Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winter wonderland

Have I mentioned lately how absolutely beautiful it is here in Sitka? Several inches of snow fell a few days in a row and the views are phenomenal. I'm housesitting at Davey's house, which is right on the water, so the views are especially spectacular.

Take a look at the most recent set of photos of the views, Louie, flowers Robin sent and the ducks.

Louie and I are having a great time ... hanging out, tromping through the snow, harassing -- uh, herding -- the ducks. It will be tough to go back to my place, that is for sure.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Monthly Grind

Sitka hosts a monthly event called the Sitka Monthly Grind, described by Frommers as "a music and arts celebration". I attended my first grind -- finally! I've been trying to attend one for some time but was always out of town. You must purchase tickets in advance ... and if you wanna go, you better because it sells out!

What is the Grind? Well, it's an evening of "family entertainment" that costs $5 for adults, $1 for kids. If you bring a dessert item, you get your $5 back. Once you arrive, find a seat; the place gets packed! This is vital if you are going to enjoy the hour-and-a-half entertainment event. Then, sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

The show I went to consisted of a short story reading, followed by a set of trombone duets. I knew one of the trombonists (he was the guy house sitting here the week I was in Juneau). Then, a couple of guitarists played and sang. This was followed by the big event: Intermission.

Intermission is when you get to have dessert. What desserts they have. Wow, it was very hard not to eat those wheat-laden, delicious smelling items. You are encouraged to bring your own cup to reduce trash and waste.

Then, the middle school jazz band performed. They were awesome! Hard to believe they are middle schoolers. The last performance was a trio of 3 women singing harmony. They were fantastic, too. (I don't think I'll be up there with Tasha and my keyboard any time soon.)

The grand finale is the awarding of prizes for the best desserts. Who knew?!? They were good prizes -- significant gift certificates by local merchants. I'm gonna enter Mom's fudge next time (I think I'm in town then).

The venue is terrific. It's at the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Ka community house, home of the Tlingit Dancers who perform in connection with Sitka Tribal Tours during tourism season.

If you missed The Grind, don't worry. It plays on the local cable channel in rerun ... airing right after my presentation to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Santa, helicopters and more

Where else but in Sitka would Santa arrive on a Coast Guard helicopter? Or where else would they have a "Landlubber Parade" at 6 p.m. in the dark and rain?

The parade floats were 10 pick-up trucks, each with a wooden frame in the back that had chicken wire stretched across the frame and an outline of lights. A few of the "floats" were hand-pulled carts with their own set of lights and decor going on. It's no wonder that the paper kept printing a call for generators. The parade lasted about, oh, 6 minutes.

This week they held the annual holiday lights contest, with Mayor Marko (yes, I've met him several times) as one of the judges. This is no ordinary lights contest either. You actually win prizes ... like a turkey, a bottle of wine or a $50 gift certificate. One stipulation is that you have to be home at the time they do the judging.

The community also hosts a free Christmas Dinner for all. How cool is that? Speaking of cool, it's not too late for you to get up here for the Solstice Dip, scheduled for December 22.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Duck detail

I knew I would be working on my patience this year. I'm not sure who said I'm not a patient person because that obviously isn't true. If it was, I woulda borrowed a shotgun and had some duck for dinner!

Actually, it wasn't so bad rounding them up yesterday. I got 10 of 'em in (one stray joined the group ... maybe 2 and I missed one of the originals ... it's hard to tell) and one squirrel.

I'm sure they will make up for their cooperation yesterday with antics today.

In the meantime, Louie was groomed yesterday and looks quite dashing. He's looking forward to showing off his new 'do today on our walk.

Ah, life in a small town!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Herding ducks

The neighbor next to where I'm housesitting has left town and left me with full responsibility for the ducks. Today was my first day trying to round up the ducks to get them in their house. (No, Louie the poodle does not help and is banished from this activity.)

The process is pretty much like you'd think. I make a lot of noise banging the lid where their feed is stored. Then I throw some corn around and call out, "Here ducks. C'mon ducks." Then I hope for the best. Yep, it's a good system.

Fortunately, I rounded up 9 ducks and was able to shut the door. I'm not sure they're the right 9 ducks but anyway, they're in! It's not my fault that some wild ducks sometimes hang out with these ducks. There are anywhere from 9 to 15 ducks hanging out at any one time.

Gotta love it ... it's Alaska!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

An entire month in Sitka

Well folks, it's nearing 5 months since I've been on my great adventure ... and what a great adventure it has truly been. For the first time since I left Colorado the first part of July, I will actually be in one town for an entire month (although not in one residence).

I spent the past week in Juneau, the capital city, for work. Let me tell you -- it was frigid. Highs in the single digits, wind blowing down off the glacier (Mendenhall), car engine blocks frozen. Yeah, it was cold. I saw downtown Juneau with my VISTA leader Liza (she's fabulous), spent time with SEAtrails board Ron and stayed at his and Molly's house (really, really nice), attended the annual Gallery Walk in downtown, saw Ron's boat and had a margarita (first one since June!). The really big event was that I went shopping at Walmart. I know, I know ... but it's really hard to find that stuff in Sitka, where there is nothing but the grocery or the Ben Franklin.

Now, I'm back in Sitka, house and dogsitting at my friend Davey's house till the end of 2007. It's right on the water, gorgeous. Plus, I'm with my best bud Louie, hiking poodle extraordinaire. I'm here till after Christmas and Louie and I are gonna have a great time. The only catch is that there are also 9 ducks (outdoors) that I have to feed and try to herd up at the end of the day to get them in their pen. I'm not sure if you've ever tried herding ducks but it isn't easy. Tonight, they're spending the night outside. At least it's a balmy 37 or so degrees!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Unique e-mail topics

Here are excerpts from some unique e-mails I received:

  • I am looking for a Petri dish to use in our new interactive exhibit down here in the reception area. I need one that is approx 3" in diameter and in good enough shape to be holding two beaver teeth on the display shelf. If you have one, and don't mind lending it for 4 weeks, please let me know, or better yet, stop by and see what we are doing down here!! There will be some interesting exhibits displayed down front. Thanks, and have a great day!
  • Thought I might point out a factual error: On Camping and Hiking in Bear Country you refer to "grizzly" bears as "ursus arctos horribilis." I believe that "ursos arctos" and "ursos horribilis" are different names for the same bear, excepting for habitat. You can refer to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game site for more specific information.
  • The doctor adjusted my medication recently so if we've had a conversation lately about reserving a conference room or anything else, don't be upset if I forgot it. If you reserved a conference room, come and check to make sure it really is reserved. Don't be surprised to find me a little sleepy at the desk either.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Beautiful but brisk

It's nearly as cold as it will get here in sunny Sitka by the Sea. We're into day 5 or so of brilliant sunshine and brilliant blue skies. The night-time stars have been brilliantly bright as well.

But, days without clouds means the temperature drops. Today's high temp is @ 13 degrees with a windchill of 3 degrees. Fortunately, it's warming back up to the usual 32 degrees tomorrow. (You can always check out what it looks like in Sitka by taking a look at the webcam.)

Unfortunately, I'm headed to Juneau, where it is currently 5 degrees with a windchill of -13 degrees and only warming up to 18 degrees. Brisk! I think that's too cold to ski.

If you are a fan of the cold, you'll want to make sure to take part in the Polar Dip, scheduled for December 22. According to the local paper, the Sitka Sentinel, "Dip psychologists will be on hand to offer direction and Certificates of Insanity. Hot chocolate and other incentives will also be available for dippers." (I'll let you know what the "other incentives" are.)