Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Stylin'

You may have heard that Anchorage is the worst-dressed city in America. Well, by association, that probably also means Juneau and Fairbanks are also at the top of that list. Well, I think we're all pretty darn happy to be called "badly dressed" if it means we're comfy and safe in the winter months.

Many people, especially women, have found ways to spruce up their looks in the winter. I see a lot of fashionable knit or wool caps, bright jackets, and now "snow skirts". I see them on lots of women around Juneau. It's like snow pant material but in skirt form. They can go over pants or jeans, but I got one mostly so that I can put it on over my work clothes- which just about always includes a dress or skirt. My snow skirt works perfectly as snow, rain and cold protection to and from work.

Here is my typical work commute outfit. Fleece-lined hat, heavy winter parka, warm fleece gloves, snow skirt and the ever-present, standard Alaska-issue insulated XtraTuf boots. I also received a pair of Bogs band boots for Christmas. They are very popular here, too.  I'm also planning to get my hands on a pair of cleats. Not that those are part of the "style"- just useful winter equipment.

Ohio Cousin Gordy's Winter Style. Nice gloves!
Do you have your own winter style photos to share? E-mail me at or post a pic to my Facebook page HERE

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

All I want for Christmas is running water

The weather has been beautiful for the last week. We’ve had quite a bit of sunshine- a nice bonus around the solstice. Unfortunately, clear skies usually equates to very cold temperatures. Temperatures haven’t really broken 20 degrees in the last week, and it’s making winter living a bit difficult out at my aunt and uncle’s place. 

Pipes: frozen. 

I’ve been house-sitting on the other end of town, and I had planned on moving myself and the critters out to their house for the weekend/Christmas so I could spend more time with my cousins who are home from college. Auntie texted me on Friday to advise not to move out there until the situation was fixed. They had some heat tape wrapped around the pipes which requires electricity, but for some reason, the outlet it was plugged into lost power causing the pipes to freeze. Not only were they without water on Friday, it also caused them to lose heat because the water pressure had dropped too low for the furnace to operate correctly. When it rains, it pours… or should I say, when it snows, it blizzards. I guess it's part of living in Alaska in the wintertime. 

Boxes of dishes to send down the street to wash
So we're making due. We're washing a lot of dishes by hand, we've got four 5-gallon water jugs that we can refill down the street, and we're making it work in other ways. With a little luck, it will warm up some in a few days. 

Best Christmas Gift EVER

Is someone sending me a message?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Katy Goes Back to School

Going back to school wasn’t something even close to being on my radar in the grand scheme of moving to Alaska. That being said, I didn’t have much on my radar. I just wanted to get here, find a job and get going on the next chapter. I jumped off the cliff into the unknown. Now that I’m here and actually figuring my life out, I’ve found that I’ve adopted a “Just Say Yes” policy… for now. I take every opportunity as they come whether it’s an invitation to a party or event, a housesitting gig, or any other unique opportunity. I’ve already said yes to the New Years Day Polar Bear Swim. Oy.

So when I discovered that my employer, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, has a very cool program where they’d reimburse 100% of the tuition and fees to obtain a Masters of Public Administration, I just had to jump on it and say “sign me up!” How could I pass that up? The deal is that (with prior approval), employees can take classes and/or full degree programs at University of Alaska that relate to our positions, and as long as  we earn a B or better, APFC will reimburse the full cost! Pretty sweet, eh? There is still a stipulation that if I were to leave APFC within two years of completing the course(s), I would be responsible for paying some of it back. 

Beginning next month, I will be a first time graduate student at age 32, and if all goes according to plan, I should be able to complete the program in three years. Unfortunately, I won’t qualify for in-state tuition until sometime in 2014 so I’m limited to taking one class per semester until then. The other aspect that’s not so great is that this first class I’m taking directly conflicts with the weekly rehearsals for the Thunder Mountain Big Band. I’ve really been enjoying playing and singing. I hope they don’t take it too hard. I might be able to rejoin later, but we’ll see. 

Anyway, between having APFC on my resume and an MPA, I’ve got a very promising future here in Alaska. I will open ALL the doors! It really looks as if I’m figuring this Alaska thing out.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A December Weekend

Just a few shots from s snowy December weekend in Juneau...

Katy Goes North caught by the papa razzi

Mendenhall River

Mendenhall River and Glacier

Getting comfy in the cabin we're looking after

Tacos and Xmas Tree Decorating


The only way I ever get attention

O holy dog...
Thunder Mountain Big Band plays the Juneau Dance Club Ball

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Katy Meets the Governor of Alaska

I haven't been in Alaska two months, and already I've been on TV and met the Governor. I think that's a pretty good start. There's a Christmas Cookies at the Governor's Mansion tradition here, and today a couple of my co-workers and I took a late lunch break and walked up the hill to the "White House of the North". Sean and Sandy Parnell greeted guests, cabinet members handed out hot cider, an incredible spread of cookies and fudge was available, and the house was beautifully decorated for Christmas.

I went right up to Governor Parnell and introduced myself. I dropped my Uncle Larry's name (the Parnells have had my aunt and uncle over for dinner before). I told him that this was my first Alaska Christmas, and I had just moved from Boston. He asked me about where I'm working so I told him (very proudly) that I'm at the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation. Sandy mentioned that they had been in Boston this summer and had visited John Adams house. They were just lovely.

I highly recommend checking it out in the future if you live in Juneau. We were warned about long lines, but we got there right at 3pm when they opened and waited only 5 minutes to get inside.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Go to sleep, bear!

It's the beginning of December and bears should be denning now... meaning we shouldn't see them/worry about them/think about them/etc.

Too bad our neighbor had one on their porch this week.

Good morning, Dent.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I like to take pictures.

You may have noticed the background image on It's a picture of Denali (Mt. McKinley) and Wonder Lake that I took in the summer of 2010 in Denali National Park. That's right. I took that picture, and it's very special to me.

I'm currently using a Nikon D7000 for my nicer photographs, but I also have an ancient Canon Digital Elph that's great for keeping in my pocket on hikes and Wilderness Volunteers work days. I can thank an ex-boyfriend for getting me into the habit of taking beautiful pictures. I really enjoy sharing pictures, too. I take them for you.

Here are a few recent gems from my collection. I'm hoping to really spend some time with my pictures and make a really good "greatest hits" album sometime.

Click on the pictures for a larger experience. 

Mt. Taylor, New Mexico Sunrise

Calico Paws


Provincetown, Cape Cod
Nevada Night Sky... and me

Ridgevale Beach, Cape Cod 
9-11 Memorial, New York


Dall Sheep

Denali Flora

On the Catwalk, Yeah

Dear God, please give us the gas pipeline, and don't let us piss it away this time!

I was reminiscing this morning about the Alyeska Pipeline with transports oil from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope down to the port of Valdez. Thanks to the construction of the pipeline, the Permanent Fund was established, and yours truly has a job. The pipeline also converted Alaska from the most taxed states to the least taxed state in the U.S. Here in Alaska, we don't pay state income tax- the state pays us (Permanent Fund Dividend).

Here are some pictures from my trip to the Alaska Interior in 2008. We paralleled the pipeline much of the way between Glennallen and Fairbanks.

Don't ask.

That is a cloud of a bear pooping.