Sunday, March 13, 2016

Building a mew

For those of you that don't know, I've been volunteering at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage for over 10 years now. One of my passions is caretaking a Snowy Owl by the name of Ghost. Another passion is doing education programs with him around Alaska. He had lived with me since 2006, but when I moved last summer, he moved to the Bird TLC clinic until I can get him a new mew (home) built.
 After a few months of getting settled into the new house, I started a Go Fund Me page to help raise monies for supplies. Donations poured in from awesome people from all around totaling over $1700 so far. I expect the total expense to be around $3000. Whatever isn't raised I'm paying for myself.
 I was able to start building some, mainly the walls, in my garage. That worked out well because of the time of year. It wasn't cold yet (at least by Alaskan standards) but there was less daylight every day.
 With the lack of snow, I was able to get started building outside. If we had a normal winter with lots of snow, construction would have had to wait until spring.
 A very sick dog, Christmas and New Years, a cold, work allowing me to only construct on weekends, weather and day to day life seemed to slow the progress down, but I continue to build.
A few mistakes were made. The ground was very frozen when I started, but with no snow cover, the warm days have started to thaw the ground out. That made for some leveling issues. But we got some leveling blocks and got that corrected.
I had some good supervision from Macy and Cooper provided security from the neighbors. Within the next week or so we should be ready for the roof, an arctic entry, gravel and finishing touches. After that comes an inspection by Bird TLC and then US Fish & Wildlife approval. Hopefully Ghost will get to move in within a couple months. It's not a fast process by any means.
 
My tips to anyone taking on a project like this, don't start it right before the beginning of winter. I'll update this story when the mew is completed. Now you know why I haven't been blogging much.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Some days and good and some days are YIKES!

It had been a while since I took the pups on a walk away from the neighborhood. It was time to get away from the distractions of the neighborhood dogs barking at us because we are walking down the street. I decided we should check out Palmer Hay Flats at Cottonwood Creek. The deals they have on the trails to protect from erosion are hard on Macy's feet and I figured they were covered with snow now, so we should be good.
 Well the place looked awesome. Not a lot of snow, but enough for ground cover. Only two cars in the parking lot, so no people distractions. That's good because Cooper was being a schmuck. He was not listening and was very hyper. I kept him close on leash, but Macy I let loose. She never goes far, maybe 20 feet before she checks to see where I'm at.
 I should have been paying closer to her, but Cooper was being Mr. Brat. Normally he walks OK, but today he was pulling, running from side to side and generally not earning any treats. So I wasn't watching Macy and I wasn't watching the trail.
 You got it. Moose! Maybe 15 to 20 feet away in a bunch of willow brush. I didn't see it until I heard a loud snort and the snap of branches. Neither dog saw or heard it, probably because of Cooper acting up so much. I rushed them up the trail, keeping an eye on Bullwinkle. He came onto the trail and stood with a wide stance while watching us. The pups still haven't noticed it. I'm glad I don't use them for hunting. It turned around after we were maybe 30 feet away and went up the trail from where we came. Now we only have to watch for it on the way back. Fortunately it was long gone by the time we returned.
We made it home in one piece. I have a little less hair, Macy's exhausted from the walk and Cooper is giving the innocent look. I think I need to give Cooper a little more time before I take him back.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Gunpowder Falls State Park, Maryland

I was competing against Mother Nature and fog. But I was determined to get some photography in. Gunpowder Falls State Park is one of the largest in the state. I went to the area called Jerusalem Mill Village, formerly a Quaker settlement operating a gristmill for about two centuries.
 Here's the fog coming off the river. I was kind of eerie.
 But the small village is set in a beautiful area.
 This building has been many things over its existence, but it's most remembered as a gun shop. Gun stocks were manufactured her for the Maryland Militia during the Revolutionary War. 
 This is the restored gristmill that is now the park headquarters and visitor center. It was originally built in 1772.
 A large blacksmith shop. There are demonstrations of all types all over the park on the weekends.
Finally the fog won. It was getting pretty heavy by the time I made it back to the car. I'll have to check it out again on another visit.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Merry Christmas

No, I'm not celebrating the Orthodox Christmas. I'm just late posting photos from my trip to Maryland and spending Christmas Day with my daughter her hubby and three of my grandkids.
 Yes, Cassie was born and raised in Alaska. The Army and her heart took her away for now. But deep down inside........
 Sort of reminds me of one of the spirits in A Christmas Story. But, it's not.
 Someone likes Thomas the Train, actually all trains. He also likes the idea of using other peoples money to put in it.
 The fashion girl.
Of course the biggest hit is the boxes.
Loves her big sister, dresses like her too. And of course being a little girl, loves her dolls.
 
My daughter has a beautiful family. Her hubby thinks the world of them all. You always want your kids to have more than you did. Well, they do and their kids have more than them.
 
It was hard to leave and I can't wait to see them again!


Friday, January 1, 2016

Off to Aberdeen Proving Grounds

For Christmas vacation, I went to Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Maryland to spend it with my daughter, her hubby Corey and 3 of my grandkids. More about that in the next post. Anyways, APG was opened 6 months after the start of WWI, the war to end all wars. It's main mission is the test of ordinance.
 
I like history and driving around APG you get to see plenty. There's also lots of natural beauty and wildlife. 
Can't be an Army base without old tanks on display.
It was a windy day, but they were out in the river playing with Army boats.
My tour guide Corey.
These white tail deer where everywhere.
The thing about it in Maryland, if you hit and kill one with a car, it's just left there. Now we don't have white tail deer in Alaska, but if you hit and kill any game animal, the driver is responsible for reporting it, field dressing and salvaging the meat. There are even non-profits that the Alaska State Troopers will notify for you. They'll come out and field dress it for you, salvaging the meat and donating it to a needy family.
The above deer was prancing for me. I guess my Sigma 150-600 sport didn't scare it.
This tank had seen better days.
 
Thanks for the tour Corey. APG is an interesting place to visit for sure.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How much snow did you get?

Last winter was a very disappointing winter. The total snowfall in Anchorage was like 21 inches, down about 100 below average. Well. we're working on putting that behind us this year. Last night we got about 8 inches on top of the 3 or 4 we had on the ground.
 Can you tell a proud American veteran from Alaska lives here?
 This is how your greeted when entering my driveway.
 Think I should have unloaded the truck last night?
 Macy says it's not all the fun that people are saying it is. That's probably because she had her belly shaved a few weeks ago to have a procedure done and the snow is belly high for her.
Cooper is loving the fresh snow though.
 
On a side note for those of you that watch reality shows. Alaskan Bush People is a complete hoax. Many of the so called actors have stolen over $20,000 from the people of Alaska. At this time, they are not even in the state. Most are in Seattle pushing a bullshit book about how they survive in Bush Alaska. I urge you not to watch this crap or buy the book and to contact The Discovery Channel and urge them to stop supporting this type of garbage.
 
If you don't believe me, read the Daily News Miner from Fairbanks.
 
http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/alaskan-bush-people/

Sunday, November 8, 2015

An Anniversary, A Birthday and a Surprise

(Nov. 2014 Taken by our friend Britt Coon)
Well, the Anniversary was on Oct. 31. Macy and I have been together for 4 years now. We've gone through a lot here lately. For a while there I thought I was going to loose her. She has become a major part of my life and I can't picture her not being in it now.
 So, Macy's birthday is on Nov. 12th. She'll be 6 years old. And yes, that's the surprise in the back.
 Meet Cooper. Cooper is a 7 year old beagle. No, Macy doesn't look thrilled in the picture. She's still wondering what's going on.
Here they look like they're being lined up in front of a firing squad. I just want a picture guys.
 
Cooper came to us through friends who were putting him up after being found abandoned. There a lot of adapting and getting use to, but I think it's going to work out. Macy has company while I'm at work. Cooper loves the big yard. We're going to have fun!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A visit to the Hanson's House

Macy has been feeling lots better, so we've been doing some exploring close to the house. We've driven by this turn off on Fairview several times and we've seen cars parked next to the road. Wondering why, we stopped and found it to be a Alaska State Parks Recreation Site.
It's seems the Hanson's, Henry and Ester, moved here in 1939 with $6 in Henry's pocket.
 They started off with a surplus government Quonset hut and in time developed it into this two story home.
 Macy wanted to go in, but no one was home. The Hanson's have long passed away, Henry in 1987 and Ester in 1990. However, they donated the 30 acres to Alaska State Parks. Henry said "By doing this, we'll be remembered after we're gone".
 For the time, they had a beautiful green house. They're also bird houses every where's.
 The facilities were modern for the time.
 But at one time, this was the way to get water.
 Macy and I enjoyed the small pond that the house overlooks. A neighbor and her niece came along and we talked for a while. What a nice peaceful place. It overlooks the Chugach Mountains and the Matanuska River and the Palmer Hay Flats.
I didn't put any links, you won't find much. The state hasn't taken good care of the property, but Henry and Ester did a good job. It's still standing. Walking around you can imagine their life there, some of the hardships because of weather and such. But a beautiful property with a beautiful view.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Beware of October

Two tears ago today, my son Uryan brought me home from the hospital to recover from an operation that not only saved my life, but also drastically changed it. It changed it in a good way. If not for this operation I wouldn't be here for one and for another it changed the way I look at life and the appreciation of people and things in it.
 Wildlife and specifically wild birds are something I really appreciate and respect. I've been fortunate to be involved with the rehabilitation of sick and injured wild birds and the education of the public about them for over 10 years with the Bird Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage. I have a friend to thank for that, btw, she's my ex-wife.
 I'm fortunate to live in Alaska. Besides my regular job and my photography hobby, I'm also very fortunate that I get to travel all over Alaska doing what my friends call "My bird thing". I've meet some really awesome people, some of which are my closest friends and some are my feathered friends.
 Some are more than that.
 For the past few weeks, my closest 4 legged friend Macy has been having a hard battle. A battle that we're not sure what we are fighting. It started with an abscess on the right side of her face, than it was pancreatitis, then her immune system was failing and she wasn't eating. She lost 5 1/2 lbs. which is quite a lot for a dog that started at 27 lbs.
She's under good care from Far Country Animal Hospital and a handful of doctors and me at home. She's making a comeback, but still has a ways to go. What I've missed the most is her looking out the window when I drive up the driveway from work. She had been too weak to do that. Well, yesterday I was driving up the driveway and saw her in the window. That was the best feeling I've had in several weeks. She's also eating on her own now.
 
I've been keeping people updated on Facebook. It amazes me how much attention she has gotten. I've got emails and messages from people I don't even know. Thanks for everyone's prayers and well wishes for Macy.