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Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Hope for Salmon?

The other day I was cruising the aisles at Safeway when I noticed they had gourmet frozen salmon on hand. So I decided to do something I've never done at Safeway before - buy salmon. They had a couple varieties of salmon to choose from (and Pacific cod too), but I opted for the sockeye. The other choice 'Pacific salmon' sounded like a euphemism for pink or worse yet dog salmon. Clearly all the choices were wild caught. And it looked like they were flash frozen and packaged well. I checked the wrappers and they were packaged by Lucerne foods for Safeway under the 'Waterfront Bistro' moniker. A little on the pricey side, 12 bucks for 12 ounces, but, hey, finally some good quality frozen wild salmon in the supermarket.

Last year when we visited our family in Maine I checked out the wild pacific salmon for sale in the local supermarkets. All that I found was either canned (and poor quality stuff), or fresh lying on ice next to the farm raised Atlantic Salmon. And I hate to admit it - the farm raised stuff looked much fresher and more appetizing (and cheaper to boot). So enter this new product - wild flash frozen pacific salmon - and you can see why I am excited.

But how did it taste? Back home I thawed it out in the fridge and noted that it was really well sealed in individual vacuum packs. To be honest it looked better than the stuff I package for myself. Zoya noted that it had a nice recipe to try on the back. And last night when we did eat it - it was good. No fishy smell, and I could tell that the salmon had been bled before it was filleted. Really the only difference between the store bought salmon and my own is price. I am not likely to buy salmon at 1 dollar an ounce.

And the price brings up an interesting point because I am likely to buy canned salmon in the future. I've noticed that at $2.99 a can that the Field's Brand Wild Salmon (see post from late December) is cheaper than what I can can myself. And the funny thing is that these days Zoya and I seem to prefer canned to frozen salmon anyway. It's just much easier to deal with and far more versatile.

But it is good to see the 'Waterfront Bistro' frozen salmon on the super market shelves. Perhaps it will expand the market for Kodiak's fish. At least people down south will be able to buy 'fresh' salmon year-round. I just wish it was cheaper. Now if the canneries made a good canned product. .... ...Patrick

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A True Look Into The Saltonstall Household

Patrick forced me to write this post. He put the pictures on and I replied, "Oh wow. We should title this...A True Look into The Saltonstall Household"

Evidently Patrick's blog post on "Why Blog?" created quite a stir amongst our family members out East. We're all still talking, so thats good.

Stuey is still a mammas boy-big time. He turns 2 and continues to nurse-I never imagined I would stlil be nursing my little guy 2 years later---the benefits for Mom and Baby are so great for continuing to nurse and there really seems no reason to wean him. The longer a mom nurses, the lower her risk of ovarian cancer, breast cancer and not to mention health benefits for Stuey (decreased incidence of respiratory infections, ear infections, good immunities from me). It helps me hold on to his baby hood, even as he really walks, talks (well, babbles) and turns into a little toddler.
Stuey and Nora become better and better friends each day-the benefits of having them close together are REALLY starting to pay off now. YEAH!!! Nora actually invites Stuey to her activities and welcomes his company. He will start going to Nora's daycare after he turns two, and I think Nora is THRILLED!! She wants to show her brother off to her day care friends.

Last night Patrick went to the freezer to pour himself a glass of Absolut Ruby Red Vodka on ice. The vodka bottle was semi full of frozen ice. Interesting. Vodka doesn't freeze. But vodka that has had water added to it would freeze. So someone who has been to our house in the past few weeks has been drinking it and watering down. Hmmm...this has never happened to us before. We were tempted to leave a sticky note with the words BUSTED on it...still might do it.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009


My lower back has been on the fritz lately - so no bending at the waist, lifting, or skiing. I can't do much, but long walks in Abercrombie Park with the doggies seems to help.

What I love about the park is the sitka spruce trees. Immensely tall trunks covered with moss and rough bark. Mossy dead limbs on the lower parts and way up high the green canopy. In the winter with all the leaves gone from the devils club, salmonberry and highbush blueberry bushes it seems you can see forever through the trees, and the trunks really stand out.

So beautiful but difficult to capture in a picture. When I try to take a picture of the whole tree the canopy and sky is inevitably over-exposed while the lower parts are under-exposed. Panoramic views seem to work the best, but they still lack the grandeur of the real thing and do not capture how tall the spruce trees really are. On my walks the last few days I tried to concentrate on just capturing the trunks.

In the top photo I highlighted the trunks against the white ice of the lake. In the bottom photo I chose a place where the nearest trunk was a good distance away and the trunks seemed more spread out - it made the trunks stand out a bit better. Patrick

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obama Party

Last night we co-hosted a Barack Obama Inauguration Party with Cid and Fritz-what a fun time it was!

At 6:00, an hour before the party, I was feeling less than festive, as we had kids who were starting to melt down and I was nervous about brining them over to Hannah's house for half the night...not sure how it would go over. While Patrick took the kids to her house Cid, Fritz and I decorated which got me in the spirit. Cid brought posters that her middle school students made supporting Obama during the election time.

With the posters, some streamers and balloons, the place really got the Inauguration party feel. I sipped on a light drink, turned the music on and Katie Oliver arrived with the slideshow of photos from her trip to the Inauguration. I started to feel the energy of the evening--and the excitment was in the air.

Cid and Fritz are fun people to host an event with, as they are so enthusiastic and full of good ideas. Plus, Cid really helped spread the word about the party-and I believe there were close to 60 people in attendance-many of whom I didn't know!

Every 15 or 20 minutes, people gave toasts to the election, Obama, etc...which was fun to hear what the Inauguration meant to different people.

I went to pick the kids up after the last guest left-1:00AM and Nora and Stuey were sound asleep on the Kaplans couch. Dave helped take them out to the car and they went right back to sleep in their cribs upon arriving home. Phew! It worked out so well.


Cid and Toby with Obama family finger puppets...the pink puppet is the Obama families dog! :) Katie brought them back from DC.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Going Ons

Treating Patrick

This afternoon I worked on Patrick's back-poor guy-its been causing him to move in pain. Before he left the clinic, I had him snap some shots of me in the treatment room. It dawned on me that I hadn't taken photos of my new digs! Treating my spouse is a tricky thing because there are more feelings in the way. Me worrying about making him feel better and him worrying about whether to tell me if he is hurting. It can be a bit complex but I think we're figuring it out. He knows that its important for him to tell me if he is doing better or worse so we can adjust accordingly. I care for him so much and don't want him to limp or move in pain.

Bells Flats Retreat

Patrick and I just returned from a dinner at Gregg and Lisa's and it was pure bliss. Just the 4 of us-quiet, fun conversation and amazing food-as always. Gregg prepared a marinated, grilled pork loin, stir fry veggies and homemade chocolate sauce on ice cream for dessert.

(Getting out to Bells Flats was a feat in itself-we asked a gal on our street to babysit for the kids and it was her first time. Nora was in a horrible mood as we prepared to depart, but once the sitter arrived, Nora seemed to perk up. Stuey and her both seemed quite happy. )

Patrick and I enjoyed the drive to the flats and the evening with Gregg and Lisa. I think its been about 3.5 years since we've gone out there for dinner without the kids (before I had Nora!!). Pretty amazing. I forgot what it is like to have dinner with friends and be completely relaxed and be able to speak a whole thought without getting interrupted! Pretty phenomenal!
The day was just what I needed after a very busy week.


Me in my clinic treatment room
Lisa, Gregg and I at their house in Bells Flats.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why Blog?

Recently I got annoyed with my brother when he equated our blog with a ‘brag board’. He believes all blogs are ‘brag boards’, and implied that us bloggers would not make them public on the Internet if we were not concerned solely with our own egos. I got into a big email back and forth argument with him and the upshot is that he still believes blogs are ‘brag boards’ and I still believe they are something far more important. But I am glad I got into an argument with him because it got me thinking about exactly why Zoya and I blog. I think some of the benefits of keeping a blog will surprise the non-bloggers reading this.

The number one reason Zoya and I keep with our blog is that every 3 months we print it out into an annotated photo album. We already have 2 ½ years of photo albums documenting our kids growing up and our life in Kodiak. This is priceless. Because of the blog we write something every day or so and we think to take the time to take good pictures to document our life. We also edit our pictures every time we do a post. Only the best pictures make the blog. I am pretty sure that if we did not keep a blog we’d have a morass of unedited photos in various files of the computer hard drive and no photo albums – definitely no photo albums where every photo has some written context with it.

The number two reason Zoya and I keep a blog is to keep our family and friends updated on our life. Pretty easy to do, and I know we have some happy relatives and friends out there (just not my brother). Zoya and I certainly enjoy reading other people's blogs.

The number three reason we blog is that it is a creative outlet. The other day, Zoya and I went back and looked at our early blog entries. We were both surprised how much better our writing has gotten. I also believe our photography has gotten better. Take a bunch of pictures every day and post them on the web a few times a week and how can your photography not get better? It’s fun to create a good blog post, and exciting when someone posts a comment about it.

A related benefit is that all my photographs are far better organized. Since I am editing them almost daily I am forced to organize them better. I am also filing away the top 2 or 3 photos of every week into a set of ‘greatest hits’ files. This has come in very handy for me at work when people request photographs. I have an easy time finding the best ones. In the past I’d have to look through thousands just to find a few good ones.

But why public - Why put it out there where anyone can read it? I believe the main reason is incentive. If our blog was not public I do not think we’d have the incentive and yes, pressure, to keep it current. And I have noticed that people who keep blogs with invite only access tend not to update them quite as frequently. Another good thing about a public blog is that it is your own private soapbox. If I want to vent, or express an opinion I have a place to do it, a place where people will read it. No need to write a letter to the editor at the local paper - forced to keep it short with no photo and no guarantee it will even get printed.

Finally, I’ll be honest and admit there is a tiny bit of truth to what my brother says. Yes, I do want people to know our family is doing well and having a good time. I want that girl who spurned me in high school to find me on a google search and see that I turned out great. But what’s wrong with that? We all like to be noticed. But I think it is far more than a ‘brag board’. If I wanted to post on a ‘brag board’ I’d go to some hunting or skiing forum and post pretty pictures for my colleagues in those endeavors to ooh and ahh over. Activity specific forums are the ‘brag boards’ of the Internet - not blogs.

Photo: Koniag Peak (the highest point on Kodiak Island) and glacier from near Windy Lake, Labor Day weekend 2004.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Skate Skiing on High

Anyone who thinks cross country skiing is a staid and boring sport ought to go skate skiing in Kodiak's backcountry. I'm here to tell you it is way more exciting than downhill skiing. Nothing beats screaming down a hill, completely out of control, on ridiculously thin skiis with no metal edges for sheer terror. The trick to descending is to get the snowplow and sideslip moves down pat, and use them shamelessly - that and trying to contour around the hills and mountains as much as possible.

Anyhow, skate skiing is what I've been doing the last couple of days since the snow crusted over. I cruise around on top of the crust. The cross country skiing is not very good near the parking lot so I have been skate skiing up where the snowmobilers go behind the ski chalet. It is a brutal climb (over 800 feet of endless skating up, up, up), but once on top it is pretty flat. I've posted 2 pictures from my skate ski yesterday. The top one shows the view back towards Pyramid after the skate up was complete, while the second shows the view back towards Buskin Lake and Barometer Mountain from near where I turned around. Today I did the same ski (looking for my truck key that had fallen out of my pocket), but the light was very flat. It made it hard to see the bumps and holes. Patrick

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Day

This morning was quite a day in American history-watching Barack Obama become inaugurated as the 44th president. I went over to Alexis J's house with Nora to watch the occasion on TV. We don't have TV here and Patrick didn't seem interested in watching it on our computer here at the house. (it almost seems that the more hyped up a political event becomes, the less interested he is in it...)
So Nora and I made a stop for donuts at Safeway then trekked over to Alexis' at 7:15 AM. The thing that struck me was the sense of relief to truly have George Bush out of the presidency--the past several years have been so rough with Bush and it seemed like he was in office FOREVER. I know the expectations for Obama are very high, which isn't really fair, as he is coming into the position when the economy is at a big low.

I am just glad that we have someone in the presidency who is hard working, compassionate, intelligent and of a strong character. And what changes he will evoke has yet to be seen. I know that the energy behind his speech--of Americans working hard---is contagious. And he seems to know and understand the hardships that the American people undergo. Just that empathy alone goes a long way with citizens of the US.


Nora is still in the thick of the WHY's.

This morning, I said, "I have to go to work, Nora."
Nora replied, "WHY?"
"Because I have to make money"
She questioned again, "WHY?"
"So I can put food on the table" I responded.
"POWERHOUSE, MAMMA?" She asked with a smile and didn't seem to mind me going off to work.

PIctures are from a leisurely weekend....
Stuey and Nora love putting babies (and alligators, evidently) to bed. They use the dishtowels as blankets!
Panoramic of Sunday's wonderfully lazy weekend.

Monday, January 19, 2009

After the Pineapple

After a week long deluge of rain and warmth it's finally cooling off here on Kodiak. Yesterday when I went skiing there was 4-5 inches of powder at the pass (bottom photo - that's the road to Anton Larsen Bay), but it rained all day. Today it froze up high and got glorious. I met Gregg up on top and we treated ourselves to what Gregg termed 'the first spring skiing of the year'. He remembers that last year we first had the same sort of conditions on President's day in February. Guess it's a little early this year. I must admit I was a little worried by the ice up on top as we rattled our way over to the lip of the south bowl. But once we dropped in and got onto the sun warmed slope it was all corn - hero snow. Patrick

Thomas the Train Fort

This past weekend was a good one. I spent what seemed like hours hunkered down in the Thomas the Train fort Nora and Stuey adore. It is a hand-me-down, pop-up-fort that Roxann and Mike gave us and the lovely thing about it is that when we're done with it, it collapses down to nothing in 1 second for easy storage! (I sound like an infommercial, I know.)

My job when I get in there is twofold-lay there and be agreeable with Nora's very specific pillow and blanket arrangement AND cuddle with the kids. Too fun. Its funny how the fort actually heats up inside when all 3 of us are in there, too!

I'm feeling very ready for the week-stocked up on sleep, cuddles, and relaxation time.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Qayaqing Traditions

This past week I have been researching Alutiiq qayaqs and looking for images to use in an upcoming Alutiiq Museum exhibit. The exhibit, titled 'Qayaqing Traditions', will travel to Kodiak's remote villages this spring and then be open to the public this summer at the museum. Our director Sven travels to the villages with the exhibit and will teach the kids how to made a model qayaq frame. The exhibit is intended to inspire their efforts and educate them at the same time.

One of my favorite parts about researching particular subjects is that when you go back to the literature with a different question in mind you always find new things that you overlooked in the past (when you were looking for information about something else). You are coming to the game with new eyes so to speak. One book that I had not looked at in years is a 3 volume set all about the art of Captain Cook's expeditions in the late 1700's (the book is at the museum so I do not have a full reference). It contains all of the original drawings that were made by his officers in the field during his three voyages. On his third voyage Cook visited Alaska (immediately prior to getting eaten in Hawaii).

Cook spent most of his time in Southeast Alaska and in the Aleutians, but he did visit Prince William Sound where he encountered the Chugach Alutiiq. looking through the book I learned that an image I always thought depicted 'kayaks of Oonalaska' actually shows both an Alutiiq (from Prince William Sound) and Aleut qayaq (from near Dutch Harbor) (top photo). I've known about the image for years but had only seen the engraved version that is titled 'kayaks of Oonalaska'.

Reading through the book I realized that the engravings I am so familiar with were engraved back in England - and generally not by the original artist. Later engravings often look totally different from the original. Like in the bottom photo - the Alutiiq woman on the left was drawn by Webber during Cook's visit to Prince William Sound. Back in Jolly old England another artist (Ellis) made the engraving. In doing so, Ellis somehow turned her into a comely British woman wearing a fur coat. Another thing that engravers often did is turn a drawing into a mirror image during the engraving process. This often makes landscapes tough to identify!

I had a lot of fun looking at the original drawings. I saw details I'd never noticed before (check out the gear on the deck of the qayaq and the hair stitched into the seams of the bow) and even found a couple images of Alutiiq Angyaqs that I had not known existed. Angyaqs are large skin-covered open boats that were not made for very long after Russian contact and about which little is known. Anyway for more information about the upcoming exhibit check out the Alutiiq Museum web page at and look under exhibits. Patrick

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stuey Pimp Daddy & Word of the Week

Stuey & Nora word of the week "Why?"
The "Why Mommy?"'s have hit us in full force here at the Saltonstalls. Nora just discovered the question last week and asks it quite a bit now. I'm not bummed-rather glad to see that she is asking questions about the world and wanting to know more. I definitely don't want to feed into it. It is annoying/ puzzling that she will ask "why" for something I just answered 5 seconds prior. (It is ok to find your own kids annoying at times, right?)

I respond, "Nora, remember what mommy just told you when you asked?" She often smiles and says yes then repeats part of what my answer was. I think that she asks almost reflexively without listening.

Stuey, on the other hand, asks why just because Nora is doing it, and doesn't really want or need a response. I think he just likes the process of learning a new word. He is turning into Mr. Babble. I'm eating up every moment of it.

Photos: Stuey with Nora's hat on that my Uncle Roger & Aunt Kathy sent. He has the "pimp-Stu-daddy" look going on!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hard Rain

Yeah I know, this photo does not depict hard rain - it's difficult to take a good hard rain photo. Perhaps tomorrow I'll give it a try. The photo depicts the harbor a mere 2 days ago. Hard to believe it was so nice when now it is so bad. I bet we'll get 2.5 inches of rain today with temps in the high 30s. Serious pineapple express. We are losing snow all the way up to at least 1500 feet on the mountains. Not to gloat on the misfortune of others, but it is worse elsewhere and even reached 43 degrees at the Birch Hill ski area in Fairbanks! Yes you read correctly, where last week it was 40 below is now warmer than Kodiak. And Anchorage is losing its snow quick too. My big hope is that the warm temperatures and rain will consolidate the snow pack, and when it does finally freeze up again I'll be able to skate ski anywhere I want in Kodiak's backcountry. Normally we do not get those snow conditions until March (see blog archives for last March). Perhaps I'll have a chance to do some serious crust cruising on the old cross country skiis a little early this year. Patrick

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Father Gerasim and Russian Orthodoxy

If today's rain and gloom has you down (and the weather looks like it might stay this way awhile) you might want to drop by the Alutiiq Museum and check out our latest exhibit. It's titled 'Orthodoxy in Alutiiq Life' and focuses on the connections between Alutiiq Traditions and the Russian Orthodox faith. Learn about 'Starring', 'Masking', and check out our icon corner. A big part of the exhibit is on Father Gerasim who served the Alutiiq and Russian Orthodox community of the Kodiak Archipelago for almost 50 years. A great many of his belongings are on display in the exhibit. I'm pretty proud of the exhibit, and believe it is the best 'in house' exhibit we've ever created (I'm not tooting my own horn because Jill and Marnie did the lion's share of the work). For more information check the Alutiiq Museum website at:

Hope to see you soon! Patrick

Monday, January 12, 2009

Hey-Where'd the holidays go?

I just put all the holiday decorations away and am sad that once again, they flew so fast...and that I had a hard time getting into them this year-primarily because of my work schedule around those weeks. Lots of hours and not enough time for making cookies...although I did manage to consume my fair share of holiday egg nog drinks.... :)

Now the holidays are over but at least skiing is still here. Today I worked for 4 hours then Patrick and I went cross country skiing in Swampy Acres this afternoon. Gorgeous, sunny day outside and it felt good to chase after Patrick in the snow and enjoy the sunshine on the mountains. I think I"m getting to become a stronger skiier--I notice that I can actually keep up with him for periods today. As anyone who knows Patrick and I, they know that I don't even TRY to keep up with Patrick. Virtually impossible. So today when there were brief moments of my skiis butting up against his and me yelping out to keep from crashing into him, it made me happy.


Harbor Snow

This morning Kodiak harbor was so beautiful with the new snow and sunrise that I had to stop and take a few photographs. The harbor itself was a beehive of activity. This is cod fishing season and all the pot fishermen and long liners were getting their boats ready - either coming or going. And in a few days tanner crab season opens. Later in the month the draggers will get in on the cod action and pollack season begins. Kodiak's bread and butter - Kodiak is one of the top fishing ports in the United States. Patrick

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More Snow

Yesterday and last night we got another 6 inches of snow - woo hoo! Everybody knows how happy that makes me! The funny thing is that everybody thinks I'll be up on Pyramid enjoying the powder on downhill gear. Guess what? The place to ski right now is close to town on cross country skiis. Up on Pyramid most of the snow will have been blown away or have been wind packed, and the road up will be a nightmare of cars off of the road and deep snow.

So today it was off for a no hassle ski on Island Lake. Snow on the spruce trees and deep snow. No ATVs either. I think the motorized crowd stayed inside to watch football. Patrick

Friday, January 09, 2009

Goings On Around Here

Today Kodiak is beautiful with a new mantle of 3-4 inches of new snow and bright sun. Often when it snows here it ends with a shot of rain to muck it up. But not this time - all powder. This afternoon while cross country skiing around Island Lake with Zoya I thought about taking some pictures, but, instead, I decided to enjoy the moment and forego fumbling for the camera. Snow on the spruce trees and low level light.

Kerry Felton, a friend of ours, had mounted a camera onto a remote control plane and had the camera flying all about, and he did get some pictures of Zoya and I skiing down below that he emailed to us. Pretty cool to see Island Lake from above - a totally new perspective. It's amazing to realize how close you are to the ocean.

Photos: Top: A photo of Zoya (right) and I (left) while skiing on Island Lake taken from Kerry's plane. Middle: Nora walking in from the truck last night during the 'blizzard'. I had just picked her up from her day at 'Miss Gara's'. The bottom photo is another panoramic from my new camera of our kitchen in the evening. I am still learning about all the things my new camera can do and am constantly taking random photos these days. But I like this one because it shows the family in winter hibernation mode, getting ready for dinner. Patrick

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Zoya's Hot Topics

(So many thoughts running through my mind tonight as I munch on the piece of chocolate that Patrick rationed to me...he gave me a few bars for christmas and I asked him to ration a few squares every night so I don't storm through it. Talk about horrible self-control with chocolate)

Upcoming Inauguration
Patrick and I are going to have an Inauguration party on the Saturday following Barack Obamas Inauguration. Cid Blase and Fritz Ferrante are hosting it with us and I"m VERY excited for it. Cid has so much awesome, enthusiastic energy and it was at her house where I watched Obama's acceptance speech along with 40 other people. Cid came up with the idea of having people bring a dish with an international flair---from a country that will like us a little more now that Bush will be out of office (and Obama will be in). So, pretty much every country in the world is fair game for food choices.

I love the energy accompanying the inauguration-energy of change. This morning on KMXT I heard NPR's discussion about the inauguration, and lately there has been discussion about who is going...and I found out on Facebook Katie Oliver is attending! Tonight I talked with Katie, who said she will take photos and I asked if we can have them as a slide show on our computer during the party. She said "yes-- of course!"

It will be fun to get a taste of what the swearing in ceremony will be like from the perspective of a Kodiakian in the crowd! I"m so excited for Katie and can't wait to hear her stories upon her return at the party. The party is open to people who are as excited about the inauguration as us. And yes-its on a Saturday, not Tuesday...but its best to not have a celebration of that calibar on a work night, right?

Baby Fever of Sorts
With my new business, I've had a touch of baby fever. Not to have one of my own, but to help moms in this community with having babies. I'm going to start teaching a natural childbirth preparation class this weekend and can't wait for it to begin. There is cool energy with working with pregnant moms who are excited about childbirth and who want ideas/inspiration going into the big day.
For me, the birth of my two kids was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I did a lot of prep before hand as well as having lots of friends with me during labor. I appreciate how supportive Patrick is of me teaching the course and we had a long discussion about it last night. (I believe he would much rather see me help moms with having babies over us having another baby....that could be why he is so supportive-he knows I need to get the baby energy out of my system).

I've got a couple of other baby/labor/delivery related things in the works for this winter--starting to do doula (labor assistant work) as well as working with another Kodiak health care practitioner to start community conversation on midwifery care and birth options for women, starting postpartum class and post c-section class...

Ten thousand Joys and Ten Thousand Sorrows
In my Buddhism for Mothers book (by Sarah Napthali) that I"ve been reading lately, there was a quote "As Any Zen Buddhist will tell you: Life presents 'ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows'. We must meet pain as well as pleasure, so we can't afford to hook our happiness to external circumstances." I appreciated this saying because its not about a tally board of "positive experiences vs. negative experiences" and trying to increase the positives and reducing the negatives. Its looking at life from the angle that there will be an equal number of positives and negatives. To take the good with the bad. And to not respond extremely to each. (Thats my watered down interpretation of it, at least.)
Today at work I had a negative experience with an insurance company and instead of feeling like I had failed or that the insurance company had failed me, I reminded myself that it is just one of the ten thousand sorrows that I can knock off my tally. No big sweat. And I appreciate the fact that my job allows me to be in direct contact with insurance companies and for me to be on the front line of what is being paid and whats not being paid-and learning why. This will make me a more effective health care provider-so there won't be any surprises with what insurance companies will or will not pay for physical therapy. And I think people appreciate that.

The Buddhism for Mothers book has been a slow read for me in the sense that it has so much useful information-it is like a bar of REALLY dark chocolate-or a REALLY RICH chocolate truffle--the kind you can only have 1 of because it is so rich (or because Patrick hid the rest). To read it quickly wouldn't do it justice-- the book is packed with information, ideas and thoughts on parenting and how to apply Buddhist principles to life and family. I'm not buddhist nor do I study any 1 particular religion. That said, I've always enjoyed reading Buddhist principles of living. Simple things like listening techniques, speaking softer, slower, more deliberately--thinking about what you're going to say before speaking. Power of the breath, finding calm in moments of chaos, etc...It is just what I need right now in those moments when Stuey is screaming and throwing blocks around the room and Nora is having one of her moments...these applied principles makes the highs not so high and the lows not so low.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Near Island Gravel Quarry

Recently it came to my attention that the City Council may issue a gravel extraction permit for Near Island. It's a complicated matter that I'll try and explain better below, but I'm wondering why we haven't heard more about it. Seems people screamed long and loud about potentially putting the Police Station and Post Office on Near Island. Why nothing about a gravel pit?

On Tuesday the 13th of January the City Council should be discussing the matter at its work session and then potentially issuing a 5 year permit at its formal meeting on the 15th. The area slated for gravel extraction is huge (see photo with approximate area outlined below). It's complicated because the gravel extraction will also create space for boat lift storage and Kodiak does need the gravel. On the other hand, do we need a gravel pit eyesore on Near Island that would impact the trails where we walk our dogs and recreate on the south end of the island? Not only that - the slate they would quarry out on Near Island is pretty poor stuff as far as gravel goes (way too soft). Our roads tend to degrade so quickly because we use soft slate gravel in the tar matrix. Much better material exists (stuff with much harder granite found in places like the Salonie and Red Cloud valleys).

I am not against development on Near Island (I kind of liked the idea of putting the jail out there), but I think it should be planned better. As a community Kodiak needs to decide where we want to put the gravel pits, where to put the houses, and what spaces we want to keep open for recreation. As it stands now, I gather the area slated for gravel extraction on Near Island is big enough to provide 15 to 20 years of gravel. That's a lot of gravel. Perhaps the City should permit a smaller area for the gravel quarry - just big enough to provide space for the boat lift and storage - and make sure the area slated for development does not impinge on the existing trails behind.

I don't think Near Island should be supplying Kodiak's gravel needs. I do believe we need a good boat lift and Harbor infrastructure. I love to roam the trails and woods on Near Island. I know for certain that a 5 year permit for gravel extraction on Near Island on an area big enough to provide up to 20 years of gravel needs a bit more community discussion. Patrick

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Nora-isms and Weekend thoughts

Nora's language is coming along and she has a lot of Nora-isms that she is teaching Stuey. Stuey is learning the Nora dialect of English!

For instance, Nora says "Gulk" for milk. Now Stuey says "Gulk" for milk.

Nora recently believes that any good deed of behavior should be rewarded with a sticker. About a month or 2 ago, I had a small sticker sheet on the fridge and if she did something extra helpful, I let her pick out a sticker for the page. Now if I do something like change Stuey's clothes or make breakfast, Nora says, "You get sticker, Mommy?" or "Daddy gets sticker." I laugh and say, "noooo...i don't get a sticker." We have fun with it.

The kids are really beginning to play together well. Patrick and I are starting to see the beginnings of lengths of time where they occupy themselves. Phew! The other day we went to Christina and Jason's house for dinner and the kids did wonderfully, playing with Gavins trucks and toys. It was fun for Christina and I to catch up and for Jason and Patrick to catch up as the kids ran around the house playing.

Recently Patrick and I have been watching movies in the evening after the kids are in bed. We pull the couch up to the computer in the kitchen. Winter is definitely the time to watch movies, as it is dark outside and perfect for such an activity. Last night we watched the Incredible Hulk, which I really enjoyed. Our friend Amy M. recommended it last summer- and I remember her saying that it was good but the ending was somewhat lame. Patrick & I completely agreed. I've always liked the hulk story, as a kid I remember watching the Incredible Hulk TV show and was just fascinated/scared by it. Edward Norton was a good hulk in this version of it.

Yesterday my office manager, Erin, started at A Balanced Approach and I"m just so thrilled. She will work 12-15 hours a week and she is so thoughtful, organized, efficient....the list goes on. I really enjoy working with her. From here on out, my clinic time will be spent more on patient care emphasis and less time to office management type tasks. Her insight on PT clinic set up is so valued and appreciated. 2009 is off to a good start.



Stuey and Nora clear out their toy cabinet and fabricate bunk beds out of the shelf. Pretty fun. Nora loves playing pretend bed time.

Friday, January 02, 2009

More new camera

Here are two more panoramic images from my new camera. With my old camera when I wanted a panoramic I took a series of pictures and then stitched them together back home in photoshop. My new camera does this for me right when I take the pictures. However, I've noticed that it also makes a much smaller digital image when I use the panoramic setting; I think it stitches together a series of 2 MB images rather than the 10 MB images of which the camera is capable. This is a little worrisome - I would rather it created the highest resolution image possible in case I want to blow it up huge and print it for my wall. Nonetheless, the new camera does such a darn good job stitching the panoramics together that I have stopped doing it the old fashioned way at home in photoshop. I bet I'll regret opting for convenience over quality.

I must say I love panoramic images - the bottom one makes our house interior look huge and clean. In the top one you really feel like you are on a walk amongst the trees in Abercrombie Park.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Winter Sunrise

I took this picture last Sunday morning at about 10 AM. If you go back to last September you'll notice that our sunrise pictures back then are out of the ocean (and about 3 to 4 hours earlier). Another big difference is that at this time of year the sunsets and sunrises seem to take forever. Almost seems like the sun is either rising or setting with very little time in between. That said we also get far more light than the 6 1/2 hours of official daylight. It is light for at least an hour before sunrise and after sunset giving us around 9 hour days. But that's only if the weather is fair - on stormy days it never seems to get light. I've also noticed that snow on the ground makes it seem lighter too - reflects all the available light. I love this time of year! Patrick