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This number is one I share with my mom. It’s our special day. Although it’s not today, I’ll go ahead and post about it early, since I’ll be done with my 30 days of Thankfulness series before it arrives!

Around the fire pit with the fam. March 2019

She lives 3,825 miles away from me, give or take a few. Which means we don’t get to see each other frequently. So when we do get to see each other it’s a special event. We haven’t been together for our special day since 2012, the last one before I moved to Alaska.

Red beans & rice. One of the home cooked meals we had.

Last time I saw her was in 2019. We went for a family visit, both mine and Dean’s. Which took us from sea to shining sea. Little mister got to play in the Atlantic Ocean.

That same year I made a solo trip back in August, since Rickerd (my stepdad) was ill. I stayed at her house and it was just me and her for most of the time. My siblings came for visits of various lengths but mostly me and her, her dogs and the spiders.

Roscoe & Lilly

Brown Recluse Spiders had taken up residency in the spare room. I used DE like a priest uses holy water, it was everywhere, to keep those little demons away.

Mom had been keeping Rickerd company in his long hospital stay and was just in need of a respite, and some help with housework.

She had a crazy accident the morning I arrived, so thankful that she nor my sister Mert we’re harmed as a result. It really messed up her vehicle tho.

Where her vehicle left the road.

Consequently we were able to spend a lot of time together. πŸ’—

I’m forever grateful that my Rickerd recovered and we still have his unparalleled wit and wisdom to illuminate our lives. I’m so very thankful to have been able to spend this time with my Mama. Grateful to my brother for fixing her vehicle.And blessed that we share a special day.

#grateful #thankful #blessed

P.S. update on Bergie, the Bergster, old man cat. He’s been doing well enough. Eating a little more now, still hates taking his meds. He’s strong enough to fight like the Dickens not to swallow his pill. Lol He rests most of the day, but usually picks a human to be near. He occasionally hides to be alone.


We drove down to Homer so Cletus could go to the Salty Dawg Saloon. Check off that bucket list item βœ”οΈ. We drove to the end of the spit for some pics and a short, very short, beach combing walk. Like I think she made it 10 feet. Too cold she said. Giiiirl…

My addition to the place.

Afterwards we ate lunch at Alice’s Champagne Palace which was a hoot. Then a snowy ride home.

Dry docked for maintenance.
A decommissioned ship being dismantled. Ultimate recycling.

I’m beat but we had a lot of fun. I’m thankful for all these fun times and getting to share my Alaska with my Seester.

#grateful #thankful #blessed

So much fun. We went out to Dad’s cabin last night. I got to share my Quiet Riot with my Seester.

Me & Cletus by the fire pit.

Then on our way home we spent some time stopping to take pictures and explore. It was great fun.

At Discovery Overlook.

We saw a sow black bear and her cub at Stormy Lake day use area. That was pretty cool.

Mama bear, she hid her cub.

We stopped at an old cabin that’s for sale on the highway near the bluff. I’ve wanted to stop there for years and just never have taken the time.

One acre of scenic bluff view!!

We stopped at Three Bears for a few groceries, and a bear trap.

It was a great day of experiences with my Seester. So thankful for this opportunity.

#thankful #grateful #blessed #seester

Huge I say.

Just a little gift from Jake this morning. His friend grew it and left it on his deck, a “little” cabbage. So he sends it to me and asks for a jar of sauerkraut. Okay!

After I trimmed the outter leaves and root off.

I forgot to weigh it before I started cutting but the best guess is it weighed about 20 lbs. It wasn’t a very tight head so not as much there as you might think.

Cross section.

Then I sliced it all up and started mixing salt and beating the daylights out of it. It’s a great way to work out aggression! I also used some whey to jumpstart the lacto-fermentation process (WAP method, adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon).

BTW, to get the whey I strain out some plain organic yogurt in cheesecloth. The resulting cheese will be used like cream cheese, it’s delicious. It also makes the BEST cheesecake.

Straining my yogurt.

After it was all said and done I got about a gallon of kraut. Jake gets the little jar. 😜

A quart and gallon jar ready to ferment.

#aklife #preservingtheharvest #healthyfoods #lactoferment

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity. I’m not sure if I’m coming or going but it’s been great. The tail end of the previous week I spent time out hunting for moose, with no luck yet. Saturday we headed into town, the kids and I that is, to see Niki who’s home for a quick visit. And Sukkot is happening too.

We have enjoyed the time with our dear friends and have tried to do most all of the things we used to do when she lived here full time: foraging, bonfires on the beach (it’s not fish camp but it’s close!), Solstice Sisters Dinner, MNO, and just visiting while the kids all play.

True friends are never apart, maybe in distance but never in heart.

Author Unknown

All in all it’s been great for us. I know Niki has been going non-stop and these kind of trips aren’t really relaxing! But it’s been wonderful having her back, even for a short while. And having my Solstice Sisters all together again has been magical.

She’s been out on the road for two years. That separation has taught me to be thankful for all of our times together and share the gratitude I feel with others. Life is too short to do otherwise. Tell someone special in your life that you appreciate them today and why. You never know what your impact your words can have for good!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

Melody Beattie

She heads out to Wasilla today, we said our goodbyes last night. Until next time!!! πŸ’•β€οΈπŸ’•

#thankfulforfriends #blessed #solsticesisters #grateful

Playing sardines in the photo booth.

We spent Sunday morning foraging. Niki, Mo, Thing 1 & I. City Hall has some crab apple trees and an abundance of rosehips that we harvested for jelly making.

Loaded little crab apple tree.

While there we enjoyed each other’s company and solved all the world’s problems. We also enjoyed the flower beds and various different trees planted around the premises.

Dusty Miller in the Soldotna City Hall flower garden.

We found a large patch of wild roses and harvested a nice amount of rosehips. Thing 1 had a good time practicing plant identification for her Botany class.

We harvested enough crab apples for jelly, cider, sauce… You get the idea

Cut leaf weeping Birch.

Also enough to share with others. Part of the joy of wildcrafting is sharing with others.

Some ornamental foundation shrubs.
More flowers at City Hall.
Another bed relatively untouched by the frost.

We also had to harvest our own plants. Lil Bit planted several herbs for her Botany class last year. They did very well and we’ve enjoyed fresh basil, cilantro and parsley this summer.

Lil Bit’s parsley she grew from seed. Harvested to use in our matzo ball soup for Sukkot.

Alas, Old Man Winter is knocking at the door. Time to harvest as much as we can. Hoping for another cranberry picking soon. And a moose.

And afterwards we went for coffee.

#aklife #foraging #wildcrafting #bounty

Riding the Alaska Railroad is a dream come true for many a tourist and resident alike. It stays a dream for countless others who only venture to Alaska with their mind’s eye. We get to live that dream on a daily basis. And some days are more dreamy than others.

This was just such a day.

A vivid rainbow greeted us at the depot. So close it looked like we could reach up and touch it.

Portage Train Depot is right on the highway, near the Placer river, at sea level. We loaded up onto car A, the double decker with full glass viewing panels. We had quite the vantage point. We also had a Chugach USFS ranger as our guide for the trip. He had interesting local lore, history and flora & fauna information for us.

Off-loading rafts.

Sitting on the train while they off-load rafts on the Placer River, watching my kids unaware. Talking to their friends, sharing snacks, playing games. There may or may not have been some musical chairs with these assigned seats. They are in their element. The simple pleasures of life.

…what thrills me about trains is not their size or their equipment but the fact that they are moving, that they embody a connection between unseen places.

Marianne Wiggins

We rode from Portage to Grandview past Spencer, Bartlet and Trail glaciers. From the train station we traveled through marsh and flat lands, into cottonwood forests and gained more elevation until we were in hemlock and spruce forests. It’s cloudy with a little rain every now and then. Once in a while the sun pokes it’s rays through the fog and illuminates a mountainside. Glorious.

Just a little past Grandview Whistle Stop we topped out at 1061′ elevation where we stopped to gaze at Trail glacier. We stopped to see Snow White falls, named for its seven drops, the source of the Placer River.

Snow White Falls

We had a short stop at Grandview so we could hike up to a couple if vantage points. One to see the train and another to see a waterfall. We enjoyed the remaining flowers and berries and mushrooms growing along the trail.

We rode through 5 tunnels and over one trestle 104′ above the raging river below.

We saw snow drops, rock slides and a lake full of ice floes.

We passed over sheer rock walls, roaring rapids and glacial erratic in kettle ponds.

We learned about T-Bone Clark and Alaska Nellie and back country road houses.

The kids were amazed that the telegraph and telephone poles were still standing with some insulators in place.

Trains tap into some deep American collective memory.

Dana Frank

Best of all we got to experience some of Alaska’s rugged beauty with our friends. Memories for a lifetime.

#akadventure #homeschool #experience #akrr #learningisfun

Sixteen years ago, on a hot humid Kansas day, in a pool full of warm water, a baby boy was born.

Isn’t he just the cutest??

Doesn’t seem possible that 16 years have passed. Now my “baby boy” is taller than I am.

He’s starting his sophomore year. He still likes LEGOs, some things never change! He has great taste in music and a wacky sense of humor. He’s a whiz at history, especially relating to WWII. And he likes to make goofy faces when I take his picture.

Goofy face number one.
Goofy face number two…
Number three…
Finally got a good pic of him!

He’s a handsome dude under the goofy faces.

Big fish = big smile

Happy birthday to my faithful Little Buddy.

Salmon is life.

Fresh catch, ready to snip tails, head and gut, then into the ice slurry.

A major part of our diet is salmon.

Mo’s salmon in jars ready to be processed.

Salmon burgers, salmon salad, salmon patties, salmon pasta, salmon noodle casserole, salmon enchiladas, smoked salmon on bagels with cream cheese, lazy sushi bowls with smoked salmon on top, salmon jerky, candied salmon…. You get the picture?

Are you hungry yet?

#aklife #lovealaska #salmon4life #livingofftheland