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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Skiing is Great

It was supposed to rain all weekend - so when it was sunny today it was a big, unexpected bonus. In the dim fog bound days of late when I've gone skiing it usually been up into a whiteout. I climb 1500 feet or so and then ski down following my up track to keep from getting lost. In the white white world of a whiteout my tracks and pole plants are often the only thing there is to see.

So today was an awesome surprise – Sun above and views to the horizon. Today I could have fun. And I did. The skiing was great (see photos). What's funny is that even though the skiing is at its best for the year right now, there are fewer people skiing. Once the snow is gone in town people assume it is gone everywhere. Go figure. Patrick

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Visiting Archaeologists

Through the years our house here on Cliffside has been a crash pad for visiting archaeologists. Back before I even lived on Kodiak I used to go to exotic places on digs (this included Kodiak) and various archaeologists would always put me up in their houses. So I vowed that when I had a house of my own that I'd return the karma and put up visiting archaeologists too. And I have. Or rather Zoya and I have.

Early on I think at times it was tough on Zoya. Red hair dye in the shower and inappropriate tighty whiteys flashings come to mind. One time Zoya returned from a trip out East to discover than an entire archaeology field school (20 people plus) had taken over the house and lawn...sleeping bags were everywhere. Needless to say, she was in shock. (We broke up for a short while after that one....)

But in general it has been very rewarding, and I am happy to say that Zoya has met and become fast friends with many of the archaeologists who have visited our home. I love it when I lurk on her Facebook page and discover that she's keeping up with archaeologists that she met through me.

Nowadays, Zoya I and the kids see the arrival of visiting archaeologists as a sign of impending summer. It's the archaeological field season and archaeologists are flocking back to Kodiak. Exactly analogous to when we get our shorebirds and puffins back. Stuey and Nora love it - they view visiting archaeologists as family. To my chagrin, they appreciate the return of the archaeologists far more than they do the return of the shorebirds.


Top – Shooting a drain pipe rocket on our porch with Don Clark. He is an archaeologist who was actually raised in Kodiak but now resides in Canada.

Second from top – Bob Kopperl does same.

Third – Don Clark and 'Cowboy Don' Dumond at the Zaimka mound site. Zoya initially referred to Don Dumond as 'cowboy don' (to differentiate him from Don Clark) and she is very close to accurate because Don Dumond grew up close to the border of Mexico as a cowboy, and actually used to ride horses into Mexico as a kid (much like the novel 'All the Pretty Horses').

Fourth photo – Visiting archaeologist stalwart Mark Rusk (on right) also known as 'Manny' because of all the help and advice he has given us to help bring up our kids. 'Manny' is to all intents and purposes an uncle to Nora and Stuey.
And the guy on the left is Josh (a local friend-not an archaeologist).

Bottom photo – Mike Etnier, Catherine Foster west, Molly Odell, and I outside the Powerhouse Restaurant this April - the archaeological migration to Kodiak has begun. Patrick

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Feast

On Easter, I filled the little plastic eggs with dinosaur stickers and Roxann brought little chocolates for inside the eggs as well. The kids went running around outside searching for the eggs. I decided that even if the eggs had been empty, they still would've been thrilled with just the search for eggs!

Dinner was a prime rib, roasted brussel sprouts, roasted root vegetables, wild rice, spinach salad, gravy, scallop ceviche and gravy. I love having people over for dinner which we now tend to only do on holidays or birthdays. Seems like before we had kids over we would do it so much more often.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Stone tools

Lately while at work I have been helping write up the report of our excavation last summer at the Penguq site over on the other side of the Alaska Peninsula. One of my tasks has been to take photographs of all the artifacts. They will later appear as plates in the report. What you see here are all the knives (Bottom) and points (Top).

What's striking is how different they are from similar aged and analogous artifacts from Kodiak (AD 200 to 800). The pictured tools are classic Norton Tradition types while artifacts from this time period on Kodiak are typical of the Late Kachemak Tradition. Partially this is because most of the Kachemak tools you find on Kodiak are ground from slate while on the far side of the Alaska Peninsula where there is no slate all of the tools were chipped from stone. Chipped stone looks nothing like ground stone.

But the differences also reflect culture. The people on the other side of the Peninsula did things differently than the people on Kodiak. They built their houses and tools differently, and probably dressed differently too. But just how different from each other were they? Did they speak a similar language? Was their an ethnic difference between them? They did not live all that far apart and they certainly interacted with each other. But what was the nature of their interaction and how did they influence each other? These are the questions I'll be thinking about as I help write up our report. And to answer these types of questions you have to look at more than just the tools. Patrick

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Eggs & Dance

This weekend has been a full one--dance practice on "the Big Stage" for Cinderella, as well as dyeing easter eggs yesterday. Katie brought Sawyer and Natalie over the Easter egg dyeing which wasn't too much of a disaster. Admittedly, I have shyed away from easter egg dyeing in prior years because of Stuey's then-young age. Just wasn't quite up to the egg dye mess and potential for kitchen clean-up disasters. This year the group was the perfect age for egg dyeing!

Stage Rehearsals for their dance class production of Cinderella started yesterday on the Community Auditorium stage. The moment Stuey has been waiting for...rehearsing on the "Big Stage". All winter if he resisted going to dance class, I reminded him that he would be able to dance on the big stage. Nora will be a mouse in the performance and Stuey will be a bumble bee. Can't wait to see him in the bee costume and Nora as a mouse!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Life on the Rock

It's April on the 'Rock'. The 'Rock' is what locals affectionately call their island home. I think it might be a tongue in cheek reference to Alcatraz, and the fact that sometimes flights in and out of Kodiak are grounded for days at a time. Or it might refer to our position as a large island in the Gulf of Alaska far out in the North Pacific Ocean.

I see it as a plus that it is often difficult to get in and out of Kodiak. That's why we live on an Island. The sense of isolation creates community comradery - a feeling that we are all in this together. A feeling of community self-sufficiency.

There is nothing like sitting in front of the fire at home while a mighty winter storm sweeps in from the North Pacific. A storm that would make headline news if it occurred in the lower 48, but is a ho hum event here on the Rock. No flights out of Kodiak for days at a time, and the airport seems like a scene from the American Embassy in Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. Then again it is stressful when traveling home with kids and you get stuck in Anchorage. .. .. Still, nothing like a little adversity to create character.

Kodiak has a lot of character and characters.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Evenings Outside

The past week we've had a string of nice weather which has prompted us to spend the evenings largely outside. This year the kids are both finally at an age where they can put their boots, jackets and even bike helmets all by themselves and head outside. Their independence is lovely--after years of holding babies/toddlers outside--they can now both run and bike about happily.

Biking up and down the driveway is a hit. Stuey is able to bike downhill with a pedal bike, and is close to being able to go uphill. Nora whizzes around stuey on her bike and the neighbor boys from next door often join us on their bikes. The kids go up and down our driveway and then up and down their driveway.

The firepit is also a big evening dinner and then marshmellows is so much more interactive then on the grill or in the oven. The kids run about playing and stopping to sit and watch the fire. This is our first full summer with the firepit. Spring is in the air in Kodiak...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Cruising the Crust

Here on Kodiak the snow has been pretty good lately, and looking back at the blog I see that I have made a lot of skiing posts in the last week or so. But the skiing is so good that I just can't resist another.

What's been amazing is that while it has been sunny and warm with daytime highs of near 50 degrees it has also been getting down into the 20s and freezing hard every night. This has kept the snow solid and crust cruising at its best. Usually when it gets so warm and sunny during the day the snow pack does not freeze back up at night and you get a bottomless pit of iso-thermic corn snow. That has not been happening. Everyday it has been about an inch of thawed corn snow on top of a solid snow pack. Just perfect for cruising around on my skate skiis.

This afternoon when I went skate skiing I climbed up into the hills for the first 20 minutes, and then for the next 50 minutes I contoured all around and slowly lost elevation until I was back at the car. It was so gradual of a descent that I never had to snowplow or do any 'hockey stops' to bleed speed. I just ripped up and down and around, and the gradual descent kept it pretty effortless. Patrick

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Hunt for Red Alder Is OVER

Last spring I tried desperately and failed to find a red alder to plant on our lawn. Red alders are beautiful tall trees and if you are interested in what they look like there is one growing in front of the ADF&G building downtown. I looked around town for one of my own and found what I thought to be a red alder and went to a great deal of effort to plant it on our lawn. It turned out to be a normal alder. I outlined the events in our blog (see below).

But all was not lost. Tom a reader of our blog from the land of red alders took pity on me and promised to send me a red alder for the lawn. And yesterday he delivered! A box of neatly packaged saplings arrived at the museum. And not just one red alder but three, and big leaf maple seedlings, western red cedar, and even an Oregon ash tree. I'm in Heaven and have been scouting the lawn to find places to plant the trees.

I even planted one yesterday, but after a call to a local tree expert I removed it to a bucket filled with dirt. I gather it is still a bit early to plant saplings. And indeed I note that it is 27 degrees outside with a heavy frost this morning. I'll need to wait a few weeks before I plant them. In the meanwhile, they are all waiting in the barn in their individual buckets of dirt. Stay tuned, and THANK YOU TOM! Patrick

Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Vitamin D fix is In

Sun and snow - a dangerous combination. After 2 days of skiing my face is a beet red color. Perhaps I should start using sunblock? But hey, at least I got in my vitamin D fix. Actually, I generally do not like sunblock because when I sweat big time climbing the mountains the sunblock inevitably runs into my eyes and burns my vision.

Anyhow, today the beet red face was worth it. I opted to go skate skiing and for the first 25 minutes I steadily climbed 800 feet vertical. There were a couple of plateaus in there where I could crust cruise around on the level and recover but no mincing words - it was a grind. Then, all at once, I was on top and it was glorious. I spent the next hour contouring around the hills and slowing losing elevation until I was back at my car. One of the best crust cruises I have ever experienced. Just flying here and there effortlessly like I was on ice skates and slowly but surely losing elevation. Hard to beat.

Photos: Top - a spruce covered plateau half way down on my way home. Middle - a big bowl up near the top of my ski. Bottom - Zoya on her way up yesterday with downhill gear. Patrick

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beauty and the Beast

Patrick titled this "Beauty and The Beast"--the crocosus' coming up are the beast, and skiing on Pyramid is the Beauty! Patrick has Nora trained to "pray for snow" so every day, Nora says, "Dad, I'm praying for more snow!". It seems to have worked, as we've had a good amount of snow this past week. None that really sticks to the ground, but the flakes have definitely been falling from the sky.

Today I went down hill skiing for the first time in 2 years. Last winter I didn't go downhill skiing at all and regretted it at the end of the season. This year I want to make up for it and get out on the snow when the conditions are half way decent. Today the conditions were perfect by all measures. Temperatures in the mid 40's, snow was perfect skiing consistency...I went all the way down without falling once. Good for a 1st ski of the season. It felt so great to be up Pyramid mountain with Patrick-such gorgeous scenery from the top.

After skiing we met up with the kids at the parking lot and took them sledding at the old ski chalet area across the road. Nora and Stuey went off a mini ski jump on their sled and caught some serious air. They liked that!


Stuey-ism for the day...
Patrick took the kids biking down the road. I was here at the house finishing up dishes. Stuey came into the house by himself. I asked him where daddy and Nora were. As he tried to catch his breath he replied, "I raced them. My breath was out of gas."


The skiing is pretty good these days on Kodiak - both the skate skiing and the downhill. Every day after work I have the angst of deciding which discipline to go with. But really, how can I lose? Yesterday when I went up Pyramid I had the entire mountain to myself. There was not another soul up there. It made me realize how good we have it here on Kodiak when the nearest, most accessible skiing to town is so uncrowded. I imagine if this was near Anchorage or some other large town that the place would've been packed on such a nice day. And there really is nothing quite like looking back up a ski slope and seeing just your own tracks on it. Patrick

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fishing for Ritz....Kodiak BBQ season begins

In our kitchen we have a space called, "The Big Hole" which is a gap between the backs of the cabinets. If items are accidentally dropped into there, they are never really retrieved, as it goes all the way down to the floor. This past week Patrick put an economy size box of ritz on the top of the cabinet and it fell in The Big Hole. He was concerned about mice finding them and having a feast, so it was time to do some fishing for Ritz. He put his headlamp on, got out his halibut rod with treble hook on it and went fishing. 20 minutes and some sweat beads-on-his-forehead-later, he retrieved an old book and box of ritz. It was definitely fun to watch!! (I cannot tell a lie--I didn't think hooking a ritz box with his halibut rod could be done!)

BBQ season here in Kodiak has begun. This past week we've had two barbeques of veggies and meats. Granted, the temperature hasn't yet hit 50, but even with the readings in the mid 40's we're ready to go. Just add sun and we're gearing up for a BBQ!

Our fire pit from last summer remains a big hit with the kids as well as Patrick and I--its fun to sit around and watch the water, stay warm by and cook dinner on. The kids, (particularly Stuey) LOVE the fire. Stuey likes finding all the pine cones he can lay his hands on and throwing them into the fire pit. Photo is of them cooking their marshmellows on sticks.

It has felt so good to be home, working on quilting projects, reading, etc without any travel in the near future! Work has been very busy--new physical therapy evaluation slots are a 2-3 week wait. I feel badly about this, that people have to wait, but people understand I'm a one person clinic with no other therapist. And I only see PT clients for 12-15 hours a week, which really limits the numbers of new clients I can take.

Last photo is of our truck that is for sale. 2003 Chevy S10 pickup for $4500 or best offer. I've had it on Craigs list for a week with almost no bites.

The good:
Handles Kodiak roads well.
1 owner.
4 wheel drive.
3 doors, 3 seats.
Has a new tire.

The bad:
history of alternator/starter problems. Both have been replaced, however.

The ugly:
Fender bender on the side. You can see it in the photo.

Contact us for more details. Or if you have a truck in the $4000 range you want to sell or trade! :) I'm ***excited*** to send the Chevy off to a new owner!


Thursday, April 14, 2011


Last night at the Old Powerhouse Restaurant we had a table by the window and suddenly Nora and Stuey exclaimed 'walrus'. 'No', we explained, 'those are sea lions, or winaq (singular) in Alutiiq'. Later another one went by and I said, 'Stuey, look another sea lion', and he replied, 'No daddy, Winaq'. It's actually a little ironic that he picked up on that Alutiiq word because back when he was a VERY large baby I used to call him winaq as sort of a joke. Now only if the Killer whales had also swum past while we ate our dinner.. .... . Patrick

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Personal Terrane Park

Right now on kodiak the crust cruising on cross country skate skis is about as good as it gets. Up at the Anton Larsen Bay pass the snow is REALLY deep and the crust is solid with just about a 1/2 inch of powder on top. It is like groomed trails at a skate board terrane park. I can go anywhere and I pick my route to make best use of the topography. I like to gain speed to climb small hills and skate my way down hills and up the steeps in a rolling symphony. It really is great out there. I don't know if the 2 pictures really capture it or not. Patrick

Skiing with Mike

We've had visitors since Friday and it has been VERY busy of late. Hence the lack of posts. On friday is was the ITN film festival, and on Saturday the Marine Science Symposium began. Our visitors Mike and Catherine are archaeologists who came to give papers at the symposium. Throw in the Madsen Bear dedication and that the museum had its accreditation visit on Monday and Tuesday and it has indeed been very busy. I've barely had a chance to come up for air!

More to come on all the happenings, but first I thought I'd go back to Mike and I's ski on Pyramid last Friday. Mike was feeling a little poorly due to a bug he brought with him from his North Carolina nephews. But he hung in there and got to the top. Quite a spectacular day. Perfectly corned up snow. However, it got a little soft near the bottom of the mountain. When Mike and I had arrived at the base of the mountain it was cloudy and snowing - so the sun on top surprised and fried us (no suntan lotion). Then when we got to the bottom the clouds rolled back in and it started to snow again. April weather! Patrick