middle of no where Iowa family farm

We drove back from Mayo Clinic in MN and drove down to Grandma Huff's house all piled together in a 15 person van. She still lives on the a farm way out in south east Iowa. She is 92. It was great to see the farm where ben grew up riding ponies and coon hunting on the weekends. Ben took some great portrait shots of his grandparents and surrounding farm stuff and he doing a big post on his blog. We went a few miles to Joan's sisters farm and had lunch with the rest of the family (ben's parent were high school sweethearts and there are farms on both sides of the family).
i took this picture of ben and taylor. not bad eh?

of course caden was passed around to everyone and i also held him for awhile.


mayo clinic update

We are in our last day of testing at Mayo. Lots of information and after meeting with the surgeon and doctor they have decided that it would be better to pursure another donor. Ben is of course healthy and able, but the positve crossmatch reaction (my antibodies react with his cells) is really severe and would require 2.5 weeks of pre transplant treatment (similar to kidney rejection treatment in seattle), removal of my spleen and still no guarrantee they would do the transplant. So we are looking into other donors and some of my family members have graciously come forward to be evaluated to donate a kidney. Mayo is going to test my their blood for the same positive crossmatch and go from there. It has been a long couple of days, but we have to been able to get out in downtown rochester. We should know more in another couple of weeks. Dea


one of the many christmas day family pictures.
jeff and jen at christmas eve dinner.

Mayo is Crazy

Ben and I are at Mayo Clinic. This place is huge, we each received a colored bag (green for transplant and orange for donor) and then they set us off in opposite directions. I did pass Ben once today. Very modern and beautiful place. Everthing is connected via underground marble subway lined with retail and coffee shops as far as hospitials go it pretty nice. Everything is planned to the minute, LG then go to LA, charlton or eilson...you get the lingo of the billon different buildings pretty quick. I have some great pics from the holidays to post when I have a little more time. Dialysis again today, skipping once was ruff and christmas day and the day after I was feeling pretty crappy so I am going again today to get all caught up! It has been a whirlwind tour so far.


snowing in anchorage

hard to tell from this picture but is snowing like crazy here in anchorage(not like denver, but still alot). this is our plane, we are supposed to be boarding now, but we have heard nothing yet.
we hope to get outside tonight! Dr. Wu is also here so we are just hanging out playing on free wifi. dea


Happy Holidays!

We are off to Chicago, Iowa and Minnesota today...we arrive tomorrow night. Can't wait to see everyone.
Tim and Stacia showing the latest in Fairbanks Fashion. Fox and Rabbit Ruffs.


a super duper cool picture!!

i stole this from Ed's blog. This picture is by Todd Paris.
This is a great time lapse picture of how low the sun is in winter. this is what is looks like for 3 hours of daylight, sunrise-sunset colors the entire time.
my cool new ipod shuffle from Ben for Christmas.
we skate skied across the street from the house yesterday, of course middle of the day is still pretty dark. it was 15 below so we had our baklavas on. it is supposed to be 30 below by Sunday, but we will be in sunny warm chicago! -dea



Ed and Trevor have just been introduced to blogging. They say they are totally hooked. Take a look at their blogs. Ed has some sweet white mountain pics. They are both sure to have some great Alaskan stories. -Dea
heading into the darkest week, we kept busy this weekend with a holiday dinner party. the kapusta was a big hit with everyone and so was julie's rasberry tort.
Pella loves her new coat that she recieved for christmas from my parents. it's very cute and she did wear it outside on a long walk.
she is an easy target. pella all dressed up for the party.


I went straight from dialysis this morning with some super duper low blood pressure(so no circulation) to race in the IAB department fun race with Stacia and Tawna. It was really cold around -15F without the windchill of skate skiing. The sun didn't come above the horizon until half way thru the race and that was around 12:30 this afternoon! It was a good time, but my nose and finger tips almost didn't make it. I was slow, but luckily this race is scored by how consistent your laps are....mind kind of race. We were alaska oil field men for the competition.
some frozen eye lids.


ben and i all dressed up to go to the turtle club last night for ben's company christmas party. we had some great prime rib. not the best picture we are getting pretty pale up here in the dark.


That is the turtle club saying...don't you wonder what it means??


I had the most amazing phone call last night. Dr. Clausen is the head of chemistry department here at UAF, some of you might know him, he is the professor consulted in the book Into the Wild. That is not the amazing part though, yesterday his wife called me on the phone. I have never met or even seen her before. She says " so I here you might need a kidney and surgery is no big deal, you go to sleep, wake up and it is over..." at first I am like this lady is nuts, but of course at the same time I think that she sounds just like me (about the surgery part). It was the most surpising phone call, we chatted a little while and she ended with "I'm as serious as a heart attack, you call me."

Seriously, I have the greatest life. I am lucky to have so many generous and caring family and friends. Some I know well and some I barely know at all. Anyway the whole thing just blew Ben and I away and I thought I would share the story. -Dea


northern lights tonight

Martin and Tawna came over for a feirce game of trivial pursuit. In the end Ben and I won. We almost called it quits because we thought we were playing into the wee hours of the night and when I looked at the clock it was 8:50pm! dea


ben's photo blog is still going strong, it somehow did not transfer when changed
to the beta blogger.


Julie, Stac, Ben and I went for a great skate ski in the white mountains Sunday. They temp was warm, the trails were fast and all the dogs were crazy. It was a nice weekend after my first week of 4 hour dialysis three days a week. The one hour increase seems so much longer, but I have started reading like crazy, the devil wears prada, the coldest march, the 13 element and that is just 1.5 weeks.


julie, stac and i went for a bike ride saturday. it was around 10 below, but sunny. the trails are in great shape and except for my flat it was a great ride.I am not sure how only one eyelash was frozen.


Ben, Pella, Caz and I headed to the white mountains for a great ski today. It is was 26 below this morning (again, crazy weeks long 20+ below cold spell) and so we tried to get up higher and above of the inversion. Our plan worked and it was 15 above and really windy! This is near the top of Whickersham Dome, Pella and Caz taking a break from running around like crazy.

Here is Caz and Pella getting the pre ski lecture from Ben, don't go by the sled dogs getting ready to mush, don't sit on the back of my skis (pella) and try to get a free ride ect....
This is the veiw north toward the brooks range getting that extra bit of sun before it's gone. There is not a ton of snow, but the trails are packed down to get a good long ski in.

Fairbanks in the winter even under less than ideal conditions is great, but not everyone thinks so.....This new book the worst places to live in America, has Fairbanks on the list!

It starts out:

"Take the worst place you have ever been and subtract the sun, then you have Fairbanks, AK."

The two pages goes on to say how it is 20 below and dark all winter, the only thing to do is dog sled race, drink and shoot people......it was pretty funny and most locals think it will just keep anyone else from moving here and they prefer it that way, the wilderness and cold all to ourselves!


Thanksgiving Alaska Style

Heike, Julie, Stac and Tawna

We had a great Thanksgiving dinner at Simon's and the whole gang was there. Julie brought Caribou that she and Alex shot with a bow yesterday, now that is fresh meat. Simon stoked the wood stove fire to heat the sweet cabin that he built(and he is still finishing..he started in 1985) and tried to get the frozen pipes to work, but they did not. We had fresh cranberries, green chili, ham and some fabulous homemade deserts from Martin to name a few great dishes. and then of course...the sauna. Simon's house is in the hills and it was only 5 below, when we drove home tonight it was 30 below in town, really strong inversion. Well it was a great night with lots of friends, food and laughs...

Here is Julie bringing out the Caribou she butchered earlier in the

We didn't have a table so we grabbed Julie's
saw horses and Stac brought a sheet of plywood.
Tim and Martin are setting up for the feast.

Here is one of Martins desert cakes, this was rasberry cheesecake, chocolate, and vanilla cheesechake topping..ummmmmmm.

Simon had to spend some time in the back room trying to get the
water pump to work.

Heike taking a break from the sauna

Ben looks a little shocked at my
mid dinner smooch! Ben also made the
kapusta (can't spell that polish word, sorry
babcia!) and it was a big hit.


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with the sun so low in the horizon during the day the alaska range is back lit and the view is awesome from the chemistry building on campus. high of -20 today....


weekend at 20 below

it was a cold weekend here in fairbanks, but we still headed for a hike and some early christmas shopping.
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Cool sun dogs out today. Definition below:
"Sun dogs form when ice crystals act as a prism, according to the excellent text Meteorology Today. Ice crystals sometimes take on flat, hexagonal shapes, looking like microscopic stop signs.

The six-sided, platelike ice crystals sometimes fall with their flat surfaces parallel to the earth. Sundogs become visible if the crystals fall when the sun is low on the horizon (not an unusual phenomenon in the Alaska winter) and both the viewer and ice crystals are on the same horizontal plane as the sun." -Ned Rozell

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walking with pella on the slough as veiwed from inside my warm furlined hood on my jacket.



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Laura and Bill taking snow samples in Barrow on the arctic ocean, Tom on polar bear watch...i have some cool pictures of our research group here in the simpson lab for the new website Greg is designing for us. i am helping with content, updates and pictures.

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here is another one of polar bear tracks, you always have to have someone on bear watch while you are snow sampling.

crazy week with ben gone in anchorage and beaver sports girls night. i was able to model for beaver sports with some other friends for girls night and the whole outfit we got at cost for helping out. it was a sweet deal.


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wind chills to -50 below tonight and tomorrow! we will see. this is pella's i don't feel good look, or she doesn't like the cold look. either way she really likes sleeping in her bed all day during this cold spell.


Dea and I booked our flights this weekend to go back to the midwest for Christmas. we're anxious to go home, but it's going to be a crazy trip, with a lot of time in the car and at dialysis.

We got our latest results from Mayo last week, and I am a suitable donor- not a perfect match, but a match none the less. We are scheduled for three days of testing at Mayo the week between Christmas and New Years. Dea's in the process now of finding Dialysis centers in Chicago for our trip, including Christams and New Years day.

We'll be doing a big triangular shaped tour of the upper midwest- Chicago, Rochester Minn, and LeClaire. We're anxious to see family, the new babies, and our old stompin' grounds in general. It's been a long time since we've been home- too long.

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Dea's happy to be going 'outside' for Christmas.


Balshi's Birthday

After a good UAF Museum of North talk from conservationist photographer Robert Glen Ketchum, we headed to the pump house to meet everyone for Balshi's Birthday. We did not know it was karaoke.....
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Here is Stacia, Julie and Kumi singing....rock me all night long...

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Kumi partaking in Balshi's birthday cigar.
I even got Ben to sing a solo, but he refused to let me post a picture of him singing every breath you take by the Police..Balshi and Martin wowed the crowd with Meatloaf's dashboard light song, too bad the camera battery died by then.


our first night at -20F for the this year. the car started right up after being plugged in and it had warmed to -17F so far today. Ben and I tried skiing last night at Creamer's field, but the cold made the glide pretty tough. the sun is dissappearing so fast these days, but the sunrise/sunset look for a few hours is pretty cool. maybe i will get a pic today. dea


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I think it was around 5 below this morning and Ben and I went skate skiing. Smith lake was great, no one was there (except moose and moose tracks) and we snuck Pella on too.

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Ben soaking up the sun
Balshi had a great dinner party last night, his brother makes olive oil in spain and it is sooo good that it was in this month's wine spectator! Now we all have a friend in the olive oil business, his name is Balshi and his brother lives in Fairbanks, AK.
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This is Balshi dancing with Stacia after the wine, champange and scotch...it was a fun night with good food and friends.

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Martin testing the infamous olive oil, properly with a plastic spoon.


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These cold clear nights (not that cold only -10F)are great for viewing aurora. We are on campus for the picture going to see Warren Miller's "off the grid", not that popular here and only 7bucks. The northern lights probably looked spectacular away from the lights of the student rec center....but cool none the less. (you can also see the combustion process here, a source of NOx pollution oxidizing to form N2O5 that reacts on the aerosol surfaces to form HNO3,nitric acid...PhD stuff, pretty exciting huh?)

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stacia, julie and balshi, stacia is back from her three week, denver, durango, moab mountain biking trip....


amazingly efficient

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20minutes after surgery we are at Dark Horse Coffee in Anchorage, having an excellent mocha. The drugs have not worn off yet and I am becoming very efficient at this surgery thing. Dr. Jon, Nurse Jon and surgery assitant Jon were all in the operating room. Since I was somewhat awake durinig the pulling and replacing of the tubes, I gave them all nick names. I seemed to be amusing, but in a few hours I am sure I will think, What was I saying?....we are headed back to Fairbanks in an hour or so, the most icy the roads have ever been. Ben has to do all the driving so he is loading up on coffee. Dialysis tomorrow morning and back to what we consider normal life in Fairbanks. Pella is on vacation again at Julie's and am sure she probably won't even want to come home.

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At crafty alaska girls night the other day, Audrey's friend Chrissy made home lip balm for everyone...how cool is that? I am lacking in my the alaska craft, make everything yourself department. The house she was sitting for traps animals and makes baby booties out of the fur. I don't think I will ever get that sophisticated, but I have made some breads with blueberrys and cranberries....man can I bable in this state. I will blog more later instead.