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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pumpkin Carving

Halloween is almost here…the kids carved pumpkins with Patrick. Nora LOVED rolling up her sleeves and pulling out all the seeds. When she finished with her pumpkin, she wanted to do mine. Stuey wanted nothing to do with the slimy mess and preferred using a spoon. Seed extraction is a hard endeavor with even the sharpest of spoons!

Some recent kid quotes:
-"I hope you have a nice day at your work and you don't get fired."Nora said to Patrick as she kissed him good-bye in the morning.

-When playing Monopoly, Stuey to Patrick "You might win this game, dad. Just believe in yourself." (He didn't win. Nora made a comeback after having just 3 dollars left and all of her properties mortgaged.)


Monday, October 27, 2014

Hard Frosts

Nora tells me I should have looked for a 4-leaf-clover covered with crystals - the clover have millions of small cone-shaped crystals on them

Here on Kodiak we've been waking up every morning to some pretty hard frosts.  The lawn and cars covered with a layer of ice crystals.  Later it warms up into the mid 40's and is warm in the sunshine.  But I've noticed that the low-angled sunlight has not been melting the frost in the shaded areas, and that the lakes and ponds are beginning to freeze up.  Funnily enough the lettuce, parsley and kale from the garden are still doing great.  I even ate a salad yesterday and was surprised by its mild flavor.  The frosts have made the kale sweet.  Patrick

Crystals on a cottonwood leaf are flatter than those on the clover

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Stuey and Mount Monashka

Yesterday, while Zoya and Nora were at a Girlscout activity, Stuey and I climbed Mount Monashka.  At first Stuey was disapointed in our choice of mountains because Mount Monashka is not as high as Pyramid.  I explained to Stuey that each mountain is its own climb and that they should not be compared.  I pointed out that I like climbing Mount Monashka because it is close to the ocean, has old growth spruce forest to hike through, and has stunning vistas.  The mountain is quite sheer and everything seems set out directly below.

Then for a while Stuey kept on asking when it would 'get steep'.  He should have been more careful about what he wished for!  And, yes, he learned that Mount Monashka is steeper than Pyramid.

It was a glorious day for a hike with no wind and the low slanting sunlight of late fall.  Warm enough that we did not need coats and yet cool enough to be comfortable on a steep climb.  Sheba and Tank ran here and there and were quite exhausted by the time we got back to the car.  Patrick

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Benny Benson & the City Cemetery

Brownie Troop #118 learning about Alaska history (including our flag!) together with the "Alaska Try It" badge today. 

We walked from the library to the city cemetery by the hospital and learned a little bit more about the people who came before us here in Kodiak. The girls each had a flower to leave on grave of their choice. We found Benny Benson's grave and spent time reading the plaque on his grave. Several of the girls left their flowers on his grave. 

I'm thankful for an afternoon full of thoughtful questions and thoughts from the Brownies, and their families which came along on this outing.

Brownie "selfie" :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Pumpkins, Horses and Organs

The Halloween spirit is strong at the Coast Guard Base Clinic. Today when I walked into the Physical Therapy room, it had been spiderweb-ized and there was Mr. O'lantern warming up on the bike. Thank you to Krystyna M. for decorating. :)

Fall weather remains epically sunny and gorgeous. Yesterday Stuey rode in the round pen outside and worked more on his trotting. Stuey was on the silly side, so wasn't able to cantor but after the round pen work, we went for a short walk around the outside of the arena.

Stuey riding Pony the Fjord

Stuey saying "what the?"...a habit I'm trying to break

I'm nearing the end of teaching an 8 week childbirth class series and then I will take 8 weeks off before starting up again in January. My favorite parts are seeing the women gain confidence in their bodies. To realize that they are MADE to have babies.  And by the end of the series, the partners confidently answer questions...shooting their hands up in the air when I ask what the name of hormone is that causes the uterus to contract. And how can we facilitate the flow of that hormone? (btw...the answer is oxytocin and we can facilitate her by minimizing interruptions, keeping her labor room dark, quiet, massage and calm presence)

Many moms and partners come to first class nervous. Understandably so. There is quite a bit of mental reprogramming to be done about their bodies' ability to give birth.  (ie...yes-they CAN do it. And Yes, their body knows exactly what to do if we just let it.) 

After 8 weeks they leave excited to have the big day come. 

(oh, and for those interested in stuffed, plush can purchase all organs from

Meet my stuffed organ props for Childbirth class. The Brain and Uterus. 

7,000 Years At Midway Bay

Tonight at the Alutiiq Museum I presenting a powerpoint lecture on the Alutiiq Museum's excavations last summer in Old Harbor.  The airport runway is getting extended and the museum was hired to excavate all the archaeological sites that would have been impacted.  We excavated at three different sites and found stuff dating as far back as 7200 years ago right up to the present. If you're interested the lecture is free and is at 7PM in the Alutiiq Museum gallery.

Here are a few of the slides to whet your appetite.

Hiking to Snow with Stuey

Still no snow down low

Last weekend Stuey and I climbed Pyramid.  Before the elk hunt I'd promised we'd climb the mountain when I got back from Afognak.  So Saturday afternoon after we finished cutting up all the elk harvested on the hunt Stuey and I headed up the mountain.

The kids have been dying for it to finally snow at our house.  Last week it barely snowed in town, but up on Pyramid enough fell that some hardy souls got in the first skiing of the year.  This was the same storm that caught us packing out an elk on Afognak.  So driving out for the climb Stuey was very excited to hear we'd be climbing up to the snow that we could see on the tops of the mountains all around us.

And when we got up there he was surprised at the snow depth.  He kept asking how many inches or feet of snow there was on top.  We even found old ski tracks in the snow.  He can't wait to go skiing! He took lots of pictures and on Monday took the camera to school so he could show 'Mr. Brian' the snow on the mountain.

Deep snow up high - Stuey tested one drift that was waist deep

Snow!  And Stuey loved it when I pointed out Afognak in the distance

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life Afloat

Nothing beats a 50 foot seiner as a mobile base camp.  No matter how nasty the weather the boat is ALWAYS warm and dry.  Best of all, once on shore we are not limited to any one area of the coastline - Jim in the FV Columbia could pick us up anywhere.  We often go to shore in one bay and get picked up in a completely different and far distant bay.

The boat is also where we stored our kegs of beer.  On the last elk-meat ferry down to the sea my mantra was 'beer on the boat'.  Such thoughts keep the pain at bay and are a good incentive to get back to the boat.

Finally the boat is a great fishing platform.  Afterall, the FV Columbia is, first and foremost, a FISHING boat - the 'F' in 'FV'. On this hunt we tried subsistence tanner crab fishing, and failed miserably.  We only caught sea stars, whelks and a couple of octopuses.  But it sure was exciting when the pot broke the sea surface.  What interesting sea creatures would we find inside?  We also had some halibut hand-lines and Justin managed to catch one to take back to his freezer in Fairbanks (along with some cod).

Adelia's husband Philip edited a video of the hunt and posted it to Vimeo.

An Afognak Limerick by Ray R.

There once was a gal from Uganik,
Chased the Waterfall Herd to a panic,
The herd bull went down,
‘twas the talk of the town,
The great Huntress made Patrick more manic!


Life on Shore

During the hunt much of our time on shore was spent either carrying meat or hanging out by the woodstove in the teepee.  A woodstove on a lighweight camping trip might seem extravagant but our teepee and stove together weigh around 5 pounds and are very compact.  They are made by a company called Titanium Goat (click here for more), and are actually FAR lighter per person than individual tents.  Also there is nothing quite like the camaraderie of warming up by a woodstove while waiting for dinner to cook.

This year we also brought along a lightweight propane 'Lucy' lantern.  It provided light, and, when hung from the ceiling of the tent, it did a great job drying out socks.  We were very comfortable in our teepee.  On both nights we had to scrape away snow before setting up the tent and on both nights the stove dried out the ground inside the tent surprisingly quickly.

Of course for the one time we packed out an elk in a snow/rain storm it sure was nice to have a dry boat to retreat onto - but more about life on the boat in another post.  Patrick

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Elk Hunt Scenics

The one regret from this year's elk hunt is that we did not get to camp and hike around the island as much as usual. But I'm not complaining! If we do a lot of hiking it means we had a difficult time finding elk.  And we still did get to see some beautiful country.

This year we experienced a pretty decent snow event and for the rest of the hunt the high country was covered with snow.  It actually made elk difficult to spot because they look similar to dots of white snow.