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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Freezer Full

Before the elk hunt our freezer was looking a little bare. Now it is full. After the hunt was over it took all day Sunday and Monday to cut, process and wrap all the meat from the two elk. I have two freezers, and before we divided up the meat between all the parties, they were both completely full of meat. No room to spare. Everyone who went on the elk hunt ended up with a full cooler of wrapped meat. And we still have to grind up all the burger meat!

It is a very welcome change from last year when we did not harvest an elk. By the following May we were out of meat. And compared to deer and goat, elk comes in BIG slabs. We will be having some BIG roasts this year! Patrick

Monday, October 18, 2010

HealthCare shopping--Venting

Today I worked with a client who wanted help finding out about surgery options, MRI costs, etc for her knee. Cost is always a factor in making health care decisions, especially with costly exams such as MRI's. Even with insurance, there are co-pays and deductibles to consider. To help her through the muddy waters of medical decision making, I called Anchorage Fracture and Orthopedic Clinic to find out what an MRI cost-$1534 for an MRI of the knee. Plain and Simple. Nothing sneaky.

Then I called Providence Kodiak to see what the cost is for a knee MRI. I was transferred from the front desk, to radiology, then to the answering machine of someone in quality control department. I didn't leave a message. I got the feeling they really don't want to answer questions like that.

This was the exact reason I opened up my clinic. To provide honest, care at a pre-disclosed price. People don't need to play games to find out the pre-determined cost of a procedure. Finding good healthcare is already challenging without having to play 'procedure-cost-sleuth'.

Why couldn't someone in the radiolgoy department let me know how much a knee MRI is? The Anchorage Fracture Orthopedic Clinic knew instantly what that would cost. They were staring at the price list with me on the phone. I have heard this complaint from many clients about finding out cost of procedures at the hospital before the fact--it is very hard to find actual cost. Todays experience verified this for me.

I've been fairly "tame" about my big business complaints on my blog, but this one I couldn't resist. It is poor care. When we go to a restaurant, there are prices on the menu. If we got to buy a car, and ask the price, we are told the prices. Why aren't there prices for certain procedures on the hospital billing sheet available for people to see when they are deciding what procedures they can or can't afford?

At least I can go to bed at night feeling good about providing good care at a reasonable price and being completely upfront about what my services cost.


Elk Hunt Photos

The great thing about having a boat as base camp is that you get to move around a lot. You are not stuck in one bay or limited to a single peninsula. So we got to explore thick spruce forests and hike around in the alpine tundra on the outer capes of the Peninsulas. Afognak Island really does have a HUGE variety of habitats. Looking at some of the photos it is hard to believe they were all taken on the same island. Patrick

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back from Afognak with Elk

Yesterday we got back to Kodiak from Afognak on the Alpha Centuri with 2 elk on board. A successful trip! While there we found 2 different herds of elk and saw elk on 6 of the 7 days we were hunting. But something seemed to go wrong every time we stalked an elk and it was not until the last day that we harvested our 2 cows and carried them back to the boat. Compared to hunts past it was a relatively easy elk haul - about a mile and a half with a 1/4 mile 400 vertical climb at the start and then a 1800 foot drop down to the beach. We got the elk back to the boat just as the light failed and did not have to use headlamps - a welcome change from years past!

Since we did not get our elk until the last day we did a LOT of hiking. I don't think we have ever covered more country in search of elk. We split into 2 parties to cover more country and camped in the high country between bays so we could glass for elk at dawn. We learned that elk herds round up every morning at 10:30 AM sharp and with a lot of whistling move off in a line to bed down. So you got to be looking for them before 10:30 AM. We also saw more bears than ever before - at least 3 or 4 EVERY day. And Justin and I had a very hairy experience when we surprised a sow with 3 cubs in the trees and she charged us - I am ashamed to admit I hid behind Justin as we backpedaled with the snarling, jaw-snapping bear approaching. All and All an exciting and successful trip! Patrick

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Doula Moments

There have been some cool doula moments the past couple of weeks...

-At a first post-delivery visit with a mom, her baby girl had a onesie on it that said, "I Love my Doula". It was precious. My heart melted! Moments like that make my heart smile.

-Tonight I had a pre-natal doula meeting. The dad remembered me from a couple years ago--he is a utility repair person and remembered coming over to my house--he remembered that I had two black dogs and purple subaru. Its funny how you never know who's birth you'll be involved with! I laughed and told him, "I never would've guessed two years ago that I would be at the birth of your child!". Fun moment.

-Recently after a birth, the brother of the newborn said to me, "Thank you so much for helping mommy have the baby". The words meant so much to me, as I could tell he really meant what he said.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Waiting for Kindergarten

Nora is doing well this fall and I'm so glad I didn't put her in kindergarten. I would be lying if I said I haven't had any small moments of during dance class when Nora is the only 5 year old not in kindergarten taking the 5 year old dance. But in the bigger picture, she wasn't ready. He speech therapist didn't think she was ready. And I didn't think she was ready. I really understand how being ready for kindergarten has little to do with age and more to do with speech, behavior, attention span, developmental milestones etc. That said, kindergarten teachers are incredible and work with kids at all different levels.

Nora turned 5 at the very end of the summer, and after talking to a LOT of people about it, the consensus was there was no reason to push kindergarten. What I heard from many parents was that the ones who put their kids on the early end regretted it in 4th and 5th grade. In fact, many folks I spoke to said they had to have their child repeat a grade later, which was hard. Especially with boys. And the ones who waited extra time and started their young ones late were really glad they did. THey talked about how their child felt more like a leader of the class, instead of at the bottom.

I think Patrick and I have put extra thought into it, as he had to repeat kindergarten as a youngster. Yes-a little known fact about my husband. (He talks about this publicly, so I hope I won't be in trouble about putting this on our blog. I guess we'll find out when he comes home from hunting...)

And I'll see where Nora is at in the spring, summer and fall to decide what would be right for her learning and social development...kindergarten or homeschooling. There is SO MUCH to do in Kodiak with other kids that she would have lots of great social opportunities homschooling. And from what home schooling parents say, at the K-1 level, it takes several hours a week to get the academic work done and the rest of the time can be spent playing, exploring, going to the beach, etc.

I think a big part of the decision will be class sizes, as I'd like for her kindergarten experience to be a small class. RIght now I believe the school whos' zone we're in has 20+ kids in each kindergarten room, which would be a lot for Nora. But maybe by the fall she'd be up for that.



The other morning, Stuey came walking into the kitchen, sat up on our counter stool and looked around at Patrick and I and said, "Hey, we all have noses!". That got a laugh out of me!

The past few days, Stuey looks at me very intently and says, "I look into your eyes". If I"m not looking at him, he'll hold the sides of my head gently and rotate it towards him. And give me this big smile.

The other day there was 1 brownie left that someone gave us. Stuey said, "Mark can have this brownie. Daddy not like brownies. I'll give it to Mark." Stuey charged out the door to the shed (as Mark had been in there the week prior cataloging artifacts. hes has been out on the Elk hunt with Patrick). He walked back to the house slowly, with a disappointed look in his face, brownie in hand. He said, "Marks not here. Hes not at work, too. Hes out skiing." LIttle does Stuey know, ski season isn't quite in season yet. But I think he believes that Mark would do the same things as his dad. :)


SAT phone-A mixed blessing

For years Patrick has owned a satellite phone to call with when he is out in the field. There have been many times when this has brought me significant peace of mind--knowing that he could be in the middle of nowhere and get help if needed.
There have been downsides to the sat phone which I never would have anticipated. For one, if he says he will be back at 4 pm and hes not home, then I worry. Significantly. This is because Patrick is almost NEVER late, so when he is and the sun has set, AND I know he has the sat phone on him, I worry.

Granted, this doesn't happen often, perhaps once every few years. Twice, I've put a call out the search and rescue team. Pete C. from Kodiak Search and rescue has had to "talk me off the ledge" so to speak, with being overly worried about Patrick lost in the wilderness. Pete consoles me by saying, "Zoya, I know what happened. They're probably getting to the car right about now and working on warming up and the sun just went down-maybe a few minutes sooner than they anticipated." And sure enough-after I get off the phone, Patrick pulls up in the driveway or calls.

The other caveat of the sat phone is if I"m terribly sick, then he needs to come home. This occurred when I had my severe bout of vertigo for a week. I was down and out, recovering from the virus which caused the vertigo, taking care of sick Nora on top of it. Patrick called and asked how things were-he was on a goat hunt. I told him I wasn't pregnant (we had been a bit concerned about that before he left-because I didn't know what was causing the lightheadedness). He was so relieved to hear this, that he didn't hear that I was quite sick and exhausted, taking care of the kids. And I needed him.

When he got home from the hunt, I asked him, "If you didn't come home then, when would you come home? Would you come home if I was dying?". This wasn't really a fair question of me to ask him, as I know he would. But I needed to know deep down inside that if I was quite sick and needed him home for a hunt or trip, that he would come. He understood and we came to an agreement--He would come home if I needed him, and I agreed to not "cry wolf" and ask him to come home soon. (Admittedly, I"ve done this a few times in the past---especially on elk hunts. When I'm more at wits end with him being gone on hunting trips all fall.)

In the end I"m glad the sat phone is in his back pack, but I think perhaps it will be used a little less to check in, then it used to. Which is ok with me. I know that its there in case of an emergency.


Saturday, October 09, 2010

Young Professionals and feeling older

This fall in my spinning classes, I have felt Old. Maybe I should clarify-- older than normal. I've noticed there is a big group of young professionals who have moved to Kodiak this fall. They are in their mid to late 20's and have jobs with the hospital, KANA, etc... During spinning classes, several of them talked about their "SIgnificant Others" and I remembered how Patrick used to be that to me! Their conversations revolve a bit more around evening schedules and workout schedules--some of them going straight from spinning to swimming. Those were the days--unlimited workout hours!

It makes me remember how I used to be in that "new to Kodiak" and "20 something" group and now I"m in a different group. I"m in the "Married-with-kids with steady job and been here for a while-group". Or maybe its the "I"m happy if Friday nights are at home on my couch" group also. Or the "fuddy-duddy" group. Whatever you want to call it, its a place where fun times are found with our family, friends and the outdoors. I couldn't enjoy this time in our life more.

I love that the gals who came to my spinning class enjoyed the hour and they said they loved my music-phew. At least I can still pick out good workout tunes. Its funny, cause Patrick and I have friends of all different ages and I love how our friendships aren't limited by age at all. In fact, Patrick is 10 years older than me, and age difference has never been a concern. He has friends who are 10 years older than him, which makes them 20 years older than me and its not an issue.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ecstasy and Agony

Tomorrow we leave on our Afognak Elk hunt. It's an annual event. Every year we leave on Jim's seiner and cruise to Afognak Island to hunt elk. And every year we leave Kodiak with visions of big elk in our heads, and seem to forget what it took in years past to get them back to the boat. Elk are big. Once we get one there is always that euphoric moment before you realize, 'this thing is as big as a horse - how on earth are we going to get him back to the boat?' And then the work begins.

This year BEFORE we left on the hunt I thought I'd remind myself just how big elk are, and try to remember what it takes to carry one through the brush with no trail to follow. Hopefully this will help temper our enthusiasm and, as a result, we will not shoot an elk on the back side of a mountain 5 miles from the beach. That said, elk are where you find them - and they are ALWAYS a lot of work. Even if you find them on the beach. Patrick

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Neighborly relations

A lot has happened this past year on Cliffside drive. Several lots down the road were developed with houses in the works on them. A friend's house at the end of the road is having a new addition built on it. Two houses down, there has been exterior construction on it. And the latest change is a house just down the hill got a new family in it.

The family which used to live in the house was somewhat reclusive--there were 2 kids, perhaps who lived there, but we never really saw them outside much. The curtains were often closed and I never saw many signs of life outside.

The other day as I was walking by, a dad and two of his girls were outside unpacking and moving in. I said Hi and welcomed them to the neighborhood. They were so friendly and bursting with enthusiasm about living on Cliffside road. The kids and I made brownies tonight and brought them over tonight. The 4 girls and mom who greeted us at the door were just thrilled about being welcomed to the neighborhood. Sometimes it feels that people stay in their houses so much and there isn't nearly enough interaction between neighbors living so close. This fall that has changed for us, as Stuey and Nora have been biking with the neighbor boys. Nora even wrote the neighbor boys a note and left it on their door. And they wrote her one back. It is exactly the type of neighborly relations I would've hoped to have.


Fall Colors

It's finally fall! Last weekend when I went deer hunting with Gregg it was still pretty green up in the high country and there were flowers blooming. This past weekend when I went hunting with Mark and Jason all the greens had turned to brown and the flowers had been frosted. The fireweed is at the fuzzy stage, and it will not be long before all the cottonwoods lose their leaves!

Our hunt was successful. We climbed up into the alpine before dawn and shot a spike. I also tried something new with the neckmeat when I butchered it back home. Rather than teasing all the pieces apart and cutting off all the tendons and fat which always seems to take forever (and you just end up with a tiny bit of meat after all the trimming). I just lopped it off the backstrap and cooked it covered with the ribs at low heat (200 degrees) with a little water in the bottom of the pan for 8 hours. I then used Gregg's rib marinade recipe and cooked both up on the grill in the evening. Outstanding! The neck meat melted and tasted just like really meaty ribs. I will not waste my time trimming neck meat in the future! Patrick