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February 16, 2018: Olympics as Metaphor in Alaska: Business as Usual

My good friend Fran Bundtzen lives in Fairbanks, the “real” Alaska. There it is brutally cold in the winter and dark for a much longer time than here. Here we are, in comparison, Alaska Wannabees. Fran is one of the toughest and most resilient people I have ever met. She is also one of the few people I’ve met who has managed to make the connections between the arts and the sciences. She is a field biologist who does bird carvings and illustrations. I always enjoy reading her emails, which are lengthy and filled with interesting details. The latest stopped me in my reading tracks. She writes as if falling off a roof is just a matter of course. This, during Olympic week. She won’t win a medal for having survived a fall and then gotten up

Fran at the Matanuska Glacier

and continued on, as if this were just a moment in the day. However, I was rather awed by how she handled the entire situation, and suppose that her daughter Sarah was too.

Hi Alys,

We got another 4 or 5 inches of snow in the last 24 hours. It's still coming down, and we'll get 4-6 more inches before we're done. Sarah and I did some snow removal work today, and cleaned the snow off our 10 X 20 foot hay tent and also the horse shelter tent inside the pen. While Sarah did the hay tent, I cleaned off the side of the shelter tent that I can reach from the outside of the fence, working on a nice platform of snow wearing snowshoes. Afterwards, I stamped out a new trail out to the compost dump area and some new spots to tip sled loads of manure. The snow is now up to my hips if I step off the trail without snowshoes. I then went out to the hay tent to get another bale of hay, and found Sarah just finishing up the roof there.

I had a cup of tea and a rest while watching some of the skeleton competition on the Olympics. Then I went back out and cleaned off the other side of the roof in the pen without snowshoes. While balanced on a pile of snow at the edge of the tent, I exuberantly pushed my rake forward to get clear to the top, lost my balance and did a swan dive down the snowbank head first landing inside the horse shelter. I managed to keep my face off the ground, but hit my shoulder, arm and knee and spread eagled on top of some (fortunately) frozen horse manure. I picked myself up and finished the roof, then raked up the new piles of manure outside the shelter. I was going to haul that out of the pen, but decided I had had enough for the time being. I'll haul out that pile tonight when I go feed. I came inside and told Sarah about my skeleton run, and how I had won because I didn't break anything. She said she had been checking out the window every once in a while to make sure I was doing OK, but she missed my launch into the air. She did see me raking afterwards and figured I was OK. I seem to escaped without any stiffness or bruising, so I was OK.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in my nice comfy studio, lifting nothing heavier than a paint brush. The kingfisher is not done yet. I haven't even finished the carving because last week my flexible shaft carving machine broke down. I don't know if the motor died or just the foot control. I decided to order a new one and it is on its way here, so I will soon be back in business again. I can try the new foot control to see if the old motor works, and if it does, I'll just get another foot control and that way I'll have a spare. I do have some painting and wood burning projects to work on until the new carver arrives.

We'll be starting our onion seeds the middle of next month. Tomatoes and peppers come next and then every week after that, we'll start a few more things. I keep a record of seed planting times, and note how things did starting at those times so I can adjust the schedule for the future. I was going to ask you about the strawberries you had last year. Do you know what variety they were, and are they ones that will overwinter or do you have to set in new plants each year? I was impressed by how many you had and over such a long season. We have some called Pioneer strawberries that overwinter. They are low maintenance, produce well and are really good tasting, but only go for about 2 weeks before they're done.

Well, I have a couple of horses hanging over the gate waiting for their midnight snack, and some more manure to pick up. Take it easy.


Next: 48. 2/17/18: Deferred Maintenance

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