Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Trip to Anchorage

A couple of weekends ago I took a road trip down to Anchorage.  On Friday, after work I rushed home to pack up a few things, picked a couple of my new friends and we were off by about 6.  It's a 361 miles from fairbanks so with a few stops along the way, we got to anchorage shortly after midnight. 

Saturday we went to the Temple in Anchorage and in the afternoon we went to see Lion King.  The traveling show came to Alaska and it was AMAZING - seriously I was impressed.  I had heard that it was good but I wasn't all that excited to go.  I don't usually go to shows except when I'm in New York or London, no reason really - just never get arround to it.  But I've decided that's just stupid.  It was totally worth it.  If you ever get I chance, go! 

After the show we piled back into my little car and started back to Fairbanks.  We stopped in Wassilla for dinner where we did not see the Palins - real disapointment.  And after a couple more stops we made it back arround 1:30 am.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

first snow

The first snow came in right on cue. The first day of fall here in Alaska was grey and drizzly and snow. It didn't stick but there were flakes floating through the air today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

the days are getting shorter

Over the past month since I arrived in Fairbanks I have witness the days getting shorter and shorter.  The days were still long when I got here and it stayed light untill after 9 and the sun was up before I was. However, as the weeks have gone by it has been darker and darker each morning when I get up. Today is the equinox - which means that we here in Fairbanks, like everyone else on the planet had 12 hours of sunlight. It's all down here from here. I took a walk at lunch time to soak up some much needed sun because its going fast. 

It hasn't gotten to cold yet and I don't think that we've had a frost yet. The flowers are still blooming and strangely enough, the lilacs are still blooming. Its seems that the summers here are so condensed that the plants get kinda confused.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

tundra is beautiful

Ahhhhhhh, isn't it lovely. 

A couple of weeks ago, while my parents were still here we drove down to Denali National Park. And while we did not see mount McKinley, we did see lots of beautiful scenery and the tundra was in fine form. I never thought of tundra being so pretty but it is - especially in the fall when the plants change all sorts of pretty colors. 

Here's a close up of the fireweed. 

Meanwhile, fall is here in Fairbanks. The days are getting shorter and the leaves have all turned. I sense that winter is on its way, so I best live up this lovely weather and scenery while it lasts.

Friday, September 11, 2009

cabbages of unusual size

When I lived in Helsinki, my dear friend Gina and I would visit this crazy lady named Sister Tikkanen every other week. She lived in a little apartment and had collected so many things and so much stuff that her living room had the feeling of a storage closet at a museum. She was afraid to leave her apartment and was desperate for visitors, however, she was always angry with us for one reason or another. It seemed as though we could never win with Sister Tikkanen. I was always anxious on such visits as I was walking on eggshells while fighting off a claustrophobia.

On one such visit to Sister Tikkanen excitedly told us about the new cabbages that she had acquired. Confused at first we listened on as she jabbered away. Her English was quite good and our of fear of creating more confusion by our limited Finnish, so our visits were in English. We soon realized that she meant cabinets, not cabbages, but instead of correcting her we stifled out laughs and let her continue on about how much storage they provided. After admiring her cabbages we were on our way and I can't remember if we made it all the way our of her building without busting up.

I don't think that this picture really captures the shear enormity of these cabbages. They are so big that it is hard to think of a comparison - the only thing that comes to mind is a beach ball. Yet a beach ball seems a poor comparison because it fails to convey the mass - I can't even guess how much these suckers weigh. It seems that everything is simply bigger here in Alaska. And to think of all the storage potential.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

wishin' 'n' hopin' 'n' prayin'

You know those flat rate boxes that the USPS has been advertising lately? Well I did something pretty stupid  - I picked up a few of the largest flat-rate boxes and packed all of my books and pictures and other of my precious personal possessions that I couldn't leave at home. The boxes were shipped 11 days ago and they have not yet arrived. I'm beginning to wonder if I will ever see them again. I kick myself at the thought that I entrusted the USPS with my priceless belongings. I say priceless because they have little monetary value but are irreplaceable. Included in these boxes is my journal that I have been keeping for 5 years, jewelry and my camera. I'm hope hope hoping that my boxes are waiting on my doorstep for me when I get home because I am getting really really anxious that I'll never see my stuff again.

Alas, I've come to learn that stuff gets lost when you move. Tragically and inevitably, somethings never make it all the way to your new home.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

internet addiction

I took a little break from the internet this weekend - sunday and monday that is. It's a real addiction you know, npr even said so. Also, Elder Bednar talked about it in a CES fireside last March and when a general authority and npr agree, it's a special kind of confirmation. So, I was listening to the radio in the kitchen yesterday when I heard a story about internet addiction and how there is now an internet addiction rehab center in the US. It's at the summer home of a massage therapist and there is 1 patient (I'm pretty sure that's not the right term but the correct word alludes me at the moment). He is a college student who flunked out of school because he couldn't stop playing Worlds of Warcraft and now his parents are paying for him to feed chickens with a massage therapist and take interviews.

I'm no gamer but I can definitely spend hour upon hour online and not even know where the time went. So I felt pretty good about myself when I heard this story because I was going internet free and baking bread. You heard it, baking - whole-grain no less.

Motivated by boredom, frustration at the lack of good bread and a new book, I decided to make my own. I bought this book from a local bookstore that is a step by step guide to making whole-grain breads. The author is a total hippy and I love her for it.

My ideal bread would be whole-grain, baked locally and taste good (light but chewy and a little nutty) - it's surprisingly hard to find. My first attempt was a little disappointing. After hours and hours of kneading and coddling and watching and rounding and waiting and shaping and baking, my loaf came out kinda flat. It tastes alright but it is far from light and airy loaf that I was aspiring to.  But I won't give up, the bread bible says that it is really hard to get whole-grain breads to come out light and fluffy but it is possible.

It was a pretty feel good Labor Day. Supported a local business, acquired a new and healthy hobby, fought off a dangerous addiction, and I'm a step closer to really good bread.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

farmer's market

Ahhhhhh, Saturday. After sleeping half the day away I gave up my comfy bed, realized it was a beautiful day not to be wasted and made my way to the farmer's market. Alaskans are serious about their farmer's markets. The parking lot was full but I managed to see a car about to pull out so I squeezed my little car between 2 ginormous pickups and started shopping.

I had a hard time deciding what to buy but in the end I could not say not to the bag of lingonberries, a jar or Honey, a bottle of rhubarb syrup and a bunch of carrots.

I have been negotiating a use for the lingonberries since I first considered buying them. What to do? I asked the lady that sold them if she had any suggestions and she said that she eats them raw or frozen. I wasn't real excited about eating them raw because I remember being serve fresh puolukoita in Finland and they were too sour and bitter to eat. However, I pause at the idea of perverting my beautiful berries with loads of sugar to make preserves. My third option would be to bake them into something - I'll probably do that.

Friday, September 4, 2009

death by boredome

The temperatures here in Fairbanks are still quite mild and in the sunshine it is quite lovely. However, conditions here at work can cause mind numbing - by boredom that is. I am soooooooooooooooooooooo boooooooooooooooooooooored. I quited literally have nothing to do and I fear that if I don't get some work soon my mind will quite literally (not figuratively) go numb and I may suffer brain damage.

At least its Friday, you may say but I have even less to do at home and I am not feeling very adventurous. That's the problem with boredome, the longer it persists, the harder it is to cure. I guess its time that I buck up and develope some new hobbies.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


The courthouse is in the middle of downtown Fairbanks - which this time of year is still a healthy tourist trap. It's a little unnerving at times to pass through crowds of elderly people wearing matching windbreakers and fanny packs. Today I went to the Fudge Pot for lunch. At the Fudge Pot you get a free stuffed bear when you buy $20 of fudge - but it is also the closest place to buy a sandwich. The Fudge Pot was full of tourists today so I got my sandwich to go and wandered over to the park to eat in the sunshine. And that's how I discovered them.

One of the perks of working a tourist trap is the puppies. Next to the park is "Yukon Quest", a cabin with a sod roof that is dedicated to a dog sled race here in Fairbanks. Today as I was enjoying my lunch in the beautifully warm sunshine, I noticed them - the puppies that is. Around the back of Yukon Adventure is a dog run full of Alaskan Husky puppies. They are adorable. When my camera gets here I will take lots of pictures and maybe a movie.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Golden Heart of Alaska

Day 3 on the job and I have almost completed the mountain of paperwork from HR. I probably could have finished it yesterday but as I don't have anything else to do (no judge = no work), I'm spreading it out.

Today I received my Fairbanks relocation guide. Which includes a lovely letter from the former governor, Ms. Palin herself. I sure do feel welcome now.

Facts about Fairbanks:
-Population: almost 100,000
-Known as the Golden Heart of Alaska
-Mt. McKinley (highest mountain in the USA - 20,320 ft.) is visable from Fairbanks on a clear day.
-Temperatures range from the 90's in the summer to -50 degrees (or below) in the winter.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Visitors welcome!

I've moved into a surprisingly roomy house and I have it all to myself until my roommates move in next month. So I've decided to issue a special limited time offer to my readers.

--Special Limited-time Offer--

Come and enjoy the fleeting autumn in Alaska's interior!

To anyone* who comes to visit me in the month of September**, I am offering free lodging in a private room. Complementary airport shuttle.

*subject to certain limitations of number (only 2 rooms available) and relation (friends and family only) - contact me here for more information.
**free lodging will be available after September but private room offer is will expire at the end of the month and accommodations will be limited to couches, futon and floor.