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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Walk with Stuey and Macro

New Sitka Spruce buds

This morning I went for a walk through Abercrombie with Stuey and the dogs.  Stuey was excited to go for a long walk 'to the bunkers' and so we went all the way around the lake.  We hiked for an hour and a half which is VERY encouraging.  I can't wait for the day when we hike out to Termination Point or up Mount Monashka, and after today I think those days are not all that far off.

On our hike today I played with the macro feature of my little point and shoot.  It is kind of cool how things look when you look at them super close.  Patrick

My nemesis - Pushki flowers

Fly pollinating the pushki flowers

Strawberry flower and 'bugs'

half blown dandelion

Garden Green

Peas, onions and some carrots

Since we got back from Old Harbor I've been doing a lot of weeding in the garden.  This year in anticipation of being gone so much I really simplified the garden.  I planted very few things and what I did plant does not need much maintenance.  And I am happy to report that the garden is doing GREAT.  In years past I remember that things were barely growing by this date.  And last year it was a weedy mess.

Radishes have turned out to be a great addition to the garden.  I actually do not like radishes and only planted them because they grow quickly and I wanted something to grow quick to please the kids.  And the kids (especially Stuey) have loved harvesting the radishes.  And I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I like radish greens.  Also I made really simple 'refrigerator' pickles out of the radishes and they taste GREAT.  Basically I just created a 'man recipe' (ie completely improvised) and put coriander and fennel seeds, salt and some sugar in a jar with sliced radishes and then topped it up with apple cider vinegar.  They turned out excellent.  Patrick

Lettuce, carrots, radishes (mostly harvested) and some swiss chard

Partially mulched potatoes and newly planted kale

Nasturtium leaves

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wrong tires for Nasturtiums

This week I took 4 tires into the car shop to get my studded tires replaced with my all weather tires. (Yes, I know-I"m a few months late on this task. Its been busy!) The car shop called and said that the tires that were in the back of my car would not fit my Volvo. When I got home I looked around the shed area and there were no other sets of tires that would  fit my car. Then I remembered: The new flower planters.

I went over to the house and saw the stacks of tires that Patrick made as flower planters this spring. Evidently my all weather tires are part of that pack, with Nasturtiums alive and thriving in the tires. 

The tires probably would've only last 1 more year anyhow, so the plan is to get a different pair of all weathers and let the nasturtiums keep blossoming away. 

Patrick and the archaology crew returned home on Monday and its been great to have the house full of friends from afar. 


Friday, June 21, 2013

Wrapping Up

Getting started on the midden
Drama view of camp - finally some cool weather

Here in Old Harbor we are wrapping things up.  We have pretty much finished excavating all of the houses at the late prehistoric site, and earlier this week we went back and completed the excavation of the 6200 year-old house.  At the late prehistoric village we dug large portions of 2 more multiroom houses but the floors were very thin and things went very quickly.  All that remains is a couple of test pits in the field above the site and a test in the midden below the house we interpreted as a late prehistoric smokehouse.

Camp without Catherine - She is usually in the pink 'tot spot' chair

The midden we already dug in front of the house was thin with lots of shell, bone tools and a variety of fish and mammal bones.  It looked like a ‘household’ midden – about what you would expect to find in front of a house.  We are now digging into the midden below the smoke-processing feature to see if it is different.  If they were smoke processing one would expect to find more of a focus on the particular species that they are processing, and little else.  So far the midden has been very different.  It is very thick and chock-a-block full of fire cracked rock and charcoal.  But no shell and very little in the way of bone.  It does, however, look like the scrapings from the smokehouse hearths.  Hopefully before we get to the bottom we will find some animal bones.

Final view of the late prehistoric multi room house

At the 6200 year-old house we found the other side of the doorway.  The structure was dug into the hill with six big postholes along the back wall.  It was about 4 meters wide and 2 ½ meters deep with a thick roof of dirt and sods.  In the middle of the front there is a bumpy area with lots of big postholes and inside it is remarkably flat and post-free.  We did not find a hearth – so perhaps they used a lamp for cooking and heat or had a fireplace outside in the front.  It is the most complete and undisturbed Ocean Bay Era Alutiiq house that I have ever excavated!

Dani getting down deep into the midden

I wrote the above at the end of work yesterday, and today we finished with the digging.  Now all that remains is backfilling and packing up.  Yesterday we also lost Catherine to a bad bug bite.  Her whole hand swelled up and she was having a tough time working a trowel.  But in just a few short days we will be joining her in Kodiak!


Giving a presentation on archaeology to the US Marines working on the runway

An endblade - For finding it Dani won a bear paw insignia on her safety suit for artifact of the day

A map of the 6200 year-old house from my notes

A photograph of the 6200 year-old house after excavation

And yet another view

Pottery from the midden

Profiling the midden

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Domestic Bliss

Tonight when I came in from work, this is what I saw in my kitchen....

Elke rockin' the apron...along with killer fish tacos! Woo-hoo!

My friend, Elke, cooking cod fish tacos. Simply heaven.

 Patrick is gone on archaeology dig for 6 weeks, and Elke has jokingly stepped in as my wife. She is incredible; cooks, cleans and best conversation ever.  She is living right next door to us until her house sale closes this week.

Tonights menu was cod fish tacos; complete with chipolte sauce, cabbage, cheese tortillas. Simply delicious!

Elke has been living next door for I don't know how long (weeks, or months).

What I Do know is that communal living rocks. We take care of each others kids, take turns fixing or ordering dinner, cleaning, etc.  I've decided that this is the way we are programmed to have kids. To have people next door with whom you can share child care responsibiliites with, cooking responsibilities, etc. Its the way life used to be; aunts, uncles, grandparents next door.

Tonight Elke and I  prepared the kids food, then sent them outside to play for half an hour. This gave she and I a chance to eat and catch up on our lives; its been a few days since we've had uninterrupted time to talk.

Patrick called tonight and he is due to return in less than a week; woo-hoo! Elkes husband is off for two weeks working on the North Slope. In the meantime, life with our kids, our homes and work in Kodiak continues. Her presence here  on Cliffside Drive has made the summer so fun, and this 6 weeks without Patrick just fly right by.....


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Becka's Letters

This past two weeks have been some of the toughest to keep up with  Nora's program. All of a sudden, it felt like I could barely keep my nose above water between work, Patrick being gone, hot sunny weather and kids wanting to be outside...Doing Nora's program WELL was a challenge. My office was  sauna and it was hard to focus when we both just wanted to be on a lawn under the shade of a tree. I wasn't as prepared as I wanted be as she and I sat down to do the sessions and she sensed it. 
After two days into the 11th week of her program, I called up her teacher, Becka,  and left a message on her machine saying we needed 4 days off and I would re-do week 11 the following week.  
After Becka received my phone message, she wrote me the following e-mail: 
Hi Zoya!
I got your message!  I am so glad you feel comfortable making executive decisions like doing a week over.  I think it is very smart, and I am more than ok with you taking a couple days to really get more comfortable with these exercises.  Starting next week, I have a break from 12-3:30 pretty much every day. Let me know when you want to chat next to go over any more questions.  I talked with Cindy, and I think her and I are going to film us (cindy and I) doing some of the pace auditory activities to make sure you have a really good picture of how it should look.  She thought it might be good to send that to you, give you time to get familiar with it, and then have a skype session that she can sit in on to watch you and Nora work together.  We really think the auditory piece is going to be SO good for Nora, so we want to make sure you know how to do them and can do them comfortably.  If it takes us awhile to get there, that is fine.  The auditory activities are going to help her soooo much with her reading and writing.  Go ahead and keep working with the AIC drilling like you have been doing until then. 

Let me know if you have any questions before the “week 11 remake”

You are doing fabulously Zoya.  Cindy and I just had a long conversation about what a model parent you are and what a difference it makes in doing this despite the distance between us.  You should give yourself a big pat on the back.  Daily. Seriously.

Talk to you soon!  Have a great weekend!



And my reply to her....

Hi Becka,

Thank you for your great e-mail. You said exactly what I needed to hear.

What happened this week was the first two days, I did all of PACE exercises, but missed several of the CORE exercises because of lack of time. I saw that there were more new exercises later in the week and I didn't want to feel like we were getting sloppy with quality of the exercises. My husband in on week 4 of a 6 week remote archaeology dig and all of a sudden I felt quite overwhelmed with lack of time. 
Also, my 6 year old son Stuey all of a sudden wanted mommy alone time, which he hasn't expressed until now. I've been amazed by how non-jealous he has been all these weeks with Nora taking off with 1:1 time with me. I felt I needed to pause and acknowledge his needs at this time also. 

Nora was bummed to hear we are going to take a few days off, but I"m so thrilled to be able to do week 11 remake.

 I love the auditory exercises, as does Nora. I can tell she is captivated by them. Two days ago when we last did PACE, Nora passed several levels which she had been working on for weeks, so that was exciting. And the BEAT activities involving bean bag, etc are getting so much easier! Yeah!

This past week I saw Nora working on sounding out a word at home, which I have never really seen before. I appreciate that you and Cindy see that I want to take my time and make sure I'm doing it correctly, so the sounds don't imprint on her brain incorrectly. I see the incredible value and potential in this auditory component as much as you and Cindy. A week of this already seems more beneficial than months of speech therapy. 

This weekend I am going to go over the CORE and PACE Cd's for activities in week 11 and excited to start those again on Sunday. 

Thank you Becka for your understanding and working with me so closely. Nora and I will be excited to start back on Sunday. And thank you for your kind words about my dedication--just gave myself a pat on the back, as advised. Hehehe. Emoji

And Nora says, "I hope I can see Ms. Becka soon, because Ms. Becka is so nice"

Have a fabulous weekend and thanks again for working with us so closely!

Best wishes,


I share these e-mails here because I love Becka's kindness and thoughtfulness, which really comes through in her letters. She is a good writer and when I see that I have an e-mail from her, I glow inside. 

 I would love for Nora to someday see in our printed blog some of the letters which Becka and I write back and forth.  And its a good reminder when I look back at this time someday to remember that it HAS been tough with challenges. And occasional tears or feeling like one of us (nora and I) can't do it. 

Tonight before bed, I will sit down with notes from the past two days sessions and write down all the questions I have for Becka. Tomorrow at 11 AM we have a phone date, where I can ask her the questions I have on the various activities to make sure I'm doing them correctly.  And then tomorrow afternoon Nora and I will continue along. 


Monday, June 17, 2013

A kindred spirit-Kelsea

Kelsea and I

This weekend I had a fun, unexpected visit from a fellow Physical therapist who was visiting from  Homer- Kelsea.

Kelsea sought out A Balanced Approach  after hearing about Kodiak this spring. She is a physical therapist who has been doing temporary work in Homer since February. People kept mentioning Kodiak as a cool place that she should check out.

After doing a few google searches, Kelsea discovered my clinic and sent an e-mail inquiring about my business, possible work and called.  I admit; the e-mail she sent I was taking my time replying to .... I was thinking about how to tell her that I wasn't  really hiring and that my clinic wasn't a "normal" clinic as far as multiple PT's, etc.

It was early in the morning when I was sitting at my desk,when she called my work number. We had been playing phone tag and text tag on our cell phones quite unsuccessfully.  I was surprised that the timing worked out where I actually answered the phone at work!

Within a few minutes of talking with her, I could tell she and I hit it off in a very good way. She was looking for someplace within Alaska to relocate to after her traveling work commitments this summer and fall are done.

I have very rarely entertained the possibility of having another PT work alongside me at A Balanced Approach. This is for several reasons; small caseload, the prospect of having to get more equipment for another PT to be happy, the concerns about making sure he/she has enough hours, etc...

So when Kelsea called, I was ready with all the reasons why my clinic probably wouldn't work out for her. But within a minute or two, I could tell that she was someone I would really enjoy working with.

She loves treating low back pain, neck pain, chronic pain. All things which I also love treating and are the cornerstone of my business. I told her i didn't have a 40 hour a week caseload that she would be able to walk right into, and she wasn't intimidated by that. A few days later, she had a trip to Kodiak later to come meet, check the island out and see if it was someplace she could see herself moving to.

Last weekend she came for two days and we had a blast. As I prepared to pick her up from the airport, it felt as though I was prepping for ablind date. Was I wearing the right thing?  ....double checking my hair and make-up. I chuckled to myself and thought, "Zoya, you're being ridiculous...its going to go fine." But I couldn't brush away the thoughts of "What if we don't like eachother? how will it turn out?"

We went to dinner at the Powerhouse and had great conversation primarily about physical therapy and about Kodiak as well. Then we went and listened to live music at the Chart Room for about an hour before returning home.

The two days that followed were filled with hikes, drives, fun conversations as well as a tour of my clinic. She was very patient with Nora and Stuey, as they were extra tired and I insisted they come on a hike with us. In the end, it ended up being good, as they climbed the trees behind Kelsea and I. We sat on a near Islandbeach and marveled at the beauty of the channel; kayakers, birds, etc.

If Kelsea chooses Kodiak to return to and work, I would be thrilled. I would be excited  to work alongside her and help her build the caseload that she would desire. She knows it would take time, but she doesn't seem challenged by that. I love that she has a similar passion for treating spine pain and chronic pain and it would be so fabulous for us to work together with clients which need various approaches to treatment.

Kelsea was here when the weather was gorgeous, but she knows Alaskan winters and spring; she spent 5 months in Homer. It has been  60+ degrees every day~ Today the weather hit 79 Degrees. Unheard of for June in Kodiak!

Hoping my paths cross again with Kelsea in Kodiak this year! It would be wonderful to have her working at A Balanced Approach!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Home for 1 day

Yesterday afternoon Patrick called to check in and we chatted for a few minutes about dogs, kids, visitors, the dig, Nora's program, etc.  As we neared the end of our conversation, I became unusually teary in expressing how much I missed him; its been a month since his Old Harbor dig started, and two weeks left to go until his return home.  I also broke the news  that we wouldn't be able to visit him in Old Harbor as we had tenatively planned. Time was running away from us and I didn't want to have big gaps in Nora's program. He completely understood. 

I was sad, But I resisted saying, "I wish you could come home" or "please come home soon" because I've learned in the past that he isn't able to come home sooner anyhow. And it just makes him feel bad not being able to honor that request. 

So we hung up the phone, I dried my tears, put on my Stevie Nicks Pandora station and tried to perk myself up. It was all first world problems, really. 

Thirty minutes after hanging up the phone, Patrick called back. He said, "Zoya, I can fly home for the evening and day. What do you think? Should I do it?" I was estatic and just over an hour later, he was home on a gorgeous sunny evening. 

So we celebrated Fathers Day in the sun and this afternoon fired up the BBQ pit for ribs, hot dogs, grilled veggies. He heads back out tomorrow and will be back home in less than 2 weeks!

Happy Fathers Day!

The Smore Scene

70 deg. in Kodiak! 

Pretty House Pictures

Yesterday morning I got up at 6 AM to take pictures of the multiroom house before the sun came up.  Once the sun comes up the shadows get too harsh for good pictures.  Ideally we would get some clouds, but no clouds in the forecast.  We are getting sun blasted.  These are the pictures I took with my point and shoot.


Friday, June 14, 2013

One BIG house in the book

Late Prehistoric Alutiiq Multiroom house after excavation

Today we completely finished with the big multiroom house that we have been excavating for the last week.  It was too sunny today for great photos (too many shadows) so I hope to get some better photos later.  But I did create a map of the whole thing.  What a relief – it is done.  It is on paper.  And it was not without some surprises.  It turned out that the west sideroom did have a sod and dirt covered roof.  We had initially thought that the top of the roof was the floor.  This one caused some confusion but we eventually did figure it all out.

Then this afternoon after finishing the multiroom house we started in on another house and got our first big, nasty surprise.  We had already opened the whole thing a couple of weeks ago – so today we just started to dig.  And we found no house floor – no nothing.  It turns out that we do not have a structure of any sort.  Our supposed house depression appears to be sod quarry – a place where the village inhabitants cut sods to build the walls and cover the roofs of other houses.  It does have a small hearth in the center and last year when we tested the depression we hit this hearth perfectly.  But the hearth appears to have been an expedient one.  People were just using the depression as a wind shelter and did not build a formal structure around it.  When removing the grass sod a couple of weeks ago the crew did find 2 perfect ground slate lances.  I now think an Alutiiq man was just up there sitting in the depression and working on his lances and then lost them in the grass.  The depression is a part of the site; it is just not a formal structure.

So now we are going to open up another multiroom house.  The one I have in mind is a lot smaller than the last one we excavated.  We are getting down to the home stretch – not much more archaeology to do here.  Patrick

Another self bladed toggling harpoon from the midden - Prior to this year, I had never found one of these in a late prehistoric Alutiiq site 

Another dawn view from camp - I can't stop taking pictures of the view!

Our big nasty surprise - no house floor in this profile, only sterile weathered ash.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Digging the House Floor

There have been lots of surprises as we excavate the floor of the house we un-covered yesterday – all pleasant.  Thus far there have been no nasty surprises. 

The house has a large formal hearth – very different from the hearths we found in the ‘smokehouse’.  It also has at least one REALLY elaborate cold trap tunnel to a sideroom.  We’ve only excavated one of the cold traps thus far.  It leads to a raised sideroom about a meter above the main room.  Yet to enter it one-stepped down into a box set into the back of the main room bench.  You actually stepped down about a foot and a half into the box.  You then stepped up onto a step that led to into the sideroom.  Effectively a step down and then 2 steps up to get into the room.  I found a trench about an inch thick all around the bottom of the ‘box’ where the inhabitants had set the upright planks.  There were also parallel postholes at the start and end of the box, and, again, up in the sideroom.  These obviously held up crosspieces for the tunnel roof.

We also found lots of pottery and even the intact bottom half of a pot.  It was set in a corner up against the backbench of the main room.  But the weirdest find has been an assortment of slate pendants.  These have all been found in the southeast corner of the main room and resemble a couple others that we found in the smokehouse.  They come in different shapes but all have a little stem for hanging.  I think they are mask bangles – adornments that acted sort of like feathers and hung from a hoop around a mask.  I have never seen slate mask bangles before and their occurrence in both the smokehouse and house hints that the same inhabitants used both structures.

Tomorrow we hope to finish with the house floor and get on to excavating another couple of structures at the site.  I’m hoping our luck continues and keeping my fingers crossed that my benches are benches and walls actually walls!  Sometimes on excavation our walls and benches turn out to be bogus.  Things we thought we saw when we first uncovered the floor, but then do not withstand inspection.  Such discoveries are what I call nasty surprises.  Patrick

Slate pendants found together - mask bangles?

Bottom of the pot

Excavated cold trap tunnel

small end blade with incised design

Camp Life

Our camp near the site.

Our dig accommodations in Old Harbor have been pretty cush.  We have a really nice house in town with hot water for laundry and showers and a great kitchen, and, lately, we have set up a field camp near our site.  The commute out to the site was beginning to take up too much of the work day. For the last week or so we have been splitting time between our ‘town’ and ‘field’ houses.  I like the amenities in town but I love the view and woodstove out at the camp.

In the evening the bears come out onto the flats below our site to graze on the new salt grass shoots.  And the view is really unbelievable.  It is also constantly changing.  I have taken way too many pictures of it. 

Last weekend Chase and I climbed the mountain on the other side of the creek.  We saw some goats on the next mountain over and got a great view of our camp and the site.  The creek looks really ‘big’ from up there.  It is aptly named.

Glassing the bears in front of camp at sunset

Hanging out by the wood stove

Spam for breakfast

Chase at the top of the mountain where we turned around on our hike

Cottonwood grove leafing out

View down over Big Creek and the site - at the end of the thumb like peninsula

Chase catches a nap before we head back from our hike

View from camp at low tide

View from camp at high tide

Last night Chase and I took the inflatable kayaks out for a spin before bed.  It was flat calm and there was a loon making his eerie call.  Chase caught a flounder that we ate for breakfast.  Patrick