easier.  The snow just becomes the constant.  Either its falling or its not, but it is still everywhere.  It doesn’t overwhelm, it just … is.

On the flipside, snow has its benefits.  Snow doesn’t fall if its too cold, and once its down it tends to keep the weather a little more stable.  So snow days tend to be a nice comfortable temperature, and you can get out and do things … like hike, or ski (if that’s what I did), or make the dog chase snowballs & phantom squirrels.  I get outside more during snowy days than the summers in Kansas when it was hellish hot. 

Maybe this is Snowmageddon, this constant snow fall.  But it just proves the point, the world won’t end with a roar, but a whimper … or whatever you call 4 to 6 inches of accumulation over three days.  And no rookie news reporter has to get her get her nice jacket dirty.

Six Month Anniversary to the Move

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 Today at 7:15PM AST (10:15PM CST, 11:15PM EST, sometime on Tuesday Central European Time – if your internet is up by then, Germany) I will officially will have lived in Alaska for six (6) months.

Knowing this day has been coming, I spent some time over the last week wondering how to mark this anniversary of sorts. I mean, its hard to sum up the last six months in one little post.  I mean, look at your own last 6 months and do the same — then think about the upheaval of a new life and … well, you get the picture.  As much as I would love to give you a big rundown of what my life up here has been like, my ego tells me “It’s a flippin achieved blog!  If they were smart enough to read this post … they can go back to the other ones I’ve written.” (Can you tell it’s a Monday?)

As I brooded about it, I stood next to the window near my desk – the low hanging clouds showing the snow/rain mix to the north blocking the view of Denali, and I chatted with a co-worker about the weather and what we can see.  It reminded me of the conversation I had with the son of the woman who owned my house before, and how from the back porch I can see the Chugachs and the snow falling on it.  Then I thought of the conversation I had about the many waterfalls cut into the different hills and valley, and what they might be like come spring.  Then another brought up in a meeting this morning when it was suggested how great its going to be when the sun is up hours and hours and all the things we get to do then.  These were all amazing things I love about this place — but what I loved was that there are so many of us that talk about what makes it amazing, almost like we need each other to remind ourselves where we are and how lucky we are to be here.  It feels like, sometimes, being Alaskan means not just being in a great place, but sharing it with others as best we can.

For the past six months I have written ninety-seven (97) posts to The Bear Feed.  Some of you have read them all, some not so much.  I’ve tried to do my best to describe how stunningly beautiful, how surprisingly rewarding, and how much fun it is to live in Alaska.  But reading through it, unless you have lived or been to this place you really have no idea how understated my blog is.  To be honest, there isn’t a day that goes by I wonder what it would have been like to make a different decision than I did 6 months ago; but I am glad I have been able to experience what I have experienced so far.  In the end, I know y’all wouldn’t read this if you didn’t enjoy reading it, and I appreciate you for that.  But you’re appreciated just as much for giving me the chance to share this place with you so I can remind myself how amazing it is.

Thank you for reading The Bear Feed for any part of the last six months, and let’s see what is ahead of us in the next six months.

Bunny Count: January

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I know, I know, I’ve been slacking on the bunny count for a few months, well … here’s a bit to get us on track.

Bunny Count for January:

Bunnies: 0
Moose: 1
Moose who left tracks in my front yard: 1
Squirrels Sitting on Fence by my Window: 1
Times I got to say “Moose & Squirrel” in Russian Accent like from Rocky & Bulwinkle: 1

Puppies Graduating from a Puppy Class: 1
Days without an accident: 28
Days since last accident: 0 (guess who got so excited he pooped?)

(For the Next items, check out the new page at the top of this page for “305 Miles to Valdez” – its related to my New Year’s Resolution)
“Miles” Counted, January: 35.4
“Miles” Left to Valdez: 269.6
Miles the Dog Walked, January: 25.45
Daily Average Needed to Make it to Valdez by Memorial Day: 2.32

Number of Pieces of Furniture Built: 6
Number of Pieces of Furniture Chewed on by a Dog: 9
Number of Garbage Disposals Replaced: 1

Tempature Max, Jan: 48°F (9°C)
Tempature Min, Jan: -13°F (-25°C)
Snowfall, Jan: 39.6 inches
Snowdepth Current: 7.0 inches

Items Crossed off of Bucket List: 1 (Curling)

Record in Curling: 3-0 (different teams, but only one that is counting is me)
Times Curled Onto the Button (Hitting a Bulls-eye equivalent): 3
Times Curled Onto the Button when Trying: 1
Times Fell on my butt when Curling: 0
Chance of Making the Olympics in Curling: 0

Times Killed by Moose, Squirrel, Dog Walks, Snow Coverage, Falling Furniture, Curling Injuries: 0