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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Looth Tooth Times

Nora lost her first tooth today. THe whole "loose tooth" process took me by surprise, as I thought it was something that happened later--in 1st grade perhaps. Several days ago she talked about a tooth hurting, then the next door she excitedly told me her tooth was lose! Thanks heavens for the Berenstain Bears "Go to the Dentist" book! I think it brings excitement to the whole losing teeth process.

After the tooth came out at lunch today, Nora asked me "mom-can you text the tooth fairy and see if she will let me keep the tooth? I don't want her to take it." I told her I'd work on it. The texting-the-tooth-fairy concept made me laugh!

There have been a lot of firsts at our house this summer--
-Nora's first loose tooth
-Nora learning the monkey bars on her own several weeks ago
-Stuey starting pre-school
-Stuey starting dance class

Lots of new skills being integrated into their little brains!

Stuey took right to pre-school yesterday. I had a difficult time dropping Nora off, as she was crying and teary. I felt badly for her, but there wasn't a whole lot i could do. Sitting with her for the morning wasn't an option, as I had a client in 20 minutes to prepare for. She ended up doing just fine at preschool and it feels good to get back into the pre-school rhythm this fall.

Stuey really enjoyed dance class today as he hung on to every word his teacher Molly said. He smiled a lot which made me happy to see. I felt very relaxed watching him in his first dance class-I think he was especially comfortable from watching Nora all last year in class.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beauty. Should moms tell their daughters?

A topic I"ve wanted to write a little bit about the past year is how I"ve noticed that some moms tell their daughters that they are beautiful. Very frequently. I have made a very conscious choice to not tell Nora she is beautiful very much...just on a very rare holiday occasion when she is dressed up special. Why is it that moms say "you're beautiful" all the time? Are they saying "I love you" -just with different words?

As a mom raising a daughter, I'd rather my daughter hear, "You biked that hill so well!" or "I'm so proud how you're learning your letters"...praises for actions or skills which she has gained. THere is something about praising beauty so frequently that seems superficial. If you hear something over and over again, it doesn't mean as much when you hear it and perhaps you don't believe it as much. Plus, what does a 2 or 3 or 4 year old really think or how does she digest that info? Does she even have enough of a sense of "self" to even fully process it?

I decided to google this topic and see what I came up with. Am I crazy for even putting any time or thought into this at all? A few hits came up, so this re-assured me that other moms share a similar dilemna with their daughters.

Jane Shure on the Huffington Post writes, "The following question posed as a statement, helped me realize just how confused today's parents are:
"We shouldn't be telling our daughters that they are beautiful because that would only feed in to reinforcing the importance she holds about her looks." Stunned at what I was hearing from well educated, thoughtful, feminist minded mothers, I burst forth with a rant that sounded something like the following:
"Of course we need to tell our daughters that they are beautiful. Let me assure you that your daughters are exposed to negative messaging all day long, every day of every week, picking them apart and diminishing their sense of self. I promise you that it won't go to their head and inflate their sense of being. There's plenty in their world offsetting that as a possibility."


I agree that as daughters get older into the more insecure, hormonal teen years, it is important for them to feel beautiful, so perhaps telling them more often could be of benefit. More importantly, however, is that a girl is raised with good self-confidence, and that will make her beautiful and help her feel beautiful.

For now I"m going to continue not telling Nora (or Stuey) that they are beutiful--my feeling is that it only perpetuates the concept that beauty is skin deep. Also, as I read the draft of this to Patrick he asked, "Isn't saying I love you all the time the same thing? It lessens the power of the words?". Perhaps this is true. Although it seems impossible to send out too many "i Love yous" to our kiddos.


Kids on our way to Michigan in the Kodiak rainy parking lot.
Patrick and I. Taken a few days ago. Today is our 7 year wedding anniversary!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sitkalidak Island Beaches

Yesterday I got to go on a work-related trip to Sitkalidak Island. My trip involved boat, plane and helicopter rides and visits to wide open beaches. Sometimes I REALLY love my job. Sitkalidak is a large island on the east side of Kodiak and it's outer beaches face the full force of the Pacific ocean and are quite spectacular. Sitkalidak also has quite the archaeological pedigree - the top photo is of Ocean Bay beach where Don Clark first found and recognized tools from Kodiak's Ocean Bay tradition. This is Kodiak's oldest archaeological era (7500 to 4000 years ago), and now you know why it is so named! The second photo is of the beach next Refuge Rock (the island on the left). This is where Shelikof massacred a large group of Alutiiq people and broke Alutiiq resistance to Russian rule. A fairly sad and spooky place - you can feel the history here. Patrick

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Exploring on Bikes

Lately the kids have been REALLY into their bikes. At first it was just loops around our yard and driveway, but the last few days I have been biking along with them on 'mommy's bike'. It is actually my old Schwinn mountain bike but due to Zoya's eco challenge training they equate the bike with her. I go slow and they follow me around. We walk our bikes down the hill and go exploring down to the end of cliffside. Nora has gotten good at using her breaks to slow down going down hills, and they are now able to negotiate their bikes through some tight turns. It is good mountain bike training. For some reason, they are very adamant about their helmets. This is a good thing, but it is funny because when I was a kid no one wore helmets. I have a hard time putting on a helmet.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kodiak Eco Challenge Video

Last night I completed this years Eco Challenge video...set to music. Its hard taking video during a race, but more fun to put it all together and set it to music!
What glorious weather we're having in Kodiak now that the race is over. Go figure! :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Beach Business

Lake Michigan was so warm for the family reunion. Several days of high winds provided fun surf for the little and big kids to play in. Nora loved "wave jumping"...standing in the water and trying to jump over the waves that passed her.

On the calm quiet evenings and mornings, the kids would play in the sand making castles and drawings. It was fun to see all the different neices and nephews at work-each with their own style and focus. Stuey really liked perfecting his sand castle form, and by the end was good at "patting down" the platsic mold before removing it to see his creation.

Dicky brought a small catamaran and took people out sailing in it.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nora's Birthday in Michigan

On the last day of our stay in Michigan, Nora celebrated her 5th birthday--with her cousins and aunts in uncles surrounding her. Her cousins and aunties showered her with cute girl gifts...a pink tutu, bracelets, necklace and pink bow headband. Nora was in girlie-girl heaven.

A month or so prior to her birthday, Nora asked me, "mom-what will I be able to do when I'm 5 that I can't do when I'm 4?". I told her that probably sometime when she is 5, she'd be able to do the monkey bars, as she was starting to hang off of one bar unassisted. Then, 1 day before her 5th birthday, Nora did the monkey bars all by herself in Michigan. I believe she thought that she needed to be able to do the monkey bars by the time she was 5! In any case, she had a blast doing the monkey bars several times in a row and watching other kids swing their bodies from bar to bar.


Pushing Up Daisies II-Kodiak EcoChallenge 2010

This morning, my muscles are aching. Yesterday was the annual eco challenge race. I participated with 2 of the same team members as last year, and we had the same team name.

The race started in Chiniak at 8 AM and the first leg of the race was about an 8 mile bike ride, followed by rafting across Kalsin Bay. We got on our bikes again and biked to Middle Bay, at which point we rafted across Middle Bay. '

As we got into the raft, our team member, Tamara fell back wards in the water. She let out out a huge scream and we quickly pulled her back into the boat. After arriving on the other side of Middle Bay, two of the team biked and Chris and I ran to Cliff Point Road.

Somewhere along the bike ride, I got dirt into my eye, which caused painful tearing when I tried to open it. At one check point, the EMT guys tried flushing it, which didn't help a whole lot. At a subsequent check point, an EMT put a gauze patch on it, which helped tremendously as we started the hike up to Heitman Lake. Hiking felt really good after all the biking and rafting. After reaching the Heitman lake check point, we had to bush whack and trek down the other side of the mountain towards Womens Bay. The fog would move in and out and eventually we found a trail from the 50 people prior who had made their way down. There was lots of jokes and laughter going down the mountain, as we would fall and slide and fight with the alders. I made jokes about making up new yoga poses, such as a "full Alder" or "1/2 alder" pose, as we would fall and straddle alders. I am definitely NOT cut out for hunting or bushwhacking/hunting. Not fun.

With the patch on my eye, my team called me "Cyclops" (and one-eyed Willie from Goonies) and it did at times throw off my depth perception, especially going up and down the mountain. I think the patch looked much worse than I felt...The patch helped keep my eyelid shut, which felt great!

At the head of womens Bay, we got into our rafts and rafted the last leg to Nyman Peninsula on the Coast Gaurd Base where we participated in a paint gun activity--shooting at a target of a bear. That was fun-as I've never shot a paint ball gun before! (I didn't hit the bear. :( Sniffle, sniffle). Hitting the bear got time off of our score-I think one team member hit the bear.

The last 2 miles was walking to The Golden Anchor where we were greeted with a BBQ going and beers. Good finish point!

16 teams finished the race and we came in 13th. The race covered 37 miles and we did it in 9 hours. There were a few tiring moments in the race, but most of it was full of lots of laughter and joking. We all kept a VERY good sense of humor about the ordeal.

I"m already looking forward to next year...


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer Retrospective

Today Zoya is out racing in the Eco-Challenge and I'm at home watching the kids and editing photos. Yesterday I downloaded all of the photos from the panasonic camera Zoya bought while I was away doing archaeology on the far side of the Alaska Peninsula. It sort of became Stuey's camera and was mostly full of blurry and quite random pictures taken from Stuey's low level angle (lots of looking up at mugging adults, close ups of the floor and doggies, and blurry shots of nothing). But I did find some gems, and I also got a glimpse of what I missed on the home front while I was away doing archaeology. Sort of like looking in one of those mirrors they have in fairytales where you can get fuzzy glimpses of the past, present and future. I got a glimpse of Summer Past - a summertime retrospective so to speak.

I got to see how awesome Jenni F was with Stuey and Nora. She has gone off to college now, and we will certainly miss her. Looking through the photos I was impressed with all that she did with the kiddos. I glimpsed visits to the touch tank, lunches at parks, beaches - it was all there on the panasonic. And so were lots of pictures of Jenni. It seems Stuey liked to take pictures of Jenni. I also got to see Meghan and Bruce's wedding, and finally see Andrew playing train tracks with Stuey. Zoya told me about the extremely complicated track set up that they had built together when we talked on the SAT phone, but now I got to actually see it (bottom photo). Patrick

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cousin Camp 2010 in Michigan

Last night I returned from a family reunion in Traverse City Michigan. My family converged upon a house we rented and 20+ of us stayed under one roof on a house on Lake Michigan. We decided that without any weddings looming in the future, it was best to coordinate a reunion so we could all see each others children and catch up!The lake was very warm and there was a nice beach just a 1 minute walk down a little path. The cousins all played together so well...Nora took a special liking to my sister Annes daughter, Talia. They were little cousin camp buddies.

The 5 days flew by--spent with hours on the beach, sharing meals together and enjoying the evening sunsets on the back deck overlooking the lake. Stuey took a liking to playing with his little train set by himself. Occasionally he'd let another kid share and play with him, but I was struck by how solitary his play was. Stuey was a sand castle junkie, however. He would spend hours on the beach digging in the sand making castles.

More photos and stories to come later. Must go to bed now, as tomorrow is the Kodiak Eco challenge, which I am participating in. The race starts at 8 AM in Chiniak, so its off to get some zzz's....


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nora is Five

Today Nora is five and flying home along with Zoya and Stuey. There will be a family reunion tonight here on Kodiak! Nora has REALLY been looking forward to her birthday, and I can only imagine the excitement of getting to fly on the same day too. And going from East to West is a little easier - no flying through the night and it seems quicker with the time change in one's favor. The doggies and I can't wait for the rest of the pack to get back! Patrick

Photo: Sunrise over MillBay at dawn this morning.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Teepee Time

On Saturday evening John S and I headed up in the wind and the rain to go hunting. Actually, it felt more like camping because it was so windy and foggy that I seriously doubted we had much of a chance on harvesting a deer. But I really wanted to try out my old Megalight Teepee tarp with a wood stove. This is an old tarp tent that I have had for years - it has been on survey to the Ayakulik River, Chirikof Island, and even up Shishaldin Volcano. I recently installed a stove boot in it so that I could put the woodstove inside (see earlier post about quesadillas on the stove). I did not dare to do this with a brand new tent.

Anyway, the wood stove and megalight worked great. John and I found some dry wood and lit the stove and life was good while the storm raged outside. And did it rage! The trees were roaring back and forth overhead, and it rained over an inch overnight. I was amazed at how the stove dried out our cloths and the inside of the teepee. The megalight and stove will work great on our elk hunt in October. That's the best thing about camping in bad weather near home - It gets me ready for elk hunting in October when the weather is far less friendly and you can't just quit and go home.

Best of all, while we did wake up to rain and fog, it cleared off, and John harvested a small forked deer. So despite the weather we brought back meat! Patrick

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Deep In Midden

On Friday the Community Archaeology dig ended and to the best of my knowledge (and subjective memory) it is the first year ever that we did not miss a day due to weather. That said, yesterday it rained and misted pretty hard all day, but our field-hardened crew persevered and even thrived in the wet conditions. Everyone wanted to get to the bottom of their respective middens, and the midden is very deep at Mitksqaaq Angayuk!

Actually it is kind of amazing how deep it is in places. Back when we were excavating at the adjacent Zaimka Mound I always looked down over the Miktsqaaq Angayuk Mound and wondered where they quarried the sods to build the multiroom houses. I assumed that the whole mound was built up from weathered stacked sods. At Settlement Point, a late prehistoric site I excavated on Afognak, the houses were built on the beach with stacked sods quarried from the hillside behind it. So I always sort of assumed that the Miktsqaaq Angayuk mound was built up the same way. However, at Zaimka Mound we never found any evidence for sod quarrying. And now I know why - the Miktsqaaq Angayuk Mound is all midden! It is an enormous mound of trash - 3000 years worth of clam and fish dinners.

The mound is so big and there are so little evidence of sods and house building in the mound that I am wondering if Kachemak era peoples even built houses at Mitksqaaq Angayuk. There is a large Kachemak village around the corner at the other end of the beach and perhaps they lived there and did their fish processing at Miktsqaaq Angayuk? Despite the large multiroom houses, the Late Prehistoric Koniag occupation appears to have been brief and to have added very little material to the mound.

Molly and I also realized that together the adjacent Zaimka and Miktsqaaq Angayuk mounds seem to represent over 7000 years of pretty much continuous occupation. That is amazing! The only other place on the archipelago that even comes close to this is the mouth of the Karluk River or perhaps at Litnik. Hopefully, Molly will have food remains to analyze from the last 3000 years of that time period. So far all of the middens have been VERY different from each other. Some have been full of cod and shell, others full of halibut and salmon with little cod, and it will be interesting to tease out whether the differences are temporal or seasonal related. Did the people's diet and habits change with time or does the differences between the middens reflect different seasonal occupations? I think that we will find that it is a little bit of both. Molly has a lot of work to do, and I can't wait to hear the results of her analysis!

Photos: Top - Emily gets to the bottom of the 'late Prehistoric midden'. It was raining so hard that many of my photos were too blury to even bother with saving. In the second photo Jill and Kevin pick a screen. We screened all the excavated dirt and picked through it to gather all the artifacts, fish and animal bones, and shell. In the rain, it got a little mucky and hard to see stuff! Third photo is of Leslie near the bottom of the 'HP6 midden'. This is the 'house' that turned out to be a deep midden. Fourth photo is of Leslie and Jill excavating midden, and finally the bottom photo is of Leslie with another of her harpoons. We found some pretty cool artifacts in the middens. The shells in the midden raised the soil Ph and helped preserve bone tools.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

And They're Off

Zoya, Nora and Stuey left this evening for a family reunion in Michigan. I'm staying in town with Roxy and Jake to finish up the Community Archaeology dig. I said my goodbyes around 6:45 and then went to Molly Odell's lecture at the Alutiiq Museum. When I got back home at 8:30 it looked pretty foggy so I checked flight tracker and it looks like they left at 8:27 - a half hour late. It seems very quiet and sort of sad here all alone at home. They probably flew past the house as I drove home from the museum.

Anyhow, of late Nora and Stuey have been way into their fishing rods and have actually gotten pretty good at casting with them. We put on old lures that had lost their hooks and they cast around off of the porches at will. Stuey can already cast the lure up onto the roof of the house. I think it is good practice for the next time when we go fishing. We'll put on lures with actual hooks, put on the old safety glasses (they got these for the salmon derby), and hopefully catch a fish to eat! Patrick

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One for two

When I last checked in we were wondering whether the house pits at Miktsqaaq Angayuk are historic or prehistoric. It turns out that 'housepit 8' is probably late prehistoric in age while 'housepit 6' seems to be a simple depression between houses - not a house at all! I was hoping it was a collapsed house that had been filled with late prehistoric shell midden. But instead we have been finding far older Kachemak style artifacts and none of the banya rock you would expect in a late prehistoric midden. Stratigraphically, a late prehistoric house should be filled with younger and NOT older midden - things should get younger not older towards the surface. And for this reason, I am pretty sure we are digging in a midden and not a house. Still there is great faunal preservation. Yesterday Molly found a harpoon barb (pictured) and the midden is full of periwinkles, and chitons and relatively few cod bones compared to what we found in the 'trench' midden.

In housepit 8 we did not find any artifacts at all, but it had a hearth. For this reason I am confident it was a house and that it is prehistoric in age (no metal or glass). So we dug outside the house and found another shell midden. And this time we found lots of banya rock in the midden - so it looks late prehistoric. Late prehistoric (Koniag era) sites on Kodiak are always full of fire-cracked banya rock. It's starting to look like Molly will have fauna from the Early Kachemak era, Late Kachemak, Koniag, and early Russian era to analyze. She will be able to say something about how Alutiiq people on Womens Bay used shellfish through time.

If you are interested in Molly's reasearch come to the Alutiiq Museum at 7 PM on Thursday night. Molly will be giving a lecture all about what she has learned so far. Patrick

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Salmon Fever

We've been enjoying fresh salmon lately, thanks to our friend Mike who LOVES fishing. On Friday night, he brought over a small fresh king salmon which we cut up and ate raw dipped in soy sauce. It was absolutely delicious. Never frozen, completely smooth and light in flavor. Not at all grainy, which occurs when salmon is frozen.

Yesterday was the Kiwanis pink salmon derby on the Buskin River. There were oodles of kids with hooks being cast every which way. There weren't many fish in the river, but a good time was had. There was a $1 participant fee in the derby, and every participant got free safety goggles and a lure. The only thing Nora hooked was my hand.

The kiddies this morning wanted to join in on my brief yoga session. I try to do a few minutes every day lately and its fun when they do some of the poses!


Saturday, August 07, 2010

Field Dressing a Sitka Black-Tailed deer on Kodiak

This morning I got up at 4AM to hunt deer. The weather forecast is for rain tomorrow so I figured a quick surgical strike was in order. A dawn patrol so to speak. Good thing I did too because it is already raining, and I got a deer.

I love hiking up to the high country before dawn. Walking through the dark spruce forest with all the marbled murrelets whistling overhead as they fly from their nests to the sea. The birds are on their way to catch fish to feed their families. I was hiking through their nesting country to find a deer to bring back to feed my family.

Once I got to the high country I got a deer pretty quickly. I made a time lapse video of me butchering the deer that I hope to use in a video about where our family gets its food. I assumed that Zoya would think it gross, and I was VERY surprised that she actually liked it. She even helped me make a quicktime movie that we posted to youtube and that you can watch here. It is a 1 min 44 second condensed lapse video of a 45 minute process.

Zoya here....Patrick was going to title the video "Butchering a Black-Tail" and I quickly talked him out of it. I thought of the various facebook friends who may be even SLIGHTLY interested in watching the process and this title would have turned them completely away. There is something more "classy" about calling it "Field-Dressing". A title says a thousand words...

That said-INSERT DISCLAIMER--The video is graphic.


Friday, August 06, 2010

Historic or prehistoric houses?

Yesterday we started to excavate into the large multiroom houses at Miktsqaaq Angayuk. The big question is are they from the early Russian era like last year's house or are they late prehistoric (occupied just before the Russians arrived on Kodiak)? We really want them to be prehistoric so that Molly will have shellfish to study from each of the main eras at Cliff Point over the past 3,000 or so years.

So far so good - Yesterday we opened up HP6 and HP8 at the site. Both are much larger and deeper than the one we excavated last year, and Historic Alutiiq houses tend to be smaller than late prehistoric houses. In the fourth photo Emily and Jill remove the 1912 Katmai ash in our test in HP8. It was VERY thick - the ash blew in into the deep pit and filled it up. They found the floor and a hearth surrounded by banya roick immediately below the ash. So the house had a thatch roof and no roof sods. They also did not find any historic artifacts - no metal, russian ceramics, glass etc. But they did not find any prehistoric artifacts either. They did not find a single artifact! However, I take this as evidence that the house is likely prehistoric - historic houses are generally full of metal and glass while prehistoric houses often contain very few artifacts.

In HP6 Shelley, Marnie and Deb (see third photo) removed the Katmai ash but did not find a house floor immediately under the ash. They actually found a midden with excellent faunal preservation. So what does this mean? It means HP 6 is either not a house or it has been filled up with late prehistoric midden. The determining test will be whether or not we find a floor under the midden. If there is a floor under the midden Molly will be very happy because she will likely have late prehistoric midden to analyze - midden that was dumped into the collapsed house pit.

Other photos: Top photo is of the site yesterday morning - if you look closely you can see our excavations in the other houses on the mound. Second photo is Stuey with my fishing rod. Yesterday Zoya and the kiddos brought me lunch from Java Flats and Stuey took a liking to my fishing rod. We almost caught a dolly while he was helping me fish. On the way home Zoya stopped in at Mack's and got Stuey a rod of his own. Bottom photo is of Katie digging into the midden. The midden continues to go and go, but we still have not found a diagnostic artifact to give us and idea of how old it is.