July 21, 2010

WHEELS UP! .......Heading back east!!!

And this time, Huz gets to come!!!!! I'm so happy it'll be the 4 of us this year! We're taking off tonight for New Jersey! We'll be spending a couple days visiting with Huz's 2 bro's and fams in Connecticut and then it's a week of SUN, WARMTH, and OCEAN at the Jersey Shore. My parent's have rented a beach house and we'll be staying there along with my step-sister's family. We plan on doing NOOOOTHING but swimming, running, relaxing, beach combing, and Margarita sippin'.

It's been a summer(?!?) of grey, chilly, rainy weather here in Alaska and this break is SO needed! We've experienced some SNAFUs with our construction and the work we had hoped would start the first of July just started YESTERDAY. The waiting was a bitch but we were ecstatic last week when the supplies arrived:

We spent some time yesterday nailing the studs to the plates to form the back wall of the addition. Just me, Huz and the kids. We are feeling very proud of our work!!!! Now we just need to find out from our contractor if construction will be put on hold or if he is going to work on it while we're gone. I really hope we can resume when we get back from vacation-I'm LOVING the fact that we can get this room framed ourselves and I'm diggin' doing the work!!! But, we're not sure if waiting is a good idea since we're already a month behind. We'll see....

Russian River Blues......not REDS.

Well, I'm a few weeks overdue in posting this year's Russian River trip. It'll be short and sweet with pictures telling most of the story. Why? Cuz we didn't catch SHIT!!!!!!!!!!! And I'm jaded. If we had limited out over the four days we were there, we could have come home with 48 salmon. We were hoping for about 20-30 because that's about all we could fit in the freezer at this time! We came home with 7 fish. I didn't even get a nibble. Place was dead. And NO cool bear encounters either. And the weather sucked.

But. The food, as usual, was gut-busting delicious. Our friend Ray ROCKED the campfire grill. Despite the lackluster fishing, if was great to hang out at camp with friends. While the confluence of the Kenai and Russian rivers can be a roiling madhouse of combat fisher-folk, the mile hike to the Russian River campground will find you in one of the prettiest and most peaceful campgrounds I've been to. This year, we were treated to the luxury of having an RV to camp in. I have long been a staunch tent camper...eschewing the wimps in the "apartments on wheels"...but when it comes to having children and camping in a bear infested area, I was ok with the RV. And, I have to admit that spending 4 days in a tent in such rainy weather would have been miserable. Our contractor, Mike, who lives up the road generously offered us the use of his RV and we were VERY grateful for it!

On our way to the Russian

Wader clad and ready to catch

Nature along the trail to the river

"First" dinner, 7pm

"Second" dinner, midnight

Camp crafts...making wind spinners!

Fireside nap between fishing

Our fairy house STILL stands 2 years later!

July 2, 2010

Goodbye and good journey, sweet pups.

We said goodbye to my beloved boy yesterday. My first baby.

Niko had gotten SO old over the last two years. It seemed to happen so fast. One day he was just more hunched and crotchety, not so stable, his face looking more skeletal. Over time the arthritis in his hind end worsened and the muscles atrophied. There were growths everywhere. It had been a long time since he'd wagged his tail. In his old age, his inherent neurotic temperament intensified. Certain noises-a cellphone beep, Lo's squeals of laughter, setting the timer on the oven- all had him running scared to the door to find more peace and quiet. He found that a couple of years ago with new neighbors who built a house down the street. They are loving wonderful people who offered him a second more quiet (childless) home to come to when the daily business of our home was too much. Niko often visited us during the day-most often when I was home alone, and then would head back down the street to his second family when things got too overwhelming. As much as this broke my heart...I just wanted him to be happy and content, especially in his old age. My heart ached whenever he disappeared for a couple days and filled with joy when I would see his face at the door again. I wasn't going to FORCE him to stay home...it would have killed him. We are lucky to live in a mountain neighborhood where every ones dogs run free and get along for the most part.

I feel I inadvertently let my boy down-for it had been just him and me, 2 travelin' peas in a pod, for the first 6 years of his life. And when I came into Huz's and Dea's life the pack order changed and Niko wasn't an "Alpha" any more. And then again, when Lo was born. I know in my soul it affected him. But he was always surrounded by love. SO many people loved that dog throughout his life, everyone from family, friends, roommates, neighbors, strangers, clients and employers at work....He was so sweet and friendly. I think more people in this valley know Niko then they do ME and family! So often we would be hiking on the trail or running the road and strangers would yell out,"HI Niko!"! Where on Earth was that wiley boy GOING during the day when we weren't home?!?!?

Niko lived a wonderful life with a lot of adventure and travel. He got to live and hike in Montana, Seattle, and Alaska. How cool is it for an Alaskan Malamute to spend his final years in Alaska! He also got to fly on airplanes to Connecticut, New Jersey, and to visit my best friend and her pooch and fam in upstate New York. But hiking and backpacking was his FAVORITE thing. I'm so happy to have filled his life with it.

I hope he knows how profoundly loved he is and how many lives he touched. He helped his second mommy through breast cancer and recovery this past year. I hope he knows I'm so sorry it couldn't have stayed just him and me...that I thought the bigger the family, the more love for him. But it just wasn't always the right kind of loving for his sensitivity. I hope he is hiking, running and sniffing on glorious mountain trails with Attu, and Brett & Porter and Mur and Jackson....with a wonderful cool lake at the end.

Thank you, Bubba for so blessing my life, for being right by my side during the lonely years, for protecting my baby and I from that mama moose...for being so loving. My heart swells to breaking with my love for you.