Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Sitka in summer
My last real blog post was from Easter.  I guess I'm not doing well at keeping up with life events, although the last two posts explain a bit about what is keeping me busy.
Anyway, I'll start out after Easter and see if I can make it through summer hitting our highlights so far.
A little more than a week after Easter I got to celebrate another birthday.  Next year will be a big one for me so this year it was a pretty low-key event, so low key I wasn't even home for the day.  One of our boats needed to be put in dry dock so I spent several weeks in Ketchikan helping out on the project.  A week later was our wedding anniversary, and again next year will be a big one for us so we kept this mellow as well.  I did at least make a quick surprise trip back to Sitka for the day so I could spend the time with Nicole.  March, April, and May saw me working between 60 and 80 hours per week so I really didn't have much time for anything other than sleep and work.
Our little Earth Day squid
Towards the end of April Nicole and Madeline got to participate in the local Earth Day parade.  This year it was themed for sea creatures, with a workshop earlier in the week to help with costumes.  With Madeline as a squid and Nicole as a sea urchin they fit right in with the others for a parade down main street.
Owl talk at the park
During the winter and spring, Nicole and Madeline were taking advantage of the many activities for families in our little community.  Our library had weekly story time for the kids, with bigger weekend events once a month.  The science center had a kids program, as did the national park.  There was playtime at the gym several days a week, some supervised by the parents and some by gym volunteers to give Nicole a chance to work out.
Storytime at the library
We also enrolled Madeline in a class that combined gymnastics and cirque, which has now evolved into two separate classes.  Needless to say they kept busy while I was working.  Nicole and Madeline also spent a bunch of time as pickers.  They started out picking spruce tips, which are used by several of the local businesses.  Ours went to the brewery to help make their spruce tip ale.  About the time the spruce tips were done the salmonberries were ripe.  They ended up selling some locally, selling some to someone in Juneau, and keeping some for us.  Huckleberries were next, and we kept most of those for ourselves to use in scones and muffins.
June saw the beginning of my on-going medical fun, but it also meant Madeline and Nicole got to reconnect with our friends in Seattle while we were all there.  During my surgery recovery and during subsequent visits, our friends Dave and Judith have been incredible in their generosity.  With a comfortable place to stay and a vehicle to use when we need it, not to mention good friends to share our down time, it has made a bad situation considerably better.  Add to that having more good friends right next door, including Madelines friend Amy, it provided some enjoyable times during our visits.  I lucked out and was released from the hospital in time for Nicoles birthday, probably not an overly memorable birthday but at least the celebration didn't take place in a hospital room.
Fishing derby bait
We arrived back in Sitka just in time for the kids fishing derby.  Alaska Fish and Game organizes a kids fishing derby in just about every community in Southeast, providing poles and bait as well as prizes so all the kids can participate.  Last year we participated in the fishing derby in Juneau, and Madeline caught her first fish.  This year we were not so lucky, no fish but still a lot of fun.  Conveniently enough the derby was held right across the street from our house at Swan Lake so it should make it easy for us to practice up for next year.  We still had fun playing with the fish eggs we were using for bait, making fish print art, and watching some of the other kids catch fish.
Family visit
The beginning of July my family came to Sitka for a visit.  After an unexpected overnight stay in Seattle after being bumped off their flight, my mom, brother and Aunt Linda got to spend most of a beautiful week in our town enjoying the fourth of July festivities.  We tried out all the new restaurants, went to see the bears, visited the parks and museums, and went on a whale watch tour on one of the company boats.  Mostly we just spent a bunch of time together relaxing.  The weather decided to cooperate and give them some warmth and sun, and we even lucked out with a nice clear day for the fourth of July parade.
Tor, Jess, Lars and Odin
Very soon after my family left, our friends Tor and Jess arrived with their boys Lars and Odin.  A visit from great friends is special in itself, but the fact that they arrived on their sailboat, after a 25 day sail from Hawaii, made it even more incredible.  We did another round of the restaurants in Sitka, as well as more visits to the parks and museums.  Most importantly we got to spend some relaxed, quality time with good people.  Too soon it was time for them to head south so the boys would be back in time for the start of school.
Uncle Lowells birthday
At the end of July the three of us flew down to Washington, did a little visiting in Seattle again with some brief medical stuff as well, and then made the drive over to Eastern Washington to celebrate my Uncle Lowells 90th birthday.  This turned out to be a huge event with lots of family and friends from all over the country, including my mom and brother flying back out from Minnesota.  We stopped at a couple of our favorite wineries on the way out to replenish our supply, then spent several days visiting and re-introducing Madeline to many family members.  She had already met many of the attendees when we did our road trip in 2013-2014, but was too young to remember them so it was a fun refresher.
Cirque fun
August gave us some family time back home in Alaska.  My work had slowed down so I got to spend more time at home, and the weather was good so we got to spend some time outside.  Uncharacteristic warm days meant several trips to the beach, along with a lot of walks around town.  Madeline's combo class ended, and a new session started so we got her into two classes, one for gymnastics and one for silks and cirque.  She seems to really enjoy both of them and it certainly keeps her busy.  We also had someone open a childrens museum in Sitka last year, and Madeline really enjoyed the time she spent there.  Nicole will be helping out one day a week when they reopen this fall so that will be one more activity for the two of them to look forward to during the week.
The beginning of September marked Madelines fourth birthday.  Gifts had been arriving in the mail all week from family, and combined with what Nicole and I already had for her she made quite the haul.  Books, puzzles, clothes and toys made up the majority of the presents.  She also got her very own fishing pole, her first two wheel bike, and a new electronic keyboard.  It seemed like a lot of stuff, but she is at that age where she likes to do a lot of different things and is easily distracted, so a variety of choices for activities will hopefully keep her busy and happy while at home.
Later in the afternoon we had a party with some of her friends, with pizza and birthday cake.  We had the party at the local brewery (much to the horror of my mom I'm sure), but it turned out to be a great idea.  If you are going to ask adults to go to the birthday party of a four year old, with a bunch of other screaming four year olds, you might as well pick a place that has beer readily available.  I think the majority of attendees both young and old had a good time so I'm going to call it a success.