Cookout on the BEACH!

Keep in mind this is February.  It’s the last day of February, but it’s still February and about 18 degrees F.

IMG_0004eThis afternoon, Holly wanted to go out and do something fun as a family.  The first plan was to have a cook-out on Chilkoot Lake; to just build a fire right on the ice. 

While that might seem like a bad idea, I’ve never actually tried starting a fire in the middle of a frozen lake, so it was a bit hard for me to dissuade her of the notion that it’d be both fun and a success.  Then we talked to Ron Horn and he said the road is not plowed all the way out to the lake, so we’d have to walk about a mile out to the end of the road through the snow–not something I’d want to do without snow-shoes with three little ones.

To get down to the beach, we had to climb down a really steep snow pile which was covered with the new snow from this past week.  It really was a beautiful day.


IMG_0015cThen she got the idea that it’d be fun to cook hot-dogs and s’mores, so I thought it’d be best if we moved the cook-out to the beach. BAM.  That seemed like a good idea to me, it’s close to the road, it’s on dry land, we could easily put some wood in the car and take it down to the beach, etc. 

We called the Greens and invited them to come, but they weren’t home, so as Holly went to the store to get some supplies, I went to the school and tracked the Greens down at the Energy Fair in the cafeteria.

IMG_0032For the location, we decided on the beach near the Cruise Ship dock right in front of town.  We got some free wood from Ron, and headed down there.  Blacky had shown Mark how to light a fire with a wooden match, so we set him to using the matches to start the fire.  He’d never used paper matches before, so I had to show him how to light a paper match.  Note to self.  Get a box of wooden matches for the next cook-out.  Mark actually lit the match that lit the fire–which was pretty exciting for us.


Since all the sticks, willows, and branches are covered by snow this time of year, we brought our metal Weiner roasters.  It was so cold out, and the fire was so small, that we really had a problem with keeping warm.  But this is not the usual time of year to be burning wood outside, as people with wood stoves are burning wood in their homes whenever possible to save money on fuel oil.


To help control the breeze on the fire, I used the two large pieces of wood as a wind block and built the fire down in the crotch of the v.  It worked really well, it seemed.  At one point, Steward Dewitt took his boat out and splashed some waves up on the beach and we had to move our stuff up out of the inter-tidal zone for an extra margin of safety. 

Right now, Holly is putting the boys to sleep while I was the dishes 🙂

Christmas in Haines

IMG_7411 IMG_7335We had a really fun time this weekend with the our family healthy again.  We went to see: Santa Claus at the visitors center, the trains at the museum, Mrs. Santa Claus at the Library, the basketball games with Craig, and then finished off the weekend with a community sing-along at the Library. 

The men of Note Sang at the Christian women’s Fellowship time and Bob got sick there and was in bed the rest of the weekend–which was a bummer because then he missed the caroling at the library (Nancy N. filled in for him though).

Once again, we had a son who did not like getting to sit on Santa’s lap at all.  It’s pretty fun to see things morph from year to year.  This year was colder than last year, it felt.  But we did not have the amount of snow that we had last year so the weather has seemed less severe.

I like the way Haines does Christmas in such a provincial small-town way.  The same organizations do the same programs each year slightly different than the last year.  I like taking the photos and such, but this year I took IMG_7524a few too many, I suppose.  The people in the dragon did a fine job this year too.  Mark was able to figure out what was going on with the people in the dragon this year for the first time and we had fun talking about how he might be big enough to be in the dragon some day.  The only problem I had is that I ran out of flash batteries during the parade and had to shoot with available light (well for the most part).  In the shot above, I was able to catch someone’s flash lighting up the dragon from the opposite side.


The homecoming dance went off fairly smoothly, I suppose.  A couple students made bad choices and a big pile of students wanted to dance like Chihuahuas, but besides that it went pretty well, was well attended, and there were just a few disruptions to the music, due to a faulty connection of some sort.  Above is the Homecoming Court with seniors on the right and freshman on the left: L to R: Quin Asquith-Heinz, Eriik Klinger, Gus R., and Ryan Smalley; Front Row: Hannah Wing, Jolene Lemieux, Fran Daly, and Crystal Lemieux.

It was a tough day here.

Holly was down for the count all day. Being a single parent must be tough.  I’m sticking with Holly.

Today was supposed to be one of Holly’s big days, she had all sorts of activities planned, shopping, going to the bazaar, cleaning the house, putting on the pageant a the Lighting of the fort and none of it came to pass though not through any fault of her own, as it’s important to rest when one is sick and we both firmly believe that rest is often the best medicine especially with a flu-type of bug which is not treatable, most of the time with antibiotics.  Whew.  That was a long sentence followed by a very short one.

IMG_0857Margaret took pity on us and came and got Mark for his piano/voice lesson where she’s teaching him how to sing, read music, and enjoy the musical realm.  He’s learning “Good King Winceslas” right now, playing both hands in octaves while singing (I think he sings). 

IMG_0879Then she dropped him off at his swim lesson, which is entitled fun-club and is run by various people in the swim team, from all I can tell.  I peaked in on it and Blake Hamilton was herding them around in the shallow end.  The Boron twins were there too, as were a bunch of Mark’s friends, so I think he had a wonderful time.

While Margaret was doing that with Mark, Luke, John Caleb and I went to the Bazaar. I was tempted to get some supplements for my diet being sold by Mrs. Boron’s Dad Lenny: Osolean, by Manatech: CLICK HERE!! if you want to check it out.  Only thing is I think it’s kind of expensive for Whey powder.  Whey sounds really inexpensive to me.  Maybe I should create a brand called Wheyleanforever, or some such.  John Caleb was asleep, so I left him with the crowd at the table with Hunter, Devin, and others.

IMG_0940After the bazaar, John Caleb woke up and I brought Luke home to be with Holly, who was still couch-ridden in the sleeping bag.  Then we joined up with Mark and went to the book fair with number three in a back-pack. I ALMOST bought a few of the “Bone” books by Jeff Smith.  i used to read those back when they first came out in B&W, and hadn’t seen them in the colorized version before.  The art makes the books look like they ought to be for kids, but when you read them you see that the humor is more for adults than kids-which is kind of strange.  I don’t know if Mark is old enough to understand the humor or not.  Perhaps I’ll check out a book or two before I buy any.

IMG_0983The shot below is actually a photo-merge of two photos.  I shot the fire once and the  people once, then combined the photos to make the flames of the fire visible, using 3-4 layers in PS. 

If you’ve ever shot a fire, and people at the same time, you perhaps have dealt with the issue of having two such disparate exposures in the same frame.  Taking two photos and merging them along with some opacity changes, plus a bit of doging and burning really helps make the scene look the way the eye sees it.

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Anyway, after the morning fun, I took the boys back home for a brief nap and then it was off to Tresham Greg’s cabin in the middle of the fort to attend the Nativity pageant.  IMG_0990Dwight and Nancy Nash came and did the Emcee work, with Dwight reading the text and Nancy leading the songs.  Russ Simpson and his church, along with another church brought the kids and costumes for the nativity scene, and the fort residents put up all the lights and supplied the food for the cook-out.  They really have it down to an art, as a local community event and it really gives me a sense of community to be there with the rest of the town that turns out for it.

IMG_0980 They always serve hot-dots, chilli& cheese, chips, and marsh mellos with to go with the bon-fire.  Perhaps I didn’t notice it last year, but this year it seemed to be new that there were a big pile of sticks to roast hot-dogs with, all sharp and ready to go.  I suppose if there is anything lacking, it’d be some carol singing around the fire–but in all honesty, I’ve never been to a winter bon-fire where there was carol singing, as usually the temperature kind of ruins the fun of sitting around singing unless the fire is just right.

IMG_0988I suppose this tree picture is my favorite shot of the night.  I like the reflection in the water (from the melting snow, as it rained), right in front of Tresham’s shop.  the puddle was actually very small, so I had to have the camera about six inches off the ground to take the shot, so I used the live-view feature of the camera to help me make sure the star was in the reflection.  You can see that I messed up on the framing and have the photo at an odd angle, nonetheless.  The idea of shooting the reflection wasn’t actually mine, but I shot a few of them anyhow, as it was a good idea that another photographer showed me he was trying to do.

Another nice feature of this year’s “Lighting of the Fort ceremony was the women’s singing group lead and directed by Nancy Nash.  It’s interesting that they rehearse once a week on Thursday’s at six PM, just like the men of note, and also are a single gender group.  It may be that we will combine our efforts for the first time this IMG_0915Christmas in singing a piece from Handel’s Messiah, with, shall we say, mixed results.  I was impressed with their organization, as they all had matching headlamps and Nancy had all the music in plastic sleeves so that it would not get damaged in the weather.  And they sounded quite nice too.

Luke was not feeling well at all and wanted to sit down and eat his food…


So I found them a place to eat at a small table at the base  of the stairs and under the sharp pointed sticks.  I thought they were cute over there nibbling away on their chips and hot-dogs.

Hopefully, we’ll have our mommy back to full health again and I won’t get sick like the rest of the family.  I may just sleep in the guest room tonight, as the main bed is rather crowded and full of sick people.

Time to Get out of the Cabin!

In the winter, it’s easy to eat too much, get fat, argue, get depressed, and spend too  much money.  So it’s important to go outside, so you can be thoroughly miserable.IMG_0263

It’s even better to go outside with the family and take a long walk down into the wind until they get to the freezing cold beach, where there’s no escaping the wind, so they learn to appreciate how warm it is inside and hopefully get along better.  At least that’s what I thought when Holly decided it was time to go outside and enjoy the beach on Sunday afternoon. 


Unfortunately, the little guys have such nice snowsuits and such an eager positive outlook that they don’t seem to realize how nasty the weather is often.  Nobody knows where they got that…  Even when it’s cold and miserable, they still squat down on the ground or lie down, etc., they play in the water (with their boots only), they run up and down the streets.  Frankly, they’re kind of unstoppable even in the winter.


One thing the boys did that you can see here in the photo is they decided to build a wall to hold back the tide.  You can see them in the photo above each working on a separate part of the wall, which is about three inches tall.  I suppose there will be some time in the future when I’ll teach them about tidal forces, water, wind, etc.


John Caleb wasn’t miserable at all.  He just think’s it’s normal to head out on a windy cold day when everyone else is inside and go play at the beach.  And of course Luke was happy to be playing a game with his older brother that he could fully participate in–holding back the tide with the dirt wall. 


After playing outside, we got some salad, rice, and fresh baked bread from home and went to the annual Presbyterian business meeting/potluck and had a wonderful time with the people there.  All of our salad and bread was eaten and some of the rice made it home again.

Life is good.

Fun Club!

IMG_0167 On Saturday, Holly bundled up the boys for a swim team training session entitled Fun Club down at the pool.  When she got there, they found out that the class was entirely full! They had to leave.  Sarah Chapel was there with Dylan and she was not happy at all, but Holly didn’t mind to much.  She invited Dylan over to our house to read and then to go to Luke Club!  A newly organized swim time with us and Dylan.

IMG_0171 The boys had a great time at our house and Dylan, who is a 1st grader, showed us how he can read!  Wow.  He is a GREAT reader.  Back when I was a kid, many of the kids I went to school with could not read as well as Dylan even when they were in HS.  It was a real eye-opener to see someone so young be able to read.  I think it was really inspiring for Mark to see one of his friends read so well.  He’s a very hard worker in class and always does his best to listen and do what the teacher wants.

IMG_0178 After playing and reading, it was time for grilled cheese sandwiches, and then off to the pool.  Since Holly had four boys to deal with, I thought I better help her out, so I brought my camera and helped in the way that fathers often help.  I took the older three boys to the men’s room and chased them around the room snapping them with a towel.  Boy, do they squeal with their high little voices..

I’m kidding.

IMG_0174v Of course I would never do that as a father, but that is the type of stuff that often went on in the locker-room when I was a boy in Barrow, Alaska. You had to get good with a towel or you were in trouble. HINT: roll it up along the diagonal, wrap it around your wrist for a handle (so it doesn’t get taken from you when you’re smaller than the older age kids in the locker room), and then wet the very tip so it gives a very intimidating CRACK! when you snap it.  Looking back, I can remember all sorts of “fun” we had in the locker room.  it also helps to have two towels at all times, one rolled up and  ready to go in the locker, and the other one to use for drying.  Also, it helps if you use the longer lighter-weight towel for the “fun” towel and use the thicker towel for drying.

IMG_0192 No, I didn’t do any of that. I was a good example and mainly just helped Luke with his change of clothes in the locker then started the showers for the boys when it was time to get wet.

Near the end.  John Caleb started to shiver a bunch so the life-guard took pity on him and brought out the garden hose with the nice warm water!  Boy was that ever an attraction.  The rest of the kids had to get in there and get warm too, by then and it got a bit crowded around the hose. They were all civil though, and I saw no horseplay and no tears.

We had a good time and took our inaugural trip in the 1990 Mazda MPV that I got recently from Rainbow Glacier Camp.  It now has a driver window and new spark plugs; a new valve cover gasket is on the way, as are new rear struts for the hatchback door at the rear.

For some reason, I like to alternate the photos, one on the right, the next on the left, etc.  Do you think that’s a good way to go?  I know a lot of people don’t really bother to look at the photos anyway, and just read the text, so I think I’ll just stop putting in the text, and make the photos really big.  That’ way, people will be forced to look at the photos.

That’s a joke.

Annual Eagle Release

IMG_0560 Today was a wonderful day, as all the days have been lately.  I seem to have found some much prayed for peace around the older two boys lately and around the home in general.  We lolled about in bed until about 6:15 AM then got up and ate breakfast: cold oatmeal mixed with granola for the boys and me.

The the older two boys and I then wrestled on the bed for a while to work off some restless energy. 

And then it was time for feats of strength and balance in the living room.  Holly was the base while the older two boys took turns standing up on her upturned feet while she lay on her back.  It was quite a sight.

IMG_0577 Today was the day for the Eagle Release in this year’s American Bald Eagle Festival.  Ron said it would be a load off of him if I went and shot the release at 1:30 PM at 19 mile Haines Highway, so I said I’d shoot it.  I’d wanted to go out there with the photography class, but they all said they’d be busy Saturday with other previous commitments.  I didn’t think Holly and the boys would be interested in going since it was set to occur right during Luke’s nap which usually occurs right after lunch.  But they all got really clingy as I was checking my batteries and unpacking my winter gear for the year, so I agreed to take them along.

Here is my favorite Release shot of the day.  It’s got the eagle tack sharp flying right over my head, virtually, with the people also visible along the bottom of the frame.  It really helped to have the 40D on the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS, as it shoots 6.5 fps and caught the wings right at their prettiest: ISO 500, 1/400, f/10.IMG_0672

Before we left, we had to get drop off some donations for the Salvation Army and get the sale Items at IMG_0624Olerud’s and IGA, plus get the flash lights off the gill netter and return the life-ring buoy.  At Salvation Army, I found a real rugged snow suit for Mark Daniel that is just his right size now, but perhaps a bit too snug–it does, however, fit him much better than his old snowsuit which is a size 3T if memory serves.  This new one is actually a size 3T-5T, and is marketed as size 4T.  The picture above is Mark sledding down a minor slope on his back with the new snowsuit–an activity that really gives your back a chill if you don’t have a snowsuit on, generally.  I’m not sure how Luke ended up with no mittens or gloves

IMG_0611I really wanted to take the new (to us) SUV/minivan, the Mazda MPV, which recently had it’s front window fixed, to see how it handled on the road but when crunch time came, there just wasn’t time to get the kid’s seats all moved over to the other vehicle so we took the Subaru instead.  Bummer.

Of course the Brenan Whitermore was out there selling hot chocolate again this year, so we bought a couple of half full cups, one for each boy.

IMG_0744 The people in charge do a really great job.  This year the auction went two ways.  There were two women that both wanted to release the eagle and each was willing to pay $500, so they changed the release so that both got to release an eagle for $500 each.  It was a glorious day for it with the sun peaking over the Chilkat Range nice cool temperatures and virtually no wind to speak of.   Also, this year, there were no times when the eagles were tossed into the air.  They were just released from their dog cages in a nice civilized manner.  Only one of the eagles, the first one, flew off and landed in the river.

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On the way home, two of the boys fell asleep, but they promptly woke up as soon as we arrived.  Tonight, we splurged and ate Digiorno Pizzas with salad.  I hope your day went as well as ours.

Time articles to read…

Top gadget inventions…  CLICK HERE!


#1: PEEK

To me, the “Peek” looks cool, it’s used to do email to PEEK at it.  I like the concept but don’t have a need for it over the winter–but hey, over the summer I could use it on the boat, if it’s cellular.  All it does is email, it’s not a phone or an organizer.


flip mino I also like the

#2 FLIP Mino

, the easiest, cheapest, simplest video camera, but am afraid it would not fare well in the Alaskan Darkness.




Stevens and Young embattled in Alaska: CLICK HERE!!

I think this may be the end for Stevens–but I’m not convinced any of his opponents would be more effective than he.  Actually, I’d rather like it if Congress did clean house a bit and get rid of the pork barrel politicians.  I’m not sure how I’ll vote on Tuesday.

How about you?

My shoulder hurts, but I don’t have cabin fever.

I just shoveled the porch, the driveway, the sidewalk, and the steps.  I like to leave the snow on the hand rails, as a measure of what’s fallen in the night.


Here’s a shot that shows the partially blue sky, which is much welcome, the 18 year old minivan/SUV that we bought this fall from Rainbow Glacier Camp along with two days worth of snowfall atop the hood and a week’s worth of snow above the driver seat, the shovel that I used to clean the driveway, the snow that is melting off the roof and forming icicles, and the cleanliness of our picture window.

IMG_9799_exposure   Seasonal affective disorder, SAD, is something that often hits alskans and those who live in the northern climes during the dead of winter when they don’t go outside.  Personally, I’ve never had the slightest inkling of SAD in the winter, and I think a great cure is to get outside and do something.

Earlier this week, I went to “the store” to get a scraper brush combination to replace the ones we misplaced over the summer and was shocked at the price: $16 for the two foot long model, and $12 for the hand scraper, brush. 

I just told the clerk, “Wow.  I’m not  paying that.” Turned on my heel and walked out the door leaving the four scraper/brushes there on the counter where I’d put them.  Perhaps I’ll stop calling it “the store” and start calling it something else. 

IMG_9797_exposureThis morning after I dropped off Mark Daniel for his piano lesson, I bought seven scrapers/brushes at Haines Home Building: the 2 foot scrapers were $4.49, the single hand models were $3.79 and the one had scrapers with no brush were $1.79.  Cha-ching.

This year looks to be a snow-filled year.  Regrettably, the plastic snow shovel broke and needs to be replaced.  The aluminum one which I use for doing the steps and sidewalk is fine and works for everything, but the snow sticks to it, which tends to make the shovel much heavier than it might be.

Mark is outside sledding.

The first snow is here!

IMG_9063e We got our first snow yesterday!  The boys had a GREAT time playing outside all day in the snow today after church.  Mark and Luke sledded down the driveway numerous times, practicing turns, spills, stops, starts, and dumps.  At night, we have to put all their gloves and suit in front of the heater to dry them off.

Mark and Luke both have snow suits and love them a lot.  I think what they like is they are quick to put on, are lighter weight, and don’t allow snow to get up their backs or down into their pants. 

IMG_9064e IMG_9065 This is the third year that Mark has worn his red one, and to be honest he barely fits into it any longer.  He loves it so much, he doesn’t really mind that the pant legs come down to mid-calf.  I’d like to get him another suit that would be large enough for him to wear for the next couple years, but I haven’t found one that is not full of compromises.

There’s a new boy down the street name Zeke who seems like a real nice boy for our boys to play with.  They live in a Panabode log house very similar to ours, as a matter of fact the second story of their place is identical to our house, but we don’t have a first story on ours. 

IMG_9071eMark and Luke went out and played with Zeke for a couple hours, sledding, making snow piles, and generally having a roaring good time.  When we got there, they had three really big balls of snow and the snow was VERY sticky: probably as sticky and compactible as any snow I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot of snow.

The adults helped lift the snowballs up into a vertical stack to make one of the coolest snowmen I’ve been a part of making in recent memory.

One the one hand, it looks like it’s going to be a really fun winter, but on the other hand, I may have to shovel a ton of snow before it starts to warm up again.

The Bathroom Sink fell off the wall…

While I was out of town in Anchorage for training, Holly called saying, “Matt, the sink in the bathroom fell off the wall and it smells really bad.  What should I do?”

I asked, “What?”

She said, “The bathroom sink fell off the wall and is lying on the floor.”

I queried, “What, the sink fell OFF the wall?  The bathroom sink?” How often does that happen? I thought.

“Yes, it fell off the wall and it smells really bad.  It’s sitting on the floor.  We’ve just been using the kitchen sink instead.  What should I do?” 

(Below is a picture I took of the bathroom when I got home from the trip.  You can clearly see the spot on the wall where the sink broke off and you can imagine the smell coming up from the septic system since the ‘P’ trap was not in place.  Perhaps you could also imagine how hard it was to keep John Caleb from playing with the water faucets, as they were still functional)IMG_0006

IMG_0007After a bit of discussion, and wondering who would want to fix the sink for us for free, we agreed that she should just pretend there had never been a sink in the bathroom for a couple days until I returned from Anchorage, Hopefully with a new sink. so I could install it myself.

At the right, is what I think may have happened to the sink.  Actually, I don’t think Elisabet sat on the sink.  But it’s a funny thought.

IMG_0009Jeremy, Jack and I went to Home Depot and I bought the smallest bathroom sink they had, that is, the one that sticks out the least from the wall and was the most narrow.  Our bathroom is small and I wanted a bit more room to squeeze between the door and the sink when bathroom is occupied.  I was able to share one of my three Alaska Airlines checkin bags with Jack and Jeremy and return from Anchorage with the sink ready to install with the base and a nice new faucet.

I wanted to get an even lower profile sink, say about 10-15″ as I’ve seen one in a magazine like that for really small spaces, but ended up just getting one that was convenient to purchase.

When I returned from the trip, I put in the new sink. Here’s what it looked like.  I think this sink will last for many, many years, as it has a pedestal base that supports nearly all th weight and is much smaller. 

I IMG_0014I also moved the sink over towards the toilet a few inches to get it away from the door.  With the old sink, there were just a few inches of clearance whereas now it’s JUST possible to squeeze through the opening when the door if open and pointing at the sink..  Here’s the new faucet, which I really like a lot.  The faucet spout is raised up a bunch from the base compared to the old one, which makes it easy for the boys to fill up the water glasses for dinner (we always drink water for dinner, as it’s the best beverage you can drink)..

Initially, when I installed the faucet, there was no room for the soap or the water cup, but I removed the set screws and re-set the handles at an angle to allow us to use the left-hand side for the soap and the right hand side for the water glass. 

It was nice having a DIY home maintenance book on the shelf to read before fixing the sink too.  Having very little actual experience fixing things around the home, I really like a good DIY book, like the ones sold at Home Depot.