My house needs painting. The kitchen walls are salmon and the cupboards are baby blue, the library is a warm yellow, the upstairs another color. The previous owner/builders wished to capture the essence of Alaska sun and light, but I prefer the natural color of wood. Fortunately, there’s plenty of that with open rafters and beams, stairs and floors. Reducing the contrast in here won’t hurt the light effects, I’m pretty sure. The garden we moved into when we bought the place was beautiful, worthy of a magazine cover but, again, if I’m going to put that much work into my yard and the dirt, I should at least get a meal as reward and plenty of extra to put up for the winter. I have plans to add one more terrace to the garden, which will keep me busy enough this year. Kelly has plans to bury a large culvert into the side of the hill for an underground shooting range. That works for me; I’ll just plant above it the following year. We’re talking about extending the front of the house, too, and adding another bathroom and bedroom for guests – or at least privacy. The folks who built this forgot to put a door or a ceiling on the bathroom, but did put a sliding panel in the wall – so they could watch television? the moose in the garden? I mean, seriously: Who wants to use the loo like that? We added the shower rod and curtain since they tiled the shower but forgot to include a way to let the water rain down on you or keep it off the bathroom floor. Nice deep Japanese tub, though they forgot (again) to hook up the heater and the circulation pump. All these things I’m sure I noticed when we looked at the house, but the garden was so stunning that I forgot (there’s that word again) about it.

My youngest is experiencing what partnership means. She doing her senior capstone project in college and discovering that her partner is taking the class for the second time, and working like she plans to do it again next year. Frustration is mounting for my daughter, who has found herself working doubly hard to make the grade for both of them. Regardless of who does the work and knows the subject matter, she knows when they stand before the professors and her partner can’t answer the questions, they both get the failing grade. If the professors ask her the question and she demonstrates proficiency, her parter gets the passing grade, as well. I told her she can plead her case with the instructors, but part of the lesson is learning how to select people in life who will carry their fair share of the burden, do equal work for shared reward, and how to be accountable for the choices we’ve made. She knows there’s little chance the team grade will reflect the hard work she’s put in, and more likely will represent the weekends her partner has spent absent from research and participation – a hard lesson with a lot riding on the outcome – graduation. She probably won’t understand how lucky she is to be learning this now with only a grade at stake rather than a marriage or a business venture. I’m not too happy about it, either, to be honest, for it would mean paying for another term and capstone. Aaah, well, that’s life.

Six silver salmon on my counter destined for brine and the smoker. I think I’ll pull out the pressure cooker and jar these rather than take up freezer space. I like oily fish, especially smoked fish, and king salmon is my favorite for that reason. It’s February now, though, and I’m happy to have anything that will bring the aroma of summer to the yard. In fact, that’s what I’m headed to do right now…

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