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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Open Water Triathlon Training

1 week from today is the Catalina Island Triathlon that I'm flying down to California for. The last minute preparations included a final ocean swim and Jennifer Eubank graciously offered to "show me the ropes" of how to do it. (Jennifer is in training to swim the English Channel next summer-a 26 mile crossing! Yowsers!!)

We met at Mill Bay and the weather was sunny, but COLD. 38 degree air temp, 48 deg. water temperature. All day I had to mentally psyche myself up about it. I thought, "oh it won't be bad at all."
As Nora sometimes says, "Silly Mom!!". :)

It was freezing. I think my feet are still recovering-6 hours later.

The good part was that I actually did head-in-the-water crawl stroke for a few minutes. It felt good to know that I could do it in the ocean! That was big progress from early September when I went. And I love my wetsuit.

I decided that I'm probably not hearty enough to become a regular open water Kodiak swimmer. Call me a wimp, but it was COLD!!

Catalina Island and 60 degree water temperatures-here I come! :)


St Paul Harbor Gigapan

Thursday morning Sven and I created another gigapan of St Paul Harbor. A couple of eagles were soaring up above and we had high hopes of lots of them floating up above in the picture, but only one ended up in the final pan. Be sure to use the zoom controls on the left to zoom in and explore the photo. I used more zoom with this gigapan so it has better detail. Also visit the image at the Gigapan website for a larger image with better controls:

These pans are so big that they take forever to create and upload. For this photo we set up a tripod with the gigapan on top and it took 240 9 mega pixel photos in a giant grid pattern. Each photo took 4.5 seconds. Sven and I were freezing after the long wait for the camera to stop taking pictures. Then back at the museum it took 3 or 4 hours for the Gigapan software to stitch all the photos together. But the longest process is uploading the photos onto the web. The file is so big, over a gigabyte in size, that it took over 12 hours to upload. In fact, it did not work on Thursday night - the internet cut out - so Sven had to re post on Friday. Patrick

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hide and Seek

Lately the kids love playing Hide and Seek. The funny part about Saltonstall Family hide and seek is that the kids hide in plain sight. Its quite cute!

Recently in the morning or evening we've been going for frequent walks down Cliffside Road. Nora and Stuey run ahead a little ways and say, "Wait, Mamma, Wait". Then they step off the the side, behind a bush or tree and I count down then say, "ready or not, here I come!". Even when they are in plain sight, I pretend to not see them for a few seconds, which always makes them giggle loud. It is such a fun age right now with them. Stuey used to have to be carried for part of our walk down the road, but he hasn't asked to be held for a while. He and Nora relish in sprinting a short distance ahead of me.

Nora has recently been training Stuey how to say, Your Welcome.
Stuey replies, "Thank you" when someone says thank you to him. Its quite cute, actually, and a habit I don't mind him holding onto. Lately I think it bothers Nora, so she has been putting Stuey through "you're welcome" training, calling him on it when he says "thank you". She'll say, "Stuey, say You're Welcome". I think maybe he is starting to understand the whole concept!

Today as we were walking down the road, Nora said, "Mom, did god make these trees? Did god make us anklebiters?" (referring to herself and Stuey).
Nora has taken to doing elaborate little drawings on her magna doodle board. Its fun to watch her go on it and connect all the lines and boxes together. I see her making lots of various connections in her speech and drawing since starting preschool-I think its been a great addition to her schedule this fall!

About 5 people have told me they agreed with my letter to the Editor about the pool. Its good to have the feedback from the community and friends. Tonight when I was gone with the kids walking, Patrick answered the phone to someone local who called to tell me he agreed with my letter about the pool. I am so thrilled to have the discussion about it and get the awareness up about this 16 million dollar facility. It reminded me of when my dad would write letters to the editor and get phone calls for a couple of days after.
This morning at the pool, we discovered that the "EXTRACTOR" machine for the swimsuits works! yeah! And it looks like at least 2 drains have been added in the hallway from the locker room to the deck. Plus, there wasn't the brownish discoloration on the drain that was present last week, so perhaps some serious cleaning has been happening there. Its coming together! I'm so thrilled! I'm really enjoying swimming.


Uksuq Taiyuk - Winter is coming

The first official termination dust occurred way back in September (it actually snowed on us during our elk hunt). Now the snow is on the mountains around town. It is definitely moving on down the mountains. Pretty soon we will have snow in town and winter will have officially arrived. Nora can't wait to go sledding and I can't wait to go skiing. We all long for the less hectic days of winter. We all long for our winter cocoon.

This is a panoramic of the termination dust that I took yesterday while hunting ptarmigan. Not quite the detail you'd get in a gigapan! But it's pretty even without the detail. In fall the ptarmigan are usually in flocks way up high in the mountains and they follow the snow down to lower elevations. I did not see any ptarmigan - so I guess the snow is not here yet. Patrick

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Letter to the Editor in Kodiak Daily Mirror

I did it--I wrote the Letter to the Editor about the pool and it was published today. I think this is perhaps the 2nd letter to the editor I've submitted in 10 years and it felt good to write! There was a lot of revising and about 5 people helped critique it and give their input.

If nothing else, I hope that it creates discussion about how we can make the pool the best pool possible. And in the meantime, I"m happy wearing my flip flops and using the family changing room even when by myself. I'll just steer clear of the locker room area for now until I hear glowing reports about its status. In the meantime, ignorance is bliss.

I'm enjoying the non-chlorinated water at the pool and am beginning to appreciate what a great workout swimming is! And how relaxing, too--to be in the water.
I never thought those words would be uttered from my mouth!


Dear editor,

I am writing as a concerned citizen and taxpayer regarding the newly built public pool.

The pool opened two weeks ago and already there are a variety of problems, including hot water problems in the locker room, lack of hair dryers and a broken swimsuit water extractor machine. My larger concerns are related to what appears to be craftsmanship errors. I am a physical therapist by trade, not a contractor or carpenter, but these errors are so glaring that even I can see something went wrong in the construction.

One obvious issue is the standing water on the floor. This poses a sanitary risk; bacteria and athlete’s foot germs thrive in these conditions. The standing water also is a safety risk as people can slip in these puddles.

In the shower, where the water drains down in the corner, there already is brown discoloration forming. Is this discoloration expected or could it be prevented with more vigorous cleaning? If it looks this bad now, how will it look in five years?

I fear this is a pool we won’t be proud of. The Kodiak Island Borough shouldn’t accept a substandard pool, especially considering the top dollar it cost.

The residents of Kodiak just voted on a school bond issue to build a new high school. Can the residents of Kodiak rest assured that this will not happen with the new high school? What happens after one year has lapsed and large problems arise? Who foots the repair bill?

The borough needs to hold the contractor accountable for these craftsmanship errors, before the pool is handed over to them. We want a pool that we can be proud of now, in 10 years and in 20 years.

Zoya Saltonstall

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kodiak Gigapan

Last Thursday I flew to Carnegie Mellon University for a Gigapan training workshop funded by the Fine Outreach for Science. It was awesome. I got the equipment, software, and learned how to make pans like the one from Obama's Inauguration. What is most amazing is that it does not take a super fancy camera to make these pans. I shot this one of Kodiak with a little 9 mega pixel point and shoot. The key to the Gigapan is a 'robot' that moves the camera around to take a grid of zoomed in photos. I think this one of Kodiak represents 180 stitched together photographs. Visit the Gigapan web page to learn more and to check out some other awesome gigapans:
When you look at this panoramic be sure to use the controls on the left to zoom in to look at individual buildings etc - I know that there are even a few people that you can zoom in on, and possibly even recognize. Enjoy! Patrick

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin & Scarves

Stuey goes to Sue's house during the day 3 1/2 days a week and recently he has loved playing with silk scarfs! He must find the texture appealing. When I went to pick him up the other day, he was giggling uncontrollably and hiding underneath the scarfs! Today Patrick found him dressed in the scarfs. What a great time he has!

Dicky was kind enough to carve our halloween pumpkins when he was here. Nora helped scoop out the insides and Dicky somehow managed to carve all the details on the two small pumpkins. This was the first year that the kids have seemed old enough to really get into (and understand) holiday festivites around Halloween. When we go to stores or peoples homes, Nora chimes, "Mom-look. Halloween decorations!". And she knows she is going to be a lion for halloween. I got her costume at Once Upon a Child-the used kids clothing store in Anchorage. I'm planning on skipping the whole downtown trick or treating scene-just seems like it'd be way too overstimulating with too much candy. I think we'll just opt for her wearing her costume at preschool and maybe going to a few neighbor houses!


Friday, October 23, 2009

Disappointed in the New Pool

I'm very disappointed in the new pool, and concerned about the Borough Building a new High School.

The New City Pool opened 2 weeks ago and there are already grave problems with it. A few of the things are quite trivial...There wasn't hot water in the locker room for some time, but that appears to be fixed. There aren't hair dryers (architecture oversight, perhaps) and the swimsuit ringer-outer machine is already broken.

But the biggest problem is the standing water on the floor in the locker room and deck. Its disgusting. The womens locker room today smelled VERY strongly of urine. I went swimming after the middle school swim, and evidently lots of them "went" in the shower. And the drainage in the locker room is so poor that the floor has puddles of stagnant water. Also, where the water drains down in the corner, there is already brown discoloration forming. Argh. This pool is only 2 weeks old with these problems already? There have already been detour cones for us to walk around puddles of stagnant water as you head from the locker rooms to the pool.

I can hardly bring myself to use the main locker room again. The smell was so bad. I think I will resort to using the family locker rooms, as I imagine those are less impacted by the school traffic.

The residents of Kodiak just voted on a school bond issue to build a new high school-and I have serious concerns about who will be overseeing this process--can someone guarantee that the same problems won't happen with the new high school?

Its tempting to write a letter to the editor, but I probably won't...for fear of really upsetting people who worked hard on it. I think there does need to be slight public outcry about the poor status of the new pool. It makes the base pool look like a luxury pool-and the base locker rooms seem more like spa locker rooms. Thats pretty sad.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

2 weeks left....

The rain pours hard outside and wind blows while I hear little pitter-patter of feet from kids not in long as they don't come out of their room right now, I'm happy. I treasure my blog-writing time!

2 weeks from today I'll be on my way to California to participate in my first triathlon! The Catalina Island Triathlon. Its quite exciting-doing something completely new. My sister Anne, my brother-in-law and I are all doing the race. This is Anne's 3rd triathlon, I believe.
Swimming has been tough. When I started training about a month ago, I was still afraid of the deep end of the pool! And I was able to swim maybe 7 or 8 laps with the assist of fins or a kickboard. This week I was able to swim half a mile without any kickboard or fins! Yeah! So I'm feeling confident that I won't drown in the ocean! About half of my swim was freestyle and the other half just kicking along on my back.

A funny thing has happened-I actually enjoy swimming now! I love the feeling of pulling myself through the water. And I love how there is SO much skill to it. Its like any other sport-takes lots of time and practice before it feels easy or natural.

As Betsy Lund put it so eloquently in an e-mail,
"I suggest getting involved in swimming, as I found it helped me overall in everything physical ever in life. The core strength is unbelievable, if you can get to that level. I was a mediocre swimmer, and have become an advanced mediocre swimmer, proof that it can be done. Biking has a lot to do with the bike, which I would have denied years ago; and running, well, is running. Not much to say there. Just stick with it -- it gets better."

Her advice has been prominent in my mind in the past month. Especially as I've worked my schedule to get as much pool time as is humanly possible with pools not open, broken down pools, my work schedule, Patrick's schedule, kid schedules, etc... I did it with the hopes that I would see the benefits in my overall strength and fitness. And I think I have! Yeah!


Photo is of the swimmers running into Catalina Harbor for the start of the race--last year, I believe. 1/2 mile swim! Photo is from the Catalina Island Triathlon website.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Final Goat Hunt Pics

Some final goat hunt pictures: Top one is of my brother hiking in a field with the Shelikof Strait in the background. We hiked to the beach to look for glass balls but did not find any. The second photo is one my brother took of the view from our teepee at our deer hunting camp. The third photo is of the head of Uyak Bay at dawn. Fourth photo is of our paratipi setup half way down the mountain the day after we shot the goat. The final photo is another of the paratipi after we moved across the bay to avoid the bear. We paddled across the bay in the dark so we did not take the time to set up the bigger tipi. Patrick

Hungry Bear

On our recent goat hunt, after we got back to camp with our goat we had a visit from a hungry bear. At first we thought it was pretty cool, and, confident in our electric fence and the meat hanging up high in a tree, we took lots of pictures. But the next day the bear returned and was much more aggressive and persistent. He was not deterred by shots into the air, yells, or anything. He wanted the goat and even aggressively charged the fence a few times. This was NOT cool and with visions of sleepless nights fending off hungry bear we called our air charter and arranged a move to another place to hunt.

Hungry bear did not want us to take the goat away, and pursued us down onto the beach where we were awaiting pickup by float plane. This time my brother shot close enough to the bear to spray him with gravel. He circled around and then meandered off to dig for sand fleas on the mud flats. We watched him in the distance while we waited for our ride. We began to wonder if we had over-reacted, and if, perhaps, we should have stayed at our camp.

It turned out our plane got delayed so we moved all of our gear to the other side of the bay by raft to camp for the night. We figured the bear would leave us alone over there. But NO! The next day when the plane arrived the pilot reported that the bear was swimming across the bay directly towards us. He had to haze it with the float plane to get it to go back to the other side. It seems we had not over-reacted - that was one persistent bear and I am sure that if we had not left to hunt elsewhere it would have made our nights miserable.

While at the head of Uyak Bay we noticed that the hungry bear was the only bear around. This is very unusual as Uyak Bay is usually swarming with bears feeding on fish. But this year the salmon runs on the west side of Kodiak largely failed - so far less bears than usual. Our bear appears to be a sub adult and his mother probably taught him to frequent the area for fish at this time of year and he does not know of any place else to go. Making it worse, the recent deluge of rain on Kodiak (6 inches in one day) washed all the remaining spawning salmon out of the rivers. We did not see any salmon in the local streams. No wonder the bear wanted our goat meat. Patrick

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Steer Deer

Check out the top deer picture - note how different the horns are from the more typical deer pictured below (with the 2 grinning idiots). The top deer is a 'steer deer' that my brother harvested on our goat hunt. These deer genetically lack testicles and typically never lose the velvet on their antlers. The antlers usually have huge bases (pedestals) and thin antlers with sharp tips. And because they lack balls they also do not go into rut. For this reason, they are the best eating deer because they are generally very fat and there are no rut related hormones in the meat.

Lately steer deer have been turning up more and more frequently on Kodiak - especially on the south end of the island. It has the deer biologists a little worried. It is probably a result of the genetic 'bottleneck' that occurred when the Kodiak deer population established by the importation of only a few deer. Little mutations within a population take on a far greater role when there is relatively little genetic variation within the herd. I gather chetahs in Africa suffer some of the same problems. Patrick

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Goat Hunt

Today my brother and I got back from our Uyak Bay goat and deer hunt. We got our goat and deer, had a bad bear in camp, lived together in cramped tents with wood stoves, and got to see some beautiful country. I'll post more on each aspect of our trip later. But thought I'd just throw out some eye candy for now.

Top photo is of the mud flats at the head of Uyak at low tide and sunset. Second photo is of fog over Uyak bay while we are hiking back with our goat. Bottom photo is of the goat and I. I was very happy that he did not do a high dive over some of the nearby cliffs. The cliffs up there had the two of us a little on edge. Quite the scary place. We saw 5 goats and I shot the smallest of the bunch hoping he would be the tastiest. Unfortunately he ended up a little on the big side. Good thing I did not shoot the biggest one! Patrick

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Birth Documentary Tonight!

Tonight I'm excited about about the Kodiak Birth Network showing the movie Orgasmic Birth.

This is a birth documentary which was completed in 2008 and follows 11 moms through their labors and births. The film has won many international film awards and has brought natural birthing back into the limelight. From the moment the flyers were put up and e-mails regarding the film was sent out, there have been people from the hospital and the clinics commenting on the title. The title turns some people away, but if someone doesn't come I think it has less to do with the title and more to do with just not wanting to see the film. One look at the trailer on the website and you can see that the movie isn't all about orgasms, rather about how to make birth healthy, safe and empowering for women. There was much debate between the director and her husband about what to title orgasmic birth and they considered "estatic" birth as well.

Check out the trailer at In the movie there are interviews with Christine Northrup, a well known obstetrician, a gentleman who was the head of the World Health organization, well known midwives and couples featured in the movie.

From the Orgasmic Birth Website:
Joyous, sensuous and revolutionary, Orgasmic Birth brings the ultimate challenge to our cultural myths by inviting viewers to see the emotional, spiritual, and physical heights attainable through birth. Witness the passion as birth is revealed as an integral part of woman's sexuality and a neglected human right. With commentary by Christiane Northrup, MD, and midwives Ina May Gaskin, Elizabeth Davis and other experts in the field . . . and stunning moments of women in the ecstatic release of childbirth.
Orgasmic Birth has had an international impact on the film festival circuit and was screened this year at the prestigious Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival; The Baltimore Women's Film Festival; Usti Film Festival in the Czech Republic; Festival Caminhos in Portugal; and 'Official Selection' The European Independent Film Festival (ÉCU) 2009 in Paris. Orgasmic Birth also won the Audience Choice Award at the 2008 Motherbaby International Film Festival in Bermuda.
Five years in the making, Filmmaker Debra Pascali-Bonaro reveals a revolutionary approach to birth that is statistically safer for both mother and child than the birthing and delivery methods that are standard in many parts of the world today. The viewer becomes an intimate part of the birth stories of 11 women during this 85 minute documentary.
The evocative score for the film was created by John McDowell, composer of the score for the Oscar-winning documentary Born Into Brothels, with additional composition by Sabina Sciubba of the group Brazilian Girls.

The feedback on the movie showing has been good! Yesterday Katie and I were on public radio promoting it and as we left, a KMXT radio board member called the station and told us that they appreciated the work we were doing promoting healthy birth and bringing this movie to Kodiak. Doing events such as these really helps promote the discussion about birth in Kodiak.
Our mainstream popular culture brings so much fear to birth.

Hopefully this movie showing can help spread the word about how transformative birth can be--if a woman has the support necessary and is able to labor how she would like (in the location of her desire, with attendants attune to healthy birthing and is able to move around and be unencumbered in birth).

The movie is at 7PM at the Little School of Dance (1220 E. Rezanof Drive). Admission is free, but donations of $10 are accepted. Money raised goes to The Kodiak Birth Network.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gliding in the Water

Yesterday I went swimming in the new town pool for the first time. What clean, wonderful water it was--and non-chlorinated! It was such a treat to come out of the water not feeling covered in chemicals for the next day. Because of this upcoming triathlon, I have no choice but to spend some significant time there in the next 3 weeks.

Which I'm glad for, really. Its pushing me outside my comfort limits. You can bet you wouldn't have found me swimming laps in the pool if I didn't have this race to train for. (Especially with Patrick gone. I had to hire a babysitter to hang with the kids for an hour at the library for an hour while I went worked out well but took a lot of coordination effort to make it all happen)

Yesterday, I actually started to feel myself getting the hang of crawl stroke. Its as though some of the pieces are coming together, and it doesn't feel as labored. Don't get me wrong, I can still only do 1 length of the pool at a time of freestyle, but its feeling a tad bit easier. I feel less out of breath and am actually "enjoying" it a little bit more. (Did I really just write that?)

The other day I thought back to my first few times in the coast guard pool this year and how I was absolutely dying doing very little freestyle and mostly kickboard/flipper swimming. It truly is about seeing the small progress and recognizing that I'm slowly getting stronger and hopefully I'll be ready on the 6th of November! Instead of panicking about the fact that I still can't even do a full lap of consecutive freestyle stroke, I'm trying to just see the progress that has been made thus far and know in my heart of hearts that all will work out well and I'll be ready somehow on race day.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Physical Therapy Camp

I arrived home last night. And Patrick is out goat hunting! He just called and he got a goat! Yeah!

The class in Portland was truly amazing. I feel like I returned from physical therapy camp!

It was 30 therapists, 2 instructors and LOTS of lab time to practice the manual techniques. Out of the 30 therapists there, I was in the less-experienced sector. Most of the group had 15+ years of experience as a PT. Nonetheless, when it comes to learning new skills, everyone is on the same page. A lot of them already had a lot of experience doing organ and lymph manipulation. Plus, its excellent learning to have techniques done on yourself, so you know what they feel like and can give the therapist working on you feedback as to amount of pressure, etc...The class was evenly split between men and women, which was unusual.

Physical therapy is a female dominated profession, but there was even numbers of men and women. I used to think that male therapists have a "rougher" touch as therapists, but this class shattered that illusion. There were women therapists with rougher touches as well as male therapists...what matters most I think is someones confidence with palpation and finding landmarks and feel a release of muscle or connective tissue. It takes a certain amount of patience and reflection with the work. Some therapists are very fast and others were very patient. A few would rush the lab, and tell me where to put my hands when I was working on them, which I found a little annoying. Other therapists would sit and give me feedback if I was really needing help. I gained confidence in my own palpation skills with finding landmarks, tender points, counting ribs and things which are critical to getting effective results with the Strain Counterstrain technique. Most importantly, I got to see different therapists techniques and philosophies with manual work. That was definitely a highlight of the weekend.

The techniques are based off of osteopathic manual techniques done for improving the mobility of the organs and lymphatic system. It opens up a whole new avenue of treatment, as often there are sources of pain that are not necessarily musculoskeletal in origin. Today I started using the techniques and really liked the results! Yeah! We'll see how all my clients are doing next week. Its so fun to have new treatment techniques to offer.

Its so good to be home!!!



Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Home Front

Zoya's in Portland and my brother Dicky is visiting from Maine. Tomorrow we are off to Uyak Bay for a goat hunt. I hope we come back with more meat than we did on the elk hunt. In the meantime Dicky and I are entertaining the kiddos.

Today during a break in the weather we took the kids and dogs for a walk in Abercrombie. We actually managed to get the stroller all the way around the lake. Nora and Stuie loved it when we carried the stroller over obstacles with them in it. Dicky at the front end and me behind. The kids got out and walked when they wanted. We even found a few blueberries and raspberries. Berry season is not done with yet! The best part of the hike was at the beach. The recent storm had kicked up the waves and the beach was covered with interesting flotsam. Nora, of course, gravitated to the cliffs, but today it was too wet for climbing. Patrick

Portland Happenings

Day 2 of my class begins today...It is strain counterstrain technique for visceral (organ) or lymphatic systems. Similar to what osteopaths do for visceral manipulation. Very cool information and lots of lab time with excellent instructors. The strain counterstrain classes are just fabulous. Its nice to be around 29 other PT's who have same philosophies, skills, interests, etc...

This morning I went swimming once again at the acquatic center down the road and it happened to be Masters Swimming morning. So the nice coach, Tim, gave me some pointers on my stroke-particularly with breathing and using the breaths as a chance to roll to my side and take a small break. This really helped decrease my out-of-breath feeling at the end of a length. I'm realizing that I most definitely won't be able to do the whole triathalon with freestyle stroke, but at least i'll be able to do part of it. When I get home, I"m looking forward to doing a swim across Mill Bay to get the feeling of what a 1/2 mile open water swim is like.

Off to class...


Friday, October 09, 2009

In Portland for a Class

I arrived to warm Portland yesterday morning and spent the day down town walking around--doing shopping and eating at some fun restaurants. The highlight was an ice cream cone from Ben and Jerrys before I headed to my hotel-it was some coconut, chocolate bar ice cream flavor which isn't available in stores! So yummy.

Last night I scoped out the local pool options. The swimming portion of my triathalon needs MAJOR help, so its good motivation to find swimable water while away for my class. Yesterday I found water which wasn't swimable. It was a very small YMCA nearby the hotel. The pool was small and the place in general wasn't kept up. There was a sign on the sauna which said, "Closed, please do not enter. Major sanitary risk." Then there was the jacuzzi tub which was completely empty, probably for sanitary reasons as well. Then I saw the pool. It was cloudy and just a mom and child swimming in it. That should've been a pretty good indicator that it wasn't the best lap pool around. I did about 15 minutes of back stroke-I was literally afraid of putting my head under the water. The one time I did I caught a sight of some algae. Seriously.
The nice guy at the front desk directed me to a larger acquatic center nearby, which I went to thie morning. It was HUGE and only shallow end swimming for laps! Yeah! Thats my kind of pool. It was fun to get there at 6AM and have the place buzzing with swimmers. I've decided that the kickboard and I are going to be good buddies for a while as I get my kick stronger and get comfortable with breathing underwater. I've realized that I'm blowing out my air too quickly. So many good things to learn!

My class starts in half an hour. It is an advanced class in the series of classes I've been taking the past year and half. I'm very excited, as I haven't done a physical therapy class in this technique since October of last year! The one I was scheduled to go to in Anchorage last spring was cancelled due to volcano. Silly mother nature! :)

I"m PT world!


Thursday, October 08, 2009


Yesterday I decided to try and capture the yellows and reds of the devilsclub in Fort Abercrombie State Park. It really is a beautiful plant, but one must not forget its nasty side. It's been a week since we returned from our Afognak elk hunt and I am still pulling devilsclub spines out of my hands, knees and elbows. Funnily enough the spines are very difficult to remove in the first few days but after a week they just pop out with a squeeze of the flesh around them. This year I seem to have been thwacked pretty good while we were on Afognak. That means we hunted hard! And I will add that despite its thorns the devilsclub is one of my favorite plants. Patrick

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Fall Colors

Right now here on Kodiak the fall foliage is in full color. Not quite the colors you'd get on the East Coast or Upper Midwest, but stunning in their own right. While walking through Abercrombie I tried to capture them in a photograph. My favorite colored up shrub is the Devilsclub with its huge yellow leaves and red berries. But I failed to capture it while on my hike. I guess I'll have to try again. I did get a pretty good one, pictured above, of the yellow salmonberry leaves, ferns and green moss on the trees. Patrick

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Books & Walks

Since weaning Stuey, we have had a good time reading more in the mornings. He does "parallel" reading, where he flips through one book while I read him another book. He often repeats the words I"m reading. Then we switch books. He has taken more of an interest in books the past month, which has been fun to see. His attention span is expanding-he is now able to sit through a whole book and take interest in it.

This fall we have taken lots of walks down Cliffside Road together, sometimes mid day, sometimes in the evening. Nora and Stuey do little sprints ahead of us and they like to play "hide and seek" as well. Its been a beautiful fall here in Kodiak.


Monday, October 05, 2009

Last Elk Hunt Post till next year

One last elk hunt post. Tonight I made a video of our hunt and posted it on YouTube. I realized that if we had actually harvested an elk I probably would not have posted on YouTube. Somehow that would seem a little disrespectful to the elk. But since our hunt only ended up as a hard core hiking and camping trip while carrying heavy guns - I'll post and you got it! On the other hand creating a hunt video without achieving the goal did take a central focus/climax out of the movie.

However, worse of all, I just noted that YouTube 'muted' my audio. I gather using the Greatful Dead as the backdrop for a hunting video was just going a bit too far. Oh well. The scenery is still cool, and hey you got subtitles. It's now just an old time movie. I ought to make it black and white. Put Charlie Chaplin in there! So when you play it just imagine the Greatful Dead playing in the background. I had chosen 'Truckin' for the first half and 'touch of Grey' for the second half. I don't even like the Grateful Dead, and now I have a good reason to never use their music on another video - EVER! Now I have an excuse to never listen to them ever again. To me the Grateful Dead are truly dead. Patrick

To see the video cut and paste the following:

Sunday, October 04, 2009

End of an Era

This week marks the end of an important era in my life-breastfeeding my kids. I weaned Stuey this last week. I have been nursing for 4 solid years. For about 3 months after Stuey was born, I even nursed both kiddies. (It definitely didn't impact his growth in any negative way!!) Time has flown! Stuey has done well with weaning, as have I. We were both ready. It is a time that has meant so much--for the kids health, and for my health. Now the time that I would usually spend nursing, Stuey and I sit on the couch and read a book. I love one-on-one time with my little guy.


A view across the Shelikof

This was the view from our camp one evening after the rain stopped and the clouds broke. The next morning the sunrise colored the mountains pink before the sun had even come up. The pointy one on the right is Devil's Desk. It looks like they got a lot of new snow over there. Winter is coming! Patrick

Saturday, October 03, 2009

More Elk Hunt

Some more pictures from our elk hunt - Top is of me with a largish cod. When I was a kid my grandfather used to take me cod fishing in Maine. I remember the first time we did not catch a cod. Now a days fishermen out East would sell their soul to catch the cod we got here in the waters around Kodiak.

Second photo is of our Kifaru para tipi. We spent a lot of time inside this thing. It barely fit the five of us but the warm stove was enough incentive to get us to cram in tight. Third photo is of the elk team inside the teepee the first night - look how clean cut we look. We have not been beaten down by the hunt - yet. The bottom two photos are of us getting beaten down by the weather. We experienced the first snow of the season! Good thing we had the teepee to warm us up and dry our gear. Patrick

Friday, October 02, 2009

Lots of effort but no elk

This year our Afognak elk hunt was a disappointment as far as shooting elk goes. We arrived back in Kodiak on Wednesday night with no elk meat. But we did find 3 herds and did have plenty of opportunities - only this year luck and circumstance seemed to be working against us. I think the most crushing blow was failing to harvest a single elk from a herd that we found on the beach. What a wasted opportunity!

Nonetheless, we did do a lot of great hiking, camped in some beautiful spots and even got in a little fishing. Even if we failed on the elk we did bring back some fish (mostly Pacific Cod). This year we spent 3 nights on shore camping, and life was good at night when we had our mini wood stove burning in the Kifaru teepee. Quite a change from last year when we got socked with the wind and cold and had no warm place to hang out. One afternoon when we crossed a pass we got pasted by snow and rain and it looked like we might have an emergency situation. Everyone was soaking wet and cold. But we were able to pitch our tent in a grove of spruce, light the stove and dry out. Wow!

Photos: Top - Justin hiking up a mountain in search of elk. Ben M and John S with Mount Augustine in the background on the extreme right side. John poses with our tiny woodstove. Tent and stove weigh less than 6 pounds. All five of us fit around the stove (but it was a pretty tight squeeze). Justin awaits pickup from the Alpha Centauri - Jim was able to nudge the bow of the boat up against the rocks and we all jumped aboard. Bottom - John shows off a tiny halibut that we did not keep.