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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

As Cute as a Bug....and a mouse

A few weeks ago I received the group dance pictures from last springs performance of Cinderella. It was a fun treat to receive them so long after the fact! Stuey and Nora are both doing dance again this year. Stuey's attention this year at rehearsals has been much better than last year (phew!!). Amazing what just a few months can do for maturity....


Monday, September 26, 2011

And They're Off!

The guys left on Saturday for the (10th) Annual Elk hunt on Afognak!
Friday night everyone flew in, packed like crazy, Mark lit the banya and last minute plans were made for the early morning departure.
In the morning, we had just long enough with the Elk crew for Bruce to make Stuey a few paper airplanes, and for us to watch the final packing touches.

Last week, we had friends over for a meal which ended up a 100% Alaska grown meal! See the picture!
The menu included roasted Kale and beets from our garden, smoked salmon, sheep roast (from Patrick's brook range trip), Angel Wing mushrooms and potatoes from the garden. The mushrooms were harvested locally off of fallen logs by Nick L, who knows about edible local mushrooms. He had a huge amount of them and we sauteed them in garlic and butter. Yum, yum!


The crew (sans Mike and Mark) Ray, Patrick, Bruce and Justin
Stuey watching Bruce pack up.
Bruce flying airplanes with Stuey...
The 100% Alaska meal.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Seattle Getaway, Volunteering at School

Last weekend I went to Seattle for a physical therapy class. The class is on post-partum and pregnancy techniques for physical therapy and 75% of the class was hands on lab practice. My lab partner, Swerta, lives in Detroit and is originally from India. Because of religious and dietary restrictions, she cooked all of her food for the 3 days and brought it with her. She shared her rice/peanut dish and asparagus/brocolli calzones with me on the first day; they were amazing. On our last day, she sent me off with homemade breadsticks which I consumed when I was stuck in Anchorage for 36 hours because of bad weather in Kodiak. We had a good time sharing stories about our physical therapy practices and talking about our plans for the future. There is nothing like being in a room with so many other women who have common interests and goals professionally.

Swerta and I both have moderate amounts of manual therapy experience and we were able to give each other very concise feedback on the techniques we practiced. The 3 lab instructors would circulate throughout the room and demo the techniques on us, so we could see what they were supposed to feel like. Since being back this week, I have already used the techniques countless of times with all of my clients--with good success. Its always great to go to classes and get new treatment ideas and approaches.

On this trip, I learned the art of eating dinners by myself in a bar. The restaurants don't want to give a single person a 2 person table, so off the bar I went. The bartenders are awesome with handing me a menu and feeling right at home. It was fun to watch them madly make their they would converse with the regulars. I had dungeness crab cakes at one place, which were so yummy. I've become a big fan of crab cakes lately! Its nice to just sit, drink, watch, listen. Soak it all in. How often can one do that nowadays?

Today I started my weekly volunteering at St.Mary's and had a great time. There are some wonderful, sweet kids in Nora's class and it was fun to start to get to know her classmates! Nora's teacher had me take the kindergarteners (her class is K-1) to a different room and do some group activities with them.

At Center time, one of the kids during center time was at the chalkboard easels. She said, "Ms. Zoya, can you sit real still? I"m going to draw you." It was precious! Her drawing came out as good as I can do--a head, arms, legs, circles for hands....

Later in the day, it was a girls birthday and her mom brought cupcakes--with a frosting blanket over the top. It was a cupcake cake from Safeway where are are lots of cupcakes and a thick blanket of partially hydrogenated soybean oil frosting about 2 inches thick over the top. Imagine feeding 23 kids those and the clean up involved! Wow. There were huge globs of frosting everywhere. Made me really thankful that on Nora's birthday, I sent her off with chocolate chip cookies--nice and clean!

I like volunteering not only because I get some time with Nora, but I really will get a chance to meet her classmates and see what Nora does in school. AND help out. St. Mary's requires 20+ hours of volunteer time per family per year, which can be done in the class room, or thrift store, or committees.... I think its great that they demand the parent presence at the school throughout the year.


My lab mate and new friend, Swerta and I at our class in Seattle.

The wood-fired oven pizza van I saw in downtown seattle. Can someone please get one of these outside the brewery?! How cool would that be?!!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

10 years of hunting Elk from a boat

Next Saturday we leave on our annual Afognak elk hunting trip, and I just realized that this will be our 10th annual trip. That's a long time - that's almost a Tradition! Our hunt reminds me of one of those articles you read in Field & Stream this time of year about 'Deer Camp'. Only our yearly camp is a bit different - instead of an old shack for a basecamp, we get to live on a 50 foot seiner. We also get to see some pretty spectacular country and do a LOT of hiking and camping while we look for the elk.

Anyway, these are three photos from the first year of the hunt. That year it was just Ira, Gregg and I on the old Alpha Centauri with Jim as skipper. We got an elk on the 2cnd day and only spent 3 days in the field (consequently, Zoya thinks it always should be this quick and always wonders why it takes us so long to find an elk). That year we also learned that it is very difficult for just 3 guys to pack out one elk. We also learned that the payoff in elk meat is worth the pain! Patrick

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Proxy Hunt Sunday

Today I harvested my first proxy deer of the year. I hunt deer for older people who cannot hunt them on their own. Usually I am hunting proxy deer far earlier in the hunting season. I was lucky enough to find a babysitter willing to get to our house at dawn and to watch the kids for 8 hours. And so at dawn up the mountain I went.

I got to the top and the fog started to roll in (see photo). All the ravens were flying around and laughing at me (also in photo). I saw a small spike and opted not to shoot him, and then the fog really socked in. I could not see a thing and wandered around in a dense, wet cloud for a few hours. I was regretting not shooting the spike.

And then, just when i was about to give up and had not seen another deer since the spike - I found them. A group of forks all bedded down. I shot one of them, and then the real work began. It was a long hike back to the car, but Don ought to be happy with his deer meat! Patrick

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What we did when we got home

When we got home Nora and Stuey wanted to make stuff with the treasure they collected at the beach. Stuey made a cool bracelet out of the copper wire, a piece of brass and some sort of stainless steel spring (if you look closely you can see it at the right hand edge of the third photo down). Meanwhile Nora sorted all of her glass by color on a white plate. She tells me she learned to 'sort' at school. Then Nora suggested making glass mosaics using the beach glass to 'color' drawings I drew for them. So we did. I don't think we used the greatest glue, and I'm not sure what we will do with the finished products, but the kids seemed to have a good time anyway. Now there are lots of mosaics drying on all the counters around the kitchen. And there is still plenty of beach glass leftover! Also note that the top picture matches the bottom drawing - I made Nora a self portrait drawing to fill in. Patrick

Jewel Beach

Zoya's out of town this weekend for some sort of PT training class so it is just the kids and me holding down the fort (and the dogs of course). This morning we all went out to a beach to pick up sea glass. At the end of WWII the military dumped a lot of stuff onto this particular beach and over time all the broken bottles and trash has turned into treasure. You can find really cool pieces of brass, old copper wire burnished brightly by beach gravel, old stainless steel cutlery with the USN insignia, and even the occasional coin. But what I really like is all the sea glass. It's like the beach is made of multi-colored gum drops. We spent an hour on the beach picking up beach glass while the dogs ran around and ate old spawned out pink salmon that had floated up dead on the beach. Patrick

Drafting Maps

It seems like forever since we completed the Karluk River survey back in June. The archaeological survey itself was only 14 days long, but it has taken me all summer long to process all the data we collected. And I am still no where near done. I've completed the artifact and sample catalogue and all the artifacts have pretty little numbers on them that reference their place in the catalogue. We've also picked all the charcoal out of the samples we want to send off for radiocarbon analysis. Now we just need the money to pay for the analysis. But I still do have to write up a description for every site we found or visited (all 42 of them), and I still have to finish drafting up the maps of all the sites we found. And eventually, sometime next spring, we'll put it all together into a report and be done.

Last year we mapped 478 house depressions - the most we have ever mapped in a single year's survey - and so it is taking an extra long time to draft all the maps. In the field I created a sketch map of every site in my field notebook and then used a transit to record the various distances and angles between points. Back at the museum I have been using a compass rose and ruler to translate all this data onto graph paper. What you see above is a portion of the field map top, and then the same portion after it has been drafted onto graph paper. Because I do it by hand it is a fairly laborious process.

I also think doing it by hand harkens back to the Stone Age, or, at least, back to the 1980s anyway. Today, most archaeologists use drafting programs on a computer to generate their maps. And in the future I think we will be doing this too. But this is the way we started out doing it 10 years ago when we first started our big river surveys. And to be consistent we decided to keep doing it the same way. With the Karluk River survey complete we have now finished with our survey of all Kodiak's big rivers, and since we did them all the same way - the data is all comparable. It is an excellent data set (all the house and site data is also in an Excel spreadsheet).

Nonetheless, the next time we map a big site I can guarantee you we will be doing the maps differently!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's Happening to the Neighborhood?

This is a picture I took from a float plane earlier this year in late May on my way out of town for the Karluk River Archaeological survey. Our house and shed are the red ones next to the water in the center top - just to the right of the big blue house. I've lived in that house since 1996.

I really did not realize how much things have been changing until I looked at this aerial photograph. Basically, when I moved into the house everything on the left side of the photo was thick woods on either side of the main road. Since then houses have been added here and there and more and more trees have disappeared. In particular, all of the houses just past my house on the road closer to the bay. It used to be when I walked down the road on my way to Abercrombie Park that it was all trees. This is no longer true. And what is most noticeable with the lack of trees is the increase in the wind. In the old days the wind was only strong if it came off of the ocean to the North. But now-a-days it also is strong when out of the northwest across all the tree-less lots. The tree windbreak has been disappearing.

But it is not all bad news. I've also noticed that the spruce trees around the houses on the right side of the photo are getting tall. These were the first houses built out in this part of town, and since then the trees have come back. So perhaps it is all a natural progression? You lose the trees with development and then gain them back as the area gentrifies? Patrick

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Summer Sitters

This past summer we had some fabulous summer sitters for the kids, including Sara, Jenni. and Abby. Sara and Jenni would take the kids to the beaches a LOT, and the weather sure cooperated! (see pictures from their photo shoots there!). Abby has babysit for over a year for the kids and takes them biking, to Ft.Abercrombie and bakes cookies with the kids. I also got the impression that Abby would play Hide and Go Seek for literally hours at a time with the kids! We feel blessed with such great babysitters!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Crabfest Seems So Long Ago

We keep our good photos in iphoto on the computer until we use them on the blog. We file away all our photos eventually but I keep the best in iphoto to remind us to put them on the blog. The blog is our family diary and we want the best photos in it. Lately there has gotten to be a little bit of a backlog, and looking back through them made me a little bit sad because it emphasized that summer is really over. Crabfest seems so long ago now, and even the green, green days of August seem distant. Not that I mind the approach of winter (my favorite time of year - bring it on!), but the end of summer is still a little sad.

And to be totally honest while Crabfest seems so long ago I must admit I was not even here for Crabfest. I was on an archaeological survey on the Karluk River and missed it entirely. But I've seen the photos, and I remember the days in April and early May when Stuey and Nora were so looking forward to Crabfest. It finally did arrive, and judging by the photos the kiddos certainly had a good time. Now it is long past - as are picnics on the lawn, and Hanna's even gone back to Berlin. Summer is done. Patrick

Sunday, September 11, 2011


We just returned from a quick trip to Afognak. Patrick was helping historical archaeologists from down south who are documenting the whole Afognak village site. The kids and I stayed on the beach for 6 hours yesterday while the guys were off doing their work. Loved hanging out while Stuey dug holes, Nora and I drew pictures on rocks, watched the sea otters frolic, kept the fire in the woodstove in our tent going....the time flew by. We came home early because of an impending storm-there was a big chance that we would get stuck there until Monday had we stayed the full two days.
The tent Patrick and I stayed in is officially DONE with. It is 20+ years old, leaks, smells....Patrick used it in Baffin Island in his early 20's when he was doing archaeology.
The kids used the new green tent. To set it up, you inflate it! Instead of tent poles, there are "air beams". VERY cool. So quick to set up. Patrick pumped the pump bag a few times and it was set up. No more wrestling with tent poles...

Not just a rock...see the petroglyphs? This batch is on the point we stay at on Agonak. The petroglyphs were first documented in the 60's by Donald Clark.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Sliding towards the Equinox

Here on Kodiak it isn't quite Fall - Yet. But a couple of weeks ago in the Brooks Range of North Alaska it was already Fall, and I gather the leaves have already turned in Anchorage too. So slowly but surely Fall seems to be moving our way.

One of the surprises of our Sheep hunt to the Brooks Range was how light it still was up there. The sun came up at 5 AM and did not set until around midnight. Since it was already getting dark at night here on Kodiak I expected the same up there. But if you think about it, 'equinox' means 'equal night'. Night and day is the same time - and this is true no matter where you are in the world on that particular date. All the nights are equal. Up North in the Brooks Range there is more light than places down South until the equinox and less afterwards. However, since there is so much more light in the summer and so much less in the winter the daylight slides much more quickly between the two extremes. On Kodiak this time of year we lose around 5 minutes of daylight a day, but up there I bet it is closer to 15 minutes a day.

Because of our maritime climate Kodiak seems to have Falls that last forever. The leaves do change in September but we do not usually get snow until sometime in November, and we usually eat out of the garden well into December. But I am pleased to note that the pushki has already died back and that the fireweed has already turned red. Fall is slowly coming to Kodiak.

Photos: Fall colors from the Brooks Range in Late August.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Mini Batches of Jelly & Jam

This fall, Patrick has been into making mini-batches of jam with the kids. Our friend Molly gave us a packet of pectin where there is no boiling required...simply mash the berries, mix the pectin and sugar and mix it all together. And voila~ yummy jam!

Even the cook method of jam making is quick, and easy to do with small batches of berries. For instance, today Stuey picked 2 cups of raspberries outside at my office and Patrick turned it into 2 good size jars of jam this evening.

We've made jams/jellies out of red currants, raspberries, strawberries and salmonberries! WIth the red currant jelly, patrick didn't add pectin, as he heard red currants have their own natural pectin in them. And it worked-the clear, red jelly gelled up without pectin!


Monday, September 05, 2011

The Kodiak Rodeo

This weekend was the Kodiak Rodeo and fair. Our family enjoys this every year, and I especially love how much Patrick enjoys the fair. His favorite part is always the 4H exhibits where people submit chickens for exhibition, food, crafts, etc... He wants to submit some garden veggies with Nora next year.

This year was the first time we stayed for some of the rodeo. We did the pony rides, hay ride, acquired some pop corn balls and then sat down to watch the bull riding. This was the first time in my recent memory I have seen bull riding and it was something else. I can't help but think "ouch, ouch...potential injuries"...had thoughts of handing out my business card to the riders as they left the rink!!

At one point a bull escaped the pen, and went out into the arena. It charged the horse that had a rider on it, as well as one of the clowns. It was a little nerve racking with this bull running around the arena! Patrick started laughing so hard he was crying. The whole scene was something else...and very Kodiak!! The rodeo/horse scene is so unique and quite an adventure to watch. The stadium was packed full of spectators and the clown would run up and down the arena to get people excited and screaming. The new 2011 Miss. Kodiak Rodeo was crowned and there was goat tying, barrel racing as well. Good times at the Kodiak Rodeo.