Winter: still wintening for all it’s worth. It’s actually snowing today. I was just out putting more seed in the chickadee feeder. Gray jay (a.k.a. camprobber) on the suet block this morning. One of my plans for this summer, now that we no longer have an outside cat and I’m getting into feeding the birds as a hobby, is to redo my backyard for more pretty little bird nooks and feeders and flowers. That’s probably going to be my main garden push this summer … at least if summer ever gets here, which seems unlikely at the rate we’re going. We still have three feet of snow.
Moose: still moosing.
They spent a few days hanging around in the general yard/driveway area, including bedding down for a while next to the plow truck.
Yesterday they browsed slowly down the creek and we spent some time watching the lady moose try to break off a willow that was at least 15 feet tall to eat the pussy willows at its top. Eventually they drifted on and seem to be gone today.
I worked on Keeley #5 edits all this past week and will be finishing revisions this upcoming week (I hope). Kismet, the webcomic, remains on hold for now, as there have been various additional delays with family emergencies and travel and such, but I’m posting some extras to the Patreon to help make up for it, and plan to get back to regular updates in May – after I get back from the first traveling-for-fun vacation I will have taken since 2019. (Planes! Hotels! What even!)
Looking forward to spring, and all the good things that go with it …
Also posted at the Facebook group, I made myself this cute progress chart to keep track of where I am in all my various projects for current pen names.
I’m cycling back and forth between my different pen names for the first half of 2022. Right now I’m working on Metal Gladiator while noodling over some of the finer plot points in Keeley #5, and then I’ll switch back to that in February and aim for getting it off to my betas.
I looked out the window just now and the snow was coming down in astonishing thick flakes. It really shows up against the wall of the shop.
We’ve also had some moose hanging around the last few days. You can see SEVEN at once in this astonishing video taken by my husband as he was trying to get to work a couple of days ago!
The one that’s been mainly hanging around the yard lately is a yearling calf. It was out there again today.
The lovely pink light above is the sunshine on the hill opposite our house. You can see the shadow of the opposite hill where the color transitions to white. This is as close as the sun gets to us right now … but now the shadow will begin creeping down the hill as the sun rises a little earlier and gets a little higher each day, until we’ll start getting sunlight on our house around Feb. 7-8 or so.
The world ushered in the Solstice with a snowstorm over the weekend. I wandered out yesterday and took some pictures of the snow-covered world.
They’re forecasting another storm system to move in soon and dump more snow, so Orion plowed last night.
I walked up to the highway to get the mail today and found moose tracks all over the freshly plowed driveway. There’s been a moose hanging around for the last couple of weeks—we haven’t actually seen it, but it browses around the driveway most nights, based on the tracks—but I think these may have been two different sets. There were the usual single-adult-moose tracks near the house, but the tracks of an adult and a calf up near the road.
At least it’s a bit warmer that it was. It was -30F a week ago, but the last few days have been much milder. There are still a lot of long cold days ahead of us, but we hung on until the darkest night, so now the sun will start coming back.
On a less wintry note, I leave you with another of last night’s pictures—of the tiny horse herd that lives on my studio windowsill.
Let the cardening begin! I got three cards in the latest batch of mail, so I dismantled my fall table display and established a holiday card display in its place.
Taking down the fall table display meant disposing of the gourds from this year’s garden that were too underripe or over-aged to eat. Orion talked me into letting him throw them off the deck, which we decided was the ceremonial new year Tossing of the Gourds, and if your gourds go far, you get a nice year! They went far. Then I immediately had second thoughts, visualizing our property as Ground Zero of the 2022-30 Interior Alaska Invasive Pumpkin Infestation, and promptly went and found them again.
I put them at the bottom of the bird feeder instead, to see what comes to eat them.
Also, we’ve gotten several inches of light, fluffy snow lately. I put up my outdoor ornaments just a few days ago (these are just indoor ornaments that I hang in the trees every year – I’ve done it ever since Ellen Million Graphics found that someone had done it around where she lives a few years ago) and they look very fresh and seasonal.
Wild Island Horses by Liz Harman – Contemporary beach romance. (Update: this book is not currently available for sale. Please stay tuned for a future re-release.)
Meanwhile, it’s the height of summer in Alaska, with brilliant sunshine, 85F heat, and a glorious abundance of plant and animal life.
Watching the beavers at the nearby creek build their dam has been one of our most enjoyable activities this summer. We learned that beavers make noises to each other, and got to watch some juvenile beavers grow up! We do have some worries that at least some of them may have fallen victim to predators or trapping, especially since we hadn’t seen any around for a couple of weeks, but there were two out working on the dam today, so maybe they’ve just been working on dam-building upstream or something.
Other summer animal-life highlights include what I can only describe as woodpecker pecking school – with a flock of newly fledged woodpeckers practicing their pecking on the log walls of our house, including pecking so hard they kept falling off – and various other wildlife including porcupines and the first gopher I’ve ever seen here.
We’ve also enjoyed the summer’s lush wildflowers. We’re almost out of the height of wildflower season now; it’s mostly just fireweed at this point, but it’s one of my favorites.
We’re starting to get into the winding down of summer now. In a month it’ll be autumn already.
Yesterday I got the greenhouse cleaned up and ready for planting!
There are already some corn plants that I got at the farmer’s market yesterday. We’re supposed to have rainy weather this weekend, so it’ll be good for transplanting and I think I’m going to try to get some more plants in.
Normally Memorial Day/the end of May is the approximate “safely past the frost” date for planting outside, but I think we’re good for this year and I’d at least like to get some salad stuff in this weekend.
I also tried taking some pictures of the beavers a couple of evenings ago, when they were out and about in the creek, but my camera kept focusing on the brush so all I got was some blurry vaguely Bigfoot-like beaver cryptid images. This is probably the one that came out most recognizable.
For certain values of spring. We had a massive snowstorm the first week of April, on top of the snow we already had, and now it’s 60 degrees and we still have this massive snowpack. The results are interesting to say the least.
So basically … snow. We have it.
I think one of these should be my new author photo.
I think we can all agree 2020 has been a dumpster fire we’ll all be glad to see the end of, but December has brought brightness as well. We had a very pleasant, quiet Christmas, and here on the north side of the world, we’re on the brighter side of the solstice now, with more light coming back into the world every day.
We are having an incredibly bright full moon with brilliant clear skies, and the moon on the snow is like a wan sort of daylight, casting clear shadows at midnight.
You couldn’t quite read a book out there, but it’s close.
I’ll have a post up in a day or two with a full rundown of my books from the past year (including some freebies and sales!). In the meantime, I hope you’re not having too rough a time with these last days of 2020. Realistically, the arbitrary switchover of the calendar doesn’t make that much difference, but there’s something in us that likes milestones and fresh starts. Here’s to a better 2021.
… and the country gave us Election Day 2020. I voted for the first time when I turned 18; I still remember how excited I was about it. I haven’t missed an election since. I’m older now, a lot more jaded (especially lately) but I still believe that voting is the way you wish the future into being.
Today we hiked over to check out where the beaver lake used to be until about a week ago. We found many fascinating things, such as: fallen trees! Mud! Holes!
… maybe you had to be there.
Whole lotta trees, whole lotta mud.
There were also some obvious channels dug by the beavers in the bottom of the former lake. I can’t really think of a natural process that could have made these.
Here’s basically the same view as above, but from a week ago:
Meanwhile, the creek is just back to being a creek, now running between 4-foot banks of mud that were deposited on the lake bottom.
And so many gnawed trees. So many. Beavers … why are you like this.
With this one tree along the (former) lake shore, they also ate its roots and dug around it, making it look weirdly like a cutaway view of a tree.
And I found a chokecherry tree growing wild, with some fruit on it:
And I got a (slightly) better picture of this cottonwood tree that’s gnawed through to the point where walking around it is kind of … uneasy.
It was a nice walk, but I miss the lake and really hope the beavers are okay. We’ve been leaving the area around the beaver house alone and trying to be quiet when we’re out looking around, hoping not to spook them off. They might’ve left for greener, damper pastures, though.