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Monday, October 31, 2011

Cliffside Trick Or Treaters

Today Kodiak was blessed with beautiful, perfect halloween weather.

After dinner we took the kids down the street for a treating hour. Every year Patrick and I enjoy halloween, as its a nice time to say hi to neighbors. In Kodiak there is a big "downtown" trick or treating, which is great (lots of candy, high volume for kids at businesses) but the element of connecting with neighbors is completely lost when doing that. The downtown trick or treating began more than 7 or 8 years ago, because its supposedly more "safe" than kids wandering around in the dark, but I would argue that taking some time every year to know your neighbors makes your neighbor hood more safe. With neighborhood trick or treating, our kids have a chance to meet neighbors face to face and get to know them more with Patrick and I there.

Today on our trip down Cliffside, we met new neighbors who moved into the house "5 minutes ago". I first met "her" in Powerflex Class last week and they both just recently moved here and their things were just dropped off today. We talked with them for a few minutes, and I was most impressed how they had a pumpkin in their window and a huge bag of candy for the kdis to chose from. Most houses were prepared with candy, which made me so happy. The kids took turning running to houses and ringing doorbells.

Last year we were on an overseas trip with friends for halloween, so there wasn't any trick or treating. I think it took a while for Stuey to get the hang of what to do!

Thanks to all the great smiles and candy from our neighbors on Cliffside Drive!


Archaeology in the Rain

And yet another video! This one is of the Alutiiq Museum's Karluk River archaeological survey from last May. Four of us flew out and did a 2 week survey of the Karluk River. We looked for prehistoric fish camps and villages and then mapped and tested them (dug test pits to see what was there). We lost Molly to pushki burns about halfway through the project and with our good luck charm gone it began to rain.. .. .. and rain. .. .. and rain. Pushki is a plant whose juice bonds with the skin and then reacts to sunlight - creates a rash much like really bad poison ivy. Very Nasty. Anyway, this video is my attempt at showing what it was like on the Karluk River last May. Also Zoya did all the music and final editing for this one. Patrick

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sheep Hunt Video

This weekend Zoya and I worked on home movies. I do the raw editing in imovie and Zoya does the final editing and adds in the music. Music selection is Zoya's forte. Anyway, we finally created the video for Gregg and I's Brooks Range sheep hunt. And tomorrow we will be adding more movies - one about our recent goat hunt and the other about an archaeological survey down the Karluk River in the rain. I do have to add that Zoya was not totally happy with the second song in the Sheep Hunt video. So that one is my fault. Anyway - enjoy the movie! Patrick

Kid-isms and SNOW!


-The other day, Nora was playing pretend restaurant and as she brought me food, she would say, "Banana Tea" as she brought us food. I couldn't figure out why she was saying and kept asking, "banana tea". Then she said, "you know, what they say in France with food." Patrick and I got it-she was trying to say, "Bon Appetit"! So we taught her and Stuey to say it correctly and when they served us food, they would cheer "Bon appetit!".

-The other night Stuey crawled into our bed at 4 am, and he was saying something under his breath. I couldn't make it out and asked him to repeat it. He said, "Porcupine starts with P. P is for Porcupine." I told his preschool teachers the next day and they were thrilled to hear that information was about letters was sinking in...even if was sub consciously at night! We all got a good laugh out of it.


This afternoon Patrick and I got a sitter and went up Pyramid together. There have been some good rain storms and cold weather lately, which has resulted in a good amount of snow on top of the mountain. Patrick brought his shotgun for Ptarmigan in case we saw any, but we didn't see even one. Just a day old Ptarmigan track and that was it. The weather was brisk and windy and absolutely gorgeous the whole way up.

Patrick says that with another good storm, there will be enough snow to start skiing down a part of the mountain. It is fun to see the beginnings of ski season arrive! This is Patrick's favorite time of year.

I always enjoy outdoor dates with Patrick. Ever since we started dating, they are my favorite, as we get out and explore together. I love seeing the world through his eyes as he shows me beautiful places in Kodiak.

Last night friends had a kids halloween party and everyone had a great time. There were fun games, gift bags and food involved. Stuey was spiderman and Nora was Snow White. Very simple costumes for them to party down in.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Emulating Mom and Dad in Art

Sometimes in the morning, Stuey gets a hankering for drawing and he'll say, "Draw with me Mommy..." So we'll sit there at our counter with crayons coloring. Last week I noticed that as I drew my house, tree and sun, he did his version after. I would add a tree, he would add a tree. I added leaves, he added leaves. Our drawings ended up being quite similar!

And later in the week, the same happened with Patrick and Nora. He drew an elk, and Nora proceeded to copy it and draw her own version of it!

Its fun to see the kids get their own styles with art. Lately Stuey is big in drawing either Patrick or I in the picture and there is ALWAYS a sun in the picture. (very similar to my drawings...where I always draw a sun).


Top: Stuey version of tree, house, sun
My version of tree, house, sun
Nora version of Elk.
Patrick version of Elk.
Stuey picture. (monster in middle, Stuey off to left. And a sunshine off in far left corner)
Nora Picture-she said it is of me dancing. :)

Final 3 Day weekend Hike Photos

Final photos from our three day weekend goat hunt. The top photo is of Gregg and John looking over a deep valley for goats. The sow and cub encounters kept us from getting to the other side of this valley and all those white dots at the bottom are flying ptarmigan. There were flocks of ptarmigan flying everywhere. Second photo is of me hiking out of a snow tunnel near camp. Shortly after we took this picture John saw a 'fox' that turned out to be 'Spike the goat'. We shot him at the last possible moment - it rained for the rest of the trip. Third photo is of our last camp - we were a little worried about high winds and John built a stone wall to shelter the tent. Fourth photo is a landscape with the ocean in the distance - that small figure is John. Still no goats! Finally the last photo is of Gregg and John in the fog. We wandered all around in the whiteout and things like bears and mountains would suddenly loom out of the fog. Patrick

Thursday, October 27, 2011


While on our goat hunt we did some bushwhacking. To get home we had to cross a deep valley, and the plan had been to cross it way back in the mountains where there would be less brush due to the higher elevation. However, running into the bears denning up changed all that. Once we got 'charged' in a whiteout up on top twice in 2 hours, we decided to turn around and cross the valley lower down than we had wished. So we camped just above the brush line, and spent the night dreading the dawn - and the bushwhack from Hell.

And it was REALLY, REALLY bad. It was super steep with cliffs and choked with salmonberry, alder and devilsclub (the second photo show what we climbed down through). Going down we were not even sure if we could make it to the bottom, and we were super worried about running into an unscalable cliff and having to climb back up. Once down we had to bushwhack for another mile and a half to get up and around a ravine and across the valley. All and all, it took us almost 3 hours.

What's funny is that I used to get stuck in the brush all the time, but over the years I have learned to avoid it. As a consequence, I think I had forgotten just how bad it can get. Under normal circumstances I would have never chosen the route we tried. Now my memory is refreshed, and I think that next time I might just brave the bears to avoid the brush. Patrick

Photos: Top 2 show our bushwhack while the bottom is the view from the top. The other 2 are of the valley where we camped on our last night.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Everything but the Goat

I went on a mountain goat hunt over the weekend with Gregg R and John S. We got dropped off in a boat at the head of a bay near where I had a permit for a mountain goat (you need a permit to hunt a goat and they are only good for certain areas). And from there we hunted for goats and walked the 20 or so miles back to town. We got back on Monday after hiking all day in the rain, but I never got to post on it due to a HUGE storm that knocked out Kodiak's internet on Monday night. Good thing we got home on Monday before it got REALLY bad.

Anyway, we looked all over for goats and only saw what looked like 2 huge, gnarly old billies. Huge, gnarly old billies are practically inedible, and so we came home goatless. When we had given up on the real goats we did shoot a spike deer and we called him our goat. Spike the Mountain Goat. And so we came home somewhat successful - we plan on turning the deer into 'goat' sausage.

As regards the goats, usually the area we were in is crawling with goats but not now. We covered almost half of the permit area and did not find the herd. We think that they have moved out of their summer range and down into the ravines where they spend the winter. And this makes sense because it is getting pretty nasty up high. Lots of snow and cold.

While we were up there we saw a lot of sows and cubs getting ready to hibernate for the winter. They go where the snow gets deep early in the winter so that there is enough snow to dig a den into. We noted that they were digging up lupine roots to eat before their long winter nap. We ran into 2 sow and cub groups at close range in the whiteout and fog. And both times the sow ran over to check us out. The first one charged us when she got close (protective momma) and we had a really hairy moment. I thought I was going to take one for the team and was prepping myself for a world of hurt, but she came to a screeching half at 12 yards with dirt and snow flying and then ran away. After that we were all a little bearanoid and every big rock became a bear ready to charge.

Anyway, more to come on our 'goat' hunt in a later post.

Photos: Note the Xtra Tuffs in all the photos - boot of choice for all of us. I even have a pair of crampons that fit my Xtra Tuffs. Top - Hiking up in the new snow at around 3000 feet elevation. The sun did come out for a brief spectacular moment and revealed bear and not goat tracks everywhere. Second - John at the top of some cliffs that impeded our progress. Eventually we made it down to the creek you can barely see at the bottom, but that's a story for another post. Third - Gregg and John checking out a big bowl for goats. Hundreds of ptarmigan which sometimes look huge and a lot like goats, but no real goats. Fourth, Hiking up the ridge and away from the bay on the first day. Fifth, a snow tunnel under last year's snow.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Pain of Childbirth Vs. Hunting

Over the years Patrick and I have had good discussions about the pain of childbirth vs. elk hunting. I think the conversations began when he would talk about how hard a hunt was, and I would say, "well, its nothing compared to childbirth". ( I gave birth 2X without any pain medications). Patrick would get defensive about elk or goat hunting and how physically tough it is. Just recently, we finally met half way on this topic. It happened when I told him I didn't think I had the brute strength to ever do an elk hunt. And he said he wasn't sure he could go through childbirth.

There are several similarities between the two that we came up with in our most recent discussions....

SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CHILDBIRTH AND HARD CORE HUNT WHERE YOU HAVE TO PACK OUT LARGE AMOUNTS OF MEAT (such as elk or sheep or goat...this is intense hunting with carrying 3/4 of bodyweight on your back for over miles and thousands of feet in elevation/descent)

-You can't focus on the future, or what is to come, or you will feel beaten down. Patrick says that during a hunt when he is humping 100+ pounds of meat over several mountains, he can't think about the miles that lie ahead. He has to just think about each step he is taking forward. With childbirth, you have to focus on the now as well-thinking about relaxing during the contractions and taking it one contraction at a time.
-Hunting and Natural Childbirth are both can be very hard, painful experiences (but not always) and mother nature helps us forget the pain of them so we will do it again. This will help ensure that hunters keep hunting and babies continue to be born...It is long-term grinding pain, with no end in sight.
-There is a remote possibility of death with both.
-You need support from other people to help encourage you forward. A woman supported by other people (preferably including other women) has better success rate than if she is by herself. A hunter with other people helps it not seem as painful. Misery loves company.
-Both have chance for physical harm to the participant. For hunting, this would include broken teeth, torn muscles, hurt back, etc. For women, there is also a chance of physical harm and possible long term pain. (I recently learned that women who give birth vaginally have 10% chronic pain and after cesarean 18% have chronic pain...which is pain lasting for 6+ months)
-There are no time outs. With hunting, stopping and getting up makes it more difficult because muscles start tightening. You only stop if you physically are unable to move forward. With childbirth, the contractions keep coming...there's no stopping the process. Women say, "I want this to end" but theres no "END NOW" button you can press. You have to endure.


-In childbirth, the rewards are greater.
-In childbirth the real prize comes at the end. With hunting, after the animal is shot, you have the adrenaline and euphoria helping you get through the pain. You are already successful because you have meat on your back.
-Childbirth is part of a womans sexuality~all the same hormonal tracks (love hormone oxytocin) are in play during an unmedicated childbirth. A woman is in the PRIMAL part of her brain, as opposed to the thinking part of your brain ('new' part, or neocortex). Patrick wasn't totally sure if a man is ever in the Primal part of his brain during hunting....we'll have to research that one.
-In hunting, every man in the group is in pain, whereas in childbirth, the "group" supporting the woman isn't in pain.
-Medications for pain are available during childbirth; this is not an option during hunting. You wouldn't be able to walk or find the trail. (and I would argue that the medications during labor are not without potential negative side effects to mom and/or baby)
-With childbirth, the real art in getting through it is relaxing and releasing; with hunting it is more about physical strength and physical endurance. In labor, the more relaxed mom is, the more efficient her body is in giving birth. If a mom is stressed, tensed or concerned, it can slow down her labor. Some women equate labor with an athletic event, which is true in terms of needing endurance and staying power. But the difference is that the more effectively a woman gives into the contractions and lets them do the job, the more efficient her body will be. Also, if a mom has high levels of adrenaline during labor, that can slow labor down, as her body is in react/protect mode, instead of release/relax mode. (Adrenaline usually kicks into action during labor when it is time for the mom to push the baby out) Whereas during hunting, adrenaline is a useful hormone all through the day.

I also want to emphasize that not every childbirth involves pain. Some women don't use the term "pain" to describe the sensation of contractions. They use terms such as "pressure" or "cramps". The sensations and descriptions of these sensations of childbirth are a very subjective thing.


Me in labor with Stuey...supported by girlfriends!! In the one I"m standing up in, I gave birth to Stuey about 15 minutes later! I was not a happy camper at that point in time....
In the goat packing photos, Patrick was carrying 5/6 of his body weight.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mother Nature's Stair Climber

Usually at this time of the year I am out of shape and champing at the bit to get back on snow and back in shape. Normally I stay fit by going skiing a lot, and the late summer early fall with the lack of skiing opportunities is my fitness nadir. But this year at the end of ski season I decided to change my normal routine and keep on climbing all summer and fall. I made climbing the North Sister a daily routine (when possible). And it has made a HUGE difference - I am way fitter than usual for this time of the year. I am physically ready for ski season to begin.

Basically I follow the red dotted route in the photo - starting across the road at the pull out and climbing through the old gravel pit and up the trail to the tippy top. It's a super convenient workout. It's only an 8 minute drive from my house to the trailhead. If I really hit it I can climb the mountain and be home just over an hour later. It is an 1800 foot climb and I have little mental markers at the 1/3, 1/2, and 2/3 points of the climb. I find it illuminating and challenging to pace my climbs.

What's amazing is that back in July I virtually killed myself to achieve a time that is 5 minutes slower than an easy paced time today. And my fastest time is a full 12 minutes faster than my fastest in July. I also get the arm workout because I use ski poles, and I generally climb down slowly using the ski poles to save my knees. My time down is usually about the same as my time up.

Zoya calls my hill climbing 'mother nature's stair climber'. She knows I am not the type of person who likes to go to an indoor gym. People go to gyms for the convenience, but I'm finding that a local hill is just as convenient. I would not be saving any time going to a gym, and I think the hill climb is probably a better workout. I KNOW the views are better!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Harvest Home

Last week I harvested the last of the potatoes and carrots from our garden. I filled up half of a 5 gallon bucket with carrots and another 6 buckets with potatoes. In the photo I am sorting about half of the potatoes that we harvested in the final harvest. I harvested about a 1/3 of the potatoes in August and September and then the last 2/3 last week. Somewhere around 200 pounds worth of potatoes total. This is way better than I usually do.

And it seems that I am just in time. Last night it dropped down into the lower 20's. Winter is definitely on its way. Last year I left it too late and over half of my potatoes ended up frozen into the ground. But not this year!

And as you can see from the bottom photo there is still plenty of lettuce and the snow peas are still producing. However, the snow peas are having a hard time producing pods and some of the lettuce is getting a bit bitter. I noted that after the frost the snow pea flowers and leaves are still unwilted and fine but that some of the pods seemed frosted.

Anyone want some lettuce?

I should also mention that Stuey was WAY into digging potatoes. I'd turn the dirt with the shovel and he'd grab the spuds and put them in the buckets. Then we washed and sorted the potatoes. I removed all the ones with green on them, or ones that had been damaged by the shovel. The rejects were later cleaned up and the bad parts trimmed off and then either eaten or given away. The rest are stored in game bags. The same type of bags I pack out animal meat with when hunting. I have never done this before, but I figure they will breath and also keep the light off the potatoes (light makes potatoes turn green and eating the green makes you sick - been there done that).


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Couch Fiasco

There are moments in life where you think something is such a great idea, then come to realize, it may not have been. Today was one of those moments. Last week I went couch shopping with my sister for the place she was moving to. We went to the funiture store that is closing down and there was a great sale going on. I was thinking about how our couch of 10+ years would be moved to the birth class location for more seating....and we could get something different. I spied the red leather couch, sat on it-and decided to get it for our living room.

Little did I know what a beast it is. It had two recliner sections to it, which I didn't know when purchasing it. THis makes the couch much heavier and challenging to Patrick and I discovered tonight. Not sure I would've purchased it had I known about the reclining features...

I was sweating bullets as we were measuring every door in the house and realized it wouldn't really fit through any of them. How the heck can furniture places sell couches that can't fit through standard doors!? At one point we had the couch half in/half out of the house and it was totally stuck. I was worried about having to saw it in half and Patrick started making comments about wanting to throw the whole thing off the cliff (sort of joking....). I was quite pleased with how he kept his sense of humor through the whole thing.

Eventually (1 hour later) we had to take apart parts of our sliding glass door, as well as the bottom of the couch frame to barely squeeze it through. And we took off the end recliner to get it in the door.

And the kicker is that our old couch is outside in this cold night-tomorrow I have to take the frame off of that one to get it in the birth class didn't fit through that door. Argh.

Guess I learned my lesson about buying any different furniture....


Monday, October 17, 2011

Elk Hunt 2011 Video

The past several nights Patrick and I have been working on the 2011 Elk hunt video. In the past few years, I have really enjoyed editing videos together with Patrick. Its fun to cut the footage down to the "essentials", pick music, add titles and laugh as we put it all together. I learn so much about the imovie program in the process. My favorite recent video project with him was doing the Penguk video from an archaeology dig 2 summers really get the essence of a trip from looking at all the footage.

Enjoy! And this video is not for the faint of heart or any vegans~there are pictures of a dead elk and elk meat. Just wanted to give everyone advance warning. It is serious Kodiak subsistence living at its best.


Sharatin Clean Up

On Saturday I helped out with the Sharatin Mountain clean-up. A few years ago a communications company tried to put a cell tower on top of the mountain, and while they were constructing it a storm blew in and blew most of their camp away. Then after construction the tower iced up REALLY REALLY badly. Over 12 feet of rime ice built up on the tower and made it inoperable. One big chunk of ice fell off of the tower and crushed the wood cabin they had built. More stuff blew away in storms. In the end the tower was removed but all the trash remained.

So last Saturday Tom W of Maritime Helicopters flew a bunch of volunteers from the local search and rescue group (KISAR) and Island Trails Network (ITN) to clean up the trash. We cleaned up an amazing amount of junk. Whole weather ports had blown over a 1/2 mile from the summit. Huge metal barrels, dungaree jackets, cups and paper plates, old totes, you name it - we found it. We made huge piles on top of nets and then the helicopter would come and take them away.

I think my favorite part was the helicopter rides. Tom flew us all to the top of the mountain and then at the end of the day back home. It's easy for me to volunteer for something if helicopters are involved! Unfortunately I did not take many pictures - I was too busy picking up trash. I wish I'd taken some photos with the helicopter in them. The only group photo I took had only the male volunteers in it-the group was often split up picking up debris. Nice to know the top of Sheratin Mt. is a bit cleaner now! Patrick

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wheelhouse View

A last few pictures from our elk hunt. Jim the skipper of the boat gave me the pictures from his camera. I loved his 'wheelhouse' view. He really is an amazing skipper and it is quite incredible how he can nose the big boat up to the shore so that we can clamber on up over the bow and on to the boat. Even more amazing that he has the wherewithal to take some pictures while he is doing it!

But one day the Alaska State Troopers saved him the job. They went in and picked up the party for us. Of course they also checked hunting licenses, permits, elk meat etc. No one got arrested and the troopers were kind enough to bring them back to the boat. According to the troopers we were the only hunters in the area opening week. Patrick

New Perspectives

The past few weeks we've been looking at things with new perspective; with photography and life in general. We recently got a new lense for the SLR camera. Its a portrait lense and Patrick has been trying it out. We've had lots of great playtime with nephews, so fun to put it to use with kid action shots!