Tag Archive: Alaska

RedGreenEver heard of the Red Green Regatta? It’s held every year in Fairbanks as part of Alaska Days, scheduled this year for July 20. The idea is a short race on the Chena River (downstream) between “boats” made of whatever, incorporating the Red Green theme (you do watch the PBS show, don’t you?) and held together with duct tape. This year, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s been wet: 5.45″ in July through last midnight and raining right now. The Chena was so high the race was cancelled. Not that the judging of the boats was cancelled! Photos were posted by our local PBS affiliate, KUAC, and I couldn’t resist stealing one and linking it to their site. So just click on the picture for more!


My cousins and their spice. (Hint--what is the singular of mice?"

My 2nd cousins and their spice. (Hint–what is the singular of mice?)

The sun will rise in Fairbanks at 4:33 am, and set 19 hours 25 minutes later, at 11:39 in the evening. I won’t see either one, though I’ll get back to Fairbanks just before midnight. I may catch a glimpse of the sun just before the plane starts to descend.

Where am I? Well, this weekend is our family reunion at the YMCA of the Rockies, near Estes Park, Colorado. At Denver, a bit south and east of my current location, the su2ndn will rise at 5:49 in the morning and set 14 hours and 34 minutes later at 8:23 this evening. And it gets dark here!

I even went horseback riding, though at 73 I needed some help getting on and off the horse. The actual riding went fine, though for some reason the photo I took of the scenery from horseback refuses to upload to wordpress.

I have internet access at the camp, but no e-mail, I’ll expand this and add some photos. One thing I know: the July precipitation for Fairbanks as of the end of last Saturday was 5.41” compared with the July record of 5.96”, and the forecast then was for more showers.

The sun rose this morning at 3:49, and will set 20 hours 15 minutes later, a minute after midnight tomorrow morning. It’s still rainy: 4.58” (well over twice the July normal) as of July 12, with more yesterday and even more predicted for next week. If this keeps up we could set a record for July as well as June.

The raised beds with herbs and mint are riotously green, and the mints especially are crowding each other out. The delphiniums were a little beaten down by all the rain, but they are now tied up. The tallest are close to 12’ high, and the flowers are just starting to open. I don’t actually grow peonies but they are one of the few commercial crops up here and are starting to show up at the Farmers’ Market. Seems that the blooming period here, in July, is at a time when there are very few parts of the world peonies are in bloom. Result? Several people are growing them for the international cut flower market.

My hair finally grew back from chemo to the point that I got a haircut. I thought all the curl would be cut off, but a little wave still remains. I’ve included some before and after shots, which you can compare with the ones last fall.

backyard 10-30 6-29-14The sun will rise this morning at 3:09, and set 21 hours 39 minutes later at 12:38 tomorrow morning. It’s gotten a good deal warmer and drier this weekend; it hit 80 yesterday. There is a chance of showers or thundershowers today, but compared with the past week it’s really nice out, if a little warm.

At least the rain is easing off. Our unofficial total for June so far is 3.55 inches, which would tie the record for the month. One good shower today, which is a distinct possibility, would give us a new record for June. As of midmorning, the forecasts are calling for thunderstorms this afternoon and rain likely after midnight.

The garden is growing well. The delphiniums range from shoulder high to tip-my-head-back-and-look-up, though they are only starting to bud. The white iris are blooming, and the daylilies will be open in a few days. The photo, by the way, was taken in available light at 10:30 yesterday evening.


Lavenders are usually grown for the essential oil which for highest quality, as used in perfumery and cosmetics, is extracted from the buds and flowers. The leaf hairs also have some of these essential oils and may be used for sachets (often with flowers) or as a slightly sweet, floral flavor in cooking.

I’m afraid I grow them primarily for the shape, texture and color of the leaves, as in this climate I am lucky to see more than a few buds by first frost. As of late June ‘Goodwin’ is the only cultivar with a trace of buds.

I buy them in 3” pots and transplant them into a raised bed—they like it hot and dry, which does not exactly describe Interior Alaska in summer, even in Fairbanks. But they have a nice variety of appearances.

d. rose 6:22:14The sun will rise this morning at 2:59 and set 21 hours and 48 minutes later at 12:47 tomorrow morning. This near the solstice, the day length changes by less than a minute a day, and it is bright twilight all night.

Until the middle of last week we still had red flag warnings and high fire danger, but starting Wednesday we went into a rainy pattern. In fact, we are running at about twice normal rainfall for the month, and we’ve gone from fire weather advisories to local flood advisories virtually overnight. Highs for the next week are expected to be around 70, but with lots of scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms in the afternoons.

Zucchini 6:22:14All this rain has been great for the garden. The first domesticated rose has opened. I’m not sure what variety, but it transplants easily, suckers freely, and makes a nice hedge on the east side of the lawn. It is not a rugosa, which I bought it as, but looks more like a spinosissima. Lot of little tiny spines, and a pretty but small double shell-pink flower.

The green zucchini have female flowers, and are actually showing tiny squash. The yellows are a good deal behind them, but they are showing buds. (The black stuff is IRT plastic, which lets solar infrared through to warm the soil, but blocks visible light to stop weeds.) Unfortunately the weeds are enjoying the rain also; I’m going to have to spend a morning trying to get back ahead of them.


Rosemary is another herb I’m fond of, and I make a point of getting several varieties. I also try to pot one plant up and keep it going over the winter. It actually survives better than mint as a potted plant.

I like it in numerous dishes, but it’s especially good with lamb. I also cook delicata squash by cutting it in half, brushing the cavity and cut surfaces with olive oil, and tucking a sprig of rosemary in the cavity before microwaving.

Here are the four varieties I found this year.

Huntington Carpet

Huntington Carpet





Prostrate Rosemary

Prostrate Rosemary

And just to prove that herbs aren’t all I grow, the first white iris (a white variant of the local wild iris) opened two days ago.

White iris 6:10:14

Raised beds as of June 7

Raised beds as of June 7

The sun rose at 3:11 this morning, and will set at 12:31 tomorrow evening. Yes, we have a full 24 hours of daylight and bright twilight combined. Good thing I am not bothered by sleeping in a light room.

The thunderstorm season is here, and I hope we’ll get a little more rain. We’ve had some—about a quarter inch, which is normal for this time of June. But I’m still having to water quite a lot.

Most of the garden is now planted, at least the raised beds: one with zuchinni, one with mints, one with other herbs, and one with strawberries. The wild roses are in full bloom, as are the dwarf columbines and the hardy strawberries. The begonia boxes on the north side have been planted, and I hope to get the hanging geraniums trimmed and up soon. Thank goodness radiation therapy is over and I hope I’ll feel more energetic soon.

Blue Dw Col 6-1-14The sun will rise this morning at 3:32, and set tomorrow morning at 12:11. Yes, we’ve crossed the line where the sun doesn’t set until after midnight. It’s now over 47° above the horizon at noon, but we’re only gaining about 6 minutes a day. Temperatures are now fairly reliably above freezing here, though mixed snow and rain is being forecast for the higher elevations.

It’s a little cooler in the daytime (upper 50’s) but that’s because it’s somewhat cloudy. We’ve even had a little rain, but the fire danger is still high. We might have some scattered to isolated showers, but I don’t expect much rain. I watered some this weekend, and will have to water more next week. I do hope to get the rest of the transplants in the ground Tuesday.

Most of the perennials are up, and a few are even blooming. The white violets and the strawberries have been blooming for some time, and I think the dwarf columbines will be fully open by midweek.  I think a couple of the annual strawberries have even ripened, but the birds got them. I put floating row cover over them today, in hopes I could get some. Definitely spring, and I just wish I felt more energetic. Thank goodness the radiation therapy will be over in about a week!

Herb bed 5-25-14The sun will rise at 3:50 this morning, and set 19 hours 57 minutes later at 11:48 this evening. By next week, it’ll be setting after midnight. The rate of gain of daylight is slowing down by a few seconds a day, now.

It’s also warmed up at night, although cooling down in the daytime, as the air flow has shifted to the southwest, bringing moisture to the interior of Alaska. Not Strawberries 5-25-14much precipitation yet, though we’ve had a few sprinkles and enough clouds to warm things up at night and cool them down during the daytime. With luck, it will stay above freezing now. With even more luck, the fire danger will ease off.

I’m crossing my fingers on the squash and basil, but we planted most of the garden Saturday. I still have the plastic up on the hoops, but I hope I won’t have to use it on anything but the squash. I’ve planted two of the raised beds with mints and herbs, surrounding them with flowers, and tried something new this year with strawberries. If it works, it should keep the berries cleaner and much easier to pick, but I won’t know for sure for a few weeks yet.


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