Happy Mother’s Day


Me and my Momma on my wedding day. (Photo by Rick Kloeppel)

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I spent the day wishing I was with her.  Alaska has been an amazing adventure, but I miss my mom so much.  Being far away has been hard.  We still talk on the phone all the time, but it’s not quite the same.  Yesterday, I called my mom multiple times to chat.  I wished I had been able to be there in person to give her a great big hug and thank her for being the best Momma a girl could ask for.   I love you, Mom!  Sending hugs across the miles.

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Fairbanks Clean-Up Day

Across the city on Saturday, Fairbanksans pitched in to clean-up.  Now that the snow has melted (that’s right, folks!!) the multitudes of Carl’s Jr. bags, Taco Bell wrappers, and cigarette packs littered on the side of the road have been revealed.  So there is lots of cleaning to do!  Lee and I pitched in.  We cleaned up a strip of roadside on Farmer’s Loop.  It took 2 hours to fill three big garbage bags and drag up two tires.  It felt good.  Lee was feeling stressed as this is finals week.  But he was a good sport and did it anyway.  Gotta love my husband.  While I know he thought it was important to do for our new community, I think he really did it because it was important to me.  Feeling pretty lucky (and really excited for the semester to be over!).  Here he is.  Isn’t he handsome?

Lee Pick-Up

And here I am.  Notice the awkward bending?

Kate Pick-Up

Yeah, that’s because of my choice of clean-up pants.  I guess I didn’t think it through very clearly.  Every time I bent over, I crescent-mooned the passing cars.  Note to all you would-be trash picker uppers – wear elastic waisted pants!

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Making New Friends

Boy, do I have a story for you!  Three nights ago, I was lying on the couch reading and dozed off.  Lee had taken the car out to take some pictures, so I was home alone.  Suddenly, I was awakened by a rapping at the window.  I opened my eyes, a bit confused, to see our neighbor standing at the kitchen window, knocking.  Our neighbor is very nice, but she never comes over.  So I walk (read, stumble – I don’t wake up well) to the door and open, at which point Patricia says, “There’s a Buffalo in your yard.”

Now, I was still groggy from my nap at 9:30 at night, and was confused.  What day was it?  More concerning, what time was it?  (Still light out) And we don’t have Buffalo (Bison) around here.  The nearest herd is 100 miles southeast in Delta.

Patricia, her friend, and her father were all there on the deck and the stairs, peering around the side.  So I peered too.

And there she was.  A real Bison.  Standing next to the bikes.  I, of course, let out a few expletives.

As the scene unfolded, Patricia called Animal Control, who directed her to Fish and Game.  Neither organization was concerned.  “Is he attacking anyone or damaging anything?”  “No.”  “Then there isn’t anything we can do.”

It turns out the buffalo wasn’t alone.  Joining her in our back yard was a big black bull.  (Of the Moooo variety, not moose.)  And then we saw the tag on the Bison’s ear, and realized she wasn’t in the least bit concerned with our presence.  We deduced that she must belong to the family up the road with many acres, 30 dogs, a couple of horses, and multiple “KEEP OUT” and “No Trespassing” signs.  The dogs had all escaped a few days prior,  so perhaps this pair had as well.

I got Lee on the phone, who promptly laughed when I told him there was a buffalo in the yard.  I had to really convince him it was true.  He raced home, and as he turned down the street, as if on cue, the Bison and the Bull turned and walked back into the woods in the direction of the home we think they escaped from.  Lee went running after them into the woods with the camera, but didn’t have any luck.

Don’t you worry, though.  Because the pair apparently liked their visit to our little patch of grass so much that, Friday night, they returned.  And we got some excellent pictures.


Of Course There Is A Bison In The Outhouse

No Bison, You Cannot Ride the Bike

Oh Hai

Watcha Doin'

I’ve made a friend!  She really liked me.  I’ve named her Cindy Lou.  

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An Ode to Grass

Ah, grass.  I was beginning to think you never existed here in Alaska.  I thought it was all a dream, a hope perched high on the shelf to help me survive the arctic winter.  But alas, you are real. You have been revealed beneath almost completely melted snow after seven months of harsh winter.  And though your shoots only flicker a hint of green from years past, soon you will be green and full of wonderful grassy smells.  Even now, I can smell the soil that holds your roots in the warm sun.  Yes, my friend, once the sogginess subsides, I will be able to lie on you, and picnic, and squeeze you between my toes.  Your fortitude and will to survive inspire the poet within me. Thank you, dear friend, for returning.

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Needs to be Said.

Lately in the news, there have been too many incidents of women and children being raped.  The poor woman in Lybia whose story was able to be told before she was taken to prison.  She is now being sued for being raped.  The 14 year old girl who was lashed to death for “adultry” – she was raped by her cousin.  Under Sharia law, she should be lashed 101 times.  The millions of children abused by fathers in the Catholic church.  The 11 year old girl who was gang raped by 15 men in Texas.  She and her family are now in protective custody because they keep getting death threats. 

These are the stories that are told.  Statistically, 1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted, though some say this is higher.  I in 8 men have been sexually assaulted.  That number is also, most likely, higher.

My question is, what on earth is wrong with us?  This is a problem that exists all over the world, in all religions.  I am so heartbroken for all these women and children.  

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On my walk…

Here’s what I heard on my walk this evening:

1.  Sled dogs barking non-stop.  (Why do they do that?)

2.  An owl hooting.  We have an owl in our woods.  Lee has heard it the past few mornings, but by the time I get out of bed, the owl has gone to sleep.  But he was hooting tonight!

3.  What could have only been a moose in labor.

Here’s what I saw:

1.  The sunset.  Lavender, orange and slate.  Gorgeous.  And at 8:45 p.m.!

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The Poopsicle (aka the Stalischite)

WARNING: This entry discusses the less romantic side of dry cabin living in Alaska. If you are easily grossed out, you may wish to wait for the next entry. If you are intrigued, please read on.

It took so long to happen, I honestly forgot about it until the other day when I went out to the outhouse at around noon. The sun was high and shining into the outhouse for the first time in months. And there, in the hole, was this big brown thing. It made me jump, I was so startled. I thought something was in there, like an animal, or a log. But then I remembered. The mythical poopsicle, or the term I prefer, the stalischite.

Now I know that you have all become so accustomed to indoor plumbing that this may not make sense, so let me spell it out. Having an outhouse means, when you go to the bathroom, it doesn’t go anywhere. It just sits in a hole. When that hole gets full, someone comes to suck it out. Having an outhouse in winter (when it doesn’t go above freezing for 4 months) means, when you go to the bathroom, it sits in a hole, outside and freezes. When it is frozen, someone can’t come and suck it out. So all winter you add to the frozen pile. Now, I’m not sure I completely understand the physics of how this tower of poop becomes so tall and skinny, but it forms. And the only thing to do, before it comes poking out of the toilet seat, is to knock it down.

We’ve been working hard to make this little cabin our home. We brought up a carload of stuff, my parents have sent many many boxes of stuff, and we have purchased some stuff. But a big move like this means you don’t have something in the shed to grab, like a shovel or a 2×4, that you can use to knock over the stalischite. And seriously, the idea of dishing out money to purchase a shovel for the sole purpose of knocking down frozen poop seems just wrong. Which brings me to the amazing DUMP. (haha!)

But seriously, folks, I’m talking about the trash dump. Well, the transfer stations, but we call it the dump. Here in Fairbanks, trash pickup is only reserved for homes that live right in town. We live on the outskirts of town, so we drive to the transfer station to drop off our trash. But it isn’t just a place to drop off trash bags. No, it’s a second hand shopping mecca. There is a structure with a roof and no walls, where people drop off their unwanted goods in hopes that someone else might want them instead. And folks, there is real pride in finding treasure at the dump. It’s like The Boxcar Children! Back in the fall, Lee and I popped in to look around and found over 20 physics text books that someone left. Many of them were books that Lee wanted but couldn’t afford. Let me tell you, it was a find! Another time, while I was testing a little girl at school, I told her I liked her sweater and asked if someone had knit it for her. She replied, “No. My mom got it at the dump!” To which I replied, “What a find!” (All I can say is, thank goodness I read The Frozen Toe Guide to Real Alaskan Livin’ by Brookelyn Bellinger before beginning work.)

But I digress. My thought was, there is NO way we are buying a shovel to knock down the stalischite. Let’s go find something at the dump. So we did. There wasn’t much there that evening. But there was an old patio umbrella with a long pole. Lee pulled off the attachement, and we now have a stalischite pole leaning against the outhouse. And no stalischite. Lee knocked it down. That’s a man’s job.

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