Monday, September 28, 2009

A small part of Alaska's history is gone....

Ruth E Conard, lifelong Alaskan, died peacefully in her Wasilla home on September 21, 2009.

Ruth was born in Fairbanks on May 28, 1923, to James T and Helen Hutchison. While Ruth was the first born daughter, she arrived behind her older brother, James T, Jr. The other sisters and brothers that followed and lived included Marion Acord, Rose deLima, Geraldine Hutchison, Josephine Hoskins, Harold Hutchison and Harry Hutchison. Ruth has four daughters, Roxanne Lawrence, Vanita and Joy Keeling, and Dawn Durtsche, eight grand children, eight great-grand children, and five great-great grandchildren.
Ruth was one of a kind! She grew up in Fairbanks and lived the frontier life when chopping wood for the wood stove, hauling water for drinking, cooking, and baths was the norm. She helped care for the other children, and sold berries and pies, ironed and babysat to bring extra money into the family. She often talked about floating down the streets on wooden sidewalks when the Chena River would flood every year. She developed the sense of resourcefulness and strength that comes from living up north. She was a hardworker and could be counted on to jump in and help with any project. She truly had the old-time Alaskan Spirit!

Ruth possessed a sense for numbers and gravitated towards positions within office administration and accounting. She retired from the Virology Rabies Unit at UAF in 1988 and was a lifelong member of the Women’s Pioneer Auxiliary #8 and most recently, a member of Ninilchik Village Tribal Council. In her younger years, she was a member on several bowling teams. Throughout her life, she delighted in playing pinochle, cribbage, blackjack, and pulltabs with astoundingly good luck! She was also a crocheting and knitting machine, creating many afghans, doilies, and dolls in lighting speed which she generously gave to family members on a regular basis. She loved to dance and could jitterbug like nobody’s business!
She was ahead of her time in many ways. Ruth chose to be a single mother, applied and received her own credit cards, secured financing for her own trailer and several vehicles during the time when women didn’t live independently. Through her actions, she taught her daughters that it was okay to be independent women, using their minds and instincts to follow their own paths. She often would say, ‘You can be anything you want in this world.’
Ruth is survived by her sisters, Marion, Rose, Geraldine and Josephine; her daughters, Roxi, Nita, Joy and Dawn and three generations of children. Per her instructions, she requested no service; just cremation. Ruth will be placed in the family plot in Fairbanks.


The above is the obituary that the four daughters wrote, and the respect and loss shines through clearly. I did not know Ruth half as well as I should have, but I recall fondly our lengthy conversations about her life growing up in Fairbanks "back in the day". A strong willed woman of firm opinions, she was outspoken and resolute in her convictions. Other people might see it as stubborn, lol, but I saw it as an expression of her resolve and decisions. It amazed me, the number of people who she knew, was related to in some fashion, or had met or worked with over her long life.

She has left a great legacy, although she may have never known-to a person, her daughters are compassionate, strong, loving, self reliant, and independent. This may turn out to be her greatest achievement, I think. A more determined set of siblings you will never meet :)

Have a toddy on me, Ruth, and I hope to reconnect when it's my time.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Autumn's end

Autumn is ending, marking the slow slide into dormancy for most things here. This morning, it was raining at home-this time, the rain was cool. By the time I arrived at work, I could see Termination Dust on the mountaintops-Pioneer Peak and the Chugach range, Hatcher's Pass and the Talkeetna Mountains, and of course, Lazy Mountain as well.

It's a bittersweet, yet expectant time of the year for me. I am sad the summer is officially over, yet excited to see the first snow flakes too. Usually, we don't see snow down here in the Valley until sometime around the middle of October-typically about the 12th.

Now is the mad scramble to get everything picked up and straightened up before snow. And what a scramble it is, I still have a list of things to tend before freeze up as usual. Although we have been blessed with a warmer than average fall, I know the cold is coming!

If the clouds lift, maybe I can get a picture today......

Saturday, September 19, 2009

One of the best pay offs

To living here in Alaska is all the wildlife we get to see. People from the Lesser 48 (sorry guys ;)) just don't have these opportunites.

The day started off with mixed foggy areas and low lying scud. If it weren't for the bright yellow and gold birch leaves, it surely would have been a gloomy day. We headed out early, north on the Parks Highway for a bit of an exploratory drive. We were blessed to see the following:

A mated pair of swans-
and their three cygnets from this year, not completely white as yet.
Numerous wild ducks and honestly about all I could tell is that there were three different kinds (I think?)
Eagles-one immature bird and an adult, who had lunch of some type in its beak.
A spruce hen-and I think I saw a few more moving in the brush, but this one was on the gravel road.
And of course ravens and camp robbers, that's a given.

On the way home this evening, we stumbled across a lost pheasant too, who had a gaggle (?) of camp robbers after it, as it scurried along the road in front of us. No doubt lost from someone's place, there was no way to catch it up with just the two of us-poor thing.

When you add in the cow and calf pairs of moose we've seen lately, and the fox I saw three mornings ago just a couple blocks from home-you could say, there is still wildlife to seen, here just an hours' drive out of Anchorage.

It's just grand, really it is. To see moose, bear, and other tracks right on your own see wild swans, ducks, geese, eagles and all the rest.

The capper of the day was heading over to give a neighbor a hand with butchering chickens, haha Sure got a lot left to do and I am probably going to be at that bright and early tomorrow as well.

Yep, the day was for the birds!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Some Wednesday funnies

Here are a few websites, good for a giggle, belly laugh or outright squirm ;) (A new favorite!) (The one and only LOLCats site!) (Canine humor!) (Horse humor)

Please feel free to add your own favorite humorous websites :)


Monday, September 14, 2009

Homestead happenings

Fall is well upon us, as I felt the nip in the air this morning on my way to the barn. In the dark, ha! Yes, it is dark even without clouds now when I do my morning barn chores. The big dog is sure looking around in the mornings too, so I am paying fairly close attention to him-he'll surely see or smell something long before I do :)

Friday evening when I got home, we let the chickens loose. Well, what we did was prop open the door for them. The garden has been harvested, and as long as the doors are closed on the greenhouse there isn't much for them to get into now. Saturday, I did not see them all, as it rained fairly heavy off and on all day. Yesterday, they were up near the barn and came running right over when I called. I was rather tickled that they 1) came at all, and 2) remembered where their old coop area was. I treated them to a handful of sweet feed because I like rewarding them that way. This morning I was happy to see that they had roosted at the barn-the three hens on the one stall wall, and for about two minutes I could not find the rooster at all....but eventually I spied him sitting on a pallet that was stood up on end-I figure he can't see well enough to fly up there into the rafters and boards with just the one eye. As usual, when he heard my voice he emitted his tiny chuckling coo. Happy birds, they are, with the run of the place. We'll probably loose whatever eggs are laid until we finagle a new chicken coop, unless the hens wander all the way down the hill to thier nesting boxes (possible, but not likely) for now.

Hunting season is in full swing, so my hub has been out trying for a moose. This means a combination of "road hunting" (driving around back roads with eyes peeled for bulls and trails) and getting out on the four wheeler, exploring. They've found a few likely spots which will be carefully hunted over the next couple of days. I am hoping for good luck as moose would be a welcome addition around home!

On the horse end, not much happening. The mare is still off now that the ground is saturated. However, we finally have level heels, and I am optomistic that time and exercise will encourage better, healthy growth for her hooves. I know that her coffin bone was at an angle when I got her, based upon the condition she arrived-and I also knew it was going to be a long slow recovery-I was just hopeful we would have had more correction by now. I am a little hamstrung with her, because I can't "feed her up" for hoof growth, as she is already on the line for being obese as it is, grr! No grain whatsoever and a measely 16 or 17 pounds of hay a day, and she's um, fluffy, to say the least ;) Basically she needs the poo worked out of her, day after day, but I am unable to do that working full time, darn it.

The old man is in very good spirits, and obviously happy to be back in his old stall and pen. On Saturday when we were working on stripping the greenhouse, he had wandered down to see what we were doing. Looking over the fence down into the greenhouse, he watched for a while and then walked back up, hand a roll, and trotted back to the fenceline. Where he promptly zapped himself on the fence! With a big snort and a shake of his head, he bolted back to his was funny! Not like he doesn't know the fence bites, the silly guy :)

The big dog is still unhappy with my hub being home. He is pretty "woofy" with men who come to the house anyway, and seems scared of my hub for the first week. That fear does not stop him from trying to worm his way onto the bed at night though! Funny how the dog is fine if my hub is reclining (in the recliner, or on the bed) but all twitterpated if he's standing? I have no idea what's up with that, but I do know that men wearing ball caps and anything red, tend to scare him. I presume this is something from his past-he is getting over the ball cap thing because so many men come to my office who wear them. The color red? Not so much. Just something to work through over time, we'll get there.

Saturday was the strip the greenhouse day. What should have taken a full days work, ended up going pretty quickly with my neice and her guy helping. My gosh I have a lot of green tomatoes! I sent them home with quite a bit of ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and a variety of peppers too. And, I have a half a dozen small sugar (pie type) pumpkins sitting on the bench in the greenhouse too. So I have a lot of pepper seeds to harvest and my chore today is to find a pile of newspaper and a bunch of boxes so I can get those tomatoes ripening off. Although just where to put them is the question....

I also put the pansy bowls in the greenhouse as I need to harvest seeds from them as well, antique shade pansy seeds are very expensive! Oh, and I *think* I have figured out where the seeds for broccoli grow on the plant! Well, not positive, but I think I found them.....after the plant flowers (which, by the way, are great to eat if you haven't tried them) the flowers will drop off and these thin little spiky looking things will remain. It looks for all the world like rather thick green cactus spines, but each of these has little lumps in it-I presume the seeds? So I picked a handful of those and they are in the garage, drying. Not quite sure how to open those pods but I am positive there are seeds in there :)

Which leads me to wonder: How do cabbages seed? Cauliflower? Brussel Sprouts? I have no idea, lol! I mean, I know they must, but since our season is so short, we never get to see the plant actually mature long enough I bet. Hmm, something interesting to look up on the net today :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

The end of the growing season

Yes, it's the end of the season here. I've had several light frosts and have pulled everything from the vegetable garden except for one lone cauliflower and whatever is left of the carrots...which is bound to be very few since they were snacked on all summer long, lol

The greenhouse needs to be stripped, and this is going to be a large project indeed. I have numerous pots in there, and most of them still carry their fruits-tomatoes, peppers, corn and a few miscellaneous odds and ends. Nothing in there was harmed by those frosts, including my huge (and yet to be repotted) house plant, thank heavens. But, stripping and then emptying those pots is going to quite a lot of work. The tops will need to be put on the compost area, and the contents of the pots into my beginnings of another vegetable bed. Afterwards, I will top dress the area with the humified compost too. And, I need to pull the black plastic mulch off the garden proper as well-it will need to be hosed off, dried, and then put away until next year.

This weekend I will also tear into my tiny pumpkin patch, and see what is buried in the leaves there. I am pretty sure they could have used an extra three weeks for growth but I will be happy with whatever I find. I also have several plants still in pots that I will need to bury in order to winter over safely. Hopefully I will have plenty of leaves stockpiled for mulching as well.

The challenging part will be finding space for the produce that remains. I am basically jam packed in both freezers, and won't really have extra space in there until the salmon is processed-which should be sometime over the next two weeks or so. The tomatoes I will box and ripen off over the coming week or so, and hopefully by that time I will have a little space to freeze them.

This end of the season ritual is always very bittersweet for me. I know that snow and cold are not that far away, and I will be revisiting my memory frequently for the images I hold of that greenhouse......full of promising, growing plants.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sore and sunburned!

Had an absolutely marvelous day at the State Fair this year! An entire day to wander the grounds and check out all the booths in detail without hurrying, it was great. Nibbled our way through the food booths too, although by 4 pm there were getting to be lines in front of every one, lol It was very crowded by late afternoon, you could barely make your way through the throngs of people-and the people watching was pretty entertaining too!

Wonderful company, and I am sure glad we got there early so my son could get some rides in before it got too crowded-he managed to use up all his tickets before we left :) And eat an entire bag of cotton candy, ha! The only day of the year he is allowed to eat pretty much whatever he wants, I don't let him overdo candy at all at Hallowe'en or Christmas so this is a big treat. He is right on that cusp of bring part little boy and partly "almost teen" so there were a few rides he was not up to trying and a few favorites he just had to go through again.

My good friend who accompanied me, was very tired yesterday too....seems we just aren't used to umpteen miles over the course of a day any longer. Ran into a few friends here and there, and visited with our neighbors who have a booth for a few minutes. The only venue we didn't check out was the horse barns, just ran out of steam shortly after 7 pm as we were heading that direction. Found the Garlic Gourmay booth but it was too crowded to get inside to buy anything, which is just as well because we were hauling around enough goodies as it was! I mostly scored on some t shirts, but did not find a coffee cup this year-oh well. And I picked up some information on a number of rather interesting items too of course.

Did have some color on my arms yesterday, I was sure glad I wore a sleeveless top because it was flat out hot almost all day. The only relief was the occasional breeze that blessed the grounds-absolutely perfect day at the Fair!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Fair weather, is fair!

Wow, what a wonderful stretch of sunny weather we are enjoying!

For the first time I can remember, we've had more sunny days than rainy days, the entire length of the Alaska State Fair. Our marvelous summer has meant for some stupendous entries in the Giant Vegetable competition this year too....

Here's a couple of them, from memory-

Cabbages: 125.9 pounds. No that is not a typo! Busts the world record which has been held for 20 years.
Watermelon: 145 pounds and change. Seriously, I just cannot get my mind around a melon that size, and I can't wait to go see it, lol
Pumpkin: 374 pounds. Now that may not seem all that large to folks in the L48, until you consider this.....the seed for that plant was up April 1st! Wow, 374 pounds of growth in just under five months!!
Brussel Sprouts: Over 28 pounds. I can't imagine this one either, since I have some whoppers in my own garden but nothing even close to that size!

And there are some massive rutabaga's, kohlrabi and so forth.....Here's the URL to the Alaska State Fair website, where you can cruise the vegetable entries-

I hope to get over to the Fair this weekend, spend some time gawking at the veggies, check out all the hand made items, the 4-H entries. Might even wander over to the horse arena, but maybe not. And, of course, eat!! Very expensive to eat this year, but I have a few favorites I hope to sample again-like the deep fried cheesecake for one ;) Incredibly delicious with a Kaladi Brothers mocha! Most of my time will be spent at the rides, as ten year old boys aren't too interested in hand crafts, haha I buy one coffee cup per year at the Fair, a tradition, so I will be checking all the pottery booths for just the right one. But you will never find me in line for that ejector seat ride by the purple gate-those people are nuts!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Closing the barn doors on meadow muffins

Today, a departure from the normal entries.

Warning: This won't be polite, mundane and might even be unpleasant for some readers.

For the scum sucking snarkosauruses' who read here looking for dirt-go digging somewhere else. There are plenty of other targets you can surely back stab, lie about, conspire against, and relish hurting. There are more suckers you can bedazzle with bs into genuflecting at your tarnished throne, than there are people who can think for themselves. Barnum was right: There is a sucker born every minute. You have a good nose for finding them.

I've had it with the pettiness and outright viciousness and the put downs, attacks, slams and the lying. Is this how your mother raised you? Really? Is this how you treat people you do not even know? Feel pretty safe posting carp on CL, don't you? And oh so smart by using cutout email addies to send those hurtful emails too. Must be easy to focus on, I am such a big threat to you all. Right? Well, get over yourselves, all of you. I don't care what you think or say, I don't care what you post, and I don't care what you email. Talk between yourselves as much as you like, and keep feeding each others' paranoia.

Get a grip, you losers. I don't give a rats' about your business, your animals, or your lives and don't care to know about them either. I am plenty busy tending to real life, I don't need to delve into high school drama for entertainment. That's your venue, not mine.

For all of you who read the recent court documents (and you know who you are) I call you out as cowards, each and every one of you-for not having the courage to even pick up the phone and talk to me about it. Believed it all, didn't you? Or did you just "tsk tsk" and whisper between buddies and were just thankful it wasn't you? Whichever, your choice to whether or not to buy into fiction or hear the truth. But it sure shows your true colors, now doesn't it?

Just like there is no room for honesty in politics, there is no room for honesty in our pitiful excuse for a horse community. I am sick and tired of seeing people (not just myself)eviscerated publicly while the perpetrators get a free pass on their behavior by everyone else. And for those of you who just stood by in shock-thinking, oh geeze, not again-well shame on you for not helping to stamp out these behaviors. Every single one of us horse people know the "three second" rule when it comes to handling a 1000 pounds of unruly horse, yet none can seem to apply it to real life when it is most needed.

Your silence equals approval, even if you don't realize it.

So I am done. Just done. You win. The bullies have won the day, yippee skippy and all that. Rejoice, celebrate, whatever, I don't care.

Boarding was never a money maker and I seldom even made enough to pay the barn help-it always came out of my own pocket. So I am done with that, since the rest of you have oh so much better facilties and oh so much more experience and so on and so forth. I took a little pride in feeding a superior quality diet to the horses in my care, and am happy to say that each horse that left my care looked marvelous. It's some comfort, anyway.

Breeding? HA! What breeding? There is no breeding going on, never has been, not for me. Nope, I insisted on pre breeding exams, cultures, and a well conformed mare. Darn me for caring about the horses involved, instead of the greenbacks that empty uterous meant. So I may give it one more season and then that's it, done with that too.

The hay? Well, I think I will scale that back. When I have local hay producers backstabbing the hay I bring up (to sell more of their own carp, I presume?) well enough is enough. The regular customers I have are delighted to have this premium hay at a price they can live with.....I just won't bother promoting it much any longer. Whats the point? To be publicly labeled "nasty small time hay importer" by the local hag?

So that's it. I am taking a page from our former Governor, and quitting.

Y'all have fun now, ya hear?