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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A puzzling February

Its 3AM on March 1st. Just got home from a birth and type this while savoring a short stack of chocolate chip cookies dipped in milk. After coming home from birth, it often takes me a good hour or so before I can fall asleep.

Patrick left for Seattle yesterday morning for an Archeology conference. I see he beat me to a blog post during his absence! At 8:30 last night I was called off to be with a first time couple in labor. Thankfully a sitter could come and stay and go to sleep at our house with the kids so I didn't have to call the back up doula. 6 hours later, an adorable baby boy was welcomed into the world.

February left me in a lurch...I"m VERY glad to see it far gone. Some months I"m sad to see go. And occasionally there is a month where I"m ready to move on.
February left me asking, "Really? Are you kidding?" several times to circumstances life presented. I'm typically a "live in the present" gal, but for some reason I"ve been eager to see March. And now its here. With a precious newborn baby boy and two joyous parents.

And with snow. We haven't had fresh snow for a while and as I drove home from the hospital, snow started lightly falling, as forecasted. We are expecting a few inches. Good things happen in March--upcoming ski race, a PT training in Seattle, I will re-connect with a long time girlfriend, Patrick's birthday....significant return of light, beginning of spring skiing later in the month.

So good bye, puzzling February. And heres to new beginnings in March.


Picture; Stuey lately has been doing 200 piece puzzles by himself! He spends 2+ hours working on it and often refuses any help from us. It is great to see his determination with them. Nora enjoys doing them with him as well.

Sunset looking towards Kasheverof Mt. --Patrick took the photo.

Small Site Archaeology in Womens Bay

I'm in Seattle now and in 2 days I present a paper at the Alaska Anthropological Association meetings. I'm in a 'Population Demography' session and my paper (Amy S and Molly O are co-authors) is titled 'Small site archaeology in Women's Bay: A view from the Amak Site, Kodiak Island, Alaska'. Basically I am talking about what we found during the Alutiiq Museum's Community Archaeology dig last summer at the Amak Site. But I had to create a bit of a theoretical slant to the paper to make it fit into a demography session.

Demography is all about modeling prehistoric population change, and archaeologists often simply use the number of radiocarbon dates from different time periods as a proxy for population change. The more radiocarbon dates from say 3000 BP relative to say 5000 BP says the population was higher in 3000 BP. In our paper I argue that small special purpose sites like the Amak Site are more recognizable later in time - hence there are more sites to potentially radiocarbon date, but not necessarily more people on the landscape. Anyway that is the gist of the paper.

I do say a lot more than that, and get to show pretty pictures, but the above is my kicker that allows me to be in the demography session. I am quite glad to be in the demography session because it did force me to think about the site we excavated and the whole prehistoric landscape as a whole in a very different way. I think it is much better than just presenting a blow by blow of what we found.

Anyway, if you are in Seattle come to our talk at the Alaska Anthropological Association meetings hosted by the University of Washington. It will be at the Hotel Deca at 9:40 AM. But if you are stuck on Kodiak - don't worry because I will be adding to the talk and presenting it again at the Refuge 'brown bag series' later on in April (April 18th I believe).

The above pictures are the title slide and slide 18 of my talk. By slide 18 I should be wrapping it up - I only got 20 minutes to present a lot of data! Patrick

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Billy Goat Gruff

Today when I was skate skiing along the rim of the canyon above the headwaters to Buskin Lake, I looked down and saw this guy. I took the bottom picture from a distance and then skiied to a point on the rim where I was only 50 meters or so away from him. We both stood there and stared at each other. I took some pictures and then the camera battery died from the cold. I assumed I got some great pictures, but it turns out the camera was on some low res picture setting. Oh well.

It's funny because yesterday I took a different camera because I thought I might run into the goats (I'd seen their tracks the day before). And then I ended up wanting to take scenic panoramics which that camera does not do well. So today I took the camera that takes better scenic panoramics. And as I left the car I remember thinking, 'now I'll see the goats for sure'.

But bad camera or not - it was VERY cool to have a staring contest with one horned billy goat. He was close enough that I could hear the snow crunching when he took steps. Patrick

Monday, February 27, 2012

April skiing in February

Here on Kodiak we have a lot of snow in the backcountry, and for the past couple of days the crust on top has been solid enough to hold me up on my skate skiis. We had conditions like this back in January too, but back then the snow was not deep enough to cover up all the salmonberries and bushes. Now it is - now you can ski anywhere. Usually we don't get these conditions until late March or April. But not this year - this year we got April skate skiing conditions in february!

Today I started at the golf course and skiied to the headwaters of Elbow Creek that feeds into Sheratin Bay. The top photo is of Pyramid and I took it yesterday while sledding with the kids. The second photo is of Pyramid from afar when I was halfway back home, and that's Buskin Lake way off in the distance on the right (I started at the golf course which is by Buskin Lake). The bottom photo is of the powerline to Terror Lake and the headwaters of Elbow Creek. This is where I turned back. Patrick

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sledding on the Big Hill

Usually the kids are content to go sledding on the tiny little hill in our backyard, but today they wanted something more. And so I decided to take them to the golf course, but when I pulled in to park at the golf course Nora and Stuey starting shouting, 'No, we want to go to the pass'. So to the pass we went - on to the BIG hill.

And it really is a big hill. As I took them up the hill I realized that the hill dwarfs anything I had to sled on when I was a kid. The hills at the pass to Anton Larsen Bay just look small because they themselves are dwarfed by the high mountain peaks all around. But seeing Nora and Stuey going on and on down the hill and getting small in the distance I realized that we were sledding some BIG hills. Stuey and Nora even went over a small, unseen cornice. Now that's big mountain sledding. Patrick

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Best of Film Ski Pics

This morning I was looking for photos of Womens Bay for my upcoming talk at the Alaska Anthropological Association meetings in Seattle. I am presenting on the Amak site - the site we dug last summer near the head of Womens Bay. I wanted a photo taken from on high that would show the bay and shoreline and show where the site is relative to the sea.

So I went through all my old hunting and ski photos taken while climbing the nearby mountains. I went way back looking for pictures. Unfortunately most of the hunting photos had dead animals in them and the ski photos invariably had someone skiing in them. There were very few straight scenic pictures looking down over Womens Bay. But I did have a good time looking through the old photos.

I also realized that digital cameras have really changed how I take pictures - I take many, many more photos. Also, in the past I only scanned the 'good' photos - so my old photo files prior to 2005 are pretty skimpy. Anyway, I decided to post the 5 best ski photos from the waning days of film. I did not take the bottom 2. John Speer a visiting photographer took those.

Photos: For all the photos that I took here I used my old fixed lens point and shoot Olympus Stylus. John Speer had some serious gear. Top Gregg skiis some April powder off the backside of Heitman - and note Womens Bay in the background - so close to the picture I needed for my talk. Also note that Gregg is dropping a knee - I don't think he has done a tele turn in almost 10 years now. Second photo is of Steve on Sheratin mountain. The snow looks pretty skimpy because it was taken in early november. Third photo is of Gregg near the top of Shishaldin Volcano - that's 9000 feet of vertical below him. The 4rth photo is of me on 4rth of July Peak. Finally the bottom photo is of me leading a group of people up a cornice towards the top of 4rth of July Peak. Patrick

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What I see driving to work

I love my drive to work. I am lucky to live in Kodiak, and my commute to work is exactly 7 minutes with virtually no traffic, but best of all are the views out the window. I actually could get to work more quickly if I took a shortcut near where Zoya works but I enjoy seeing the mountains when I go over the hill by the high school (top picture). So I take an extra 30 seconds every day to enjoy the view. It's worth it.

Lately the sun has been coming up before I get to work and I took some extra time this morning to drive out onto the bridge to Near Island and take some pictures of the harbor and downtown. I work in the white building with the green roof on the right side of the second picture from the top.

I think my favorite morning drives are in the dead of winter when there is a full moon setting over Pilar Mountain. That's a photo I've been trying to take for a few years now. I'll post it when i do! Patrick

4 years Open House

4 years ago I started thinking about opening my own physical therapy business and this fall it will be 4 years since I saw my first physical therapy clients. In the rush of having young ones and opening up, I never had an open house. Last weekend I decided to host one. It was a very small group of people who came by; felt good to finally do something a little more formal to introduce new people to the business.

In looking back at the photos from 4 years ago, its hard to believe that I opened up A Balanced Approach with Stuey just 18 months old. I was very determined to have a place on my own to practice. Prior to opening, I worked for the hospital for 8 years and thought that Kodiak could use another small PT clinic.

I was most nervous about billing insurance companies and seeing any re-imbursement. Thankfully, it was just a lot of hours of paperwork to become a provider with the insurance companies. And having excellent office managers to do the billing over the years! For that, I am so thankful for the excellent office managers that have been at A Balanced Approach over the years. I've worked with incredible women who keep things working smooth with scheduling and billing.

4 years later, I couldn't be happier with the independence my business has given me. In a world of rush, rush health care, I can provide care that is relaxed and an environment that is conducive to healing. And it has been so fun to provide another venue for fitness classes--I am forever thankful to the incredible fitness instructors who lead powerflex and indoor cycling classes!

The upside of owning my own business is if something isn't running smoothly, or I want to run a new program, I can just do it. I don't have to ask managers, middle management, etc. And when something is successful, it feels so good to see the final outcome!

The downside is that if there is a rocky spot in the business, then there is no one to blame but myself. I can't call out for help, or give up. It holds me fully accountable. I have to take action and make change to get through the bumps in the road. Then after getting through the bumps, there is large sense of accomplishment. Larger than if I worked for a big organization.


Picture: Open house last weekend...MJ and Marian-two incredible instructors!
Stuey, Nora and myself when I opened up A Balanced Approach almost 4 years ago.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Hometown Livin': Some Moments you can't escape

My twin sister and I were born and raised here on Kodiak.
And as of last summer, we both live here now. There are definitely moments where I'd like to be more able to hide, mix in with the crowd.
That said, I've come to decide that the benefits of living in my hometown outweigh the negatives. And it is a true art of taking things in stride and keeping a sense of humor. You never know what people will remember from your past! Wow!

Small town Kodiak Quotes heard recently...

By Ella:
A Sports Coach From Our Middle School Days asked,
"Was it you or your sister who cried during the entire "Beaches" movie during the off island 8th grade basketball trip?"
-Ella confessed that it was her. (although it would've been VERY easy to pass that one off as me!!)
Wow. There are some things you just never can escape!

By Me:
Recently after dancing for 3 hours to live music at the Golden Anchor, I saw our appliance repair man at Walmart.

He commented, "Hey Zoya, I saw your sister dancing at the Golden Anchor." I blushed and replied, actually-that was me. Then I paused and asked him, "Well-actually-was she a good dancer or bad dancer? If she was good, it was me. If she was bad, it was Ella."
We got a hearty laugh out of that. I need to play the "twin card" more often in cases like that!


Picture: No, that isn't Kodiak. That is Lake Placid in Upstate NY in the back ground.
Taken during a family reunion sometime in the early 2000's.

Wabbit Huntin'

I LOVE the President's Day Holiday. I get the day off but the kids still have to go to school/daycare. It is a true holiday - no kids, no work. Ahhhhhhhhhh

Today in honor of Presidents Day I went rabbit hunting with 2 other dads 'home from work but without kid care issues'. It was raining at our house and looked dismal. But once we got out the road it was snowing. Then it stopped snowing and got glorious.

Why is it that rabbit hunting always conjures up images of Elmer Fudd? And we did have our Elmer Fudd moments. Rabbits running here there and everywhere and we just could not seem to get one. At one point Matt and I could see a rabbit just on the other side of a bush from Mike. We could not shoot for fear of hitting Mike ('Dick Cheneying' him) and he could not shoot it because the bush was in the way. This sort of thing happened a lot.

Still we did get 2 rabbits, and that is a meal. Mike will be cooking up his signature 'Nebraska rabbit recipe'.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

My New Tour of Anchorage Goal

In prior years I've made my goal for the Tour of Anchorage ski race a "time" goal. I always wanted to achieve it within 2:45. And then I never achieve it and I feel like the race defeated me somehow. Silly, I know.

So I'm changing tactics this year. This year my goal is to beat my stepdad, Mike. He is 71 years old and a good cross country skiier. He always beats me in the 25K classic ski race. I told Mike that my goal is to beat him (or come across the finish line at the same time) and the competition is on. We are having great fun with it. He doesn't want me to beat him, and I really want to beat him. It gives training for the race a fun edge...knowing that someone else is training with that purpose!

Today I called to talk to Mike and he was out skiing. Evidently he's even had a couple of cross country ski lessons lately...Hmm...this should be fun!

The race is in 2 weeks.


The past several weeks the cross country skiing here has been bad. However, after a winter of gorgeous snow, I"m not allowed to complain. It has been the nicest winter I can ever remember (and I was born and raised here!).

Picture: taken of Buskin Lake today by Patrick when he went Ptarmigan hunting. Evidently there was good cross country skiing out the road. It was raining in town and I was doing cross training on treadmill and bike.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Re Visiting the Data

Christy and Molly map the rock pile.

Rock pile superimposed on top of postholes set into till. Rocks are blue and postholes pink.

Molly poses with the excavated rock pile.

Final view of the excavation showing all of the postholes set into the glacial till below the site.

View of the excavation as a whole - looking towards the distant sea.

Archaeology is all about figuring out what happened at the site you excavate and writing stories, and sometimes you discover clues long after you thought you had all the details. Such is the case with the rock pile we excavated last summer at the Amak Site (see posts from last August).
At the time we thought it was just a HUGE pile of rocks and not much else. We decided it might have been a hunting blind or a cover for a meat cache.

When we excavated the feature we did not find any obvious postholes, associated charcoal & artifacts, or obvious living surfaces. It did seem to have an 'empty' area in the middle that had rocks beneath it. So we just mapped and described it and chalked it up as a mystery.

Recently when I was looking back at photos of the excavation, I noticed that there was a ring of postholes set into the glacial till at the bottom of site directly below where the rock pile had been. I immediately wondered if they could they be related. So I took the map of the rock pile and superimposed it on the map of the postholes at the bottom of the site. They look like they match up pretty well. However, it still could also be a coincidence and the postholes might be related to an entirely different feature. In support of the 'unrelated' hypothesis we did not notice any postholes while we were excavating the rock pile (they are usually pretty obvious).

Nonetheless, I do believe that they are related, and I think the posts support the idea that the rock pile was an elaborate meat cache. What follows is my latest story made to fit the facts.

The hollow area in the middle is where the meat was and when they removed the meat they tumbled the rocks to the outside. I think they set poles over the rocks so that bears could not tumble the rocks away and get at the meat. They could also have used the poles as some sort of meat drying rack. Anyway, that's my story for now.

Now I need to come up with some additional evidence that confirms or disproves my latest story. And this may not happen. The rock pile might forever be a possible 'food cache'. However, I like to think that someday someone else will find a similar feature with a few more clues, and that eventually we will figure out what the rock pile represented.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stu Moves

Stuey has some wild dance moves. He makes me laugh....and I love that he enjoys music so much.
Heres a 30 second clip of Stuey movin' to the beat.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentines Love and Hardship

Valentines Day was a bit crazy here on Cliffside Drive.

The craziness started the day before when Patrick and I noticed Roxy limping quite badly and then noticed blood dripping from her. When we investigated her neck, there was a large chunk of her fur missing...some animal had taken a large bite out of her. We believe it was the horse that is tied up across the street. So on Valentines morning, I took Roxy in to the vet, she underwent surgery.

I went and picked Roxy up after work, and I wasn't prepared for what she looked like. Frankensteins dog was what came to mind.

She has a large incision, with shaved area on her neck and a drain tube that goes from one side, under her skin and out the other. It really is medieval looking. I"m the trained medical professional and supposed to be the one with the solid stomach in these predicaments, but evidently not!

Tonight I had to do as instructed and apply a warm towel to the drain to keep it clear and I had to do some serious deep breaths and tell myself, "I can do this, I can do this" before putting the towel on her. It just looks so painful and horrible. But, I have to remind myself that it is less horrible than it would be if she hadn't had surgery. The vet said she was quite mangled by the horse.

When stuey saw Roxy after surgery, He commented, "Wow, mom. Thats cool! Did you do that?!", as if it were some work of art.
And Nora asked, "Mom, did they sew her up with a sewing machine?". At first I thought she was kidding, but then realized she wasn't. She was serious. She has never seen me sew anything by hand, evidently. Since I am a quilter she has only seen me sew with a machine. Pretty funny the questions kids come up with in such predicaments.

On a more positive valentines note, the kids were very into making hearts and all things lovey-dovey this year, so that was fun. Last night after bringing Roxy home, we trekked out in the sideways blowing slush to deliver rice krispie treats and brownies to the neighbors with a small note that said, "Happy Valentines Day from Cliffside Cupid."

The kids said their faces hurt from being pelted with the sideways slush, and I could hardly blame them. But it was well worth a walk down the road for a few houses.

And with the rain, and slush its been a great time to dance with Stuey and Nora. Stuey has some pretty crazy moves!


Amak Site Artifacts

This is practically all of the artifacts we found last summer during the Alutiiq Museum's Community Archaeology at the Amak Site. I did not take pictures of the flakes, utilized flakes, a couple of ochre grinders and some worked slate but we did not find relatively many of these artifacts anyway. What we mostly found, relatively speaking, is pictured in the top 3 photos - bayonets and flensing knives (top), whetstones second, and pumice abraders. The bottom 3 photos show the bayonet preforms (unfinished bayonets), some odd pieces (lamp, lineweight for fishing, and a cobble scraper), and the chipped stone tools and one ulu (bottom). We found barely any of the objects in the bottom 3 photos (almost all the preforms were found in a single temporary structure).

The tools we find tell us what people were doing at the site, and judging by what we found it looks like they were doing a lot of hunting. The bayonets would have tipped lances used for killing some sort of sea mammal. The whetstones were probably used for sharpening the bayonets, while the abraders might have been for smoothing the lance shafts. And normally you do not find so many of the slate whetstones which would have been for putting on the final sharp edge to the bayonets.

Since the site would have been at the head of a bay near a salmon stream we did not expect to find so much hunting gear - we expected to find more fishing related gear (netsinkers, lineweights, ulus and cobble spalls). Nor does the site appear to have been a place where people spent much time. We did not find well built structures or much in the way of tools associated with more permanent camps like cobble spalls, u-shaped abraders, flakes, needle abraders, adzes, chipped knives, lamps, hammerstones etc.

Rarely do the tools from a site indicate so clear a story. Normally things are far more muddled with a mix of artifact types. But here at the Amak site it is pretty clear we excavated a temporary hunting camp. Patrick

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Saturday night Whitney to Sunday morning Bagpipes...

This weekend was full of music! Last night I celebrated Marie's 30th birthday at an all-girls party. Around 30 women were in attendance at Sara L.'s house and there was an incredible spread of all types of cupcakes, brownies, cheesecake, ice cream...

We had so much fun talking and dancing later on into the night. I was the DJ for the evening and did the playlist, and made sure we had a Whitney Houston song on the list in memory of Whitney's passing. The gals went wild dancing to her. RIP Whitney Houston.

There were several girlfriends in attendance with whom I've never really danced with and boy was it fun to dance to all different types of music and learn new moves!

This morning around 9:30 I was laying on my bed listening to the kids play in the living room, trying to muster up energy to get the day going. All of a sudden I heard the faint sound of bagpipes. At first I thought I was imagining things, but then realized it was coming from our neighbors house.

Surely enough, our neighbor Matt was practicing his bagpipes on his porch. I looked out the window and there he was, bundled up in a big green sweatshirt walking around playing his bagpipes. What a beautiful sound to have bagpipe music reverberating through the neighborhood as the sun rose over the ocean. I consider ourselves lucky to have a neighbor is who is so talented as to play his bagpipes here on Cliffside Rd!