Shooting Star Gazing on a Clear Night

The sky was clear, the hot tub was ready, and we were out in the country. What more could one ask for? A meteor shower had been announced for last night, which prompted us to keep our eyes stuck on the sky. We didn’t see many shooting stars though, probably because we may have not been out during “peak time.” But the sky was so clear and starry, that I was mesmerized by the celestial scenery before me.

The only feature I could ever identify with certainty in the past was the Big Dipper. But looking up, way up, on such a clear night from the comfort of a hot tub, it was amazing to see the flickering lights before me. All of this prompted me search the Internet the moment I walked through the door. I got so excited that I ended up going outside with my laptop (a bit too bright even with the lowest brightness setting on my screen) to try and identify some of what was before me.

Looking southward, we saw Taurus, Orion, Pleiades, and most excitingly, Mars. I always knew that some of the brighter “stars” were planets, but I never knew which one, or whether it was just a very bright star. So when I discovered that what I thought might be a planet was actually Mars, I literally jumped for joy. I’ve never been so excited about astronomy before.Orion, Taurus, Mars, & Pleiades

When I first spotted Pleiades, I found it too small to be the Little Dipper. It looked like a mini-dipper. Pleiades is also known as M45 or The Seven Sisters. It looks big on this photograph, but it’s a tiny little thing, relatively speaking of course.

Pleiades

Westward, we were able to identify Perseus and Cassiopeia.

Perseus and Cassiopeia

The site I referred to for information about the skies was Sky and Telescope: The Essential Magazine of Astronomy, and it has an interactive sky chart. You enter your location, and there you have it. The nightsky as you see it. You can drag the picture in any direction, view it with or without lines and labels.

For the experienced skygazers out there, I’m sure none of this is news to you, but think back to the first time you actually “saw” a constellation in the sky. Remember the excitement of being able to identify something? Post a comment to let me know.

Hot tubs, clear nights, stars, January, the Great White North, and my hunny…What more can a girl want? Oh, and Yukon skies.

Sticky Buns with Cream Cheese Frosting

When you have something good, share it. That’s my philosophy.

Call these cinnamon buns or rolls, sticky buns, or whatever you want; they’re all the same.

So, here goes another delicious recipe that’s a hit with everyone who tastes it. The nice thing about making your own sticky buns, is you make them the way YOU like them. If you like raisins, add them. If you don’t like cinnamon, leave it out. If you’re allergic to nuts, leave those out too. Maple syrup fanatics like me can use it instead of corn syrup. You can even make these in the breadmaker; at least the mixing and kneading part.

Sticky Buns

12 Tbsp. butter (works out to almost ½ lb)
1 pkg active dry yeast (2 ¾ tsp)
¼ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
3 egg yolks
½ cup milk
3 to 3 ½ cup flour
¾ + 1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
¾ cup pecan halves
½ tsp cinnamon

  1. Melt 6 Tbsp of the butter and let cool. Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup lukewarm water. Stir in sugar, salt, yolks, milk, 4 Tbsp. of the cooled butter and 2 ½ cups of the flour.
  2. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, working in enough of the remaining flour so that the dough is no longer sticky.
  3. Put in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. To test, press dough with your fingertips. If an imprint remains, the dough has doubled.
  4. Butter a 9” baking pan. In a sauce pan, combine 6 Tbsp. butter, ¾ cup brown sugar and the corn syrup. Stir over low heat until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and strew ½ cup of the pecan halves on top.
  5. Combine the 1/3 cup brown sugar with the cinnamon. Chop remaining ¼ cup pecans.
  6. Punch dough down. On a lightly floured work surface, shape into an approximately 18” x 9” rectangle. Brush with the remaining 2 Tbsp. melted butter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon and the chopped pecans. Roll up dough starting with a long side.
  7. Cut into 9 slices and put in the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
  8. Heat oven to 350°. Bake until browned and bubbly, approx. 20 -30 minutes (I check it with a toothpick). Let cool in the pan 5 minutes. Invert onto a serving plate and let stand about 30 seconds before removing pan. Cool slightly before serving.

Be sure to watch baking as sometimes the syrup bubbles over the sides and may cause a fire. I usually put an old rectangular cookie sheet underneath to catch the drippings. PLEASE BE CAREFUL!!!

Make your favourite cream cheese frosting to serve with the sticky buns:

Cream Cheese Frosting

½ pkg cream cheese
1/8 cup butter
1 ¼ cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all ingredients until smooth. Store in refrigerator and slightly heat small portions to pour over heated sticky buns.

You can double these ingredients to spread over carrot cake, spice cake, or pumpkin cake. Thanks to my friend Deb in Mississauga for the frosting recipe.

Visitor Empties School in Record Time

The biggest time wasters in elementary schools are transitions. Changing from one subject to another, moving from one classroom to another, and coming in and out for recess are some examples of the many transitions that happen in a typical school day. Teachers are always looking for ways to make these transitions go smoothly and get students engaged as soon as possible.

Last week, there was a visitor at our school who literally emptied it in record time. Students rushed so fast out of the school, you could’ve sworn there was a fire. Yes, lights were flashing in the parking lot, but they weren’t from a fire truck. It was the Christmas garbage truck with no one other than Santa at the wheel. You’ve probably seen it around Whitehorse, with the truck decorated with Christmas lights, these stuck on with bright red and green duct tape.

Thank you to “Santa” who made the kids’ day and volunteered his time to come way out to our school to say a big “Ho, ho, ho.” Maybe we should hire him all year long.

Santa’s Garbage Truck
Santa’s Garbage Truck

Santa with Children
Santa Handing Out Candy Canes


Santa Leaving
Santa is Leaving

Are Yukon Schools Politically Correct?

In Arizona, a 13-year-old boy was suspended for for drawing — on paper — a gun on his homework. In 2000, four kindergarten boys were playing cops and robbers at recess using their fingers as “guns”; they were subsequently suspended for three days. These and other stories have led me to wonder whether things are any different in the Yukon. So, I decided to pay a visit to a local school to see for myself.

Upon entering the school, I was immediately threatened by a black-masked figure with a flowing cape, brandishing a long rapier. He wasn’t packing heat, but I’ll bet he’ll be suspended.

Trying to find someone with authority to mete out the suspension, I barely escaped a beheading by a Knight Templar in the principal’s office.

Grateful that I had escaped with my life twice, I decided to stay away from the office and make my way down to the gym, where a flurry of activity got my attention.

Instead of being in class, students filled the gymnasium. In one corner, a crowd egged on two students going at each other with pillows. A bystander was recording the whole incident on his cell phone.

A few feet further, suction-cup guns were being aimed at a boy moving about in a cage-like enclosure. The target was the skull-shaped mask being worn by the kid.

In yet another area, students were wielding hunting rifles, trying for a “kill.” Farm animals were scattered about on a flat board and the ammunition was a coin rolling down a slot on a carved wooden hunting rifle. Thankfully there was a sheriff sitting nearby. Surely he had the authority to take care of these gun-toting kids. But wait! He was the one encouraging the whole thing. Isn’t there anyone in this school that sees this behaviour for what it is?

I’d had enough of this and made my way to the nearest exit, which meant going through the girls’ change room and out the other side. As I hurried through the door, I suddenly heard muffled screams. A grizzly discovery awaited me: the change room was a scene reminiscent of a chainsaw massacre. I found myself in the dark, where flashes of light illuminated walls, ceiling, and floors splattered with blood. Trying to paw my way out of there, something (or someone) jumped out at me from a dark corner. I finally managed to find the exit where I needed a moment to regain my composure. We’re way past suspensions now, expulsion is in order!

By the end of day, the school would have been emptied had suspensions been given out. Instead, everyone had a great time. Kids had been talking about this event from the beginning of school in August and couldn’t wait for this day of Hallowe’en festivities. I’m guessing they’ll be talking about it for a couple of months to come.

Funny thing, I didn’t see any kids fighting at recess, nor any punches thrown. What I did see was a group of kids working the whole day before to set up the gym, and working through recess and lunch the day after to clean up. They were scrubbing walls using lots of elbow grease, while chatting about the day before. Could it be that there is a healthy way of letting kids just be themselves and have a bit of fun? No one condones violence, but could it be that because of news headlines, we have pushed the pendulum to the extreme?

Remembering

The sound of your deep voice
Producing smiles everywhere around you
Your laughter…

We looked up to you
Didn’t you know?
The weight of your words
Didn’t you see?

Wisdom without flaunting it
Courage dismissed
Making people feel
Appreciated
Important
Respected
Valued

All along, YOU were these things to everyone who knew you.

And still are.

Don’t you know?

In memory of Charles “Chip” Roland Leutz
October 4, 1950 – October 16, 2006

Honeymooning on Gabriola Island & Telegraph Cove

This great country of ours has so much beauty. Honeymooners generally seek a place that is breathtaking, quiet, and intimate. We found such a place for our own honeymoon, or should I say, such places.

First, we stayed in a friend’s home on Gabriola Island. For those who have never been there, think of rainforest meets ocean. What a paradise. It’s fairly quiet, considering that you have to take two ferries from the mainland to get there. Like the Yukon, it attracts many artisans and artists. Unfortunately, it’s one of those best kept secrets that got out, which means higher costs to purchase real estate.

Gabriola Island

Lighthouse View from Gabriola Island

Smidgen on Gabriola

Lush Greenery on Gabriola (and Smidgen)

The next place we went to was a tiny area called Telegraph Cove. It’s been in the news lately due to a diesel fuel spill nearby. The tiny community consists of a few historic buildings, an enormous RV park, and two huge homes surrounded by lots ready for sale. Friends of ours own one of the homes and rent it out as a vacation home (Drift Inn). The views are spectacular.

Telegraph Cove

Historic Building at Telegraph Cove, B.C.

View from Drift Inn

View from Drift Inn at Telegraph Cove

I recorded the view on video using my camera, which I will post shortly.

New Bridge, Old Train

Weddings, trains, fishing, camping, honeymoon, trips, back to school, and the list of reasons why I haven’t been writing goes on. So, the next couple of posts will bring you up to speed regarding my summer.

After my wedding, I went to Skagway, AK with a friend, Deb, that was visiting from Ontario. I couldn’t count the number of times I’d been to Skagway, and Deb had already been, so we decided to check out the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR), which was something new for both of us. The narrow-gauge railroad built during the 1898 Gold Rush takes visitors through the mountains with breathtaking views.

We did the summit route, which was pretty exciting. One nice thing about the trip is that it doesn’t matter which side of the train you sit on, because at the summit, they get people to flip their seats (to face the opposite direction) and then to switch sides. This way, everyone gets to sit on the scenic side of the train.

Unfortunately, many tourists have an inability to grasp simple directions. Either they just sit there looking confused while others stand and flip the seats, or they try to keep their seats, not wanting to switch. It wasn’t too much of a big deal since the train wasn’t full, but I can’t imagine what it would be like with a full load, as it is usually the case on Wednesdays. Other than this and the 15-year old (?) announcer who didn’t seem to know how to work the microphone, the ride was wonderful.

Here are a few pics:

Train on a Bridge

YP&YR

Views from WP&YR

We also visited the new Yukon Suspension Bridge, though technically it’s in B.C. Anyway, I felt it was definitely worth it. The people who work there were wonderful: very knowledgeable and friendly. There’s a neat relief map of the area, huge interpretive displays, and a nice gift store (not the tacky souvenir type).

Yukon Suspension Bridge Building

Yukon Suspension Bridge

Relief Map

Wedding Bells Ringin’ This Summer

Rings

(Photo added Aug 14, 2007)

For all those unmarried people out there wishing, someday, to plan a wedding: DON’T DO IT! Not the wedding, I mean, but the actual planning part! Dave and I finally tied the knot with zero-stress going into the planning. It was a small wedding, with a dozen or so guests who didn’t know they were coming until about a week beforehand. We hadn’t planned on having any guests at first, but at the last minute decided to invite a few friends to join us.When I say stress-free, I mean it. I actually flew into town the day before the wedding, which was a result of finally deciding on an actual date after having planned a trip to Ontario. We decided that getting married on summer solstice in the Yukon would be perfect. So, during my visit to Ontario, I did a bit of shopping and found a simple white cotton skirt with a white cross-over blouse. The only running around took place the day of the wedding:

  • breakfast
  • pressing our outfits
  • washing the truck
  • picking up flowers
  • driving to the location for the ceremony
  • Voilà!

Then, the ceremony took all of about 3.5 minutes, after which we had a toast with champagne, then made our way over to a nice little restaurant tucked away in the woods, (The Wolf’s Den) for some fondue. Perfect!

Since the wedding, I’ve spent more time Outside than in the Yukon, which partly explains why I haven’t been posting to my blog. Thanks for stickin’ around.

Fishin’ on Caribou

My First Fish 

My First Fish!

A weekend spent fishing on Caribou Lake at Bear Paw Lodge was heavenly, to say the least. One of the many reasons I haven’t posted in a while.

The idea started when my uncle promised to take me fishing during his most recent stay in the Yukon, but due to circumstances, the fishing trip never materialized. On to Thunder Bay, he and my aunt moved to be closer to kids and grandkids, so when I announced my plans to visit them, they decided that a weekend fishing trip in their favourite spot was in order.

After a three-hour drive on a winding road north of Thunder Bay, we arrived in Armstrong and quickly made our way along a small dirt road leading us to Caribou Lake. The owners of the lodge, Joy and Darcy, met us with their pontoon boat to take us to Garden Bay, a beautiful spot just a short ride away. And what a spot it is! After settling in and cooking a few steaks on the BBQ, I couldn’t wait to hop into the boat the next day for a glorious afternoon of fishing. On with my first official fishing trip. I don’t know if it was beginner’s luck or my uncle’s expertise and knowledge of the waters, but boy did we catch fish. Big, beautiful pickerel, two lines being bitten at once, and because of limits, we had to throw some big ones back in. THAT hurt.

So, not only did I catch my first fish, but yes, I put my own minnows on my hook (live bait is still legal in Ontario) AND I cleaned my own fish, thanks to Joy’s amazing patience with a newbie that kept getting her fingers poked by the sharp fins. This woman can clean fish blindfolded, I’m sure. To every one fish I worked on, she cleaned three or four.

Learning to Clean My Own Fish

The owners of the lodge are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Kind, generous, and neither of them ever stop working for a minute (except to get a little fishing in once in a while). The two kids, Rachel and Alex, were a hoot too! What privilege for these two young ones to spend their summers helping to run the lodge in such a beautiful spot. I know we have it good in the Yukon with the scenery and the fishing, but there are sure as heck nice spots in other places too. I can’t wait to do this again; I’m hooked!

Here are a few more pics, and I’ll be posting more as soon as I have some time in order to do the place justice as the website for the lodge is in the midst of being updated.

Another Pickerel

Another nice pickerel for dinner! (I know, I know… I don’t know how to hold fish for pictures…)

Part of the Crew

The best part was the three of us girls getting one of the American tourists to take our picture with this string of fish. Their drooling could’ve drowned a horse! I definitely came home with bragging rights after this trip.

Toastin’ to Good Fishin’

Cleaning fish Caribou style

Intellectual Property

For years traditions have been blessed
With the oldest form of largesse
From a host a bequest
Rights and property to a guest

For West Coast Natives in B.C.
To sing and dance for company
One needs permission granted, you see
To perform someone else’s work for thee

Whenever I witness a First Nations dance
It is always mentioned, and not happenstance,
A thankful remark for having the chance
To perform another clan’s special dance

Copyright laws of this century
Spur lawsuits for people downloading free
We’d be rid of Mariahs, Justins, and Britneys
Oh the changes we’d see in that industry!

Only the Fitzgeralds, the Kings and the like
Those for whom music is not just a hype
Their bodies and souls require their type
To keep singing and playing, regardless of shite

« Older entries Newer entries »