Aurora Borealis

I don’t think these Northern Lights will ever get old. I’ll always enjoy watching them, but I know as the temperatures drop here in Interior Alaska, the desire to sit outside for an hour shooting them will fade. Last week was the perfect climate for catching the Lights show.

Snow from a week ago had mostly melted off, leaving our grass once again exposed. Warmer nights (only dropping to the low 30s) meant down parkas and snow pants stayed in the closet, while we reached instead for vests, light hats, and fleece jackets and gloves. Any colder out, and my fingers would have turned to numb useless nubs, my camera battery would have drained, and my damp hair would have frozen. I don’t know how more disciplined aurora chasers tolerate the freezing temperatures closer to the winter solstice.

So here I present to you the Northern Lights, from October 6, 2015. Hopefully more to come, since this is our last season in Alaska, for now.

And in case you missed it, Isaac and I changed our residency to Alaska. We are coming back to settle down here after his military service ends (not for a few more duty stations, unfortunately). Sorry California and Oklahoma family, but something about this wild, Libertarian place has really appealed to our frontier sensibilities. It must be a mix of the bold folks who live here, the pristine tundra, and the bountiful wildlife and the lack of fashion rules that have really got us dreading the adjustment back to the lower 48 next year.

I’ll miss this one day.


A Day in the Life


I’ve  been a Cheechako for eighteen months, officially. When you’re new to Alaska the locals call you a Cheechako. It’s only after you’ve been through a full summer and winter cycle that you graduate to ‘Sourdough’. Even though my family is wrapping up our second winter here, we’re part of Fairbanks’ transient population and for that reason I don’t feel seasoned enough to call myself a Sourdough.


Our second winter was easier than the first, mostly because our expectations were born from experience: chronic sub-zero temps, and darkness before and after the winter solstice really dominate the landscape and mood. I gave birth to my second child here, too, permanently solidifying my connection to this land. The cold and isolating Alaskan winters are arduous for this native Southern Californian, but they have their merits, too.

Aurora Borealis, which is said to be ancestors celebrating earthly events, came out in full force the week my baby Woodrow was born, and a few glorious shows in my city neighborhood have occurred in the six months since. It still wasn’t easy being stuck indoors with a newborn (Welcome to the World, Woodrow!) and a bold toddler (Climb down from there, Margot!), all while running my Photography Business, Yea Yea Photography.

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My winter days are spent cooped up indoors, trying to find a balance between managing my home, playing with my kids and growing a creative business. My summer days in Alaska are precious. They’re reserved for accumulating outdoor experiences. They’re for wildlife viewing, Denali camping, and farmers market falafel eating! They’re for trail running, berry picking, and hiking. They’re currency and compensation for six long months of winter.

We don’t know where the Army will send us after our time here (a year and a half from now), but it will likely be less dynamic than Alaska. The lessons learned here on seizing the day will never be forgotten, and maybe after I leave I’ll finally feel confident to call myself a Sourdough. 2015-03-09_0010

This post is an entry to the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries Volume VI – A Day in the Life

Still Life

Sleeping Woods | Yea Yea Pueblo

Still life: what an elusive concept.

Stil Life | Yea Yea PuebloStill Life | Yea Yea Pueblo095A6326Sally the Beagle | Yea Yea Pueblo

With Isaac out of town the last two weeks, and Woods refusing to sleep through the night without mums face within arms reach, sleep has been fleeting, and alone time has been an abstract notion.

Tensions rose to a breaking point: the unending laundry, the sleep deprivation, and the thankless, lonely week left me on the brink of eruption. But the mood in my home finally pivoted from heavy and melancholy to light and refreshed. The kids and I napped at the same time this afternoon. I can’t ever remember catching sleep when feeling so run down, and I speculate I will never again be graced with a nap at such a opportune moment.

Downstairs, the vegetarian chili on the stove burned without my attentive stirring, and a package on the front porch sat uncollected, but when I awoke from my cat nap, my cheeks were rosy and youthful, and my spirit was restored. I could have cried from the relief, and maybe I did — but the takeaway is that I was extended grace when I needed it most, allowing me to do the same to my children.

Winter  | Yea Yea PuebloSally the Beagle | Yea Yea PuebloStill Life | Yea Yea PuebloI suppose one day I’ll realize these days will come and go, whether or not Isaac is called to service away from home. My sophomoric attitude towards motherhood needs refining through experience. If this week has taught me anything, it’s that I’m well on my way to gaining wisdom, but I think I’d rather have a full night’s sleep.