Sunday, December 25, 2011

Live Farm Animals Do Not Understand Portrait Sessions

Molly is my favorite of our three goats. I technically own two of the three, one that I bartered for for my birthday, and Molly, who was an early Christmas gift from Jim. Since Molly is nice and portable, and (as far as goats are concerned) is cuddly, I wanted my picture taken with her wearing a nice red bow for Christmas Eve. And we got two really good shots. So cute.

But in the meantime, we got these shots:

Tiny goats can be very loud when they want to be. And crying goats look really weird.

"Oh hi, Mom. Got any more animal crackers?"

"I think we're both done here. Have James hold me."

"Oh hi, James. Got any more animal crackers?"

"Is that... Is that mustache wax?"

"Okay, fine, I think I have about 5 more seconds of 'cute' left in me. Get a move on before I start squirming again."


"I can manage a sweet face for Dad, since he usually slips me animal crackers when Mom's not around."
"But now I'm done. Take me home."

Holiday Portrait Outtakes

It had been a couple of years since we took a photo of all three of us at Christmastime, and we decided to do that on Christmas Eve, when we would be taking photos of me with my Christmas goat anyway. It was a fairly nice day that warmed up to -2 degrees by the time we trooped out to the front yard, sans coats and hats, for our photo.

D'aaaaaawwww. How cute are we?!?!
But then... I got this great and dastardly idea. When the blinky light on the camera stops blinking, that means the photo is about to be taken. So I waited until the light stopped blinking and pushed my unsuspecting husband into the snowbank. I almost made it back into "innocent" position before the shutter released.

Then JAMES got a dastardly idea of his own. "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You pushed my father. Prepare to freeze." Okay, that's probably not how it worked out in his mind, but I got a snowball to the back of my neck.

This is something that cannot go unpunished, so I tried to push James into the snowbank, too, but alas, he was prepared for it.

Best. Holiday. Portrait. Session. EVER.

Merry Christmas to all...

For most of our friends and family, it's Christmas day already, but for us here in Alaska, we have a couple more hours to go yet on Christmas Eve. It's been a lovely day, and has been a lovely year as well.

So much has happened, and I apologize that I'm very, very far behind on the blog. But for now, let me sum up:

* James is a senior at Grove City College and he will graduate in May with a degree in Economics. We are extremely proud of him, and he deserves nothing less.

* Jim has built a two-storey garage. He had some help but he did the bulk of the work alone. The bottom floor is for the cars and woodworking tools, and the top floor is the future home of Smiling Otter Studio. He's also built a barn and yard for the goats.

* We have goats. There are three of them; a registered Alpine, a registered Nigerian dwarf, and a kiko/boer cross who, despite her mottled heritage, is most definitely the herd queen.

* As for me, I've kept busy sewing, taught a few classes, and have enjoyed many of the new changes in our lives. Which, given that I'm the most change-averse person on the planet, is saying a lot.

* We even managed to take a holiday portrait this year! Yes, we did! Here we are, out in the front yard in negative-degree temperatures without coats, hats or longies, having a good old time indeed.

And this is Molly the dwarf Nigerian goat, my (quite) early Christmas present that I've had since November. I wanted Jim to wrap her anyway. ;^)

To all of you from each of us, we wish you a sincerely merry Christmas and a splendid New Year. We wish you a personal relationship with our Savior Jesus, whether it be new or renewed. Go forth and conquer your dreams, hold fast the ones who are dear to you, and find the joy in even the small things - perhaps especially the small things.

Deanna, Jim and James

Monday, October 31, 2011

Summertime Revisit Part 1: Kenai Rotary's Soapbox Derby

We've learned that there are a lot of interesting things to do here, but it seems everybody expects everybody else to already know about them. It's not unusual for us to find out about something on the morning of the event, and have to make a snap decision about whether or not to try to go. The Kenai Rotary Club's Soapbox Derby was one of those things.

It was a lovely day waaay back on May 21. Jim and I decided to make a day of it by visiting the classic car show at Home Depot, visiting the Kenai Saturday Market, and watching the Soapbox Derby. Unfortunately for us, the car show and the derby were at the same time, but fortunately for us, the derby was getting a late start, so we saw about 1/3 of the cars that would eventually show up for the car show before coming back to watch the derby.

Most of the derby cars had professional paint jobs, and some of them included sponsor artwork, just like real race cars. Too bad I didn't get pictures of them all. There were a lot of cars; probably close to thirty. Some of them were dead serious about racing:

And some simply wanted to have fun:

Here's the launch ramp with two derby cars being loaded onto it. Throwing the switch in the middle lowers the stop between the rails and lets both cars start at the same time.

The racers are in their cars and ready to launch!

Jim and I found a nice place to sit, just past the bend in the road from the launch ramp. We were about 1/3 of the way down the road. You can just barely see the finish line in this video:

Because the derby was held on the road to a popular beach in Kenai, and the road was not closed for the derby, it took a long time to get everything set up and going. The volunteers would work a bit and racers would take a test run, then the traffic coordinators at either end of the road would clear the street and let the real cars come and go from the beach. Then they'd close the road again and the derby racers would take another turn. Due to the frequent stoppages to let real cars use the road, the race took a looong time, and we left before seeing the end. We had fun watching what we did see, though! Zoooooooooom!

Long time, no see...

We had our first real good snowfall of the winter today, about an inch that stayed around and switched my brain over from Summer mode to Winter mode. And guess what?

I've managed to go the whole summer without a blog post.

Which is not to say that the summer has been boring. Quite the contrary. Most definitely not boring.

We have a mostly-finished new garage, partially-finished new digs for Smiling Otter Studio, new goats (yes, goats), taken road trips, and have had a lot of fun during this action-packed summer of 2011. Because winter is always a busy, gorgeous time here, I'm sure there will be a lot to post about, just like there was in the summer. I've got to catch up on the summertime posts but don't want to get behind on the wintertime ones, so I think I'll just mix summer with winter as I go along.

So, goodbye for now, and stay tuned for a Summertime Revisit real soon!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

So, you think you want a nap?

Good luck with that. 

To Belle, it just looks like you're trying to make the couch softer for her.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter Break with James and Carl

The pre-Easter week is highly anticipated around here, not just because this is a holy time, but also because James comes home! This year, James' college roommate, Carl, spent Easter break in Alaska with us. While April is an awkward time to visit Alaska (not much snow, mostly slush, and the  tourist attractions aren't open yet), we were all happy the weather had warmed up nicely and we found interesting things to do...

Day 1 - Saturday
James and Carl left Pennsylvania at the same time, on the same flight, but due to scheduling difficulties with the airlines, they parted ways in Chicago. James arrived in Anchorage eight hours ahead of Carl, so we walked around the mall, ate at Harley's, and did some shopping while we waited for Carl's night flight. 

Day 2 - Sunday
James and Carl got some sleep after their long, late night of travel and then decided to explore the area. James took Carl for a ride to see Mt. Redoubt from Cook Inlet View, walk along the Kenai River, see Old Town Kenai (including the historic Russian Orthodox churches), and then to some of the little shops in Soldotna. Carl saw his first moose!

Day 3 - Monday
What a gorgeous day for me to drive the boys to Homer... We stopped for lunch at Rocky's Cafe in Kasilof and took some photos there of James rescuing poor Carl from being eaten by a giant mosquito: 

And both of them with a slightly-larger-than-life salmon:

On we went to Ninilchik where we visited the Russian Orthodox church overlooking the Inlet and Ninilchik Village. 

Once in Homer, we watched the eagles swooping over the bluff on the outskirts of town:

I think we saw five or six right there at the bluff. This one has the mountains and Homer Spit in the background. Homer Spit has a lot of adorable tourist trap shops, eateries, fishing charters and kayak tour shacks along it.

We walked out onto Homer Spit for a different view of the mountains across Kachemak Bay. Another eagle flew right over us and landed on the roof of The Time Bandit (of Deadliest Catch fame) shop on the Spit. He was so close to us, and seemed to be posing for the camera!

James went across the street to take a picture of the whole building:

And then, just because you sort of have to say you've done it, we took the boys' picture in front of the famous Salty Dawg Saloon, one of the few buildings to survive the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964 and the resultant tsunami:

 On the way out of town, we stopped for chocolates and souvenirs at Alaska Wild Berry. Sooooo yummy.

Day 4 - Tuesday
Early in the day, the boys worked on homework they'd brought with them, and in the afternoon Jim took them to the beach near our house at Captain Cook State Recreation Area.

Day 5 - Wednesday
I took James to town to shop for new jeans while Carl remained diligent to his homework here at home. Then they both helped me do prep for Smiling Otter Studio. They still had homework to do, though, with the boys often downstairs near the wood stove, working hard:

Day 6 - Thursday
The boys headed off on their own again, to finish shopping and to visit some attractions in Sterling, including the chainsaw carver:

They revisited the Russian Orthodox Church to see the interior, and visited the museum in the Kenai Visitors Center:

Day 7 - Friday
More homework for the boys! In the evening, though, Jim taught Carl to pan for gold. Jim's got an indoor setup for panning while he watches tv. Carl panned first while James put some hides on stretching boards for me, and then James took a turn.

Carl points out his first big "picker":

Day 8 - Saturday
James and Carl worked hard on research papers all day.....

Day 9 - Sunday
Resurrection Day! But also the day when we had to say goodbye to the boys and send them back to school. We ate a late lunch (early dinner?) of prime rib, grilled lamb, cheesy bread and apple pie before leaving for the Kenai airport. Rather than spend all day and half the night in the car, Jim decided the best way to get them back to Anchorage for their flight home was to fly them out via commuter plane.

We sure did enjoy having them here and were sad to see them go.  We hope Carl visits again and are looking forward to having James back home at the end of May!