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Friday, November 30, 2012

Right time, wrong camera

For the last 3 winters I have been trying to catch the full moon setting over Kodiak at dawn.  I would tote my big camera into work and every time I would miss the moon (click here for story).  Or if the moon was there I would have forgotten the camera.  At one point I just missed the moon by 20 minutes and then photoshopped it into the picture (click here to see).  I thought it looked pretty good but everybody at work pointed out that it was a fraud.

Anyway, today I was on my way to work and there was the moon - not quite full but pretty darn close - and it was just setting over Pillar Mountain.  I was running late, and had already passed the turn off to the bridge, but I turned around and drove out onto the bridge to take the picture.  As usual I had forgotten the big camera, but this time I think my handy-dandy point-and-shoot is almost up to the task. My old point-and-shoot most definitely could not have taken this picture.

Now to get the moon setting over Kodiak with the big camera.  Some day it will happen.  Patrick

The top picture is a pan stitched by the camera - this is a normal format picture


A crow in the mountain ash outside the Alutiiq Museum

For the last few days I have been SICK.  Yesterday I barely even moved.  I lay in bed and ached.  It was so bad I had flashbacks to bedridden times in childhood.  That sort of half dreaming state where impossible things seem true.  But today I am feeling much better.  I think this afternoon I will even go skiing.  It is time for some exercise and get the metabolism going again.  Patrick

Monday, November 26, 2012

More Kids Skiing

Some final pictures of cross country skiing from this Saturday.  Nora was sick and not feeling too well - so we did not go as far as we did on Friday.  But Stuey was looking so happy that I felt we just had to post these pictures.

Sadly enough, today it did rain all day in town.  So no more powder close to home.  But today when I went skiing I noticed that the snow/rain line is not very high up and that we are getting a lot of snow up high.  Below is a picture of my ski pole jammed down into the snow at 800 feet elevation.  My pole is 115 cm long - so I figure the average snow depth at that elevation is about a meter (I tried multiple places).  I also measured where I cross country ski and despite the rain we still have over 2 feet of snow down low.  Now let's pray that it does not rain too long in town.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sledding at the Pass

This afternoon Dawn and Aaron organized a sledding party at the pass.  What a hoot!  Maybe Santa Claus will be getting those daredevils some helmets and goggles this Christmas.  After the sledding Aaron lit up the grill and cooked up some sausage and hot dogs.  I was amazed that the kids hung out at the pass for 2 whole hours and no major issues.  They wanted to stay longer and have more hot dogs.  Unbelievable.  As I told Aaron, 'Zoya will be thinking we either are having a really good time or are stuck in a ditch'.  Patrick

Salonie Ski

Today I went for a cross country ski with Philip and Adelia - it was Philip's birthday ski.  For the occasion we decided to try somewhere other than the Buskin River Valley where we have been skiing all week.  So we headed out past Bell's Flats to Salonie Creek.  This is the same river valley where we had our Community Archaeology this past summer at the Amak Site.  We drove up to the rifle range before we started our ski.

I must admit I was shocked at how little snow there is out there - there was only a 1/2 inch or so of frozen slush at the highway.  Hard to believe there is so little out there when there is almost 2 feet of snow in the Buskin River Valley.  But I guess that's what happens with 'ocean effect' snow.  And it also explains why the airport has seemingly got so little snow compared to how much we have at our house.

But there was more snow as we went inland, and we had a good ski.  It was good to go someplace new.  Also, I got to try out a new feature on my camera - the camera GPS - and it worked GREAT.  Even when the camera was off it tracked our trip.  I only tracked our route on the way home (see below), and then turned it off when we got back to the car.  And then at home I downloaded the gps track from the camera into Google Earth and it made the map down below.  COOL.  I can see this coming in very handy when I do archaeological surveys.  All the pictures have the GPS data attached to them too.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dawn Snow

For the last week it has snowed a couple of inches every night.  I feel sort of like the kid (Edmund?) in Narnia in 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe' who eats the White Witch's Turkish Delight and is stuck in a Narnia where it is always winter.  Only I think a place where it is always winter would be a pretty awesome place to live.  I think we need to look into getting Kodiak a White Witch we can call Queen - just like the one in Narnia.

Every day I go cross country skiing up past the golf course and every day there is a few more inches of new snow.  Up above Buskin Lake there is now a good foot and a half of heavy snow.  We even have a solid 8 to 10 inches of snow here at our house.  Ironically, out at the airport we have still only officially received 7 inches of snow total.  That's because all of our snow is 'ocean effect' snow and the closer you are to the north end of the island the more snow you have received.

Still I do realize that we do not have a White Witch around who will keep it winter.  Pretty soon I have the feeling I'll be waking up to a week or two of solid rain.  So until then I plan on enjoying it while it is good.  Patrick

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy. Thanksgiving

Stuey's front door sign. 

Group photo!
Yesterday was a relaxing Thanksgiving day, complete with a yummy dinner in the evening with friends. Earlier in the day, the kids went to my sisters place for several hours. I was so thrilled to have an hour nap and realized that I was more tired from my business move than I originally thought!

Mid day I made the stuffing, Patrick prepped the turkey and the kids and I got the house ready. Dinner was a high starch one; mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, wild rice, turkey, scallop ceviche, pecan and pumpkin pie, raindow jello, cookies, cake pops...

The set table: complete with place setting cards that Nora made in art class. 

The mashed spuds made from potatoes from our garden. 

A Stuey pic...hes been going crazy with the camera lately.
Maya enthusiastically posing for Stuey!

Plugging in Christmast lights this morning. Kids are excited for Christmas decorations to go up! 

This afternoon we took the kids out to Swampy Acres and for the first time had an "adventure" ski where we didn't go around in a circle with them (as we do on the golf course). Stuey broke trail for part of the time and we all skiied as a pack. The kids fell some, but are getting up with much greater ease. Patrick and I talked about how they are ready soon to venture to the Buskin River area where he and I ski. It is wild that the time has come for them to go on some of the harder trails with us. We think they're ready to give it a try and believe they will find the adventures of skiing around low lying trees and streams/rivers a very fun adventure.

As we took off from the car this afternoon, I hollered to Patrick, "Hey hon, this is a moment I've been waiting for from the moment I met you!" 

He knows how skiing together is one of my favorite couple past times AND how much I knew I wanted to have his kids. So combine the two...its a treat to ski with OUR kids!
Trekking along Swampy Acres. 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Ski

Here on Kodiak we are experiencing a 'white' Thanksgiving.  And I bet you can guess what I am thankful for. .. .. 2 healthy kids, a healthy me, Zoya, the black lab pack, an interesting job where I get to do fieldwork, and SNOW.

Anyway, for the last few days we have been getting a few inches of snow every night.  This morning I went skiing with Philip, Adelia and Hans up above Buskin Lake and there was 3 to 4 inches of new snow and it was snowing hard the whole time we were skiing.  It is like mid winter up there now with a solid foot or more of snow.  Here's hoping for a 'white' Christmas!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This morning the movers arrived at 8:30 with two large trucks and 4 guys. It took several hours to move all the equipment and boxes over to the new location. 

Out of the entire two trucks, it was my high-low hydraulic treatment table that I cared the most about. I was worried about it getting scuffed, or broken in any manner. 

Winona was at the old location with the movers as they moved it out of the room and she said she kept reminding them, "remember, this is what matters the most to Zoya". The movers were amazing. Two of them carried it sideways off the van and into my treatment room. The table is a BEAST, so watching them maneuver it like this was most impressive!

Thanks a million times over to Kodiak Transfer for making the move so smooth this morning!! 

This afternoon the kids and I went over to the old location and it is empty. Stark empty. Took me by surprise how empty it felt. Because I was at the new location as boxes were hauled out, I didn't see it progressively empty out. The kids asked lots of questions about who would move in, how much longer would I have the keys? 

The old fitness room will be used for dance classes and I told Nora that maybe she will take dance classes in it at some point. I said "you'll always remember this room as being where mommy's work used to be." Nora replied, "What if I forget?" I answered, "you won't forget. You'll always remember." She is at an age now where I believe she really will remember that my office used to be on the bottom floor of the dance studio. 


Monday, November 19, 2012

Awash in Snow

This is what it looked like at Abercrombie when a snowstorm landed on Kodiak yesterday evening. 
We got it good here on Kodiak.  Yesterday we already had enough snow for good skiing at the golf course, and then last night we got another 4 to 5 inches or so of new snow at our house.  Looking at the SAT photo (see below) you can see that what we are getting is 'ocean effect' snow.  Little bursts of moisture coming off the Gulf of Alaska and turning to snow when they hit land.  There is a lot of cold air over Alaska right now, and as long as the present system holds we will continue to get little micro burst snow storms interspersed with sun.  WHOOO HOOOOO.  It also means that the north end of town where the moisture hits land will continue to get more snow than out at the airport or bells Flats.

All I know is that life is good.  We got snow and more snow in the forecast.  Patrick

Abercrombie Park this evening while I was walking the dogs.

Walking the dogs and about to enter Abercrombie State Park.

My tracks in a 'cottonwood tunnel' while cross country skiing this afternoon.

An old military road on the Upper Buskin River where I went cross country skiing this afternoon.

The difference a year makes

Yesterday afternoon we had another chance to ski! The weather was perfect; no wind to speak of and enough snow to have fun in. We went to the golf course again and there were also  3 other families out there. The kids had fun alternating between sledding, snowboarding and skiing. 

Patrick was blown away by what a difference a year makes with the kids. They were so much more independent and would take off on their own around the golf course. 

Another day without poles to help them get their balance; Patrick thinks they're ready to try poles again. I skied without poles also which was good balance and weight shifting practice. 

It snowed several more inches last night, and today is early release at school so there will be more kid snow fun this afternoon.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Life to Old Thoughts

Recently I was doing a little ethnographic research and decided to re read the first part of Ales Hrdlicka's book, The Anthropology of Kodiak Island, published in 1944.  At the beginning of his book he has a section where he summarizes everything in the early Russian accounts about various aspects of Alutiiq life.  At the time Hrdlicka wrote his book most of these accounts had not been translated. And I have always been impressed with both the completeness of the section and that he translated all of them himself.

Anyway, Hrdlicka has a TERRIBLE (and well deserved) reputation among contemporary archaeologists.  He is the guy who during the 1920s and 30s went around Alaska digging into old sites looking for human skulls which he took back to the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.  He was principally a physical anthropologist, and as such he measured the skulls and came up with various theories about the peopling of the New World.  In Alaska due in a large part to Hrdlicka's activities people still often associate archaeologists with 'grave robbing' and 'collecting skulls'.  As you can see from the photo above (he is the guy on the right) his archaeological excavation techniques were a little crude to say the least.

Because of his reputation I think contemporary anthropologists tend to discount everything he ever wrote or said.  So it was with a bit of shock that while reading his introduction to the book I found myself agreeing with his ideas.  I mean he is basically the 'Adolph Hitler' of Alaskan Archaeology so how could he be right about anything?  But, perhaps, sometimes it is best to give credit where credit is due.  Or, put another way, maybe it is better not to throw out the baby with the diaper.

The paragraph below where he summarizes his main discoveries particularly struck me.  Basically, his 3 main points about the peopling of the New World; 1) that there were numerous migrations by different races over a long time period, 2) that the migrations were not confined to foot traffic across solid land, and 3) that an  interior route down to the lower 48 would have been pretty inhospitable compared to a far easier coastal migration - are all valid today. When I was in graduate school 20 years ago we were taught that basically there was one migration of peoples following big game animals across the Bering Land Bridge and down through the 'Ice Free Corridor' to the 'Lower 48', and this happened shortly before 12,000 or so years ago.  DNA and linguistic work and the discovery of far older sites, and even underwater sites along the coastline have demonstrated this theory is not valid.

Basically, what Hrdlicka wrote 60 years ago, and long discounted afterwards, appears to be spot on afterall!

Below is what Hrdlicka wrote:

As the survey itself progressed from year to year, a number of realizations became more and more established.  The main conclusions were, in brief, that there could not have taken place any one large migration from Asia to America, but only repeated dribblings of different units, extending over several thousands of years and bringing inevitably with them even then a variety of languages and physical types; that these small contingents did not need a land or even an ice bridge but could easily reach Alaska over water, even in their smallest skin boats; that as long as the road to the south, “towards the sun,” was free they were under no necessity of establishing any permanent settlements in the north; and that the direction of least resistance and better prospects, two of the main laws that control all human migratory movements, was not through the difficult and largely in-hospitable Alaskan mainland, but along the much easier coasts southward. (Hrdlicka 1944:pp.1-2)

New Camera Continues to Impress

My new camera takes amazing pictures in low light conditions.  I took the top photo in the gloaming before dawn and the bottom photo under the trees in Abercrombie park after sunset.  Admittedly, they are a little bit grainy and lack the detail of pictures taken in low light with our big camera (see Halloween party pics), but for a point and shoot they are pretty darn good.  Patrick

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A First

Today was a first. 

 I beat Patrick to the first cross country ski tracks of the season!!! woo-hooo!! Patrick was at an Island Trails Network board meeting all day. Before he left at 9:00AM, he was kind enough to set out all the necessary ski gear to go to the golf course. The kids couldn't wait and this afternoon we headed out there. They were great with helping get their gear on/off. So much better than last year. I remember prior years where 20 minutes of preparation sometimes gave us only 5 or 10 minutes skiing with the kids. 

Today, Stuey insisted on skiing ahead of me. We didn't use poles, and when the kids fell over they picked themselves right up. I was shocked and wondered for a minute if they were my children. In just one short skiing year, they seemed to almost be enjoying themselves!

Really looking forward to going back out tomorrow, with Patrick. Our ski guru. 

After going to Ohio for my class, I decided to do a seminar for health care professionals on what I learned about the female pelvic floor.

Yesterday morning, 22 doctors, nurses, PA's and physical therapists joined me for a 45 minute talk on the female pelvic floor. I gave the presentation at my new location and served breakfast, coffee and juice.

The turnout and response couldn't have been better! I ran out of chairs and it was standing room only. People asked some good questions and everyone seemed to be interested to learn about my recent training and how it could help women in Kodiak. It felt great to have my first public event at my new location. It is still under construction, but progress every day! This week the fitness classes will move over there.

Nora and I an hour before the talk... was I nervous? Not too bad. :) More excited than anything.