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.

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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.

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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…

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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.

Road trip Trip to Whitehorse!

I really wanted to go fishing this weekend, but Holly was down in the dumps and needed a pick-me-up.  And truthfully, so did I.

So while we were celebrating Ashley’s birthday party, I told Holly to find someone we could car-pool with on a road trip to my once-favorite getaway: Whitehorse.  With Elisabet in the family, we needed more passenger capacity, as each of our cars only seats five people

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IMG_0124 We asked ray first, because he’d expressed interest earlier and has a large car, then we asked Fontenot.  He declined the trip but offered up his ‘stealth vader’ customized van for us to drive!  Cool, with a van like that we can seat seven people and we didn’t need to carpool with anyone.  Holly also invited the new counselor,

Lindsey Moore and the music Teacher Danielle Cousino, and they both decided to come  along.  In the end, the Chapin’s IMG_0126decided they wanted to wait until their mother could come along and so they loaned us their six-man tent to camp in.  Elisabet took this wonderful Picture of me playing with John Caleb right near one of the hot inputs from the hot-spring–it’s tack sharp too.

IMG_0331 One of the big draws of WH, for families, has always been the Tahkini Hotsprings as it has a nice bunch of campsites (of varying quality), it has a nice pool filled with hot water year round, is affordable, and for little kids, they empty it every night, so it becomes a huge toddler wading pool in the mornings.  Lindsay brought a four man tent for the girls to sleep in and we used the Chapin’s tent for our family.

IMG_0313We got a late start due to the impulsive nature of the trip and so by the time we got in to the hotsprings we just had time for some serious fun and then go to bed. 

Of course WH is in the interior and so it has a much wider range of weather than Haines does and some of us were not prepared for the sub-freezing temperatures.  In the photo above, you can see the van we borrowed from Mark and Lenise (thanks!), Lindsey’s tent, the pic-nic table and three fold-out chairs Chapin loaned us, and then Danielle’s car behind the van.

In this night photo, we’re sitting around telling stories and eating S’mores.

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After swimming, we found that someone stole Elisabet’s towel so we were a towel short.   Then the younger boys were so tired that the fell asleep in the van before we could get them into their sleeping bags in the tent.  Holly slept with Luke and Mark in the van, I slept with Mark in the big tent, Elisabet and Lindsey slept in the smaller tent and Danielle opted for the comfort of the back-seat of her own car. 

IMG_0190 In the middle of the night, Elisabet opened the van door and asked Holly where her warm socks were, but of course it was pitch dark and she didn’t know how to turn on the lights, so she just told her to climb in the van and sleep on the bench-seat in the back with her and the younger boys.

IMG_0201 Of course no trip to WH would be complete without a stop over at McDonald’s to sample a burger, a shake, and some fries.  One of the main things I like about the golden arches is the play areas the have that sometimes allow the parents some peace and quiet.  In the picture above, Mark shows John Caleb how to spin the ball spinner that’s on the second level.

IMG_0272On the first morning we bumped into the Boron family, who have twin girls in Mark’s Class: Haley and Hannah) at the pool in during the toddler  time and Luke almost drowned in the deeper section after it filled up, but Holly saved him while holding John Caleb the whole time.   Always watch your kids.  Luke, we love you.  Yikes!

On the second day, Holly and I took the boys to the playground and met up with the Boron’s while the girls, Elisabet, Lindsey, and Danielle, went shopping.  Then we went to the Pizza Hut, then it was back out to the Hotsprings for one more round of fun in the hot water.

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On the way back, we stopped along the road a couple of times to shoot some fun shots of the kids running toward the camera down a path.

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IMG_0382The most memorable part of the trip occurred on the way home about twenty miles past Haines Junction.  Holly said, “Let’s find your coat with the passports in it so we can go through the US border quickly without waking up the boys.  So we started to look all over the van for my Apocalypse jacket that I’ve had for about ten years.  They couldn’t find it as I drove along, so  I pulled over at the nearest wide spot in the road and emptied the van out into the gravel in about 30 seconds.  Sure enough.  The jacket was not in the van: No passports. 

So we turned around and headed back to WH.  When we got to Haines Junction, Holly needed to go the bathroom so we stopped in at a gas station we had just filled up at and they called Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, and the Hot Springs and we located the jacket with the passports at the Hot springs.  Whew!  The agreed to send it to us via mail and I gave them my visa number to pay for that.

Ashley’s 4oth Birthday!

We had a surprise birthday party for Ashley Sage on Friday after work at her house.  IMG_0019c

We all gathered at her house while she was out eating at what she thought was the IMG_0050c birthday celebration.  When she drove up to the house the first time, she didn’t stop but went right on around the block and came back later.

It was a really fun evening with beverages galore, food, finger treats, cake, and fun conversation all the way around.  We took the three boys and Elisabet and made an evening of it.  The boys played with toys on the living room floor, including this wild ball that people had fun putting their heads into and posing for a picture.

IMG_0060 I’m 39 now and have not seriously considered how it will feel to enter my fifth decade on the planet, but think it will probably be even better than the last ten years, which were the best, so far.  Having family and friends gathered around is really where it’s at.

The Friendship Pole is now in place

We had a big ceremony today where we moved the friendship pole and officially opened the new school up for the town.  First we had speeches at the old site, then AP&T took down the pole and put it on a long trailer, then we moved to the new site and had some more speeches.

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It was a nice day, although it rained through nearly the entire ceremony, and I took a ton of pictures.  It was a good time to be reminded of the purpose of the friendship pole and remember who worked on it.

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