Search This Blog

Thursday, September 27, 2007

1 Elk!!!!

Patrick left a message tonight saying they got 1 Elk...and it is a big one. He was waiting for assistance to finish getting the meat off the bones, it was so big. Not sure about any further details. I only wish I could talk to him this evening.

Looks like the weather may be coming in a bit-it is raining now. Hopefully the guys can get another day or two of good hunting in for 1 or 2 more elk. At least they won't be coming home empty handed!!

Kiddos are both in bed....all is finally quiet in the house. Off to bed I go.


Elk update

No Elk as of yet. Patrick called last night from the sat phone. It is good to hear how the guys are doing. They did a lot of hiking yesterday and haven't spotted the herd. The weather is cooperating once again today-HOORAY! Sunny skies and calm winds. Should make for good elk scouting.

Our friend Catherine arrived from California yesterday. She is giving a presentation at the museum on Saturday night on her research. She is an anthropologist who has done much field work with Patrick over the years. It'll be fun to have her here for a week!

She and Nora sat on the couch last night looking at the moon over mill bay and playing with the etch a sketch while I put stuart to sleep. Nora warmed right up to her. Perhaps Nora remembers the weeks that Catherine was here when Nora was a baby! Catherine is so great with her. Lots of smiles and laughter during the 1/2 hour they sat on the couch together.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Potato Digging and Elk Hunt Preparations

Mark R. and Justin Hays have arrived to begin preparations for tomorrows Elk hunt. Getting food, preparing the packs, sighting in rifles, and the essential discussion of plans for where to go for the Elk. They'll leave on a seine boat (The Alpha Centauri) tomorrow morning. Sniffle sniffle. I"ll be here for a week, waiting for the phone call to say that they got their 2 or 3 elk and they'll be headed home.

Yesterday Patrick dug up more of garden potatos and Nora was his assistant. She loved transferring the potatoes from the stack to the bucket. And she was just COVERED In dirt afterwards! I loved it!! Patrick is thrilled to see that she has his green thumb. Patrick grew (rather, ATTEMPTED to grow) peppers indoors this summer and none made it to full size. Nora would pick the peppers off when there were tiny and bring them proudly over to us. It bummed Patrick out somewhat, but he reminded himself that it was a good thing that she took interest in the plants.

Last night Patrick and the guys went to a bear talk at the museum and it was up to me to get the kiddos to bed. So Stuart, Nora and I laid on my bed. Nora flipped through her books and I sang to Stuart as he looked around the room and chewed on his teething toys. 20 minutes later, Nora and Stuart were BOTH asleep on my bed. It was precious!! When Patrick got home he carried Nora into her room without any gliches. Perhaps I"ll do that again this week to get Nora to sleep!


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Elk Countdown

Only six days until elk season. This Friday Justin and Mark arrive and over the weekend we will start to get all our gear together for the hunt. This year Mike Pfeffer will be our 'rookie' elk hunter (I wonder if he knows about our rookie initiation rites?). On Monday we hope to leave on Jim Eufemio's seiner to find the elk herds on North Afognak Island. Opening day is on the 25th of September.

Lately, every year the start of Fall has been marked by our departure for Afognak on the Alpha Centuri. On Afognak we spend a week traipsing through the old growth forest and climbing mountians in search of elk. They are pretty hard to find!. We keep in radio contact with Jim on the boat, and if we end up in some far away drainage he'll motor over and pick us up. We carry lightweight camping gear, and on occasional will camp on some mountain top where we ended up at the end of a long day. But all agree that the boat is the best place to camp (only camp with beer). Of course the ultimate goal of the hunt is tasty elk meat. Nothing tastier!

The top photo is a panoramic of Foul Bay and and the Hidden Lake area of North Afognak. This area is part if the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge (USF&WS land). In the bottom photo I am holding the horns of an elk we harvested in 2005. Afognak elk are Roosevelt elk, and they tend to have smaller horns but much larger bodies than the Rocky Mountain elk found in Colorado, Wyoming and other western states. Afognak elk weigh up to around 1400 pounds - they are the size of most moose from the mainland. Patrick

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Keeping My Nose Above Water

It has been a tiring past week, as the kiddos AND myself all got sick upon coming back from Anchorage. During times like these, I feel as though I am barely keeping my nose above water, just trying to make it to shore.

...Waking up after a night of lost sleep, tending to Nora and/or Stuart not feeling good, trying to be positive and energetic, keeping the house from turning into a dirt-filled-dust-ball house....After a week of this, I finally get to land and look around me in awe-with time and energy once again. There are interspersed good moments-its not all exhaustion. Its just that during the bulk of these days, its more trying then energizing.

Today was my day of making it to land. Nora had a great speech therapy session, Stuart was filled with cute babbles and smiles and I taught an enthusiastic filled spinning class. The evening ended with dinner with our friend Melissa and her son Fisher. Great conversation with Melissa as Fisher and Nora played with the fake kitchen toys and brought us little fake meals. I just love pretend play!!

Tonight as I laid Stuart down to sleep I could hear Patrick softly reading Nora The Velveteen Rabbit in her room. I love hearing him read to her-I am able to see this whole other dimension of my husband which is so amazing. His depth with language, accents, enthusiasm and kid like expressions. I smiled to myself as I heard the lullaby music play and Patrick's voice soothing Nora to sleep with the words of the books.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pasagshak Hunt

Yesterday Gregg and I decided to try hunting in a new area so we headed out to Pasagshak. I've never even gone hiking out there - so we really did not know the area very well, or where the deer like to hang out. Needless to say, but we did not get a deer. But we did see 32 deer and had a great hike. Most of the deer were on neighboring mountains, and out there the mountains are so rugged that it is hard to go from mountain to mountain. There are either huge chasms or hairy knife ridges between them. Unlike the rest of the road system where the rocks are made of slate and greywacke, out at Pasagshak the rock is rotted granite.

We did see a lot of goats and even some buffalo. At one point we saw a brown deer like animal within range. I was examining it with the binos and noted that it seemed to have horns. Then it came out from behind the alder, and gregg exclaimed bear, and we both realized it was a buffalo. Too bad the buffalo belong to a local rancher. I am sure they would be very tasty - and a lot of meat too! It did look remarkably like a bear. Patrick

Friday, September 14, 2007

Anchorage Adventure

Last night the kiddos and I returned from a very quick trip to Anchorage. Two purposes to the trip-to get Nora's hearing checked and to see my sister Bonnie, my brother-in-law Todd and their two boys-Ben and Kellen.

The airplane ride over was fun, as it was a VERY small plane-one seat on each side of the aisle and no flight attendant. We took the whole 3 seats of the back row and there was no chance of getting Nora in her seatbelt. Nonetheless, as we approached Anchorage the pilot warned of "moderate" turbulance. Sure enough, we hit some pretty big bumps and Nora thought it was SO funny and let out big belly chuckles. People on the plane turned around and smiled at Nora. Having a toddler laugh at the turbulence works well as comic relief! Thankfully none of the bumps were so big that they caused any of us any harm. Phew!

Bonnie met us at the airport and we went to Nora's hearing test. An audiologist looked inside her ears, put a thing inside her ears which vibrated her ear drum then took a picture of her eardrum. Such cool ear technology nowadays. Nora was up for pretty much everything, as the lady had us go into a sound proof booth where Nora sat on my lap with toys. We were insturcted to sit there and look at the toys quietly and the lady sat outside the room looking at us through the window. Different noises came over the speakers on each side... Swooosh, swoosh, swooosh....very softly. Nora would quickly turn her head as if to say, "what was that noise?". The test was over quickly and we learned that Nora passed her hearing test with flying colors. Good to know, as we have been wanting to eliminate poor hearing as a cause of her speech delay. Patrick and I never felt she has difficulty hearing, but its good to know for sure now.

The rest of the visit was filled with yummy Thai food, chatting and catching up with Bonnie, seeing my nephews who are both in high school now, a tiny bit of shopping and passing Stuart around. Good family times. Nora, Stuey and I got a tour of the Shed/greenhouse/banya which Todd is building behind their house. So cool! See photo above. Todd is quite the carpenter extrodinnaire!!!

The flight home was something else-fortunately Adelia Myrick was also on the plane to help. She was brave enough to sit next to me. Bless her heart. Managing a squirmy, tired 7 month old and a 2 year old is something else. Nora screamed for about half of the trip and I didn't get too many ugly looks from fellow passengers. Thats probably because it was only an hour flight. I tried buckling Nora in several times, which was quite a joke-she could slide right out.
Note to self: next time bring car seat on plane to strap Nora in during times of kid meltdown.

Stuart is babbling a lot more, even just in the past few days. Saying sounds which sound like "da, da, da...". So fun to see the verbal progress over a matter of mere days.

I went back to work today which was fun. I have a small case load which is excellent. Working 6+ hours a week is perfect.


Photos: On the top, Stuey and Bonnie
Second from top- Ben, Bonnie and Kellen
Third from top- The shed/greenhouse/sauna
Todd holding Stuey
Kellen and Nora on the drive to the airport

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Chirikof Village 1869 & 2005

This blog entry features two images of Chirikof Village. One from 2005 and one from 1869. The watercolor is by Vincent Colyer - one of the first 'Indian Affairs' agents to visit Alaska after its purchase from Russia in 1867. Today the original watercolor can be found at the Bienecke Library at Yale University. Vincent Colyer later went on to become a curator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, but in 1869 he was painting native villages in Alaska. The panoramic photo on top shows what the site of the village looked like when I visited Chirikof Island two years ago.

Chirikof Village was on Chirikof Island - way out in the Gulf of Alaska - 50 miles South of Kodiak Island, and one of the most remote places in Alaska. It took almost three hours to fly there from the City of Kodiak, and while crossing the ocean to get to Chirikof we could not see land in any direction - a most unsettling feeling in a small float plane. It's really hard to believe that people have lived out there for at least 5000 years. Not only lived out there, but made frequent visits back and forth to Kodiak Island. We know this because we found a great many tools made out of rocks only found on the Kodiak Archipelago. Travel would have been by kayak and not floatplane. It must have been an extremely unsettling feeling half way between Chirikof and Kodiak in a kayak!

A long-standing myth is that chirikof was a penal colony when the Russians ran Alaska. As you can see in the watercolor it was actually a pretty prosperous village. This 'myth' used to drive the late Lydia Black, a well-known Russian America scholar, nuts. Her research has demonstrated that it was a prosperous village whose main export product was ground squirrel skins for parkas and NOT a penal colony. She even determined that Henry Elliot (an early US government agent - famous for his reports on the fur seal industry and his sketches) started the rumor. Another myth about Chirikof that used to drive Lydia nuts is that the cows out there are some special hardy 'Russian stock'. As she put it, 'there were no cows out there until the Americans put them there'.

Today the cows are wreaking havoc on the island's ecosystem (and the archaeological sites). The island is so overgrazed that parts of the island are literally blowing away. And the cow population is at its 'Malthusian Limit'. In the Spring of 2005 there were dead and dying cows everywhere. It really is an ecological disaster. The worst of it is that the US Fish and Wildlife Service who owns the island wants to get rid of the cows, but a great many people, including our last Governor, Frank Murkowski, believe the cows are special and should be saved. So nothing has happenned and the island continues to blow away. Check out how green the place was in 1869 in comparison to 2005! Patrick

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nana Moments

My grandmother Frieda Bromley, Nana, lives in Massachusetts and turns 100 on September 20.

She always reminds me to enjoy every moment when I talk to her on the phone. And to give lots of hugs and squeezes to the kids. Over the years, her enthusiasm, love and wonder about the world has shaped how I look at the world.

For instance, I remember on a trip out East with her when she was checking out of a hotel room, she left a tip for the housekeeping in an envelope with a note which read, "Thank you for keeping us in tip-top shape!". To this day, I try to leave the exact message on a note to housekeeping at hotels!!!

Ever since I could write, I fell in love with writing Nana letters. She is the best pen pal ever-always writes back right away. Her letters are filled with descriptions of the garden she had, fall foliage, happenings with her local friends/family. Her letters bring sunshine to my mailbox. She taught me the art of letter writing.

She turns 100 and I am 31, so I have known her only since she was 70 years old and beyond. She has always been young to me- and has made 70 young!! :)
I've never lived close to her, but have always communicated via letters and very occasional phone calls. Also- visits which were so treasured. Memories of running around on her lawn finding fireflies, her teaching me how to get the peas out of the pods in her garden, swimming in the ocean with her, eating her delicious brownies with walnuts....the list goes on.

Today I spoke to Nana, and her voice is hard to understand as she is recovering from a small stroke 1 week ago. I could hear Nana though the difficult speech, however. And I'm so glad I spoke with her-even for a moment.
I love her dearly. And miss her.

(The photos are ones taken over the past couple of weeks-relishing the kid moments....something which Nana highly encourages!! :) She has 7 kids of her own!
Stuart checking out the morning sunshine, Patrick with Stuart on the couch and Nora running through the yard with socks on over her shoes-kid leg warmers. )


Karluk 1925

The Alutiiq Museum gallery currently has a photo exhibit featuring Karluk village. Karluk is a remote village on the southwest corner of Kodiak. The photos go back only about 120 years, but Karluk has been an important village for at least 7000 years. This photo is from the Alex Brown collection and depicts the entire village in 1925. Recently, I showed this photo to an Alutiiq elder and she pointed herself out - she's a baby in mother's arms. Someone else pointed out that the young Priest looks like Father Gerasim - a well-known Kodiak personality who was later the Priest in Ouzinkie for many years. The photo got me thinking - it may look old but a lot of those people are still alive and really, when you think about it, 1925 was not all that long ago.

Zoya's grandmother was born in 1907 (she is turning 100 in a week), and in this photo she would have been 18!

I remember talking to my grandfather, since passed away, about the advent of cars and electricity, and visiting the Grand Canyon when Arizona was still a territory (he met the man who shot Billy the Kid). Our grandparents lived in a very different world, and things that we now take for granted had not been invented. Imagine a world without cars, highways or strip malls! One wonders what my grandchildren will think when I tell them about my childhood without personal computers, ATMs or cell phones. Those photos from the 1970s are beginning to look dated - anyone remember Dorothy Hamil? I guess I'm getting old. Patrick

Friday, September 07, 2007

Nora Speaking, Stuey's tooth

As of the past week or so, Nora is babbling up a storm. Lots of cute baby talk with a few (about 10) intelligible words thrown in. She can say

When patrick takes her hiking through abercrombie, he has her say "Berry" for a berry then he has to find one to give her. I"m mightily impressed with how many berries he is able to give her, as the salmon berry season has been pretty much non-existant this summer! He also feeds her wild strawberries and blueberries...the strawberries are alongside Cliffside road and are pretty much non existant now.

Stuey had a tooth come through on the bottom-FINALLY!! After all that drooling and chewing on his hand, its so rewarding to see a little white edge poke through the gum. Like in a cartoon. One day its not there, the next day it is!!

I bought some plastic kid kitchen stuff from a garage sale and Nora LOVES playing kitchen with it. She makes us soup, and there are little tea cups as well. She pretends to blow on the soup, if its "hot". :) So cute. The fun part about having a girl is the tea parties and pretend play which she enjoys so much.

She also pretends to put lotion on her face and deodorant on. The other day I was nursing stuey on the bed and she brough my deodorant over with the lid on, lifted my shirt up and rubbed back and forth with it on my stomach. She had the right idea! :)

Work has been great-it all comes right back to me and I enjoy seeing everyone at work. I'd like to keep some type of consistent hours at work, even if it was just 2 or 4 hours a week, so perhaps I'll see what is needed at the clinic. I just have to do it on days that I'm not teaching my spinning classes. I've discovered that leaving Stuart for 3 hours at a time now isn't a big problem. He can easily go 2.5 or 3 hours now between feedings. Its wonderful!


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Vacation time this week

This week I get to go to "work".

When I go to work at the physical therapy clinic, I jokingly call it "my vacation time." A few hours away from kids needing me, sweeping the floors repeatedly after the dogs, getting into non-burped-up-on clothes---it does wonders for my spirit. The adult interaction is fun as well! Funny how its like a whole new world!!

I haven't worked at the clinic for months-which has been fine. Stuart doesn't take a bottle so the longest I can be away is 2 1/2 or 3 hours between feedings. This week the clinic does need me, so I'll go in for about 8 hours total. I'm rather excited about it.

I don't see my work at home any less challenging than my work at the clinic. If anything, I think being a stay-at-home mom takes much more PATIENCE than being a physical therapist. They both take energy, diligence, follow-through....and brain power.

With Nora's speech delay right now, my interactions with her at home take quite a bit of brain power at times, but not like the brain power required at physical therapy. My PT job will help keep my brain from turning to mush.
I used to think being a therapist takes a lot of patience and I see myself as having quite a bit of patience. In the past two years, I've recognized that the patience required at home is a whole new level-having a two year old around is the best test of patience ever. Lots of deep breaths, singing, calming voice, slowing down, explaining....all to help frost over some of the tougher moments.

Having the blog has helped me keep my writing skills up while I'm not working. I've always enjoyed writing and miss that when I'm not working.

So at 1PM today, I'll be spiffed up, in my clean khakis and work top, badge on and excited to take on the world of shoulder pain, back pain....


Monday, September 03, 2007

Chicken of the Sea

I'm not sure where eating fish comes down on the whole global warming thing, but I bet catching your own is better than eating tilapia or some other farm raised abomination (friends don't let friends eat farmed salmon is a popular bumper sticker in Kodiak). I do know that this evening we caught these two chicken halibut using very little in the way of fossil fuels. We did have to drive maybe 400 meters to get the boat into the water, and then to Mike Pfeffer's chagrin the engine did not work. Hey, no problem - or, as I told Mike, 'engines are way over rated'. We paddled on out, set a skate, and two hours later returned with 2 halibut (we lost a third). Not a bad days work. I figure we got 2 months of halibut with the Saltonstall share (7 meals worth, eating halibut about once a week). Not a bad 'surf and turf' Labor day weekend either - goat meat AND halibut. What's amazing is how much meat comes on a halibut - they are practically all meat. With deer and goats only about 40 percent of the total live weight ends up as packaged meat; with halibut the yeild is much higher at around 80 to 90 percent of live weight. Patrick

Weekend Goat Hunt

This past weekend Gregg and I hiked up into the Kodiak backcountry and brought back some goat meat. Before leaving, I read an article about how animal rights groups are condemning Al Gore for not doing enough to link meat eating with global warming. Farmed meat costs much more (in terms of energy) than say corn and wheat (often used to feed the cows). No where in the article did it mention hunting. It was assumed that meat eaters always consume farm raised meat. This infuriated me.

For instance, here on Kodiak tofu is NOT grown locally - but must be grown and processed in some farm and/or food factory down south (gas powered machinery and possibly fertilizer used), then packaged (plastic made from oil used), and shipped to Alaska (planes and boats use lots of gas and our island home is a long ways from anywhere). On the other hand, my goat is locally produced and once harvested no longer passes gas (I gather livestock flatulance is a form of greenhouse gas). Furthermore, mountain goats are an introduced species on Kodiak and are wreaking havoc with backcountry ecosystems (they overgraze the fragile alpine tundra and are causing massive erosion). Their numbers need to be controlled. At least on Kodiak, it seems like a no brainer that eating mountain goat meat is far more eco-friendly than eating tofu. And I would argue that game meat, harvested locally, is always more eco-friendly than store bought food - anywhere.

That said, the pre-packaged meat products that one buys in a store are not eco-friendly at all. A great deal of energy is used to get that meat produced, packaged and transported to where can buy it. Worst of all, many of the animals in those packages never had a life outside. But what infuriates me about the animal activists attack on Al Gore is that they are not addressing the real problem - people should not be eating processed, non-local food of any kind. People need to 'shop local' whether by growing a garden, shopping at a farmers market, or by hunting and gathering their own food from the country around them.

These thoughts were running through my head as I hiked into the backcountry with Gregg. Good to have something to mull over because we had a long hike. Three hours of bushwacking and climbing to get up to the alpine tundra, and then another 2 hours of hiking in the alpine before we even got to where we could legally hunt a goat. After that it was another two hours of scrambling up mountains and sidehilling across steep scree slopes before we finally got to where we harvested a goat. Then we started home. That evening, by the time we camped with our goat meat in an alpine bowl full of wildflowers, we had climbed about 4000 vertical feet and hiked around 10 rough miles. Hard work for just about 70 pounds of goat meat.

Yesterday, was pretty easy in comparison. We woke up to heavy dew on the wildflowers - good thing we slept under the 'sil' tarp shelter - and a glorious sunrise. We ate our breakfast of red beans and rice with sausage and hiked around 6 miles home. No more climbing, but the last three hours of bushwacking was pretty awful. Back at Gregg's I had a beer - our 30 hour goat hunt was over. Now it is time to process and package our eco-friendly meat. Afterall, since we practically hiked from the front door of Gregg's house the carbon footprint of my locally harvested goat is zero. Even the veggies we get from our organic produce coop aren't that eco-friendly!

In the top photo Gregg nears camp on the way home after a hard day of hunting. In the next photo I am contemplating the climb down into a valley with a heavy load of goat meat on my back. In the bottom two photos Gregg and I enjoy our camp in the wild flower meadow at dawn. In the bottom photo, behind Gregg, you can see the mountain we climbed over on the way to the goats. Patrick

Saturday, September 01, 2007

John and Patty Leave for Eugene

Our dear friends, John and Patty Mahoney, leave for Eugene Oregon today. They are going for a year to work on the house they own there and to enjoy a change of scene. Patty has lived most of her life in Kodiak and is ready to explore someplace new for a year. We hope that they'll return after a year. Their home on Mission road is leased for a year and the belongings which filled it have been packed up and moved to Eugene.

Gregg and Lisa hosted a going away dinner for them on Wednesday. Gregg grilled scallops to perfection, which we enjoyed with a tossed green salad and brown rice. For dessert, Gregg prepared a decadent chocolate peanut butter pie. YUUUMMMMMYYYY!!!

Lisa had lots of feel-good-stress-relief-toys, one of which was the ISQUEEZ...a contraption which vibrates and massages your legs. We all took turns in it, saying "Ohhhh...ahhhhh....". It felt so good on the legs!! The ISQEEZ was on for over an hour between all of us taking turns in it.

top:matt j, john m, lisa m, patrick
bottom: gregg, patty and chris j with stuey