Wednesday, July 27, 2005

EEK! What are those yellow things in the trees?

It's great to know that nothing ever surprises God! Every time I see the first few yellow leaves after June 21st and the diminishing daylight, I am never ready! But no matter how much I have tried to convince myself that it is from lack of water... something, somewhere... seems to be laughing at me. Here in South Central Alaska, the leaves are warning us already that we should prepare for less warmth, less sunshine, less green stuff! I am hoping for a long Indian Summer! Today I was trying to figure out what the name of the little bird in Old Harbor that always sings in the summer --- EEE-WEE-WOW-wah-WEEEEEEE is. I have listened to gazillions of bird voices online! Birds are so cool. They do what they are supposed to do --- all the time! Nobody tells them how... but year after year.. here they come and there they go! The swallows that I pictured on my blogg will be traveling clear down to South America! No wonder they are always in such a hurry, they got a long way to go! They left and then we saw the other birds flying in peace without the swallows dive bombing them and ... my word! Speaking of birds- a huge flock of ravens just flew by my house! CAW! CAW! CAW! Looks like they are playing in the wind. Those ravens are naughty. They like to tease the dog, pull out insulation and trash the trash! Bad birds. I always wondered why those Southeast Indians liked them. Did you know that the Bible says that God feeds the ravens? Would have to read that in context again to see why that was even mentioned. This is the site I spend a lot of time looking for the name of the little bird. If anyone knows its name, please let me know. Thanks! Percevia-Identify Birds in North America! What else is happening in our wonderful Alaska? Men are getting their gear together for hunting season, I bet! Time to refill the freezer with moose meat. MMMM! Good meat. Silver salmon are going to be running soon if not already. We hope to go silver fishing in a couple of weeks. This coming weekend is the Howling Huskies Gospel Festival which should be fun. Enough from me!

Monday, July 25, 2005

More Than Nine Lives!!!!!

Tonight I walked outside to let my dog go out- And there she was ---that scrawny thing--mewing for a snack! She strut and turned with a look of pride and to me seemed to say You should have known - I still have lives - I surely would come back! I thought she died when she did not come-- She's old and home she should be staying! She left--- now she's back --- the family I will tell- Alexis and all the other Grands ---- must really have all been praying!
Alexis gets a kiss from Ashlee!
That DARN cat! She came back! LOL and I am so happy to see her! I don't think she will ever die! She's gonna live foreverrrrrrrr! LOL! Sorry if I made anyone sad with my sad attempt at poetry in my last post! Have a happy day... I am!

My Old Missie Cat

My Old Missie Cat
by Connie VanWingerden
She wanted to be outdoors and she loved to see you there.
She wanted a gentle scratch and she loved a fishy share.
My Missie.
She out-lived all the Tom's that came into our life;
By stretching in the sunshine and forgetting all the strife.
So sleepy.
I worried she would run away when we moved to our new home.
On the new deck I fashioned a bed of comfortable foam.
She stayed.
She loved the new view and she loved the quiet peace.
No cars zooming by just noisy lakeside birds and geese.
My friend.
Many years she greeted me when I walked outside to see
The birds that filled her day with chirps and chickadee-dee-deee's.
We listened.
Her body grew old and grayer than her gray coat had always been.
Her steps were slow and faltering, we figured past twenty by then.
I worried.
That day she had walked to the open door from the garage she had moved into;
The sun shined warm on the sidewalk and I smiled as I watched the view.
She listens.
Early in the morning we woke for church and walked out the door to go.
Startled, I saw her bed was empty! We left and I still didn't know.
Where's Missie?
Two days have past now, I've looked in hidden places. Her bed's still cold.
I can't find her in this secret place, my family I have told.
Empty bed.
Miss Clawpaws we named her 20 plus years ago.
Missie Kitty and Missie Cat, her names we all did know.
Our cat.
She's a good girl. She's always at home.
Like me, she doesn't like to roam.
She's gone?
I walk outside and call Missie? Missie Cat? Kitty?
She does not come. She does not answer. Where could she be?
Breezes rustle.
I feel the wind, is it cool with approaching fall?
I prayed it's warm where she is; back into the trees I call.
I shiver.
My thoughts go back to when Kitty was just a little one;
When my kids were still young and Kitty was so much fun.
Our Kitty.
Life goes on when we lose our friends, the days they won't pause.
When I walk outside I will remember our sweet Miss Clawpaws.
Goodbye Kitty.
I will miss you Missie Cat.

Missie Cat was part of our lives since my youngest son was a baby. Kris is 22 now so we figure Kitty must have been at least 21 years old. She was a good ol' cat and the last few years have been hard on her. I was encouraged to have her put to sleep, but I just couldn't do it.

Now somewhere, she rests. We all will miss her.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Dipnet Fishing & Other Fishy Stuff

Salmon has always been a central part of growing up and living in Alaska. One good memory of salmon comes from when I was a little girl. I know I was big enough to be able to remember this time vividly but too young to be much help to anyone but to stay out of the way. Not sure what age that puts me at so I will skip the age thing. Our GranddaughterThis is our granddaughter feeding the seagulls. Back then, the fish ran upstream in numbers so huge they made the water look to me like it was boiling. Many of the people from the village of Old Harbor on Kodiak Island traveled by dory, skiff or boats to Barling Bay to split fish there all day. My Mom, Aunt's & Cousins sat on the creekside splitting fish and tossing them into tubs as the young guys kept watch with guns for bears in the area. The split fish was hauled to the creek to be cleaned after they were split then they were taken home and put up in smoke houses to be first smoked and then dried for winter use. MMMMMMM! I remember grass being cut to lay on the beach for the fish to be cut up on top of. The ladies would stop working and rest while the messy grass was removed and new grass set in its place. They laughed and visited with each other, enjoying being together and watching their kids play with the fish and each other. One of my favorite fishy memories is standing in the creek feeling the fish bumping my ankles as they swam upstream. Since getting married and living in the Matanusky Valley having fish has been scarce around our home because we never took the time to get the fish when it was available. It's sometimes a long time between fish from brothers and my sister and her husband, my other sister, my brother, my brothers wife (she would send her excellent smoked fish), our daughter's husband loves to sport fish and we would luck out and get some fish from them too, then there were the many friends that shared! We so appreciated every fish we received from every one of them! It is great to have lots of fishy relatives sometimes! Lately, if it works out with Doug's work schedule, we have been participating when Alaska opens salmon fishing in Kenai (other areas are opened too) to dipping with nets. My husband finds this to the be the best way to get fish. It's fast, it's efficient and besides that it works! He does not like to "waste" time standing for hours on banks tossing out a line with a crazy lure on the end of it and MAYBE catch one. That's not his idea of fun or relaxing, so I am very thankful for dipnet fishing and so happy to be able to get enough fish to freeze and can even though it is hard work! WaitingDoug checking things out, early in the morning, in his waders, waiting for the tide to come in. The tide came in quite a ways. After we saw another fisherman catch one and many jumpers in the surf, Doug went out and began to catch fish. Happy fisherman! North Kenai River Beach, our granddaughter and the dipnet my husband made. The frame for the net is 3 feet x 4 feet and has a long handle. We see some of the fisherman use the handles from old crutches on their home made dipnets. My husband took the handle off of our weed whacker for this one. The head of the household is allowed 25 fish a day and 10 more for each household member. That is a lot of fish to clean, filet, smoke, can or freeze! You should bring your cooler or coolers when you go salmon dipping. <- Chewy watching the seagulls early in the morning. Sunset on Kenai Beach. Snug Harbor Sunset Tired and going home. We ended up getting home at 3:30 A.M. We were all very tired. This editing program is driving me mad today, but maybe it's because I am tired!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Looking brighter!

The wind picked up and I can faintly see Mt. Susitna. Fresh air sure is a blessing!

Update on the Smoke!

It's still smoky and seems to be getting thicker! I see on the map I gave a link to that there are 4 fires burning in the Valley, so maybe that explains the thicker smoke and smell.

Smokin' !

This is our whole family minus two. Karla and Kim's husbands were both working. But this is almost the whole bunch! They all came over to have dinner together for a belated Dad's Day dinner. We had turkey and all the fixings. We had planned to drive down for dipping salmon today but woke up to so much smoke from wildfires that it is a bit unnerving to leave. The smoke is very thick and smells strongly. I hear that most of the fires were started by lightning! I am including a few pictures that I took earlier today. Now the smoke has become thicker and smellier. (bleah) Campfire smoke is okay when you are camping, but when it's in the house...not good! My daughter informed me that the Fox Creek fire has doubled in size since yesterday. Supposedly that is where all this smoke is migrating from. The Fox Creek fire is down in the Soldotna/Kenai area. We had the Millers Reach Fire come through this area eight years ago this summer and in the pictures you can still see the results of it. (Burned and ugly trees still standing.) It is horrible to smell smoke from wildfires after you've had to clean up and rebuild from one. I hope that the wildfires are able to be contained soon. I see on The Alaska Fire Service map that there is a new one burning in Wasilla near the area that we lived before moving to Big Lake. I pray that no homes get burned down. This picture was taken looking towards Wasilla. Looking towards Baldy Mountain and Hatcher's Pass. This is taken looking towards Sleeping Lady or Mount Susitna which lies across from Anchorage. The Fire Service website shows all the active wildfires and can be found by clicking on this LINK and then going to Current Fire Information and that link will bring up a map that shows all the recent/active fires here in Alaska. You can find a fire and Zoom into it to see it closer. It is a great website!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Goin' Bananas!

Camai'i! We needed to pick up some things from the grocery store the other day so we REMEMBERED to stop by our brand new Premium Food Warehouse here in the Big Lake - Pittman Road area so that we could check it out for the first time. It's a great place for buying food in bulk and so close to us too! We loved that we were able to drive there in less than 20 minutes, park, go shopping and be back home in an hour! Traffic going to and from Wasilla has been horrible this summer and going to Anchorage to shop is not something we do very much, so this is going to be quite an asset for us "keeping $it$ in the Valley" people. Anyway, we picked up some bananas for .89 lb. (.99 at local grocery stores) and we have been enjoying them for breakfast. This morning I was really looking closely at one of them and figured the way it looked, maybe it used to have a flower. I thought I would check it up online to see what the banana flower looked like and if it even had a flower at one time. Here's some of my little research on them. I thought it might be interesting topic to share. Goin' bananas in Alaska! The flower is huge but not as impressive looking as something like an orchid or rose. I would love to have a banana tree growing in my back yard! But then, I would have to have a warm backyard... and to have a warm back yard I would be living somewhere other than Alaska! So I think we will continue to stop by the store and pick up bananas from somewhere tropical. The bananas we bought were imported from Guatemala.... which is someplace else I want to look at online! Isn't the internet incredible? Makes our world seem smaller somehow! What a beautiful place to be, under a shady banana tree...unless... there is something huge, creepy and crawly there too! Here is a recipe for using up all those banana flowers in your back yard! Banana Flower Salad. The recipe comes from a family that lives and runs a plant nursery in India. Check it out with this link if you have time. Beautiful tropical plants! I believe you might be able to find canned banana flowers at an Asian grocery store here in Alaska. "God made heaven and earth. He created the sea and everything else. God always keeps His word." Psalms 146:6

Monday, July 11, 2005

That Big Ugly Beetle!

EWWWWWWW! It's a White Spotted Sawyer and not the Asian version of the long-horned beetles. It is considered a wood boring bug and when it is sunny and hot... they are out looking for mates. Ewwww! Anyway, one of these beetles decided to join us for lunch and Alexis picked up the beetle and even chased her Aunt Marie with it. (Not for very long, Aunt's can be threatening when they have to be!) The bug is a toughie and when she held it down beside this rock, it held on and picked it up! Gives me the creeps to think about it landing on my hair and holding on that hard when trying to shake it off! You can read more about them here. I am surprised no one said anything about that spider below! (Not sure what kind of spider it is. I don't want to read about spiders to find out, the beetle readings made me feel creepy enough.) Checking out Denali Mountain While out camping we stopped by the Denali Viewpoint along the Parks Highway (Approximately Mile 137) . It is a fantastic place to stop to take pictures, especially if Denali decides to come out of hiding. Lots of parking, bathrooms and picnic tables and an enjoyable walk up a hill to a viewing area. We saw bits and pieces of the Denali while we were there. I would guess the best time to stop there would be early in the morning before the clouds build up. Still, what we saw was IMPRESSIVE! That is a big, big mountain and I have no idea why anyone wants to climb it!AJ in the wind We took a short ride from our campsite to the viewpoint and here is our Grandson AJ enjoying the windy ride. lol He was so funny. (They got to ride in the back of Gramppa's truck.) This camping trip was fun, bugs an all! The mosquitoes and biting flies were bad and they were hardly stopped by the bug dope. The only relief was climbing into our campers or tents. The little no-see-ums were attracted to the warm smoky areas! (There were no biting bugs at the Denali Look out and was a nice relief to be there.) Candlelight Stares One of the evenings the kids played a game by candlelight. Here they are trying to look spooky by candlelight. Calli & Klint, Marie and Kim. Kim is Mom to the grandchildren shown in this post. We plan to be out camping again soon. Lexie, AJ, Ashlee Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

It's a Baby's World!

Baby Calvin, our sixth grandbaby. My baby dog Chewy was such a good puppy and very watchful while Baby Calvin napped on the couch yesterday. He made me feel so proud of him. He did not even try to run out the open door which he always does when not in this newly observed babysitting mode! When Calvin woke up, he barked to alert his Mom who was sitting outside enjoying the sunshine while all three boys napped! All three were ready to get up after that! Including one grumpy older brother!

Out on the back deck we have some bird houses and we were happy to enjoy two swallow families who joined us for a while. The first family has already left and these little guys are thinking about checking out the breeze. I expect that they will be ready to leave Alaska in a few days or less. Always a sad time to go outdoors and notice that I can only hear the wind in the trees and no chirping swallows anymore. Even yucky things have babies and we saw this huge spider in the garage today. She was carrying a hoard of spiders that crawled all over her back. I assume this was a female, I guess it could have been Father Spider too. Eeek. (NOPE, we didn't allow them to move in.)

Off to enjoy the beautiful thunder shower that decided to drop huge raindrops here today! I love it!

Friday, July 01, 2005

56 Men

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the revo- lutionary army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardshipsof the revolutionary war. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward. Vandals or soldiers or both, looted the properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. The owner quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates. Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged:

"For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

I hope your Independence Day celebration will include thankfulness to God for your freedom to worship Him and to pursue a financial and physically comfortable life here in the United States of America. Thanks to God and to the historic men and women of solid spiritual principles and integrity who fought and many who died to secure that which we enjoy today!
May God keep walking with our leaders today and may our leaders walk with Him.
May we all seek only the guidance of the Awesome God who created the earth and the people of the earth who were created in His image, with free choice.... it's no wonder why we long for freedom in the first place, we were created all.... to be free.
And with that, I am off to enjoy a road trip with my husband! We are heading towards Copper Center and hope to join a bit of the Bible Conference being held there besides enjoying the beauty of God's earth on the way.
Might have a few pictures to share when I get back. I hope it's not smoky up that way!!!!!
Happy July 4th to all!