Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sparrow vs Mr. Nuts

Look at these two. Poor kitty. Funny squirrel. Mr. Nuts loves to taunt Sparrow while he is outside on the windowsill. She chatters at him, and he will even squeal and chatter right back!

I'm not sure bravery will serve him well if Sparrow ever finds him while she is outside.....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mt Redoubt

We have been experiencing some of God's mighty and powerful acts around here!

Mt Redoubt has been acting up, first pouting for weeks and finally a full-blown temper tantrum.

The mountain erupted 15 times before we had ash fall here. So I guess we are doing pretty well, considering the mountain is straight across the inlet from us.

We started to get ash fall around 5: 30 yesterday, and it fell for only about 20 minutes. It covered the ground in gray stuff, falling in hard ash "pellets" and landing like hail. Pretty cool! Especially if you don't mind all the stuff being tracked into the house and the car.

Here is a really amazing video of the mountain erupting the night before, with a grand lightning display! I love the fierce nature of this great state we live in!

Redoubt Eruption March 27 2009 from Bretwood Higman on Vimeo.

Keep us in your thoughts...because I don't think Miss Redoubt is through with us yet!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Lake by which I Live

This is a bit of writing by my daughter, Chena. I found it and asked her if I could please have it. It makes me long for summer. It makes me proud and happy that she loves where she lives. And, of course as her writing teacher it makes me feel like I'm doing my job! She loves to write, and finds a way to express how she feels, quite beautifully.

I'm strolling through the woods one sunny afternoon and as I walk around a
bend in the trail a large, sparkling, calm, peaceful lake comes into view. I stand
awstruck at the beauty of the scene before me. Even though I've seen this sight
so many times before, the lake by which I live never stops taking my breath away,
no matter much I stare at that water I will always stop to admire it. Across the lake lies a shoreline green with fresh cut grass. Here minnows
dart beetween rocks and in and out of weeds by the land. Leaches slowly drift
around in the water, looking for something to eat.Snails grip on tightly to rocks.
I lay down on the grass on my stomach and stare down to that underwater
world.All around the lake there are tall, towering trees and small, fresh saplings.
In the summer, they are full with delicate, green leaves. And in the winter they have bare branches
laden with snow and ice. I go out in a boat and watch the whirlpools swirling
along behind the paddles, dancing and fading away into ripples. Loons paddle
around on the surface, looking for fish below. Then they dive to catch the food they seek. Swans with their long, white, graceful necks float around the lake in
pairs, trying to spot a place to nest. Soon another smaller shape will be tagging
along behind. Muskrats are sneaking along the bank, and sometimes burrowing in.
But then they will slip back out and start looking for freshwater clams to munch.
Beavers hurrying everywhere, are a common sight at this lake. Constantly
searching logs, and sticks, they're busy all day long.For the lodge must be
ready for winter, because it will be the only thing to keep him through the long,
cold winter months.
I come back to shore and stretch out on the grass once more. The afternoon sun warming my face, a cool, sweet-scented breaze playing with my hair, and
birds trilling out lovely notes, trying to lure me into sleep, prove too much for
my heavy eyelids, and I drift off into a sleep full of wonderful dreams.
When I wake up the setting sun is throwing beautifull shades of pink, purple,
and orange, which reflect on to the still waters of the lake. I stand and trudge
up the hill to the house. But I know that in the morning I will look out and see my
lake again, sparkling in the pale morning light.
- Chena Litzen age 11

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Day at Lucky Horse Ranch

Although spring is in the air, we still have plenty of snow left. I'd love to see tulips pushing their brilliant faces up on my lawn, or poppies showing up on my hillside, or the first blades of grass being nibbled by my ecstatic bunnies. But alas. Not yet!

So we continue to make the most of the season we are in..which is not yet spring, but not really winter...something in between that still manages to make my heart sing!

We have more daylight, which means lots more time to play outside with our animals. And although it was only 20 degrees yesterday, the sun shone warmly on our faces, and the wind was not as evil as it seems in, say, February.

Our friends board their horse at Lucky Horse Ranch, and they asked me to come and do a mini-clinic on ground handling, with their daughter and a few other girls who are new to horse-ownership. I cannot think of a better way to spend the day than riding and training horses, so I was thrilled to head out there, about an hour from our house.

We had a great time, and the girls really learned a lot. I was so happy to see their great partnerships with their horses get even better through some new exercises. We had a bit of excitement here and there, with one fall, one runaway horse, and a bit of a difficult bridge-crossing with one spooked mare...but with horses, its better to just expect the unexpected and then you won't be surprised by anything!

Gorgeous Percheron at the ranch. For sale too! I'd love to own that big boy, for sure. Stunning size, and the sweetest face...

One of the girls working her new horse. I worked with the mare first, then had her use the same techniques. It was so neat to see it all come together as they learned to work as a team!

After all the hard work, the girls took off and went riding. Chena went with a few of them, on a borrowed horse. They all rode bareback, so they could have closer contact with their horses, and be able to feel any anxiety from their mounts. Its just always safer in the winter, when you have fresh and sassy horses, to not have a saddle to get hung-up in if you were to fall or get bucked off. Just sayin!

On the way home, I was tired, a bit chilled, had some aches from handling/longing horses, and my face stung a bit from the wind. But still my favorite way to spend a day!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thoughts Too Short for a Real Blog Post

My good blogger buddy Carole does this on her blog, and I stole her idea. Some days you just think in spurts, not paragraphs! And since I am so easily distracted from. (ha ha)

I like frozen grapes. I love to buy two bunches of grapes. One we eat as soon as we finish unloading and putting away the groceries. The other bunch we freeze. It makes the BEST evening snack. They melt slowly, and taste just sooooooo refreshing.

I have a new van and I think I will name it the Blueberry Ferry.

When my Grandma Geri passed away, I asked for her favorite red coat. I think of her in that coat all the time. She had it hanging in a bag, and I tore just a tiny hole in the bag so I could keep Gram's special perfumey/lotioney smell inside for as long as possible. I will go to the closet and just put my nose close to the coat and remember......but the smell is getting fainter each day. It makes me sad.

I'm going to have to face the fact that I will never have the ability to whistle. Not a note, let alone a cheery tune.

The other day a carry-out person at the store THREW my groceries into my car. Smack! Smack! The food hit the floor of the car and rolled here and there. Umm, had a bad day, Miss?

I read two chapters of the latest Sisterchicks novel each day on my treadmill. The characters are traveling through England. On my treadmill, they are not getting anywhere fast. Poor dears.

I like the actor Liam Neeson, and I am so sorry for his loss of his wife. What a tragedy. I'm not sure I want to go skiing for awhile.

I like Twitter, but I'm not sure I want to be anyone's Tweeps, Twiend, or have a Twiendship.

How does the silverware tray get so crumby inside, when everything put in there is CLEAN?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dewey Love Him or What?

I have been smitten. By a small ball of fluff on gangly legs. He's just a a lamb, and I'm just a temporary lamb-sitter...but well, its pretty much all over when I meet any kind of baby animal. Then bond with him over bottle feeding formula and midnight walks. And look into his blue-gray eyes while he sits in my lap. Yep. A goner.

We are only keeping Dewey, a three-week old lamb, for two weeks while his family is on vacation, but boy we are sure having some fun. He's quite the entertainer.

Dewey love him? Yes!

Dewey think he's funny? Yes!

Dewey want to keep him forever? Yes!

Dewey love his leaps and skips? Yes!

Dewey love to watch him chase a ball like a puppy? Yes!

Watch while Dewey meets Penguin. I'm sure he just wants to be friends....

Friday, March 13, 2009

Creating Art

I had so much fun making a little wood decoration for my scrapbooking nook!!

While I was on my scrapbooking retreat, I grabbed this alterable wood word from the clearance bin. Its made by Creative Imaginations . As you scrappers know, "Create" is a bit overdone in the scrapping world...lol...so I told my friend "Well, its not like I need another one of theeese..." but picked it up anyway. Its hard to see here, but the letters are real wood, and about 4 1/2 inches tall each. A good deal is hard to pass up!

Then later, a brainstorm....I could just use some of the letters, and make "Art" instead. I love art. I have a real thing about it. I love Alaskan art, and collect pieces by my favorite wildlife artists. I love art history, studying the masters, memorizing their different works and styles, and teaching my children about them all. I have tons of books about each art period. We play art card games, and games where you can "steal" art by substituting a forgery, etc. I just love it all.

So I decided to alter the "Create" wood word and make it my own. Besides, what a great way to remind myself that scrapbooking is, after all, an art form. And we should always do it exactly as we love it, stay true to our own individual style and form, and relish the freedom of expression that comes with it.

So I painted them, stamped with paint, put rub-ons on it, added jewels, feathers, dried flowers, bottle cap, cancelled stamps, even cut up a bit of an old credit card. I included a coin from New Zealand that I like from a trip I made there, and the "G" is for my initial.

For a quick project, I think it turned out kind of cute. I'm going to add some ribbon or wire on each letter, so it can hang easily. But it will stand up too, and I have it on my windowsill in my kitchen right now, and I'm enjoying it. My girls played right along with me, and made some neat altered things for their cousins. Chena used the "C" to make a door hanger for her room too. I might post those too, when I get pictures. They were not quite finished.

What's the last crafty thing you did? Did you have fun? Let yourself go? Play play play? I hope so!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Scrapbooking Retreat!

I had the BEST time this weekend on a get-away with my scrapping buddies! We went to a retreat at a beautiful B & B on the Anchorage hillside, The Alaskan Leopard. Its the most amazing place, with a gourmet chef, hot tubs, beautiful view, cozy luxury rooms, and complete pampering. We were pretty much in heaven! Add to that all-day scrapping, shopping excursions, and my favorite scrapbooking side-kicks and it just doesn't get much better.

Our fantastic host, also our chef, prepared four-course meals each time we were called to the table, even for breakfast. He spoiled us rotten. Each dish was not just gourmet, it was presented beautifully as well. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost!

The night we arrived, he greeted us warmly and told us he had to go out for a few hours. You see, he explained, he was in a state-wide fitness contest, and it was award night. He was dressed up, looked quite dapper, and further explained that he had just lost SIXTY pounds in ninety days! We were impressed. When he returned later that night, I'm not sure his feet were touching the ground at all. He had WON the contest, a cruise on the Mexican Riviera, and $10, 000! It was super exciting to hear him tell all about it.

The whole weekend was just fantastic. I loved connecting with my buddies, scrapping together, laughing our heads off, and kicking back with no responsibilities. Every mommy/wife needs that once in awhile. It usually takes me awhile to unwind, I feel kind of guilty! And spoiled!

I love scrapbooking. Its a passion of mine. I think its important to preserve our memories, as time goes by so fast in our lives, and its easy to forget the little things, that matter so deeply to me as a mom. I won't always remember the silliness, the inside jokes, the crazy situations and quiet moments in our home. I won't always be able to recall the nicknames the children had for each other, the games they invented with their friends, or how tall they got in one summer. So I take a lot of pictures, and I journal quite a bit about our busy life.

I scrapbook a bit at home, but being able to really get down to creating is such a lot of fun, and I got a lot done! Here are a few of my pages I did, while on my heavenly weekend. Most of them are pictures from last summer, as I like to make a summer album each year. I'm excited I got some done! Yippee!

The above layouts are all 12x12, and as seasoned scrapbookers know, can take an hour or two for each page. I'm plenty happy to have even this many created in one weekend!

The next one I did for my little Dandelion's puppy album, and it is a 6x6 layout.

Again for your scrappers, I can't list all my materials here, but I left most of my distressing supplies at home, and paints. I did do some inking for dimension, but other than that it was just playing with paper and embellies.

Now off I go to unpack. Wishing each of you a happy get-away like mine in the very near future!

Tell me, what was the BEST and most relaxing quick trip you have ever taken?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Chena!

You know that happy-sad feeling that sweeps over you sometimes? The one where you are not sure which emotion is the stronger of the two? That feeling made me feel just a bit wobbly on my feet this past weekend. It started at my toes and rose up to my heart and I took a deep breath...and let it out. I just stood for awhile and stared at my girl. She was laughing about something with her friend who had come over for a sleepover. She had her hand over her mouth and I could see her cute dimple and her ponytail swishing. She looked so tall. She wore bigger shoes than I do. She looked so sophisticated and self-assured. How could she have grown up so fast?

I remember the first time I saw that dimple. I had just been handed my perfect little treasure, after 30 hours of labor, an emergency cesarean, and two hours in recovery waiting to hold her. The nurse handed her to me and I examined her from teeny bald head to tiny toes. I stopped suddenly and stared: "What's THAT?" I asked. I had never seen a dimple on a baby before! It was the cutest thing ever. I was smitten. For life.

And what a 12 years it has been. She is such a joy, a delight, an absolute necessity in my life. I adore her. She's not a breath of fresh air, she's a tornado. She starts each day like a volcano erupting into morning. She is wide awake instantly, full of amazing thoughts..telling me about her ideas, her dreams, her inventions, her projects, her plans and lists for the day. I smile at her and squeak out one word...cooooooffeeeeee.......

She laughs at me, gives me one of her famous squeezy hugs, and goes off to make me a cup of coffee. After we sit together and she drinks a third of a cup of tea and leaves the cup on the windowsill for the rest of the day.....and I have my coffee, I am ready for her bouncy attack on the day. Thank heavens for my daily mug of energy! Chena and coffee just go together.

So when I asked her what she would like to do for her birthday party, I was not surprised when she said she would love a sledding party. Chena is my outside girl. She loves to be outside, even in all kinds of weather. Its hard to get her to wear a coat or the right shoes. She might be caught outside in Crocs in the midst of winter.
She loves to sled. Sometimes we even sled on top of hay bales when we go out at night to feed all the horses. We laugh until we fall off the bale and roll over in the snow. She loves it.
So we had a sledding party, and invited about 20 of her friends and cousins. It was a really fun day! Perfect sledding weather. I didn't even mind that I wiped out on a wild ride with my little nephew at the steering wheel.
Ok everybody, smile and I will actually let you sled and I will put the camera away.

You promise?

(crossing fingers behind my back) Sure! I promise!

After the sledding we all went in the house and had big slices of sloppy pizza, and custom-decorated Eskimo Pies...with M & Ms, caramel, whip cream, chopped cookie pieces, chocolate syrup and sprinkles.

It was a great day and a great way to celebrate the birth of my snow angel.