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Friday, February 26, 2010

You know its been a bad winter when....

It finally stopped raining.
It has been raining for months...and the past few days, our roads dried out. As we drove to the pool, Nora said, "Mom-look. Such pretty new roads! So pretty." I replied, "Actually, Nora, they're not new. They've just dried." Later in the evening as we drove home in the dark Nora asked if there was snow on the road--the road was so bright and dry that it resembled snow!
As the sun was out yesterday, Stuey said, "Whats that?" I said thats the sun Stuey. He said, "oooohhhhhh".
Pretty amazing how wet and dark it has been. Everyones moods are lifted here in Kodiak.

Next weekend is the annual Tour of Anchorage ski race that Patrick does. His training this year has consisted primarily of downhill skiing, as there has been so little snow at sea level to train with. And to make matters worse, his competition in Anchorage has had excellent snow this winter. :( He is still doing the race, which I admire him for! Tonight Patrick and I were talking about how lack of cross country skiing will affect his race--we decided that the lack of upper body cross country ski work will be a set back. The power will be there in his legs, but a big part of strength with cross country skiing is the arms. (BTW-hes hoping for a LOT of snow with CRUDDY conditions for the race, as then he'll cook. Sorry Anchorage folks!)

Just crazy. I hope the blueberries and salmonberry crops aren't affected by this warm winter. The bottom flower is a primrose.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Skis

Today the sun finally came out and it seems it might get colder for a while. I took my band new tele skis up Pyramid for their maiden journey down the hill. These are my first new tele skis in 5 years, and I must say fashions have changed. I thought my old skis were fat when I got them way back in 2005, but my new skis seem super wide and short. It seems these days that everybody wants short and fat skis. I remember back in the 1990s when everybody wanted super shaped skis. Ski fashions change.

My verdict on the new skis is that they might be a little too fat. It was icy up there today on all the slopes not facing the sun and I had a hard time controlling my fat skis. However, they made up for it on the soft corn snow that I found on the steep south facing slopes - sublime ride. I guess I will just have to continue to use my old skis when I expect ice. I'll use my new ones the rest of the time. I love new skis! Patrick

Monday, February 22, 2010

High Dive for Nora

Last week Nora did her first jumps off the diving board. She saw another kid her age go off the diving board and she was fascinated and insisted that she try it. So the next trip to the pool, Patrick came along (with his camera, of course) and Nora did 4 or 5 jumps off the diving board. She LOVED it. No fear.
If you listen carefully, when she resurfaces after jumping she says, "wanna do it again!".


(the You Tube Screen appears black, but there is video footage patrick took from the water of Nora jumping in. Kind of a fun angle to see! Just click on the play button and it appears.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spring Corn in February

Lately I find it kind of funny reading about the cold weather on the east coast, and how so many politicians see a cold february in Washington D.C. as evidence that global warning is all hype. They should come to Kodiak and see the winter we've had! I've never seen it so warm. It just goes to show that global warming is a GLOBAL phenomena and that while the planet is warming overall - you still get cold winters in particular regions. The weather is certainly more weird and extreme. Our local winter has been a total bust.

But at least the skiing was good today. The lakes may be open water, the crocuses blooming, and the locusts on their way, but we still got good snow on Pyramid. Today the corn snow was like what we normally have in late April or May - Spring corn conditions. The photo is of my ski tracks on Pyramid - I love looking up at the mountain and seeing only my tracks there while I drive home. Patrick

Friday, February 19, 2010

Construction site on Cliffside Drive

Down the road, a lovely lot of trees and our favorite blueberyy patch was SHAVED down to make room for 2 houses. It was quite the site to see tractors come in and demolish such a great plot of land. I wonder-why isn't it possible to cut down just enough trees for room for the houses?

On the upside, Stuey and Nora have really enjoyed walking down there and seeing the back hoe in action. Stuey is completely awestruck by it. I think the back-hoe driver appreciated our little audience of 3 one rainy day. It is so sad-to watch the back hoe dig into such lovely land. I understand there has to be houses built-I just wish people could put a moments worth of thought into the land and HOW the house is built.

At one point, the land our house was built on was full of trees and someone along the way plowed down a large portion of them. We are working to re-forest our plot on Cliffside Drive. Patrick has planted 6 trees (cottonwoods and mountain ash) in the past 8 an attempt to protect ourselves from the wind and to provide a little tree haven.

Progress is inevitable. But its a bummer that sometimes it has to be so ugly.


The walk down cliffside road which we make daily. In the background, you can see the dump truck which is at the construction site.
The back-hoe sitting where 2 houses will be.
The lot next door...a beautifully built house, sheltered by TREES!!!!!!!! (you can see the back hoe on the left side).

Life at Home during the Deluge

Lately it has been raining a lot. Actually it seems like it has been raining for months. But in the last week it has been particularly bad - over 3 inches in the last few days alone. And we are over 18 inches since the first of January. Yesterday I noticed that the crocuses have budded and are just waiting for a sunny day to bloom. This is a couple of months early. None of the lakes in town are frozen either - I can't remember a winter where the lakes did not freeze.

Needless to say, but the kids have been doing a lot of activities inside - puzzles, dancing, riding the dog, hikes out to Spruce Cape (followed by baths afterwards to clean mud off) ....good times to be had!

Photos: Patrick is with the kids...(and baby Sophie and Cece-Mike and Roxann's two girls.) Mike brings them by afterwork sometimes to hang with Nora and Stuey.

Patrick and Zoya

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sock it to Me!

Today after work I went up Pyramid to go skiing and was shocked at how much new snow we got last night. Lately, I've been skiing a lot in the rain and I did not expect much would be different when I left work today. It was raining HARD in town. But when I parked my car at the pass I stepped out into 8 inches of new snow and a driving snowstorm! And up high on the mountain there was no wind and over a foot of new powder. It was the kind of snow where you just point the skiis downhill and bounce and the skiis do all the work. Best of all, it was completely unexpected. One unexpected powder day like today makes all those days in the rain worthwhile. Priceless in fact. Patrick

Photo is from today of the spruce trees at around 1100 feet loaded down with new snow.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dropping C-Section Rates in Kodiak

Over a year ago, a conversation with my friend Patty got me on my way with doula work and birthing classes. She told me that the hospital cesarean rate was around 27% and I was in disbelief. This was about 20% too high...the little that I knew about birth told me that some of those cesareans could have perhaps been prevented. A Cesarean surgery is MAJOR abdominal surgery. (The national average for cesarean rate is 33%. The World Health Organization recommends cesarean rate of somewhere around 10-12%. Any higher, there are unnecessary ones. Unnecessary abdominal surgery leads to unnessary infections in mom, un-necessary respiratory problems in babies, more difficult healing for mom, etc. If the rate is much lower than 8 or 10%, there are some births where a cesarean may have helped the health of mom and baby)

At that time, I had just opened A Balanced Approach and one of the reasons was so I could teach birthing classes after my business. The hospital classes were the only ones offered in town and I believed there was much to be desired with a birthing series. The hospital class was more power-point and video centered, as opposed to a fun, interactive group style of learning which had the potential to make childbirth education FUN!

In January of 2009 I started birthing classes and these classes along with doula services have been a strong part of my business ever since. Katie, A Balanced Approach office manager, is also a doula & childbirth educator and between the two of us, we have attended around 18 births last year.

My intent when I started was to prevent at least 1 cesarean. Many cesareans are very necessary, but some cesaerans occur when there are high levels of medical intervention, such as drugs, monitoring, epidurals, and not enough support for moms in labor, or enough time to let moms body do what it needs to do, instead of rushing mother nature.

This past week, I learned of the Cesarean rate for went from 19% in 2008 to 8% in 2009! This is for primary cesarean, or women who are going through childbirth who have never had a cesarean. (Here in Kodiak, if a woman has had a prior Cesarean, they HAVE to have a repeat cesarean. They can opt to go to Anchorage for try at a vaginal birth, but the time and costs incurred make it prohibitive for many moms and families.) As you can see from the statistics that between 2001-2008 the Primary ceserean rate was between 12-19% percent, never lower.

What factors contributed to this sharp decline?

Good question. I believe a variety of factors have played into it.

-The improved childbirth class options may have contributed-in 2009, 40 women and their birth partners attended classes at A Balanced Approach. Thats a significant percentage of the 191 births last year.

-A new nurse anesthetist at the hospital--who encourages women to learn more about epidurals before the actual labor. The hospital is now offering a free weekly anesthesia clinic where women and birth partners can learn more about the pros/cons of epidurals, intrathecals, etc...

-Doula services by Katie and I have given extra labor support. Many large scale international studies have showed that the presence of a doula decreases chances for cesarean by 50% and decreases need for medical interventions (drugs, procedures, etc..) by 80%.

-A "Cascade Effect" in the community of positive birth stories. For every woman who has a good birth experience-she will tell friends and other pregnant friends. This, in turn, improves the overall perception of labor and birth as not something to be feared, rather seeing it as an empowering experience. So even if a woman hasn't attended birthing classes, or has a doula-there is an improved sense about birth in the community. Perceptions of the pain of labor are highly cultural and in our culture, it is seemed as something to be feared, rather than experience which is celebrated and shared by many. Also, the formation of the Kodiak Birth Network has provided a community venue for discussion and presentations related to birth. In the past year, there have been speakers and videos related to improving birthing options in Kodiak.

-As far as nursing or medical staff changes, I don't know enough to know how that played into the numbers. From my experience at the hospital this past year, there are lots of top notch OB nurses and great doctors, but I have nothing to compare it to,as I've only attended births for 1 year.

And who knows-the low numbers of last year could be a fluke. A year will tell. But I'm hopeful the progress with healthy birthing in our community will continue on this trend!


(To interpret the chart-look under 2008 Primary'll see it was 19.9%. In 2009, that number is 8%. In future years, the TOTAL cesareans should decline, as fewer women will require repeat cesareans!)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Once Was Cold

For two years now we've had the tradition of taking the kids skiing on the day of or day before Stuey's birthday. This year, we went the night before and it was about 10 degrees outside. The wind was blowing at the golf course, it was 5:00 pm and the sun was starting to disappear behind the mountains. The thrill for the kids was doing the little mini hills at the golf course. Patrick would take them down the hills and the kids would be squeal with delight. After 45 minutes, the kids got cold and we quickly got them into the car to warm up their little hands and feet.

Lately, when Nora wakes up in the morning, if she sees popcorn on the counter, she says, "did you party, party last night?" And I smile and say, "yes-we watched a movie and ate popcorn." Sometimes before bed she'll say, "are you going to party, party tonight?" Funny how her idea of "party, party" is us staying up watching a movie.

Another one is if we ask her a question and she doesn't know the answer (or doesn't want to answer at the moment), she says, "I can't know".


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Places Where I like to Go Downhill Skiing

It's raining again. Consequently, I've been dreaming and thinking about winters past. In the Spirit of the Kodiak roadsystem trails plan I came up with the following map (I plan on sending it to the people who are helping the Borough develop the plan) - It's where I've downhill skiied over the last 10 years near Kodiak. Not that I've been going all that far afield of late. I also noticed there's a hole between Lake Miam and the Saltery Cove area. I guess this Spring I'll have to get out there and go skiing! Patrick

Places to Downhill Ski on the Kodiak Roadsystem

Map Key:
Blue = General areas
Red = runs
Yellow = Tours
Black = Locally named peaks (by skiers)
Light Blue dots = access points on roads

General Areas

To access this area one parks at the Salonie Creek rifle range and hikes on up the valley to the area. It is about a 2-hour approach. The bowl on the Salonie Creek side is VERY steep and has some great runs.

To access Barometer one usually parks on the road near the end of the airport runway and hikes up the first part of Burma Road. It usually takes about an hour to get to the top of the mountain. I do not like to ski this mountain until May because the climb up is VERY exposed and scary until the snow melts a bit. The bowl facing the golf course and Buskin Lake has some very good runs – and one can hike home via the base of the main face at about the 1500 level. Also the ‘Second Peak’ of Barometer also has 3 VERY steep runs – I like to finish with a run towards Burma Road and then contour back along the south face on the bench at 1500 feet to meet back up with the trail to the car.

Center Mountain
It is about a 4 or 5-hour hike to the summit of Center from the end of the Russian River Road in Bell’s Flats. It is about a 40 minute longer hike from the Kashevaroff Mountain trailhead on the Chiniak highway. This is probably the best, easily accessible summer skiing on the Kodiak roadsystem and in the summer people often use a helicopter to reach the summit. The ski home via the Kashevaroff Ridge is pretty flat but there are a few nice runs down towards the Russian River drainage.

Crown Mountain
This area is usually accessed by helicopter and has GREAT summer snow. There is somewhat of a tradition to go heliski camping on the mountain over the 4rth of July. The mountain has numerous VERY steep runs, many of which are over 2000 feet long. The area is characterized by white granite cliffs and is quite a spectacular place to visit. It is a long day trip to ski from the mountain back to town (see Crown to Town tour below).

Devil’s Prongs
The Devil’s Prongs is usually accessed from the road from one of three parking areas along the road to White Sands beach. Many of the best runs face north and are only good in May when the late evening sun warms them up. This area is also close to the ocean and often does not have good snow cover. A good tour is to start at Monashka Bay and end up at the Pyramid parking lot via Easter Sunday Peak and Bear Mountain. The ridge closer to Pilar Mountain has some steep slopes that face south and west that are very steep and are best in April if we have a good snow pack.

Elbow Mountain
Generally only accessed via helicopter and is best in May/June. There are quite a few steep and long runs in this general area. To go home one crosses the land bridge (where the Terror Lake Power line crosses) and treks to a car parked at Sargent Creek.

Fourth of July
This area is generally accessed by Helicopter and is best in late May. The helicopter usually lands on either the top of Old 3300 or 4rth of July peak. Generally skiers spend the day doing runs and then it is about a 2 or 3-hour tour from base of 4rth of July peak back to the car at Sargent Peak. The snow machine trail also goes through this area and the area is heavily used by snowmobiles until late May. This area is characterized by a variety of terrain from very steep long runs to rolling beginner slopes.

Heitman and Raymond peaks are a good place to go in late spring (April) for a quick day trip. There are some nice runs off the top that aren’t too steep, but offer great views out over the ocean. You feel like you are skiing right above the water it is so close. I often ski from the Heitman pull out and finish my tour over at the Kalsin Bay side. It is quite easy to catch a ride back to the car at the Heitman pullout. A deep canyon and very steep slopes separate this area from 2722 and I do not recommend crossing over.

Kalsin Range
This is a great place for spring tours – and the snow is generally good through June. It only takes about an hour to get to the top of ‘Sweet Peak’ from the road and there are 4 excellent runs off of the summit. To ski ‘Sweet Peak’ it is best to park at the top of the Kalsin Bay Hill before the descent to where the Inn is located. For tours deep into the Kalsin Range it is best to park by Deadman’s Creek just past the Kalsin Bay Inn.

Kashevaroff does not have any serious steeps but it sure is convenient if you live in Bell’s Flats. It also generally holds snow well into June.

Landing Zone
In the late 1990’s this was the first place where people went heliskiing on the Kodiak Roadsystem– hence the name ‘Landing Zone’. However, it is only a two hour hike up to the top of ‘Double Surprise’ from a car parked at Sargent Creek and today if people use a helicopter they usually go a bit further from town to get more ‘bang for their buck’. This area holds snow well and the ‘Half Pipe’, ‘Double Surprise’ and ‘Sweet Pea’ runs are usually good well into July. There is also a gulley that runs back towards Sargent Creek that holds snow well, and you can usually ski back to the small lakes at 1400 feet into June. The snow machine trail from the ski chalet to Crown Mtn also goes though this area and the area is heavily used by snowmobiles until mid to late May.

Marin Range
Since it is such a long drive from town I have not down much skiing in the Marin Range. But it looks like it has some GREAT topography. It is the only area on the immediate roadsystem with granite peaks and that makes for some awesome cliffs. The cut up and jagged topography also makes it difficult to tour along the ridge tops. This area is best accessed from Pasagshak Pass, the road out near the rocket launch (by the cattle guard), or from some of the old logging roads on the Chiniak side. The west-facing slope of Slope Peak looks particularly nice and is one of the few places on the Kodiak roadsystem where you can ski trees.

Pasagshak Pass
The mountain immediately to the west of the pass to Pasagshak has a nice steep run that is almost 1300 feet vertical. And it only takes an hour or so to get to the top. On the east side of the pass is an easily accessed ridge that leads directly into the Marin Range. A good tour is to start here and ski to the sea via the Sacramento Valley – this is best to do in March or early April when the snow extends far down valley close to the sea.

Pyramid is the most convenient and easily access skiing to be had if you live in town. It is a 25-minute drive to the ski chalet parking lot, and I routinely leave work and am back at home within 2 hours after getting in a 1500 foot run on Pyramid. Pyramid is blessed with a surprising variety of terrain and slope aspects. It often has seams of good powder or warmed corn snow slopes when everywhere else is blown ice or crud. It also generally holds snow through June. Sometimes, if I have some time, I like to ski down the north side, cross the valley and ski Nipple Peak.

Reservoir Ridge
Reservoir Ridge is accessed from the white sands parking lot at the end of the Monashka Bay road. The first part of the trail follows a 17b easement. This is one of the few areas where you can ski trees on the Kodiak Roadsystem. I often ski here after a powder dump associated with high winds. The high winds will have blown the snow off of the high exposed peaks but the trees in this area can be loaded up and quite exciting. However, most of the tree runs are not very long or steep. The ‘Reservoir dogs’ run down to the reservoir is REALLY steep and exciting, and a good way to go home because the trail up is not a good way to ski down.

Sheratin at almost 3000 feet is the closest ‘big mountain’ to the road on the Kodiak roadsystem. Access is best from the parking lot just past the bridge over Red Cloud Creek on the road to Anton Larsen Bay, and it takes 2 hours or so to get to the top. It is a HUGE mountain and there is a huge variety of terrain. You could ski this mountain for a week and not get bored. The bowl on the west side holds good snow into July and I have skied the runs on the west side down towards Sheratin Bay in August and September.


Crown to Town
This is a long day tour from Crown Mountain to town. On the way between Crown Mountain and the Kashevaroff ridge there are 3 ridges - CC1, CC2, and CC3 (CC stands for Center to Crown), and the each has a gentle up and down slope. The climbs are each about 1500 feet. The route is still almost completely covered with snow in early July and one can usually ski to within 2 hours of the car parked at the end of Russian River Road in early July.

Pyramid - Easter Sunday
This is a nice 5 or 6 hour tour. If you leave from Pyramid parking lot and ski to Easter Sunday via Bear Mtn, drop into the Easter Sunday Bowl that faces the antenna field and then return to Pyramid is 6 runs with a total of 5000 vertical feet. It really is a nice afternoon tour in late April or early May.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Stuey's 3rd

We celebrated Stuey's 3rd birthday last night with grilled black cod, salad, rice, birthday cake and friends. Stuey loved being the birthday guy and relished in wearing his birthday hat for much of the evening (Julie, remember that?!!) :).

Nora had a little bit of a hard time with the attention on Stuey--she had a few tears but did fine. Last night during the party, Katie made a fort for Nora and Natalie and Nora insisted on sleeping in it last night. Patrick and I tried so hard to talk her out of it, but she really wanted to. So she slept in her fort under the dining room table all night with tons of blankets and was completely content. The weather was VERY windy last night (it woke patrick and I up several times) but she didn't come running back to the bedrooms at any time.

At several times during the evening, I said with glee, "I'm so glad I don't have a 2 year old anymore in the house---no more terrible 2's! Stuey's 3!!!" and Katie chimed in, "Its funny because I can't wait for Sawyer to turn 2!". Funny how each phase has its ups and downs. Not having any children under the age of two is a new thing for this household, however. And I think I like it!


Nora took the top one of Stuey and MJ. (I converted it to B&W).
Patrick, Katie and myself.
The group digs into the cake;
The Birthday boy;
The girls admire baby Sophie.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Your chance for winter trails input

On Tuesday the people who are drafting up a roadsystem trails plan for the Kodiak Island Borough will be visiting and talking with the various winter trails user groups. They want to hear how we use our trails in winter. They also want to know about conflicts between user groups and what areas of the roadsystem we use in winter. Here is your chance to have input on a very important Borough planning document when it is going through the public process. Let's not wait until it is almost finished and then come out of the woodwork and complain that our views were not known.

For instance, if you feel skiers going too fast on the sledding hill are a dangerous nuisance, or ruts in your cross country ski trail a hinderance - if you like to go sledding, ice skate, ice fish, snowmobile, ski or whatever come to the meeting at the Borough building on Tuesday at 7PM. Let them hear your views!


Saturday, February 06, 2010

Piggy, puzzles, checkups, and new snow

Nora's most recent past time has been playing "Nurse Nora" and doing "check-ins". She has all her little plastic gadgets on the coffee table and she makes us sit there, as she looks in our mouth with a wooden block, cuts our hair with her plastic garlic press, and weighs us on her pretend scale, and asks how "high" (tall) we are.. Its quite funny, as she is quite serious with her routine.

Patrick got Nora her first piggy bank, and she is able to earn pennies and dimes for doing small things around the house. I believe she is saving up for a pack of gum. She also gets 75 cents per week for allowance. I have been asking friends and PT clients about kids, allowance and how they work it. Patrick and I wonder, "shouldn't you be expected to do certain things around the house, just for living there...and not necessarily get paid for them?" We'll find a good balance with it, and I'm glad she is taking interest in learning about money and saving. Shes at the right age for it.

Last night I attended the local Arts Council auction with AnnJannette L. We had a blast. I haven't been to the auction for MANY years and was excited to finally go this year. As a prior Arts Council board member, I FULLY appreciate how much hard work it is to put on the auction--and boy did the arts council do an amazing job this year. There were hundreds of items and an auctioneer that was brought in from Anchorage. This was a first for me-hearing an auctionner. I could barely understand what he was saying-but he really kept the bidding going and gave the auction a more professional feel. One of the items I won, I didn't quite know how much I ended up bidding in the end. AnnJannette thought it was $50, I thought it was $75. It actually ended up being $75 (it was a big basket of Salmon Solstix loved them for breakfast and I ate one on the way home last night....YUM!). The auctioneer really kept the crowd going and bidding.

AnnJannette and I joked that she was my "auction doula", as she is an artist herself and knows about art and what to bid on. When a piece of art would come up that I was interested in, I would ask her, "I really like that, what do you think maximum bid should be?" We had a great time and had good laughs with friends and the people sitting behind us.

I didn't end up getting any art-I was always outbid.

Kudos to the Arts Council for putting on such an awesome evening and for doing so much in Kodiak. Our auditorium and Arts Program is really top notch--lots of things for kids, and adults alike as well as outside performers brought in. It was great to see so many people out enjoying the evening.


Friday, February 05, 2010

My deer roast recipe

I recently discovered how to cook a deer roast and get it to be pink all the through. I adapted a recipe for prime rib that called for low heat and a long cooking time. It seems to work great for deer - pink from the outside to the core and not dried out. Perfect.

1 deer roast (August or September deer is best - nothing can save a rutty deer)
Garlic Paste (I like Amore brand)
1 teaspoon thyme
2 pinches of kosher salt
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil

Roasting pan and rack
Good instant read meat thermometer

1) Wash and dry the roast off and rub all over with garlic paste, salt, rosemary and thyme and drizzle olive oil on top.
2) Put on a rack and insert meat thermometer so that the tip is in the center of the roast.
3) Place roast (on rack and in roasting pan) onto middle rack of oven preheated to 220 degrees.
4) Cook until roast hits 118 degrees (about an hour or so) and then turn oven up to 500 degrees and broil roast for 10 minutes or so until the meat temperature reads 125 degrees (the high heat creates a crispy and tasty rind on the outside) - this is the critical part: if you like it rare take it out around 123 degrees and if you want it more medium rare take it out around 128 degrees. In the old days I cooked my roasts at high heat and removed them from the oven at 119 degrees and it continued to cook while resting outside the oven until it reached 135 degrees or so. With my new method the temperature does not continue to rise as long or as much. But it still gets up to 135 degrees. The roast pictured was removed at 124 degrees and while perfectly rare for my tastes might be on the too rare side for some. Do not over cook the roast - well done deer is REALLY bad - if you like your meat well done make a pot roast and do not try this recipe.
5) Let the roast rest on a plate for 20 minutes or so. I wait until the temperature of the roast reaches around 135 degrees and then starts to drop. I use the time to finish and brown my roasted vegetables (made in a separate pan at high heat) and to make gravy in the pan I cooked the roast in (I usually put chopped up onions under my roast at the beginning and then after I remove the roast I brown the onions and make gravy with them).
6) Cut the meat up and serve! I like to serve my deer roasts with gravy and roasted vegetables.

Photos: The meat with roasted vegetables in the background.
Stuey doing his infamous "bologna tongue" move. The kids are all about funny mouth noises and tongue acrobatics.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


So far in Kodiak it has been a pretty bad winter for snow down low and cross country skiing. I still plan on racing in the Tour of Anchorage in March but training for it has been difficult. Worst of all, Anchorage has had great skiing. Usually when it is warm in Kodiak it is also warm further North and the rest of Alaska shares in our misery. But this year the 'pineapples' have all been 'tipped over backwards' and the warmth has been moving East to West from Juneau towards us, keeping the temperature gradient tight, and the rest of Alaska cold. It means not only have I not been able to train but that everyone else in the race has had great snow for training.

Nonetheless, here on Kodiak we are blessed with tall mountains close to town and even when there is no snow down low there is almost always snow up high. I have been able to go skiing practically every day. Only it has been of the downhill and not nordic variety. Still, I have been getting exercise climbing mountains. And really I can't complain too much - when I lived in Wisconsin I would have been very happy with how much snow I have to train on.

It's funny because I occasionally check on the Anchorage ski conditions by going to the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage's trail conditions forum. I am amazed by how much the skiers complain when the trails have not been groomed perfectly, when someone takes their dog onto the trails, or even when someone skiis the 'wrong way' on a trail. I think the majority of the Anchorage skiers have forgotten what it means to break their own trail or ski in the rain.

I see the conditions this year as a challenge - I want to beat those spoiled Anchorage skiers with their groomed trails and copious amounts of snow. Patrick

Photo: Rime ice builds up on an alder branch a few days ago on Pyramid. I've been skiing in the rain a lot this year.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Working through new adventures

Yesterday was the start of Nora and Stuey's swim lessons. Nora was slated to start in the second level group, Stuey in the very beginning group. When I got Nora there, she didn't want to get into the kiddie area with the other kids. She stood there with tears going down her face as the class started. One of the nice lifeguard instructors came over and tried to coax her in. It didn't help. She was taking small gasps for air and saying, "I want to go home, mommy."

I finally said, "Nora, lets just sit and watch this class." And then it dawned on me that she could try taking lessons with Stuey in the beginners group. When I suggested this, her mood immediately changed and she said, "Yeah, mommy. I'll swim with Stuey."

So one half hour later, she took her swim lesson with Stuey, and went walking right into the pool with utmost confidence. Amazing what the presence of her little brother and some time to warm up to the idea can do! The kids did great with floating, kicking, blowing bubbles. Patrick said it was a confidence booster for Nora, as she was the leader of the pack with all the activities, since she is confident in water.

I've read about how kids use imaginary play to work though things that happen to them during the day, and Nora does this frequently. Last night was a perfect example. She has a little plastic pirate ship and had little figurines next to it. She did pretend play with them for about half an hour. I was listening intently to her conversations and they were mostly about swimming.

Doll #1: Time to go to swimming lessons. Its really fun. But you have to leave mommy and daddy.
Doll #2: oh ok. splash. splash. splash.
Doll#1:See isn't it fun. You'll learn how to kick and float on your back.

The conversation went on like this for some time. It struck me how with Nora was working through it all with her pretend play and she is already more confident about the prospect of swimming lessons....because now she knows what they are all about. She was able to encourage her doll to try the swimming lesssons! I believe her hesitation at first was the unknown-just not knowing what was going to happen. Or concerns about being expected to do a lot.

Swim lessons are every day for 2 weeks. Its a big time commitment, but should be fun to see where they're at with confidence in water at the end of it! Zoya