18 March 2007 Peace Walk in Talkeetna

About 30 people walked from the Denali Overlook into downtown Talkeetna on Sunday to commemorate the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War. Grete and Linnie led the walk, beating drums that they had made. Some carried signs of peace and some questioned the war in Iraq. One boy rode a scooter and a dad pushed twins in a stroller. Other children skipped and ran along side.

On the news today I heard a story of how children in Baghdad can't go outside to play because their parents fear the violence. Are the lives of Iraqis better today, with limited electricity and water, civil unrest, living under "house arrest" to avoid random car bombings, snipings, and kidnappings?

When will the people of Iraq be able to walk peacefully on a sunny day?

19 March 2007 Four years is too long!

Monday March 19th marks the 4th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.

If you think it's time to leave Iraq, but aren't sure what the options are, I suggest you read what
Friends Committee on National Legislation has laid out as an exit strategy that brings US troops home and helps Iraq achieve stability.

If you're already convinced and would like to mark the anniversary in a meaningful way, these organizations may have events in your area:

And if you want to make a sign like Alex's, check out Friends for Peace.

wishing you a world of peace & love every day ~ corinne, paul, and alex

14 March 2007 shrinking winter

The clear skies and bright sun say "spring" but the cold north wind reminds that winter doesn't end early at these latitudes. We haven't received much snow in weeks. The snow is decreasing through settlement and sublimation. The last snowfall, about 4" ten days ago, slowly disappeared from the front deck where we didn't shovel.

This is the "wintriest" winter we've experienced in Anchorage. Not the coldest temperatures, but the most days of single digits and below zero. And more winds from the north than before. In winters past we've dreaded the warm southeast winds that raised temperatures just enough to cover all walkable and driveable surfaces in ice and ruin the skiing (see 27 Jan 2007) These north winds create such wind chills that even the blazing sun can't lure us outside in the evening. The record snowfalls of December and January, coupled with the extended cold, make this only the second year when I predict that I'll have to shovel snow off my garden beds in mid-May to ensure they'll be warmed and ready to plant by Memorial Day.

3 March 2007 Iditarod

Some Alaska events are not-to-miss -- the state fair, Ski for Women, Birdathon in Talkeetna, and the Iditarod. Eighty-two mushers ran the ceremonial start through Anchorage today and we headed to our favorite area to watch the doggies run. Last year my dad, stepmother, brother, and his wife were in town so first we went downtown to catch the very beginning of the race and the excitement of thousands of dogs and peoples. Then we drove to the halfway point of the 11-mile run near the university.

This year we slept a little later, skipped the downtown start, and went directly to the halfway point. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the course had shifted through the university to include a section of Iditarod trail that we staked out when we first came to Anchorage. The mushers come down a hill, cross a bridge, and then head back up another hill with a sharp turn to the right at the top. The dogs try to cut the corner and in years past we've watched the Iditarider (i.e. someone who has paid 1000s of dollars to ride in the sled through Anchorage) get dumped down the hill. Paul likes to see the crashes and to help set the sleds up right. This year the race officials had set hay bales on the inside of the corner to try to keep the dogs on the trail. But as much as those dogs like to run, they'll take the shortest distance between two visible points. The race official stationed at the bridge said a few sleds were still going off even though he was warning them to tip up on one runner to avoid going over. Some of the dogs on the inside corner had to leap the hay bales as the rest of the team tried to cut the corner. We watched a dozen mushers and Paul was able to help a couple get upright.

Then we walked down the trail to where the mushers run down a power line behind a neighborhood. These neighbors really get into it. They hang a banner across the trail to salute Martin Buser, a former winner and all-around nice guy from Alaska. Kids operate the Muffin Stop, handing out muffins to the mushers, the Iditariders, and the handler who's usually on a second sled. (The second sled adds some drag to slow the dogs down a little.) To be in position for each musher, one guy with binoculars stands on a ladder and looks down the power line for the next musher. He reads their number, and depending upon their nationality, two buglers play their national anthem or just trumpet the musher's passing.

We saw about 40 of the mushers ride through the university. Tomorrow they start the race for real from Willow, Alaska. If you want to follow the race, the Anchorage Daily News is a good source.