Thursday, April 30, 2009

"Almost May" (Lake Lucille)

Lake Lucille, behind the Best Western, aka Lake Lucille Inn, has always been one of my favorite photo spots. Like Wasilla Lake, it, too, is still largely covered by ice, but with hints of what will be in just a short time.
Speaking of ice, what cool patterns it made as it sparkled off the ice at my feet beside the dock. I'm thinking there must be a message here from ET but can't quite decipher it, alas.
Looking the other way, across the lake....
you can see some car/snow machine tracks still on the right. Hi, Pilot, why didn't you wave at me? I waved at you!
The overhead pilot reminded me to check the plane berths along the shoreline. Nope, not much to see plane-wise yet. It won't be long, tho'.
Another one of my artsy moments, captured this plane resting on the shore, near the waterline. Maybe its inching that way all by itself, hoping to get airborne? In any case, managed to get almost all of it reflecting in the water by walking out on the dock as well as the docks mirrored in the water. Note to myself: It's on the cool side over there if you're out sorta "on" the water. Take a jacket next time.
Yeah! Go, Spring, Go!!!
They look soooo close and yet they're far, far away.
See the sorta "Lop-sided Man in the Tree"? Wonder if he's related to the Hobbit Tree out near Hatcher at the Little Su?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BIrd Stalking, er, Watching

When the sky looks like this from my front yard, it's hard to resist the lure of the mountains and lakes, in today's case, Wasilla Lake.
This guy was flying overhead to greet me as I got outta the car and struggled to figure out how to focus on something that was soaring around at a pretty fast clip.
Ah, at least the mountains weren't zipping around, making it far easier to focus, even if there was just enough haze to show.
Admit it, Florida Friends. You, too, wish you could go have a picnic beside a still semi-ice covered lake in "almost May". What did you say the temp down there is?(evil laugh)
Oh, goodie, they're far less speedy afoot.

I'm sure that every one of you looking at this photo recognize that this is the effect I was goinng for, the winged reflection making this soft, curving "c". Or, well, maybe it was sheer luck. I prefer to think it was skill. (Oh, be quiet, friendly critics)

This one was actually semi-planned, or at least hoped for. I won't tell you how many "almost what I wanted" shots it took to get this one. Far better y'all continue to marvel at my incredible skill....or not. Ha

Swim? Are they nuts? That's ice and snow out there! I've felt this water in mid-July and have no desire to stick even a toe in there but, no lie, Florida Friends, this lake will be as busy as any in Florida during summertime in Alaska. When is that? Oh, if we get lucky, a few days in July.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Did you ever notice..."The Noticer"

It's been raining...
It's been a good time to think....
It's been a good time to read....
Andy Andrews' The Noticer

Have you ever noticed that it's often the little things in life, stuff we do regularly but don't really "see", that helps make our life what it is? I've been reading a book called The Noticer by Andy Andrews and it made me start thinking about things I notice and don't notice. Like this shot from the other day going through a car wash. Notice the colors? Yeah, I know, only I could find something cool about going through a car wash, huh? But once you begin to realize how easy it is to find little things to bring enjoyment, perhaps you'll begin to notice more
It's springtime in Alaska, however, and things like this are a common sight to us. It's a gray, drizzly looking day outside today. The snow is gone here and melting fast even where it still holds sway. Things that were once hidden are beginning to reappear as they're washed away by the rains and warm weather, just like the water above washed away the dirt on my car. Oh, sure, we knew most of those objects were there, but familiarity made them invisible. Now that they're back after their long winter's hibernation, we're beginning to notice things that we once "saw" every day. Things so obvious as to amaze me that we weren't seeing them before.
Andrews The Noticer demonstrates the power of not just noticing things, but what those tiny things can mean in the grand scheme of life. Look at this photo. It's the beginnings of a colorful bed of Alaska's state flower, the forget-me-not. From tiny seeds come plant shoots and from those, come flowers, one of God's most wonderous gifts to us. I've got to admit, I'm not much of a green thumb, so I haven't bothered to notice the process of growth, but I'm finding it intriguing. Even the transformation of the soil, which started in a box, gotta admit, one of those "add water" kinda things, has been interesting.
From that box and a handful of seeds, I'm noticing the steps of growth. Were the flowers a human, I'd include growth and learning and understanding, but the last two are up to me, I guess. From the tiny ball that grew on the top of the plant shoots has come this, equally tiny leaves on, oh, so fragile stems. They sway when I breath on them, a hint of their eventual dance in the wind once they make the move outside as "big kids," er, big plants. I'm noticing more than I could have ever dreamed of, gotta admit.
Outside, on the surface, it's a gray, drizzly day. Oh, I already told you that. But, look beneath the surface. Some will see only the downside, the dreary day, but I refuse to be caught by the negativity. Somewhere out there that process of growth that's going on in my house in front of my camera is going on everywhere. I snagged some lupine seeds from the side of the road at the bottom of this hill last year, so they will become a part of the learning curve as I notice how they sprout from the ground. Have you ever noticed lupine seeds? They're really cool. They form in a sorta fuzzy pod on the plant, perfect for someone like me to harvest and spread the next year, leading to growth in a new place, ie my yard, and symbolically spreading the beauty of the flowers. Flowers and seeds play a role in The Noticer, I might note, tho' I don't want to give away too much.
From those flowers and seeds, just as our actions and mindset have an impact on our lives, comes life. One of these days, fingers crossed, there will be some forget-me-nots growing under this spruce tree. I call it "Betty's Spruce" for a friend, one who has played a tremendous role in my life simply for her continued belief in me even when I doubted myself. She noticed and somehow knew just when to call, just when to send a cheery email, just when to send on reminding me to get off my butt and get busy. Andy Andrews would like my friend Betty. She's a noticer.
Once you begin to pay attention to those and all the things about you, you might even begin to notice that with the dreary, rainy days comes a beauty all its own. While I kept thinking "this is so simple, so obvious" when I read Andy Andrews' The Noticer, the fact that I began to see similarities to life as it went on about me shows the power of the book. Check it out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday's Blue Skies at Wasilla Lake

The ice no longer comes to the shoreline, a sure sign that spring is making inroads here!

The pile of snow on the ice is snow that was shoved over from atop the ice to make a smoother surface for hockey and ice skating, both of which are popular pasttimes at/on the lake during the winter months.

As you can see, breakup is trying to work its magic, but the ice still clings. This was taken along the shoreline nearest the parking area.

I shoved up the contrast on this one to make the one lone cloud about the mountains stand out. Although there were some low, huge, puffy white clouds that looked like part of the mountains themselves to the, oh, sorta SE, overall it was a gorgeous, cloudless blue sky kinda day.

Pretty as the scene is, if you look close, you'll notice some of the snow trying out for "ugly snow photos" of the day. Most likely some of the dirty stuff is volcanic ash.

An artsy moment, "Rock Reflected in Water". Are you artistically impressed? I didn't think so but, hey, you know me and my rocks.

When I look at scenes like this, I always feel like I should break out in a chorus of "Oh, what a beautiful morning...." Maybe someday I'll actually get inspired enough to write an Alaskan version of this song....or not.

Here's that low, puffy white cloud I was talking about. Looked like someone dropped cotton balls behind the mountain.

While I was looking for something to take a photo of that I don't already have a gazillion shots of, I happened to see, really see, the stepway down to the lake from the Pizza Hut parking lot. It makes it much easier to make your way up/down but, man, some of those steps are big ones when you're going back up the hill!

One last shot, the view from the top of those steps. You can see the open water close along the shoreline.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Could it really be SPRING??

Wow, dare I say it? Dare I even think it? Could it be spring?

Okay, maybe not quite, still ice on Lake Lucille, but, dang, check out that grass. Yes, grass. Not snow, grass. Me thinks that's a sign.

Love the colors in the sky!

So, bottom line, my yard votes for Spring but Lake Lucille is hanging onto its ice, at least for a little while.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Gathering--Military Tribute Paid in Alaska

The flags were carried into the ceremony area on horseback, then passed off to be set up for the ceremony. Nothing fancy, but meaningful in its simplicity.
At one point, as the flags were being carried through the area, I turned around to discover that Sen. Mark Begich and his son Jacob were standing right behind me. Sen. Begich is a member of the National Veterans Affairs Committee and is a common site at such events.

I didn't have the best angle for photos, but this is the beginning of the Fallen Warriors Memorial tribute. It begins as a rifle is brought into the circle, then placed barrel down to form a sort of base for the rest of the symbolic pieces of the whole. Each item, such as the helmet, is brought in separately and put in place with great care and respect.

You'll get a better look at the base of the memorial in another photo, but I found this a touching segement. After the rifle, a helmet, boots (and dog tags) are combined to make the memorial, a rose is added to symbolize those left behind to mourn.

A salute to all fallen warriors

An invocation was offered, both in English and the Native Language.

The full memorial

If only...."Give peace a chance...." if only the world would listen.

The group presenting the Fallen Warrior Memorial today was
the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club.

Inside Raven Hall, the tables were decked out in
patriotic splendor
On the west end of the hall, a car displayed a 9-11
"Never forget" theme.
Sen. Begich took the stage first with son Jacob.
Jacob made headlines himself prior to his dad's swearing in
ceremony when he yelled out to Obama as they waited in a Capitol
(I think it was) Building Hallway, making all the media cameras
swivel to capture that unscripted moment.

Change was on a lot of people's minds, not to mention
depicted on the tailgate of a truck.

I'm not ashamed to say that I let the patriotic theme on the truck
draw me away from Sen. Begich's talk briefly. This design was
on both truck doors.

One has to think that Jacob may have been wondering when all the talk
and handshakes would be over so he could have his father to himself. It's
something we don't think about, the demands we put on our elected reps
also impact family members, but Jacob seems to be a trooper.

Wasilla Mayor Vern Rupright

Mat-Su Borough Assemblyman Mark Ewing

These were part of the awards to be distributed

As I wandered, I spied a face that has become familiar to me of late,
that of Bob Poe, who has announced his candidacy for Alaska State
Governor in the next election. With him is "Mo", one of the events
key organizers, and Poe's wife Terzah, who I'd only "met" on Facebook
until today. I'd connected with her because we share a birthday (and
they like huskies!), little knowing her husband was "someone". In
any case, it was great to finally meet her in person and be able to say
for real, "I know Bob Poe!"

I did know about Sen. Lisa Murkowski's skiing accident but had
no clue it had been so serious. As I'd find out after the event, she had
surgery this week, so kudos to her for still making the effort to be at the
veterans event, wheelchair and all. I'd hoped to get a chance to meet her,
as I had Sen. Begich (I did the political groupie thing and got his autograph,
too), but she looked tired, so I settled for a quick, "Get better fast, Lisa!"

They make 'em tough here in Alaska. Althought she didn't
attempt the stage, Sen. Murkowski did stand to speak to those
gathered at the event. You go, Lisa!

A quick write-up I did here before getting a chance to add photos, hence some repetition:

The Gathering is a fundraiser for Veterans Aviation Outreach, a 501 C3 organization of veterans and pilots who assist other veterans all over the State of Alaska. It honored veterans from all eras as well as their families and friends. There were tables set up in Raven Hall at the Alaska Fairgrounds with info and handhouts on not just veteran affairs, but community ones, so it was an interesting afternoon. Heck, they were having a BBQ, so you know it was fun, country music -- live country music -- and speakers that included not just Wasilla Mayor Vern Rupright and Mat-Su Borough Rep Mark Ewing, but Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski. Begich sits on the National Veterans Affairs Committee and has close bonds with veteran organizations, as does Murkowski. I even got into the political groupie mode and got an autograph from Sen. Begich, who was there with his son Jacob, and spent some time talking to Bob Poe and his wife Terzah. I'd hoped to chat with Lisa a bit but she arrived in a wheelchair and was looking a bit tired, so I settled for snapping a few photos and wishing her a quick recovery from the surgery that she had on her knee this week. She took a fall some time back at Alyeska and this was to help with that slow recovery process. Good on her for showing up, wheelchair and all!