Saturday, December 18, 2010

What a Blessing?

Post by Rodney, edited by Daphne with thanks to Jesse Lee for some of the photos.

It was a rough week. On Wednesday of this week it started. A contractor for the Matanuska Electric Association, Northern Powerline Contractors, asked for a favor. They still have 2 power poles to replace in a bog area at the end of Shallow Lake. He asked me if we could cut a road to the poles. I said we might if we had time and asked Ryan Cote about it. That afternoon Ryan started cutting the road while I was working at thawing some pipes that had frozen. Ryan called on the radio and asked if I could help him out.

I arrived to find that the dozer had broken through the ice and could not climb out on its own.
We called Doug Theissen and asked him to come down and offer advice. After he arrived I went up to Dan Lee's house looking for him to give us advice. Dan was not home at the time so Doug, Ryan and I agreed to use the excavator to try and pull the dozer out. We stopped when the excavator started breaking through the ice as we did not want 2 pieces of equipment stuck.

Doug had to leave for the school Christmas concert and about this time Jeff Kovak and Al Minatra showed up. They both live on Victory Road and came to pick up Ryan and I for private pilot ground school down at Kingdom Air. It had been canceled that night but they did not know that because the phones were out from high winds in the valley (75 mph winds with gusts to 100 mph). Al said he thought that even if the excavator went through, it should be able to extract itself. Al is an experienced equipment operator and was willing to try to get the dozer out so I agreed and he tried. The dozer moved quite a ways before the excavator broke through.

We started having some other people show up after this including Dan and Jesse Lee and Chuck Gerwig and his 2 sons, Ben and Joe. Dan ended up starting up his Cat D-6 and bringing it up and we started up the old Case backhoe. Dan's dozer had not been started this year. Chuck took charge of the scene and went to work with nothing less than heroic efforts. The back hoe ended up dropping through in a couple of places but Chuck and Al were able to free it under its own power. We were cutting down trees and had a bonfire going trying to keep warm in the subzero temperatures with Chuck and Al getting the coldest because they were the most exposed to the wind. When the concert was over, most of the camp people came back to try to help. Jacob Klapak brought out hot coffee and hot water for hot chocolate. Joel Ruisch was out for moral support and many wives and others came by to see the "project" we were involved in. In the midst of the work of trying to free the excavator, Dan brought his dozer over and out onto the airstrip. Once there we hooked it to the John Deere 650 dozer with a lot of cable and without too much fanfare it was removed from the quagmire. It went into the auto shop to thaw overnight.

Al was in and out of the cab of the excavator as it was wallowing further into the mud. It finally quit when all the controls were under water because all the electrics were underwater at that time. Al was soaking wet and it was close to midnight. Al was feeling very dejected. I was feeling a strong sense of failure and guilt. Others in the group were also disappointed, wanting to get the excavator out before it froze in place. We all gathered around the fire and prayed, once again giving the excavator and the situation to God, knowing that He would use the situation to His glory. Joel Ruisch and I thanked everyone who was there for their help. Even so, I still left feeling like I had let camp down, certain that no one else has let a big piece of equipment disappear on their watch. I arrived at the house at about 1 am and spent a couple of hours trying to get warm and spent the night awake with my mind in overdrive. I later found out that many others (Ryan, Chuck, Dan and Al) had done the same thing.

Thursday Chuck talked with Arnie Hrncir and Arnie spoke with his son Dustin and they formulated a plan. Chuck stopped by and told Ryan and I what the plan was and a little later Arnie, Dustin and Brian Lee showed up to assess the situation and see if the plan would need to change after looking over the scene. They explained what they wanted to do to Ryan and myself and then to Joel, asking that we get a light plant for the next day as they wanted to get it out as soon as possible. We still had no phones but word got around that we would try again on Friday. Ryan and I started to prepare things right away, with me neglecting other duties. Thursday night Arliss Riddles was in the Hrncir's shop welding grousers on the tracks of their excavator getting it ready.

After a night of better sleep, the day dawned early and the preparations began in earnest. At our morning prayer, where we were joined by Al Minatra and Dan Lee, we gave the days' activities to the Lord and set ourselves to work. While Joel and Bret Kolb went to town to get the light plant, we started by building an "Ice Road" under the direction of Dan Lee. I acted as a general go'for all day. Basically, Dan would dump snow down, then they would pour water over the snow to form ice. It was very slow at first just using water off our fire truck but it quickened up once we got 2 and 3 inch pumps hooked up and pulling water from under the ice. We worked through lunch eating burgers that had cooled off by the time they got to us. They would not stay warm in the sub zero temperature. (Thank you Heather Klapak for lunch and dinner and braving the cold with us.) I was running the hose off the 3 inch pump long enough that my Carharrts had stiffened legs and I could not bend my fingers. Then we set that 3 inch pump and a second 3 inch trash pump to draining around the excavator, and I started running a 2 inch line to pump water on the ice road.

While we were working on the road, there were men working on removing the pins to separate the boom and bucket and leave it for retrieval once the excavator was out. The bucket was extended and the suction that it created was part of the reason we could not get it out on Wednesday. It was pulling the rest of the machine lower whenever we attempted to extract the boom. The plan was to build a press by welding directly to the boom and using a hydraulic jack or air jack to push the pins free. This was unnecessary as the pins drove right out. Then the hydraulic lines were separated. Ready to go.

The ice road was built to a platform around the excavator and completed about mid afternoon. At the time of completion it was holding over 100,000 pounds of bulldozers on it. While Dan Lee and Dustin Hrncir were running the dozers, Al Minatra was operating a dump truck and Mike Roub was operating an excavator. Mike is a virtuoso on the machine, putting it on like a suit of clothes. There were many others involved; Arnie overseeing the entire operation, Chuck Gerwig and Sons doing a lot of the bull work, Ryan and Matt and Joel all with different tasks, Aaron Meeuwsen taking photos and watching the pumps, and many wives and members of the community stopping by to see our progress and praying for success. Many hands joined in this "project" and it was clear that God was bringing these people together.

With a solid "platform" Mike went to work digging the ice from around the excavator. After the ice was removed he started looking for the tracks and removing material around them so that chains could be attached to the tracks to pull with. Mike was removing a lot of water and it exposed a lot of the machine. He then built a ramp to drag the machine from its sodden resting place. When the tracks were exposed Al went in the icy murk and worked chains around the tracks. It was so cold though that even submerged in the water the chains would freeze to Al's gloves and he could not release them. Eventually, with much manipulating by Mike on the excavator and Al in the water, it was all hooked up. Slowly, cables straining and even breaking and a couple of chains breaking so reattachment was necessary more then once, it eased from its position to the roar of 3 diesel engines. The water pouring from it like a breaching leviathan, the excavator emerged, glass intact and looking filthy from the ice that was still attached.

This was sometime before 6:00 PM and then the clean up started. Heather Klapak had a meal prepared for us so once most of the clean up occurred, we ate dinner at Miracle Lodge. Then we moved the excavator into the back bay of Miracle Lodge to thaw out. I just followed it up because even though it was close to 8:00pm, there were more frozen pipes on camp that I needed to deal with. I know I left out some details but this is close to what happened. I will need to deal with other aspects of the project and will try to get photos of the same.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2010 Volleyball wrap up

We're back from Anchorage and the Mixed 6 State Volleyball championships. The kids ended up in fourth place which was an excellent placing but they felt like they didn't play as well as they were capable of playing. That was really disappointing to them. They learned a lot though, and for this being their first year playing as a team, frankly I think they did fantastic! They won over Golovin, a team who has been the State Champion runner up for the last two years. They were defeated by Tikigaq, a team that has won the State Championship five of the last six years. If you're going to get beat, you might as well get beaten by the best! They won the tournament sportsmanship award which I really do think is something to be proud of! They were one tenth or hundredth? of a point off the top academic team. Another thing to be proud of! :) All in all, they had an exceptional season and are hungry to work harder and try again next year! Results of games from each day of the tournament are posted at the following link: Bill, that link is for you so you can see that I'm not making up the team names. ;) The names of the schools are (no surprise) mostly native, though sometimes they will be referred to by the town names (town of Wainright, school name Alak, Town of Point Hope, school name Tikigaq).

There is an interesting story behind the history of volleyball in Alaska, especially the mixed 6 division. In many of the native villages, sports are the only motivation for the kids to complete high school. I talked to one of the moms from Tikigaq and she said they started their program in the 80s to try to keep kids from dropping out. They start teaching volleyball in the second grade and use it as motivation to keep kid's grades up. It works! Not only do they have more kids completing high school, they also have kids going to college now! The skill levels of these kids is impressive too. Carlen, one of our top players, stands about 6'2". At one point across the net from him was a kid that was almost a foot shorter. When the two of them went up together at the net, the native kid was almost a foot ABOVE Carlen! The vertical jump on some of these kids was just awesome! Our kids had certainly never faced that before! They also had a HUGE support group of parents, friends and relatives at the game. It was as impressive as our own HUGE, enthusiastic crowd! ;) The mixed 6 division was added to try to help some of these villages that were having difficulty putting together a full girls or boys team. It has now become very popular among the smaller native village schools. There was even a TV news story about the situation. The video footage is of the Glacier View vs Golovin game.

I spent most of the weekend in Anchorage and Rodney traveled back and forth. Mike Lucia used to work in the maintenance department at Victory, mostly working with boilers and furnaces. He and Rodney connected recently and Mike expressed an interest in helping out occasionally with some of that work as well as training Rodney and Ryan in the maintenance and repair work. He was here Friday and Saturday working on some of the boilers, especially the ones in Miracle Lodge that Rodney has been having trouble with lately. He was not able to get them up and running either which was a little consolation to Rodney that it wasn't just his inexperience. It was also such an encouragement to have someone available to help out from time to time in case Rodney does want to get away. Now we just need to figure out what to do with little Miss Neurotic Dog if we do want to go somewhere. Putting it mildly, Ellie did NOT handle my being gone well. She doesn't handle being at the kennel well either. Last time she went there she howled the entire time we were gone. The kennel owner called and asked us to come back and get her. If we try to leave her home without someone here full time it isn't pretty either. I think she needs some doggy downers.

We were able to connect with the Sherrers in Anchorage and get away one evening to see their three of their kids in concert at one of the local churches. The choir is semi-pro and they were EXCEPTIONAL! Wow! What a way to get into the holiday spirit! At one point the choir was spread out in a circle all around the sanctuary of the church (which had awesome acoustics) and they were singing around us. Talk about surround sound! It was fantastic! The costumes were top notch too - beautiful Renaissance style dresses for part of it, traditional Russian dress, and more. It was quite heavenly! Anyway, there's probably plenty more that I could write, but I'm still really tired from the weekend away so I'll let you all off easy this week.

Glacier View fans at the tourney this weekend:

Sergei dressed in drag for Ridonculous Day (Fashion Disaster) at school this past week. We're so proud of her, I mean, him! ;)

You can see more photos of the game at: In the photo collage on the main page you can click on "Find ASAA and Event Photos here." Then chose "2010 State 12A Mixed 6 Volleyball." Scroll down to "Thurs - Golovin vs Glacier View." I didn't take many photos, but I did take some. I'll try to get those uploaded and see if there is anything worth posting later.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Really quick update - the kids lost today to Tikigaq. EXCELLENT playing by Tikigaq! Our kids were disappointed that they didn't play their best, but they've never faced a team with that kind of skill level. Will have to fill in details later though - going to a concert tonight that the Sherrer kids are singing in and I only have a little time to get ready, eat, and go!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

First round of State Volleyball championships

We drove in to Anchorage today for the State Mixed 6 Volleyball championships. For the first time that I can remember Palmer was 10 degrees colder than we were up in the mountains! It was a spectacular day though - clear and cool with brilliant sunshine! Palmer was jaw droppingly magical today. Everything was sparkling white. The Matanuska River is still flowing so when it is this cold, it really evaporates a lot. The entire valley was a winter wonderland of frost so thick you couldn't even see the branches! It was beautiful! No, I didn't take any pictures. We were a bit focused on getting to our destination. Besides, it was 2 degrees down there! I didn't really feel like freezing my fingers! Actually, it was a good thing we didn't stop. It took us a bit longer to get to the school than we thought, then it took some time to figure out where at the school we needed to be. We weren't late, but we weren't early either.

The kids played very well! They held together as a team and were very consistent in their play. Bump, set, spike. Bump, set, spike. Their coaches have taught them well! They fought pretty hard the first game against Golovin, winning 25-17. In the next game they just kept right on smashing away, winning 25-15. Golovin pulled ahead a bit at the beginning of the third game, but Glacier View came back and won 25-11. Once Glacier View pulled past them, they sort of gave up and just let our guys beat them. That was a bit disappointing, but we were thrilled that the kids won in only three games! Golovin was second in the state for the last few years. Tomorrow afternoon at 1:30 they play Tikigaq which has won the state championship four out of the last five years? I'll check on that detail later. Anyway, we're going to hang about Anchorage for a few days - shopping, watching volleyball, eating, etc. I'll let you know tomorrow night how things go. We may go out to dinner tomorrow though, so it may be a bit later. You can actually watch the action live through the following link: You can watch via Skype chat (I've never tried that, but it sounds interesting) or live streaming. Our connection here at the hotel isn't fast enough for the live streaming, but some were using it in our community (dsl) before we came here this weekend so hopefully it will work for those who would like to watch!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Morning people, more volleyball and odds and ends

Mornings. Most who know me know that I am NOT a morning person. I used to be. As a child and right up through college I was a morning person. I was one of the rare few who signed up for 8 am classes and thought best at that time of day. I remained a morning person right up until the day I went to work for RG&E in downtown Rochester, NY. The work day was scheduled to start at 7:30 am, but traffic was such that if I left the house at 5:50, I could arrive at work by 7 am. If I didn't leave until 6, I could barely make it in by 7:30. Ten minutes made the difference between a quick, relaxed drive and a hectic, white knuckle drive. Every day for a number of years that I can't even remember now (at least 5, but I have no idea how many more than that) I would unenthusiastically set my alarm for 4:50 am. Really. I have no idea why it took so long to get ready in the morning - shower, breakfast, feed dogs, make lunch - but it did. And I grew to hate mornings. I never did get used to getting up that God-awful early.

Then we adopted children and God, who I know has a sense of humor, gave me a child that is a morning person. He's an up-and-at-them, 0-dark-hundred kind of morning person. Ick. Now the kids are teenagers and have FINALLY learned not to wake up the mother-unit until she stumbles down the stairs of her own accord. Waking up the mother-unit is a crime punishable by death or dismemberment, or maybe both. They have wisely learned not to go there. They also know better than to try to have intelligent conversation with me in the morning. The usual routine is ok. My body can go through the motions without any help from my conscious brain. For goodness sake though, do NOT ask me to go outside of the normal routine! It will NOT be pretty!

Since I was no longer suffering enough, God suddenly decided to turn my spouse into a morning person. When I was getting up at obscene hours of the morning, I used to slip out of the room and be as quiet as possible so as not to wake him from his happy slumber. One would think that he could extend the same courtesy. But no, he is a true morning person. He's CHEERFUL! There's nothing worse than a cheerful person early in the morning when you're not awake yet. They want to chatter. They want the world to be cheerful with them. They insist on getting in your face with their cheerfulness. Just makes you want to reach out and slug them. In case you're wondering where that rant came from, it was Rodney's suggestion to blog about morning people. As I was trying to force myself awake this morning he was pestering me to blog, as he has every day for the last 3-4 days. When I asked what I was supposed to blog about, he responded that I should blog about morning people. So here it is. My "morning person" rant, I mean blog post.

As for what is going on in life aside from morning people, the living room wall is now painted and waiting for us to rearrange furniture. I need to wait to do that on a day when my brain is with me though. I'll let you know if that happens this decade. I blame it on all the histamines and anti-histamines. They're constantly doing battle in my body, stealing whatever semblance of brain I ever had. So I'm still whining and not blogging. It's the cold. I was starting to have a brain again until I got this cold. Oksana was sweet enough to share her cold with me. It's not a bad one, but it has taken away whatever brain power I normally have, which isn't much to begin with. We are driving the truck up to the house now. That's exciting news! It makes life so much easier. You just climb in the truck and off you go. It takes a lot less planning and maneuvering but it makes my snow machine lonely. I need to go take it for a joy ride and cheer it up.

It was nice and cold this past week so the roads around camp are all nicely packed. Zero weather makes the snow nice and squeaky. We like it. :) It was back up in the 20s today, but we had almost a week where I don't think it got above zero. There was a group in from all over the country during the cold week. We had people from Florida and even one from India. When my friend Cheryl adopted her daughter Sumana from India, we figured out that Sumana had never experienced temperatures below 80. If that was the case for this poor gentleman, he must have thought that he was going to die! I saw him walking down the road with his hands over his face to breathe! Poor guy! A while back when my computer was dying I talked to technical support in India and the guy I talked to had a million questions about Alaska. He said it is one of his dreams to visit. I'm thinking that just for the whole physical shock of it, summer might be a better choice! ;)

The mixed 6 state championship volleyball tournament is this coming week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, December 9, 10 and 11 at Dimond High school in Anchorage. Yes, that is how they spell Dimond. The first time I saw it I was sure it was a misspelling. Maybe it was initially, but now it is the accepted spelling. It still makes me stop and think every time I see it or try to type it. I'll definitely update the blog as soon as I can with results of the games. We will be staying in Anchorage at a hotel which has Wi-Fi so I SHOULD be able to update on a daily basis.

Both of the Arctic Cats are still in the Arctic Cat Row of Shame, though one is only there in spirit. It is at the Gerwig's house waiting to be fixed while the other is in the actual Row of Shame - a line of non-running Cats outside the camp shop. One needs a new track and drivers, the other probably need the crank case drained (according to Mr Roub) but Rodney hasn't had the time to do that yet. We've got a good idea of where to get the new track, but just haven't gotten that together yet either. Sergei has been working with Ben Gerwig on that one.

We have a lot more chickadees visiting us this year. The feeders are incredibly busy these days! There are caribou antlers in velvet in the upper right corner. The chickadees love to sit on those. I love the little chickadees. They are so cheerful and they share nicely.

Let me know if you are sick of sunrise and sunset pictures. The sun comes up late enough now that even I am up when it comes up!

Naughty Ellie has taken to sleeping in Rodney's closet at night. There's certainly plenty of cushion for her little princess head. She's feeling better, though she didn't go out much when it was so cold last week. She's also eating better so she actually has a touch of meat over her ribs for once this year.
Doug Thiessen and/or Todd Busenitz give sleigh rides to the guests. Here Todd is driving Cisco who likes to GO so it was hard to catch him standing still.

Victory Peak over Miracle Lodge today

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ice road, volleyball and beautiful sunrises

Will ya look at that! Not only did I slide under the every-other-week-wire, but I actually have REAL stuff to blog about this week too! :) The ice road officially opened this year on Wednesday, November 17. We've had some lovely cold nights since it was plowed so it should be good and solid by now! We still haven't driven it with our truck yet because the driveway still needs to be plowed. Rodney has been coming over with the camp truck which has chains, but the truck he has been using to plow doesn't have skids on the plow? so he hasn't really been able to plow our driveway well yet. Well, technically he could, but we still want to be able to use it for snow machining too and his truck will dig down too deep and hit dirt. We already have that problem a bit on the other side. He may borrow Ryan's plow truck and do the driveway tomorrow. Ideally you want a nice layer of packed snow on the ground before you plow, but we can't drive until it is plowed. So basically we need to ease our way out of our little Catch-22.

The Nikolaevsk volleyball team was here last weekend for a small tournament. Part of the Northern Lights team came up from Palmer/Wasilla and played on Friday night so that there was a little more competition. Our Glacier View team worked hard to win every match (best of 5 sets). I was able to spend a fair amount of time talking to one of the Nikolaevsk moms getting to know her a bit. I'm fairly certain that I had as much fun as the kids did that weekend. Our kids are currently in Ouzinkie at the regional meet. There are seven teams vying for one or two? spots in the state championships. In addition to Glacier View and Nikolaevsk there are teams representing Manokotak, Old Harbor, Kokhanok, Ouzinkie, and Paklook (which is an acronym for several communities that make up one team). I JUST got word that they won the final match (and a nail biting one at that) tonight against Nikolaevsk!!! I'm glad Nikolaevsk played so well! I have no doubt they can all feel good about their efforts! Many thanks to all who sponsored Andrei in the Serve-a-Thon last year to raise funds to make this trip! They have had such a blast so far this year, and now we know it isn't over yet! They'll go on to the state championships in a few weeks. I'll let you know details later.

Rodney has been incredibly busy with boilers this week. He had gotten the three waste oil boilers working early in the week, then they all died yesterday, along with another regular furnace. One of them even blew up in Rodney's face, fortunately with the door shut enough to contain most of the blast so that he was not injured. Rod was standing right behind him so Dianne and I are BOTH thankful that the blast was mostly contained. That boiler will need more repairs now though and the other there (in Miracle) is still not working either. He was able to get the ones in the auto shop and the lower shop (electrical, plumbing, welding, etc shop) going again, but who knows for how long. He and Ryan are looking at getting some training on boiler systems, but camp could really use a full time, trained boiler person. He did finally decide that the Miracle boilers could wait until Monday. :) That is a big step in the right direction! Rodney seems to think that he MUST fix EVERYTHING right now! Miracle is warm, even if it is costing camp a bit more with the diesel boiler. Time to take a little breather for the weekend! God rested on the Sabbath to give us a pattern to follow. When we don't follow the pattern we burn out. ;)

In other news, Ellie has not been feeling well again. She was in at the vet again this week for more blood work and an exam, but we don't have results back and I'm sort of loosing hope that they'll figure it out. Nothing is consistent with that naughty little monkey. First it was liver, then her thyroid was high, then it was low. We'll see what it says this time around IF they even got enough blood to run the test. For a sick little doggy she fought like a prize-fighter! Dara Ruisch came over yesterday and helped me paint a few walls as well as the room we added to the back of the house. We were debating whether to paint the floor or put down linoleum or something like that, but I find linoleum slippery AND since we had more paint AND since the room was empty, we decided to go ahead and paint (beautiful example of a run-on sentence). Oksana did that for me today while I worked on the pictures and blog post. If it wasn't for her help, there wouldn't be a post today! It is a bit odd though. It is so bright in primer white that I keep thinking someone left a light on back there. Before the floor was done:

Dufus thinks mom is nuts to be freezing outside when she should be getting his dinner. Meanwhile there are good smells to be followed under the snow. He doesn't have a clue that there are pretty things going on in the sky.

Her Naughtiness still has enough energy to attack him from time to time. She's quite the killer.

This is what had me so entertained. I kept snapping pictures and each one was prettier than the last. Every morning and evening this week have had spectacular shows! It was quite a job trying to pick just a few, so I didn't. Actually, the last two are sunrises. I just can't get over how that scene changes every time I look out there. And EVERY time, it is stunning. Well, actually, every time that I can SEE it, it is stunning. ;) Since we don't get sunrises and sunsets in the summer, I figure I'd better appreciate them while we have them.

These were taken in Palmer on the Old Glenn Highway while I was waiting for Oksana to have her violin lesson. I had scoped out the spot earlier in the fall and was just waiting for the right opportunity to get some good shots. It was a gorgeous clear day and with the sun setting, I suspected I might get some nice pictures.

This one was taken on the new Glenn Highway I think between Chickaloon and Sutton on the way in to Palmer. The drive that day was just mile after mile of absolutely breathtaking vistas! I was glad to actually get a shot that captured the beauty in a small way.

Here's my snow machine set up as the grocery getter.

This is more of what we've seen from Little Miss Naughty Pants lately. :( Such sadness!

And finally, I did snap a picture of the Christmas/Thanksgiving Cactus that I figured I might as well show off!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Winter(ish) has begun!

I know, it has been ages. I even had someone call today to make sure we are ok. Maybe I ought to not post more often! :) Not really. It wasn't intentional. There just hasn't been a lot going on, yet there's still been a lot going on if that makes any sense. Nothing noteworthy, just normal life stuff. Nate and Maggie did arrive in Kansas and are currently doing major renovations to their house. It is one of those things that started small until a few "while we're here" things expanded the scope of the projects immensely. We've lived in an old house. We understand. At any rate, we were able to talk to Nate on Skype for a good hour or more the other day. It was great to see his face and hear his voice! We sure do miss them!

The weather has been relatively mild, so while the lake is frozen over, we're still not able to do much on it. The kids went skating last week but now there's been more snow and overflow so it is really wet on top of the ice. Last year we started driving on it on Nov 12 but I'm pretty sure we won't be driving that early this year. It has been mild enough during the day that we're getting some melting. Definitely not ice making weather! We do have just enough snow to use the snow machines on the ATV trail which is a big help. Arvin brought chains up for my ATV so we were able to use that up until the bigger snow hit. Rodney put new skis on my snow machine so it handles a lot better now. It ought to have more floatation on powdery snow too.

Rodney bought two more snow machines yesterday and Ryan Cote (camp mechanic) is helping Sergei (and Rodney) work on them to get them running. Mike Roub has also offered to help Sergei work on them. They are Arctic Cats and on the way home it occurred to Rodney that as many Arctic Cats as there are on camp, only one of them was running. Not sure if that bodes well, but it should keep Sergei occupied! One is a 1993 Arctic Cat Jag Z 440. They were able to get that one up and running today with minor effort. The other is a 1994 Arctic Cat EXT 580 EFI Mountain Cat but that one will take a little more work to get running. The Cotes have a blog that I've listed up on the right side, but I'll post another link here too:

I know that the most important part of any blog post is pictures so I think I'll be in good shape after this post. Moon shining off the ice before we had any snow:

Momma moose and her twins in the front yard. The other twin was out of the picture, but the picture with both of them in it wasn't very clear and had a beam in the middle.

Pretty morning after the first snowfall of the season.

Annie getting a skating lesson. You should have heard her chewing at the boys! Hilarious!

My new chains on my ATV. They do SUCH a nice job! :)

My pepper plants are still flowering and setting fruit. Not huge, but tasty peppers!

The orchids are almost in full bloom now. The purple is in full bloom, the purple and yellow is next and the yellow is just starting to take off. My Christmas cactus is blooming too. The plants all seem to be happy these days.

Silly dog - that does NOT look like a comfortable way to sleep. She's so low to the ground that she can just flop down from a sitting position and presto - sleep position!

Here is our ATV trail now, with the fresh snow on the trees. It is so cozy and still on the trail.

The Matanuska River is a beautiful glacier blue now, not like the grey it is in summer from the glacier silt. The other day when I went through here the mountains in the distance were orange from the setting sun. It was spectacular! I can't remember why I didn't get a picture that day but I was probably tired and hungry and wanting to be home.

That silly dog is positively SMILING! She LOVES Annie! Rough life she leads.

A GLORIOUS day! :) These kinds of days are my favorites!

Annie and I taking off on Rodney's snow machine. She'd never ridden a snow machine. I think she enjoyed it! She ought to get plenty of opportunities to ride this winter! Too bad the other picture was blurry. Ellie was biting Eider's leg - further proof of her naughtiness.

Here is the mixed 6 volleyball team this year during their trip to Nikolaevsk. They did very well at the tournament, losing only 1 game (not even a match) the entire weekend. They had a great time though, and not just because they did so well. The people there were absolutely wonderful. The town has a tremendous Russian heritage, if you can't tell by the name. Too bad Oksana didn't get to go on the trip. She'd have LOVED it! She is diligently studying her Russian and has a strong interest in all things Russian. Nikolaevsk will be here this coming weekend for another tournament so we are looking forward to meeting them! It sounds like Nikolaevsk is also high on our priority list of places to visit as a family. The weekend following the Nikolaevsk tournament our team will travel beyond Kodiak to Ouzinkie for the regional tournament. One of the teams they will meet there has won the state championship 5 times so they will face some tough competition. They will need to win that tournament in order to go to the state championships.

Back row standing: Derek Kolb, Trayton Cohen, Christopher Martin, Carlen Thiessen, Robert VanDaam and Andrei. Kneeling in front: Claudia Berkley (coach), Jenny Lee, Ali Ruisch, Miranda Roub and Lou Boyer (coach).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Annie is here! Marlin is almost here. The trailer is in Glennallen.

Another quick post. Annie made it safely tonight. We'll update her adventures later. She's beyond exhaustion so after a quick dinner, she tottered off to bed. The trailer had TWO flat tires (brand new tires), one outside of Tok I think, the other on the far side of Glennallen. The spare for the trailer was the wrong size so they had to stop. We told them to leave the trailer and finish the trip home and we'll retrieve the trailer tomorrow. They dropped the trailer somewhere? Not sure of details, but somewhere they felt it was safe (maybe someone they knew?) and came home for a good night's rest. We only gathered bits and pieces from Annie but it sounds like they pushed HARD so they are tired. They started out yesterday at 5 am and drove until midnight. Nate and Maggie are still in Washington (last we heard) visiting Gordon. Lots of quick updates. I'm tired too so I'll post more when I have a clue. ;)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Travelers and Volleyball

Just a quick update to say that we've gotten word that Nate and Maggie have passed through Canada and are in Washington (the State, not the District) visiting Nate's sister and Joyce from camp. Marlin, Ryan and Annie should be meeting up in Minneapolis tonight and driving on from there together. I'm not sure if they plan to be here ON the 20th or BY the 20th. At any rate, they'll be pushing pretty hard to get here.

Andrei had his first volleyball game of the season last night against the community team. The team has 6 guys and 3 girls. They MUST play 3 girls at all times so the girls never get a break from playing. That's how the guys team was last year so they certainly appreciate how that feels! The guys had enough players last night to field 2 guy teams, so Andrei, Robert and Carlen played the first, third and fifth games and the other guys played the second and fourth games. I don't think they'll play like that in their regular tournaments, but this was good practice for them playing as a team. They were pretty balanced teams and ended up in the first game playing to 30 in order to win by 2 points (a normal game is to 25). Their third game was similarly close, but they were able to get a significant lead on the last game. I think they wore down the community team by that point. The second guy's team wasn't quite as strong with one brand new player. He's not eligible to play this year (8th grade) but he's got a lot of potential so they're playing him when they can to give him experience. They had a great time though and have their first tournament down on the Kenai this coming weekend. Rodney is thinking of going down for that game since we have a rare weekend without a group in camp. Additionally, Earl and Elaine will be leaving in a few more weeks which will make it tough for Rodney to get away later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On the road again

If this post is a little disjointed, it may just go to show that one should NOT blog when one's brain is away on vacation. Hmmm... That seems like a common theme for me. It has been a LONG couple of weeks! I am home all day today after 10 days of running around. I normally have to run to town twice a week but last week I had two additional trips into Palmer/Wasilla, plus a couple more days out of the house, one helping Nate and Maggie pack and another having lunch with them before they left. We're still here but it isn't pretty. There are so many things I could be doing today, but I honestly don't feel like doing any of them! I wasn't going to blog today, but after I uploaded pictures, I couldn't resist. Besides, I did want to get a prayer request up on the blog before the weekend and I have some stuff to do tomorrow, so here we are.

Nate and Maggie did leave on Saturday so I'm sure they would appreciate prayer for their trip down to Kansas. They plan to take their time and stop and visit a bit on the way, so we don't know when they will arrive there. I'll try to keep you posted on that one. So far the camp is still standing but the entire camp staff is feeling the loss. We would all appreciate prayer, especially Rodney as he tries to keep up with everything that needs to be done even as he is still learning.

Andy and Barb Trautman brought our trailer from NY to Indiana (not Ohio as we first thought) and Paul Meeuwsen (I think) drove the van from Michigan to Indiana, so both the van and trailer are there (that I do know) and ready for Marlin and Ryan Beachy to make the trip up to Alaska. Getting it all together was not exactly a stress free endeavor. It turned out that no one was coordinating the van move but we didn't figure that out until very recently. We are so thankful that there were a lot of Victory supporters in the Hudsonville, Michigan area (and the Middlesex, NY area) willing to help out with that job! At any rate, Marlin and Ryan will meet up with Annie in Minneapolis on Saturday night and drive together from there. I know they would all appreciate prayer for their trip! The weather can be a little temperamental at this time of year through some of those passes and the vehicles are not four wheel drive.

Our weather continues to be lovely with mostly sunny days and relatively warm temperatures (40s & 50s). I talked with Harold and Carol Hackman in Alabama the other day and they said it was "warm" there (90s) so I suppose "warm" is a relative term. :) We have frost most nights which has helped Eider's allergies. He's mostly recovered from his little bout with trigeminal neuritis, but I doubt he'll ever be completely the same. There still seems to be some nerve damage and this far out, I doubt it will recover. I suppose like me, he's getting a bit older and you just don't recover from things like you used to. My ankle is still a bit bruised or something (some husbands seem to think it may have been broken, but others are too stubborn to admit such a thing) from my ATV rollover. It isn't that bad as long as I don't put pressure on it, but it does get sore easily if I over work it, like climbing stairs when we moved Nate and Maggie.

Naughty Ellie has been working overtime to find trouble lately. Rodney trapped those beaver that were stealing his firewood and had them tacked out on a board to dry. Ellie couldn't resist getting into them and chewing up part of the bigger of the two skins. She also took off with the castors and ate them. I can not imagine how those didn't maker her sick! A few nights later she decided to go kill a porcupine. You can just imagine how that turned out. Below are the quills that Rodney was able to remove on his own. She decided she'd had enough of that after these were removed and tried to bite him a few times so he decided that the vet would have to remove the rest of them. Ellie has a heart murmur, arrhythmia, SAD and some other odd health issues that come and go (liver, thyroid) so the vet warned us that putting her under could be dangerous. I pointed out that we didn't have much choice in the matter and he agreed. Fortunately the little debil survived and is back in fine moose and rabbit chasing form.

We've been seeing a LOT of wildlife lately. Momma moose with her twins has been all over the yard, sometimes so tenacious in her determination to remain where she is that I can't even get to my ATV. She has QUITE an attitude and I have no interest in challenging her! The other day I let Eider out and he promptly turned around and wanted to come back in. I looked out and there was Momma and the twins. Smart dog! The babies were eating the flowers off the front deck! They started off on their way by the time I got a picture of all three of them together.

Then there is this mom who decided that the graze IS greener on the other side of the fence. Rodney said something about this being war???? ;) I think the fence will be bigger and stronger next year. She got some of my kale that I had not gotten around to freezing yet. Sigh.

We've had a lot of swans and ducks on the lake as they head south for the winter.

It was neat that they felt comfortable enough to sleep with me so close.

And of course, the obligatory scenic pictures. I can't post pictures without one or two scenic ones!

Morning commute

Morning commute