Sunday, October 28, 2007

A big day in Dorval history!!!

Well, folks, it was a pretty important, big day here in the Dorval household today!

The Red Sox win the World Series for the second time in my lifetime - sweeping the Rockies, no less - AND Mr. Fred turned the big 4.

First, on the topic of the Sox - I will have to give a proverbial ppppbbbbffftttt to my family in Nebraska. I hate to do it, but Uncle Larry felt the need to flaunt the Rockies clinch of a World Series berth while the Sox were behind 3-1 in the ALCS, taunting Mom with the possibility of NOT seeing any more post-season play from the Sox. Well, Uncle Larry, not only did we get there, but we also CLEANED UP! As in, SWEPT. As in, the Rockies may have won 21 of their last 22 prior to the Series, but all that doesn't matter if you lose four in a row at the big show!

We had a great time watching the game with our friends Beth and Zach, their baby Donavyn (who somehow got to be a month old already!), and our friends Mary and Keith, and their kids Joshua, Megan and Daniel. Minus a small dog scare for Megan and Daniel as they walked in the door, we had a great time watching the game, chatting and eating some of Jason's fabulous chili. Jason will probably be disappointed to know that my favorite part of the meal was the pie Mary brought over, though... It was GOOOOD!

So, CONGRATS to the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox!!!! I don't think that will ever get old!

Now, moving on to more important things.... Mr. Fred turns 4. Of course, looking at him, he looks like he's 85 or something, but 4 in dog years is older anyway, so we'll give him that. Keeping with the annual tradition, Fred had to have some kind of special treat today for his big day. In the past, living in crazy dog people land, we've always just gone to a local dog bakery or fancy pet store and bought him some kind of special cake or cookie. Surprisingly (or not), Kodiak does not have such a place, so it was up to me to provide. Thanks to the internet and another CG spouse, I now have a recipe for a dog-friendly cake, which I baked up special for Fred, and topped with a fabulous frosting of all natural plain yogurt "frosting."

Forced to wait until the cake was cool enough to "frost," Fred started getting antsy soon after the cake came out of the oven, popping up from his perch on the ottoman everytime I was in the kitchen to see if it was time yet. Of course, this came AFTER I let him sniff the cake and put it back on the counter. I'm mean.

So here come the pictures.....
First up - the completed, unfrosted cake, with container of yogurt in the background. I gave him about a sixth of this to eat tonight. The rest is the in the fridge for leftovers!
Next is the finished product, with "frosting" and just a touch of red sugar sprinkles. He couldn't just have a plain cake, now, could he? There's no sugar in the cake - only honey and peanut butter for sweetness, so the little bit on the top won't hurt!

Next, in keeping with the normal way we feed Fred, we even made him wait for his cake. Mom, would YOUR dog do this?!?

We finally let him have at it. First the frosting came off - who knew a dog would enjoy plain yogurt so much!!?

Next, if you look very closely, you'll see a small bit of cake sticking out of Fred's mouth in this picture. The reason why only a small bit is sticking out is because he ate the whole thing at once. Yes, that whole hunk of cake. A small piece fell off when he picked it up, so it wasn't technically the whole thing, but he tried.

And then, to insure he got it all, he spent some quality time licking the crumbs off the plate and the floor. I still had to vacuum when he was done, but I have to say I was pretty impressed with myself for thinking to make him eat it in the kitchen.

And, last but not least, we (and by that I mean, I) take a portrait of Fred every year on his birthday. So this is the latest installment. He was busy watching the kids at the house behind us throw a ball up over the top of the line of sight of the fence, so I got good alert looks from him!

So that's it from the Dorval's big day. Fred is waiting for his presents, but he can be patient. He's a big fan of the Booda brand cornstarch bones. Mostly he likes the nubby minty ones... just in case anyone wondered. (Just kidding of course!)

Stay tuned for the next installment in Jason's life in exciting places - he slated for a trip to Cold Bay again this week... I'm sure he'll have something sarcastic and facetious to share after he's been there for about a half a day or so! I just might chime in out of the sheer boredom of the second week by myself in such a short period of time!

Hope you enjoyed Fred's birthday!
GO SOX!!!!!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Just pictures.....

After a couple days of snow, rain and snain (ok, who are we kidding... it was a week), the sun finally came out in full force today. If you can get past the fact that the "fall" temperatures here are running about 5 to 10 degrees cooler than a New England fall, getting the chance to be outside on a day like today is priceless.

Not wanting to miss our chance by letting silly things like work get in the way, I skipped out early to meet Jason for a sushi lunch (he didn't have to go in until 4pm today) and then a walk at Ft. Abercrombie with Mr. Fred.
As promised, I took more pictures of the snow over the past few days. Yesterday tried to be clear, but it never really got there. I tried to snap a couple pictures to show how much snow we'd gotten, but this is really the only one that came out well. This is a view of two of the three cutters that are homeported here in Kodiak, with the mountains behind them. I took this from the far end of the parking lot of my building.

The rest of the pictures are from today, at Ft. Abercrombie. I'll start with some snow views and then end with some fabulous pictures of my boys.

These next two pictures are just some beautiful views from the park. There's definitely a LOT more snow on the mountains than there was last Sunday! I don't think we'll be seeing green on these mountains again until about August of next year!

Everyone loves pictures of Fred, so I like to indulge that if I can. I think I actually took this one on Sunday before the snain came through. It's fun asking him where the turkeys are so I can get a good shot. It was also our standard trick for getting him to keep walking when we'd do neighborhood walks down the street from our house in Massachusetts. The cruel joke here is that there are no turkeys in Kodiak. Poor Fred.

Next are some pictures of both my boys. I wanted to get some pictures of them sitting in a patch of sunlight streaming through the trees today. As you can see in the first picture, we were luring Fred with sticks. It didn't work because his attention was only on the stick, and not on me or Jason.

Jason must've given in and Fred must've gotten the stick, because Fred proceeded to show Jason just how much he loves him.... all over his face. This is just a sample shot - I have about 5 of these in a sequence. Crazy dog! (and crazier Jason for letting him wash his face!)

And, finally, some of you might remember a shot I caught of Jason and Fred staring at each other while they were enjoying the view from Jason's favorite place in the park. Well, since I caught that one, we've decided we need to get one for each season. So, here's the "fall" installment. I guess the winter one will be different in that there will be more snow, and Jason might actually wear a heavy coat. I have to admit that this one is posed while the original was not, but it's cute anyway!

So, that's the latest from here! Jason heads to warmer climates tomorrow night for a week in Mobile for his annual proficiency course. I'll miss him, but probably only up til the part where he rubs the warm temperatures in my face for the bazillionth time!
While he's gone, I might try to catch up with a post about our visit from Matt and Tammie about a month ago. We had a great time having our first Kodiak company, AND I have some fabulous pictures of Tammie that I'm sure she'd love for me to share with the world!

Hope everyone enjoys the pictures!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ah, Fall in Kodiak!

So, someone tell me, if it's fall, how come the stuff falling from the sky is NOT red and yellow and brown leaves, but WHITE snow!?!??! Either someone is playing a cruel joke on us, or winter really does come a little earlier than I'm used to around here! ACK!

Just to prove my point, here are a couple of pictures:

So this first one is the view from inside the fairgrounds, where I went last Saturday with our friends Beth and Zach and their new baby girl, Donavyn. We were there to get pumpkins - you know, a fall thing - but, instead we looked at snow on the mountains and got a little sad about the fact that all the pumpkins were already gone! Apparently the 4H brought in roughly 10,000 lbs of pumpkins, but they were ALL gone within the first hour, with the big ones disappearing in the first 20 minutes. So, no pumpkins for us.... just snow.

This second picture is also from the fairgrounds, but it shows the amount of snow a little better. Sadly, this looks like a small amount of snow compared to what's on the mountains now. Pretty much everything is covered, down to about, I don't know, a few hundred feet or so. We got "snain" (snow/rain mix) most of the day yesterday, and a good part of the day today, too. But, at the higher elevations, it's clearly all snow. I tossed the camera in the car today to try to snap a few pictures, but it was dark on my way into work, and then snaining on my way home, so I didn't stop. Hopefully, tomorrow it'll clear up a bit and I'll get some good shots of a LOT of coverage on the local mountains. I have to say, everyone told us this was normal, but I was NOT ready to see snow this early. I'm hoping that we'll at least get a couple more weeks before anything sticks at the lower elevations... but I'm not holding my breath on that! UGH.

Anyway, we did have a gorgeous day on Sunday, so we got out for a walk at Fort Abercrombie, one of our favorite short hikes. I think we're at the point in the year when we're going to have to take full advantage of any nice days that come along. The walk TODAY at Abercrombie, in the cold rain, proved that point. I think having a dog in Kodiak is punishment for bad deeds in a former life - that's the only explanation for the walk I had to go on today. It's a dilemma - the dog has to get a walk, and he's miserable and crazy without it, but I'm miserable walking in the rain. Fred better appreciate it!!!

Here we are on the good day (Sunday), enjoying the view from the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean at Abercrombie.

Cold, snow and snain aside, I have to say that I'm very settled here in Kodiak. Even on a windy, stormy day, the views are breathtaking (though I like the sunny days better!), our house is WONDERFUL, my social life is busy, my job is great, and I just feel content here. I can't wait til everyone can start coming to visit us - we expect a revolving door of guests next summer, and we'll welcome you all! I just want to share this home with everyone - it sounds so cheesy, but it's just so neat to be living here and I want everyone to get to experience it!!

I think that's it for now. Jason's out in the garage brewing up his first batch of Kodiak beer, so I need to get the place cleaned up and ready for bed. I've turned into Mom and it drives me crazy to leave a mess to wake up to in the morning. I guess it was just a matter of time. Sigh.

Miss and love you all!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stephen King Novel?

Well last friday much to my frustration I showed up to work and was told to go home and pack a bag, I was going to be going to Cold Bay, AK again. I have been down there 5 times now and can pretty much teach most the people at the Air Station about it (most people only go once a year, I've been 5 times in 3 months) Lucky Me!! Little did I know that it would be one of the weirdest deployments I have been on.

We flew down to Cold Bay on a C130 and got there around 8pm friday night. After unloading all of our necessities (clothes, food, fishing gear, ect.) we settled in to what we were hoping was going to be a nice quite weekend waiting for the "big call".

Sidenote: We have lodging at the "Trooper house" in Cold Bay. We don't stay at the only lodge there anymore, we stay at the Alaska State trooper house where we have to cook our own meals, and get to drive around their truck. Quite entertaining since there is only 58 full time residents there.

Back to the trip, Saturday was quite nice, we organized the hanger for the upcoming deployments out here, and then relaxed and went fishing. We didn't end up catching the much sought silver salmon, but caught a ton of dolly varden. They're kind of like trout but fight more like a salmon. The rest of the crew managed to entertain themselves as you can see in the picture above. Sunday we ended up sitting around, thought we saw a plane crash (the winds were howling, 50kts) and mostly wasted the day away. About the time we were going to head out fishing again the phone rang. We were tasked with picking up an 80 year old lady that was very sick from a remote village. The kicker was that the village was 500 miles further down the Aluetian chain, and we had to take her 100 miles past there.

I remind you back to the 50kt winds, yeah they were coming from the direction that we needed to go. It was painfully slow going. We made a stop in Dutch Harbor (from the Deadliest Catch fame) and then went to Atka where we picked her up. The village was so small that the only lights visible in the village were from the runway. We picked her up with no problem and made it to Adak around midnight where we transfered her to guardian flight bound for Anchoarage.

Well Adak, that's where the title of this post comes from. Adak really shouldn't even be a town. It's an old navy base that the navy vacated back in 1996 and turned it over to the Native corp. The base used to house 6000 people, it's now home to 120 full time residents. They live in the old housing, and have turned over the highschool as the town center to include the post office, clinic, school, town offices, general store. Very weird. There's all this infrustructure and only 120 people. The houses all sit idle, and the story is that some of the houses look like the previous residents just up and left, coffee cups still on the kitchen tables. Many are beat up and the windows are broken, and the yards are drastically overgrown. It looks like the apocolyps happened and there is only a handfull of people left. It was very creepy, we kept waiting for the zombies to come out of the old houses.

We ended up having to stay until dinner time the next day as our helo was broke and parts had to be flown in. While we waited we explored the base, and pretended to run the Alaska Airlines counter. I think when the flights run, they actually have the flight crew do the booking and screening and then leave. Even they don't want to stay here.

Monday night we finally made back to Cold Bay and the trooper house. We were actually happy to be back there. To make the week even weirder, we rode out a 6.6 earthquake just prior to leaving where the house shook so much we thought it may fall down.

Luckily on our way home we got to see a pod(herd, group, whatever it's called) of walrus on the beach, and collected over 400 glass balls off the beach (usually you only find a couple at once). So after thinking that we were going to be forever lost in Adak, or found in Stephen King's newest novel we made it home and are very happy to be back. Hope everyone enjoys the pictures and stay tuned for more updates.