thYesterday I used every clothespin we own to fill the line-on-a-pulley that DF put up last fall. The sun was out, the temperature was in the mild mid-40s and our laundry was going outside.

The comforter, blanket and pillows went outdoors, too. That’s something we do year-round because fresh air = wonderful sleeping. But right now we don’t hang things out until after 10 a.m., when cottonwood, aspen and willow pollen levels drop.

Although I developed seasonal allergies in my late 40s, I’m not complaining: Pollen in the air means spring is finally here. Real spring, not calendar spring.

read more

thA couple of weeks back the doorbell rang but no one was there when DF answered. That is, he didn’t see anyone until he looked down. The solid part of the storm door had blocked his view of a small, sturdy youngster.

“I’m Orion, and I’m meeting my neighbors,” the boy announced.

Seems he was ringing doorbells up and down our cul-de-sac. Orion and DF chatted for a few minutes. Their conversation brought me up to the front of the house to listen in.

Orion is almost four years old and proud owner of the scooter lying at the foot of our driveway. He hoped we would come over and say “hi” to his mom some time.

Then he hopped on his scooter and kick-glided away, no doubt in search of more neighbors.

read more

thThat’s not right now, thank goodness. Current temps are in the mid-70s and the sun is benevolent rather than punishing. Flowers are blooming and the sky is blue and generally cloudless.

The grass is actually alive, vs. brown and spotted with swatches of gray snow mold (which is what we’ll see in Anchorage once our disappointing snowfall melts away).

Come March or April the Phoenix metro area will turn into Satan’s Fry Daddy and continue to sizzle until autumn. I expect those nice green lawns will sunburn themselves into dormancy pretty quickly. For the moment, however, I understand why so many people want to visit the place in the winter.

Walking around in shirtsleeves, not worrying about slipping on ice, feeling a breeze that doesn’t have teeth in it – I so wish that DF were here to enjoy it with me. Maybe when we retire we’ll become like so many other Alaska snowbirds and escape the Last Frontier for a month or so each winter. (No longer than that, probably, since he likes to ski.)

read more

31bj+FtE-zLReaction is always enthusiastic whenever I give away one of the “Tundra” comic strip collections. Why shouldn’t it be? Chad Carpenter is a very funny guy.

He’s also resourceful, having come up with an extremely portable and dual-use version of his best-selling anthologies: “Tundra” playing cards. (Insert your own “playing with a full deck” joke here.)

A set of the playing cards are up for grabs this week. As the artist suggests, use these for a poker game and see if anyone at the table can keep a straight face.

read more

th-1Our unnaturally warm weather (mid- to high 30s) has finally gone away. Temperatures have been near or below zero for the past few days, which means we’re about as cold right now as Chicago and St. Paul.

(But nowhere near as chilly as Fairbanks, where the daytime highs have been in the minus-20 range – and that’s nowhere near as nippy as it often gets there.)

The cold, clear days have brought two bonuses:

The chance to send the bedclothes outside. DF and I like putting the comforter, blanket, top sheet and pillowcases on the clothesline a few times per week, but only if we can be sure they won’t be targeted by sleet or freezing rain. Sleeping in an air-freshened bed is one of life’s simple joys.

The reappearance of the aurora. Activity has been high for the past few days.

An “interactive aurora borealis video” has been galloping around the Internetz lately. I couldn’t get the film to post here, but you can click the above link to see it. (Note: Turn off the auto-rotation if it makes you dizzy.)

Even here in the light-polluted city I’ve been able to spy the aurora several times each night. In part that’s because I keep checking, hoping for a glimps. But it’s also because the cold, dry weather makes me extremely thirsty – and if you drink water all evening, it’s likely you’ll get up at least a couple of times per night.

read more