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Monday, May 31, 2010

Salmon for the canning

This weekend part of the plan had been to go up to Afognak, camp and setnet for fish. But the weather was too ugly and we all stayed home. Every morning Nora asked with a wishful tone if we were going 'to 'Fognak'. But it was not to be.

On Sunday afternoon Mike showed up with nine Red Salmon to can. On Saturday, he had still managed to go to Afognak with another friend and catch almost 60 red salmon! And then he came by with some bounty to share. The funny thing about it is that he LOVES to catch fish while I really don't. On the other hand he is less than enthused about chasing after deer and elk while I'm a rabid hunter. We both love to eat fish and meat so I guess it all works out. We share and share alike.

So after a busy evening of canning I now have a cupboard full of canned salmon. And the eagles have the scraps we threw over the cliff.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Crab Fest Weekend

It's raining. As everyone knows, It always rains for Kodiak annual Memorial Day celebration - Crabfest. But everyone from Kodiak also knows that a little rain doesn't hurt anything. People who can't take a little rain do not last long on Kodiak. And this year the celebration actually started out with a little sun.

Meanwhile, our kids LOVE Crabfest. Nora puts it up there with Christmas and birthdays in importance as a yearly event. Food and rides, and lots and lots of people. And given that it is Kodiak - everyone knows everybody else.

The kids loved the kiddie train and the spinning apples. Nora went on more of a grown up ride with Patrick-the flying swings.
This year there was a new booth, "CRAZY HAIR"...which all the teens LOVED. there was some wild hair sprayed, painted dos running around! See photo of the Lions Club guy who got his beard done up for the occasion. Yesterday we enjoyed all things deep fried...banana fritters, dough boys, bruin burger...I went to bed with hopes that I wouldn't wak up sick, and fortunately I didn't. Its a good thing Crab fest happens only once a year!


Thursday, May 27, 2010


Nora says, "I can't know" when she doesn't know the answer to something.

Stuey called my uncle roger, "uncle Dicky". Several times.

Stuey reverses Up and Down. For instance in the car, he'll say, "roll the window down"...when he really wants me to roll it up. In the bathtub, he'll say, "Too hot" when he really means, "too cold".

The other day I got a little upset at Stuey when he was acting up at bedtime. When he woke up the next morning and curled up in my bed, he looked at me with the cutest little eyes and asked, "you not mad at me, mommy?". Too precious. It made my heart melt.

Alitak Whales

During our petroglyph survey at Cape Alitak feeding whales just off-shore were a common sight. At times we even had whales broaching within 100 yards of shore. The whales are probably the major reason why Alutiiq people created the petroglyphs in the first place. Sven showed me the petroglyph pictured below and explained that he thinks the two 'antennae' extending out from the front of the whales represent ropes. He interprets the glyph as a whale getting towed to shore, and I think he is right. Sven thinks the glyphs were created to help with catching whales - a little bit of hunting magic.

In any case, during our float plane trip home we got to circle a group of humpback whales that appeared to be 'bubble feeding' for herring. The whales would herd the feed into a big ball by blowing bubbles and then dive through the ball and eat the feed. Hard to say exactly what is going on in my video (kind of bumpy and not very long). But the whales sure are cool. Many of them appeared to be just hanging out in a vertical position in the water column and not moving much at all. And judging by all the white froth, I think they were blowing bubbles. Patrick

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fun in the Sun

The past 2 days we've been blessed with some gorgeous Kodiak sun-which we shared with Aunt Kathy and Uncle Roger. Yesterday we drove out to a beach in Middle Bay and enjoyed a picnic lunch and the kids played in the rocks and the river. We also went to a park, watched the kids bike in the driveway and finished the day off with our first ever fire pit cookout in our yard. Patrick made the pit out of some large rocks and we cooked our dinner on the grill laid atop it. I forgot how mezmorizing and wonderfully relaxing fires are to watch. It was the perfect end to the day.

My visit with Aunt Kathy and Uncle Roger was one of a kind. They are patient and 'go-with-the-flow' with Nora and Stuey. Aunt Kathy played "fabric dolls" with Nora for several hours and we had fun going out and doing things in the nice weather. Aunt Kathy and Uncle Roger have been in my life for as long as I can remember and it has been 2 years since we saw them last. Now my kids are at an age where they can both walk, talk and do activities, so it was fun to take advantage of this new-found adventure freedom! And do things with Aunt K and Uncle R.

At least twice a day we were under strict orders to drive down to "Crab Festival Zone" to see what the progress on the carnival rides was. Finally tonight we saw the makings of a cute kid train ride and apple ride. Nora was thrilled beyond words. The moment she has been waiting for all year has arrived. As Nora asked once a few months ago..."So, mom--Its Crab fest and then Christmas at the same time?". I laughed and said, " That would be too much excitement for the little kids, Nora!". She agreed.

I"m really feeling like summer is here. And I am feeling like the kids need to be outside lots this summer. They can really explore, do imaginary play and all those fun things which should be high points of summer.

As I write this, the Kennicott ferry is most likely pulling away from Kodiak with Aunt Kathy and Uncle Roger headed to the mainland to take them on their next summer adventures. Thank you, Aunt K and Uncle R, for the laughter and great memories from the past 2 days! We had a blast.


Photos: All but the campfire photo was taken by Uncle Roger/Aunt Kathy! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Playing Hookey

This past weekend I was destined for Anchorage for a 3 day manual therapy class (one that I had taken in the past but wanted a refresher). When I boarded the plane in Kodiak, it was rainy and foggy here. Anchorage was a whole different story. It was gorgeous. The sun was out, it was warm (by Alaska standards--a balmy 55 deg) and I just couldn't picture sitting inside a class all day. I was torn. One one hand, I felt so loyal to the class I've signed up for and I've never completely skipped a class (since college, I should clarify).
On the other hand, I needed a day off. The weeks before were incredibly busy with work, Patrick gone, 2 doula clients, Nora's dance recital. My energy batteries needed a recharge.

I slept in, went for hikes with friends, saw the documentary, "Babies", ate yummy falafels and thai food...the weekend couldn't have been better. The weather was sunny and gorgeous.

There were a few pangs of guilt about not taking the class throughout the weekend. I am a responsible person who never skips class, but I had to follow my intuition which believed that a few days off would be MUCH more beneficial than taking a class indoors.

While I was gone, Nora learned how to ride her bike, which is so exciting. The other day as I had my hand on her back helping guide her, she said, "Let go, mamma. Let go!". It is so easy for her to say, but hard for me to do.

Now back in Kodiak, the weather is improved from what it was. And Aunt Kathy and Uncle Roger are visiting from Florida-which has been fun. Pictures to come!


Patrick and I upon his return from the petroglyph "hunt". I loved how grubby he was--with the dirt on his forehead. A true archaeologist.
My sister Bonnie, brother in law Todd at their house in Anchorage.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Bike Races

This weekend Zoya is off enjoying the high life in Anchorage while I take care of the kiddos and pooches on Kodiak. Today Nora learned how to ride the pedal bike. This is a HUGE step up from the run bike (what Stuie is riding in the photos). Now she can pedal up hills. It started in the morning when Stu and Nora would race back to the house down the driveway (see photos). By days end she rode the bike all the way to Abercrombie (with a helmet). One scary moment at the end of our road when she got going too fast and almost crashed into the creek. But she was back up in no time and on the bike again as if nothing had happened. I did not ride a bike by myself until I was 6 or 7 (I'm embarrassed to admit I think it was actually 7).

Note too that Nora has now appropriated my old Alutiiq Museum cap as her own. She told me, 'Daddy now you need to buy yourself a new hat'. I love the tomboy look - check out the photo of her and Stuie standing with their bikes like they are old pros. Patrick

Friday, May 21, 2010

More Cape Alitak Survey Photos

Such a beautiful place deserves more than one post. The top photo is of a couple of whales in what Sven terms 'Whale Alley' - an area of the petroglyphs where only whales are depicted. The second and third photos are of Cape Alitak wildlife - we also saw a LOT of whales feeding close to shore. The fourth photo is of the beach at sunset. We were able to find lots of excellent burning driftwood for our wood stove and Sven even found a log of Pacific Yew wood to carve. Finally the bottom photo is of our fearless leader Sven in action with Cape Alitak sunset going on the background.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cape Alitak Petroglyph Survey

I spent the last 2 weeks down at Cape Alitak with Sven H helping him with his petroglyph survey. Mark R and I mapped and tested all of the archaeological sites. It was our job to tie the prehistoric villages to the various petroglyph groupings and to date the sites. It turned out that there are a lot of sites down on Cape Alitak and we had our work cut out for us. One of the villages had almost 100 housepits!

Sven has been studying the petroglyphs for 10 years and it was very cool to tap into his accumulated body of knowledge. I couldn't believe how well he knew the individual glyphs. For instance, I'd be looking at what I thought was a new glyph and without even turning his head to see what I was looking at, Sven would say, 'nice whale huh?'. And it would be a whale. It was also amazing how the light and weather effected what you could see. In the third photo Sven is posing next to a drummer - note the huge circle - he first showed this to me on a sunny day and I thought he was making it up. Then on a cloudy, rainy day it just popped out. Meanwhile the smiling faces I saw on the sunny day had disappeared.

Most of the villages that we found, and the ones closest to the petroglyphs in particular, dated to about 700 to 1100 years ago. We'll know for sure when we get our radiocarbon dating results back. But based on house forms and tool types they all look like they date to the Transitional period between the Kachemak and Koniag cultural traditions. We also found quite a few whaling lances which are usually rare to non-existant in late prehistoric sites. It looks like they were doing quite a bit of whaling at Cape Alitak, and, based on what we found, they are making the whaling lances in the same way that they did 5000 years ago.

A really beautiful place - much thanks to Akhiok Kaguyak Inc who kindly allowed us on their land and supported us in the endeavor and to the National Park Service who provided the grant money to do the work.

PS that is not a live King Crab that I am holding, but the molted shell. The beaches were covered with the molted shells of crabs - mostly tanners. But I did find this complete molted specimen. I wish I had kept it. Patrick

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Back from Alitak, but first more Kitewing. .. ... .

Skimbat Kodiak from Richard Saltonstall on Vimeo.

Yesterday I got back from helping Sven H map petroglyphs down at Cape Alitak. But before I post a narrative and some photos from that project I thought I'd post my brother's kitewing video. This is the video he made with the footage I shot of him winging about the mountain tops of Kodiak just before I left to go to Alitak. I am encouraging him to submit it to the Island Trails Network film fest for next year. Let's see what you think of it. Patrick

Monday, May 17, 2010

Doula Time

I see prior doula clients everywhere in the community-in the park, at Safeway, at restaurants. Often with their new little ones and it is so rewarding.

Just a month ago, I was at Baranof park and there was a cute little 8 month old boy in the swing. His mom looked my direction and smiled as she said, "Hi Zoya!" from behind dark sunglasses.
I said, "Who's that?".
She said, "Its me, N*****!". Too funny-I didn't recognize her in the Katie Cruise-style sunglasses! It was so fun to see her and we talked for a bit about her little guy- his happy temperment,etc. We exchanged a hug before I had to leave and I was struck by how fun it is to always have these women, birth partners and babies as part of my life. We shared that special moment together of their little one being introduced to the world. What a great honor!

Another time (at a restaurant) I ran into a prior teen doula client, who had birthed her baby many months prior. She looked very pleased with herself as I ooohed and ahhed at her cute, chunky baby boy sleeping in his car seat. She told me all about how she was still breastfeeding, and how she was excited to start working out and getting the baby weight off. She had adjusted to motherhood so wonderfully and as I walked out the restaurant, I was just struck by her maturity and how incredibly well she had adapted to being a mom.

These experiences made me realize how being a doula is for more than just at the birth-its the post-partum visits in the first weeks after, and then there is always that great community connection with these families. Its an aspect of the job which I didn't anticipate being so rewarding. I know that the people who were at the births of my babies will always hold a VERY special place in my heart, including the doulas! They made it possible for me to birth in the manner that I desired. Doulas are able to help moms treasure and hold on to those memories and moments surrounding birth.

This year I had the pleasure of going to two, Happy 1st Birthday parties (of doula-client-babies), which was so fun. Making it to the 1 year mark is such a big deal as a parent--and its so fun to celebrate with friends who all helped get you there! I remember feeling that way-especially with Nora.

The rain and wind continues and Patrick is hoping to make it home tomorrow from his 2 week petroglyph (rock carving) survey on the south end of the island. Yeah! The 2 weeks have been somewhat long-especially with the dance rehearsals. Patrick will be gone for 1 month later this summer, so this was a good run-through of what it'll be like. One thing I know is that its MUCH easier with the kids older to have him gone then when they were babies. My, those days were especially challenging!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Nora's recital

Nora's dance recital was two nights ago and it went so well. Mary jane was my date and Stuey stayed home with a sitter. I intended to bring him, but by 4:30 he was so tired, that I knew it wouldn't be possible to enjoy the 3 hour show, so I called in the reserves.
A good choice it was.
The show was absolutely fabulous. It was so well choreographed, with wonderful costumes, dancing and enthusiasm. The auditorium was PACKED and crowd was lively. It was so exciting to have a little dancer up on the stage. I didn't expect to get so giddy and excited. It was Nora's first real performance. And she was part of a pack of really cute baby crocodiles.

I was amazed by how much make-up was put on the little ones (yes-3 and 4 year olds) for their performances. Several of them had more make-up caked on them than I've ever had on my face at one time. I was somewhat astounded. Yes-I can understand the older kids needing make-up, but not the younger ones. At one rehearsal, I witnessed a mom spend at least 20 minutes applying layers of make-up to her four year old. Call me old fashioned, but I think its too much at such a young age. Young kids DON"T need make-up. THe director never said anything about make-up for the young ones, either. Nora will have plenty of years to be "older" and wear make-up, so I'm going to cherish these years she won't be wearing it. Fortunately for me, Nora didn't ask at all to put make-up on, which made me happy.

At 10:30PM by the time the show and finale were over, Nora was exhausted. So exhausted she couldn't think or speak. Someone had given her a single rose (it ended up being our babysitter who gave it to her, but I didn't know this). On the car ride home, I asked her who gave it to her, she said, "I don't know mamma. Maybe God. I think God gave it to me."
"Really?" I replied. "Maybe god did give it to you." She made other comments that were really out there--Nora was so tired and spaced out.

The night couldn't have gone better. Nora said she wants to do dance next year, which would be fun. She learned so much from dance this past year and has enjoyed the classes.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Adventures in Babysitting

Thank heavens there are some wonderful babysitters in my life for the kiddies. Patrick is gone, I"m working, teaching classes and there are dress rehearsals and dance recitals this weekend. Thats correct-two. A matinee performance was added on Saturday afternoon, so I'll be making a few more trips to the auditorium than I originally had thought. I'm not mad or bummed about the additional recital. I just have to figure out how to get through Saturday with Nora being somewhat mangeable. She (like her mommy) gets difficult when tired!!!! (at least thats what Patrick says! And I"ll take his word for it!)

Tonight the wonderful mommy helper, Heather, took Nora and Stuey to the auditorium to get Nora's crocodile costume while I was teaching classes. It is quite cute-a long tail with spikes on it. Can't wait to see her in it! We skipped the full rehearsal tonight. THe kids were so tired earlier today that I knew it would be the kiss of death for the weekend if we went to the practice. As I taught birthing class, Heather cooked them a great dinner and the kids were in bed by 7:15. Thank heavens. Today started off with tired kids crying and yelling at eachother--perhaps tomorrow they'll be back to their more normal self.

I"m really looking forward to the actual recital on Saturday night. Mary Jane and myself are going with Stuey and it'll be fun to see the whole thing from start to (maybe) finish. I'll see how Stuey does. I think he has at least 2 hours of sitting in him...he has a good sitting track record and has been WAYYYY into watching the dress rehearsals. He claps between every dance and says, "mamma-you have to clap too. Clap, mamma." He keeps me honest. He really gets into the spirit of it all. I could see him being a stage guy in the next year or two. Plus, hes a little ham and likes to work the scene with cute smiles and his little dance moves! Perfect traits for theater and dance!

Tonight I finished up the most recent birthing series class-and I"m looking forward to the birthing class reunion I"m going to have on June 5th. I had one about a year ago, and intended to do one several months ago, but time slipped away. I think that reconnection with the group is important-to celebrate the shift into parenthood and have a chance to see one anothers babies. I know I would've liked that in a birthing class-to have a formal time months later to get back together. Teaching is getting easier and more relaxed for me. In my first 1/2 year of teaching, I would get somewhat nervous, but now I am more relaxed. Practice and repetition helps take the jitters out of the mechanics of teaching.

Off to bed in preparation for what will be a VERY busy next two days....


Monday, May 10, 2010

A Sad and Tired Crocodile

Tonight was a completely bummer parenting moment. Nora had the first of many pre-concert practices at the auditorium. Her scene was supposed to rehearse sometime between 5-7, so at around 5:45 I packed the kids up and we went up to wait for Nora's crocodile scene. We waited, and waited and waited for her scene to come on.

There was a lot of choreography that was being done with older kids as the young ones got quite squirmy. The kids did ok until about 7:45 waiting, and then Nora started showing signs of deterioration. She seemed sad. At 8:10 or so, the crocodiles were finally able to go backstage and wait. I sat in the audience, eager to get the scene over with so we could go home. By then we had been there for 2.5 hours.

Right as Nora's group was about to go on stage, I see one of the older dancers carrying Nora out-she is crying. I felt so sad for her inside. I raced up to the stage and carried her off. Her little cry echoed through the auditorium. The waiting had been too much.

Its too much to expect 3 & 4 year olds to wait 2.5 hours to get to their scene. Its all too much. When we got home, Nora was a mess-teary and threw a little tantrum going to bed. After she was in bed, I called up a friend who has a dancer one year older, and she advised skipping some of the rehearsals, which I think we may do. 4 rehearsals this week is too much for my little 4 year old crocodile who goes to bed between 7-8. Lots of the small kids there probably don't go to bed till 9 or 10, so its not a big deal for them, but for little ones that go to bed early, its too much.

As I sat with Nora in the audience and we watched the little crocodiles on the stage, I got teary eyed too. I felt her pain and I could remember how as a kid it is so horrible to get overly tired and to finally reach breakdown moment. She couldn't help it, and I couldn't help her.

When we got home, I made a quick batch of popcorn and the kids sat on the couch curled up under blankets watching a short video before bed. Nora kept saying, "that was too much, mamma. too long. I don't want to do the recital."

This was the part I was dreading the most of Nora doing dance-recital week. We'll figure out a way to make it thought without anyone getting overly burnt out-I hope.


Photo was from our first trip to the Chowderhouse this year--taken when the weather was nice. Kids were THRILLED about their first ice cream cone of the season!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Beginning of Summer Season

The weather is finally sunny (and somewhat warm). Patrick has left for a 2 week archaeology survey of petroglyphs (rock carvings) on the south end of the island and spring fever is in the air.

My birthday is tomorrow-the big 34! I celebrated with the crew casually Sunday night before everyone left...Gregg made a killer walnut/chocolate cake/pie and Dicky was able to celebrate with us before he returned to Maine to celebrate the real thing tomorrow on the 6th with Ella.
Today I got to welcome a Cinco De Mayo baby into the world-I was a doula for a long time (high school) friend and what a wonderful day it was. This is the 2nd high school friend I've been a doula for, and it definitely is a special experience. There is something about being there with long time childhood friends as they welcome their little ones to the world that gives me extra special "I LOVE KODIAK" warm fuzzies. I love living here. And as time goes on, I'm more and more proud of the fact that I was born and raised here. It really is a special place!


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Some Final Kitewing Pics

Some final kitewing pictures from the weekend. Dicky and I climbed up on Heitman on Sunday and caught the wind. It was so windy that we did have to worry about Dicky flying away and at times he had a hard time staying on the ground.

Now today he is off back to Maine while I am off to Alitak on a petroglyph survey. He should be leaving on the jet plane about the same time I'll be taking off in the floatplane. Patrick

Monday, May 03, 2010

Big Trails Meeting on the 18th of May

This is it! If you care about Kodiak's trails and open spaces you should go to this meeting. I've pasted in the details below.

MAY 18, 2010
6 – 9 P.M.

Do you walk, bike, four-wheel, run, ski, snowshoe or ride a snow machine on trails in the Kodiak Island Borough?
Do you want to see those trails used, improved and managed well now and into the future?

The Borough’s Park and Recreation Committee, with help from the Community Development Department and a trails planning consulting team is preparing a new Road System Trails Master Plan. We need your help to make sure the Plan meets the needs of residents like you.


For additional information:
Contact Bud Cassidy, Community Development Director at 907-486-9360 or

Be sure to check out the Plan’s website at

The purpose of the Kodiak Island Road System Trails Plan is to ensure continued access and maximum use of trails by all citizens.
· Public participation of all trail users
· Mapping of existing trails;
· Trail Management;
· Trail design guidelines;
· Creating a Trail User Map and Educational Programs;
· Establishing future funding sources for trail maintenance and development

Sunday, May 02, 2010

On Snow

Not much to report - just some pictures from our recent ski adventures. On Tuesday I leave for an 2 week archaeological survey at Alitak, and when I get back the snow will have melted back into the mountains. So I got to get it while I can. Today Dicky and I are going to try the Kitewing again. It froze overnight and and it is WINDY so we ought to have fun.