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Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Little Guy's Guy



Stuey is such a little guy. Amazing how the guy in him permeates his activities. He loves banging objects HARD, throwing objects FAR, playing with wheels on our stroller in the house, playing with a little truck, etc. Everything has much more force than it ever did with Nora.

I tell people he is such a mamma's boy and that is the truth!! I can't get enough of the feel of his hair against my cheek, his smile, the way he waves his arms in big circles with excitement, his little cry-which is such an innocent-help-me-cry.... He is 100% plump, cuddle-bug-baby yet such a mamma's boy at the same time. 

Nora is such a daddy's girl and Patrick completely recognizes this. Both kids are accounted for-Mamma's boy and Daddy's girl!

Zoya 

Photo Credits
(Cummiskey-Preece Family top photo, Patrick bottom photo)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Adrenaline Girl

video
A movie is worth 10,000 words.  That girl can squeal. Patrick

Our Adrenaline Junkie



Nora loves sledding.  In fact she loves it so much that she never wants to stop.  We generally quit either when I get too pooped from dragging her up the hill or when she looks like she might lose her nose to frostbite.  But whatever the reason - she screams for more when we quit.  Our neighbor Claudia tells us that we are very lucky our girl likes to be outside, and I agree.  I remind myself how lucky we are every time I bring her inside and she screams for more. This is better than her screaming because she wants to go inside.  Patrick
(Photos: Nora on her sled which Megan got her last week. BIG HIT!!!)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Nora Word of the Week - Up-up


Nora Word of The Week:
This week's word is Up-up-
Translation: Up
Often repeated, in a series of Ups. 
When used in a sentence "...up, up, up, up..." with frequent looks to the top of the cabinet, she is asking for her binky back. (we put her binky on the top of the kitchen cabinet when she wakes up in the morning. As the day progresses if her mood worsens or if she gets tired, she knows just how to ask for her binky back...up, up, up) 
Another context it is used is when talking about airplanes going up. Nora rather enjoys talking about airplanes taking off and going up...up...up... Now we're working on the word down, down, down... :)
A third meaning is as we drive out the road and she sees mountains with snow on them, she says Up,up,up...  I say "Do you want to go skiing with dad?" and she exclaims "Yeah!". She knows that daddy has to go "up" to go skiing.  As you can imagine, Patrick CAN'T WAIT to take Nora skiing. 
Zoya
In the photo Nora chews on an elk rib. Nora loves her meat! Our little carnivore.

My "Holly Hobby" Craft-Quilting



I never imagined I'd be a quilter-I thought I wasn't enough of a perfectionist to master the art of cutting and aligning fabrics.  When I saw quilts, I was sure that I didn't have the necessary talents in me. However, I was searching for a hobby. Not sure why-as Nora was 1 year old and I was pregnant with Stuey. Not like my life was slowing down any. 
My friend, Karen, calls quilting a "holly hobby" activity and I think I saw it as that before I became a quilter as well. (I suppose anything that involves a trip to the craft section of Walmart, a sewing machine or is out of Martha Stewart could be deemed "holly hobby"....) 
But then I saw some quilts which really inspired me and perhaps my mind changed...

A year and a half ago my good friend, Alexis Jackson, taught me how to quilt and I've been hooked ever since. I'm not sure what it was that made me want to try it. 

I think she said something like, "Zoya, just try it. You don't have to buy anything except for your fabric. You can use my tools....you have nothing to lose." She sold me on it. Alexis has been quilting for years and years and does such gorgeous work. She has amazing patience-always takes her time to explain things to me and loves to talk quilting on the phone. It has brought another rich dynamic to our friendship!

My first quilt was a small baby quilt-which is for Nora and currently hangs on our wall. When I saw how easily it came together, I was estatic to make more and I quickly became addicted. For years I tried to make myself a knitter, only to be disappointed with unfinished project after unfinished project. (Last year I gave my whole bag of unfinished projects and needles of various sizes to my friend Erin. She was estatic as was I!! I am done with knitting!!)

My favorite part of quilting is picking out the fabrics and I always feel like a kid in a candy store as I choose colors and patterns which blend well together. It is a like a feast for my eyes! So many beautiful patterns of fabrics to choose from. 

My latest quilt is for my babysitter, Megan, who is home from college in Arizona. (see photos above). She was our mommy helper when I brought Stuey home from Anchorage and got us through those tough months. She went to the fabric store and showed me different fabrics she liked and I incorporated a few of those into her quilt. 

What a fun adventure quilting has been!! When the kids are in bed-I pull out the fabrics and sew away. Its so fun to see the pieces come together into a quilt-like a story unfolding!!

Zoya

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Swampy Acres



This morning Zoya and I burned off some of the Christmas feast with a cross country ski in Swampy Acres.  Two feet of new snow had turned it into a winter wonderland.  All the spruce boughs bowing down under their load of snow.  Best of all - some one had already broken a trail for us to follow.  Deer tracks in the trail.  The deer also like a broken trail  when the snow is so deep!  Gliding along, working up a sweat, and feeling the rhythm of the skiis in the track.  Glorious.  

Now it is evening and another storm is rolling in.  Mill Bay is all roiled up and snow is slapping the windows.  I made some more gravy and we'll have it on the turkey and stuffing leftovers.  Zoya, Nora and Stu puttering about, the occasional squawk.  Post Christmas domestic scene. Nothing like a good storm to make it all warm and cosy inside!  Patrick

Christmas Feast


Christmas began yesterday with the landscape full of snow (it snowed 15 inches yesterday! -interjection from Patrick) and Nora enjoying her dollhouse from Granny. A mini jumbo plastic airplane was also a hit-with Nora making the plane go up, down...putting all the people in and out "....daddy, me, wa-wa-wa-wa..." (Nora enjoys imitating the crying that she and Stuey do on the airplane!)

Dinner yesterday afternoon was so pleasant with many friends joining us. We enjoyed a turkey (brined by Mike), Elk Roast (brined by Patrick), wild rice, sweet potatoes, yams, mashed potatoes, stuffing...britney cake (shortbread cake) by Karen, Carrot cake. Lots of laughter and great conversations filled the evening as well as some crying by Stuey and Nora. Everyone hung in, however and Stuart fell asleep in my arms at the end of the evening. I was able to relax in the recliner and enjoy watching the group and seeing Nora and Cecilia play with Christmas toys. Zoya

Monday, December 24, 2007

Stu is on the move!!

video
Stuart is on the move! He began crawling 2 days ago. He did commando crawling (where he pulled himself forward with his hands and his belly against the floor) for only a day and progressed right to crawling. 
He is quite cute and tenative with the whole process. Slow and steady. 
Little rear end in the ear and small little inches forward with his leg. So cute. I love that he is now on the go. 
Zoya

Looks Like a White Christmas

I woke up to quite the storm this morning (see forecast from weatherunderground below).  I love it!  It has to be about the best forecast I've seen in a few years.  I almost did not post about it for fear of jinxing  it.  I have my fingers crossed.  Can you imagine the news if a storm like this hit Manhattan or Boston?  Patrick  

Forecast for Kodiak Island Show | Hide
Updated: 5:00 am AST on December 24, 2007
Blizzard Warning in effect until midnight AST tonight...

Now
Blizzard Warning in effect until midnight AST tonight... in the next 6 hours expect an additional 5-10 inches of snow. Northerly winds are expected to increase throughout the day to 30-40 mph with gusts to 50 mph.

Today
Snow...mixing with rain at times along the Gulf Coast. Visibility will be reduced to one quarter mile or less at times in snow and blowing snow. Snow accumulation 4 to 10 inches...lowest amounts along the Gulf Coast. Highs in the upper 20s to lower 30s. Northeast to northwest wind 25 to 35 mph with local gusts to 50 mph through channeled areas. Northwest gusts to 70 mph developing in the afternoon south end of island.

Tonight
Snow in the evening...then scattered snow showers after midnight. Visibility will be reduced to one quarter mile or less at times in snow and blowing snow during the evening. Additional snow accumulation 4 to 10 inches. Storm total snow accumulation 8 to 20 inches. Lows in the 20s. Northwest wind 35 to 55 mph with gusts of 65 to 80 mph through channeled areas.

Christmas Day
Partly cloudy in the morning then becoming mostly sunny. Highs in the 20s. Northwest wind 35 to 55 mph with gusts of 65 to 80 mph becoming west and decreasing to 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph in the afternoon.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Buskin Ski




Today the stars were aligned for Patrick and I to go skiing together-no kids! Our friends Rose and Dr. Wolf watched the kiddos and we took a beautiful cross country ski in the trails in the buskin lake area.

It was a VERY windy day, but where we were skiing was protected so we weren't as impacted by the wind. The conditions were good and Patrick said I've come a long way with my skiing abilities. He said, "Zoya, if I took you on this ski when we first started dating, you would NOT have been happy!". I agreed.

There were moments of "bush-whack" skiing....climbing over and under things. I rather liked the challenge today, however!
Zoya

New Years Resolution & Survey

I'm a big New Years Resolution fan. For as long as I can remember, I always have some goal I work towards during the first few weeks of a new year. Thats right-its usually just the first few weeks. Until last year.

Last year I vowed to keep the kitchen free of pile ups of paper. What usually happened was I would dump mail, packages, etc on the counter and it would stay there indefinitely. It was so unsightly and unorganized. I resolved to keep the counters clear of my clutter and to file them away into my organized containers. Patrick was very skeptical when I announced my resolution plans 1 year ago.

"Ummm....hmmmm. We'll see about that one. I don't think you can do it." I vividly remember him telling me.

That made me resolve to accomplish it even stronger. And I did it! One year later, I organize my papers into my neat bins and the counter doesn't get covered with papers! Yeah!

This year I thought it would be a fun twist to see what other people think I should make my New Years Resolution be. I see getting Nick Sandin a date is in the lead. Oh boy. Zoya

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cross Country Skiing and "Happy" Visit to Dentist


SKIING ON LAKES
Patrick is about to levitate off the ground with excitement about the snow this morning. Time for an entry about the fabulous cross country ski conditions we have.

Yesterday Patrick, Mary Jane and I went cross country skiing on Lake Gertrude in Fort Abercrombie. We did it in two shifts-Patrick went skiing then came home and watched the kids while Mary Jane and I went right before dark. Works out perfectly. Mary Jane's two friends, Micah and Dave came along as well! The conditions were fabulous-crisp gorgeous snow and beautiful evening light. Lake skiing is so simple- easy to get to...no hills to contend with, easy to do sprints and the scenery changes as you move around the lake-changing directions helps too!

More snow in the forecast today-yeah!!!

HAPPY VISIT
Nora's visit to the dentist yesterday went fairly well. I sat in the chair while Nora sat on my lap. The only problem was that I think I had a chococlate/sugar hangover- when she brought the chair back up to the sitting position from the recline position, I felt lightheaded and the room felt like it was spinning. It quickly passed but made me realize I needed to drink more water and cut back on my holiday sugar intake!!

Nora cried when we had to leave, as she liked the waiting room. There was little tooth chairs for the kids to sit on and a bunch of fun new toys.

Zoya

Photo: Lake skiing-Gregg and Patrick in 2002 on Island Lake.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nora's First Ice


Yesterday we went ice skating on the small ponds in Ft. Abercrombie park. The ice was so thick and clear-you could see several inches of bubbles down.

We decided to make Nora's first ice skating trip a "Happy Visit".
(Note: Today is Nora's first dentist "happy visit". The hygenist said that they do several happy visits with toddlers to get them used to sitting in the chair, the people, etc...Patrick and I decided to try to make ice skating a 'happy visit' where we leave happy-not too many bumps and bruises from falling!)

And it was quite happy, until she had to leave. Nora LOVED going around the ice with Patrick holding her. Stuey and I sat and watched as Nora's feet danced around the ice. She smiled and squealed loving every minute of it.

Then it was time to go. Patrick's back was hurting from leaning over and helping her around and Stuey was starting to give preliminary cry noises. At the suggestion of leaving, Nora started to cry and didn't stop for several minutes until she was strapped into the stroller and on our way out of the park. Then I think she gave up.

Yesterday afternoon after we returned, Nora pretended to ice skate in the living room. She walked around in little circles, keeping her feet on the ground. I asked her what she was doing and she said, "Daddy." I said, "are you ice skating with daddy?" and she said, "Yeah!!!". She did that for several minutes. She can't wait to go back. Zoya

(And yes-Ella-that is a big plastic binky in her mouth...) :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Walk Like Daddy-Blog's first video

video

When Patrick returned from his (attempted) goat hunt several weekends ago, he had a characteristic limp. This was after he fell and landed on what he and John called "Baby Matterhorn". Nora adopted his walk-without our prompting. This video captures it.
(And yes, Ella-that is the binky in her mouth.)
Zoya

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mission: Cookies for Cliffside



Every year, except last year, I make plates of cookies for the neighbors and deliver them with holiday wishes.
Over the weekend I went to a holiday cookie exchange which was a perfect chance to get a wide assortment of holiday cookies without doing a whole lot of work! I made some fudge, and white chocolate blondie bars (choc full of choc chips!). Yum, Yum. Found some new recipes that are keepers.

Yesterday afternoon I dropped the kids off with our friend Rose who watches Stuey several times a month. She has grown kids of her own and enjoys the baby time! Bless her heart- While the kids were away I put the plates of cookies in a bag and bundled up in preparation for delivering them to the neighbors. I was amazed by how many people were at home (their cars were in the driveway) but did not answer their door. This was the case HALF of the time! Quite surprising.

I would only knock loudly once, so I wasn't annoying.
I'd think, "well, they just missed out on a plate of cookies." Do people think that its someone trying to sell something? One guy down the road-a neighbor I"ve never met, opened his door very cautiously (but hey-at least he opened it!!).

I said, "hi! happy Holidays! I"m Zoya from up the road. My husband is Patrick, with the two black labs that he walks."
A smile came over his face and he said, "Oh, yeah!! I know him from the dogs!"
I said, " Here are some cookies for you. Have a great holiday season!"
He said, "Whats your name again?"
I said, "I'm Zoya. Whats your name?"
He said, "I'm Dave.Thanks so much! And Happy Holidays to you too!"

He was so very thankful and it felt great to actually meet someone new who lives on our street. There is something about having small kids that makes me like knowing who our neighbors are. Increases the safety factor of Cliffside road. (especially when I have a daughter who likes taking walks down to Rezanof...ahem, ahem.") As Nora and Stuey get older, it will be fun to continue this tradition with them along-making cookies and spreading holiday cheer to the neighbors!

In the photo Nora talks to Da Dee on the phone while Roxy illicitly enjoys the couch (Zoya grudgingly allowed Patrick to Invite her up). Zoya

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Bird Count - Fun on the Mountain


Yesterday I took part in the Kodiak Christmas Bird Count. This is the yearly event when all the serious birders get together and try and count every bird within a 15 mile radius of town. The count area is portioned out to the best birders and their teams. Some teams go out on boats, others cover particular lakes or parks. I was on Stacy S's team and we had the entire Monashka Bay area to cover. The unstated goal is to identify as many bird species as possible and achieve the highest 'species diversity' of any Christmas Bird Count in Alaska. Kodiak generally wins this honor, but on occasion Juneau has managed to upstage us. Every year at the 'birder' party after the event the results are tallied up and the count organizer gives Juneau a call. It is the highlight of the party.

Every year on the count, Stacy has me climb up the North Sister to find a ptarmigan (a white, partridge-like bird that only lives in the alpine). I also look for Golden Eagles, Pine Grosbeaks, Rosy Finches, Gyre Falcons and other alpine species. But my prime goal is to get the ptarmigan - if I don't see one Juneau may beat us! My personal goal was to take a picture of a bird through my spotting scope and to post it on the blog.

Unfortunetly, on count day the weather did not cooperate. The winds were screaming and it was very cold. As a team we saw very few birds, and there was no way to hold the spotting scope still enough to get a picture (though I did try with the eagles at the dump - I counted 150 in one flock and about 300 total following the baler as it moved the trash around). But I did get my ptarmigan, and it was my adrenalin moment of the day.

I headed up the North Sister at dawn and up on top I was finding old ptarmigan tracks but no live birds. Since the wind was out of the northwest and I was on the northwest side of the mountain, I thought maybe the birds had all taken shelter on the lee side of the mountain. The wind was screaming, blowing snow and debris in big clouds across the snow and ice. At the airport the wind was a sustained 30 mph with gusts to 62. I got near the pass to go over to the other side when suddenly I was blown up the mountain and over to the other in an out-of-control rush. Rocks and ice with cliffs below and I could not stop. It was shrieking - like a was on the inside of a jet engine. I had to take my skiis off and I almost lost them. I had to slide down to a point where I was partially out of the wind and then climb sideways so I was not above the cliffs. Needless to say, but I had a bad 15 minutes there. And on the other side I found the ptarmigan. No one else saw a ptarmigan so it is a good thing I risked life and limb.

In the end Kodiak did pretty well despite the weather. Our preliminary count was 75 species (all time high is in the low 80s), but most importantly it was raining and blowing SE 25 in Juneau (prelim count 70 species). Kodiak is looking good for the state title! Patrick

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ice Soon


Another photo from the Archives- Zoya, Katie Dog, and I at the small pond behind Bells Flats, probably winter of 2000. We used the photo for our Christmas Card one year. Anyway, it looks like we'll have good skating this winter in just a few short days! It is in the 20s now and it is forecast to be clear, cold and windy for the foreseeable future. The lakes ought to freeze up pronto. I can't wait to take Nora and Stu out on the ice in the double stroller. We do have a pair of small ice skates too - is it too early to get Nora out on skates? Patrick

Friday, December 14, 2007

From the Archive - Our House



The other day I looked at these photos of the house from the fall of 1996, and thought, wow, how things have changed. In 1996 I had just moved into my first house after having lived in a small apartment in Madison, WI for 6 years. I treated the new house like an apartment; only it was huge, and a bit bare inside. Because of the big brass chandeliers in the living room everyone jokingly called my house 'The Ponderosa'. I thought I had it pretty good.

'And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful Wife
And you may ask yourself-well...how did I get here?'
Talking Heads

Eleven years later the house is full, and I find that I often forget where I came from - I take life for granted. The house is now a home. Two healthy kids, 2 black labs, and a beautiful wife. Wow, I've done well! Patrick

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Funny times at the Saltonstalls




Nora is fully recovered from her concussion. Patrick and I feel like we've had more trips to the ER in the past 2 years than your average parents. I suppose our little Nora is our little risk taker and lives life on the edge a bit more than other two year olds. Thats the only thing we can figure! From walking out the door down to the main highway 6 months ago, to calling 911 to jumping out of her crib---theres no holding her back!

We've been making a serious effort to eat meals at the dining room table recently, as opposed to around our island in our kitchen. Stuey prefers it, as he is right at the big table with us. I think Nora sometimes gets disgusted with Stuart trying to grab her food. She is a good sport, however. Patrick and I were both raised eating meals around the dinner table as a family and we've decided thats something that is important for our family. One big benefit of living in Kodiak is virtually no commute so we're all able to be around the table for dinner even when I teach my evening spinning class or if Patrick has a meeting.

Meal times often bring lots of laughs (see photos), as well as lots of tears (just ask any of our friends-Jeremy, Karen, MJ, Gregg, Lisa....the people to whom we are SO GRATEFUL for still being our friends and sitting at a table with us for a meal!!).

Photos: Meal time with Nora and Stuey (middle and bottom) photo: Audra reading to Stuart this morning.

Zoya

From the Archives - Mountain Biking




In the late 1990s and early part of this millennium I used to do quite a bit of mountain biking in Kodiak's backcountry. In those days I still skiied all winter and did archaeology and fishing in the summer, but I was not quite as into the hunting in the Fall as I am now. Hence, there was more time to go mountain biking.

I find that in life there really there is only so much time for a limited number of hobbies. For instance, I have some friends who want me to play organized hockey - but to do so I'd have to sacrifice skiing. Another reason I do not mountain bike as much these days is that the 4 wheelers really took over the areas where we used to mountain bike. Not much fun getting buzzed by 4 wheelers and dealing with braided, muddy trails.

But back in the day I did do quite a bit of mountain biking. We'd drive out the road system and go on glorious, all day treks into the backcountry. We'd ride to Saltery Cove, or if we were really ambitious we'd go to Saltery and then on to Lake Miam and end up at Pasagshak. Beers at the end of every trip.

In the top photo mountain bike regulars John Mahoney, Adelia Myrick, me and Philip Tschersich pose for the camera on the way to Saltery Cove (Hans Tschersich took the photo). In the middle photo Philip and John enjoy some of Pete Cummiskey's beer at Lake Rosetead (Pasagshak). We'd gone on an epic tour and had just happened to find Pete and beer waiting at the end of it all. Finally in the last photo Gregg Rosenkranz negotiates a downhill straight away on the way to Lake Miam. Patrick

Nora Word of the Week - Booiae


This week's word is booiae. Pronounced boo' ehh, it really does not translate into any particular word in English. The English word with the closest meaning is the noun 'more'. But Nora uses it both as an adverb and noun, really as an exclamation of need. She'll use it to ask for more of a particular type of food, or just to indicate that that she wants something. The word is always used alone, and it is up to us to guess just what she wants. Patrick

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Snow on the Mountain


Here on Kodiak it has been glorious weather of late. All rain in town, but all snow up high. In the last 24 hours we had two storms roll through and deposit almost 2 inches of rain in town. Most of the time the precipitation was mixed with snow at the airport and it never got above 37 degrees so that means we probably got two feet of snow on the mountain above 700 feet. And, as you can see by the SAT photo, another storm is on the way. We are supposed to even get snow in town this time. I love it when a storm track sets up like this! Best of all the weather has been just warm enough that the snow will stick to the mountain. Sometimes the storms are 'too cold' and all the snow blows off the mountain, leaving bare rock and ice behind. I have learned to appreciate a cold rain!

The unfortunate part is that I hurt my thigh goat hunting and will not get the chance to enjoy the snow for another few days. But I do have something to look forward to. Of note, I gather Anchorage and the mainland still do not have cross country skiing down low. I read that even in Anchorage you have to climb up to over 1000 feet to find skiing. So for all you locals reading this: appreciate the weather - we got it good! Patrick

Monday, December 10, 2007

ER visit

Today Nora and Stuey woke up at 9:15-I heard crying, raced back to their bedroom to find Nora standing on the ground next to her crib holding her hand up to her head. She was quite distraught.
Stuart was crying hard as well-he slept from 8pm-9:15AM and I think he was unbelievably hungry! So after some soothing and diaper changes, we ate breakfast. However, Nora just wasn't quite her peppy self-especially after 13 hours of sleep!
After breakfast she was laying on the couch a lot and laying on the floor crying. I offered her several things which normally would've interested her (changing the sheets on my bed-she LOVES that-watching a movie) and she just cried harder. Finally she sat on my lap in the recliner chair-very mellow and closed her eyes.

Then she got sick all over me. I thought she had come down with a 24 hour flu bug. When I called Patrick to tell him I wouldn't be going to work today to stay home with Nora, he said, "Zoya, maybe she got a concussion from the fall from the crib?". I hadn't even thought of that as a possibility!

So I put her on the couch, called the nursing hotline and the nurse advised me to keep a VERY CLOSE watch on her for signs of decline-lethargy, throwing up again, more pain in her head, etc...The ER nurse and doc (Karen and Jeremy!) encouraged me to bring her in just to make sure things were ok....she was starting to close her eyes on the couch which made me nervous. The ER visit went quickly and smoothly and Nora got discharged about 30 minutes later. She was on the mend-phew. That was scary.

So her crib days are at an end. Before bed we put the rail all the way down so she can easily climb out. And a big stack of pillows on the floor.
We'll have to take the rail off all together, or perhaps put her mattress on the floor. Patrick and I are in negotiations about what to do. I vote for the mattress on the floor and he wants to keep her in the crib somehow-safely.
We'll come up with a compromise.

Zoya

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Annual Goat Hunting With John-My side of the story by Zoya

As Patrick limps around the kitchen with a sore on his leg and talking about the "goats that we were SO CLOSE to" I think it only fair to share my side of the story.

This bow-and-arrow hunt is an annual ordeal with his friend John Barklow.
side note....(Bow hunting, I must admit, is so cool. So primal and as fair as it gets with hunting big animals. When I hear that someone is a bow-and-arrow hunter, my respect for them goes WAY UP, nevertheless.)

You don't have to draw a permit to hunt for goats with bow and arrow and the season runs from November to December 15th. You have to take a class and pass a subsequent test to hunt with bows and arrows. Thank goodness, otherwise there would probably be a lot more goats, deer and bear running around with arrows in their rear end.

So in the winter-usually November, when I think that I'm "in the clear" as far as Patrick being DONE with hunting and home a bit more on the weekends-John calls up. Thats right-the annual Goat bow and arrow hunt.

Over the past several years, I have begun to understand how hard it is to hunt goats, as they have to hike pretty dangerous terrain, get close to the goats (arrow shooting distance!) and pack the meat out often on icy, snowy, conditions-across valleys, etc..etc....Therefore, it takes several attempts (i.e. MANY WEEKEND) to get the goat.

Two years ago, I think they went 7 weekends in a row (ok-maybe I'm exaggerating, but it was at least 5) to get the goat. Everytime they came home I'd hear Patrick say, "Yeah, we saw some, but they all ran away" or "We saw a pack of goats, but there were kids, so we couldn't shoot the mom goats...".

I really don't mind, as with goat hunting I expect them to be gone ALL day and I am prepared for Patrick to come home empty handed, most likely-as it usually takes many attempts. So when he does come back saying, "we got one!" I tend to be more excited than with deer. Deer tend to be a dime a dozen during hunting season around here.

When he came home tonight, he hobbled into the door and I promptly pumped his system full of arnica, alleve and tylenol. Between those remedies, a dinner of noodles and a glass of wine for him he'll be on his way to healing. Good thing he is married to a physical therapist!

Zoya

Last Goat Hunt of the Year




It's official - no more hunting this year for me. Goat season does not end until next weekend but I'll be helping with the Christmas Bird Count. Today I helped John Barklow attempt to get a goat with a bow. And as always we came darn close but no cigar. We got within 50 yards of goats a couple of times and each time they spooked. We also found a big billy up on a cliff - but too much exposure for us to attempt.

The low point of the day was when I slipped and fell on a 'baby Matterhorn' (pointed rock) that severely bruised my hip. It'll be interesting to see just how well I can walk tomorrow. John bruised his butt badly in his fall last weekend and I ought to have a good bruise color by midweek. We speculated that it might be worth photographing our two bruised butts. If the bruises look purple enough we could be two baboons in heat (Baboons have purple butts when they are in heat).

The bottom photo depicts Pyramid mountain at dawn on our way up the mountain. In the middle photo John shows off his goat camo with Pyramid behind. Finally in the top photo - John poses with the goats (look closely at the hillside behind John). They had just seen and us and we were on their way to the cliffs. All of those goats are in rifle range. Most of the goats were nannies with kids - we only saw one big billy in the whole bunch. Patrick

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Snow Report




All week I have been cross country skiing at the golf course, and yesterday I skiied down to the parking lot at Pyramid for the first time this year. But last night we got an 'Hawaii 'n' Punch' of warm air - it got up to 43 degrees. Today I could only ski down to 900 feet and most of the snow at the golf course is gone. Still it is getting deep up on the mountains. Soon the skiing will be good. Pretty nice visuals today. Patrick

Santa Hats


Nora rather enjoyed wearing the Santa hats last night as we got the house decorated for the holidays! Zoya

O Christmas Tree!



We had a tree up all last week, which Patrick cut down from the cliff in front of our house. It was very green and beautiful, but undecorated.

Last night, I had a festive feeling moment-kids were playing independently, Patrick was reading in the living room and I decided it was high time to pull the lights and ornaments out of the attic. As soon as I put a Santa hat on, and put one on Nora, she seemed to get into the spirit!

When the string of tree lights came out of the box, she started getting really excited. Patrick helped put the lights on the tree and Nora stood there clapping her hands saying "Yeah!!" "yeah!!". Her enthusiasm for the whole process was very contagious! One by one ornaments went on and Nora watched, just fascinated! Yes-later on in the evening, some of the oranments did not survive-as she took them off and gave them to Stuart. It'll be a learning process about LOOKING at the tree instead of TOUCHING. :)

With our tree and holiday lights up, I am fully in holiday mode. Tomorrow I'll see the local Nutcracker production which I'm very excited about. What a treat to see our local dancing talent! The dance schools put the Nutcracker on every 2 or 3 years, I believe-can't wait!

Zoya

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nora Word of the Week



Ahhh...I was able to post a photo. Thank heavens. Patrick and I didn't realize how dependent we are on the photo posting capabilities of blogger. Much better.

Nora word of the Week: (long overdue, we know...thank you for the gentle reminders, Peter!)

Aaa-peee, which translates to HAPPY.
Today Nora all of a sudden started saying Happy in the kitchen. I immediately jumped on the opportunity to try to get her to repeat it over and over again by saying, Happy Baby, Happy Mommy, Happy Doggie. As she practiced her new word with Patrick he took the opportunity to teach her sad by pretending to cry. She laughed at this.

Oh it feels so nice when she learns a word. Speech therapy is planning to go on hold while we try some other therapies. I was initially concerned when I heard about speech cutting back but Patrick took the news differently. He said to Nora, "You got'em stumped Nora! You've got us all trying to figure you out!". He was much more lighthearted about the lack of progress. We just remind ourselves that she knows exactly what is going on and is learning and developing just right-aside from the speech.

I incorporate so much of the speech activities into our daily life-sometimes out in public I think adults must think I'm talking down to Nora, where really I'm enunciating and trying to help her hear and say the sounds in words correctly. I know she is trying so hard and I give her lots of good kudos for any attempt.


Zoya

The Spanish N



Over Thanksgiving when I was exploring in the Camden Hills with my brother and his son Davis we found a Spanish N chiseled into a cliff. My brother had taken us to look at a cave that had been elaborately renovated with stone walls and a stone dais (table and/or raised hearth?). He had believed it to be very old and had wanted my opinion on what it represented. He did not know about the 'N'. I must admit I was a little skeptical about what we'd find. He was convinced that it was a Revolutionary War lookout camp; I thought we'd find a 1960's era 'hippy hideout'.

So the three of us climbed up through the woods and boulders to pretty darn near the top of a mountain with a spectacular view out over both Muskongus and Penobscot Bays. It would have been a good place for a lookout - we could see as far as Monhegan Island. And tucked up under an enormous cliff was Dicky's 'camp'. I had to admit I was impressed by the well-built the walls and 'stone table' - all together too well built for a temporary camp or hippy hangout. And everything was obviously very old. Rockclimbers had recently reused the cave for a camp and had moved a few of the rocks and you could tell by the bare patches under them that the lichens had been growing for a long time after the construction of the wall.

It was the climbers who clued us in about the spanish N. They had left their climbing journal in the rockshelter and in it they had described an N chiseled into a boulder in front of the camp. And lo and behold there it was high up on the face of a boulder. I was immediately impressed by how well it had been chiseled into the rock and that it had a sideways S on top. It took a lot of work to carve that N into the rock, and it was done by a professional.

So the question remains who carved the spanish N into the rock and why? Does it mark the boundary of someone's land? Could it have been carved by a lost Basque or Spanish explorer? Perhaps it marks pirate treasure? A basque cod fisherman's grave? I have to admit it has me stumped, but I did notify the Maine State Archaeologist about what we'd found. Perhaps he'll have some ideas. I'll keep you posted. Patrick

Photos



Anyone else having problems getting photos to Post? It seems blogger will only upload maybe one in three photos and only really tiny ones. These are the ones we could get to upload for yesterdays post. Perhaps our blog will have to be photo free from now on! Patrick

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bathtime, Bedtime, Quilting

Life with kids has a lot of routine to it. I'm not as much of a schedule person as I am a routine person. Some people have their kids down for a nap at the same time every day, or meal times are at the exact same time every day. With my kids, I let the day take shape. Perhaps thats the beauty of being a stay-at-home mom....having some flexibility and variability to the daily schedule.

Lately for bathtime, Nora is INSISTENT that Stuart and I both get in the tub with her. So I do. Sometimes reluctantly, but by the time I'm in there, its fun. Stuey is quite the splasher-big difference from Nora when she was a baby. And Nora sits in the tub saying "more" for more water. When the water gets cold, I have to turn it off and she says more repeatedly until I turn it on again. When she knows what she wants and she sees that its within close reach, she sure persists. At times Patrick and I sigh and laugh and say, "you're being just like Aunt ********" or just like a Saltonstall or just like a Herrnsteen.

Bedtime is going so smoothly with me nursing Stuart to sleep in a big chair in our bedroom while Patrick reads Nora to sleep two rooms over. As I sit in the chair in the darkness with Stuart, I'm able to look over at Mill Bay beach through the window and on nights like tonight I can hear the waves on the beach. Last night we had a major storm and the winds rattled the house and rain/snow spat against the window. Once Stuart is asleep I lay him in his crib with his little teddy bear next to him and the lullaby music playing in the bedroom.

Then its my quilting time. I haven't quilted for 6 months and it is just FABULOUS to get sewing once again. The fabrics, the patterns, the satisfaction that comes from seeing a stack of various fabrics take shape into a quilt. I've said it before and I"ll say it again...I never dreamed I'd be a quilter, but here I am. I went into the fabric store (Just Janes) today to get a small piece I need for my current quilt and I practically drooled over the new gorgeous, contemporary fabrics they have. Various project ideas ripple through my mind and I have to tear myself away from the racks of fabric.

This week Stuart is 10 months old and I believe I may be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sleep is actually happening and I have moments to myself now and again.

Zoya

(Note Blogger not posting photos for some reason)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thanksgiving photos






Thanksgiving came and went too quickly.

More Photos:

-Family Photo in front of the fireplace at Emmy's house in Rockport
-Nora and Leo playing with Emmy's reading glasses
-Emmy pushing the kiddos on a walk with Patrick in Rockport
-Nora and Leo dining together on Thanksgiving day at their own table.
-Patrick getting his plate of food with Nora

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Goats on Ice





Today John and I went up into the mountains to hunt mountain goats. Near town this time of year you are only allowed to hunt them with bows and arrows. So John carried the bow and I was his porter. We saw some goats on the way up, but the only way to get close to them was to loop around behind them to the very top of the mountain and then approach them from behind. This maneuver took almost 3 hours to accomplish.

Things got a little dicey when we discovered that the entire top of the mountain above 2000 feet had been coated in 2 inches of rime ice. Some of the ice crystals were almost 10 inches long and 2 inches across with flat facets. The sunlight sparkled on the crystals, lots of little flashes. But it was scary to walk on. At one point John's crampon slipped on the ice and he slid away on an uncontrolled descent for about 100 vertical feet. Good thing there was not a cliff below him. After that we were much more cautious and even mild slopes, if there was a cliff anywhere nearby (exposure), had our full attention.

Eventually we did sneak up right behind the herd of goats and John would have arrowed a big old billy goat if he had not run into an unexpected nanny goat and her kid looking right at him. The whole herd spooked and away the big billy ran with the herd. That's goat hunting with a bow. But the hike and views were spectacular. Patrick

Friday, November 30, 2007

Maine Woods






One of my favorite things about Maine is the deciduous forest. We got beautiful Sitka Spruce rain forest here on Kodiak, but the species diversity of trees is rather low (alder, sitka spruce, cottonwood, black birch, willow). In Maine you got a forest with too many trees to name. A delight to hike. It's something I miss about life out East. So when Zoya and I and the kiddos headed out East for Thanksgiving I was really looking forward to the hikes in the Maine woods.

My brother promised me he'd show me places around the Camden Hills that I'd never seen. Old growth forest with huge oaks, white pines, maples and big cliffs. And he delivered. I was impressed with how the Camden/Rockport area has managed to keep huge tracts of land wild in close proximity to housing developments. Many areas in Alaska have not managed this sort of land management. Take Homer, for instance, in Homer there is a house just about every 5 acres - spread out over a huge area, and very few huge tracts of land are leftover for simple, nomadic wandering. But in Camden such areas exist, and, moreover, the hiking is spectacular. Big granite cliffs, boulders and pretty darn big hills with sweeping vista views out over Penobscot Bay. Surprisingly enough we saw very few people - and most people seem to stick to the trails.

Out East these days people are terrified of ticks. It seems everyone either knows someone who has had Lyme's disease, or has had it themself. Lyme disease is a pretty serious tick bourn disease, and I must admit Zoya and I got a little paranoid about ticks. But the sad thing is that nobody seems to leave the trails and bushwack through the woods anymore. In terms of paranoia, ticks are the East coast version of Kodiak Brown Bears. Except Zoya and I believe ticks are more of an actual threat to one's health than bears. In any case, perhaps ticks are the reason my brother Dicky and I had the woods to ourselves.

In the top photo Dicky, Davis and Brooks pose on top of a mountain. Note the town of Camden on the right side of the picture. In the second photo Dicky and Leo pose in front of a deciduous holly tree. Amazing berries! In the third photo Dicky poses in the snow on Mount Megunticook. The bottom two photos is cliff climbing on Mount Megunticook with Davis and Dicky. Some of the cliff are two hundred feet high! Patrick