Church Choir

Soon & Very Soon.


New Steps!

In Alaska, in the winter, footing can be very treacherous.  Especially in SE Alaska.  i grew up in Barrow, and it’s really not that slippery there for most of the year.  In the fall when the snow comes, we skip right past 32 degrees F and go right on down to the sub zero temperatures.  Since it’s rarely near the freezing point of water, it is rarely slippery.

In Haines, it can be right near freezing for a good portion of the winter, which makes for some slippery footing for a good portion of the year wherever there is any slope at all.  If you’re at all familiar with Haines, You know there is not much flat ground to be had in the Chilkat Valley.

IMG_6549Holly and I got to thinking about or driveway and how difficult it is to get from the car to the house and we decided it would be better to spend some money on a safe way to get into the house than to risk accident and injury later on in the winter.  So we called up Coleman Stanford and asked him to build us some steps. 

We told him we really liked the landing style steps that Randy Miner built so he built us some similar steps to go up to our house from the lower drive-way and also from the upper driveway.

We really like how they turned out.  They are just like we wanted, and the finishing on the concrete is first rate.  I’m convinced that the steps are going to be very safe for many years to come.

In the photo above, you can’t really tell that the upper steps are landing style, large steps, the last step which ends at the driveway is a standard step.  In the photo below, I think you can see that the stairs are pretty gradually sloped.  The only thing to add still is the railing at the bottom of the steps plus a light-pole at the bottom with a 3-way switch.  The steps are beautiful to walk down.


We had stairs and a sidewalk before, but we rarely walked on the sidewalk, we always went down where these stairs no go.  We still need to get the extra dirt hauled away, as you can see in the photo above.


Also today, we did the picture day retakes for the school, plus retakes for the community photos, I replaced the toilet seat which had a broken hinge, and I cleared the brush out to the shed so we can get some electrical service installed out there for lights and the occasional power (battery charger) need.

Plane Rides

Today at the dinner table, we were talking about plane rides with the boys and were recalling that Nana and grandpa John told us that Christiane (one of the boy’s first cousins) went on her first plane ride last week when she was 7.5 years old. 

Mark said, “She was 7 1/2 when she went on her first plane ride?” 

Holly said “Yes.”

Mark said, “Wow, she must have gone on a LOT of ferry rides.”

Holly and I had a good laugh at that one but could see how he came to that conclusion.

Then we had to explain that Indiana doesn’t have water separating the towns like we have in Southeast Alaska and it’s much of the travel is done in cars there and in the rest of the lower 48.

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.

IMG_0954 copy

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.