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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sailing Time

The highlight of my Hawaii trip was the Catamaran ride we went on the last day. Mary Jane had been on a sailboat before, but not on one where the sails were used (during a trip she went on in Bali-evidently there was not enough wind so they had to motor) sailing on the catamaran was a treat. The sea was rough, music was perfect for the mood (regeea), lunch consisted of a simple sandwich and chips. And the ocean was blissful to swim in. Someday it will be fun to go back with the kiddos and get them in little life preservers kicking around in the ocean looking for fish with snorkel gear. I could see Nora being WAY into that!

The sign next to the toilet on the boat cracked me up-just had to take a photo of it! It read "Do not put anything in the head unless you have eaten it first."

Photos: MJ in front of the catamaran
View of Diamond Head and Honolulu from the water.
MJ snorkeling break.
MJ and Zoya on the boat.
Sign inside the "Head" (aka toilet).


Dinner out and Stuey and the Sun Goddesses

Mary Jane insisted on taking me to a nice restaurant, Bali, for a 7 course meal-and boy am I glad she insisted! The restaurant looked out onto the water and had such a relaxing ambiance. Included in the meal was eggplant ravioli, veal, albalone, foie grois (MJ's FAVORITE!!) 4 different wines, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate... It was the type of meal where we would take a bite, stop somewhat breathless, enjoy every morsel of flavor, discuss it, have a sip of wine and repeat. The "wine guy" would come by and explain all the wines and their relation to the food to us. It was heavenly.
At the end of the meal they brought mini chocolate molded "diamond head" to our table on a bed of dried ice. In the diamond head was a chocolate truffle for each of us. After we finished the truffle, the "wine guy" kindly pounded our diamond head in a napkin to produce small pieces of yummy chocolate. The whole scene was quite funny-him pounding away on the chocolate at the empty table next to us.

We chatted and laughed the night away--two and half hours passed before we knew it and when we arrived back to the room Krissy and Stuey were sound asleep.

MJ and Krissy are sun goddesses. They were out in the sun every moment possible (well, almost every moment). They got darker and darker and darker by the day. I was worried that by the end of the trip I wouldn't recognize them!
On the otherhand, Stuey and myself are more fair skinned so we stayed out of the sun-only taking brisk trips to a shady area outside. I think what got me thinking about the intensity of the sun was words spoken from Sephora (the skin care shop at the mall) cosmetics girl....her words rung through my head...
"...oh-yes-sun damage starts occuring to the skin within 12 minutes after exposure..." Perhaps I took it too literally-she was trying to sell a good facial sunscreen, afterall. I couldn't help but look at Stuey's pure skin and not want those horrible damaging rays on him. Plus, I knew that on the beach he would only sit there and eat the sand. Maybe when he's walking I'll see the point in lathering him up in sunblock for a few hours on the beach.

Top: MJ and Zoya enjoying their trio of desserts during dinner at Bali's.
Middle: No, Mary Jane is NOT smoking! The steam is the dried ice coming from the chocolate diamond head! By the time the photo was taken, the truffles which sat in the volcano crater were long gone into our tummies. :)
Bottom: Stuey and the Sun Goddesses on the hotel balcony.

Good Times in Hawaii

Krissy, MJ, Stuey and I had such a smooth, relaxing trip to Hawaii. I loved it so much there, that I almost cried at the thought of returning home during our final day there...don't get me wront- I LOVE my home here in Kodiak-I just think the time away, warm ocean, warm breezes rejuvenated my spirit and I would have enjoyed a day or two longer. Everything went so perfectly-plans fit together so smoothly and I enjoyed the relaxed pace of it all.

I have known for years that Mary Jane is "obsessed" with finding cute high heel shoes. She'll wear high heel shoes in 6 inches of snow, through mud puddles-you name the weather condition and shes there in her heels. She will buy a pair of shoes, then buy the dress to match the shoes. On vacation, she brought 8 pairs of shoes with her and bought 4 pairs on the trip-a grand total of 12 (or was it 13?) pairs! I was in such awe that I had to take a photo. See below...

Krissy's obsession is swimsuits. She admitted to us that she owns 20+ swimsuits. I never would've guessed this as she had 1 swimsuit on our trip-it was reversible so it served as 2. :)

Top: Krissy, MJ, Stuey and myself on a self-photo on our deck.
Stuey taking his hat off.
MJ's shoe lineup on vacation in Hawaii. :)


Monday, January 28, 2008

Sturgeon River 2004 Part II

We floated out of the ‘valley of the bears’ and out into a wide plain, and the rest of the trip went pretty much as advertised. Admittedly we both had a healthy case of bearanoia for the rest of the trip, but we had no more problems. One morning we did wake up to a bear hanging about just outside the electric fence – his eyes glowed in Dicky’s headlamp beam. He swore it was a bear and I told him it was probably a fox. It did turn out to be a bear! But he was just hanging out and checking out our camp. He never gave us any problems.

We camped for a few days at two different campsites and went deer hunting. Lots of big bucks wandering about the landscape and with no particular effort we managed to harvest 3 of them. The horns on top of our meat cache seemed quite elemental, and somehow Nordic, so we named our camp Vahalla.

The boats carried all of the deer and gear quite handily (cue the Deliverance soundtrack) and we floated all the way to the lagoon where Rolan picked us up in his seaplane. While on the trip Dicky was excited to learn via SAT phone that Ella was pregnant. I learned from Zoya that the Red Sox had come back from an 0-3 deficit to beat the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Oh the joys of a SAT phone.

Photo: Top photo is of our ‘mega light’ cook tent. We’d pitch it over a hole in the tundra and have lots of room for our legs. The second photo is of a pond next to our camp out in the broad valley after leaving the ‘valley of the bears’. If you look closely at the third photo you can see our last camp in the ‘canyon’ on the lower part of the river. The 4rth photo is of me hunting deer with Sturgeon Lagoon in the background. The 5th photo is of our meat cache – Vahalla! Finally the bottom photo is of us in our loaded canoes negotiating the last part of the river to the lagoon. My boat has two whole deer (quartered) and gear in it. Patrick

Morning Catamaran Sail

This morning MJ and I enoyed a morning catamaran sail. The boat pulled up on the beach and took us to a small reef where we went snorkeling for almost an hour. After a few minutes of snorkeling, I took the mask off and just floated in the water. Toes in the air, relaxing on my back-I soaked in the view of Diamond Head in the distance and had fun splashing in the water. Sea turtles floated around us and we were in the thick of a school of fish.
After snorkeling, we enjoyed lunch on the boat with the 4 other guests and crew. The other guests were a group of Australian gals-all with a great sense of humor. The hour that followed lunch was a sail along the coast-big winds provided lots of speed as well as ocean spray to keep us laughing! The crew talked about how they were "freezing" but it was quite warm! At least for us Alaskans...

MJ and I determined that a future Hawaii visit must entail surf lessons. We saw several surf lessons in progress-both on the beach and on the water. We asked out catamaran guide about it and he said he teaches surfing as well. Also, he remarked, "we guarantee you'll ride at least one wave standing or else you get your money back..." Quite a guarantee, I must say!!


PHOTO is of Stuey-in front of the hotel waterfall-taken by Krissy while MJ and I were sailing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Aloha from Hawaii

Oh we're having a great time in Hawaii! The weather is fabulous, food is yummy and we're having a blast relaxing. My cold is on the mend, as well as Mary Janes cold. Last night Mary Jane took me to a wonderful 7 course meal-what a treat. Such amazing flavors and combinations of wines/food. Krissy stayed in the room with a sleeping Stuey. When we got back to the room, they were both asleep. SO SWEET!

The airplane ride went as smoothly as could be expected. Stuart was squirmy central but the nice gal across the aisle was very helpful with holding him so I could go the bathroom. MJ and I were separated on the plane, which was a bummer. I"m really liking the direct-6-hour flight factor of the Anchorage Honolulu route. So cool!

Tomorrow is a catamaran ride, dip in the ocean and spa appointment in the afternoon. Then off to the airport at 8pm. Sniffle, sniffle.


From the Archives - Sturgeon River 2004

In October of 2004 my brother Dicky and I had an epic adventure on the Sturgeon River. In the quest for a remote wilderness experience we decided to float the Sturgeon River. Not many people float the Sturgeon because you cannot fly to its headwaters. You have to walk overland across swampy, hummocky tundra about 4 miles from a small lake where a floatplane can land to the headwaters of the river where you can float your raft. 4 miles is a long way across tundra with no trail, but we did not mind. The hike is why we had the river to ourselves.

The ‘epic’ in our adventure was the bears. We saw far too many, far too close. The first bear we saw was hiking over the tundra from the lake. We surprised a bear pretty close and there was that moment where we wondered if he was going to run away or not. But run away he did. Playing the role of the ‘expert’, I informed my brother that ‘they always run away if you give them a chance’. I poo poo’ed the ‘baranoia’ of most hunters, and emphasized how lucky we were to have seen a bear. This was not to be the last bear we saw on the trip.

So we got to the river, camped in a downpour and woke up to a glorious day. Perfect for floating a river (see top photo). However, my ‘expert’ eyes did not notice that the wind was blowing up the river and that the tall grass made it difficult to see much further than the next bend downstream. This is not the ideal conditions for floating a creek in bear country, and about 5 minutes into our trip we came around a corner and barreled into 2 juvenile bears. My brother bailed out of his raft as the two bears ran playfully up the stream to check us out. I managed to pull our shotgun out and worked the slide and the bears took off. This encounter rattled us both, and we decided, hence forth, to make a lot of noise.

So yelling ‘hey bear’ we continued on our way, and not 10 minutes later, while rounding a bend I noticed a pair of bear ears sticking up above the grass. We pulled over – and good thing that we did because around the bend was a sow and 2 cubs (second photo). Obviously, due to the creek noise and wind they had not heard or smelled us. Now both my brother and I were alarmed, and we decided to climb a nearby hill to see how many more ‘surprises’ awaited us downriver. What we found was devastating. In the next half mile or so we counted 18 bears in the creek. I wanted to cry. How were we going to get downriver?

We decided to camp and think it over. Using our SAT phone I called a bear biologist at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and he told me ‘I could have told you not to float that river. At this time of year it has the highest concentration of bears on the island. Last week they counted 100 bears in the two miles of river where you are now.’ Great - another body blow to my fragile ego. ‘So what do we do’ I begged. I was thinking evacuation in a helicopter. He suggested banging pots and pans as we floated down the river, ‘bears don’t like metallic noises and the sound carries much further than your voice’. He also informed us that once we got out of the narrow valley on the upper portion of the river we would be largely free of the bears. So we had a goal, and a method.

At this point, complete bearanoia had taken hold of my brother and I. We even worried about the electric fence around our camp. Would it keep the bears out? After a restless night we woke up and tied the rafts together. The plan was for me to stand in the bow and bang the pots together while Dicky held the other end and walked the boats down the creek from behind. Where there was lots of brush by the creek we fired off cracker shells in the shotgun. The cracker shells were impressively loud. We also put away the rifles – we did not want to have the option of shooting a bear. Our reasoning was that the bears were too close anyway, and that shooting one would only make any situation worse. Better to hope the bear decides not to maul us – rather than shoot him and really piss him off. Even if you hit a bear perfectly with your first shot at 15 yards he’d still maul you. So we put away the rifles

Our plan worked like a charm. We made one hell of a racket and we could see bears running from the river in all directions. At any one time we could see up to 10 bears running up the hillsides away from the river. I actually felt pretty bad about disturbing the bears. And all the noise sort of ruined the wilderness experience. Still not all the bears got the message and we did run into a big boar who charged the rafts. My brother fell out of the raft and I worked the shotgun slide. That got to him – he stopped (less than 10 feet away!), turned and fled. But that was the last bear we encountered on the River. That section of the river was choked with spawning silver salmon; once we left the valley the creek got deep and muddy and there were far fewer fish (and hence bears).

I’ll post part 2 of our trip sometime in the next few days. Patrick

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Home Front

Not everyone wants to go to Hawaii.  Nora, the dogs and I are quite happy here on Kodiak.  You'd need a butter knife to get these limpets off the rock.  Who wants to sweat like a pig in high heat? The lakes are perfect for skate skiing, and Nora is happy to have the house to herself and her 'groovy girls'.  No Stuart about to act like the 'Stay Puff Marshmellow Man' on her dollhouse (hark back to 'Ghostbusters': Stu acts out the part wonderfully, crashing things around and throwing Nora's dolls here and there - he even chews on her toy lamps - of course there is no reasoning with him).

We do miss Zoya and Stu, but we muddle along.  Nora has Daddy all to herself, and the dogs are loving the freedom of a much larger bed.  Nora has turned the whole house into her doll house.  Patrick

Thursday, January 24, 2008

At this time tomorrow...

At this time tomorrow, I'll be in Hawaii enjoying Palm trees, warm breeze and the company of Mary Jane, Stuart and Krissy. We leave in a few hours and take the new direct flight from Anchorage to Honolulu. The flight is 6 hours and we'll land at 8 pm-go to the hotel and wake up to check out Honolulu tomorrow!  

Stuart has started babbling, which is so fun. He says "mama" and is just beginning to imitate different sounds I make. Yesterday in the car Nora was babbling up a storm to Stuart and he was laughing away. He didn't know what the heck she was saying (I didn't either) but he sure was excited about her talking to him! :) So fun-Nora and Stuart acquiring language together!


Photo is the future view from my lawn chair when I remove my book. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Alutiiq Whaling

The little blue flower in the top photo is Monkshood (Acconitum Delphinafolium); it blooms in August and is mostly found in the alpine.  I photographed these specimens down in the Refugium (see Floating the East Fork - September 2006) near Red Lake.  What's special about the plant is that Alutiiq whalers mashed up its root to make poison for killing whales.  Its poison, acconite, is a very powerful neurotoxin.

The Alutiiq had a unique way of hunting whales.  Rather than a communal hunt were a group would go out in a large boat, kill a whale and drag it home - the Alutiiq hunted whales alone in a kayak.  They would lance the whale with a poisoned spear and then wait a few days for the whale to die and float ashore.  Owners marks on the lance would indicate who killed the whale (and owned the largest share) when it did finally float up on shore.  This does not seem like a very efficient way to hunt whales, but Russian accounts from the 1830s report that around 40% of the whales struck were recovered.  A much higher success rate than when the Russians  tried to get the Alutiiq to use western methods!

Alutiiq whalers were considered powerful shamans, and were feared by the rest of Alutiiq Society.  They often lived alone and generally had a secret cave where they created the poison and performed the rituals used to kill whales.  Whalers were associated with crabs because they would dig up the bodies of powerful people and use their fat to mix with the acconite (acconite is a lipid based poison).  The Alutiiq did not eat crabs because they fed on the dead.  Whalers believed that the more powerful the person they used to make poison - the more powerful the poison.  A whaler once told the manager of the Russian American Company, Aleksandr Baranov, that when he died he planned on digging him up to make whale poison.  He meant it as a compliment on how powerful he found Baranov!  

The slate whaling lances pictured are from the Fisher Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.  The mask depicts a crab and was collected by Alphonse Pinart on Kodiak in the 1870s - it is now in a museum in France (the Alutiiq Museum will be having an exhibit of some of these masks opening this May).  Finally, the painting of the lone whaler killing a whale is by Mikhail Tikhanov - he painted it while visiting Alaska in 1818.  The original painting is at the Royal Academy of Arts in Petersburg, Russia.  Patrick

Monday, January 21, 2008

From the Archives - Madison, WI

You can tell its been raining in Kodiak lately because I have been posting 'From the Archives' blog entries.  But I can report that the skiing is not too bad, and that I have still managed to go skiing every day.  Some days may have been a tad like combat, and others have been super wet. None of them have photographed well.

So on to Madison, WI where I went to graduate school in the early to mid 1990s.  Madison was my first experience with the midwest (not that I've had much more since then).  I lived in the pictured 2 room apartment on Chamberlain Avenue for almost 6 years.  I could hear the crowd noise from the football games at nearby Camp Randall.  If I was listening to the game on the radio it would create an effect of delayed stereo.  Somehow I never got tired of the parking lot view.  I read a lot of really boring academic anthropology articles in that rocking chair.

Some of my favorite spots in Madison included: State Street (pictured - I bought my coffee at the little 'Steep and Brew' shop on the left under the black and white awning) - no cars allowed, just bikes, buses and pedestrians; Lake Mendota (pictured) - a winter playground and I used to skate or ski around the lake on a weekly basis; the Student Union and the Ratskellar Bar - the beer was very good and very cheep and often served in enormous 44 oz 'dixy cups' that had to be drunk quickly or the bottom would fall out, and finally the Arboritum and Picnic Point which were both great places to go for a hike when I needed a study break.  Picnic Point stuck way out into Lake Mendota.  

Go Badgers!  Patrick

Nora Word of the Week - Bee'hr (Video Edition)

Nora Word of the Week - Video Edition
Bee'hr which translates to beer.  A beverage Nora is not allowed to drink but which daddy loves.  When used in a sentence. .. Well Nora does not use sentences, but she says bee'hr repeatedly when Daddy goes to the fridge or porch to fetch a beer.  In the video when prompted Nora uses the word bee'hr, her symbols for driving, ice cream, and yogurt, as well as her more conventional renditions of the words for deer and duck.  Patrick & Zoya

Saturday, January 19, 2008

On Life

On Life in the Sick Lane
Last week was a blur between caring for the kiddos, working when I felt well enough and just trying to keep laundry clean. I have never seen a laundry pile so large. The vicious stomach virus hit all of us in the family and I"m just thankful it wasn't all at once. I can't even imagine how horrible that would be?!! Stuey was sick the longest, but wasn't terribly uncomfortable at any given time. He was still quite smiley and just had projectile vomit issues. Poor baby!!

On Motherhood
Motherhood suits me, as Patrick would say. I love kids and the unpredictability they give our lives. Now that Stuart is almost a year old, I have started panicking, thinking, "Oh no-this is our last baby!". We only want two kids. As I watch the video Patrick has been making of our last year as a family, I see how big Stuart has gotten and how he is less of a baby and more of a toddler now. Still as cuddly as ever, however. 
Many people ask us if we're "done" with 2-and I say resoundingly "YES!". Patrick and I want time for eachother, I want to have more energy for furthering my career down the road and it'd be nice for all of us to stit comfortably at a restaurant booth. And rental cars are easier...the list goes on. For us and our family, we feel so blessed with two healthy kids that we couldn't ask for me. When I have my 'want-another-baby-moments', my friend Marias encouraged me to recognize these feelings and just move on. She reminded me, "Zoya-its very biologically normal for you to have those feelings. Thats how mother nature works..." Good thinking, Marias.

On Nora
As I say, often daily-"Nora gives me a run for my money". And thats the truth. She is my girl, but screams/cries/whines for unknown reasons throughout the day. Patrick and I are stumped by this. She'll wake up in the morning and cry for 15-20 minutes by herself in her bedroom. Or she'll do it later in the day, walking around the house crying. Perhaps it is a communication difficulty. She has something she wants so badly to tell us, but can't?! 
Often her crying bouts are related to us not giving her something she wants. She can literally cry over it for up to half an hour. Patrick and I never give in-we can't figure out why she continues to consume so much energy crying over something which won't change. I think its probably 2 year old stubborness. In any case, its hard to watch and when she is in that mode, she won't accept help/love from us. 
Nora has a blast at daycare-and takes a long nap without any difficulty there. I think its helping her speech as well. The past few days she points to objects on the counter and names them. Big leaps and bounds there. The words come out garbled, but you can make out certain sounds.
She loves helping me cook meals.  Even if the task is to move the batch of spices from one counter to another, she loves helping. She has chair that she moves around the kitchen and stands on to access the counter. She can stand there and watch and help. I often find that improves her mood if she is having  a hard time. Helping mom cook a meal. And with my new 2 recipes a week...theres lots of cooking to be done!
Sharing has been rough with Nora-especially if it comes to her dollhouse.  The dollhouse is pretty much off limits for Stuart when Nora is awake. Its her "baby". So if Stuart starts taking interest in it, I distract him with something else. Patrick and Nora play with the dollhouse after Stuey is in bed. Its so fun to hear them interacting...Patrick putting the little dog on the bed...mommy and daddy making dinner...Nora DIGS dollhouse play!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

From the Archives - Karluk 1985

Yup - that's me, Karluk 1985, my first time in Alaska.  It was the summer after my freshman year of college and I got a job on the Bryn Mawr Archaeological Project in Karluk.  It's funny to think that when this photo was taken Zoya was 9 and living in Kodiak. 

That Summer I got my first taste of Alaska, and somehow or other ended up living here permanently.  Living in Karluk I got pretty tired of eating salmon and to this day I still can not eat smoked salmon.  The people who ran the project had a pretty tight budget for food and we literally ate salmon  for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  At first I REALLY like smoked salmon and ended up buying 10 whole smoked reds attached by the tail.  I chew the skins like bubble gum.  After about the 7th fish in maybe 5 days I developed a severe aversion to anything smoked that is still with me to this day.  And I must admit I'm still not all that wild about salmon either, especially if it is overcooked and dry.

Part of my job as curator at the Alutiiq Museum is to take care of the collection we excavated that summer.  Occasionally, I have run across my old field notes scribbled in the rain on a very dirty piece of lined paper.  I even discovered that my original application with attached vita for the project still exists in the project documentation.  All typed up with a manuel type writer and the mistakes corrected with whiteout.  It makes me look even younger than this picture. Patrick

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Stuart is sick too!! :(

 Patrick stayed home from work today-still sick. Stuart got sick as well. Nora is feeling better, however and I'm not sick (yet-phew). Stuarts virus seems the least vicious of them all. He will be smiling and playing and then all of a sudden get sick. Not nearly as "violent" or painful as Nora and Patrick. He is more fussy than normal (can't blame him). 

The day was GORGEOUS-so sunny. Patrick kept saying "I wish I could go skiing. I wish I could go skiing...."

Can't wait till everyone is feeling better. I'm due to go to work tomorrow and hopefully Stuey is feeling better enough for me to make it in. 


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Sick House

Stay clear of our red house on Cliffside Road. 

Yesterday Nora got a HORRIBLE stomach virus where she was getting sick every 15-20 minutes for most of the day. Poor thing. Patrick stayed home from work and was so wonderful in taking care of her. I was mightily impressed. He took her right under his wing and cared for her every need when she got sick. Our friend Karen was here for 3 hours helping as well. Bless her heart. She has such a natural way with helping. We made a few phone calls to the doctors office to determine what the hydration protocol was. Jeremy offered helpful advice which worked-1/2 oz. of fluids as able and he reminded us that any amount that goes down will have a chance to get absorbed into her system. Fortunately it passed in the evening and she didn't get sick all night.

This evening Patrick came down with whatever Nora had. He was praying to the porcelain gods like something fierce. Patrick has an uncanny ability to "hold it in"-i.e. repress the urge to throw up when he is sick. I don't know how he does it, but he lays there in a zen like state, not moving a muscle. He says he is able to make himself NOT throw up. 

But not tonight. Poor guy. Hes miserable. In bed with the dogs. Then up to the toilet. Then in bed with the dogs. Then up to the toilet. 

And I don't know that Nora is 100% either. She woke up crying a minute ago and feels warm to me. This could be a long night. Nurse Zoya is on duty. 


Coolest Thing I Ever Found

As an archaeologist I am often asked, 'what is the coolest thing you ever found'.  Actually the question is probably the one I am most frequently asked - followed closely by 'how do you know where to dig?' and 'how do you know it is an artifact?'

It is a tough question to answer. I have found plenty of cool artifacts, including the ivory nose pin from the Uyak Site on the furthest left in the photo.  That one was cool because I was cleaning up someone else's square and they had missed it in a corner because they had not kept their walls straight.  I almost found the pictured maskette from Karluk, but got moved out of the square and it was the first thing the new excavator turned up.  I've also found painted box panels, stone lamps, 7200 year-old microblade cores (I'm sort of partial to microblade cores), and the usual chipped stone points, knives, slate lances etc - all sorts of stuff.

But if pressed I have to admit that I am most proud of all the houses that I have found.  I think the 850 year-old house foundation from Uganik Island pictured above is the coolest thing I ever found.  But it is a tough call because I have found some pretty cool houses.  I think I picked this one because it was the best photo of one of the coolest houses I ever found.

I like to excavate houses because they tell you so much more about the people who lived in them than does one artifact.  In the house above you can see the box hearth surrounded by fire-cracked rock cobbles.  The cobbles were heated in the fire to conserve fuel while cooking and drying fish.  You can also see the tunnel to the sideroom where people slept over 800 years ago.  Note the raised step that kept the cold air out. I also know that the house is one of the first houses ever built on Kodiak that had a sideroom.  I guess my point is that that house tells a story while all an artifact can ever do is help illustrate the story.  Patrick

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Deer in the 'Hood

Yes there are deer in the neighborhood - I took this picture in our backyard this morning - but this is not a good thing.  In fact it bothers me far more than having the occasional bear about the house.  An anthropologist named Richard Nelson recently wrote a book titled 'Heart & Blood: Living with Deer in America'.  Richard is also famous for his ethnographies about northern Alaskan peoples.  In Deer in America he outlines just what happens when you take deer out of the wilderness setting and put them in neighborhoods.  Both sides lose.

A recurring theme in his book is that once deer get used to living in human neighborhoods they are tough to get out.  They start out as oddities - a sighting that is rare and exciting - and end up a nuisance - an all too common sight, grazing on people's lawns and shrubbery.  Richard outlines how this happens quite quickly once deer realize the benefits of living in close proximity to humans and overcome their natural fear of humans.  And, once established, they are almost impossible to eradicate.

I believe deer are beginning to move into town.  Just two years ago you almost never saw deer in Abercrombie Park.  Now, I see them practically every time I go (At one point last winter, I saw deer on 15 consecutive walks).  Lately, I am even seeing deer around my house.  What is bringing them into town?  I think the recent harsh winters with lots of snow have helped push them into town, but we have had harsh winters in the past and deer never became quite so prevalent.  Personally, I think a few people are feeding the deer.  And it does not take many 'feeders' to establish a colony of deer living over a large urban area - especially when the weather has been so harsh.

These people are not doing the deer or their neighbors a favor.  Dogs are chasing and killing the deer, deer are eating people's ornamental shrubs, it will not be long before it will be difficult to grow a garden without a high fence around it.  Perhaps I'm an alarmist, but I do know I now have to put my dogs on leashes whenever I go to the Park for a walk.  And if this morning is any indication - it might not even be safe to let the dogs out of the house without a leash.  If you are feeding the deer please stop, if no one is feeding the deer then I'm an alarmist. Patrick

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Kristine and Jeremy are Married!

Today I married Kristine Jepson to Jeremy Seteroff. 

Kristine was a babysitter for our family for a year, she started right after Nora was born. She was so great with Nora and is just a wonderful person in general. So easy going, intelligent and very caring. We took her with us to Costa Rica and boy was she a trooper with helping with Nora and travelling with us. 

Krissy decided to marry Jeremy several months ago and she asked me to marry them. I said, "Yes-of course!" and didn't think too much of it for several months. Last week when I went to get my "Marriage Commissioner" certificate, it dawned on me how serious this all was. (Sidenote: I thought I could only "marry" someone once in Alaska but the court girl said I could marry as many couples as I wanted. Laws of this sort are pretty easy going in Alaska due to the remoteness of villages. Pretty Cool.)
I would be the one to verify their vows together and their parents and grandparents would be there to witness as well....what a big moment in their life! I know my own wedding and vows are with me every day. 

The wedding today couldn't have gone smoother. We had a fire going in the fireplace (Krissy's great idea!!), about 15 people gathered in chairs, Krissy was GORGEOUS and Jeremy's family was just delightful. 

As I read through the service, I took my time with reading it, trying to hold on to every word. The service was so short that I wanted to enjoy it with them for as long as possible. The vows came, then the rings, unity candle, blessing and I was the first one to introduce them as Mr. and Mrs. Seteroff. So cool!!

Being a marriage commissioner is definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. Or at least for plain people like me. I was so honored to do the service and am so proud of Krissy and Jeremy. They were a beautiful couple. Jeremy was quite nervous the days preceeding the ceremony and I could tell today after the service how a big weight was lifted off his shoulders! Krissy was so herself, even in her wedding dress. She was picking up her brothers and sisters and carrying them around like it was nothing. 

And now they are off to great places-together. 


Kodiak Pow Pow

Today I went to Pyramid with Gregg and Steve and we skiied the Waterfall Run repeatedly. Great snow.  Around 3 inches of new 'smoke' powder from last night on top of week old powder.  The run faces east and has been in the lee of the past week's strong west winds - so it has held its powder.  The run is very steep and 1000 feet vertical.  
I was toying around with my camera and decided to try the rapid fire, paparazzi, click, click feature.  Get some Kodiak Pow Pow shots with my little point and shoot.  It actually worked remarkably well.  The photos are not as high resolution as normal, but I do get a sequence of photos of each skiier's run to choose from.  My camera took a picture about every 1/4 second. I got to pick the one where they looked the best! Patrick

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Friends, MR.CORD-MAN, New Years Rez

Yesterday Nora and I went over to Grace's house-I borrowed clothes from Alexis for the wedding I"m doing this weekend-a whole other blog entry. (No, I'm not getting married...I'm doing the marrying...)  
Nora had a BLAST playing in Grace's kid-kitchen. Alexis put a kid apron on her, there were kid oven mits, play dishes, fake bacon, mini blender, silverware....Grace and Nora ate a big feast. Nora used the oven mit to take the pot on and off the stove.  There was even an adorable dishwasher with a rack that came out! So realistic! 
When Alexis went in later in the afternoon to clean up after we had left, she noted that Nora had cleared all the dishes from the table into the sink. She said this was definitely something Nora did, as Grace doesn't do that. We laughed at how our kids become "mini-me's" because here at our house, we load our dishes into the sink then Patrick puts them in the dishwasher every morning. She learns her cleaning skills from Patrick-I'm the first to admit that!

Stuey is addicted to cords. Nowadays he is on the move-and on the lookout for any available cord. I have to watch him like a hawk. There have been a couple of cord-close-calls where he pulls on the cords....He gets a mischievious grin on his face and books it for the cords. There is one set of stereo cords where they come out of the floor (wired underneath our living room for speakers-thank you DICKY!!!) and into the stereo. I have tried to tape it up repeatedly to make it inaccessible, but it never works. He makes a beeline for the tangle of cords. 

I tell him "NOT FOR BABIES" in a semi-stern voice and he sort of looks at me shocked. Lately he laughs or smiles. Its so hard to use a "mean" voice with him because he is so cute-even when he is doing something hes not supposed to. I have to get meaner. Such a mama's boy, I say.  

So far so good with my New Years Resolution. When I announced to Patrick that I was going to do this, he replied, "I think its too much for you to expect to do. Maybe try 2 recipes a month." But I wasn't backing out. I committed myself.

Black Bean croquettes were the first recipe. I got the ingredients all ready and put the recipe on the counter before I left to teach my spin class. I was prepared to make them when I got home from class. When I arrived home at 5:30, I was pleasantly surprised as Patrick had prepared the entire recipe and they were going in the oven! What a great way to start my resolution-Patrick can cook the recipes and I just find them! He, He....

Patrick's co-worker recommended a miso-glazed salmon recipe. SO GOOD! See photo. With Silver salmon Patrick caught last fall. 


(Photos: Top-Alexis, Grace and Nora look at a quilt pattern together at our house,
Middle-Stuey at his toy block
Bottom-Miso salmon prepared by Patrick. YUMMMEEEE!!)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Fertility Coon Finds a New Home

Our 6 year relationship with our racoon dog (aka Fertility coon, tanuki, fertility doll) began one night at a White Elephant party at Hans and Herta Tschersich. 2001 or so. 

 Hans and Herta's white elephant party was always full of laughter and the most random white elephant gifts you can imagine! The "tanuki" fit right in. Patrick and I weren't married yet and after we opened it there was nervous laughter and smiles-we had received a fertility doll!!  The next year Hans and Herta did not have the white elephant party and we were stuck with the large scrotum'ed, leering 'raccoon dog' holding a bottle of saki.

 It sat in our living room for a year or two and was always a conversation piece when people saw it. A friend borrowed it for a year and on the night of our wedding it mysteriously 
re-appeared in Patrick's truck. We laughed as we drove away to the hotel.....   

Sometime after Nora's birth, it got moved to the shed.  While I was pregnant with Stuart, Patrick was ready to clear it out of the shed and pass it on. I insisted on waiting until after Stuart was born. Then it got passed on to proud new owners.  At this year's Alutiiq Museum's white elephant party Marnie and Shawen ended up with the ceramic doll, and they actually seemed happy to get it! (see photo above - 6 weeks after the birth of their daughter Abigail).

Brief History of the Tanuki Doll:

Traditional Japanese neighbors of Hans and Herta were working to get pregnant. Their family in Japan sent the doll to help them in their efforts.  When they left Kodiak it stayed and became a White Elephant Icon in the early 1990's at Hans and Hertas annual Christmas Party.  According to Hans the First couple to receive it had 'immediate success'. Kelly Law also owned it at one time. 

 Check out more info on the doll at...they're a big deal in Japan!

They are found outside noodle shops and bars. And are modeled on what is known as a 'racoon dog' - a raccoon like animal indigenous to Japan.  


Skiing the Upper Buskin

Skiing was delightful today--but getting there was tough.

When it came time to leave the house, Stuart was sleeping soundly in my arms and I had a moment of domestic-ness where I thought, "Oh, I should stay behind, do the laundry, go to the store...". Patrick would not hear of this-he said, "Zoya, you must go. It'll be really  fun, the weather is spectacular and this is a ski you have never done before."

So off we sped in his red truck....filled up the tank with gas and filled my tummy up with some gatorade and a snickers bar. My mood and energy improved just in time as we headed across Buskin lake with Philip, Hans and Adelia.  The snow conditions keep us moving quickly, as did the cool temps (in the teens).  Fun times were had and we enjoyed doing something with Adelia, Philip and Hans as it  has been some time since we have skiied with them. 

The only thing missing was John Mahoney!! (He is in Eugene for the year with Patty.) It was the type of ski that we always enjoy doing with him. 


Mary Jane has Taken up Skiing

This winter, my best friend Mary Jane has taken up skiing!  She never before skiied in her life. One pair of cross country skiis later, she is skiing up a storm with Patrick and I on lakes and on the golf course. 

We went to Ft. Abercrombie Lake (Lake Gertrude) yesterday and did many laps. Many Jane cruises right along and is learning so quickly. I'm impressed with how quickly she is picking it up! She glides right along. It has been fun to have a female friend to go with, and I can see us doing a lot more skiing together this winter. Fortunately her boss lets her work flexible hours so she can sneak out a few minutes early while it is still light out. 

Skiing makes winter SO FUN!!!