Sunday, May 31, 2009


"The thrill is gone, baby. The thrill is gone away. Oh yeah, the thrill is gone, baby."

Another earthquake. This one is the largest yet. I was actually online reading about yesterday's earthquake when this one hit. Kayt was out walking the dogs and said that she felt like she was being shaken from above. Like the others, this one is centered only a couple of miles from our house. Three of the cats scrambled and stumbled over each other trying to run upstairs to hide. Sadie is still missing, but Kayt reports a pair of wide eyes under the bed that might belong to her. The thrill is definitely over, and the tremors can stop now.

Read about the latest on the Fairbanks News-Miner here:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

She's got personality

A swarm of earthquakes have rattled us here Beyond Ester. On the map, you can see the dozens that have hit Alaska in the last 24 hours. The red ones are less than an hour old, the orange ones are 1-12 hours old, the yellow ones are up to 23 hours old, and the white ones occurred within the last day. You will note the cluster of red and orange in the middle, which is approximately where Beyond Ester is located. Two in the 3.5+ range last night, two more at 6:00AM this morning, several small ones since then. Kayt suggested that the one last night at 9:00PM felt like someone shaking the house from the top. The one at 6:00 AM creaked the logs, but the ones at 7:30AM just felt like we were swaying. Each quake has its own personality. All of these recent ones are centered near Ester.
Here's a Fairbanks News-Miner article about the quakes. Like some of the posters on this article, these quakes are getting a bit freaky in their frequency. I told Kayt last night that I've had my big earthquake adventure in Alaska and that I don't need to experience any more.
Here is a link to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center (AEIC)--one day when you're looking for something to jiggle you out of complacency, do some serious cruising of their site.
Thanks to the AEIC for their constant monitoring and automatic data generation, as well as for the map above.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I feel the earth move under my feet

Wow. Not the Big One, but the Close One! An 3.8 earthquake woke us all up here Beyond Ester in the middle of the night. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center notes that the quake's epicenter is 4 miles south of Ester. (Click on the map for an enlarged version) That's where we live. Everyone at our house woke up. The dogs barked their furious moose alert bark, thinking that there was a moose stomping on the deck. Kayt said she thought the cats were shaking the bed. I thought a grader had taken a wrong turn and was in our driveway headed for the house. We also heard it--a rumbly buzzy sound. Always interesting, living in Alaska!
Thanks to the UAF Geophysical Institute for the map.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bird tragedy?


I knew what had happened without even rising from the couch. A large bird had crashed into our window. Kayt looked out, and spotted a male Hairy Woodpecker on a tree near the window. She heaved a sigh of relief. "It's alright," she said. I got up from the couch. "No, it's not," I responded, looking at the ground just under the window. "Oh no," Kayt breathed with alarm. There lay a dazed female Hairy Woodpecker, her neck stretched out in the wet, melting, icy grass. She breathed heavily and unevenly, her head askew, eyes closed. Her breathing turned to shudders that made her feathers twitch. I turned away, couldn't watch the inevitable end, though I prayed to the Goddess for mercy for the suffering bird.

Kayt went out, against my vociferous objections, and moved the bird out from under the dripping roofline. She reported that the bird looked up at her, and attempted to move away from her as she approached. The bird's mate, she said, was very upset, and remained vigilantly on the tree nearby chirping its fear and alarm incessantly. I could not watch nor listen, but instead retreated under my covers on the couch to cry for the pretty bird whose life was seeping into the snow melt under our window.

An hour later, the injured bird was gone. Vanished. Kayt understood the vanishing as the bird getting its head together and flying off into the sunset with its obviously upset mate. I understood the disappearance as a fox sent by The Divine to end the woodpecker's misery.

As it turns out, Kayt was right. Or maybe I was, too, at least in my pleading for Divine Intervention. In any case, the next day, we saw both Hairy Woodpeckers feeding on the suet. We only had one pair of Hairys, so we are certain that the female is the same individual who had seemed to be so critically injured.

Our wilderness and wild creatures are resilient. But to prevent future incidents, we installed fake spiderwebs on the windows near the bird feeders. The spiderwebs have stabilia--those solid parts of the web in the center. Some scientists think that stabilia have evolved over the millenia to prevent birds from crashing into spider webs. We'll see if the static cling variety works. Meanwhile, I sent a prayer of thanks to the Bird Goddess who intervened for our lovely female Hairy Woodpecker.

Image above: Neolithic Bird Goddess, 5900-5800 BCE