Birthday celebration in Sitka

This week I celebrated my birthday and was treated to so many kind deeds.  So many cards, from near and afar.  So many kind words.  Great conversation over dinner and birthday cake.  It was certainly a birthday I will remember fondly.

My birthday morning began with streamers on my door (Thank you Amanda!)
Wine and Friends
Food and Conversation and some more work on the difficult puzzle.
Amanda’s famous Dump Cake make a great Birthday cake. Loved it!

From beginning to end it was a FABULOUS birthday.

With only two weeks left here I’ve been staying busy at work.  In addition, I have another new housemate who arrived this past Wednesday.  We’ve had fun this week, especially once I learned  that none of the three had seen the ROCKY movies.  We are in the midst of a ROCKY marathon!  What fun.  We have laughed AND cried.

This little 500 piece puzzle has kicked our butts! The pieces are NOT interlocking and there appears to be duplicate pieces.
After 5 weeks and multiple people it is done. Yes, there was a duplicate piece!


This puzzle was THE most difficult puzzle I think I have ever done.  Thanks to Aunt Jane for supplying hours of frustration as we worked on this.  She managed to keep us busy for over 5 weeks with a little 500 piece puzzle!  My sweet young house mate Amanda may never do another puzzle.  Ha! And I guarantee she will never do one without thinking of this one.

Sunny day Slide. These kids were having so much fun.

We had sunshine on Friday after many days of rain and clouds.  It was glorious and with temperatures in the low 60’s it brought out some summer fun among the locals.

Their laughter was infectious!

One remaining picture this week that was a must share.  I was sitting in the library on this glorious sunny day and looked up to see a sailboat with the sail up.  We don’t see that too often in the sound.   In fact, I’ve never seen a sailboat with the sail up!  Had to take this picture and even from inside the building it is a glorious picture!  I hope you enjoy this one.

Sailboat in Sitka Sound

Last for the week is a short video of my friendly Raven who greets me each morning as I walk to the post office.  He sits on this perch and makes his call to mimic a dog barking.  Enjoy.

Hello once again . . .

I have a shortage of pictures and words this week. Not sure what my problem is but there has just been little in the way of news.  We did have a going away party for our Lead Ranger this past Sunday evening at the “White” house. She is moving to Death Valley National Park in Death Valley, California. She has been in Sitka for 2 years and did such a fabulous job. She will be missed and we all wished her well as she gets closer to family in this move.  We also had to say goodbye to Aries, her faithful companion.  That made us all very sad.

We say good-bye to Ranger Em.
Ranger Em’s best friend – Aries.

The Sitka Summer Music Festival began last week. I attended my first concert Saturday evening. It was truly incredible. A Performance by the Attacca Quartet was astounding. These 4 young people are simply beyond talented. They formed at Julliard in 2003, played at Carnegie Hal in 2007 and was selected in 2015 as the Quartet in Residence by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And here they are in Sitka playing to a crowd of about 50 people with the ocean as their backdrop. WOW! Just WOW.

Tonight my housemate Amanda (boy am I going to miss her when she leaves) and I are attending another concert. For those of you who are familiar with the cello you will recognize the name Zuell Baily. He has been featured with multiple symphony orchestras, not the least of which was Indianapolis (for my Indy friends). He is here for the entire festival and will be playing this evening as well.  What we see here during the Sitka Summer Music Festival is really beyond expectation. It lasts for about a month and for anyone who loves classical musical, I encourage you to add this to your bucket list. The venues are very small and the talent extremely large.  What an opportunity for those who attend.

This week has been quite rainy. Not our usual misty rain but more downpours as we get in certain areas of the lower 48. Thursday night the rain was hard and the winds were strong. It reminded me of an Indiana rain storm. Friday morning the rain continued and I learned that rain pants in your backpack offers no help in staying dry. You have to put them on! On my walk between locations I experienced a full on water spray from a truck “speeding” down the street at 40 mph. They hit the puddle hard and the spray was a mighty force, landing dead center on this lonely person walking down the sidewalk (which was me!) Drenched, I moved on to work where I never did dry completely before closing shop at 5:00 and returning home under the continued rain. It took a while to get warm again. You’ve heard the expression “cold bones”, well, I had them all afternoon!

This coming Monday will mark my 68th birthday. I’ve been blessed with gifts and cards. Melissa and the kids sent decorations as well as cards and added gems to my beloved hankie collection. Amanda (my housemate) is making dinner for me and we will celebrate with friends. It will be one of those birthdays to remember for years to come.

One of my hankies that arrived in the mail from Thomas.

Thanks to all for the birthday cards and wishes. I had forgotten how valuable hand written notes were and how enjoyable they are to read and re-read. I found boxes of cards after my mom passed away that she had kept for years and often re-read them. I can honestly say I never really understood why she would do that and honestly thought it a little odd.  Wish she was around to apologize to her as I now more fully understand how important these cards are and how you can relive the moment over and over again.   I keep every card and very often sit down with them before bed to enjoy them over and over. The words, the writing, the artwork . . . all the expressions of love are not wasted and bring my heart incredible joy. We should all remember this and send our loved ones, even if they are close by, a handwritten note now and then. It’s a worthwhile experience for all.

We have a third housemate . . . Francesca arrived this past Monday and will be working with the collections department as a museum collections intern until December. She is in her mid 20’s and recently graduated with her masters degree. She is from New York and will be a great addition to the park’s cultural center. I’ll get some pictures before I leave so you can “meet” her in pictures.

I continue to embroider and am now working on quilt blocks for a very special boy who loves frogs. I’ve also made it my mission to watch the entire “24” tv series and am now on the final season. I will be sad to see it end as I’ve found Kiefer Sutherland to be a good actor. I’ll catch up on the new “Designated Survivor” when I return to the lower 48 as I read he is in that one as well.

Less than 3 weeks left for me in Sitka and then I will return home to Virginia. It’s been a wonderful trip and yet I am ready to return home. I’ve missed everyone and look forward to enjoying some time with them again real soon.

Jen and the boys will be visiting Virginia in August, September will include a road trip to Indiana for time with family and friends, and October will include a trip to San Francisco with Melissa and the kids to show them where their grandparents (my mom and dad) were married and lived while Dad was in the service. Big plans for 2018 include a high school Graduation for Cameron and a PhD graduation for Melissa. And along with all of this I hope to do more volunteer works in the park.

We will talk again next week. Till then, take care and be blessed.  Here are a few more random pictures just for fun.

Remember that skunk cabbage just blooming at the beginning of my time here? Well the yellow blooms have gone and the leaves are quite large now.
Friends and work mates from Em’s going away party.
More friends and a chocolate oreo cake which I intend to make again. It was really good!
You are never too old to be a Junior Ranger!
Today’s cruise ship sits proudly just outside the library window. What a view!

It’s been awhile . . .

June 10, 2017

It’s been a while since we last “talked” via blog.  Normally, you folks are my Saturday conversation each week but I was distracted last week.  Reid and Jennifer came to visit and we had a fabulous time!  Allow me to tell you all about our time together.

The week leading up to Jen & Reid’s arrival was full of anxiety and expectation.  I could hardly wait to see them.  They arrived Friday afternoon and we made a quick stop at the hotel to check in.

Jen and Reid looking good.

Our first adventure was to the Fortress of the Bear where I had scheduled a “meet and greet” with Balloo, the largest of the brown bears at the Fortress.  We were able to see and learn about all the bears but the highlight was getting to actual feed Balloo.

The bears just chilling on a summer day!  Check out those claws… oh my . . .
Reid feeding Balloo.
Jen feeding Balloo
Balloo just enjoying himself. Looks like he needs a beer and a remote for the tv!
They have 3 black bears which are quite a bit smaller than the brown bears.
Brown bear
The light color is from his heavier winter coat. He will shed the light and become a much darker brown bear.

The Raptor Center was another highlighted stop.  What a beautiful place where they can provide the right healing care to help these birds return to flight whenever possible.  We were able to see a red tailed hawk as part of their interpretive program.

Raptor Center’s Red Tailed Hawk

Thanks to daughter Melissa I received a care package that included all the makings for an wonderful dinner of pasta and sauces.  All we needed was the lettuce and bread.  And we had enough to invite the rangers over to join us.  What a really great evening we had.

Dinner with all thanks to a great care package from Melissa.

Saturday we spent walking in the park and enjoying the day.  It rained of course but then what would you expect from the rain forest!  Sunday we began early on a boat cruise with Davey & the Esther G Sea Taxi.  I used him two years ago when Melissa and the kids were here.  He is just wonderful, passionate, insightful, and made for a really great 4 hours out on the ocean.  And, yes, we saw a whale! along with sea lions, sea otters, and much more.

The Esther G. Sea Taxi
Davey Lubin, captain of the Esther G. Sea Taxi.
Amanda, my housemate, joined us on the outing. She is delightful!
Ranger Kyle came along as well.
Here we are. From left to right, Ranger Kyle, Amanda, Ranger Cindy, Reid, Jen and Mara.

Things we saw from the water!

Check out these eagles.
Sea Lions.

Things I did not get a picture of were the sea otters and the humpback whale.  I was too busy looking and forgot to take the picture!  But I was able to get this picture and it’s my favorite of all.

My favorite picture – Reid and I out on the ocean!


The kids left on Tuesday morning and I went straight to work from there.  Seems like the week has flown by and I’ve only 26 days left here.  I’m so glad I came and I am so ready to go home.  Can’t wait to see the rest of the kids and Gus.

Today starts the Sitka Fine Arts Music Festival and I have tickets for several concerts, the first of which is tonight.  So I will cut today’s blog short for now.  Hopefully I’ll have more words for you next week.

Love & Blessings to all,