"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Friday, December 31, 2010

End of the Year Reflections

2010 is drawing its last ragged breath.
I am pausing appropriately to reflect on all that is now part of my history before Jack and I walk out the door to celebrate the event with friends.
Since memories strengthen with each review,
it is wise to focus on the positive ones and let the painful, hard ones fade.


I have been perusing my photos to brighten this blog, but there too few that succinctly depict my thoughts tonight--I would have to add dozens. So, words will have to suffice.

Best parts of 2010, for me:

***** Davis Family Reunion Cruise when we connected physically and emotionally.

***** Sweet honoring of my mother for her birthday and Mother's Day with a super visit in Florida. She is a beautiful woman of grace that I continue to model.

*****Safe and wondrous trip from Texas to Alaska with Hillary.
Our Great Northern Adventure that precipitated the writing of this blog.

***** Working at a job I loved in Alaska that began in June
and went much longer than originally planned.

***** Month of vacation back in Texas with Jack and family.

***** Arrival of beautiful baby Abigail.

And what have I learned from these treasured memories?

That a mother is God's gift and I am so blessed to still have mine.

Time spent playing and laughing is not time wasted.

Hours in a hammock under the palms enhance outward and inward beauty.

And cuddling a newborn grandchild fills my heart and soul to overflowing!
I hope that, despite some events of 2010 in your life,
you can find memories worth treasuring.

Monday, December 27, 2010

There's Gold in Them Thar Hills.

Fairbanks developed from gold fever in the late-1800's.
The city is a valley surrounded by rolling hills.

It was in a spot not far from where Josh and Kathleen are building their house
that Felix Pedro first discovered gold.
Today there are 2 very large local mining operations that supposedly withdraw millions of dollars of gold---ready for this?----every day!!

Most likely their house is sitting on a strain of gold--or two or three.
You can even buy or lease gold mines in the area. I talk about doing that and they laugh at me because you need lots of specialized dredging equipment, so they say.
Gone the days of a simple pan and gold-laden gravel by a river.

The names of the roads on the hill where they live are all gold-mining related.
This is the main road off the highway.

Sure would be fun to find a little source right out by the woodpile, wouldn't it???
Just think how life would change if we owned a little gold mine!
Jack and I have even practiced with our own tin pans.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Silent Night

Silent night. Holy night.
All is calm.

All is bright.
Bless you on this holy day when God came down in the form of a baby.
Not much different than this sweet, new baby.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Lost Art?

I have been writing and stuffing and addressing and stamping and stickering.
The time honored tradition of sending Christmas cards.
I can't help but ponder if I should eliminate all the effort. After all, with email and Facebook and Twitter and blogs, etc. maybe we should save a tree and stop this fussing...

But then I grow sad to consider no longer receiving cards from others.
Going out to the mailbox is a satisfying event when it holds messages from friends and family.
And I admire the vast array of cards:
some homemade, some glittery, some profound.
I keep the basket of cards and newsletters available all year. I pull out a different card every few days and remember the sender, praying for him or her.
Yes, sending Christmas cards is still definitely worth the time and effort!


In a time of prelit, tall, slim, full, etc artificial Christmas trees,
I must share a picture of the tree Josh and Kathleen cut down in the woods
across the road from their house.
The spruce here grow tall and sparse due to the cold and sunlight conditions.
Often they are so tall that Josh and Kathleen cut down the tree then have to recut the top 14 feet or so to bring in the house. This year they found this "small" one that was cut and used in its entirety. It's a Charlie Brown tree, that's true, but lots taller! And it's charming and the lights are on all day long to banish the many hours of darkness.

And, in my attempt at being artsy, here among the presents under the tree
is the best one of all!! Our sweet, new Abigail!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter solstice (myths debunked)

Today is Winter Solstice.
The shortest day of the year.

I drove from the hills into town-sounds like "Little House on the Prairie", doesn't it?
The sky looked like this at 11:15 AM.

And it got a little brighter as I turned out of the hills that were hiding the sunrise.

I paused to take this picture as I thought that it would be the brightest part
of the sunrise. After all, the sun never really set on Summer Solstice and I
assumed it would never make it over the horizon this day.

But then I was very surprised to actually see Mr Sun in all his beauty!
He stayed out for couple of hours even. It was a pretty day.
The sunset didn't look any different than this sunrise. Sort of blended one into the other.
And the best part of all--tomorrow the days begin to get longer--(by 6 minutes or so).
In 6 months the longest day (with all sunlight) will once again return. Cycles of life.

View from my window

Kathleen and Josh have a house designed with large and wonderful windows in every room.

This is one of the windows in the guest room, where I sleep.
Here is how it looked during the summer months.
These Roman shades are room-
darkening, but I preferred to sleep
with the daylight streaming in all night. (Sounds like an oxymoron.)

This is the view from the same window now.
Angled a bit lower, you can see the clothesline covered with snow.
Too cold to hang baby clothes on it these days.

This is the view from the front windows of the house. In the distance, on top
of that hill, is a clearing for the buried oil pipeline. It is underground as much as
possible, but must be elevated in areas of perma-frost, only a couple of miles from this site.

Same view, wintertime. The garden lies bare but the potential for bushels of fresh
produce lies sleeping under the snow and frozen earth. My faithful old Chevy sits parked, bitter cold and covered with snow, but continues to start first time, every time.
For this I am very grateful.

And the other windows offer lovely views, as well. Doesn't this scene just make your heart beat a little slower and your breathing even out?

I've always been a day dreamer, pausing and gazing out windows.
It is one of my favorite things to do. So I appreciate pretty, peaceful vistas, preferably ones
that don't involve people. Sounds antisocial, doesn't it?

Well, look here! A precious treasure lies on this windowsill.
My daydreaming will end and my arms will fill with this sweet, sleeping baby.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A White Christmas, no dreaming needed.

When visiting Florida at Christmas years ago, we first saw
the white wire decorations covered in lights in a park display.
I've since seen them in non-snowy Texas, as well. Do you know the ones I mean?

These wire trees were made to look like winter trees with branches bereft of leaves
and covered in snow.
This nighttime picture of a real, live tree reminded me of the wire ones.

In my winter experience, real trees had this ethereal, all white look after a fresh snowfall.
But once the winter sun, weak though it was, warmed them, much of this fresh
snow melted off.

I've discovered that doesn't happen here in Fairbanks.
The white snow that covered every little branch and twig remains totally intact.
I guess the facts that the sun never really rises higher than the horizon,
it only is "up" for 3 hours
and the temperature remains well below zero every day
let that beautiful white snow stay intact. For many months.
It certainly is a winter wonderland here and we don't need to
dream of a white Christmas here in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Professional Baby Holder

Once our baby Abigail arrived, Aunt Hillary created a critical role:
"Professional Baby Holder"

This role had definite boundaries that could not be crossed.
For example, it involved only a clean, sleeping baby and plenty of soft swaddling blankets.

Restraint was evident, though the temptation to share her gummy bears
with Abigail was tough to resist. And if Abigail doesn't tell, we may just never know exactly
what moved from the blanket to the lips...

Aunt Hillary taught our baby how to correctly extend the pinkie during her first
"girls' time" outing at the Sipping Streams tea house.

Even when PBH's grow weary they remain diligent to the job.

Aunt Hillary has flown back to New Jersey, a flight that took 24 hours.
We all miss her presence here in Fairbanks.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wild and Crazy Sister

Wild and crazy Aunt Hillary came to be with her sister for Abigail's arrival.
Of all the relationships you will have on earth, that of siblings is the longest.
How fantastic when that relationship really works!

Hillary left New Jersey's mild winter temps with only a carry-on and counted on
Kathleen to dress her for subzero days.

Expecting to arrive after baby Abigail's birth, Hillary took advantage of the baby's delayed schedule to have some special time together with her sister. Activities often centered around events that may initiate labor, like hiking to the mailbox 1/2 mile away, pausing to jump and kick every now and then.

Her positive attitude and quirky sense of humor added warmth and fun
to those days together, and we ALWAYS needed that!

I simply enjoyed watching the show.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby Abigail Kathleen has Arrived!!!!

Praise God that baby Abigail has arrived into our world
on December 5 at 12:33am.
Her journey was a safe one and her mother did an OUTSTANDING job!!!!

This lucky Grandma actually had the honor of cutting the cord.
Behind me is all of this technical and clinical equipment that hides behind wooden cabinet doors that make the room very homey when all is tucked and hidden away.

And times have sure changed since I had my babies (which coincidentally began on this same date 34 years ago, to be exact. Happy Birthday to Jonathan, my firstborn.). Now all the action takes place in the same room so Mommy and Daddy (and Grandma) can be right there watching everything that is going on. Especially thrilling was seeing a very purple baby turn bright pink with healthy cries filling brand new lungs.

And Josh and Kathleen had a birth plan that involved a lot of "skin on skin". So, even when our sweet girl was being examined and weighed, they asked me to be touching her. I knew I could do THAT job with no problem!!
And with pleasure.

Abigail has arrived in a room full of people who adore and love her.
Here's Daddy, who worked tirelessly behind laboring Kathleen, massaging her back with every single contraction, even when it meant bending over the birthing bathtub for 4 hours...

And Mommy, smiling but weary...

Auntie Hillary who wants to feed her gummy bears...

And a happy, old Grandma who wants nothing else but to rock her, the sweetest little baby all tucked up like a burrito.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All I Want for Christmas...

This is what my little deck thermometer read
when I left for work yesterday.

The temperature hadn't changed much
when I was driving home 12 hours later.

Even with the oil pan heater plugged in whenever I park,
the old car needs to warm up for 20 minutes so fuel lines and all
those other moving parts don't crack and break.
This means 2 trips out to the parking lot in the bitter cold
each time because it's way too hard to sit shivering in the frigid car while I wait.

So, if you run into Santa and he mentions any gift ideas for my stocking this year,
please tell him all I want for Christmas is a remote car starter!
And I wouldn't mind if he added some seat heaters, either!!