Saturday, January 10, 2009

Alaska Weather

My BEAUTIFUL sisters in Christ!

Well, I guess with me it is feast or famine...after so long of posting nothing, I have so much I want to talk to you about!

This post is going to be about the recent cold weather in Alaska. Did I say cold? I mean SERIOUSLY cold. I have not gone to town in about two weeks (except to take the folks to the airport). Our coldest was -56 (or somewhere around there) and the warmest has been about -35.

What can you do at those temps? Ummm....Well you can do the "tourist tricks" for one! You can take a cup of HOT coffee (make it as hot as you want) and toss it up in the air. It will "POOF!" freeze and blow away in a cloud of frozen vapor BEFORE it hits the ground. No, seriously!

You can also take a balloon filled with air outside and poke it with a fork and it will stay inflated. You have to do this quickly, because if you wait too long, the air in the balloon condenses and makes it hard to stick a fork in. If you take it back inside, it will just sort of deflate. At no time will it "pop". OH and you can make pretty designs on the balloon itself by lightly pressing your finger tip on it--it makes little star bursts in the latex itself.

You can also chip ice away from the INSIDE of the triple paned windows. You can drive on square tires (your tires get frozen when you park, and when you drive, you can feel the "cathunk, cathunk" of flat sided tires until they warm up and round out). You can freeze a thermometer (I thought we just had a warm spot in our yard, but apparently the thermometer had frozen up....some how that just seems so ironic to me!).

We have something called "ice fog"--it can get incredibly thick and very dangerous. Remember the hot coffee tourist trick I mentioned? Same sort of thing, but this does not blow away. It is made from car exhaust, exhaust from chimneys, etc. The air get so still and so cold, that all that moisture from the exhaust just stays there, near the ground, and builds the more cars that drive. It sure makes the sky pretty though! It diffuses the sun so the sun looks HUGE, and also makes everything have a very soft edge. The scenery is painted in a pale blue light, with hints of pink and yellow and lavender. It is pretty amazing looking.

Here is a link to a webcam that is in Fairbanks where they have a LOT of ice fog. If you look in the next couple of days, you should be able to see it, though they are supposed to be getting warmer temps at some point. http://www.newsminer.com/arcticcam/

We do not have very much daylight yet, so it is hard to catch when it is light there. But if you can see it, it will be one of the coldest looking views you might have ever seen!

It is too cold to snow, btw. I have never lived anywhere where it had to WARM UP to snow. That is still just weird to me! hee hee!

That's it for the Alaska weather report! Stay tuned to this station 4 months from now when we will still have snow and ice (though hopefully not be on the wrong side of zero degrees!)!

WHEW! Back! And some music notes (get it? Music notes? hee hee!)

My beautiful sisters in the Lord!

I have been gone for so long and I apologise (and I also apologise for the dreadful pun in the title of this blog entry)! Lots of things going on here...my folks came to visit for a few weeks (WAY too short!), The Wonder Sweetie left for a trip and came back, and of course there was Thanksgiving, Christmas, Etc!!!

But things are settling back down now and I am eager to get blogging in earnest!

So how was your CHRISTmas? Mine was wonderful! My parents were here, as I mentioned. We got slammed with temperatures in the minus 40's and 50's (yes, that is 40 BELOW zero) for almost two weeks. It was nice though because, as my mom put it, we all just did little projects and it was like living on the prairie. Dad was watching the game or reading, the kids built legos, mom embossed cards, TWS was making lingerie chests in the garage for me, I was .....hmmm...what WAS I doing? lolol--I can't remember! Probably cooking or doing handwork or playing on the dulcimer.

OH! That reminds me! We got a wonderful thing at our house! A Music Maker harp! It is a very small child's harp, but it does not sound AT ALL like a kids toy. I had gotten one for one of my ADORABLE nephews for Christmas (as well as an accordion for another nephew....not sure that SIL is going to forgive me for that one hee hee!). Anyway, a couple of days after Christmas my brother called and held the phone for Jeninlaw to play such a sweet, wonderful tune for me!

First of all, I was SO touched that they thought to call me up and play for me! Secondly, I thought it sounded wonderful! So I ordered one for myself. It has cards that slide under the strings so that you do not have to read music, you just pick the string that is directly over the note. IMMEDIATELY you can play songs like "Jesu, Joy of men's desiring" and the like. Talk about instant gratification! I just ordered a ton more music packets (hymns, patriotic, russian folk, etc). I cannot wait for them to get here!

I would recommend this highly and without reservations. Be prepared to possibly tune it when you get it, but that is not difficult, especially if you have a chromatic tuner or know someone with a good ear.

I also got a glockenspiel (something I got for my third adorable nephew!). I have not bought myself the accordion yet though hee hee.

I mentioned my dulcimer....if you have not tried one, please look into one. If you can pick out a tune with one finger, you can play the dulcimer well enough to play for people. My dulcimer is a 4 string, but two strings are REALLY close together and you play them like 1 string. These are the melody strings (where you pick out your tune). The other two strings are "drone" strings, and you do not have to do anything but pluck them or strum them (until you get really good, then you can do chords, etc, but you do not need to be able to do that to play wonderful songs).

I am better at picking the dulcimer instead of strumming (I have more fine motor skills than ANY sense of rhythm). So with one finger of your left hand, you hold down the string at different places on the neck of the dulcimer, and with your right hand you pluck strings "1-2" then string"4" then string "3". The 3rd and 4th string never change pitch (unless you get more advanced), so you really only have to worry about one string. How easy is that!

Now, if you get REALLY good you can do some amazing things with the dulcimer--things that boggle my mind, frankly. Youtube has several really amazing videos of people playing the dulcimer and making it positively dance. BUT I am not there yet :).

Anyway, those are two instruments that I can say that I would recommend, especially if you are looking to round out a homeschool music program or are looking to amuse yourself with being able to play something.

(this is getting long, so I will stop for now....)