A meandering blog with no clear topic. You will find me talking about knitting, building, kids, social and economic issues, Alaska, and lots of other stuff.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

leaves are falling all around

on the rooftops
on the ground...

As you can see, it's fall. Back at the beginning of the month, when I was talking about the "summer" switch being turned off, I was right. We never got summer again after August 31.

Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been bad. We have had some beautiful sunny days that we have very much enjoyed. But the temp hasn't gotten above 65 since then, and it won't until next summer. Today, the high was 54, which is still acceptable t-shirt weather, but the lows are in the low 40's, high 30's. We will have frost by the end of this coming week.

I absolutely love fall. It is one of my favorite seasons, the others being winter, spring (aka "breakup" in Alaska) and summer. One of the interesting things about Alaskan weather is that we have four very distinct seasons, despite the jokes, but spring and fall pass very quickly. For example, fall began unequivocably on September 1st. It will end sometime around October 15th, when the snow starts to fall, and things freeze for good. But during the month and a half of fall, I enjoy it immensely. I love looking at the yellow leaves on the birch trees, and the snow on the mountains...

And I start to look forward to the first snowfall. It won't be long.

OK, so I mentioned the jokes, so I will share some.

What are Alaska's two seasons? Winter, and road construction.

What are Alaska's four seasons? almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction.

so, here is a link to some great Alaska jokes. Trouble is, they are mostly true. Like the one about driving in winter is better, because the potholes are filled with snow. I have said that numerous times. Anyway, enjoy the link:

Thursday, September 27, 2007



A fertilizer factory here in Alaska, which has provided jobs for up to 300 people, has shut down. You can read about it in the link above, and I heard about it on NPR this morning as I was driving to work. It's not shutting down because it is losing money, not profitable, as is the case for most businesses that don't succeed. It is shutting down because fertilizer is made from natural gas, and there isn't enough. Not enough natural gas. Natural gas is what heats 52% of US homes, is what generates about 20% of our current electricity, and accounts for 95% of all new power plants in the planning/building stages. And there is not enough.

Two winters ago, it shut down for a month due to a shortage of natural gas to make the fertilizer. Last year, it shut down for the entire winter, and reopened in the summer when there was less demand elsewhere for natural gas for heat. This year, it shut its doors for good.

Is this worrisome to anyone else but me? I guess it all boils down to the feeling I have that if there isn't enough natural gas, and there isn't enough oil, and there aren't enough solar, wind, tide, hydroelectric, or other means of power generation to cover, then we are heading for a pretty big mess.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Northwest Passage????

Check out this National Geographic article:


OK, so this seems pretty crazy to me. The northwest passage is open? Arctic sea ice loss this year has been nothing short of catastrophic:

"The NH [Northern Hemisphere] sea ice area is currently at its historic minimum (2.92 million sq. km) representing a 27% drop in sea ice coverage compared to the previous (2005) record NH ice minimum." according to the polar research group's website that I linked to in my blog last month. At that time, sea ice was 3.22 million square kilometers, so it has lost another .3 million in three weeks.

And what does National Geographic have to say about it?

"Commercial shipping may be a while off yet. The passage is seasonal, is likely to be unstable enough to endanger commercial vessels, and still lacks supporting ports along the way. "

Unbelievable. I don't even know what to say.

Monday, September 17, 2007

yes, it is true

OK, so in my last post I talked about the snow on the mountains, but said that I had not seen it myself. That has changed since then. Yesterday, while up in the Mat-su Valley, I saw that there is significant snow on the tops of the mountains that was not there last weekend. Termination dust. Unfortunately, thanks to my crappy camera phone, I don't have a good pic to show you. I have to say, the mountains are beautiful with snow on them.

Update on the house: We now have the entire roof covered with tar paper, and the entire south half of the roof is shingled. We have the first 3 rows of shingles on the north side. We should have the rest of the shingles up next weekend, barring rain. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

termination dust

So, I have to say, first off, that I did not see this first hand, as when I leave for work in the morning, I am driving away from the mountains, and so did not get a good look. However, there is a rumor going around that we had termination dust yesterday morning.

Termination dust, for any of you who aren't familiar with Alaskan idioms, is the first sighting of snow on the mountains. And in approximately one month, give or take a few days, we will have snow on the ground here in Anchorage.

Now, lots of people might think, so there's snow on the mountains. What's the big deal. Well, in Alaska, it is a big deal. The weather in general seems to be a big deal. In all the places I have lived, I have never heard people talk about the weather so often, or with such intensity.
When the sun is shining, and it is warm outside, you hear over and over, "Oh what a GORGEOUS day it is!". The very next day, when it is pouring rain, people talk about that. No matter what the weather is, it gets talked about, and dissected, and forecast by everyone. And their dog.

This is the only place I know of where there is a pool open to the general public betting on what date the ice on a river begins to break up. And definitely the only place where the status of said pool, the Nenana Ice Classic, makes front page news.


Interesting place, Alaska. I love it here. And, maybe next year, I will win the ice classic.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

rain, rain, go away

It has been raining all weekend. My brother in-law is here visiting from Utah, essentially free labor, and we have shingles that need to be put on, and it is raining. Can't shingle an 8/12 pitch roof in the rain. So, we have accomplished absolutely nothing.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

a roof over our heads

What more do I need to say????


So, I am thinking there is this lightswitch labeled "summer" somewhere up in heaven. And on September 1, someone flipped that light off. August 31 was a beautiful, sunny, typical Alaskan summer day. All week, people were talking about how wonderful the weather was. Then, September 1, we wake up, and we have low overcast skies and relatively cool air, threatening rain all day, but never producing.

And I see yellow leaves on my driveway......

And the leaves on the fireweed are turning red.....

And it is very clear that the end of summer has truly arrived.