Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Aleutian Islands

The Aleutian Island are a stepping stone-like path from Alaska to Russia across the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea.


The chain of islands are formed of 14 large volcanic islands (some are active today) and 55 smaller islands. The volcanic islands reach heights of 6,200 feet.

The few people that inhabit these islands refer to themselves as The Unagan. (The People)

 Outsiders call them the Aleut. The last recorded count of The Aleut on these islands was 8,162 people.

Many of the natives fish, hunt and make basketry/crafts in much the same fashion of their ancestors from centuries back.

Working on the last detailing of the Alaskan Painting (nearly finished) as is the month of Virtual Alaska!

Nearly there.

More anon.....

and completed

Fisished panning the final pan of dirt...and this is my haul.

And time to say "Goodbye" to Alaska...

or as the Nativess would say

Tavvauvutit Inuktitu 

More Anon...

Monday, March 27, 2017

There's No Place Like Nome...(Virtual) Nome Alaska and GOLD

Where they take gold-panning (and dredging) fairly seriously.

To put this in pespective...I have panned the Alaskan paydirt (2 pounds) I received down to about a cup and a half left...and this is what I have so far


An assay might give me $50. for it. If I were very lucky. Gold now going for 1,300 an ounce (more or less) and this panned is between 18k and 24k.

And here is a bag of the same type of flakes and nuggets presented by a panner to a Nome assay office

A literal bag of gold.

I can't even imagine how long it would take to pan this much placer and flakes. Or what a bag this size would be worth. Or how heavy this would be. It is amazing how heavy even a small amount is.

Nome. Where panning today is as alive as it was for the Gold Rush years.

                                                               And now...

 And for those of us who want to join in the excitement from home the mines sell paydirt. Bags of the sandy yellowish soil. Bags of the rich black sands. No guarantees. Unsorted. Just dirt. Not expensive're not going to strike it rich. But it is a LOT of fun to pan...and finding a larger nugget or flake is still exciting as hell!

Located on the Seward Peninsula by the Bering Sea, the sandy soil here is littered with tiny flakes of gold. You can see very small flakes not much more than 1 mm (many smaller) just by scooping a handful into your palm. Much like the beaches on the California Coast.  

The real treasure is settled beneath. larger placer flakes and nuggets. 

Of the dirt I have panned so far, I have found several small nuggets...the largest being about half the size of my little fingernail. The bigger flakes (more common) are around 3-4 mm.

Still, when I panned in Sugar Creek and Brown County you might go hours without finding anything at all...or  something very small. 

So (to me) the idea of panning a half hour and having several flakes or maybe even a small nugget is great!

The city is named for an Inupiaq word "Naami"  meaning: Where at?  It doesn't take much imagination to add "are we" to that query.

Nome is subartic. Meaning long cold winter and short cool summers.
Winters can be as cold as -54 degrees. Summers rarely get into the high 50's.

In the summer of 1898 three lucky Swedes discovered the gold in Nome and triggered The Rush.

Although there is highway in and out of Nome these signs tell you everything you need to know about travel outside the immediate area...

Reminding me of maps of olde that warned

                                            "Here there be DRAGONS"

A video of gold dredging (and the sights) in Nome

And now I must pan!

More anon...

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Weekend maison de deux chats...and Failing Bigly

It is getting greener and more spring-like every day, now. Already it is warm enough to enjoy morning coffee on the patio with Tucker. Shelby glaring at both of she stands by the open door. She is convinced we are both idiots.

Definitely a house-cat. Outside holds zero appeal to her.

The contrasts between the two of them are clearer each day.

Tucker is quiet (meowing only for food or to go outside...sometimes as a purring trill of a greeting), wonderfully independent, somewhat aloof seldom making eye contact, very loving but always on his terms, an indoor/outdoor kitty.

Shelby is chatty. She starts talking to you the moment you wake up and continues throughout the day. She tends to be needy...and sometimes will walk right up to you and stare in your face expectantly like "WELL..." It is a little unnerving, and I usually break eye contact before she does.  As I have mentioned before, if she doesn't feel like she is receiving the attention she deserves (...befitting of a DIVA...) she will poke at you...and poke at you...and poke at you...until she does.  She is the first 100% nature I have ever owned.

They are the Yin and Yang of kitties.

They have sorted the house/territories and are getting on fine.

Tucker (although still a bit gooey and healing) is starting to get his face back, doubtless there will be scarring. Will know more when the fur starts coming back. Right now he looks a lot like Batman's nemesis: Two-Face. Half of his face looks beautiful and Tucker-like. The other half looks like he was in the Hiroshima bombing. But he is alive...and purring..and happy (well...except when I am debriding his poor face or squirting medicine down his throat). 

I wonder if he is going to duck when he sees a basin,washcloth or a syringe for the rest of his life...traumatized. 

PTSD kitty.

Chris and Tina are doing the Aunt and Uncle thing, helping Kimber celebrate Miss Emma's 3rd birthday today

 with a My Little Pony Birthday Party!

They even had sparkle glitter on the pony's hooves!

And lets face it...who KNEW turkeys liked to be petted?  Much less snore!!!

Tomorrow, he is coming by to help do some routine maintenance on my  computer.  And I am fixing Gyros. For breakfast.

Breakfast of Champions!

He finished the small devices (cell phones, tablets, et al) section of his classes and is now learning about all that is printer-world. Some of it is fascinating. We have come so far from mimeographs and dot matrix. 

Nicole and I spent part of Friday morning together, and Hannah has such a surprise coming for her 10th birthday!


Will catch up with Lennon tomorrow...and James seems to be very happy with life and work and home and everything else at the moment. Started the week with him over bacon, egg and cheese croissants (a nice surprise) and chat. Soon to trade away one of his bass guitars and a little cash for a birthday wish that Hannah made. The judge moved the (hopefully final) Modification of Custody hearing out to the week after school ends...THAT is a very very good sign.

Speaking of Good Signs

                                                  "The Fat and Furious"

Yesterday, President Trump got his rather large orange ass handed to his OWN party.

After...what...60 attempts to Repeal the ACA...but hey...who's counting...Congress came to the BRINK of Repeal and Replace with a bill so obscene...that he couldn't even pass it by strong-arming, bribes from the Koch Brothers, or shaming.

True...some of them would vote against it because they still thought it was too generous

Rep. Nevada: Mark Amodel

Rep. Arizona: Andy Biggs

Rep. Alabama:  Mo Brooks

Rep. North Carolina: Ted Budd

Rep Ohio: Warren Davidson

Rep. Florida: Ted Yoho

and to those wastes of protoplasm and I loathe you, I still say "thanks" for voting no...even if it was for nefarious purposes.

To those Moderate Republicans who actually stated they would vote no because they realized how badly the AHCA would hurt the elderly, disabled, poor and children

Rep. Virginia: David Brat

Rep.Virginia: Barbara Comstock

Rep. New Jersey: Rodney Frellinghuysen

Rep. Washington:  Jaime Herrer Buetler

Rep. Florida: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Rep New Jersey: Chris Smith

Rep. Pennsylvania: Glenn Thompson

I applaud you for putting people (and human lives) before politics!

For some the (self proclaimed) idea of self-preservation (i.e. not losing their job when they faced local elections) was enough to sway their vote to "no"

Rep. North Carolina: Mark Meadows 

Yes sir...we are talking to you...

I applaud you for listening to your constituents and there is nothing wrong with enlightened self-interest. I daresay all of us have been there a time or two.

And my personal hero emerged from this when

Rep. Kentucky: Thomas Massie who voted not only NO....but


Which was brilliant by-the-way.

To put this in perspective...of 44 Senate Democrats...all 44 would have voted against this bill.  More importantly of 54 Senate Republicans 37 stated they would have voted NO.

Obviously they couldn't let that happen. So they picked up  their ball and walked off the court.

Shelved the Bill.

By this morning Delusional Donald was busily blaming everybody but Santa Claus...and even The Democrats for the inability to gut the ACA and pass this horrendous bill.

A great many of us were cheering and celebrating.

This Presidenting Stuff is harder than it looks, isn't it Don?

Here's an idea...

How about instead of wasting one more cent trying to repeal the ACA (...which admittedly is far from perfect,but not the abomination they would have you believe...) we work together (DEMS and GOP) to improve it...using the framework in help ALL people.

Not to give your Corporate Buddies a Hand-Out while Defunding Planned Parenthood.

Not to cut Healthcare for the elderly, sick, disabled or children.

Something we would all work together toward.

So sick of this "Football Mentality" in our Politics today.

My Team.

Your Team.

Democrats ~vs~ Republicans

It is OUR Country and there should only be ONE TEAM.


Making things better for all our citizens. What a concept.

Glad that yesterday democracy, and the checks and balances that make up its foundation, worked.

Also glad to see so any many people actively engaged in the system...calls to their Representatives and such.

This IS what Democracy LOOKS like!

More anon...

Oh...and this weekend's panning...

and a bit more work on the painting...never mind the looming brown sticks in the foreground by mid-week they will be snow covered fir trees!  Making progress.

The fan brush is amazing for falling water!

And this year it appears I have won the First Dandelion Contest, guys! Hehhehheh...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Alaskan Salmon...Patties...Grilled and Seasoned and a Dill Sauce Recipe

Alaska is known for its Salmon.

Both by humans and bears alike, who wait for the Spring Spawning much like hungry Hoosiers belly-up to the buffet.

Some of the fish in these waters.
The name salmon may have came from the Latin Salmos (to leap). A few species spend their entire lives in freshwater. Others spawned in freshwater but return to the ocean. When spawning season comes again they fight their way back to the freshwater they were born in. Much to fishermen and the bears delight. 

In Indiana you would be hard pressed during the 1960's to find a household that did not fix these as almost a weekly staple. 

Salmon Patties

  1. Drain and reserve liquid from salmon. Mix egg, onion, bread crumbs (we used Ritz crackers) and drained canned salmon together. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Make into patties. If mixture is too dry to form into patties, add reserved liquid from salmon.
  3. In a frying pan, heat oil. Place patties in pan. Brown on each side, turning gently. Drain on paper towels and serve.
It was cheap, easy, and after a childhood of eating them maybe once a week...considered by a lot of us as...well..."almost food". 

Your mileage many vary. 

Since we are on this Virtual Alaskan Adventure...and because I have NEVER tried wild-caught Grilled salmon before in my life. I went out and researched my options...bringing home this

Mine have been marinaded and seasoned.

A good friend, who has tried Grilled Salmon before, also said that Dill Sauce is an excellent idea.

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 3/4 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt         

So Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Dill Sauce, Buttered Baby Carrots and Steamed New Potatoes.


A sprig of fresh dillweed would have elevated the presentation...but dill seed works in a pinch.

Okay...where has THIS dish been all my life!  


Definitely adding it to my cuisine...and will be growing fresh dill in the herb basket this summer!  So good!

More anon...

And some more progress on the Alaskan painting. Will turn those brown sticks in the foreground into snow covered firs tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Novel- The Plan: The General (cont.)

The dumb bastard really did it.
I will have to deal with the fall-out from Mark and the kids, but there is
nothing like killing two birds with one stone.

It will be a while before Mark finds out. I can control the inflow of
information until he needs to know. 
Now all that is left to be done is to make the call.

The detective took an excruciatingly long time to pick up and sounded
half asleep. 

I'm sorry to bother you but I am very worried about my daughter.”

After detailing his concerns and the failure to pick up her children at his
house for the past two days and assuring the detective that this
“wasn't at all like Tray” he dropped the germ of the idea he
wanted to sow in the detective's mind.

I shouldn't even be telling you this. It's probably nothing, but Tracy
complained a few months back that Mark's doctor she had been involved
with for his rehabilitative psychotherapy seemed to be
getting...ummm...a little too familiar with her. Buying her little
gifts. Asking her to see him outside the office. She seemed spooked.
When she and Mark began to discuss getting back together she said he
was angry with her.”
"No, she abruptly ended her sessions with Dr. Troy and the situation seemed
to have resolved itself. No. She never met him outside of therapy that I
am aware."

No. He never mentioned it to me.”

He spent Thanksgiving with Mark, and the kids and I. I do remember him
being very abrupt when Mark mentioned Tracy and asking me if they
were going to reconcile. It seemed an odd question at the time
because Mark has repeatedly said he would like to rekindle his
marriage. It is part of the reason I invited him to move into my
house. I just assumed he was aware of that.”
"No. Tracy wasn't there."

Yes, I will be here tomorrow if you think filing a missing person report
is what we need to do. Mark is pretty upset by all of this,already.
Maybe we should wait to talk to him and the kids about it just yet. I
don't want to cause a setback in his condition.”

No,Thank YOU. I will see you in the morning.”

And then with a click I hung up the phone and poured a 
tumbler of Glen Livet.

The wheels set into motion.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Alaska's Capital: (Virtual) Juneau

Juneau is an oddity among capital cities nationwide as there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska (or North America, for that matter). Everyone must access this State Capital (including all goods) by plane or boat. A ferry (Alaskan Marine Highway System) will transport cars to the city.

Built in 1931 it was later named after a gold prospector from Quebec (Joe Juneau) while Alaska was still a territory. In 1959 Alaska achieved statehood.

The Alaskan State Flag consists of The Big Dipper and the North Star on a field a deep blue.

The waterway pictured here is known as The Marine Highway.

Downtown Juneau

Bus Tour from Juneau to Mendenhall Glacier

And a peek at the Mendenhall Glacier

and a nice tour of the ice caves beneath the glacier

A drone's eye view of Nugget Falls in  Juneau, Alaska.

(If you only watch one video on this THIS one...simply magnificent)

Another must see at Juneau is The Shrine of St. Therese

and the inside of the Shrine. They still hold mass here.

And inspired by the sand and falling water patterns at Nugget Falls...I think I'm going to pan a bit more paydirt this evening...and also add a little to my Alaskan Painting!

More anon...

Juneau at Night