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Friday, December 29, 2006

My niece, Cami, with her first quilt

Over the Christmas Holiday, I taught my niece, Cami, to quilt! She received a "learning to quilt kit" on Christmas day which got her started making bean bags and small creations. This also was her first time sewing on a sewing machine!

Cami was a quick learner and became comfortable with the sewing machine very quickly. And she didn't bum out too much the first time she had to do some seam ripping (I told her the story about how I cried the first time I had to rip seams out on my first quilt!) I was thrilled to be able to teach her how to quilt, as I recently learned in August and have completed 2 quilts in that time.

It was like an episode of Extreme Quilting...the sewing machine purring away for 2 days while Cami watched her masterpiece come together before her very eyes!!

The lady at the local fabric store graciously loaned us a rotary fabric cutter, a cutting mat and a book with a beginners pattern. I just love small towns!!

I look forward to seeing more of Cami's future creations... :) (ZAS)

Present Opening Christmas Morning

Everyone opened one present in front of the group, then it was a "free for all" where there was a mad flurry of wrapping paper and ribbons and within 15 minutes all presents were opened. This made the kids very happy....and didn't give the babies time to fuss. (ZAS)

Group Shot Christmas Dinner

Christmas dinner at the McCarthy's in Homer, Alaska-2006.
The group photo:
From Left clockwise: Cami and Bern Kohler, Bonnie Stark, Patrick, Nora and Zoya Saltonstall, Mike and Cathy McCarthy, Kellen, Ben and Todd Stark, Peggy and Bryan Kohler. (not pictured-taking a nap-Aiden Kohler).

Patrick and Nora at Christmas Dinner

Nora had a bowl of Christmas dinner goodies and especially enjoyed the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce!

Towards the end of the meal, Patrick showed us how he feeds her like a Robin bird-she tilts her head back, opens her mouth and he drops in food. She laughs and gets such a kick out of it! For the most part, she is a self feeder now, but she'll let Patrick and I occasionally feed her chunks of food.(ZAS)

Nora, Zoya, Peggy and Aiden

My sister Peggy and I with our little ones. Peggy has 3 kids, Cami, Bryan and her youngest, Aiden. Aiden and Nora provided ample "excitement" between them getting into things, crying, and occasionally taking part in "parallel" play with eachother. At one point Patrick asked, "When will they do right angle play, or even 30 degree play??" :) (ZAS)

The Moose Caboose B & B

Homer Alaska Sunset

My parents place in Homer was at maximimum capacity so we stayed at the Moose Caboose, a converted rail car B&B.

The sunset on our first evening at the Moose Caboose was spectacular!

The first two nights we called our B&B the "ice cave" because the heating was minimal. I had to bundle Nora up in her fleece hat, fleece pants, etc....and put her playpen near the heater. By the third night, we requested an extra heater which made a world of difference! All in all, we enjoyed our stay in the Caboose (ZAS).

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Deep Powder

Yesterday we got another 7 inches of cold powder. Went for a quick ski this morning - last chance to downhill ski because tonight we leave on the ferry for Homer. And wouldn't you know it - I forgot my climbing skins! The road was impassible past the golf course so John Larsen and I skinned (and hiked) up from there. I kept on falling in up to my chin, and had to crawl up the hill using the skiis and poles has 'hand snowshoes'. It took me an hour and a half to climb 1200 feet. Today I earned my turns. Needless to say, I only did one run. But It was worth it. (PGS)

Friday, December 22, 2006

More Snow

The day before yesterday we got another 7 inches of snow. Best of all, it stayed cold the entire storm. Generally, in Kodiak, it rains at some point during the storm. But not this time! The snow bending the spruce boughs and blue ski above made for great visuals during my ski through swampy acres. I broke trail the whole way and the snow was so deep I was sweating pretty good by the time I got back to the car.

Right now it is snowing again, and it looks like another 'cold' storm with no rain attached. Life is good. :-) (PGS)

Pyramid Mountain Rip

Yesterday the skiing on Pyramid was pretty good, but with all the recent wind you had to look to find places where the slopes were not wind scoured. In this photo John Barklow skiis down into the South Bowl. Up near the top (as in this photo) it was packed powder, but down near the road (at the bottom of the 'cornice run') it was knee deep powder. With the alders and salmonberry patches as obstacles, it was tree skiing in Kodiak! (PGS)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Winter in Kodiak

Winter has arrived and life is good in Kodiak. It snowed for the last two days and more snow is in the forecast for tomarrow. It is my favorite time of year. Roads are icy, sidewalks slick, but the skiing is great - I'm loving it! (PGS)

Pyramid Mountain

The recent cold temperatures and snow make it difficult to decide what to do after work. I could go downhill skiing on a mountain, skate skiing on a lake, or cross country skiing up a river. We do not usually have so many options! Today I cross country skiied up the Buskin River, but I was looking up at the mountains and wondering if it would have been an epic day of powder skiing on the peaks. It was a day where I could not lose, and I'm sure I'll get to excersize all my options by spring. (PGS)

Buskin River Ski

With all the new snow the cross country skiing is great. Today I skiied across Buskin Lake to the old military road on the far side. From there I went up and explored the headwaters of the Buskin River. I came upon the tracks of an old bear still feeding on the spawned out silver salmon remaining in the lake. I was surprised by how many fish I saw - the Buskin would have been a good place to hang out in winter for prehistoric Alutiiq foragers. During the whole ski i was in awe of the contrast between the mountains in the alpine glow and the dark woods down below. (PGS)

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Big Rooster - Costa Rica 2001

The last 24 hours in Kodiak has been sleet and snow. Not that we mind this type of weather - The skiing has been spectacular - But it does feel appropriate to insert a little tropical fun to the blog.

This photo was taken when we were returning from a deep sea fishing trip with Tomas in November of 2001. Tomas and I had basically been shut out on sail fish (not totally true - we did have a double hook up but the skipper decided Tomas was the more important client and backed up over my line to help Tomas catch his sail), and the crew decided to have one final try for surf fish just outside the harbor at Quipos. Needless to say, it was Zoya's turn on the rod when we got a strike. Zoya fought and fought and Tomas and I waited for her to tire so we could grab the rod. The skipper and crew could not believe we were letting the 'chick' catch the fish. And she did! Only person shut out on that fishing trip was me.

Rooster fish are famous for their fighting abilities, and Zoya got a big one. Many people travel to Costa Rica just to catch a big Rooster fish, and they often return home dissapointed. Not Zoya. Back in Kodiak when she returned to work her co-worker Skip, a fishing fanatic, was particularly impressed with the photo. (PGS)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Visitors From Anchorage-Family Friends

Last night we had a visit from William Watson and Zebila Hering. William is living in Anchorage and Zebila is from Germany. Wil is the son of Peggy Watson, a long time friend of Emmy Lewis, Patrick's mom. He has been living in Alaska for many years and this is our first time meeting him.

Wil and Zebila are on a 2 day trip to Kodiak and last night they camped in the snow in 20 degree weather with high winds. We insisted they stay at our place, but they were eager to try out Kodiak winter camping. I am eager to hear how their night went. I'm impressed with their passion for Alaska winter camping! (ZAS)

Monday, December 11, 2006

From the Archives - Durban 1989

Since our friends Gregg and Lisa are off to South Africa for Christmas I thought I'd post a few pictures from when I lived there. This picture was taken on the very first weekend I hung out with Philip Kemp. The night before I had climbed a coconut tree on the beachfront in downtown Durban to gather a coconut. I had never actually seen one growing on a tree and I wanted to pick it. Philip is using a machete to cut it open while his dad watches. It turned out to be a dud. But I was happy because I did get to pick and eat paw paws and avacados and even bananas that were growing in Philip's parent's yard. My coconut tree climb also impressed Philip and everyone watching. (PGS)

From the Archives - Capetown 1990

Actually, I believe this photo was taken at Charlie's house in Somerset Wes. I was visiting with Dean and we went out crayfishing in really rough weather. That was the only time I did not snorkle for them - generally you'd go snorkling and dive down and look for them. All the time thinking about Great Whites (lots of those around South Africa) and sticking your hands in holes looking for crayfish but sure you'd grab a moray eel. Then you would find a crayfish and you would have to relax and wait for it to release itself - all the while you'd be running low on air. Great fun - and crayfish are VERY tasty. (PGS)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Girls Holiday Party...No kids allowed or guys allowed (but Babies were OK)

Today I held my annual holiday party...different from previous years. In years past, we've done a cookie exchange but last year I ended with with so many left over cookies that I knew that wouldn't work again.
This year everyone was in favor of a girls holiday drink and appetizer party without kids. How peaceful it was! There were 3 beautiful babies in attendance, all of whom got passed around and oooohhed and ahhhhed at.
Some of the favorite drinks involved egg nog, rum, coffee, mulled wine, cider, etc....Homemade chicken wings were also a big hit.
It was a cold, rainy day outside-perfect for staying inside and catching up with everyone!
In this photo is (left to right) Balika Haakanson, Melissa Dover, Libby Eufemio with daughter Janie and Alexis Jackson. (ZAS)

Alisa Abookire, Baby Elias and Betsy Lund

Baby Elias is 4 months old and he is a "guy Smiley"...just SO smiley!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dressing up like Mommy

Lately one of Nora's favorite activities has been to go into the dressing closet and try on all of Zoya's clothes. Generally she is not very good at putting them on, and simply sticks her head through a conveniant hole. We'll be wondering where she she went and why she's been so quiet when she'll appear all decked out and very proud of herself. (PGS)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Dogs

Jake has made himself at home. The doggies like to sleep on this bed so that they can watch who comes to the backdoor. Roxy is much happier with a constant companion. PGS

From the Archives - Christmas 2000

Another blast from Christmas' past. This was our first Christmas card and we were quite proud of it at the time. We even figured out how to print it on both sides on our home computer. Now-a-days Zoya has shutterfly print the photos and she pastes them in at home by hand.

The Christmas tree in the photo is from our back yard. I still try to cut one from the back yard every year. I figure it will help keep our view of the ocean clear. Nothing like a home-grown 'Charlie Brown' tree. (PGS)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cheddar Bunnies

Nora loves her cheddar bunnies (PC version - organic and healthy and all that - of old school goldfish), and if I'm feeling lazy I'll set her on the floor with a bag of them. She'll happily entertain herself chowing down and feeding the dog. Hands off entertainment! The problem is that Roxy seems to be gaining weight. (PGS)

Little Miss Busy Bee

Nora loves the phone. Mommy loves the phone too. The phone is one of Nora's favorite toys. This is the real phone I am talking about. She wants to be just like Zoya. Nora has already called the operator and gurgled and squeeled to the operator's confusion. We believe it is inevitable that she'll call 911. But, heh, it keeps her occupied and entertained - better than most toys. (PGS)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Zoya at 28 weeks pregnant

I'm feeeling the baby kick a LOT now. I can see my belly move as our little one moves! (Patrick isn't able to feel him kick...I think taking hot pots off the stove without a hot pad have possibly hurt the little nerve endings on his fingertips). At least hes honest about not feeling anything!

From the Archives - Homer, AK 2000

This Christmas the we are off to Homer to spend the Holidays with Cathy and Mike and family. So we figure it is time to post a few photos from the archives on past visits to Homer.

This photo was our first trip to Homer as a couple. Ella met up with us in Anchorage for the Anchorage-Homer flight. We had the luxury of occupying the last row of the "puddle Jumper" airplane from Anchorage to Homer. Patrick-sandwiched between the twins. Ella to HIS left, me to HIS right. Patrick was in twin heaven. :)

The flight was VERY rough-High winds. I had to use the airsickness bag....and Patrick was kind enough to carry it off the airplane for me upon our arrival at Homer.

From the Archives - Homer, AK 2001

Generally, the twins eat all the stuffing or desecrate the turkey (stealing the choice bits) before the big meal. But in this photo they are getting an early start on the salad. It's a good thing they are smiling - a little earlier there had been some tears and recrimination when Zoya had diced rather than sliced some apples for Ella's pies. (PGS)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

From the Archives - Baffin Island 1993

This is the paw of the polar bear that partially destroyed my Moss tent and gave me cause for alarm. It actually did destroy several of our tents and another member of the crew and I were stuck in a tent holding the bear off with a can of pepper spray and jammed shotgun when another member of the team came to our rescue and shot the bear. The bear is larger than most Kodiak brown bears. (PGS)

From the Archives - Baffin Island 1993

Back in the day I used to spend every summer digging in outer Frobisher Bay. Sea ice, fog and constant damp with temperatures never getting above 40 degrees.

Here I am holding up a walrus skull that was laying around on the surface of an old village site. These sites were litterred with walrus skulls - the walrus haul up on the ice flows just offshore. Once we watched a polar bear and cub eat a walrus on such a flow way offshore. (PGS)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Winter Sunrise

It's definetly winter time here on Kodiak. Garden is totally dead with the onions and carrots frozen solid and unaccessible. Some of the collard greens still look edible, maybe I'll try them in a ramen stir fry. Zoya is a little scared of them however.

The last couple of days have been warmer with mixed rain and snow in town. We should now have a good base on the mountains for downhill skiing. About a foot of snow on the golf course for cross country skiing.

This is a picture taken at the ski chalet on Sunday looking back towards Pyramid and Barometer mountains. Unfortunetly we did not take our skiis on the expedition and spent the next 5 hours postholing. (PGS)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Patrick Preparing the Gravy

The drippings of the turkey soak up the flour as Patrick soaks up attention from the ladies watching him! (ZAS)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Turkey Day at 4002 Cliffside Road

This year thanksgiving was quite an event at 4002 Cliffside Road. We had 11 guests over to help us eat 2 turkeys.

Here Mike and Patrick remove the turkey from the oven. Mike had a very scientific thermometer that allowed us to check the temperature of the bird without opening the oven door. Mike's turkeys ended up perfect! And Patrick made the gravy with the drippings. (PGS)

Mmmm Turkey!

Fisher is certainly enjoying his turkey. In the background his mom, Melissa, enjoys her meal in a bit more civilized fashion.

The meal consisted of 2 wonderfully moist, brined turkeys (brought by Mike P. and Roxann), mashed potatoes and stuffing (startch patrol by Patrick and myself), A berry squash dish and Cranberry relish (by Mike L. and Alisa), sweet potato dish (by Katie St. John) finished off by delicious pies-apple, cherry and pumpkin (made by Patty M.). Mary Jane and Melissa kept the party well hydrated (or dehydrated, rather???) with drinks. :)

Natalie & Katie

Katie shows off a well-dressed Natalie. We like the tiny shoes. Natalie is four months old.

Fisher, Nora & Patrick

Fisher, Nora and Patrick relaxing after the big feed. Nora is wearing her new holiday sweater dress. Note that with Fisher about, Nora is trying to impress by shunning the binky. (PGS)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Sausage Kodiak Style

We got the mountain goat for sausage last weekend. A HUGE improvement over last year when I spent multiple weekends chasing goats before finally bringing home the meat. Zoya and Nora were quite excited. Zoya actually had the gall to wish me 'have fun goat viewing' the morning we headed out. She was quite skeptical about our chances of bringing home the bacon.

Here we are cutting up the goat. Zoya was at work - so I watched Nora and cut goat at the same time. This way Nora will learn to be a hunter. Nora was fascinated and there was not a peep out of her the whole time. We freeze the meat and then partially thaw it before grinding it up (we'll do this next week). Partially thawed meat cuts cleaner in the grinder. We always like to add a pork shoulder for flavor. Our goat sausage is the best there is - absolutely amazing on pizza! (PGS)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

From the Archives 1985-ELLA OR ZOYA??

Take your guess and test out the "comments" feature on our blog. The answer will be revealed in a day or two. Ella, you can sit this one out....:)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Summertime Flashback

With digital cameras and instant gratification we forget how it used to be back in the days of film. I finally got back all the slides I took this summer. I quite enjoying revisiting summer. Slide film is so much more colorful! Also the delay in looking at the pictures allows one to savor them a bit more. Something to look forward to. But digital is just too conveniant. Nothing like looking at the picture you just took.

This is a picture of Nora on my mom's lawn in Rockport. Zoya and I were in Maine for Dicky and Ella's wedding. Nora was a lot more chubby back then.

Community Archaeology

Hard to believe how green it was in August. For me, the community archaeology dig is always the most hectic time of the year. Every day I have to make sure everything runs smoothly. We took this photo after the final day of backfilling the site back up with all the dirt we had excavated. Needless to say, but very few people showed up for the hard work - Just the hard core crew. We moved a huge pile of dirt!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Babycakes, Banana and Zoya

Bananas are amongst Nora's favorite foods....others include cheese sticks, canned deer meat, and Annies "Cheddar Bunnies". We even developed a sign language sign for them.

I was in trouble today when I went to the store and put a box of Cheddar Bunnies in my cart. Nora started sqealing, wanting one (it was her snack time) so I had to be "one of those moms" who fed her child in the grocery store. Sigh.

On Nora....(Some Thoughts on Motherhood by Zoya)

Nora is becoming her own little person. Walking is becoming easier and easier, and she takes up to 15 steps or so now. She'll go for longer distances if she is going to mom or dads arms! Her favorite pasttime lately is to cruise around the house with a little walker that she has and put little objects in the front section. She'll go to various rooms, pick things up off the floor and take them with her.

She also LOVES watching Patrick toss the balls outside for the dogs. That gets SQUEALS of delight. Especially when they jump up high to retrieve the ball and rough house with eachother.

I'm enjoying every one-on-one moment with Nora, my "babycakes", because soon there will be a new little one in our family. When Nora puts her arms around my neck in a tight hug, it makes my heart melt. Feel the love..... :) (Zoya)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

From the Archives - Uganik Passage Early 1980s

Zoya & Ella on the Anna D in the early 1980s. During the summer Zoya and Ella's dad Dave 'tendered' (picked up fish) for the setnetters (setnetters use fix nets from shore to catch fish) on Kodiak's west coast. They would motor from fish camp to fish camp picking up everybody's fish and then take them into town for processing. What a way to spend the summer cruising about the archipelago!

In 2004 I ran an archaeological excavation at a setnet site on Uganik Island and achieved instant 'cred' with the local setnetters when I mentioned that my wife is Zoya, Dave Herrnsteen's daughter. Everybody remembered the 'twins' and Dave visiting their sites and all had lots of stories to tell. (PGS)

From the Archives - Karluk 1985

My first ride! Back in those days 3 wheelers were the norm in the villages. But they had issues with rolling over and injuring people. These days everybody rides on HUGE quads or rips about on little 4 wheeled screamers built for speed and maximum damage to the trails and wetlands. My summer in Karluk in 1985 was my first in Alaska. I was a part of a Bryn Mawr College archaeological team excavating the Karluk One site. (PGS)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Weekend Goat Hunt

Ski season has begun - but hunting season 'aint quite over yet. Still time to try and get a mountain goat with a bow and arrow. Mountain goats make the best italian sausage.

Today I went up with my friend John Barklow today to try and get a goat. We failed, but did have a lot of excitement trying! You have to get within 30 yards of the goat to have a decent shot with a bow. And they like to hang out on cliffs.

Here John walks over the top of a small knoll before stalking down the ridge after a couple of billies (male goats) we'd seen. Billies have thick horn bases that are wider than their eyes while nannies (females) have horns that curve back over their head and are much thinner. (PGS)

Patrick in his "goat camo"

Here I am in my goat hunting suit. It's pretty amazing how one simply disappears in the snow after donning an old painter's suit. I could barely see John against the white background as he crept about the slope. We'd drop the packs and zip up tight and simply disappear. I felt like a Russian freedom freedom fighter on skiis in one of those old WWII documentories about the 'winter war'. Note the tele ski boots on my feet. I decided not to wear my usual extra tuff boots because my crampons do not fit on them. (PGS)

Putting on the crampons

John Barklow ties on his crampons prior to going down the cliff after a mountain goat. Crampons are needed when you have to negotiate steep ice. The slope (looked like a cliff) where the goats where hanging out was very steep - over 50 degrees. You know it's serious when you have to put on crampons!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ski Season!

It's ski season! All the lakes have been frozen for about a week, but now we got the necessary snow for skiing on them. Patty Mahoney took this picture of me yesterday skate skiing on Potato Patch lake behind their house. The storm rolled off into the Gulf during the night and today is bright and sunny, if a little bit too warm (mid 30's). Today I think I'll try the skiing out at lake Caroline and Aurel in Bell's Flats.