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Monday, August 31, 2009

6 Years ago...

6 Years ago Patrick and I were married at the Golden Anchor here in Kodiak. My how time flies! We went to dinner on Saturday night to celebrate our anniversary, something which doesn't happen every year due to hunting schedules, etc. It was nice to take a moment out and celebrate the passage of time. (We ate at a restaurant where "The only thing they overlooked was the food...". I'm just glad I didn't get food poisoning from the evening. We'll try that restaurant again in 1-2 years.)

I feel so lucky to be married to such a wonderful man. And having kids has allowed me to see a side of him I never otherwise would've seen. He is a fabulous husband and father.


All beat up

This morning I feel as though someone worked me over with a metal pipe. Every piece of my body is sore, and my forearms are striped with red welts from wading through salmonberry and devils club thickets. I voluntarily did this to myself in pursuit of deer! Good thing we were successful, or this morning I'd be all beat up AND discouraged. Deer meat hanging in the shed is better than any aspirin.

Yesterday I went up into the mountains with Ray and Gregg. Ray is visiting Kodiak with his wife Julie and 2 kids. This is his annual 'fill up the freezer' visit to Kodiak. So we needed to find him some deer. And around about 11 AM yesterday things were looking pretty bleak. We'd seen about 30 does and fawns and no bucks. That's when Gregg, the true statistician, said - 'we're due for a buck; the next deer we see will be a buck'. And he was right - we spotted 2 big boys on the next mountain over. Unfortunately, to get to them we had to cross a HUGE ravine and do some serious bushwhacking. And then after we got one of the deer - we had to bushwhack and climb back out of the valley to get home. All in the pursuit of deer. Patrick

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Anchorage Times

Yesterday I returned from a 3 day trip to Anchorage to see family! Ella and Dicky were in Anchorage for 3 days so we got time in with them.

It was a fun trip, although traveling with a 2 and a half year old and a 4 year old sure keeps it exciting!

Here are some of the memorable moments....

Stuey experienced his worst temper tantrum to date in the check out line at Fred Meyer. The checker lady was moving as fast asa he could and my over-tired 2 year old started screaming and flailing his arms. Not quite sure what he was mad about, but he was MAD. I was doing all I could to not let him scratch/claw at my face...trying to contain his arms so he wouldn't hurt me or anyone else. Nora stood and watched the whole thing. I finally was able to get him buckled into the front seat of the cart (with the checkers kind assist) and we got out of there fast.
It took him a good 10 minutes to calm down once we were in the car. Poor guy. He as SO tired.
The funny part is that as I was driving away, I thought, "I'm so glad that happened in Anchorage and not Kodiak, because I don't know people in the Fred Meyer in Anchorage."
WRONG. On Facebook, a high school friend commented, "Hi Zoya-I thought I saw either you or your sister in Fred Meyer today but you looked "occupied" with your son, so I didn't go over to say hi." Too funny! So there was someone I knew there!

My brother-in-law, Todd, took the kids for a walk around the property one evening when I was out to dinner with Ella nad Dicky. They came upon a wasp nest and Nora got stung several times. As Todd recalled the story to me, he said that the stings didn't bother Nora nearly as much as the fact that she lost her heart headband somewhere in the bushes during the time of the wasp attack. He said they got back to the house and he put some ice on the stings. She cried and cried over the fact that she didn't have her head band, so poor Todd had to go back out and retrieve it! Bless his heart. One ice cream cone later, she was as good as new and hasn't even brought up the wasp incident since!

We got lots of time with family, and the kids got good Cousin Kellen, Cousin Ben, Auntie Bonnie, Auntie Ella, Uncle Dicky, Uncle Todd, Grandma and Grandpa time in. They warmed up to Todd VERY quickly--he was a bit hit when he put Stuey's new underwear on his head and danced around. The kids thought that was a HOOT!! THe kids didn't get confused with Ella and I...I think maybe once Stuey walked over to Ella thinking it was me, but they even made jokes about Ella not being mommy. Stuey would point to Ella and say, "mommy?? Noooo...." and have a big smile on his face.

Pictures are of Ella, Stuey and Nora at the Anchorage zoo. I was amazed by the size of that place! They have lots of exhibits! Pretty impressive. I'm glad theres not an elephant there anymore, however.... :) Bottom photos is of Todd and Nora sporting Stuey's under-roos!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Public Lecture Thursday Night

Zoya and the kids are up in Anchorage until tomorrow, and I'm here on Kodiak, sitting at the computer, putting together a powerpoint lecture. On Thursday night (7 PM) at the Alutiiq Museum I'll be presenting the results of our recent archaeological surveys of Kodiak's interior.

Since 2002 the Alutiiq Museum has been surveying Kodiak's biggest lakes and rivers. We've surveyed the Ayakulik/Red river system, Olga Lakes, Uganik River, and Karluk Lake. In the process we've learned a lot about the history of Alutiiq fishing practices and about how the Alutiiq used Kodiak's interior landscapes through time. For the last two years we've been dodging bears and surveying on Karluk Lake. Come to the museum on Thursday night and I'll tell you all about it. Patrick

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Don's Deer

Yesterday I shot my first proxy deer of the season. A proxy deer is one that I harvest for someone else - someone over the age of 65 or who is too infirm to hunt for themselves. Once I harvest a proxy deer I also process it for them. So it is a lot of work. For this reason, every year I say I'll do less proxy hunting, but every year I end up doing just as many proxies. The families I hunt for REALLY appreciate the meat, and I just can't get enough of camping and hunting in Kodiak's backcountry. So this past weekend Gregg and I harvested Don's deer.

At the start of our hunt on Friday evening, about 20 minutes from the truck, we spotted a small buck. We passed on him and kept on climbing towards our camping spot for the night. But I couldn't help dwelling a bit on how I might have just passed up on the 'bird in the hand'. I wondered if I had cursed our chances of harvesting anything on the trip.

On saturday we woke up before sunrise and were glassing for deer to harvest as the sun rose. We saw nothing but does. Legally, we can only harvest bucks on the road system near Kodiak. I was beginning to believe we had cursed ourselves when another small buck suddenly showed up 230 yards away. Gregg opined that I might want to wait and check out one more bowl to see if we could find a nice '4 point'. But not me - I had my bird in hand, and realized how lucky I was to get a second chance. Now Don's family will get some sweet August Sitka Blacktail deer.

Photos: Gregg lounges while we wait for dinner to cook under our tarp tent. Me in front of our tarp tent Friday evening. Gregg skylit at dawn Saturday morning. The morning light on the mountain side soon after dawn. Final photo is of Gregg and I with our hard earned deer. Patrick

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nora's 4!

Last night we had a birthday BBQ for Nora-she is 4! Roxann and Mike brought Dora ballons, people brought ran around inside and out-good times were had. Nora had a Dora The Explorer cake. Nora's birthday tends to signify the beginning of school season, and the beginning of fall. All day yesterday, Nora said, "I'm excited for the party. My best friends will come over!"

This morning there is a fall crispness to the air-I welcome the change of seasons, as does Patrick. Means skiing will be coming in 2 months! I never used to say that, but after being with Patrick for so many years, his enthusiasm for winter has rubbed off on me!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The dig ends

We started to backfill the archaeological excavation Friday afternoon and Monday afternoon, 2 full days of back-breaking labor later, we finished. The dig is over!

Backfilling is not fun, but it is a very important part of archaeology. Backfilling protects sites from erosion and site vandals. It also shows an appreciation for the place that you excavated. No one likes to see an ugly unfilled hole. I always try and leave an archaeological site looking just like I found it. I bet that next year a visitor to the site will not be able to tell that we excavated the site this year. We even contoured the old house depression to match what we originally found

Anyhow - here are some photos of the final product. I also made a time-lapse movie of the whole process that you can watch on youtube:
Enjoy! Patrick

Monday, August 17, 2009

Matt & Melissa's wedding

Last weekend I went to LA for a good friend, Melissa Dover's wedding. She married a wonderful person-Matt Gandal. The wedding ceremony took place on the beach in Ventura, just north of Los Angeles. The weather was gorgeous and it was fun to meet Melissa and Matt's friends and family from all over. Traveling alone on an airplane is SO simple as compared to traveling with kids. I read a whole book, took naps, rented a digi-player....stared into space. Things that would NEVER happen with toddlers on an airplane!

There were many of us from Kodiak at the ceremony and it was fun to all be together--Balika H., Erin H., Jess R., Sara B. & Anne O. I laughed with Balika and Erin about how it takes an out of state wedding for me to really have a chance to catch up with both of them! Too funny. Our lives have all been so busy this summer.....


Friday, August 14, 2009

All done - but for the backfilling

Yesterday we finished our excavation and then it started to rain. I did not mind - I was just happy the rain held off until I was done with mapping the house. Today we'll finish with the backfilling. It might be a long day... ... . Patrick

Thursday, August 13, 2009

180 Year-Old House Uncovered

Yesterday at Miktsqaaq Angayuk we finished uncovering the 180 year-old house. It appears to have had two siderooms - one attached to the main room and the other with an outside entrance. Both had been used for banya and had had sod roofs. The unattached sideroom also had had a bench along the wall it shared with the main room. The main room of the house had had a roof of thatch and a wooden door to the outside. We found a large posthole in each corner and 3 (of what I suspect were 4) additional postholes forming a square in the middle of the room. The outside posts would have supported a square outer ring from which beams would have sloped up to the inner square. In the photos we marked the old post holes with alder logs for clarity sake.

Mark and I are wondering if the house was a specialized hunting camp used mostly by men. We have found a great deal of hunting related artifacts but very little of what we would associate with women. Yesterday we even found a metal crucible that would have melted the lead poured into molds or water to create bullets and bird shot.

Out in the midden Leslie continues to bottom out in the midden. Yesterday she found the pictured netsinker and ulu right above the sterile beach gravels at the bottom of the midden. The ulu has a well-drilled hole that would have been used to help haft on a wooden handle. This style of ulu is not typically found in older Kachemak (3-4000 years old) deposits and I am beginning to suspect that our midden represents the remains of a later Kachemak occupation (circa 2000 years ago). We will eventually know what the date of the prehistoric component at the site when we radiocarbon date charcoal samples we found in the midden. We'll know the exact age of Leslie's ulu. Patrick

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Digging Like Badgers. ...

We continue to dig like badgers at the Mitksqaaq Angayuk site as we race towards the finish. I went to the University of Wisconsin - so 'digging like a badger' is the highest compliment while 'digging like a wolverine' is not so good. This is our last week of excavation - we plan on backfilling the site on Friday (we'll need help with this - so if you are interested show up at the back door of the museum bright and early at 8:15 on Friday morning).

Lately, we have had spectacular digging weather. A healthy change from the first 2 1/2 weeks of the excavation! We have managed to move a lot of dirt. Leslie, practically single-handedly, bottomed out in the midden. It turned out to be amazingly deep and for a while there I wondered if we would ever find the bottom. At the bottom she found the 3800 year-old beach.

In the house we have almost removed all of the roof sods from the side rooms. The sideroom attached by a tunnel to the main room had REALLY thick roof sods. In each sideroom we found preserved wood roof beams and it looks like the rooms were still partially upright in 1912 when they were blanketed and partially filled with ash from the Katmai volcanic eruption. As we excavate in the house we continue to point provenience each and every artifact that we find. Exciting discoveries include: old glass bottle tops reworked into hide scrapers, a gunflint, a telescope eye-piece, lots of lead bird shot, buttons, and many pieces of ceramic.

One of the coolest things we found was the preserved front door (top photo). Karen found the door handle still attached. It looks like the door fell into the house after it collapsed. The base of the door seems to mark where the inside of the house begins - it looks like the house had a tunnel or room about 6 feet long leading to the outside. The other photos depict the crew at various other activities: Laura point proveniencing an artifact on the house floor. Amy taking notes while Mark removes roof sods in the sideroom. Amy shooting in an elevation with the transit while Marks holds the stadia rod and Laura and Miriam dig in the foreground. Patrick

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Burning the midnight oil...

Its 10:45, the house is quiet-all are fast asleep. There has been a lot going on here this past week between evening meetings, work, sunny outdoor activities and the archaeology dig.

Today the hustle-bustle was fun/chaotic. I dropped the kids off at 9:00 at the "Ram Site" beach with a wonderful kids photographer, Amy Johnson. [Getting there was a feat in itself-trying to find a shirt for Nora where the sleeves weren't too small and there wasn't a stain on it took some serious digging in her closet. Makes me realize how her whole wardrobe is a wee bit too small for her!!] After arriving, I realized that Stuey still had pink nail polish on from a babysitter activity several days ago. So I had to race home and get nail polish remover ASAP.

Once Amy started taking photos, I was LAUGHING so hard!! Amy had a "fart machine" which was remote control activated-it made the best variety of fart noises and she got wonderful smiles out of both kids. VERY funny. Then Amy sang the ABC's to Nora and kept messing up on purpose, which Nora once again thought was quite funny. All the fun tricks of kid photography! Ahh..the patience it must take to work with kids. I'm in awe of Amy! Shes amazing.

Tonight Mark fired up the banya and Nora and I took a banya before bed. Amy M. (the archaeologist) came in as well. Nora really likes the banya-tonight was her second time in. She loves the water routine of pouring water on us and she drinks lots of water while we are in there. We don't stay in very long but just long enough for her to see the little rituals that are done, including taking outside breaks to cool off. When I suggest it is time to leave, she is insistent on wanting to stay, but I have to strongly persuade her to leave, as I know she wouldn't know when she gets too hot.

Tonight was the 4th birth network meeting, held at a birth network members home. About 10 people came in attendance and the cool part was that there were MANY new faces at tonights meeting. I see that the birth network is picking up energy, enthusiasm and members very quickly-quicker than I had ever anticipated! There is a mix of people in attendance--aspiring doulas, aspiring midwives, health professionals and moms who have had a whole variety of birth experiences. These meetings have been advertised only by e-mail and word of mouth and the attendance seems to grow at each meeting, with such a large variety of people there.

It is finally dark-time for bed. Tomorrow is the Coast Gaurd Newcomers Fair and I"m going to have a table set up for A Balanced Approach. This will be my first time having a booth at an event, which I'm excited about. It'll be fun to meet lots of new people and help spread the word about my business.


Back in the saddle

After my opening day failure to harvest a deer, it was reassuring and very satisfying to succeed this past weekend. However, I will add that the title of the post refers to what it felt like to carry over a 100 pounds of deer for over 4 hours with over a thousand feet of climbing. I felt like the deer was riding me like a horse!

Gregg and I camped out Saturday night and found our deer at dawn Sunday. We got back late in the afternoon - needless to say we were whooped.

Photos: Gregg silhouetted a by the sunrise at dawn as we set out to hunt. Two little guys check us out while we look for bigger deer. Gregg and I with our deer. Finally the long trek home. Patrick

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Our Buskin Beach 'Staycation'

Last night Patrick and I took the kids on a Kodiak 'staycation'--a vacation right here in Kodiak at the Buskin River campsites.

[sidenote From Wickipedia: A staycation is a neologism for a period of time in which an individual or family stays at home and relaxes at home or takes day trips from their home to area attractions. Common activities of a staycation include use of the backyard pool, visits to local parks and museums, and attendance at local festivals. Some staycationers also like to follow a set of rules, such as setting a start and end date, planning ahead, and avoiding routine, with the goal of creating the feel of a traditional vacation.]

For several weeks I've been talking about wanting to take the kids camping and we had tossed around the idea of trying to boat to an island for a camping trip, but it just became too complicated.
I asked myself, "What do I desire from a camping trip?". I wanted to see how the kids would do with camping, as this was to be their first time. Also, I just wanted a good technology getaway and something different--something fun.

Last night we packed up the car VERY quickly after Patrick came home from work and off we went to the Buskin River campsites. I was born and raised in Kodiak and have to admit that I had never seen these great campsites before! They are SO WELL maintained--benches painted, lawns mowed, great firepits...just perfect accomodations!! Nora kept saying, "mom, this is so nice here. Nice benches, bears won't get us, its really bright, tent is good....". She was just so thrilled to be there!

Her enthusiasm was contagious!! From the moment we pulled up, I felt like we were worlds away from our "regular life" as we put up the tent and started the fire.

The only food we brought was hotdogs, marshmellows and a box of white wine. Pretty simple. Patrick remembered the condiments...ketchup, mustard and relish-but somehow we managed to forget papertowels or napkins of any sort! Oh well. I'm sure we won't forget those next time.

When it came time to wash dishes, a quick trip to the river did the trick. There were lots of people in the campground and it was fun to see all the different types of camper and tent accomodations people had.

Sleep time came and I must have slept because I dreamt for a few minutes, but that is the only way I know I went to sleep. I was cold. Patrick says I"m just not used to sleeping outside. All night I stared at the sleeping bag tag that said in big bold letters, "Good to 0 degrees Farenheit". Right. I don't think it got lower than 40 last night and I was freezing. Oh well.

The morning came and we quickly packed up and headed to Kings Diner for breakfast--also part of our staycation. This is something we NEVER do as a family-go out to breakfast. So it was a treat.

I can't wait for our next staycation!!!


Staycation photos

Top Photo: Kings Diner breakfast--this was something Patrick and I have never done together with the kids and it was quite fun! Breakfast on our way home. Even though Nora and Stuey had a plate of strawberry french toast to eat, Stuey insisted on only eating his dry toast. Hmm. Go figure. I can never tell what he is going to like and not like!

Middle Photo: The family watching the fire as the evening winds down...

Bottom Photo: Nora is sporting a yawn as the kiddos ready for bed. All evening at the campsite, Nora would say, "its getting darker, mamma. Time for bed now." She was so excited to sleep in the tent! Zoya

Friday, August 07, 2009

No Surprises

Yesterday Karen found a cool harpoon and we moved a whole lot of dirt, but we really did not learn anything new. On the other hand, everything we found fit with what we already knew and there were no nasty surprises. It was business as usual.

There is a lot to be said for 'business as usual' and 'no surprises'. It means we are getting to understand the site. Too often in the early days of an excavation your interpretations of what is going on change on a daily basis. Sometimes it's nice to have a straight forward day when you move a lot of dirt.

Photos: Mark on the screen and Karen's harpoon. The harpoon came from the very bottom of the midden and is probably a couple thousand years old. Patrick