We’ve continued to have a long string of rainy weather, which is unusual according to the locals.  I didn’t mind since I was still dealing with a virus that kept hanging on, and we have plenty of indoor chores to keep us busy.  The cool wet days are perfect for knitting – making little gifts and warm things, and it’s especially nice since there are two knitting/crafting groups that I meet up with here in town – kind and interesting ladies.  I love to listen to the comments they make, especially since I’m one of the few women in town who have never been on a commercial fishing boat; most of the ladies either fished with their dads or their husbands, and many couples fished commercially in retirement.  There’s a wide variety of things to know in order to be successful: complex fishery regulations, species-specific biology, oceanography, weather, boat operation and maintenance… and on top of all that you have to be willing to work long hard hours in all weather conditions.  The more we learn about fishermen the more deeply we respect their intellect, commitment, and skill.

In addition to knitting groups, I confess that I’ve been doing a lot of knitting on my own lately – it’s challenging and fun to transform a little pile of fiber like this…yarn balls…into something spiffy like this.20150126 4136 fair isle hat rI’m trying to challenge myself and get my skills to the point where I can try to make a real Norwegian sweater (that actually fits).  All this knitting has resulted in yarn purchases that I might be able to avoid if I could make better use of the yarn I have aboard – the stash.  A lot of the stash was acquired from Mom (a knitting teacher) when I was a pretty Junior Knitter and didn’t really know what I needed or what to do with different things.  Combine an unruly stash full of mystery yarn and living in a small space, and it was way past time to get it organized.

The yarn lives under the long sofa, and it was so jammed full that the cushions sat higher in that section.yarn storageLiving in a small space means that any attempt to organize creates an unreal amount of chaos in the process.  It’s ugly, and I have to make sure Jim is adequately prepared for the extent and duration of the devastation.  The yarn project took 2 days, and we coped by going out for pizza and a movie.  There was yarn piled everywhere in the saloon (fancy name for a boat’s living room).yarn piles 1yarn pile 2The happy news is that the yarn has now been tamed, inventoried, reorganized so I can find things, and weeded out.  I took a huge bag of yarn to give to the ladies at the Manor, and Jim is guardedly optimistic that I might actually use some of what’s lurking under the sofa instead of dragging him to yarn shops whenever we’re in civilization.  (Actually I never drag him to yarn shops – he won’t let me go alone.  Sigh.)

Sunday the Sons of Norway hosted a “Meatball-palooza” pot-luck dinner where people brought all different kinds of meatballs.  Exhausted from the yarn reorganization, I wasn’t particularly inspired to cook, but Jim saw a recipe he thought would be interesting for sausage meatballs.  He did all his shopping and planning for ample quantities, and Chef Jim stepped up to the plate and (I am proud to say) hit a home run with his fantastic sausage meatballs!20150125 4122 meatball chef jim rThe Meatball-palooza event was great fun, and some people dressed in tropical wear to counteract the dreary weather.  With so few restaurants in town and almost no options at dinnertime, pot-luck gatherings are a popular activity.20150125 4123 meatball-palooza rMonday and Tuesday were glorious with bright sunshine and blue skies – a tremendous contrast after weeks of monochromatic dark days.  I had to run around and take a few photographs…wrangell narrows looking north…and we jumped in the car and took a ride out the road to look for wildlife.  We heard about a pack of wolves that has been sighted just south of town, though we didn’t see them.  We explored a logging road that cuts through the National Forest across the island, and savored the views even though it was late in the day and the light was fading fast.  We saw one panorama across the muskeg where we could see Frederick Sound, the craggy snow-capped Coastal Mountains, and icebergs at the mouth of Le Conte (glacier) inlet over 15 miles away – gorgeous!  Aside from the swans and other birds we didn’t see any wildlife.  We’re having such a mild winter that the deer haven’t come down off the mountains.  We’ll see what February brings.

Speaking of February, the tanner crab fishery opens soon and the docks have started to get busy with fishermen preparing for the season.  Our neighbor’s boat is sitting low, loaded down with crab pots…island girl crab pots…and Petersburg Fisheries has a big stack of pots sitting on the dock ready to go.petersburg fisheries crab potsTemperatures are supposed to drop into the mid-30s late this week and into next week, and the thought of heading out in the winter weather and frequent gale force winds sounds pretty daunting.  Think about all the hardworking fishermen when you enjoy your seafood!

At Least We Don’t Have to Shovel It

The rain, that is.  We’re living in the world’s largest temperate rain forest – we get that.  But this winter has been unusually warm and wet, and the forecast is getting monotonous with nothing but rain.  I mean RAIN… the pouring kind, which isn’t typical.  The weather out in the straits and sounds has been nasty too – the NOAA reports every morning call for gale force winds and 8 foot seas, and that’s on the inside passages.  Fortunately we’re protected from the wind and seas tucked in the harbor, and we’re glad we don’t have to go out in it like the fishermen do.

Anchorage has had much less snow than normal, and we heard on the radio this morning that the ski area in Juneau is closing its lifts for lack of snow.  Our skis and snow shoes sit neglected.  A little white stuff would be nice for a change.

On the other hand, to all our friends back in the mid-Atlantic states who think we’re crazy to live in Alaska in the winter – how are those ice storms working out for you?  It’s 47 here today.  (I’m sure the fates will remember my snarky words and make us pay.)

January has been a bit of a let-down after all the activities and fun of the December holidays.  A lot of retired people have headed south to Arizona or other warm places to “get off the rock” for a couple of months.  Fortunately I have my two knitting/crafting groups that meet every week, and the cool/cold weather really stirs the urge to knit.  I’ve made a few little things for gifts… handwarmer mitts and a v-neck baby sweater.mitts20141229 4021 baby sweater for wes rAnd I even received a knitted gift from one of my Canadian friends – hand-knitted socks in fantastic colors!  I adore these, and there’s nothing nicer than hand-made socks because they fit so well.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m working on tuning up my fair isle (multi-color) knitting technique so I can tackle some Norwegian style projects – mittens as a “warm-up” and then maybe a traditional sweater.

In other excitement we had an amazing “small world” event where friends who also live aboard in the harbor happen to be friends with a lady named Meg – they’ve known each other since the 70s in Seattle and have stayed in touch all these years.  It turns out that Meg is the younger sister of our very good friend Ted that we’ve known through boating for many years on the east coast… and we got to meet Meg and her partner Dee last week when they came up to Petersburg.  It was such a cool and improbable thing!20150113 4098 Dee Meg Robin Jim rIn other excitement, last week Petersburg hosted the start of the 2015 tour of the “Intergalactic Nemesis” show.  It’s a 30s style radio show with 3 (incredibly talented) voice actors covering all the different characters, a slide show with the comic-book style images illustrating the story, a Foley artist center-stage so you can see all the different sound effects made live, and a piano player supplying the soundtrack.  It was OUTSTANDING – this troupe from Austin, TX is well worth seeing, and we hope they return for the second installment of the 3-part story next year.  Check out their web site for performances and more information.

Jim joined the Elks Club in town to give us an option for dinner out Thursdays-Saturdays, and to get more involved in the community a bit.  This Sunday the Sons of Norway are hosting a “meatball-a-palooza” pot luck.  Living in Seattle Seahawks territory, there should be some good options to watch the Super Bowl the week after.  It’s a far cry from Julebukking and weekly concerts in December!

In another installment of “life in a small Alaskan fishing town”, I want to point out that getting mail and packages in Alaska (and I suspect Hawaii, too) is a pain – it’s expensive, and often suffers from silly delays.  Up here, the US Postal Service is our go-to carrier – they do a great job and everyone relies on them.  Postage is a bit more expensive between here and the Lower 48 when mere mortals send packages, and stupidly more expensive when businesses ship.  But as long as shippers use the Postal Service, everything runs smoothly and pretty quickly.  Things take a little longer to get here – some things go on the plane, and some go on the ferry or barge, but they get here in a predictable amount of time to our P.O. Boxes.  We don’t have mail delivery to homes or businesses up here – everyone just has a box at the Post Office.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhere things go haywire is with UPS or FedEx.  Forget it – it’s hopeless.  Those buggers don’t care about Alaska, and they’re not even nice about it.  Some companies refuse to ship to a P.O. Box, and that means a long unpredictable wait for a package to arrive.  Despite the fact that we have two flights a day connecting Petersburg with Seattle, Juneau, and Anchorage (major cities), all UPS and FedEx stuff goes to Anchorage where it just sits.  For days, with no rhyme or reason.  “2nd Day Air” takes 4 days to get to Alaska, at best… but there are no guarantees.  Boxes pile up in Anchorage until the contract shipper decides the pile should be sent along to the destination city – probably by some scientific method such as a dart board or waiting for days that don’t end in the letter “y”… even though there are flights to those places EVERY DAY.  737s with plenty of room for a few packages.  None of it makes any sense but that’s how it works so people around here despise UPS and FedEx, and we avoid any shipper that won’t use the good old Postal Service as much as possible.  We understand why UPS is brown.