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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010 Family Video

Thanksgiving week was lovely--a four day weekend combined with good weather and friends visiting from Anchorage. I made a short 4 minute video of some highlights set to Stevie Nicks. Enjoy! video by zoya.

(the photo is of Patrick and Charlotte W. with a slice of Yorkshire pudding that Patrick made the day after Thanksgiving. Charlotte and her husband Lance were visiting from Kotzebue.) Zoya

Friday, November 26, 2010

Jewel beach

This holiday weekend our dear friends Bruce and Meghan flew over from Anchorage for a visit. Its been so fun hanging out with them--yesterday we went to the Buskin Beach and collected beach glass. I discovered this is a very favorite activity of we had to peel her off the beach when it was time to go. She got a very cool piece of red weathered beach glass! A very rare find.

The beach is well known for finding glass--much of it is from World War II when lots of old parts and lights were disposed of on that beach. For 60+ years the surf has churned the glass into little soft gum drop looking pieces.


Turkey Day

Yesterday was a lovely thanksgiving spent with close friends. Meghan and Bruce flew in from Anchorage and we enjoyed dinner with local friends too.

My Thanksgiving morning started at 12:05 AM with a phone call from a doula client--a first time mom who's water had just broken. Within an hour, I was at the hospital with them and an hour later they had their baby. it was a VERY fast delivery. I was home in bed by 3AM! I was pretty sure that I would spend a large part of thanksgiving day in the hospital, but that didn't happen! Needless to say, the mom was very thrilled with how her fast labor went!

Later in the morning, I made stuffing with Nora and Meghan made her green bean casserole. Later in the afternoon, I took a short nap, we set the house for dinner and at 4:30 people arrived. Mike and Patrick each cooked a turkey-it was a turkey cook off!
The lovely part of the evening was how well the 6 kids in attendance for dinner did so well playing together. They ran from room to room, like a little mini-mob. A whirlwind of fun and laughter.
I am so thankful for my family, friends and wonderful husband Patrick.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rock Skiing With Bruce

Megan and Bruce are visiting Kodiak for Thanksgiving, and this morning Bruce and I went up Pyramid for some pre Thanksgiving dinner exercise. We figure we'd be entitled to more food if we got the old blood pumping in the morning. So on up the mountain we headed.

The light was glorious and the skiing terrible. I don't think we would have climbed the mountain for just the skiing. Boilerplate and not much of it either. We had to climb to 1600 feet just to get to the snow. But the views and exercise made it all worth the trip. Bruce remarked that coming to Kodiak from Anchorage and getting out in the sun - it is like 'someone turned the lights on'. I gather that at this time of the year the light in Anchorage is a bit flat. Patrick

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cape Alitak Petroglyph Videos

Here are the links to some Cape Alitak Petroglyph videos - and these are NOT our usual homemade imovie jobbies shot using a point and shoot camera. These short videos (called vodcasts) were made by professional videographers with a REAL video camera AND camera person to run it as part of a grant through the National Park Service. They document the Alutiiq Museum's petroglyph survey down at Cape Alitak last May. The videos were created by the video production company WonderVisions. It was quite the scene down at Alitak last May when they showed up at our remote and VERY simple camp, miked us up, and starting filming. They came with boom mikes, huge cameras, and all the works. The sound guy even had Sean Penn stories. Needless to say, but they did a good job, but I do have a hard time watching myself on video. Do I really sound like that? And I am way too hyper. But Sven, Mark, Marnie and Jill are GREAT. These videos shows what it is like when I go into the field on Archaeological Survey every May.

Anyway the link to the WonderVision Youtube channel is on top. If you go there you can get to all seven of the videos that they made. The two links below that will take you to individual videos that I particularly liked. Patrick

Marnie on Labrets

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Winter is Here

"I can skate on my own" Stuey said yesterday as we put on his ice skates.
Nora was smart enough to remember that ice skating does take help from the 'rents. It was Stuey's first time on ice skates and it went ok. Patrick and I reflected on how hard it is to learn ice skating and made us wonder if a lesson or two might help the kids. Patrick is a big "do-it-and-you'll -learn" mentality towards learning new things....and I discoverd it was definitely true with swimming for the kids.
But there are so many brutal falls with ice skating. It gets hard to watch. Their little bodies bonking so hard on the ice. Ouch.
As we walked back to the car yesterday, the kids were all smiles and Nora said, "We need to do that every day so then we'll get better and better." Alls well that ends well!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Elk Hunt Video

Tonight I finished making the video for our Elk hunt from this past October. Zoya helped with the music. Boy did we do a lot of hiking, and yes we do get elk at the end. So enjoy! Patrick


This fall I have stuck to my scheduling guns at work and carved out a few afternoons to go up Pyramid with Patrick. One day in the week, I ran almost 6 miles from the intersection of rezanof and anton larson road up to Pyramid trailhead. Yesterday the weather was clear and a balmy 44--with hardly any wind. I went snowshoeing up Pyramid while Patrick went skiing. This is the first time in a few years I've been snowshoeing, and it felt to get up the mountain.

Kodiak has enjoyed at least a week of clear, cold weather...with some high winds as well. In my mind, its ideal winter weather!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Grind Party

Last night we had a few people over and turned 150 pounds of deer, elk, goat, pig and cow meat turned into burger and italian sausage. It is a rite of Fall and a big part of filling the freezer. The Annual Grind Party.

When we butcher an animal during hunting season 10 pounds or is saved to be ground into burger later. By the end of the season we usually have a couple hundred pounds or so of meat to grind up. We usually add pork shoulder and fat to the goat to make italian sausage and add beef fat to some of the other meat to make burger with about 12% fat. We also make some burger with no fat added at all (see photo - these packages are labelled 'NF' for no fat). It pays to grind it all at once because that way you only have to clean up the burger grinder once (this is a serious pain).

So every year about this time of the season we have a grind party. Everyone brings semi frozen meat to grind, beer, food and whatever. Then it is cut, grind, eat, talk, wrap, and all the while kids are running around in the background. It is a party with a purpose and afterwards everyone gets to leave with meat for the freezer. Patrick

Photos are low quality because I took them as frames from video.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Snow & Cold

I've been skiing almost every day since we got back from France. There is a surprising amount of snow up on Pyramid. I took this photo on Sunday when I met Gregg up at the top of the South bowl. It was rock hard snow on the skin up from the car and I expected the same in the South bowl. Imagine our surprise when we found that the sun had warmed up the snow and created soft corn snow - Spring skiing conditions!

This morning I woke up to an 1/2 inch or so of new snow at our house. I bet it is 'ocean effect' snow and that there will be barely any snow on the ground in town. This often happens when we get a cold north wind in winter. The North end of town gets snow off of the ocean and the rest of town is just cold.

It is officially winter and my garden is dead - I am sad to report that I did not get all of my potatoes out of the ground. Now it is frozen and they are in there to stay. Patrick

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Final European Vacation Post & Movie!

This is it - we swear! But we had so many great pictures and memories that we just had to do another post about the trip. Zoya also made an 11 minute video that documents the trip. She edited it so well (in my opinion) and put it to music so it hardly seems like a family video.

Photos: Top - all of us up on top as we cruise on down the canal. Second - Zoya and Hanna during a quiet moment in Gaudi Park, Barcelona. Third - This was the low moment of the entire trip. When we discovered that our train was on strike. In the photo we are waiting with all our luggage at a sidewalk cafe in the Beziers train station for another 'local' train to take us a bit closer to Barcelona (we ended up linking multiple local trains to make it all the way to Barcelona). Fourth - Sven caught Patrick, Hannah and Zoya acting silly. Zoya was always doing her exercises, and Hannah and Patrick decided to copy her. Bottom - Sven, Balika and Zoya up on top of the canal boat. Sven drove practically the whole way (with only a few five minute shifts from me, Eilidh, Nora, Bella and Stuey). Thank You Sven! Patrick

Friday, November 12, 2010

Really great times

Our trip to Eurpoe was better than I could've ever hoped for. Traveling with Sven and Balika and their kids was a blast--both Sven and Balika are such saavy world travelers...nothing rattled them. I've known Balika my entire life and Sven since Balika started dating him. Balika is able to plan and coordinate events, figure out mode of transportation so seemingly easily. And she always has such a positive attitude. Its pretty incredible. She is one cool gal! I also was impressed by her ability to whip great meals together on the boat with whatever food was in the small fridge. (She attributes this skill to being raised on a boat and having to pull meals together on a whim with whatever was in the fridge).

Patrick has known Sven more than me over the years, as Patrick works with him at the museum. Sven is also so positive, easy going and has a good sense of humor about things. They made the trip seamless.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Joe Miller and Me

I've found that people who see this photo have one of three reactions. They either find it hilarious, scary or think, 'right on'. It all depends on how well they know me, and their view of Joe Miller and his chances of becoming Alaska's next senator. Joe Miller is a very polarizing figure - people either love or hate him.

To be candid I did vote for Lisa M.U.R.K.O.W.S.K.I. (did I spell it right?), but unlike many others who voted for Lisa or McAdams (the Democratic choice) I actually do agree with a few of Joe's views. I am against big government wasteful spending. I hate pork. However, I also fully realize that Alaska is completely dependent on Federal pork, and to reject it completely is not the smartest idea in the world. I also like my politicians to work across the aisle and try to get things done for the good of their country and not for the good of just their particular party. In the run up to the primaries Joe made a point of criticizing Lisa because she had on occasion voted with the Democrats.

By election time I had decided Joe Miller is small-minded, spiteful, and a bit of hypocrite. I find him pretty darn scary , and I decided to vote for Lisa because she had the best chance of beating Joe. What's funny is that I am not all that wild about Lisa either. In fact, if the race had been between just Lisa and McAdams - I would have voted for McAdams (who I know very little about). I am also worried that if elected Lisa might well swing wildly to the right and attempt to appeal to the Joe Miller crowd.

We do need something better than the 2 party system. I'm tired of having to just vote Democratic or Republican. Perhaps if Lisa does win as a write-in candidate it might shake things up a bit. Perhaps in the future we'll change the primary rules a bit and third party candidates might start to stand a chance of getting elected.

So why did I post this photo? Because I find it hilarious. Patrick

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Barcelona Beach

One of the big pluses in Barcelona was a lovely beach--it was man made in 1992 for the Summer Olympics. (Its hard to wrap my mind around the high number of dump trucks of dirt it would take to build the beach!) There are a few small restaurants along the beach, which worked out great, as us adults could sit and each lunch and have drinks while the kids played in the sand in our view. Patrick and I both took impromptu dips into the Mediterranean--the water was warm and clear. Patrick took the scenic of Barcelona from the water. Nora had her little hat on and my sunglasses...I called her little "Suri".

The veggie photo was taken at a huge market in Barcelona--which was only open 1 day when we were there. The selection of veggies, meat,cany, ice cream, etc. was unbelievable. Out of this world incredible.


Some Canal de Midi Scenics

It was hard to take a 'bad' photo on our canal cruise. At one point I set up my point and shoot camera on a tripod on the bow of the boat and had it set to automatically take a picture a minute. The results were humbling - most of the pictures were stunning. That's right, even with no composition and taken at random moments those pictures were as good as the ones I took when I 'was trying'.

The ordered plane trees (called sycamores in America) set along the banks of the canal made for some great reflections and silhouettes. The plane trees not only provide shade and beauty but they also help to hold the canal walls together and prevent erosion. They are quite functional, and I couldn't quite help but wonder if in America rather than trees providing such a function we'd use metal siding or some other ugly but functional material to do the same job.

We noted that many of the trees appear to be dying and that a number of them have been spray painted yellow around the base as if slated for removal. It appears that some sort of beetle blight is killing a number of the trees (at least that is what I got out of a taxi cab driver, but he did not speak English and my French is of the 'school boy' variety at best). I hope it is not a total tree plague on the order of what the Chesnut blight or Dutch Elm disease did to trees in America. It's very scary to think of what the canal would look like without any of the plane trees. The ordered plane trees ARE the Canal de Midi. Patrick

The top photo is of the town of Castelnaudary where we started our trip. The bottom photo is of Nora on top of the boat as we were going through a very long tunnel.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Training Begins Now

Now that we are back from France and there is snow on the mountains, it is time to start training for the Tour of Anchorage cross country ski race. The race is in early March. Zoya wants to do the 25K race while I am contemplating the 50K distance.

After all that good food in France we were feeling a little bloated when we got back last week. It has felt good to strap on the old skiis. For the last few days I have been going around and around on a little 2K loop I established up past the ski chalet. I have been pleasantly surprised by my early season conditioning - especially after a slothful 2 weeks in France. I guess the elk hunt 3 weeks ago managed to outlast the canal trip to France.

Photos: Top - the 'beaver pond' portion of my 2K skate ski loop. This is the easiest portion of my loop. The other parts are far more hilly with a little brush thrown in here and there. Bottom - the view towards Sheratin Mountain from Pyramid on Saturday morning. The first few days back from France I went alpine skiing rather than cross country because I had to wait to for the beaver ponds to freeze up. Patrick

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Cultural and Parental Differences

Travel can really bring out the best, and worst in people.

From the moment I stepped off the plane in Paris, I sensed that our kids were viewed as an annoyance. At first I thought that maybe it was only when the kids screamed, but I soon realized that our family was getting harsh stares from strangers even when our kids were good. As we walked through the Paris airport I became aware of how few kids I saw. Virtually none. This was in such sharp contrast to the Minneapolis airport we had just come from. Kids in strollers, a toy store for kids. Kids, kids, kids.

In the Paris airport I wanted to tell the people who were standing, staring at us intensely, "can you cut our family some slack? we just flew from Alaska." I wished there were paper signs around the kids which said, "Just flew from Alaska. May be Grumpy". Heck, I could've used one of those signs! During our 24 hours in Paris, I continued to get the feeling from Paris folks that kids were not really welcome. Or they should be seen (maybe) and definitely not heard. This was a bummer, as we had two young, tired kids.

As we boarded the train to Spain, the feeling towards kids changed almost immediately. People on the train were smiling at the kids and as we boarded several people helped with our bags and getting onto the train. In Barcelona there were kids everywhere-even late at night. We got lots of smile from strangers as we pushed the kids in their strollers. The whole cultural attitude is very different towards children.

Now I"m not one to embrace the "Kids should be everywhere, doing everything" philosophy that many Americans have--there are some things where kids should be left at home. There are events which are only for adults and kids wouldn't fully appreciate-and kids could deter someone elses enjoyment of the event. At these events, kids really do need to be left home. But I'm also not one to balk at having kids out and about, travelling some, being in public etc. And making some noise. Kids are kids, afterall.

Patrick and I discovered that we differ on our parenting philosophies in this regard. (and we agree to disagree on this topic) I'm more in line with the Spanish Philosophy, Patrick more with the french. I think there is probably a happy medium somewhere in between which we attempt to achieve. As two people working to parent together, its good to recognize these differences and try to meet middle ground. This generally works the best!

With Stuey, there were times when he was overly tired/hungry and would start melting down--almost literally. (Balika and Sven can attest to this!!!). My thinking would be "lets get Stuey some food and/or rest and we can't expect him to be angel 3 year old boy right now." Patrick was of the mindset that a hungry/tired 3 year old boy SHOULD be able to keep it together and not cry. And be an adult. This was one of the biggest differences in thinking we had with the kids during the trip. For some reason, I think in our culture, men expect their sons to be "mini" men. Even at the age of 3, expect them to keep it together and not cry when they're tired.

It was really interesting to see how 2 cultures so close geographically could have different acceptance levels of kids. When I got home to the US, I was thrilled with the words of "oh, I remember those days" that people muttered as we strolled by them with sick Nora holding onto her throw up bag (she had a stomach virus the entire flight home. We think it was the tap water in Barcelona). All in all, I learned that I probably wouldn't travel back to France with the kids with them young. Only when they're much older. And this trip was a chance for Patrick and I to learn more about our parenting styles and differences.


-Stuey and Eilidh sharing a moment in Castelnaudary, France. I believe Eilidh may be Stuey's first crush. He wanted to sit next to her, walk next to her, talk with her....
-Taken at one of the stops on the canal trip, the girls went and tried out some grapes in the fields. oh so yummy!
-Balika and I preferred the liquified version of the grapes--wine! We discovered that bagged french wine (and boxed, too) was really good!
-Me enjoying my first European chocolate crepe. So delicious. This one had some almond something or another on it, too.
-A caricature that was done of Patrick and I in Barcelona. It was so fun to do with eachother!