Low Temp: 7
Sunrise: 10:45 am
Sunset: 3:36 pm
There will be no complaining this edition. Why?
1) We made it through the darkest day of the year without incident, and the Sun is giving us a noticeable chunk of daylight back (like 6 minutes/day).
2) Collin decided NOT to take the winter flying job in Bethel. I’ll sum it up by saying there was a lack of professionalism displayed by the company. (Some of you know the details; it would take up a full page here!)
3) A week and a half in the Sunshine State is coming our way. We’ll be seeing step-dad Freddy in Bonita Springs, Parkwest friends Paul, Marilyn, Charles and Diane in Venice, and be visited by two sets of friends during our week in Kissimmee—Dave & Cheri from Colorado and Sandy and Phil from Michigan. May need a vacation after all of that socializing, but luckily a Parkwest tour to Mexico will happen about a month later. True, I’ll also need a vacation after THAT, though I greatly look forward to seeing the Monarch butterflies in their winter playground again.
4) Today’s newspaper headlines confirmed it: 2014 WARMEST YEAR IN ALASKAN HISTORY. No complaining here, though the polar bears probably have something to say about it. Despite a truly cold spell last week where it hit 30 below, I’ve rarely had to “plug in my car” the past couple of weeks. I’ve learned that the HIGHEST I can crank my car setting is 90 degrees. I’m still curious just how LOW of a temperature reading it might display. Nothing like a 110-degree differential between inside and outside temps!
5) The Fairbanks North Star Borough approved our request for a new, more efficient, cleaner-burning woodstove. (They have a replacement program to encourage new wood stoves in order to clean up the winter air.) It’s been purchased and installed at their expense, and we already note that we’re burning fewer logs. So win-win; we get a new wood stove and the valley gets cleaner air!
We had a great time on the Winter Solstice. After watching fireworks in town and sampling a newly-tapped ale at the local brewery (where we posed above with Dave, the reindeer), we went out to really celebrate. Via the neighbors’ good connections, we were invited to THE party of the year in Fairbanks. A man named Elliot is reported to have the most elaborate fiestas ever. (Mind you, this is an Alaska-raised, engineer-type who spent 3 months on a unicycle touring India, so he’s somewhat unique to begin with.) This year, he decided to build an ice palace—he started harvesting and carving ice blocks months ago. Over time, he basically built an addition to his home with full arch supports, a bar, tables and stools made of ice, imbedded lights, etc. Masquerade was required, so we wimped out with a couple of inexpensive masks we found at the local party store; Collin’s tinsel wig was provided by the neighbors. We looked pretty lame by comparison to most of the others. One guys wore a self-designed, solar system head piece, even lighting up the appropriate planets with flame. (I think it was then, at the smell and sight of flame, we decided it might be time to go, given that the party house was supported by ICE.) Pictures cannot do it justice, but it made front page news here. (I was told a previous solstice party at Elliott’s included a luge that he constructed. I put in a plug for him to do that again next year, in case we’re still here!) Anyway, it was great fun and even better people watching; I’m starting to conclude that the Fays are the most mundane people in Fairbanks.
In summary, we’re having a great winter. Collin is training 6 days/week for the half marathon he will run in Florida. He had to give up the Yak Trax on his shoes. They work well on the ice, but they were messing with his knees, apparently a common problem according to Dr. Google. So he’s slogging it out on a treadmill at Planet Fitness, which he doesn’t much care for. Additionally, he is taking care of a friend’s plane this winter. Once the electrical issues get sorted out, we hope to do some more flying. For now, he’s pretty much coordinating maintenance and keeping the tie-down spot clear. So besides that, and keeping the home fires burning, he’s pretty much just enjoying the fruits of a full-year’s salary for half-a-year’s work.
I’m busy with lots of stuff: Parkwest planning, managing the Denver properties, and volunteering. I help facilitate a grief group on Tuesdays, help lead a fitness class at a local senior home on Wednesdays, work in the hospice office on Fridays, and visit a patient or two when I can squeeze it in.
As for Luna, she’s really only got two main concerns: 1) Wondering when she’ll finally see a flying squirrel--yes, they live here—and, 2) figuring out what’s fair game and what constitutes Alaskan-style home décor. We have to keep reminding her that the funky, second-hand, fur moccasins we bought are for candles not chewing, and that the moose-antler-crafted-cribbage-board is for our pleasure not hers, and that Keitha and Brent’s house is full of dead mounts, not friends to play with. Other than that, she’s thriving here!