Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Cookies

On Christmas eve, Thayer and I made cookies.  We used this recipe, which was absolutely delicious, if you don't mind your cookies being made up of about half butter (mmmmmm).  I made colored sugar using some old food coloring, granulated white sugar, and a mortar and pestle.  I think it turned out pretty darn well!  Here are some of the cookies (the more boring shapes, i.e. heart, star, have been omitted and/or eaten before photos could be taken).
Things you can knit:

[T- Jessica was the only one making knitted themed cookies, for some reason...]

Things that live in the Fox River:

[T - I made the Dapnia and the round goby, and if they look kind of simple, it's because they were my first cookies, before I really got the hang of it]

With close-ups: Green Sunfish

And a really one:

Round Goby

 With a real round goby:
A Rotifer: Asplanchna

[T - I think making Asplanchna was cheating a bit.  I would have liked to see a little bit more complex one like Keratella]

with the 'real' Asplanchna

Sea lamprey

And a real sea lamprey

A spiny waterflea

And a real spiny waterflea (with a fishhook waterflea)

And finally, as per Bart's request, a (sideways) Daphnia

And a real Daphnia (this is actually one of the photos I took)

Also, Thayer made a bunch of really cool dinosaur cookies

Clockwise from upper left: Velociraptor, Apatasaurus, Stegasaurus, and Plesiosaurus
A closeup on the Steggie, because it is so awesome:

[T - I dunno why my velociraptor didn't get a closeup, I thought it was pretty cool.  I guess this is what happens when you let Jessica take the pictures]

Okay, fine, here's a close up of the Velociraptor

And a HUGE damselfly nymph.  Unfortunately, this cookie broke a lot- segmentation doesn't work quite as well on cookies as it does on insects.

[T- also, cookies do not get stronger the bigger they are, they just get broken]

And a giraffe and an elephant.  The giraffe actually started out as my poor attempt at an Apatasaurus.

[T - Jessica also truly unleashed her creative energies at the end of cookie making when we had both lost steam, creating such masterpieces as "snowball," a round cookie, and "pile of smooshed cookie dough," which were no less delicious for their uninspired nature.  By this point I had already made a bunch of dinosaurs and was very done with cookie-making as well.

In other news, we are all alone in Gothic!  John is out visiting for Christmas and Billy headed back into Gunnison, but we're looking after the place just fine on our own.  We did weather station on Tuesday which went swimmingly (turns out getting up the hill on skis is not too bad, as long as you're not doing it in the middle of a blizzard) except for one little part at the end where one of my ski bindings broke!  We went into town today (I borrowed John's snowshoes) and took my skis to the Alpineer to have a look at them.  We shall see what they say about that.  The weather was beautiful for a town trip today, and the snow is nice and firm for really wonderful skiing and snowshoeing, so that was exciting!  We took the sled, because both of our parents gave us Christmas boxes to haul back to Gothic, but the snow was nice and compressed so the the sled actually slid instead of dragging like a big plastic anchor.

 Jessica and I had a really nice Christmas together and we both got very fun things from each other.  Being alone in a cabin surrounded by beautiful scenery and four feet of snow was very romantic and made for a very relaxing Christmas.]
Here is Thayer snowshoeing with the sled.

And a view from the other side (you can see the broken ski in the sled):

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Christmas Branch

First of all, we got even more snow since our last post- the mountains are just so gorgeous coated in such a thick layer of snow.  Another foot, at least.  Luckily it's packing down nicely, and skiing was actually pleasant this morning!  We had to bring water from the lab to Maroon cabin- unfortunately the pipes have frozen for both John's cabin and Maroon (the nice one that skiers stay in).  It's quite a bummer, but we're still lucky to have our water.

We found an evergreen branch broken off a tree near our cabin (possibly our porcupine's doing?)- voila- Christmas "Tree"!  We piled up our presents below it and decorated it with some homemade ornaments.

A tiny teddy- isn't she cute?  And miniature mittens!

Thayer made some lovely snowflakes for the tree.

I made another little stocking.

A few weeks ago, my mom sent me a fun little kit to make felted gingerbread men.  Here's one of them (sideways- sorry).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our Little Blizzard

So, I promised a description of our recent storm, and here it is.  The storm came in on Sunday and got heavier and heavier until Tuesday afternoon.  We ended up with about 2.5-3 feet and some drifts that are definitely much higher.  It was really fluffy stuff- there was only 2.5 inches of water in all of that, according to our weather station trip.  Unfortunately, since it was so fluffy, skis were nearly useless.  The minute I put weight on a ski, it would slide down at least two feet to the snow-pack from previous storms.  In short, it was really frustrating.  It was fun and gorgeous to be trapped in a blizzard- until we had to go outside.  But I digress.

Do you remember the waterfall I showed you several weeks ago- Judd Falls?  Well, we walked up there the day before the storm hit, and it's frozen over now.  Thayer nearly missed it and walked past because it's so much quieter with a layer of snow and ice covering the moving water.

[T - in spots where there is just ice, you can see the water running underneath it]

 And how cool is this lichen?

[T - it was on a memorial bench at the falls]

Here are some "action shots" of our storm.  I think they're from Monday.

Tuesday was our turn to visit the weather station.  We woke up to a cold cabin, a power outage and lack of running water (we have an electric water pump).  And then, the weather was . . . uncooperative, to say the least.  Yay!  We learned pretty quickly that skis were nearly useless on flat ground and more frustrating than you could possibly imagine on the upward slopes of hills.  There was no way in heck that either of us could herringbone up the hills, because we couldn't pick our skis up through the 2+ feet of snow that they were instantaneously buried under the minute our feet touched down.  Ugh.  So, the skis were discarded and we both climbed ski-booted up the steep hill to the weather station.  Also, the wind had picked up by the time we got to the weather station hill, and there were times when we weren't quite sure which way the path was supposed to go, or couldn't see anything other than white - 'I dunno- aim for that tree, I think'.  But we did manage to get up there after an hour of strenuous climbing (four times longer than our usual walk)- Thayer breaking trail for me, for which I'm eternally grateful.  Thayer did the weather station stuff (we switch off weeks) and as we were getting ready to leave, we realized that, since the internet was down, we would have to climb up the next day with a flash drive to retrieve the data that we had downloaded from the precipitation gauge.  The climb down was nearly as hard, as we were so exhausted.  But once we got back to the cabin it felt SO good to start a fire and veg out for the rest of the day.

We walked/climbed/fell back up to the weather station yesterday, to retrieve the data with my flash drive.  It was so much more enjoyable than our Tuesday hike- there was actually some sun and NO blowing snow!  We didn't even bother with skis yesterday- sturdy boots with ski poles for balance were much more effective.  We managed the whole thing in little over an hour- the time that it took us to just get to the weather station on Tuesday.  It was so wonderful!

[T - also, we didn't sink quite as deeply in this time.  Snowshoes would have been useful, but alas.  Well, we made due and got a good workout.  The ozone machine thingy was working though, so that's exciting.]

There was a little time for lunch, and then I had a phone interview/conversation with a potential graduate adviser at Oklahoma.  After that, Thayer had his own interview with the same potential adviser.  I think both of our calls went pretty well, but we'll see in a month or so how it turns out.

Compared with Tuesday and Wednesday, today was a much appreciated sluggish lazy day.  The sun finally came out and the fresh snow draped over Gothic looks so picturesque.

Just about an hour ago, I skied around the cabin to test the snow.  It has packed down quite a bit, and skiing is no longer an exercise in frustration.  Look at how blue the sky is.

Everyone was taking advantage of the brief respite from storms.  Bucketloads of little songbirds were flying around and calling.  I saw some snowshoe hare tracks (no surprise that they're out and active).

 I also came across a porcupine trail (really more 'trail' than 'tracks'- they carve hilarious troughs in the snow).

As I was admiring its tracks, I heard the telltale wood-munching of a porcupine.  This one was perched halfway up a pine tree, busily stripping its branches (remember to click the photo for a larger image).

[T- I think its face looks surprisingly like a snow monkey face, and the quills kind of remind me of their fuzzy guard hairs]

This one was so much larger and pricklier than the juvenile that we've seen along Gothic road.  It didn't pay us any attention- except for when Thayer laughed at it- that got a look.  And here it is in midreach for a tasty branch.
[T - I was laughing because I had just looked to check my camera shot and saw this picture in the viewfinder.  I think the little tongue hanging out is hilarious.  I watched him for a while, but got bored after 15 minutes of him just sitting eating pine needles.  I'm impressed there's anything that actually chooses to eat pine needles, but he seemed to be enjoying himself]

The snow below the porcupine tree was nearly covered in discarded or dropped branches.

[T - I don't think he was trying very hard to conserve the pine branches, as he had an entire tree to eat if he was so inclined]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

So we've both been meaning to write a post about our recent blizzard.  We got about 3 feet of snow over just the past few days.  Unfortunately it's light fluffy stuff that is a monster to ski on and will be until it packs down a little bit.  I'm sure both of us will write more about this and post some pics (as it has impacted our lives quite a bit over yesterday and today), but for now I'm just going to link you to this NYtimes article that has a photo of the snow in Appleton!  That's right- Appleton!  Just down the street from Lawrence.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

That's right, we're under a blizzard warning right now!  Yay snow!  Finally we'll be able to get some skiing in (without worrying about hitting rocks).