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Alaska Wittig Family Blog
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Getting Around

After a short time of hauling brush it became obvious that we needed pathways to get from the creekbeds up to the driveway.  Two things made the need apparent: the difficulty of trying to carry brush up the steep hillside, and realizing that the plants living on the hillsides didn't like the abrasion of feet and branches going over them.

The trail on the left was built on Mother's Day.  I [Michael] decided to build it after watching a short segment on television concerning building stone walls.  There is in fact a small rock wall under a short section of the trail.  The trail on the right went in last weekend and was a much more concerted effort, involving a lot of rock work to make the trail wide enough for the two-wheeled wheelbarrow.

The two new trails make it much easier to get up and down the hills, a point the kids are especially happy about.  The adults are also happy with the result.

Nope, these projects don't do anything for the house itself, but they do improve our enjoyment of the place.  They were a lot of fun too. 

Posted at 3:58 PM YDT
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Here It Is

Here is the big surprise.  The following appeared in this morning's (May 16) edition of The Juneau Empire, our local newspaper:


Posted at 7:45 AM YDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 9:40 AM YDT
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Happy Mother's Day


Two mothers.  Two children.  That makes four, right?  Okay then, four pictures for Mother's Day.  Here they are.  We love our moms, even on those days (like today) when eloquence fails us and we're left with very little to say, but the sentiment remains.  Happy Mother's Day to our moms!

Posted at 9:59 AM YDT
Updated: Sunday, May 13, 2007 10:01 AM YDT
Monday, May 7, 2007
Visitors to the Ponds

We had some visitors to our ponds this morning.  They were very reclusive and flew off when little Michael and I [Michael] came toward them.  I hope they come back, but I have to doubt that they'd find very much to eat in there; perhaps I can encourage something to grow in the ponds that will entice them to return and stay, but I guess that should be low on the priority list.

We were also playing with the still picture capability on my digital camcorder.  Despite the age of the camera and the small (by today's standards) 1.3 megapixel size, it is still better than our new digital still for telephoto work, such as the pictures of the ducks (the new camera's larger format doesn't make up for the meager zoom they put on it, as with most still cameras).  The camcorder also does a better job in marginal lighting situations where a flash is not desired, and tends to produce sharper images at low light levels.  I believe this is because the camcorder utilizes the larger aperture size of the lens on the unit, gathering more light than the mediocre lense on the still camera.  Not bad for a six year-old camcorder.

Here's another funny thing about pixel size.  New cameras keep getting larger picture sizes (some consumer cameras are running eight megapixels these days), but these resolutions are only needed for printing on paper.  The pictures on the right, for instance, each use about 0.23 megapixels out of the 1.3 megapixels that came out of the camcorder.  If I took these pictures with an eight megapixel camera, they would still be about 0.23 each by the time they got posted on the internet.  That's the way it works.

Oh, and did I mention that the kids really like the flip screen on the camcorder?  It lets them look at themselves when they're in front of the lens.  It's a fun diversion.

More yard cleaning on the docket.  Only a trace of snow remains on the ground in two places in the yard, and I expect these to disappear by the end of the week.  I am also running the utility trailer over to our old house: now that the snow is mostly gone we can get to our lawn furniture, canoes, kids outdoor toys, and all the other remnants of our old life before we moved.

Lastly, I've got a surprise coming.  I'm not going to say what it is, but all will become clear after May 16.  How's that for a teaser?

Posted at 11:00 AM YDT
Updated: Monday, May 7, 2007 11:08 AM YDT
Monday, April 30, 2007
Clearing the East Creek

Believe it or not, it took less than ninety minutes to go from the before to the after shots above.  Saturday was a big yard clearing day, when I [Michael] worked my way down and up the east creek.  Part one was working downstream with the chainsaw, clearing much of the dead branches and overgrowth along the creek banks.  Part two was working upstream with a shovel, digging through blockages of mud and decaying branches to lower the creek level.

 Areas that used to be underwater are well above the creek level now and the whole lower basin seems to be draining.  One pond, and several smaller pools, disappeared completely because of the lower water level.  The newly exposed mud is still very wet, but is beginning to firm up while the water drains from it.  So far so good.  By next week the upper basin should be clear enough of snow, and I can go looking for the streambed up there.  The goal is to drain the swampy areas, and so far the work is accomplishing the goal.

The bigger goal is to make the streambanks accessible to the kids.  In the areas we've already worked the kids can (and do) get right down to the creek to throw things in the water.  Today they both decided to get in.  In Michael's case, he began crossing back and forth in one place, which got his pants wet but gave him a great deal of pleasure.  Becky went farther and repeated her walk down the creekbed routine, which I gave no objection to until she came to the pond at the south end of the west creek.  I told her to stop and come back -- which she did at first -- but then she went right back into the pond again.  I just finished telling her that it was a bad idea when she lost her footing and went into the mud (because that's what the pond mostly is), which she really didn't like, and she came to like it even less when I didn't come to her rescue, instead suggesting that she should climb out on her own (which she eventually did).  About this time Michael also lost his balance and sat in the creek, so it was time for all to come inside.

We're still losing snow, but we now have much more exposed ground than covered.  It certainly makes it easier to see what's going on, and what needs to go on, in our yard. 

Posted at 2:19 PM YDT

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