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Friday, April 30, 2010

Biking to work kids in tow

On my trip to Philadelphia several weeks ago, I watched a documentary called, "No Impact Man" which was about a 3 person family in NYC working to "go off the grid" for 1 year. They don't go to a movie for 1 year, they have their electricity turned off as well as not using the subway. One thing that made a big impression on me was the willingness of the mom to go along with the project, as she started biking everywhere. At the end of the year, she decided she would continue biking...with her 2 year old in tow in a trailer behind her-in NYC.

I've always been a bit afraid of biking on the road, but after watching that movie, I thought, "If she can bike everywhere all the time in NYC, I should be able to do more biking with the kids here in Kodiak".

So I saw an announcment on Facebook about a friend selling a used trailer for kids and jumped on it. That night we drove around the driveway with the kids in it-squealing with delight. The next morning, the day was sunny and I thought to myself "I have NO exuses. If I don't give this a try on such a perfect sunny day, then I'll never do it." I left the house at 8:00 AM sharp, and headed to drop off Stuey first. The Mill Bay hill just about killed me. My stomach started feeling queasy, as it took so much work to pull 80 pounds of kids behind me up the long ascent. To make matters worse (or better perhaps-he made me laugh), Stuey was saying, "mommy, go faster!" I could barely breath or talk.

After dropping Stuey off in the Puffin drive part of town, I headed off with Nora to the baptist mission. Surprisingly, I felt very safe on the road. I stayed on the bike path as much as possible, then near Cutoff Drive went on the road. Cars would slow down way in advance, or stop all together if I made any indication of turning. THere is a little flag on the trailer which helps people see it from far away.

I got to work right at 8:40, and had a client at 8:45 so I didn't give myself quite enough "wiggle room", but overall it went very well! My legs felt very tired last night after picking the kiddies up and returning home. The kids absolutely loved it. They were laughing and talking a lot of the way. When I dropped Nora off at the Baptist mission, she said, "Mom its so neat how you can hear everything!".

My plan is to try to take the kids via bike a few times a week. I'll gain my leg strength over time and it'll be good training for the ecochallenge race in August that I"m hoping to participate in with our 'Pushing Up Daisies' team.


Photos-the top one is of us before we headed off to work. The lower ones are of Patrick and I trying out the trailer with the kids the night before.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Zoya zzzzzz's

Snoring. Not something I usually do, but when it happens, Patrick always tells me in the morning, "I should've videotaped you!!". Well, this time he did. Poor guy was up for 3 hours last night with me snoring. I have swollen tonsils which made me especially loud. This morning we started the day off with some good belly laughing listening to "mommy" snore! The kids got such a kick out of it, too!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stormy Weather

Stormy, stormy weather lately here in Kodiak. Its felt like winter-really high winds, rain. There seems to be a little break in the low pressure system this morning. Its been stormy for myself as well-a case of strep throat, I believe. I'm on day 3 of it-feeling cruddy with swollen tonsils the size of grapefruits. I'm not a big "go-to-the-doctor-to-get-antibiotics" person, but after 3 days of these symptoms, Its tempting to pay a visit today. My energy is coming back somewhat (As Patrick said this morning, "Hey-I think I saw a smile out of Zoya". I suppose I've been a bit grumpy). Today is the first time in 3 days I've actually put on some make up and spent a minute on my hair.

The kids have been very helpful with me being down and out. Nora makes me little pretend meals to help me feel better. Kids are funny that way-they know when to tame their energy a bit when a parent isn't feeling good. Every night when I put them to bed, I always ask, "What was the favorite part of your day?" Two nights ago, Nora replied, "Making you feel better."

Dicky took the photo during his recent walk out Spruce Cape point.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dicky in town & The big Stage

The Big Stage

Today Nora had her first dance practice on the big auditorium stage for her recital (which is in 3 weeks). She has been SO excited about the practice for a whole week now, and every morning when she woke up would ask, "Is today the day of the recital?" Since Patrick will be gone for her actual performance (this breaks my heart-he'll be out on a survey), he took Nora to her first stage performance today and it seems like Nora enjoyed it. From watching the video, I don't see too much stage fright and she looked like she was enjoying the company of her friends. I'm so glad Nora has done the entire year of dance without any prodding/encouragment from Patrick and I. She is in love with it. Her teacher, Molly Brodie, is very fun with the kids and appreciates the personalities of all the kids.

I was in the first performance that was in the Auditorium--when I was in 4th grade. After the auditorium was finished there were auditions for a play "The Enchanted" and I was one of 7 kids cast in the play. The one thing I remember from the play was Pat Szabo coaching me on my lines and helping me project enough. I had to say, "Because I love to be alone at night in the forest" very loudly, all alone on the stage. I was terrified and it felt like Pat spent HOURS with me working on my lines. My character was Lucy. For this reason, I'll always have a special spot in my heart for the Kodiak Auditorium. And it will be so fun to see Nora in her first ever performance on it.

Dicky's Visit
Dicky arrived to town yesterday and it has been fun seeing him and Patrick has been out doing adventures with him. I still can't get over the fact that he is married to my twin sister...Its wild how closely knit out family is. Kinda wild how Dicky will describe something Ella has done or said and my first thought is, "That is something I would say!". Ella and I are so alike in so many ways. And yet we married men who are very different. Dicky and Patrick have similar passions and interests but are so different in their thoughts and views of the world in some ways.

This is the calm before the storm, as Patrick leaves for 3 weeks on May 3rd. I have two doula clients due the second week in May and fortunately a local gal is willing to be my "mommy helper" for the 3 weeks Patrick is gone to help with Nora's evening dance rehearsals and to be on call in case my doula clients go into labor. It will be an action packed time. Patrick is going down to the South end of the island with Sven to do Petroglyph documentation.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Skiing the 'Wedge'

Wednesday afternoon Gregg and I skiied what was for us a new run on Pyramid. I call it the wedge because it looks like an upside down triangle between two ravines (see bottom photo - if you look closely you can even see our tracks). It is a VERY steep run and actually gets steeper and steeper as you go down. Because it keeps on getting steeper you can't see the slope below you - it falls away below you. Also, on your right there is a HUGE cornice while on the left there are cliffs.

So it was with a tad bit of trepidition that I started the run. Is there a reason no one does this run? What happens when I get to the point of the wedge? It is not like doing a run at a ski area. At a ski area the runs are groomed and on a map - a known quantity - while on Pyramid Gregg and I made up our own run by examining the face before we climbed the mountain.

Anyway, the snow was GREAT and the run an adrenalin rush. Now that I know it, I think I'll do it again! Patrick

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Whalefest Begins

Whalefest begins and I believe I am giving the first public presentation of the whole event. I must say, it seems like I have given a lot of lectures this year! I'll be talking about how the Alutiiq hunted whales and comparing their practices with those of their neighbors. How long have the Alutiiq been hunting whales anyway? You will have to come to my lecture tonight to find out. It's at 7PM in the museum gallery. Admission is free. Patrick

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Visit to Afognak

On Monday I went on a quick floatplane trip to Afognak Island to do some archaeological survey work for the Native Village of Afognak at their Muskomee Lodge. What a place! I finished my work relatively quickly and then got to go on a great hike into the wilds of Afognak. I hiked through old growth forest and across meadows with snow capped mountains all around. Actually there was still about a foot and half of snow down low and this made walking a bit difficult and tiring. I saw 11 swans on a beaver pond that had the biggest beaver lodge I have ever seen (like 15 feet high), lots of deer, elk tracks but no elk. I also saw my first bear tracks of the year.

At night I got to stay at the Muskomee Lodge. Big woodstove putting out the heat, a banya, T-bone steaks and a bed with a view. It is quite the place and way more luxurious that what I am used to when I visit the backcountry.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend happenings...

Birth camp in Philly was fabulous. The trip out East was long, but very smooth. I took a full day body work for pregnancy class as well as a 1/2 day herb class where we learned about preparing simple tinctures, oils, etc. This spring I am ready to try making some teas, etc. with chamomile, nettles, etc from around here! There is a whole world of herbs which will be fun learn about. The herb class was more for my own knowledge...I wouldn't be apt to recommend herbal tincutres, teas, etc to doula clients.

I arrived home on Saturday morning, was completely grumpy and tired all day Saturday but then returned to my "normal Zoya" self on Sunday after 9 hours of sleep. Phew! Yesterday the energizer bunny took over-- I made homemade Pecan Waffles, homemade blueberry muffins, then mushroom risotto and a chinese broccoli-mushroom dish for dinner. Probably making up for lost time cooking after 4 days of eating in airports, hotels, etc...

Last night at midnight I got a call from my April doula client--a first time mom in labor. The birth went quickly and I was home at 6:30 AM. Wow. What an incredible start to my day! I was sitting down to a cup of coffee when Patrick and the kiddies woke up at 6:45. So I'll be running on fumes a bit today....after only 2 hours of sleep. But I've done it many times before without too much difficulty so I should be fine.

This morning Nora did something that took me by COMPLETE surprise. Yesterday I took her to get groceries and as we pulled into Cost-savers, she saw the OPEN sign and said, what does that say mom?
I said "Open. O-P-E-N". and She repeated it after I said it. I thought nothing more of the interaction until this morning when she came running over to me with the words OPEN written on a stickie note.

She said, "See mom-I wrote OPEN. O-P".

I asked Patrick, "So you helped Nora write open on this stickie note?"
He said, "No I didn't".
I asked Nora, "Did you write this all by yourself?"
She said, "Yeah-OPEN. I saw it at Cost-savers."
So cool to see how much is sinking into her mind with letters, words etc without us even working at it!

Photos: A very tired Katie and myself at the Train Station in Philadelphia having a bite to eat before taking the train to DC! The train stations in DC and PHilly were gorgeous!


Friday, April 16, 2010

More White Sands

Yesterday afternoon we went to white sands beach with the doggies for more sand castles (Nora) and construction projects (Stu). We are pretty lucky to live in a place like Kodiak with such nice public beaches a mere 10 minute drive from the house. I am a little chagrined that we do not go there more often. I am also amazed that we the public do not take better care of the beach. Why do people build pallet fires on the beach that leave behind piles of nails and what's with all the broken beer bottles? Still it is a beautiful beach and most of the mess is relatively easy to avoid.

Also perhaps it is time to retire the name 'White Sands' beach. I gather it got its name from the volcanic ash that being light generally floats on top of the sand - there used to be a lot more of this white sand. And at a lower tide there are still some pretty large patches of it. The ash is from the 1912 Katmai Volcanic eruption. But it seems that today the beach is mostly a 'Grey Sands' beach made from ground up slate and greywacke. Old timers refer to the creek by the beach as Devil's Creek and the beach as Devil's Beach. I kind of like the old name.

Photo is from yesterday and the Youtube video from the day before. Patrick

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Momma's away. ... ..

Zoya's off in Philadelphia at baby boot camp for the week and I've been holding down the fort here on Kodiak. Holding down the fort with lots of help from babysitters! But really the main change is that with no Zoya around there is no one to watch the kids while the other takes the dogs for a walk. So I've been taking both the dogs and kids to beaches and on hikes.

Yesterday we hiked out Spruce Cape and when we got to near the end we just sat in the moss by the top of a cliff and listened to the waves on the beach down below. The kids were worried about the dogs falling down the cliff. Today we went to white sands beach and Nora and Stuey made a sand castle. They really got into it. I threw sticks into the water for the dogs and Stuey joined me. He threw gravel into the water. It was sunny and calm with temps in the mid 40's - perfect. Best of all, I think these outings help the kiddos to sleep. So far they have been in bed every night by 8 PM. But I'm crossing my fingers for the rest of the week (2 more bedtimes to go!). Patrick

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


April is when the sunrises out of the sea, crocuses bloom in the snow, and the skiing is at its best. It's also when we lose our night for the summer. By the end of the month it seems like it is light all the time. It's when both the cross country and downhill skiing is at its best, but I also know that by the end of the month the cross country skiing will be done and the snow will be retreating fast up the mountains. It's a month to savor and enjoy. Soon enough it will be summer and life will be hectic. Patrick


Top and bottom - yesterday's sunrise out of the sea in front of our house. Second from top - crocuses blooming in the snow a week or so ago (they eventually got completely buried under a foot of snow). The crocuses have been in a static blooming state since late February when our winter finally arrived and arrested their development. Second from bottom - my ski tracks on top of sun warmed corn snow last Friday.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Off to Birth Camp

Tomorrow I head out East for The Midwifery Today Conference--where doulas, midwives and birth "activists" meet to learn all about healthy birthing. The conference is in Philadelphia and is the same conference which I attended in Eugene last year and loved so much. The only way to describe it is "birth camp". You're around so many incredible people who have achieved great things in the world with supporting healthy, natural birthing approaches. The thing I remembered from last year was that there wasn't any hierarchy of doulas vs. midwives...everyone there is attending with the same goals--to promote healthy birthing for women and babies. And the presenters are very well known and published midwives...including Elizabeth Davis, Ina May Gaskin.

I'm taking a class on body work during pregnancy, herbs class and a few other smaller sessions. Can't wait! Katie is going as well, which will be fun.

Many things on my mind right now, but I will enjoy going to birth camp with Katie.


Friday, April 09, 2010

Film Festival Tonight

Tonight at 6 PM at the high school commons is the Island Trails Network Trails Summit. Become a member of the Island Trails Network and your admission is free! This year the event will showcase all of our local video talent, and there will also be free Big Al's pizza and a silent auction for some very cool stuff. So drop by the high school commons after six, sign up to be a member of the Island Trails Network, dig into some pizza and watch some videos of people having adventures on Kodiak.

The photo above is of Gregg skiing Shishaldin Volcano - that's 9,000 feet of vertical ahead of him.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Community Archaeology 2009 Lecture

Tonight at 7 PM I will show what we found last summer during our dig out on Cliff Point. Can you believe it - another public lecture? I think I have set a record for me this spring, and I have another about the antiquity of Alutiiq whaling in 2 weeks. But the good thing about giving so many is that I am far less nervous than usual. Is this a good thing?

On another note, yesterday I gathered seaweed with the kids down on the beach and made seaweed salad and chips (see post from last April for recipe). I discovered that the seaweed I use to make salad DOES NOT work for making chips. I thought the two might be inter-changable and threw some of the salad seaweed into the wok full of hot oil that I use for making chips. SERIOUS explosion, dogs fled the kitchen, Stu started to cry, and Zoya just said 'Wow'. Oil all over the stove and barely anything left of the seaweed - not the sublime crisps we end up with when we use the other kind of seaweed. Oh well, live and learn.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Food Adventures

Easter last Sunday was a fun afternoon-we hid some eggs before the kids got up and I filled the eggs with pistacios. Not a chocolate egg or bunny was to be found in our house! Yeah! In the late afternoon, we headed out to Roxann and Mike's for Easter dinner. I ate entirely way too much chocolate cake for dessert and we had fun catching up with Mike and Roxann (and holding baby Sophie) while the kids played with Cece.
When we got ready to go to Easter dinner, Nora thought daddy looked like a 'farmer' while Daddy thought mommy looked like a swedish bar maid. Hence, for the evening we were 'Inga and Olaf'. Can't hurt trying out a new hairdo!

Tonight we had a little adventure on the coast gaurd base. We were invited out to dinner at a friends house and when I got to base, I realized my Geico car insurance card was 1 week expired, so we had no option but to leave our car at the gate. The kids had run to the car without jackets as we left the house, so Patrick and I put our jackets on the kids and started walking to our friends house. The gentleman at the Coast Gaurd Gate felt quite badly...seeing us trek off into the cold with our big bowl of salad and coats wrapped around the kids. He actually offered us his car to drive! He said, "How long will you be? You want to take my car?" Only in of the many times I love living here!

I eventually called my friend, as her house was a bit of a hike and she drove us to her place. Dinner was a yummy meal of home made lasagna, home made bread, home made ice cream, home made bread pudding complete with home made chilled ginger tea! Oh so delicious! And the kids had a blast playing with little cars that her 3 boys have. And Patrick had a blast talking about Kodiak grown food, such as plants, seaweed salad, etc. Patrick loves it when others are excited about gathering Kodiak food and learning more about it.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Failed Experiment with the Cell Phone

Last week when I went up to Anchorage to attend the Alaska Anthropological Meetings Zoya bought me a cell phone to take along. She had planned on meeting me there and it just seemed like a good idea for coordination and communication purposes. And it probably still is a good idea for those reasons, but, for me, too aggravating of a leash to be worth it.

I jetted up to Anchorage all happy with my new cell phone and proudly told everyone I knew my new cell phone number. This was probably my first big mistake. The thing started to ring and vibrate constantly. I found myself doing all the rude things I abhor about people with cell phones - like answering the phone in the middle of a conversation, or rushing off to check my messages. I tried turning it off, but then people actually got mad at me for not getting back to them sooner. All of a sudden people EXPECTED to be able to get a hold of me. I was no longer free. And worse yet, most of the calls were of the REALLY unimportant variety - 'hey dude, what's up? Want to meet up in the bar later'. And I left a symposium to hear this because I did not want to miss a message from Zoya.

In the cell phone's defense, Zoya claims I must take control of my own cell phone and turn it off and check the messages in my own time. But I say why bother if I don't have to. Here on Kodiak people can call me at work, home or send me an email message. They do not expect anything more and I like it that way. I can go skiing or walking with the dogs without interruptions or the guilt that I am blowing someone off. Unless I am at home or at work there is no way I can check my messages, right?

I think people have slowly become addicted to cell phones and do not even realize what they have lost. People have built up a 'cell phone' culture over a 10 to 15 year period and do not even realize how their lives have changed for the worse. Texting, twitter, a constant need to be in communication with everyone else is chaos! And worse yet no one really gives anyone else their full attention. They'll be talking to one person while they text another, or perhaps update on their facebook page about what they are eating. Heaven forbid that anyone will ever take the time to compose and write a letter and send it via the US mail. When I tried to enter this culture on a fast track over one weekend the repercussions of my decision were obvious. A cell phone is a leash. It is symptomatic of a culture with an attention deficit disorder. I also fully realize that some people have no choice – a cell phone is a requirement of their job. I happen to have the luxury of a choice. So while perhaps I'll travel with one on occasion, you wont see me carrying a cell phone around on a regular basis any time soon. Patrick

Photo: A picture Nora took of me (old technology hating codger) and Stu. Amazing how the kiddos take to new technology isn't it?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Luge Run in the backyard

Finally! Some snow in the backyard. So far it has been a pretty dreary winter in Kodiak - all rain, brown, and mud. But lately things have been looking up a bit. It seems we've finally received some snow in the backyard. The kids love it. Zoya (who has been known to cheer the advent of spring) even commented as we took the kids out sledding, 'this is what we've been missing - winter is great if you can take the kids out sledding every day. This is what winter should have been like all winter'.

And do they love to go sledding. In 24 hours we have gone 3 times - and each time for about 40 minutes. At the bottom of each run they pop off of the sled and chug on up the hill for another run. They ride solo, on top of me, as a pair - all sorts of combinations. Sledding is good. Check out the Youtube link at the bottom. A movie is worth a thousand words. Patrick

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Thoughts on "Food Inc"

About a week ago, Patrick and I watched the movie "Food Inc". It is a documentary on food production in America. At first Patrick didn't want to watch it, but 5 minutes into it, even he was hooked. A main topic of the movie was meat production in the large factories as well as corn and soy production (and how much corn products are in EVERYTHING!). During the meat plant part, where they talk about how there are 12 major meat plants in the US, Patrick looked at me and said, "We've eaten meat from one of those plants". I was really grossed out by this. E.Coli and the lack of FDA regulatory measures about e.coli was especially frightening (and the fact that they bathe meat in ammonia to kill the e.coli)

It makes me want to eat only game, wild gathered or home grown local veggies, whole grains and produce from organic sources. However, its not realistic to eat like this all the time. You would have to become Nazi-like about your food, which then takes the social aspect and pleasure out of food. Eating as well as possible for much of the time is a more reasonable goal.

As the movie said, "you have a chance to vote for how food is produced in America-every time you go to the grocery store checkout line." The whole premise is that the supply will equal demand and if people demand food from more organic, healthy sources, then the supply will meet that. Even something like eggs from safeway-after seeing the window-less pens the hens are kept in-it made me so sad to think that that is where our eggs are coming from. Just a little awareness and thought about where our food is coming from can make a difference.


Picture is from a nettles and char (fish) meal which Patrick gathered and cooked while on an archaeology survey in Karluk lake. No growth hormones or pesticides here!