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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hanging the 'peepur' and seeds bird feeders

Yesterday Stuie and Nora made birdfeeders at Miss Sarah's (that's Miz Gara in Nora speak). Basically they coated wooden triangles with peanut butter ('peepur') and poured birdseed onto them. Zoya arrived to pick them up and they were concentrating very hard at getting the seeds onto the peanut butter.

In any case, when they got home we HAD to hang the feeders where we could watch them. I was also concerned about them attracting deer and rats so I wanted to hang them very high. This meant I had to become a 'tree hugger' to get up into the spruce trees behind our kitchen. Needless to say, but Nora found it very entertaining! Now we are keeping our eyes peeled for the birdies. None yet, but it has been windy. Patrick

Big Amaryllis

Lately all of the Amaryllis' about the house have been blooming. Last year they were on the floor by the windows and very few actually produced a flower. Not for lack of trying - it's just that every time a bud started to open a kiddo would make a grab for it and break it off. This year we put the amaryllis' on tables by the window and so far no broken stalks. It's amazing how tall they get - this one is as tall as Nora!

The kiddos have been playing well together. As I type, it is mid afternoon and they are playing kitchen with all the cooking utensils scattered about on the floor. Minimal need for supervision - I love it! I only jump when I here screaming.

In the other photos: Nora and Stu do some reading. They take this very seriously. And draw on their new chalk board (bottom). The chalk board saves paper and is pretty easy to clean up. They love it, but it does need to be closely supervised. last night I did not supervise very well and Stuie drew all over the walls of the house. Zoya was not impressed. Patrick

Tour of Anchorage just a week away

In exactly one week I will be 1/2 hour into the 50 kilometer race at the Tour of Anchorage. I am starting to get nervous. I never enjoy the run up to a race - actually I hate it. I envy people who can just go out and race and have a good time. I don't start having a good time until the race is about half over and I suddenly realize that this isn't so bad.

So why do I race if I hate the run up so much? I like to do one race a year because it forces me to get in shape, and after the race is over I feel great for about 2 weeks. And there is nothing like the pizza and beer immediately after the race is over. Without a race looming in the distance I might exercise every day, but I never really train and do the painful windsprints etc that are essential if you really want to get in shape.

This year I am doing the 50K race for the first time in 6 years. Back in January I was convinced I could get close to my old times. I did place 15th a couple of times and my best time was 2:24 - so the pressure was on. But then I hurt my back, got sick and have had bad sinus pressure of late. My training over the last month and a half took a huge hit. I have modified my goals - next week I hope to get a top 50 finish and crack 2:40. What I'd really like to do is just relax and not care how I finish - just race to finish. But for me that is impossible. Patrick

Photo - That's me about halfway through the 25K classic race at last year's Tour of Anchorage.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Alaska Aerospace Kodiak Rocket Launch Doomed

The Alaska Aerospace rocket launch facility at Narrow Cape on Kodiak is DOOMED. And not because it is not a commercial success (Federal Pork could probably sustain the thing indefinitely), but because eventually it will get demolished by an earthquake. The launch is built directly on top of a very active and shallow earthquake fault. One that is so clear that you can see it in google earth satellite photos (see bottom two photos). The fault is the ditch that runs across Narrow Cape just past the facility on the way to fossil beach. Yup that is a fault, and that is the rocket launch right next to it. It is a well known fault, has a name, and has even been written about in the geologic literature.

Last night I attended the Kodiak Island Borough work session and heard a presentation from Alaska Aerospace all about the facility. They want to expand it. They also made a pretty convincing case for the need of a high latitude launch facility for launching satellites on various polar orbits that more equatorial launch facilities can not do. Currently,there are no other high latitude launch facilities with such capabilities in the United States. For this reason they see a commercial opportunity for the Kodiak launch facility - it would be the best and cheapest place to launch Iridium, Google Earth, and all the other commercial satellites we so need in our broadband age.

America certainly needs a high latitude rocket launch facility but because of the fault I think Narrow Cape is a poor choice for it. Why didn't they built it at the abandoned Navy Base at Adak, or at Poker Flats up in Fairbanks? As it is, perhaps it will be a commercial success and generate a lot of money for the Kodiak economy in the short term, but down the road it will be destroyed. I just hope they don't have any really scary stuff stored out there when it is demolished by an earthquake. I also do not like the launch facility out at Narrow Cape because it is placed directly on prime recreational land - some of the only public recreation land on the Kodiak road system (see top photo). Why didn't they put it at the old tracking station near Sequel Point on Lesnoi, Inc. Land?

Anyway, last night I did ask one of the Alaska Aerospace presenters if the facility could withstand an earthquake on the Narrow Cape fault. And he replied, 'we already have withstood a 7.2 magnitude earthquake'. I pointed out that that 7.2 earthquake occurred on a fault no where near Narrow Cape and that it was a very deep earthquake (miles beneath the surface), and that an earthquake on the Narrow Cape fault would be much more severe. And he just did not get it. He told me that the launch facility was built to withstand earthquakes - PERIOD. He also told me that the Vandenburg Rocket launch facility is also built near a whole bunch of earthquake faults - as if that makes it OK!

What he does not seem to understand is that the severity of an earthquake depends on many factors - not just the magnitude of the event. A small earthquake (say 6.5) occurring on a shallow fault just a few hundred feet away would be WAY WORSE than a 9.2 event like we had in 1964. A 7.0 on the Narrow Cape fault would probably cause more shaking and structural damage in the City of Kodiak 40 miles away than the 9.2 event did in 1964. I just do not see how they could build the facility to withstand such an earthquake whose epicenter is only a few hundred FEET (not miles) away.

As I said at the beginning, the Kodiak Rocket Launch is doomed. Sometime in the next 100 years the slate will be wiped clean. Hikers out at Narrow Cape will explore the ruins of the Launch Facility much like they visit the old WWII bunkers out there today. Mother nature always wins. Patrick

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Good frozen string beans or edamame recipe

This is a recipe so good and so simple that I thought I had to share it with the world. I am not sure if it is an official recipe, and I have not really checked to see if other people cook frozen vegetables this way. I came up with the recipe out of sheer laziness - one evening I did not want to bother with boiling water and the kids were screaming so I just spread out a bag of green string beans into glass lasagna dish, drizzled with a little sesame oil, added a pinch or two of kosher salt, stirred it all up to spread the oil onto all the beans and popped it into the oven. I did not even preheat the oven. I just baked 'em at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes. I was shocked when they ended up delicious and the kiddos gobbled them all up. Still crunchy, tasted great, not 'watery' from getting steamed or boiled, and best of all just a little bit of salt and sesame oil went a long way. Scarily enough the beans tasted fresh out of the garden.

Since then I've refined the recipe a bit and have tried it with other frozen vegetables. It continues to work great great with minimal effort. I also tried it with edamame (the kind with the shells on) and it ended up restaurant quality. Perfectly salty with just a hint of sesame oil. You squeeze one end of the pod and pop the beans into your mouth. The flavor comes off of the pod while you squeeze it into your mouth. It's sort of like eating crab or lobster legs.

The trick to the recipe is to not overcook the beans or edamame, nor to use too much salt or sesame oil. To be honest, I ended up with too oily overcooked beans on my second try. I learned to really go light on the oil - maybe a table spoon or 2 max (I don't measure actually), and only 1 big pinch of salt (maybe 1 to 2 teaspoons). As I said, a little of each seems to go a long way. And ordinarily I'm a lover of salt and oil, so you can trust me on this. As regards cooking time - I've found that 15 minutes is about max, even with the oven going through the preheating after adding the veggies. Basically, I've found that the veggies are done when they are heated through, and I do not let them get to the 'boiled' stage.

On that last note, I did wonder If I am actually eating the veggies raw. So I checked the bags and noted that they parboiled the veggies before freezing them. So they have been precooked. But the green beans did warn that I needed to cook them to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. My recipe probably does not do this - so I will say attempt my recipe at you own risk. If you dare, I do think you'll like it. Patrick

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Portland Adventures & Stuey's Articulation Speech Therapy Session

My weekend trip to Portland went smoothly after I finally left the island...but the class was somewhat of a bust, buzz kill, party foul, etc...whatever you want to call it. Oh well, I move on. The class had WAY too much lecture, not enough lab time.
80% of it was lecture and I thought, "we could've been e-mailed this powerpoint and read it prior to getting here. I don't need to pay money to have someone read a powerpoint to me." I learned that I"m not going to take a class out of state without a prior instructor or course recommendation from a fellow therapist.
Lets face it, I've been royally spoiled with awesome classes the past 10 years. So to have a bad lemon in the mix really isn't the end of the world.
Plus, I got to hang out with Lisa McCormick, which was fabulous!
We shared a hotel room, went to downtown Portland for dinner and had a great chance to catch up without life or kids interrupting us. Just perfect. I was so glad Lisa was there for me to vent to upon arriving back at the room from my class. She was taking an art class in Portland which she truly enjoyed. The getaway was fun.
We went to Powell's Books-omigosh! A Bookstore that is a whole street block! Amazing. I had to peel myself away from the kids book section after finding awesome kids books on deer, spiders, seeds, etc...

This morning, Nora gave Stuey an articulation speech therapy session. I was talking about how we need to get more yogurt. Stuey started saying, "go-eee, go-eee, go-eee" and Nora overheard him say this.
Nora got quite a disapproving look on her face and squatted down at his level and said, "Stuey, its "yo-eee, yo-eee, yo-eee" (thats how NORA says the word Yogurt).
Too funny. Correcting Stuey on how to say Yogurt. Nora can't say yogurt, but she she has always called it "yo-eee, yo-ee, yo-eee".
Before long we'll have Stuey in speech therapy trying to undo his Nora dialect english!!

Photos: self photo of Lisa and I at dinner at Ten 01 in downtown portland.
Me trying to move the sculpture in downtown portland. I succeeded!
The view flying out of Kodiak.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Crust Cruising

A movie is worth a thousand words and about 10 pictures. Here is a quick movie of Gregg skate skiing up in the Salonie Creek canyon. The crust up there was a little soft and breakable. Patrick

Salonie Creek Canyon

Today I woke to a sunny day with no wind and temperatures right around freezing. A perfect day to go for a crust cruise on skate skiis up Salonie Creek with Gregg. So I dropped the kiddos off at the babysitter's house and away I went on a three hour tour.

It was rocket ship fast and we got to the canyon in what seemed like no time at all. On the way we scared all of the deer out of the valley and watched them run up and away, up the sunny mountainside (see bottom photo). In the canyon it was quite dark at the bottom, but up on high the sun flared white on the snow (top photo). For a while we followed some day old bear tracks. He'd obviously had quite the time post-holing in the deep snow. He'd probably come out of his den for a look see and is now back in his den hibernating.

We got up past the big blue icicles (middle two photographs), and then headed back. I suddenly realized I only had an hour until I had to pick up the kids - so I flew home. It was all slightly downhill back to the car and I did it at race pace in 32 minutes from the canyon. It felt good to fly. Patrick

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Portland with Lisa!

Yesterday was a full day of mixed up travel to Portland. I arrived at the airport at 6:30 AM with my flight itinerary in hand. The lady at the counter looked at the reservation and said, we don't have any record of this reservation BUT we have you on a different reservation leaving in two hours. So I trekked back home for 1/2 hour to Patrick and the kiddies for a few minutes then left again for the airport.

We boarded the plane, then waited. And waited. The feared 'Message from the pilot' came on as he told us that there was a cargo door light that was on and they needed to have the engineer come to check it out. The engineer came, took about 20 minutes to check it out, then the engines turned on again and the pilot said it was time to take off!

Within 5 minutes, the pilot came on with bad news-the winds had picked up in a direction which made it impossible for the jet to be cleared for takeoff. So we waited another 20 minutes or so. The jet engines started up again. This time I thought it was for real. The guys with the orange pointer sticks raced out and got into position. I called up Lisa McCormick (who I am meeting here in Portland for the weekend) to let her know we were on our way.

Then the engines slowed down and the guys with the sticks raced over to put the stairs in place. Bad sign. The pilot on the intercom informed us that the cargo door light was on once again and we would need to deboard the plane. BUMMER.

So we deboarded, I called Patrick and told him I was bagging the trip. We had spent 2 hours sitting on the airplane and I didn't want to play the "lets try to fly out of Kodiak" game all day, only to be disappointed. I told him this and he said he understood if I didn't go. Then he called me back within a few minutes. He said, "Zoya, my co worker Jill really wants new orthotics so she wants you to persist with travelling." This was all it took for me to decide to go. (Just hearing that someone (other than myself) cared about what I was going to the class for. My class is a running course where we learn how to analyze running gait, wear patterns on running shoes and cast for orthotics. This means you make a plaster mold of a foot, send the mold off and a company can make orhtotics out of them. Nobody in Kodiak currently does this and I know it will be a great service to offer people with foot, leg pain etc...

The good news is that the cargo door light got taken care of and we were on our way in an hour. I was put on later connection flights and landed in portland 5 hours later than I had originally expected. Lisa had checked into the hotel and had several pieces of yummy pear gorganzola cheese pizza to enjoy before retiring to bed. She and I are going to meet up here this evening and go to dinner somewhere. Lisa is taking a 3 day art class with glass. Being here with her makes the trip so fun!! Someone to talk to before going to sleep and we'll have fun checking out downtown Portland tonight.


And Patrick-Yes-lucy can babysit today...she'll be there at 10. :)

Friday, February 20, 2009


Is this the Buskin Lake area where I go skiing these days after work? What's with the deciduous trees, plowed road, and fence? This does not look like the Buskin. And that's my mom on really old fashioned cross country ski gear.

It's not the Buskin - it's Northern Virginia in the mid 1970s. That's where I learned to cross country ski. These days, I bet they do not get enough snow in that neck of the country anymore to even get a sniff of cross country skiing. Good thing my kids are growing up in Alaska. Patrick

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

And people say there is nothing to do in Kodiak in Winter....

This early evening, Patrick and I made an impromptu trip to Mill Bay Beach with the kids. Complete with sippy cups of milk, crackers and beach blanket. We sat on the blanket, the kids pretended to make pretend food with rocks, we watched the dogs chase sticks in the water. It was lovely. Just what the doctor ordered. It wasn't all that cold-as we dressed the kids warm and they were moving around. Kodiak's beaches truly are gorgeous. And what an oppotunity for exploration-even in the middle of winter. Sometimes it is annoying how people act like they can't go outside since its winter. Sure you can go outside-you just have to be better prepared for the elements.

Did someone give Nora a magic language pill the last day or two? She is talking up a storm and CRACKING ME UP!! When we went to the beach today, she said, "Mamma carry me. Daddy's back hurting." Very considerate of her. Her language has really been exploding the past few days. Her daycare provider commented on how Nora doesn't miss a beat and is beginning to pipe in with her opinion at day care. Silent no more!! I sometimes laugh outloud with the thoughts that she comes out with. I feel like I am finally able to see into the little mind of her and hear her thoughts. So fun.



Beach Today
Stuey doing hand motion for "doors on the bus go open and shut, open and shut..."
Myself the kids and Cathy on the couch during her visit here two days ago.

More Buskin Lake

A good thing about skiing in the same place every day is that you get to take pictures of the same views, and try and make them better. I think the top photo here is my best yet of the outlet to Buskin Lake. I've been trying for years to get the reflections on the water and snow right. And who's to say I will not get another good one, a better one even?

Today was the best skate skiing I've experienced this winter. It was ski anywhere fast snow. I flew across the lake and up the river on the other side. A couple miles up the river there is a deep canyon, and I skiied another 1/2 mile or so up into the canyon until I got to a frozen waterfall and the pool below it (bottom photo). The waterfall is sort of a winter Mecca to me and I try and get there at least once every year. Today it took me less than a 1/2 hour (even with some some difficulties outlined below).

On the way, in a very narrow part of the canyon, the snow shelf I was skiing on broke off of the rock wall and fell into the river. I ended up standing on the bottom in my skiis in thigh deep water. No problems, but I did not want to get wet again on the way home, and the shelf had been the only dry route on the way in. So when I got to the waterfall I climbed up out of the canyon and skiied home along the rim. The middle photo is the view from the rim down into the canyon with Pyramid mountain in the distance on the horizon.

I flew on on back to the lake and even did an extra lap around the lake. It was so fast a trip that I even with the extra lap I was still gone from the truck less than an hour and a half. Perfect skiing. Patrick

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Buskin Views

Lately I've been skiing at Buskin Lake - getting on at the outlet and skiing across the lake and then on up the river above the lake. Plenty of snow and the scenery is always stupendous. For a while there we almost had too much unconsolidated snow. It was almost getting too deep to move around on skiis. So the recent warmth and wet snow will actually improve things in the long haul. Still right now it is a little icy, but not icy enough to hold me up above the crust when I tried skate skiing today.

Top photo is of the lake outlet yesterday - a pretty warm dismal day (at least in the morning when I went skiing). The bottom photo is of the lake inlet today. Sunny and crisp, but still too warm for my tastes. Patrick

Monday, February 16, 2009

Visit from Homer

Cathy and Mike are here from Homer for 3 days....Nora loves having extra laps to sit in and it is fun to have family around. Stuey is back to normal with his energy levels and loves the attention as well.
Last night we were blessed by a delivery of 4 tanner crab from Dave Kubiak. Patrick shucked it all and we enjoyed it with dinner, chili. Gosh there is nothing better than fresh crab!!


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Day at the Saltonstalls-Sick house

Yesterday was quite the sick house here at the Saltonstalls. When we woke up, Patrick felt VERY ill. Shakey, cold and achey. Poor guy. He spent a good part of the morning sleeping in the recliner and the afternoon in bed. I gave him some theraflu which helped ease his aches for a little bit.

I cancelled all of my planned activities-and did nurse "mommy" roles with the kids as well. Nora had almost no voice at all and still quite a cough. It was a good day to lay low and let everyone heal. A trip to Safeway with the kids got the necessary ingredients for homemade tomatoe alphabet soup. AND I made cookies-its been months since I've made home made chocolate chip cookies. And boy were they yummy!

I rather enjoyed the sick day. At first I was horribly annoyed in the morning, the kids were screaming, Patrick was insisting that he wasn't that sick and he was going to go skiing. The broken toilet in our bedroom started overflowing onto the bathroom floor and I cursed myself in frusturation that I hadn't called the plumber on it already.

But by the afternoon, things looked up and I thoroughly enjoyed the day at home with NO commitments.

The day ended with me going to the ferry dock at 10:30 PM to watch Cathy and Mike arrive on the Kennicott from Homer. The Kennicott is the larger of the two ferries which service Kodiak, and boy is it fun to watch the Kennicott dock. It is an orchestrated process of men throwing various ropes, adjusting the tension from forward to back, so the boat can get in just the right position for the car loading dock. The weather was sleeting and raining--cold--- but the men working didn't seem to notice as they worked to get everything into position for the Kennicott.


Stuey wore his "pimp daddy" heart hat in honor of Valentines Day. He was dressed up with no place to go!! :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Total Fraud

Yesterday I was feeling pretty good about my sunrise over Kodiak photo - and I even waxed poetic about aplenglow and all that in a blog post. But then I talked to people at work and discovered that I had just barely missed the full moon setting over Barometer Mountain. By all accounts I must have missed it by minutes. Then I just happened to glance at Sven Haakanson's moon setting over Kodiak at sunrise photo on the Alutiiq Museum's website. His photo is better. It ate at me for an entire day - I should have gone to work 15 minutes earlier! I should have got the moon in the picture!

So tonight I did - I went back and took the photo all over again, and I got the moon just perfectly off of the shoulder of Barometer. Nice eh? Too bad it's a total fraud. I took the moon from a sunrise over Pyramid photo I took a couple of months ago and photoshopped it my 'Morning Glory' photo of Kodiak. The sad thing is that I like it with the moon so much better, and I will now never be able to like the original. And never fear, I will never claim a bogus photoshopped photo as the real deal. Trust me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Morning Glory

What do you call it when the top of the hills glow with the first of the sunlight before sunrise? I know they call it alpenglow when the mountain tops hold the last of the sunlight at sunset. But does it have the same name in the morning? Perhaps we should call it morning glory.

I took this photo of Kodiak off the 'Hoser' bridge on my way to work. The sunrise is now so early that I was not even late for work. Patrick

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Volcano contractions and more

As Patrick avidly watches the volcano activity with Mt. Redoubt, he looks at the activity monitor of the earth quakes around the volcano and they go in gradual surges, up and down. Birth is on my mind, because I can't help but think that the graph read out looks very similar to labor contractions when having a baby! They start, slowly build, build, build then decline. Just like labor. Patrick awaits the big eruption. The geologist in him loves this stuff.

Stuey is feeling better, finally recovered from his wasn't-supposed-to-be birthday party. Poor guy. He didn't have a choice but to party hard to bring in the big 0-2. Today he went to his first day at Ms.Garahs (well, its actually Ms. Sarah's but Nora says Garah).....gotta love speech impediments. Stuey did fabulous. He still had a remnant of his little illness, but you never would've guessed. Sarah said he took a nap like a champ and when I went to pick him up, he was standing at a table stacked high with big leggos. He looked at me, smiled, then said, "Bye Mamma." He wasn't ready to part with his newly found lego creation. I couldn't be happier to have both of them going to the same place for childcare. It is in a private home, small number of kids and Nora and Stuey really like it. And the BEST part is that Sarah gets the kids outside in all sorts of weather. Shes not intimidated by a little wind or rain.

I'm loving mommyhood with the kids at 3 & 2 years old. They crack me up. I love being with the kids and I love my job. Its a toss up. I just know that I couldn't do 1 or the other full time. I've struck a balance which I hope continues to work. A friend recently told me that she is going to stay home for a year with her kids and I had a pang of guilt-like, "Should I be doing that? Does that make me a bad mom if I'm not staying home with my kids?". 15 minutes of reassurance later, I'm ok with the fact that I enjoy my job and I"m not going to play the guilt game. When I'm at home, I enjoy being at home. When I'm at work, I enjoy being at work. Living in the moment is the way to go.


Kodiak's Road System

One of the best things about living in Kodiak, and something that we tend to take for granted, is our undeveloped roadsystem. Most people live either in town, out at Chiniak or in Bell’s Flats, and the rest of our road system is undeveloped land where people can hunt, fish, hike or whatever. In this regard Kodiak is like many European cities where everyone lives in town and they keep the countryside undeveloped. We are very unlike most American cities that tend to sprawl.

What most people do not realize is that our undeveloped roadsystem is an historical accident. And until last summer when Lesnoi, Inc., a major roadsystem land owner, decided to limit access to their land – most people did not even realize that most of the road system is privately owned. But for 30 years because of the ongoing litigation between Omar Stratman and Lesnoi, Inc we have largely treated it as quasi public recreation land, and it has remained undeveloped.

Now with the litigation wrapping up it may be time to pay the piper. Regardless of which side wins (and I’m not here to pick sides) Kodiak recreational pursuits could lose. All that land could get developed and closed to public access. Kodiak really does not have good long term planning, zoning laws, or land trusts to help guide the development of the road system. For instance, we could lose all the beaches we take for granted to private condominiums, the rivers could end up with private lodges on them, we could even end up with houses every 5 acres and a gravel pit around every corner. My worst nightmare is that we end up like either Wasilla (unfettered development) or Homer (a house every 5 acres and no wild undeveloped land for hunting).

Kodiak needs to plan for the future, and decide what we want where. We need to identify what places are special to us, and what places would make good gravel pits. We need to think of ways to purchase private land and keep it open to the public, to work with landowners on obtaining public easements to their land, and we’ve got to stop taking continued public access to the roadsytem for granted. Patrick

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ghostly Galleon

Yesterday we had a full lunar eclipse at around 5:30 in the morning, and I had intended to try and make a movie of it. But when I woke up it was cloudy and I was 'tired' from Stuey's birthday party anyway. So no lunar eclipse movie and it sure felt good to go back to sleep.

Last night I decided to look into the technical aspects of making a movie of the moon. It's pretty darn complicated! I got out both of my cameras and their instruction manuals and went at it. It turns out that my little point and shoot (Pentax W60) does better at night time time lapse photography than my 'good' camera (Canon G9). The G9 creates better time lapse movies but I could not get it to do this and expose for night time light. And while the G9 takes excellent, high quality night time photos there does not seem to be a time elapse automatic picture feature on it. I ended up using the time elapse feature on the W60 and then stitching the photos together into a movie in imovie, but I also shot a long (over an hour) time elapse video on the point and shoot. I have stitched both of the movies together so that you can decide which one works better. I do know that next time I need to turn of the little green auto exposure light.

Anyway, the next time we have a lunar eclipse I'll be ready for it!

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Party that we tried to cancel. ... .

Yesterday Stuey turned two!

Over the course of last week, I casually invited a lot of people over for a dinner/birthday party. Casual dinner, no gifts, etc...
Well, the day before Stuey's birthday I could tell that he still had a cough and wasn't feeling 100%, so I called the people I had invited and told them it was cancelled. Since Patrick had already thawed out meat for the party, we decided to have Mike and Roxann over, as they had already been over last week with Stuey sick so we figured they were already contaminated.

So 5:30 rolls around, Mike and Roxann are over and lots more people come in the door! I forgot to call about 1/2 of the people I had mentioned it to last week. We barely had enough food, but there was definitely a surplus of alcohol. Stuey played some with the other kids and spent a lot of time on my lap. Nora went to MJ's arms and Marita's arms quite a bit. And Roxann was a saint about playing fun activiities with the kids-as always!!

And Patrick was in the kitchen enjoying himself telling stories and laughing with the guys!

It was a fun night, and the kids went to bed late. But then they slept in late, thank heavens.

When Patrick put Nora to bed, he ended up falling asleep as well-and I couldn't resist the adorable photo of the two of them together. Priceless.


Photos: Yesterday morning we got both the kids on skis for the first time together! Heather Preece gave us a hand-me-down pair of skis so now we have two pairs. Only problem was that Nora ended up crying the entire time about wanting Stuey's ski boots. Go figure. Stuey was a sport about wearing his birthday hat while skiing. We got a good 5 minutes with them on their skis outside. A success by all measures for an outing with a 3 year old and 2 year old.

Snow Conditions Forum

If you're a regular reader of our blog then you'll know that every week or so I like to report on Kodiak snow conditions. Today I discovered a new website dedicated to just that - A Kodiak snow conditions forum. I love it!

Just glancing through it I learned that the cross country skiing on Salonie Creek and up above Buskin Lake seems to be good while the downhill on Pyramid is not as good as one would expect. In the past, you had to go to these places to find out what the snow was like. When you visit the site be sure to check out the Salonie Creek thread - it has some awesome pictures from this past weekend.

Anyway you can find the site at the following address (and I hope to have Zoya, our family webmaster, add it to the links on the side of our blog).

The above photo is from way back in 2002 - a skate skiing safari up the American River.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Kids and Birth

The past 3 weeks have been busy-between piece mealing day care while our day care provider was on vacation, to teaching my birthing class, to being a support person for 2 friends in labor, to coordinating a midwife talk from Anchorage & seeing clients at the clinic...never a dull moment. But it will slow back down significantly this week.

As many people close to me know, I have recently taken significant interest in birthing and womens health issues with my new clinic. One goal of opening up my clinic was to have a chance to teach birthing classes, post partum classes AND be able to do doula/labor support work. A doula is someone who is with a mom (and her husband or others) during labor to provide support, ideas, comfort, massage, etc... research shows that having a doula at labor decreases the need for interventions, decreases c-section rates AND improves the mothers feeling of confidence and sense of well being after delivery. There is currently 1 other practicing doula on the island and a need for many more so we can help many more women in labor!
I love being in labor with women-I get to utilize my massage skills, my knowledge of anatomy and physiology in helping explain what is going on, and I LOVE coaching moms through contractions. And of course-the best part where they meet their baby for the first time. What an honor to be part of that experience.

Last night was the midwifery talk and around 40 people came-about twice as many people as I expected. People kept coming in the door and we kept pulling out more chairs. Barbara Norton spoke-she is a certified nurse midwife from Anchorage who owns and directs the Geneva Woods Birthing Center. She spoke about the rising c-section rate in correlation to rising use of electronic fetal monitoring, how to encourage moms to do healthy laboring and how the US is #26 in the world for infant/mother mortality and we spend twice as much on maternal health care as the countries towards the top of the list (like France for instance).

Some people may think, "well, whats the big deal? About having a healthy, good delivery?" The big deal is that physically for the mom it is a MUCH EASIER recovery for the mom to avoid a c-section. AND to mention how empowering it is to have a regular childbirth with your family/friends/support around--to know you did it. And as Barb mentioned, how empowering it is for the husbands involved to know that they were part of the experience. And to see their wife in labor and to be proud of their wife for doing such an amazing job. It sets the stage for feeling confident as a parent.

As Patrick says with regards to me and womens health/birthing---I need passion management therapy. I'm way to excited about this topic!

This afternoon is my 5th prepared childbirth class, which I'm excited about. I'll be doing another session in April.

Tomorrow Stuey turns 2!!! How fun!!!


The top photo is Stuey asleep in my arms two days ago-he wasn't feeling great with a bit of a cough. Its still lingering, but the kids cough syrup from Cactus Flats really seems to be helping keep him clear!!

Friday, February 06, 2009

What a difference a day makes

What a difference a day and 8 inches of snow makes! Er, actually make that 48 hours between the picture of Kodiak at dawn and the one I posted two days ago. In between we had a very snowy day. I love the snow because it makes Kodiak seem so much brighter. The picture of town was actually taken about 1/2 hour earlier than the one from 2 days ago and see how much brighter it looks. I took the other 3 pictures after the sun had officially set under the trees in Abercrombie. The snow on the ground made it seem like much earlier in the day. Too bad we don't quite have a full moon!

Even without a full moon the new snow makes it possible to go for a ski or a walk after the sun sets. Lately the cross country skiing on the lakes around town has been outstanding. I beat in a skate ski track around Island Lake. The first couple of laps were pretty slow in the deep snow, but by the time I finished I had a pretty darn good track. Not groomed like the ski trails in Kincaid Park in Anchorage, but I much prefer the 'character' of our local trails. Patrick

Thursday, February 05, 2009

True Comfort

Nothing quite like reading a book on a bed with dogs on either side for complete comfort. This is the 'dogroom' - the bed where the dogs sleep in our house. It used to be where I slept when I first moved to Kodiak before I married Zoya. These days it's where I go to read with the dogs, or sometimes,very occasionally, to sleep 'when I'm in the doghouse'. Patrick

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sunrise BEFORE Work

It is officially now light when I drive in to work in the morning. Admittedly, I did drive in a tad late to work, but these pictures were taken right at about 9 AM. And before I went to work. Not long ago this was a scene you'd not see until well past 10 o'clock. Not that I'm all that wild about the sun coming up later - more daylight is a harbinger of spring, and, de facto, the end of winter. I love winter. Still, I will admit a little more light is nice. Patrick

Ricky and Barb

Recently Zoya and I have come under fire from relatives who do not want their full names mentioned in our blog. They fear strangers googling them and discovering they once 'passed out' after Thanksgiving dinner, shot a living animal and ate it, or, heaven forbid, have an eccentric brother living in Alaska, or a sister who is proud to nurse her two-year-old. They have asked that we give them each an alias- so they are now Ricky and Barb. They no longer need fear the invasive google search.
Do other bloggers out there have relatives with similar issues with offended family members?

Welcome to the family, Ricky and Barb!

The photo is of Barb. Her face has been blurred to protect her identity.

Patrick and Zoya

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Home Alone with Kids

This weekend Zoya got a call from her first doula client early Saturday morning and pretty much spent the rest of the weekend at the hospital. So I was home alone with the kiddos - Mano a Mano. It was pretty cold this weekend and I am heartened to discover that the cold really does not bother the kids. They'd beg me to go outside. Once while I had them both doubled up on the sled it wiped out and Nora did a face plant in the snow. I expected tears and the end of good times, but no she started to laugh face down in the snow and wanted to do it again!

Another outside activity was going on 'safari' or 'elk hunting'. The kids would explore under the spruce trees in the unimproved part of our lot. I told them that busting through the salmonberries is just like what I do when hunting elk on Afognak Island. After I told Nora this she did 3 circuits through the salmonberries telling me each time with a serious look that she was elk hunting (see bottom photo). Stuey fell down in the salmonberries and started to cry. I told him that this has been known to happen to grown men when hunting elk on Afognak.

Another activity that Nora seems to love, but Stuey seems a bit indifferent to is painting. Nora took it very seriously while Stuey threw the pens across the room. He prefers to throw stuff. Our little Mr. Destructo.

Zoya is home now and all is well. Patrick