Wednesday, August 17, 2016

So long summer

They say summer is over here in the Alaska interior. I don't believe them, mostly because the calendar says it is the middle of August. August means it is still summer. However, all I have to do is walk outside and I realize they are right. The daytime temperatures are still around 70*F (around 20*C), but the air feels different, fall-like. There is a crispness to it. The leaves are turning yellow. The geese honk as they fly overhead, heading south to warmer weather. The days are getting shorter. It actually gets dark at night now.  We are losing seven minutes of daylight each day. A week ago, sunset was at 10:34 pm. Tonight the sun will set at 10:01 pm.

I am told that autumn doesn't last long here and I should expect the first snowfall sometime around the middle of September. I knew winter would arrive early this far north, but I did not expect it to arrive in September. Fall is my favourite time of year (anyone who has lived in New England for any amount of time during the autumn can't help but fall in love with fall!). I am sad it will be short-lived here. I don't want to think about the impending winter, with it's -40*F temperatures and very little sunlight. Instead, I plan to soak up the last few days of warmth and sunshine before it's too late.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Road Trip!

We spent the last week traveling to Virginia Beach and Philadelphia. It was the perfect time to go to the beach. The weather was still nice enough to get in the water, but the beach wasn't very crowded because it's September. We have been to Philadelphia before, so this trip I wanted to do some of the things we didn't get to last time. I have to say taking a trip a week after being diagnosed with celiac disease was a challenge but we made it work. When I travel I LOVE to eat (who am I kidding? Anyone who knows me knows I love to eat any time, traveling or not!). I really enjoy trying new restaurants, especially if they are local to the area we are visiting or ones that we don't have here in Central Virginia. It was difficult for me to walk past restaurants and realize that I could not eat the food. I came close to having a meltdown in Virgina Beach on the boardwalk, but I held it together (barely). The saddest day of this trip was when we walked through Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia and I saw all this food I could no longer eat. Thankfully, we were able to find some great gluten-free food. Shout out to Zero's Subs in Virginia Beach for their delicious gluten-free bread, and their delicious subs! Also, kudos to The Race Street Cafe in Philadelphia for the gluten-free bun for their yummy burger. Being gluten-free is turning out to be a good thing. This is the first road trip we've been on where I actually lost weight!

The beach. It never gets old.

We went to the top of the Cape Henry Lighthouse. Scary stairs, amazing views! 

Look at that view!

There are actually two lighthouses. The one on the left is still in operation. We went to the top of the one on the right.

 On our way to Philadelphia, we took the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. There are two tunnels that go under the Bay, which is pretty much the ocean. So I'm crossing "drive under the ocean" off of my bucket list.

The view from our hotel room in Philadelphia. Kind of creepy - I made Husband sleep closest to the window! This is the Christ Church Burial Grounds. Benjamin Franklin is buried here. We could almost see his grave from our room, but there was a tree in the way.

Elfreth's Alley, America's oldest continuously inhabited residential street. I want to live here!

In front of the Friendship Gate in Chinatown

We didn't visit Rocky on our last trip, so we made sure to do it this time! I tried to convince Husband to run the stairs, but he said "No!" Boo on him! He knew better than to try and get me to run them! Definitely not on my bucket list.

Husband on the "Rocky Steps" with downtown Philadelphia in the background. If you look closely, you can see preparations for the Pope's visit are in full swing. The city is already closing roads to prepare. We weren't aware of this, and let's just say it led to a rather adventurous drive to get to Rocky!

We also toured the US Mint. If you are ever in Philadelphia, put this on your must-see list! It was pretty cool to watch the coins being made. You're not allowed to take pictures inside, so this is all you get.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ten years...

Ten years ago today my dad passed away. One of my siblings thought it would be a good idea to make a little book of memories and letters to mark the day. This was my contribution:

I can’t believe it has been ten years since you passed away. It seems like only yesterday, and yet at the same time, it seems like it has been forever. They (whoever “they” are) say that the grief that comes with the death of a loved one gets better with time. I disagree: it never gets better. It just changes. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. Some days, my heart aches so much from the hurt that I can’t contain my sorrow. Most days, however, my thoughts are little memories, almost fleeting. Little things will trigger them, although I never know what exactly and I am often caught off guard when it happens.

I think of you when I am at the farmer’s market. The peas remind me of all the hours spent shelling peas each summer. You would get so frustrated with me because more peas would end up in my mouth than in the bowl. That’s your own fault, you know. You were the one who taught me how to shell peas and introduced me to the joy of eating them straight from the pod.

I think of you when a seed I plant doesn’t grow. I wish I could call you up and ask you what I am doing wrong. Your flowerbeds were always full of beautiful flowers. Mine are full of obnoxious weeds. It’s pretty obvious I did not inherit your green thumb. But I did inherit your determination because I still try to plant things, even though I know they won’t grow.

I think of you when I eat watermelon, remembering the time Mom swallowed a watermelon seed. You said that she was going to grow a watermelon in her tummy because of it. Then it turned out her stomach did start getting bigger because she was pregnant, but but you had me convinced she was growing a watermelon. Imagine my surprise when the watermelon turned out to be a baby sister!

I think of you when I need to accomplish a task of some sort. I hear you saying to me “If you do it right the first time, you only have to do it once.” You taught me to work hard, and do the best job I could possibly do. It was always work first, then play. As much as I hated that philosophy when I was younger, it turns out that it has served me well as an adult. I guess you were right after all.

I think of you when I hear the song How Great Thou Art. That song still brings me to tears, even ten years later. I think of singing it as the closing hymn at your funeral. I think of sitting there with my siblings, arms wrapped around each other and holding hands, with tears streaming down our faces, as we sang the words praising God for His greatness, even during one of the most difficult times of our lives: “Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee, how great thou art, how great thou art!” You taught me that no matter how tough life is, God is always greater.

It’s been ten years. It’s been one hundred and twenty months. It’s been five hundred and twenty weeks. It’s been three thousand six hundred and fifty days. It doesn’t matter how I mark the time; it is still adds up to another moment without you. And that is something I think about every single day.

Shelling peas with my dad. This picture was taken in August 2004, almost exactly one year before he passed away.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The battle continues

Our neighbour has struck again! We came back from church on Christmas Eve to find an inflatable decoration in our yard, surrounded by gnomes. We had a good laugh over it, especially when our neighbour told us the inflatable Santa was ours to keep. Be warned friends; you never know who's yard Santa will end up in next year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I'll be gnome for Christmas

Our neighbours got us back for stealing their hippo. Yesterday morning we woke up to a gnome army on our front step. Creepy and hilarious; but mostly creepy! Our neighbour says this is phase one. To be honest, I am a bit concerned (and terrified) about the next phase. In case you are wondering, yes, these gnomes do belong to our neighbour - she is slightly obsessed with gnomes and may need professional help!

The front view

The back view

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I want a hippotomaus for Christmas...

Our neighbours have an inflatable Christmas hippo in their yard. A few days ago, Husband suggested we "steal" the hippo and place it our yard. Last night when we saw them leave for the evening, we knew it was the perfect time to pull off the heist! A couple of other neighbour kids caught us in the act, but instead of ratting us out, they helped us (They are brother and sister and as we were moving the hippo, the brother said "If you wanted to steal a hippo, you could just steal my sister!" Ha!). After we got Hugo situated, we began the task of patiently waiting for our neighbours to return. We were like children checking for Santa on Christmas Eve, constantly looking out the window to see if their car was in their driveway. Finally, five hours after the kidnapping, they returned! The neighbours say there will be retaliation, but we aren't too concerned. How can you top kidnapping a hippo yard decoration? By the way, another neighbour has an inflatable polar bear in their yard. I am thinking the polar bear would like to see the world from our yard in the next few days.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Missed the memo?

This afternoon we had about 20 wild turkeys pass through the woods behind our house. They were good and plump too! They looked perfect for a Thanksgiving feast. Maybe the missed the memo about Thanksgiving being next week, or maybe they need a calendar. I know if I was a turkey I would be hiding this time of year!