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Saturday, August 31, 2013

10th Anniversary Surprises!

Our 10th wedding anniversary was a great day full of unexpected surprises!

Yesterday evening  Patrick and I  packed our overnight bags, got into the Hyndai and pulled onto Rezanof Drive, with kids under the over-night care of a capable babysitter. Right as we pulled onto the road, we passed a mini-van with a longtime familiar face in it!

Dean, Patrick's friend from South Africa, gave us a gregarious wave and smile and we quickly turned the car around to say hello! The timing was perfect-Dean and his friend Ralph are in town for a week to go fishing and hunting.

The serendipitous part is that Dean made the trip to Kodiak 10 years ago for our wedding! We quickly made arrangements to meet downtown at the Brewery for drinks.  It was special to say "Cheers!" with a friend who helped support Patrick and I in the journey of marriage on the day of our wedding.

At the Brewery with Dean

A few hours later,  we headed out to The Rendezvous restaurant in Bells Flats for dinner. We enjoyed salmon burgers, halibut burgers and drinks on the outside deck with the company of a few evening mosquitos. It was nice to be on the quieter patio after being inside the loud brewery. Conversation all of a sudden seemed effortless as we spoke in a normal tone of voice.  Patrick and Dean recalled stories from their time together in South Africa; lots of stories about driving 210+ km/hr in their toyota Corrola. Wow. Fast.

 Ralph, Dean, myself and Patrick

 South Africa was where Patrick began his friendship with Dean and its incredible that their friendship continues on (20+ years later) here in Kodiak, when Dean comes up for fishing trips.

After dinner, Patrick and I went to Buskin Beach Camp site area where Patrick pitched a tent and we we spent the night under the trees in our little green tent. We got one of the last available campsite-right alongside the main road but we were just glad that one was available on Labor Day weekend.

An early morning rain shower pattering on the tent  gradually awoke us. It was a treat to sleep in and awake at 7:30, with no pressures to move quickly or have to assist the kids with the morning routine.

As we awoke, Patrick said, "Here starts the next 10 years!"
At the risk of sounding cliche, I"m excited!

If the next 10 years are anything like the last 10, I"m in luck!
I'm thrilled to be married to such a hardworking, caring, funny and adventurous man.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Kodiak Foods

Here on Kodiak it's a good time of the year for local foods.  There are mushrooms in the woods, salmon are flooding up the rivers, the deer are easy to find up in the alpine, bushes are heavy with ripe berries, and the garden is producing at its peak.  It is not all that hard to create meals that contain only fresh local ingredients.  Last night we had a deer roast with roasted potatoes and angel wing mushrooms sauteed in butter and garlic.

It has been a joy to have Thomas staying at our house because he so avid about the local subsistence game.  The other night he came back unexpectedly from Afognak with a bunch of silver salmon to can.  That's the kind of unexpected surprise I like!  Yesterday he went with Zoya into the woods to collect mushrooms.  It was pouring down rain, but that did not dampen their enthusiasm.  He has also helped two of our friends collect a deer, and collected another of his own.  It seems he is even more enthusiastic about deer hunting than me, and that's saying something.

Just this minute Nora ran out of the house with a bowl to collect red currants.  It seems I'll be making jelly momentarily.  Patrick

Zoya harvests an angel wing

STOP!  Don't eat that one Thomas - I think it is poisonous!

Harvested angel wings and chicken of the woods

Unharvested angel wings

Afognak Silvers - caught on rod and reels and not in a net

Getting ready to can the fish

Ready to can - we ended up with 27 jars

August deer meat is the sweetest tasting deer around

Carrots and potatoes from our garden that we entered into the fair

My carrots did particularly well this year

Happy Trails

It's been almost a week since the Haakansons left town.  Sven has a new job at the Burke Museum in Seattle.  We are going to miss them, but somehow I have a feeling they will be returning on a regular basis.  People like the Haakansons can never really leave. Patrick

A familiar sight - Sven behind a big lens

10 Year Anniversary

10 years ago here in Kodiak~ Happy Anniversary to my hubby who has taught me that when hiking along there are highs and lows. There will be thick alder and salmonberry bushes, through which one must persist and be determined to get through. But the view from the top -the scenics and time shared along the way make it all worth it. 

The journey together-therein lies the joy.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Loth Teef & the Toof Ferry

In the past 4 weeks Stuey has lost 5 teeth, two of which he pulled himself when they became wiggly.

1 was lost while eating an ice cream sandwich at Chuckee Cheeses. (He realized an hour or so later when it was suddenly gone)

1 was lost when rough housing at the grocery store.

1 was lost at Afognak.

Stuey has a "blood on himself" phobia...I just looked it up-called "hemophobia".

Or if he falls and hurts himself, as long as there isn't blood, he's ok. He'll quickly ask, "Am I bleeding? Am I bleeding?" When we say "No Stuey, theres no blood" an air of relief comes quickly over him.

So with losing 5 teeth in such a short time,  the bleeding and stopping the bleeding are his primary concern.  He almost obsessively shoves a wad of paper towels into his mouth for 30 plus minutes until he is assured and reassured by us that he won't lose even a speck more of blood.

Along with such a large number of teeth lost, the questions about the tooth fairy have been coming also. The kids asked if the fairy is a boy or girl. And in the back of the car I heard the kids say to each other, "Yeah, the tooth fairy is real. But the Easter bunny isn't real. We know Mommy is the Easter bunny".


Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer Friends & Visitors

This summer has brought so many wonderful people into our home--with so  many hellos and teary goodbyes. 

Before we had kids, Patrick and I took in long-term houseguests and archaeologists quite frequently. We typically had people in our home all summer and once the fall would come, our house would become quiet when everyone went their ways for their own homes. 

Then kids came in our lives and because of the nature of parenting, we didn't do as much of hosting.  This summer our house once again filled up again with strangers and friends. 

Patrick was gone for nearly 8 weeks on surveys/digs so it was fun to have other "grown ups" around for dinner time, walks, etc. The people in our home have been so kind, patient and helpful. They've offered warm smiles and assist with dinner and dishes. They've given Nora and Stuey piggy back rides, read to them, played games. They've been friends to us in every definition of the word. 

Our friend Thomas is still here and there are a few more visitors left to come and go before the end of hunting season in October. 

The thing that strikes me harder with these good byes is watching how Stuey reacts to goodbyes. 
Stuey and I--we can't help but get teary eyed. I read good bye notes to him written by guests, and he sits in my lap-tears in our eyes. Its good to let the emotions flow and good to teach him that. (As his dance teacher noted years ago, Stuey is a lover, not a fighter! Unless Nora is in the picture....) 

Laurel (left) and Nichole. Both wrote such wonderful good bye cards upon their departures! They left Stuey and I teary eyed as we read them. 

A wonderful summer sitter, Leah, the kids and myself. She was incredibly flexible and hardworking. 

Elke, Marias, myself and Kainoa. Marias and Kainoa recently moved back after 4 years away from Kodiak. Welcome Home!

Bob from Seattle-here to do a talk on Old Afognak village. He used to come to Kodiak lots years ago for digs! Its like a day hasn't passed when he comes back to Kodiak! 

Rose, Stuey and Thomas. Paper airplanes! They also have been part of our home for years. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Big Fish on Small Rods

Stuey has a fish on!

Yesterday on the lawn the kids learned how to use the fishing reels that require you to flip a bail when casting.  In the past they have always used the reels where you push the button to release line and cast.  So yesterday with hookless lures on the ends of their lines they practiced casting in the yard.  I was constantly untangling lines from trees etc and I am surprised that they did not ding the paint on Zoya's car.  But they did get the hang of the new reels and they did learn to cast (and to even aim somewhat while doing so).

So today I took them to White Sands beach to catch real fish.  We learned that it is pretty hard to catch pink salmon on small rods.  They only have 4 pound test line on their reels so I had the drags set pretty light.  They would be cranking away and the line would be zipping out just as fast.  I tried to teach them to keep their rod tips up and to pump their rods and reel in the slack.  They also learned to walk back with the rod tip up and then to walk forward and quickly reel in.

They even caught fish.  All of Stuey's had been snagged (foul hooked) and we could not keep them.  But Nora actually caught one all on her own that bit the lure.  It was even fairly bright.  Salmon are bright in the ocean but change color and their flesh gets soft once in the fresh water.

We took Nora's fish home and canned it in the small pressure cooker we use for making risotto.  The cooker could have canned 5 tall half pint jars, but I managed to fit Nora's fish into just 2 jars.  One fillet per jar.  This is good to know because next time we will keep 2 fish.  I added some salt and olive oil to each jar and then pressure cooked them at 10 pounds for 1 1/2 hours.  Viola!  A pound (2 half pints) of tasty canned salmon.  Patrick

But it is not all that easy to get them in

Stuey strikes the classic 'fish on' pose

He actually still has a fish on only now he wants me to reel it in

Nora and her epic 'battle royal' with a pink salmon

Mission accomplished - now it's time to can the catch

One pink equals 2 half pint jars of canned salmon and a 'pint's a pound the world round'

Deer before sunrise

Glassing for deer from camp
Friday evening Lisa, Gregg and I hiked up to the alpine to go camping.  The plan was to camp out overnight so as to have a head start on hunting for deer the next morning.  Lisa still has a road system tag so she was the hunter - Gregg and were along as sherpas to help pack out meat.

After slogging up through the brush we camped out in a flat spot covered in bunchberry and enjoyed a spectacular sunset.  During the night the almost full moon was so bright it lit up the inside of the tent enough that I did not need a head lamp when I woke up to cook breakfast.  And then we broke camp before dawn and headed up the mountain.

We got to the top and immediately found a deer for Lisa, and she made the most of her opportunity.  One shot and the deer was down.  She got it so early that I got my first dead deer pictures with the moon in them.  Best of all, we had the deer meat in the fridge by noon.  Patrick

Camping in my new tent tarp

Sunset from camp

Hiking by moonlight at dawn

Dawn patrol

Lisa's deer is down before sunrise

Whoo Hoo - now to get the meat back to the car

Negotiating the alders on the way down

A spider in her web - we watched her attempt to catch a fly in her web - we were rooting for the spider

First Day of School-St.Mary's

First Day! I stood inbetween so they wouldn't hit eachother. Sibling love.  
MOST BEAUTIFUL mailbox ever!!
The kids started school last week and the first day couldn't have gone better. The new principal, "Mr. Brian" as he likes to be called, was very friendly and warm to the families as we came through the door. He took time to learn names and walked us to the class rooms. Mr. Brian is a longtime friend and neighbor and I am thrilled to have him  as principal!

Nora's class has 11 students in it-grades 2-5.
Stuey's class has 14- Grades K-1. I love the small class size and one-room school house feel that St. Mary's has.  This year I volunteered to be the volunteer coordinator, which I really look forward to doing. There hasn't been such a position in the school for some time and its much needed. There is  work that needs to be done in increasing student enrollment and ensuring that parents are doing their 25 hours of volunteer time a year.

The mail box outside was recently painted and I couldn't resist taking a picture of it; it reflects the warm feeling  of the school this fall and the attention to aesthetics that I see all over the school campus.  Outside, the playground had been spruced up a bit since last year-old equipment removed and a new slide installed.

At the end of the first day, I didn't get too many details out of the kids about their classes. The typical response is  "Good" when I ask them how their days are. But then details slowly leak out later in the evening- Such as "Mom, there aren't any demerit slips anymore", Nora told me. (This made me happy! Seemed a little strict for such young kids.)

The beginning of the year excitement is contagious. All the possibilities and adventures to be had....


Afognak Days Five and Six

Thomas backlit by a spectacular sunrise

This is the last Afognak post.  We got back just over a week ago, but it already seems like it was ages and ages ago.  All the memories have already moved from the present to the mythic parts of the memory banks in our brains.  So rather than write a whole lot I'll just post some pictures from the final days of the trip.  Patrick

Resting in a patch of arnica - it's supposed to help with aches and pains

Our little daredevil

Teepee Time

We depart a day early to beat the weather - Thank You Rolan!