Tuesday, January 31, 2012

God Given Gifts and Talents

Each year Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (ORLC) puts on a talent show and dessert auction fundraiser. This annual event consists of several talent acts followed by an "intermission" in which both live and silent dessert auctions take place.

The theme for this years talent show was "50 Years and Counting..." since this year marks the 50th anniversary of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church's existence. The downstairs was decked out in 50th streamers and golden table clothes and tinsel. I even created a backdrop of one of the early sketches artistic sketches of the church using an overhead projector.
Working on the backdrop

And it's finished 3 feet tall by 6 feet wide
The show itself consisted of a variety of acts with all ages. Some of the highlights included...
  • 5-year-old Scott singing Amazing Grace, 
  • The Coburn Family with "Our Redeemer Word Game" (if you've ever seen the Red Green Show its identical to the Possum Lodge Word Game but they simply changed the name.--it was funny!)
  • 9-year-old Stephanie playing her guitar (one of my guitar students)
  • Steven playing bagpipes
  • The Roelfs family with "Wintertime Blues"
  • Layne with "The Rules of the Church Potluck"
There were other funny skits, jokes and stories by several members too. I really enjoyed that there was a variety of ages and talents. It was a lot of fun.

Left: Scott singing Amazing Grace   Right: Layne with "Rules of the Church Potluck"

Coburn Family with the Our Redeemer Word Game

Roelf Family with "Wintertime Blues"

The homemade desserts were all donated and auctioned off. Items for the live auction averaged $20 but some items like the New York Cheescake sold for as much as $150. I personally bought $50 homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches. 
The youth showing off desserts during the live auction
The talent show led me to a personal devotion based on 1 Corinthians 12...
 "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,  to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines." (1 Corinthians 12:4-11)

We are each given gifts and talents. It may not be as apparent like music, or speaking but perhaps its the gift  of making others laugh, the gift of patience (hats off the to the patient parents), or patience. God has given every believer at least one spiritual gift for doing His will in this world. And then His Holy Spirit nudges you to use it through a strong desire to serve Him in a way that seems to make sense for you.

Paul gives examples like serving, teaching, giving and leadership. So if different people all see a need, like helping the homeless in the community, He could motivate one to serve food at a shelter, another to teach at a job readiness class, another to give of their income to provide for the needed shelter and yet another to lead a church to get involved. Each person reacted to the same problem through the way God motivated them, using the gifts he blessed them with. Today, ask God to reveal to you the different ways you could serve Him. He has given you spiritual gifts and will show you when and where to use them.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shrew Hunt!

For the past two days I have been tracking what I thought was a baby mouse. I first spotted this very small "mouse" when he awoke me in the middle of the night as he was on my Kleenex box on the floor of my room. 

I set two traps overnight the next day and awoke to find that BOTH traps were missing the peanut butter and candy bar bait but neither trap snapped. Today is my day off. I had an early morning of caring for a neighbors dog and then was in Anchorage in the morning. This afternoon I decided to take a nap.

I awoke to noises of the "mouse" only to find that he had climbed up the curtains, across my nightstand (stool), and was IN MY BED!! I ran to the kitchen to get a pot (not sure what I was going to do). When I re-entered my bedroom he was on my nightstand and as I had a closer look I noted it was unlike any mouse I had ever seen. Upon the brief 1 second glance I realized it was not a mouse but a shrew. I opted not to swing to kill it in my bedroom but instead trapped him underneath the pot. 

Watch the following videos to see what happens next...

Outside and out of my room!

After I finished removing this shrew I walked back into my living quarters only to see ANOTHER shrew scurry across the floor from my bedroom into the kitchen. I followed it and grabbed a mug (it was the closest utensil to me). I covered it with the mug on the floor.

Shrew #2
I then proceeded to cut up my cereal box so that I could slide the cardboard under the mug to transport the shrew outside. This time I would not free it but instead kill it, and that is what I did. 

I left to go teach a guitar lesson and when I returned I found my host mom ready with sticky traps. As we went to set them around the lower level we noticed we had caught a third shrew in a mouse trap. Three shrews in one day, I'd say those are pretty good stats. :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jam Packed Week!

I was blessed to go back to Minnesota for seven days. This was great for me, but also involved squeezing many things into each day, and utilizing every minute.

I arrived in St. Paul on Thursday and was greeted by 27˚F temperatures and my wonderful fiancee Adam. I was happy to see both. From the airport we drove straight to Hutchinson, MN to visit Adam's mom and sister. While in Hutchinson we also made the deposit on our block of rooms for the hotel for the wedding, went to the reception hall and spoke with the venue supervisor, and finalized our catering.

The next day we awoke early to meet for coffee with Adam's DCE and talked wedding, marriage, and life in general. From there we left Hutchinson and drove to Gaylord, MN to visit Adam's grandma in the nursing home.

With most of the day shot we drove back to St. Paul just in time for me to get to my friend, Amanda's, Bachelorette  Party. The party was fun as it was comprised of DCE, DCO, and LCT (Lutheran Classroom Teacher) friends from college. It was 80's theme and we enjoyed karaoke songs from the 80's and 90's, as well as the original in the box game "Girl Talk". It was a lot of fun.
Amanda's 80's Batchlorette Party
This pretty much sums it up! Karaoke & Dancing
After a late night at the Bachelorette Party I was up early once again as my family drove to St. Paul to visit. I had not seen my dad, brother or sister, in over 7 months. We went out to lunch and then drove to my brothers house in Wyoming, MN for a day of fun.

My family minus my sister Kayli who is in Germany
The next day we went to church in Lakeville, MN where I did my fieldwork. I love this church so much and the people even remembered me as did some of the youth! At the service I got to speak with special guest Rev. Bill Ney from the Lutheran Assocaition of Missionaries and Pilots (LAMP). Rev. Bill is a pilot who travels to remote areas of Canada to do mission work for the Lutheran Church of Canada. You can see his blog --> here<--

My family headed home after church and I headed off to the mid-year intern retreat which was a busy experience in itself (See previous blog post).

Upon my return on Tuesday Adam and I set out to begin or wedding registry. We decided to register at Target and Bed, Bath, & Beyond and Sears. We had a list of things in mind as we went around with the registry "guns" scanning the things we wanted. Toward the end it was slightly overwhelming as they did not have all that we wanted OR they had too much of an item--like spatulas there was like a dozen different kinds!

As we finished the back aisles of Target I walked past the toys to which Adam convinced me we should walk over to the game section. On our way Adam stopped at the Nerf Guns and begged to put them on the registry. Of course I said yes. Some may call it foolish but I call it love. We can't be serious all the time or we would lose our minds. I shared this with my youngest sister Kayli to which she told us "watch your gonna end up with like 50 of those things you silly love birds" Ah, well they will double as ministry tool and will be a great way to get Adam up and at'em in the morning (Who doesn't love getting pelted with Nerf guns at 6:00am?)

Yup that happened-Nerf Guns at Target
Getting our dishes set at Bed, Bath, and Beyond
From Target we moved to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and after six hours of registering we were BEYOND done! I was exhausted and finished out at Sears the following day.

Adam was mad we didn't play the game "Risk" first.
My final evening in St. Paul, I enjoyed double date with my good friends Amy & Brian. We played "Boxers of Briefs" as Amy & and I wanted to play it and then followed with a game of Risk (for the boys).

What a jam  packed week. I'm still not caught up on sleep nor did I get in everything I wanted to do in the seven days I was in Minnesota. I think Charles Dickens said it best with

“There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish; The thing is to do as much as you can in the time that you have”

...and that I certainly did.

Mid-Year Retreat

I'm at the halfway point, or at least according to the college internship I am. I actually am a little over halfway done with my internship since I had such an early start. Halfway done comes with mixed emotions. For Concordia St. Paul's Director of Christian Education (DCE) and Director of Christian Outreach (DCO) programs all the interns are called back from their respective places mid-year of their internship for a retreat in Minnesota.*

As interns we are scattered literally across the country and then some. The gathering began with a Friday evening meal at the home of former Concordia St. Paul Chaplin, Steve Arnold. We enjoyed un-structured story time of various internship experiences. With bad weather in the Chicago area, we learned that one of our interns, Katie, flight was canceled. She opted to drive and was still on the road.

Map of where all the interns are*

We began to eat yummy chili and soon enough Katie arrived. It was nice to have us all together*. We are like one big family in that sense. After the meal we enjoyed ice cream and more conversations filled with laughter and reminiscence of freshmen year and classes thus far in our college experience.
Group Photo at Chipotle (Courtesy Alyssa Burdett)
The following day we awoke early to meet with several leaders on campus. They spoke to us about post-internship matters and how the college has changed while we were gone including a new college President, admission office, and as Emmalee joked "They moved the spoons in the dinning hall!".

We then left campus and headed to Mount Olivet Conference and Retreat Center located in Lakeville, MN. Once there we enjoyed time of de-briefing with the ever famous BIG PAPER and used a Kevin Hall favorite format of "What?" "So What?" "Now What". 

Emmalee & Bailey with the BIG PAPER (Courtesy Alyssa Burdett)
We listed some of our top learnings thus far on internship and as I recall here were some of the most common/popular ones

1. Have someone outside of the Parish to talk to--for good and bad days find your person to rant, reflect, and recharge with.
2. Learn to say "No"--it's vital to ones sanity
3. Take your day's off-do not re-enter the church or work from home
4. Ask for Help
5. It's not about the number of people at events, but the quality of relationships with the people at the events. (aka numbers are not everything)
6. Do activities outside of church and have friends outside of church.
7. It's okay to fail.
8. Let congregation members take ownership--ie: If they have an idea go with it. People are more passionate about their ideas then others.
9. Have personal devotion time.--Preparing for church Bible study does not count.
10. Life isn't by the books--The "textbook" perfect youth group, congregation, and scenarios do not exist.

After reflection we enjoyed a time of intimate worship with no flashy powerpoints, screens, or music. A single guitar with just the 10 of us gathered informally on couches. It was one of the best worship's I've had all year mostly because I was actually worshiping rather than leading, or worrying about what my next task in the service or after service Bible study was.

After worship the supervisors seemed to disappear to bed or do whatever supervisors do. Meanwhile us interns enjoyed time in the swimming pool, sauna, several rounds of Uno, and YouTube entertainment by Jeffery Dallas.

Uno! (Courtesy Alyssa Burdett)
The following morning we went back to campus and got to speak with the Leadership class which included several students who will be entering internship this upcoming year and we finally got to meet Concordia St. Paul's New President Tom Ries.

The retreat was good and necessary for contemplation and re-grouping the second half of internship game plan. The best way to put it is

Kevin: "You have just reached half-time"
Alyssa: "What's the half-time show?"
Kevin & Phil: "We are!"

Okay so our supervisors are not the halftime show but certainly the ones who make us intentionally think and reflect upon what we've done, and what's to come.
"What's the halftime show?" "WE ARE!" (Courtesy Alyssa Burdett)

*I should mention that one of the DCO interns is in Botswana Africa, but she did not fly home for the retreat.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Connections for the Future

How exciting it is to see something start small and grow. Excitement is the feeling I have as Our Redeemer Lutheran's contemporary worship service that we call "The Connections Service" is growing. When I first arrived at ORLC The Connections Service consisted of playing the contemporary songs on iTUNES while the congregation sang along. While this was not ideal, it was the only option the congregation had as musicians were limited.

I arrived June 1st, and by August I had began offering free guitar lessons to anyone interested. I had two student's initially both under the age of 12! I had one hour of lessons for each student every week. While I had these students it of course took time for them to learn the chords, songs, and strum patters. So in the meantime for each month I remained a one [wo]man band.

This month was very exciting as the music committee put together music folders that have the contemporary songs sheet music. This was a great idea that the music committee had, and we finally implemented it this month. One of the hardest hurdles for the congregation to overcome was the unfamiliarity of each new song, and that there was no music but just words on a screen. With the new music folders containing sheet music the congregation is now able to follow along better than words alone.

Assembling 80 music folders; a Saturday afternoon activity.
In addition to the music folders the leaders for the service now has a "Praise TEAM" (not me alone). This is most exciting as one of my guitar students, Stephanie, was able to join in leading worship. I was also blessed to have the very talented Johnny join me with his mad guitar skills. This month we also had Layne as the lead vocal!

The service went very well. Johnny does phenomenal guitar picking and "pick-ups" while Stephanie and I focus on solid strumming. We really enhance each other's playing and together just create a good music worship experience. With Layne leading vocals this allows for me and the other guitar player to focus on simply guitar which is a great relief of pressure to me.

Worship TEAM!
Stephanie & Layne: Like a pro!

I am glad to see that this service growing due in large part to the music committee's support and the congregation's patience. It would be fun to come back in a year or two to see what The Connections Service is like then.

This whole thing is like raising a baby. Starting with my guitar students and teaching them their first chords, to now leading worship right along side me. God is so good! I don't mean to sound Southern Baptist but I just am in such love, and have such a passion for ministry and looking to the future to empower others to lead ministry as well. It may not be Pentecost and I may not speak in tongues but I sure can proclaim to the rooftops the love Christ has for His Children of God and help those around me recognize their God-given gifts and abilities. I love this internship!

Progressive Dinner

Last night my church held the annual progressive dinner. For those of you who do not know what a progressive dinner is it's like a drive thru, but not really. The event consists of each course of a meal (appitizers, main dish, dessert) prepared and eaten at the residence of a different host. In this case we went the Lutheran way and made it pot luck where each family brought a dish for one of the courses.

The evening began at -18˚F (warmer than years past progressive dinners I'm told) and we started at Kathy's home with appetizers. Some of the dishes included my Grandma Pfeil's famous macaroni salad (made by yours truly), a scrumpshious tossed salad with mandarin oranges as a special vinaigrette sauce (my favorite), a Salmon ball with crackers to dip, smoked salmon, shrimp, nachos, and a veggie platter.

The ladies enjoying their appetizers 

Yummy appetizers
 I really enjoyed this course mostly because there was such a variety of "Alaskan seafood". It was yummy, but I had to remind myself that there would be two more stops to go. After an hour of great conversation we headed out to the next place. The Jarnagin's. I was excited to go to their place as I had heard rumor of their spectacular view. Knowing that it was a steeper drive several of us carpooled.

Off to the next home
We arrived at the "J Ranch" to an aroma of warm ham and turkey hanging in the air. As we arrived I noted that some additional people were present. Some of the congregation members who had opted to bring the "main dish" had skipped the appetizer home to ensure the freshness of their food.

Living room crew 
I got all the men to smile!! :)
The menu this time was cheese and reindeer sausage soup (my favorite at this stop), ham, turkey, cabbage casserole, and homemade rolls. We spent a great hour and a half conversing about many things. I got the low-down on traveling to Doha, Qatar and the currency exchange of a Riyal to the US Dollar. I also learned all about traveling to Paris and tidbits from my host families recent trip to Tanzania and their successful hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro. It was very educational to me.

Main Dish!
 For are final stop we headed down the mountain to Vern & Ingrid's house for dessert. I was most looking forward to this one as Sally made her award winning caramel apple crunch. It was simply delightful. Other yummy desserts were HOMEMADE ice cream, pumpkin pie, rhubarb crunch, and chocolate brownies. It was all very good.
Dessert fellowship=the best
It was a very fun, very filling evening. Filling because I was able to converse with people for a longer, and more in-depth amount of time. I really love the people at this congregation, they really are like family. I am so blessed to have been placed here for my internship and I now see that God was preparing me for this very place all along. Why do we doubt? Why do we not heed the words of our Lord when He says "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."?(Jeremiah 29:11). God plan is perfect, and that's better than anything I can ever forecast.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Alaska Driving 101

I grew up on a farm. My house ten miles out of town two of which were solely gravel. If we got a heavy snowstorm (especially on Sundays) my dad would drive the tractor down the gravel roads to plow us out. Sometimes I would come home late after fall play, debate, speech, or musical rehearsal to find the gravel roads drifted in taller than the hood of my car.

I remember coming home one time with my brother and my brother had the gas floored, tires spinning, speedometer reading 60mph but we were barely moving. Hitting each snow drift, as the car heater fan got jammed with snow, but we made it home eventually.

Well no years of driving gravel, unplowed roads could prepare me for driving in town in Alaska after snowfall. We did not get the huge dump that was expecting this last storm system around. Oh, we still got plenty of snow but not near like the other side of the inlet.

Today I drove into Eagle River, AK to run errands. Driving was INSANE! The Old Glenn Highway (similar to Oxford Street for all you Worthington readers) is the main drag. Four lanes of traffic and all the major stores/shops on the stretch of road. In my drive here are my top ten observations/frustrations...

1. Turn Signals-Do people not use them or are they concentrating to hard on not dying that they cannot take their hands off the wheels? You realize that not knowing what you are going to do on dry pavement results my need to react, well this is not dry pavement, buddy, I cannot react as fast. Please use your turn signal so I can anticipate your actions.

2. Drag Race vs. Grandma-Some drivers (mostly the 4x4 trucks) come FLYING down the road way to fast for the conditions only to run into the grandma driver going 5mph (too slow even with the road conditions) both are dangerous and both are frustrating. How about we all drive the limit and all arrive ALIVE. Okay?

3. Lane Hog x2-So there are two lanes of traffic on each side of the road. Since there is ice caked on the pavement coverd with snow one cannot see the dashed lines marker each person's lane. So you have to guess where to drive. Well "Mr. Oblivious" in front of me was driving smack dab in the middle hogging BOTH lanes. He almost took out "Mr. Drag Race" who was trying to pass but there was no room. Seriously people, pick a lane or at least follow the person in front of you.

4. Ground Blizzard Pass-Driving faster than 30mph creates heavy blowing snow as a result of a passing vehicle. The worst is when you meet an oncoming snowplow this results in a good 3 second white out, and then the gravel truck following behind the plow with another 3 second white out, followed by a line of traffic, who cannot pass because they cannot see beyond the plow in front of them, which results in a LONG period of white out. I came to almost a stop when this happens because I could not see.

5. Head Lights-I realize that sunset is later now (4:15pm) but driving at dusk is the worst especially for those who do not turn their headlights on. It's hard enough to see with the blowing snow and obstructed view of 10 foot piles of snow at each street corner, but no headlights, come on people lets do us both a favor and use your head (lights).

6. Snow Piles-At each stop sign/street corner there is a very large pile of snow. I was coming out of the bank and needed to cross 2 lanes to head back north, home. It was of course rush hour and normally one has to wait for a long time anyways without snow. The problem is my car has a very long hood. I cannot see around to look left and right to see if there is an opening to cross or not because of the LARGE PILES OF SNOW at the corners. So I creep out to see only to find a car headed toward me so I must either gun it, or throw it in reverse. I opted to throw it in reverse there is no "gunning it" in Alaska.
Stop Sign
7. Traction-I have studded tires, but studded tires do nothing against snow. They are great for ice but nothing for snow. When accelerating one must keep in mind it will take 5x longer to get moving because there is no traction. This is key for if one plans to "gun it" to jump traffic. There is no "gunning it" it doesn't happen, just wait it out.

8. Breaks-There is no quick stopping, and with all written above breaks are needed. It's not me it's the guy two cars ahead. Some car is in the same situation I was at a stop sign, creeps out, and realizes they have to gun it or reverse. In this case they gun it, resulting in a domino of break lights passing three cars ahead of me to myself. While this looks good on Christmas lights it can be disastrous on the road because even with good breaks the snow and ice make you slide.

9. Pedestrians- I realize that the sidewalks are gone and there is nowhere to walk, but walking on the road is a bad choice. I'd take my chances walking in snow. You realize I can't see, can't stop, and I can't help what the idiots around me do right?

10. Stop Lights-If it turns yellow you better keep going because if you try to screech to a halt it will likely result in a tailgate party and I don't mean at a football game. Today I watched a Chevy truck go through a yellow then turned red light with a police sitting waiting for a green turn arrow. The police didn't even care. It's an Alaska fact.

Moral of the story is, don't drive unless you have to on bad roads AND next time I'm an intern in Alaska I'm getting a 4x4 pick-up truck, it'd be well worth it. I keep reminding myself at least i'm not in Valdez or Cordova AK they have MUCH more snow than us.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weather Report

I don't mean for this blog to become a weather station, but I have just never seen so much snow all at once. This is all very unusual to me. Yesterday the Chinook winds kicked in around 5:00pm and blew through the night.
This is what it normally looks like out my window..

Then the winds picked up...

And pretty soon it was a complete white out ground blizzard.
I don't know if I dare say this but I rather enjoyed the wind. I love listening to it as it reminds me of sleeping in my own bed at home. We get some rip roaring wind on the farm in Minnesota. This of course I say because I was safe inside a warm house.

This morning I awoke and once again they are forecasting snow. Not just a little snow but the predicted range is 9-18 inches. WHAT?! 9 inches is the LOW END?!

Statement as of 4:54 AM AKST on January 11, 2012

... Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 9 PM this evening to
9 PM akst Thursday...

The National Weather Service in Anchorage has issued a Winter
Weather Advisory for snow... which is in effect from 9 PM this evening
to 9 PM akst Thursday.

* Snow... 9 to 18 inches is expected to accumulate between this
evening and Thursday evening.

* Timing... snow will begin this evening and intensify through
Thursday morning the gradually taper off Thursday afternoon and

* Impacts... travel may be difficult. Visibilities may be limited
in heavy snowfall.

I'm not sure where they are going to put it all. My path here at the house is already waste deep, at church it's shoulder high on the sides of the entryway and half way up the bell tower out front 6 feet deep! I am not yet sick of snow and no, i'm not just saying that. It's really quite mind blowing and I'm not complaining because for the most part I don't have to remove much of it.

I'd rather it be snowing and cold than just cold and clear. There is something magical about the snow although I'm not so sure about another 9-18 inches that just might be disastrous not to mention there is a spot on the church roof over the sanctuary that was weak before the snowfall. Hey Dad, if we had this much at home we'd have scooped the roof of the shop three times already! Well, we shall see what tomorrow's morning light brings perhaps it will be a snow day.
The snow is half way up the bell tower at church

The church entrway, it's shoulder high see how far it's up the tree on the right?

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Snow Continues with Chinook Winds Coming

Yesterday we got another 6-8 inches of snow, on top of the already foot of snow the day before. Oh my lanta, have we ever got snow! My host parents get home from Tanzania tonight so this afternoon I went to scoop the sidewalk and path so they wouldn't have to when they got home.

While this was a good thought I was discouraged to see that all my work I had done the day previsous was for not. The path that I had scooped was now all, once again, drifted in. How discouraging. At any rate I grabbed my shovel and began to scoop.
This was a cleared  path two days ago!

This too was clear two days ago!
You see these pictures above, now go look at my post from January 6, I just cleared this path out. Alas, it could be worse. The temp was -8˚F outside but I was SWEATING.  I started with the deck, and moved on to the sidewalk and then, the killer, the path to my door. I was in snow up to my waist scooping down to my door.

It was slightly frustrating because it was slow progress and with each scoop mini-avalanches would fall down onto the path and fill in what I already had gotten rid of. After an hour of work I made it.
I have a clearing!!

It is finished
Click on the video above

I went inside to take a shower only to find Beanie the kitty sleeping on my bed. Oh to be a cat, I doubt she has any idea of the snow outside.

After my shower I went to update my blog only to find that the national weather service of Anchorage has issued a "High Wind Warning"

Statement as of 5:00 AM AKST on January 09, 2012

... High Wind Warning in effect from midnight tonight to 6 PM akst
Tuesday along Turnagain Arm and higher elevations...

The National Weather Service in Anchorage has issued a High Wind
Warning... which is in effect from midnight tonight to 6 PM akst
Tuesday. The high wind watch is no longer in effect.

* Location... along Turnagain Arm and higher elevations.

* Wind... 40 to 60 mph with gusts to 80 mph.

* Timing... winds will increase tonight continue through Tuesday
afternoon before diminishing Tuesday evening.

Oh, boy high wind it looks like this particular wind storm is what  this is known to Alaskan's as a "Chinook Wind". A Chinook wind brings warmer than normal temps. While one would think this a good thing, but it actually can be devastating. Warm temps brings freezing rain, melting snow turning to ice and a downright mess. I'll have a report for how things things are in the morning, unless we lose power which is likely.

What an "unusual" year of weather everyone keeps telling me. Well if it has to do with adventures, i'm all for it. I love this internship!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Alaska get's a lot of snow. No news there. Everyone keeps telling me that the snowfall for this year has been "unusual". I don't know any different and just figured, "hey, it's Alaska and it snows". I cannot put into words the piles of snow EVERYWHERE! Perhaps the best way to describe it is through the front page article of the Anchorage Daily News. Click --> HERE <-- to read the article (Dad that means you, you will love all the weather craziness).
Picture from ADN of snow tunnel on the streets of Valdez
Valdez is located approximately 80 miles due east of anchorage (as the crow flies). So the have gotten lots of snow. Anchorage also has received large amounts of snow. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the official tally of the last storm was between 5.5 and 20 inches (not including hillside). This is a broad range due to the vast size of Anchorage and the way the mountains interfere with the weather patterns as well as the ocean.

Tonight as I write the National Weather Service of Anchorage has issued yet another winter weather advisory:

Statement as of 9:47 PM AKST on January 07, 2012

... Winter Weather Advisory for snow remains in effect until 9 am
akst Sunday...

A Winter Weather Advisory for snow remains in effect until 9 am
akst Sunday.

* Snow... 6 to 12 inches.

* Timing... snow will persist through the night. Snow will end
from southwest to northeast by late morning.

* Impacts... travel may be difficult. Visibilities may be limited
in heavy snowfall.
Just a little bit of snow to plow
I knew the snow storm was coming and since I have moved back to my real host home here in Alaska as I finished up house sitting I decided to head to Fred Meyer to get some groceries. I was shocked. The store was PACKED with people like it was Black Friday. I went to get some basic things ie: Eggs and Milk. I first went to get eggs but they were out. Not like kinda out, but NOTHING. So I went to get milk. Milk was slim pickings. Being 1 person, who doesn't use milk except on cereal, I get 1/2 gallons. They were out of 1/2 gallon milk in 2%, 1%, and non-fat (skim). I waited for people to clear and snapped this picture on my cell phone:

Took with my cell phone of the lack of milk in Fred Meyer
Rather than get a gallon I opted to just go with water and dry cereal. The expiration dates on the gallons were not long enough that I would finish before it went bad. I guess everyone heard about the blizzard and decided to stock up. Never fear mom and dad I have enough soup to last me until May, and plenty of other things to make without milk.

Another 6-12 inches expected overnight?!! I left confirmation from church tonight and there was already a good 3 inches of snow on my car. As I drove home (to my home sweet host home, as I'm done house sitting), I hardly made it up the hill. By the fifth switchback with the steepest grade my tires were spinning due to low traction on account of the snowfall. It will be interesting to see what the morning light reveals.

People keep saying this is a very "unusual" year. Well if it's "unusual" and "once in a lifetime" I'm all over that. Oh, Alaska how I do love thee and your 6-12 inch dumps of snow.

P.S You all should look at the pictures of snow around the area by clicking --> HERE <-- Once there click on the left and right arrows to view  (Pictures 17-30 are the best). All those in the midwest wondering where your snow has gone, it's here in Alaska.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Home Sweet Home!

Well I am done house sitting. I am now back at the Semmler's my home sweet home. I arrived home to much snow. The path to get down to my entrance had not been shoveled since I left before Christmas. With over 4 feet of snow since then it was rough first treck to get into my home.

My key only unlocks my door so the only way I could enter was by way of the 3 foot drifted in path. I did not want the trip to be a waste as it would take six trips to get all my stuff in so I grabbed my large suitcase on wheels. While wheels on a suitcase is a great idea for airports and level ground they are terrible for deep snow.

The snow was so deep I tried to keep my suitcase lifted up out of the snow but the snow went up past my knees and I could not keep it that high. The suitcase left a mark of bumps from where I would lift up and step and then set it down again. It was an intense work out. 

 The pattern made from my suitcase this was only the sidewalk portion...

Ug...the only way to gain entrance...there is supposed to be a path here.
After (same view as above picture) suitcase makes fun pattern

This is what it looks like after I went through with my suitcase I made it to the bottom

I made it to my door, and my feet were very cold as snow was in my boots and under my pants. I decided not to haul the remaining 5 loads of stuff down the un-plowed path and opted to enter through the upstairs door.

Before I hauled in the remaining 5 loads and was greeted by the "welcome crew" aka the very lonely cat Beanie. Beanie had been missing her human owners as they have been gone to Tanzinia since before Christmas. She followed me with each trip down to my bedroom and would not leave my side.

The Welcome Crew aka Beanie the black cat
 I went back outide to scoop a path so in the morning I would be able to walk outside to my car without snow up to my knees. It took a little over an hour, and it's hard work manually moving snow. I was tired so the cat and I laid low in bed and watched t.v. It's good to be home.
Beanie stays close, and slept in bed with me :)