Friday, October 31, 2014

Sunset from Baycrest

Baycrest Hill is the entrance to Homer on the Sterling Highway and has an incredible view of both the Kenai Mountain Range and the Alaska Range; both Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet. No wonder it is one of the most popular spots for snapping pictures in Homer as folks pull in and walk the overlook, eagles soaring overhead. I rarely stop there as I'm not on that side of town often. I can't recall why I happened to be up there to catch this sunset several years ago, but it was a beautiful one!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Still Picking Kale...

I am trying the experiment of leaving the kale in all winter and it is doing well. I am continuing to harvest it, though it is growing at a much slower rate than it was earlier. Even with temperatures dipping into the 20's at night, each day the frost melts off and the kale is just as tasty and firm. What is best of all though is that it is too cold for the slugs, so I no longer have to pick slugs off to get to my kale (eeeeew I know!).

Picked over row of kale

Half a row gave me a bowlful of curly-leafed kale for my favorite recipe: massaged kale

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Clouds, Light, Mountains, Water

I'm definitely noticing a theme in my photos. They are mostly focused across the bay at the Kenai Mountain Range with some sort of play of light. Nearly all of my photos have been snapped on my iPhone as I am buzzing about my day. This photo is one such, and even with the bit of blurry tree I still like it. It was taken about mile 4 of East End Road.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Still Winter Morning of the Mud Flats

This is a view of the mud flats along the Homer Spit from the base of the spit taken a couple years ago. It looks like the sun is about to rise and I would put this at maybe December or January based on where it is coming up, and probably around 10-10:30 a.m. I never really thought much about where on the horizon the sun rises and sets until I moved up here and there seems to be such a huge difference in where it comes up--more southerly than easterly in the winter it seems.

I love how this photo captures the stillness of morning. Of course, 10:00 is late, but when the sun is just coming up it feels early!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mountains, Sun and Snow

After awhile my photos seem a bit repetitious:  sunshine, mountains and slivers of Kachemak Bay. That is what I see every day. I love the views from Homer. The mountains are always changing as the snow line creeps down the mountains as fall proceeds and climbs up the mountainsides as the snow melts away in the spring. Then there is the fascinating play of clouds hanging over the mountains or bay. Some days the peaks are crystal clear while other days they are hazy or invisible behind the sheets of snow or rain or clouds.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Winter Sun

Wish I could say this is a sunrise, but seeing that it is winter, chances are this is just where the sun is! From November through January the sun rises just above the Kenai Mountains and moves over the mountains through the day (as opposed to up and into the sky). In this picture I love how Kachemak Bay is lit up.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Winter Sunrise

I took this picture of a magenta sunrise over the Kenai Mountains from near the head of the bay quite a few years ago and I just realized that it looks very much like the sunrise we just had here a week ago. Light is a big deal so I think that is why I have so many sunrise pictures (plus they can be photogenic!).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Winter Sun

Continuing my digging into past photos I thought you might enjoy....these are winter shots from when we lived near the end of East End Road. I love the effect of the sun on the clouds looking like fire.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

View of Augustine

This is the time of year my blogging slows down as I am focusing more on activities around home and school--not always the blog-worthy items or photogenic opportunities. I went through some of my past 7 years' of photos around Homer and thought I would share them as a photo-a-day. Here is one I took of Augustine a few years ago. Some of the photos I post might have shown up on my blog at one point or another; some are probably worth posting again!

View across Cook Inlet from the top of Baycrest Hill in Homer of Mt. Augustine (lone peak) and the Alaska Range

Friday, October 17, 2014

Beautiful Sunrise

The a few mornings ago we were treated to a gorgeous sunrise over the Kenai Mountain Range

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Visiting Nikolaevsk

Our kids attended a basketball camp at Nikolaevsk School this past week and weekend so we spent 3 days in a row driving from our place out there. The first day while it was raining in Homer the roads at the top of Baycrest were snowy, and out towards Anchor Point roads were icy and covered with snow. Many cars were in the ditch, being an early snow and virtually no one had their studded tires on yet. I ended up in the ditch as well, despite my 4WD, but got to meet the new pastor of a church in Anchor Point as he and his wife let me hang out in their vehicle while waiting for the tow truck.

Friday the weather had warmed up so the roads were clear of ice and snow, but it was pouring rain, dark and a bit foggy when we headed out to drop Denver off for the camp. By then we had our studs on as I'd made a dash to Tire Town for my changeover (more essential as the tires were at the end of their life and almost bald). 

Saturday it was a daytime run up to Niko, but it was still an hour drive from our place up to the village. The rain had stopped after pouring all night and amazingly there was still snow alongside the roads. Douglas and I decided to explore the town a little as we normally never have the time to do so or else the weather is horrible when we are there. Here is my picture journal of the main drag into Niko--past the school, Russian Orthodox Church, cemetery and water towers.

Nikolaevsk School, educating K-12 with a mix of Old Believers and others attending it
I have to laugh when I see playgrounds in Alaska: they all have sledding hills built into them.

I've never seen quite such a run-down post office before. It doubles as a local store.

This is the Russian Orthodox Church in Nikolaevsk.

A cemetery just up the road from the Orthodox Church

The water towers that supply water for the village, with the 4-wheeling (snowmachine in the winter) trail heading up the hill to the right

The main road through Niko is paved. We shook our heads that the school has an electronic readerboard (way out here!). When we walked by the Russian Orthodox Church I was surprised. I thought the Russians here were Old Believers like in Voznesenka, Razdolna and Kachemak Selo. We didn't see an Old Believer church but I am guessing there was one in another part of town.

We saw a sign painted on a rock, pointing down a road in the village to "RV, gifts" which we didn't check out but I want to sometime. An RV park in Niko?! Not something I would expect. There is also one restaurant in town with ethnic Russian food, open sporadically I hear but very good.

Further up the road, past the cemetery, we past not one but two small sawmills, which also surprised me as there are not a lot of large trees around to cut up.

When we reached the water towers (which explained the fire hydrants) I spied a trail heading off to the right. We'd heard there is a good 4-wheeling trail that can be taken to Homer and the Caribou Hills, and that was in the back of my mind when we went for a walk. I was hoping we would find it--and that was indeed it. There was signage for snowmachining in the winter as well. I think we'll be back! As we climbed that hill we got a good view of the village, and beyond that Cook Inlet. The mountains of the Alaska Range were obscured by clouds but I've been out there on clear days and know how beautiful it can be.

So it ended up being a nice few hours checking out Niko, and the kids had a good time at the basketball camp run by a college recruiter from the Lower 48. It is a long drive out there, though, so not someplace I'm going to be heading out to often!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Final Harvest

Early October garden harvest

We have had a couple weeks of sunshine recently after a 6-week stretch of rain, rain, rain in August and September. Clear nights have meant cold nights and frost, leading to the impending harvest that must happen soon! Every year the state cross-country running meet happens the first weekend of October, which is the perfect time to harvest. So each year I've had to decide:  harvest the week before state or chance frozen ground the week after? This year I decided to spread my chances, partly because I've been very busy and finding time to harvest the whole garden is next to impossible. With both the kids in sports and not getting home till late each night, plus a heavy load of homework and their being gone every weekend, there was no chance of their help.

So a few days before heading to the state XC meet last week I dug 4 rows of potatoes. They were short rows; each 2 rows filled up a 5-gallon bucket. Every year I waffle between washing the potatoes and then drying them and putting them away, or just pulling them out of the ground and storing them dirty. There are pros can cons both ways. This year time was my deciding factor; it was all I could do to dig them, so the buckets went into the bathroom in my cabin (not quite a root cellar temperature, but pretty chilly) with a towel to cover and protect them from sunlight. I pulled up the remaining 15 or so onions; we've been harvesting onions from the garden since July so we've gotten 3 months of onions out of it. I just love being able to run to the garden to get an onion and not deal with the mess and mold of onions going bad in my cupboard! The final beets were pulled and cooked up for the kids' pre-race meal (a tradition we began this season; I need to plant more beets next year as I had to supplement ours with other folks' to keep my kids in beets).

Pulling up the broccoli and zucchini plants which had been frosted in the garden took only a moment.  In the greenhouse the zucchinis, green beans, lettuce, parsley and final head of cabbage were still looking good so I left them, pulling out the tomato plants. All the green tomatoes are on a tray in my kitchen and are ripening a few a day.

After an exciting and eventful weekend, with the Homer girls winning the state championship and the boys taking third, I was back home to a garden and greenhouse that had been heavily frosted. Outdoors the carrots had finally drooped a little and the potato plants were skeletons. The hardy kale continues on indifferent to the temperatures. I heard someone threw a tarp over their kale in Homer last winter and had fresh kale all winter long. That is my goal (as you can see in the picture--the tarp is on a section of the row)! I love massaged kale (olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, salt and cayenne pepper massaged into the kale till it is half the size; sprinkle with toasted pecans and craisens) and was craving it in the 4 days I was away from home over the weekend. Only problem will be shoveling a path through the snow to get through the moose fence into the garden area!

I dug the final 2 rows of potatoes and had to crack the frosted, frozen ground off them. Most of the carrots came sliding right out of the ground--except in a few places where the ground was frozen hard and deeper and it took some work with the shovel to detach the carrots from their home. Time was of essence once again and so the carrots stayed in the wagon in the lean-to for a few days covered with a towel until I could snap off the tops. Lazy year means they are not washed either, so we'll have to do that when we have more time. We ended up with 3 full 5-gallon buckets of potatoes, which will get us through till April or so probably, and 1 full 5-gallon bucket of carrots, which will probably last a couple months along with the 40 pounds we bought from the McNeil Canyon School carrot fundraiser.

The greenhouse was also pretty much toast, with only the parsley and lettuce (surprisingly!) still looking perky. That too took only moments to clean out, and the plants all went into the compost bin with some water dumped on them to help along the decaying process.

The morning of our first frost last week, with the yard ringed in fluffy fireweed
So the kale is staying in all winter and I'm excited about that. I'll keep picking parsley till it is frosted beyond use; have to remember to water it every now and again as it is all that's left in the greenhouse after I picked the lettuce plants clean last night by headlamp. It's that time of year when things are getting darker and I might be able to hunker down and get some things processed at night.

Once again--a successful garden season!