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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Morning Jet

Strange to admit, but I'm in love with the Alaska Airlines morning Jet.

The power of flight-its a long time fascination of mine. Even though there is physics and hard science behind flying, its hard to believe that planes really can fly. People board with utmost confidence, fasten their seatbelts, hear the safety briefing  and then ta-da! Plane takes off into the air. Even thought I don't suffer from flying anxiety, I can FULLY appreciate how someone could!

Recently my start time (8:30 am) at the Coast Guard Base  means that when I drive by the runway, there is a  high probability that the morning jet is taxing to take off or already mid air. As I approach the airport past Boy Scout Lake,  I think, "Will the jet be there? Or taxi-ing? Or will I have already missed it?"The highway curves by the airport then right behind the runway.

This is a rather ridiculous, simple pleasure I fully realize. I don't deny that. But there is something about the jet parked on the tarmac, with people walking up the stairs and onto the plane. Or the plane pulling out from the gate-with the traffic controller guiding his departure from the ground. Or in the winter when the plane is lit up with lights and its raining or snowy out....
I really could go on and on.

 For some reason, I get excited for those people to be on a journey somewhere.
I get excited for the power of flight.
I get excited for the possibilities of the day.

As I drive by with my music playing in my car, the jet takes off into the sunrise and I speed on towards work. Its a moment that just never gets boring. Everyone is taking off into their day.


(And no- I didn't take that picture above. Several times I thought of taking a picture with my iphone, but then thought it would probably be best to not take pictures while driving. Thank heavens for google images!)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Teaching Handwriting

This week I started teaching handwriting in Nora's class at St. Mary's.  I"m tickled pink--yes-call me a handwriting nerd. In many classes around the country, handwriting and cursive is no longer a significant part of curriculums as many students start typing earlier.

Handwriting requires hand-eye coodination, fine motor control and focus which is unlike typing on a keyboard. There are so many benefits to the brain as well as fine motor function with spending time on handwriting. I worked in the school system as a physical therapist for my first year out of college and am excited to use the handwriting  knowledge that I learned for Nora's class.

Teaching to Ms.Schmitt's class was so fun! The kids were  kind and thoughtful and worked hard. Plus, they were super receptive to my advice and I handed out grippies for their pencils which they liked. They said, "Ms. Zoya-this helps my hand not get so tired when writing."

Its such a treat to have time like this in Nora's classroom-to get to know her peers and her teacher more. I also liked when the principal walked into room, the students promptly got up from their chairs and said, "Good Morning Mr. Brian". I found it to be a classic, respectful type of move to have the students do.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Kid Pics

One tired bunny prior to his morning coffee
Nora and Stuey both have their own point and shoot cameras and they are constantly on the prowl taking pictures.  I generally do not pay too much attention to the budding photographers and hence they get photos like the one of me above.

It is actually pretty hilarious to see the moments they captured when we download their photos.  Slightly more unscripted than the photos Zoya and I take.  I also like how they use the pre set camera 'frames' - I really like the 'bunny ears'!  But best of all we get to see the self incriminating photos of them jumping on the bed (bottom photos).  We never even knew they did this until we saw the photos.


Nor and Tankee

M.I.C.K.E.Y M.O.U.S.E. (actually Abbie the babysitter)

Chase Bunny on the computer

Busted - ready to leap on the bed

Whooooo hooo Nora is flying

Deer and Beach

Adelia's deer - only drama was the camera setting

Yesterday morning I went hunting with Philip and Adelia, and Adelia shot a deer.  It may have been a small deer but I was impressed that she only needed one shot and that she cut it up herself. After she had the deer down I left them to butcher the deer while I tried to shoot another.  When I came back Adelia was up to her elbows in blood while Philip was in support mode.  Right on Adelia!

Directly after packing out the deer I met Zoya and the kids at White Sands beach.  What a day - glorious sunshine and it got pretty warm for a mid September day.  Lots of dead salmon were washed up along the high tide line and the smell was pretty pungent.  Some of our friends joined us and the kids played on the beach.  The dogs fetched sticks in the water.  Hard to beat a sunny fall day at the beach.


Fresh bear tracks below the high tide line

Fall Close Ups

Things are getting red here on Kodiak.  Fall is definitely in the air.  Yesterday at the beach I was reminded that the smell of dead humpies rotting on the beach is also a sign of fall.  One whiff and I was immediately reminded of falls past.  They could bottle that smell as Kodiak fall in the air.  Of course the red berries and fireweed also mean fall but the cue is not as strong as the smell of rotting salmon.  Patrick

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Endings and Beginnings

Its Thursday night, Nora sleeps at our B &B and I have some packing to do before we check out tomorrow and head back to Alaska. In the morning, Nora will have her final session with Ms. Becka. Nora loves Ms. Becka and its going to be hard to leave.

This week has been wonderful. When Nora leaves Ms. Becka each day at noon, I notice how Nora gives her 3 or 4 hugs and wants to be near her and stand by her. Nora adores her.

Becka knows exactly how to challenge and motivate Nora in unbelievable ways. She pushes Nora's mental capacity and Nora thrives and works harder for her than I've ever seen.  For instance, before Nora is going to do something challenging, Becka says, "Say Bring it on, Ms. Becka!" Then Nora will smile and repeat her. She also does things like have Nora give her killer high 5's and reminds Nora that "Hard is good. Hard is what we want...makes our brain grow".

The progress Becka has made with her this week is astounding. Today I sat in for 1/2 hour of the session and I was in awe with the articulation, precision, timing which has come to the activities.  Things are really "clicking" for Nora inside her brain.

After Nora went to bed, I took out some Alaskan note cards and wrote  Becka a note, as well as the owner of the center,Cindy.
Letters, rather. Letters that I've been writing in my mind for months. The "Thank you for making my child's education forever easier" letter. I have never felt more at a loss for words, as tears rolled down my cheeks. And they wouldn't stop.

I haven't been so appreciative of someones help in the life of my children in a long time. I don't know that she really understands what she has done. The profound-ness of it. And thats why writing the letter was so challenging.

in the end, I was pleased with the words I chose. Hoping it didn't sound cheesy.

Tomorrow Nora will  have her final session, and we'll give Ms. Becka  a little gift and the card. And we'll be back off to Alaska. There is a little bit more work to be done this fall with an auditory component of the program, but it will be at a gradual pace.

Today Ms. Becka told me she was a 2nd grade teacher for a while. On her window ledges she has classy collectibles from her adventures afar. I learned she lived in India for a semester and enjoyed the home cooked Indian Food. She is almost super human to me-this person who has done so many wonderful things around the world and now she is here in this moment-helping my Nora. She has taken Nora and I to new places together-as we can enjoy and see the world with a new sense of being. And of being together.  


New Stair Master

Here on Kodiak it is getting close to fall.  The fireweed has already turned red and pretty soon we will have our first frost.  This is also the time of year when I need to start getting in shape for winter.  During the summer I barely exercise, and every year about this time I find the need to do something to get back into shape.  Since I don't run, or like going to gyms, and there is no skiing my options are somewhat limited.  I suppose I could go biking or take up swimming, but what I like to do is climb up mountains.  It is a very quick and effective form of exercise.

Zoya always calls my mountain hikes 'nature's stair master,' and in the past I have always driven out to Monashka Bay or up to Pyramid Mt to find my climb. Each option entailed a lot of time wasted driving to and fro.  So this year I chose to try a new hike - straight up Pilar Mountain from the docks past the landslide.  My old neighbor Len S used to climb it during his lunch break to get ready for sheep hunts, and I have always wanted to try it.  So this week I did.

I had a heck of a time finding the trailhead, and it looks like nobody uses the trail anymore.  But there is still a deeply incised foot tread to follow.  It is a VERY steep climb.  So steep that the first time I tried it I chickened out halfway up.  Yesterday I climbed all the way to the top.  It is a lung busting 1250 feet vertical, and I don't think it would be safe in wet or slippery conditions.  But for a quick climb close to town it is an excellent option!  Patrick

Monday, September 09, 2013


About a month ago, I embarked upon a game of basketball with our visiting friend, Thomas. I happened to be outside  shooting a few hoops and he asked, "oh you play basketball, Zoya?" I passed him the ball and as he prepped a shot, I asked, "Thomas, weren't you on the winning state basketball team?" 

The ball left his hand and it was an air ball in front of the hoop. He smiled and replied, "yes, I was!" 

We got a good chuckle out of it and proceeded to play 3 games of HORSE. I found his weak spot on the court (Base line shots) and won all 3 games. I was tickled pink. The muscle memory of shooting hoops hadn't yet retuned from his high school days. 

A week later, we played 2 more games and I lost both. The muscle memory of his 3 point line shots had returned. BIG bummer for me. Nora was the announcer for the last two games and she would add her comments about who wasn't happy, who was winning, etc. 

Now the HORSE challenge is on. When he returns at the end of the month for hunting, a few more re-match games are in the program. I've been practicing. As always, playing basketball brings this internal joy to me. 

Shooting hoops! Staged picture. Minimal defense was played in our game of horse. 

Also during that visit, Bob, Thomas, Patrick and I enjoyed the moon rising over Mill Bay. 

Staying warm by the fire. 


Yesterday Nora and I had a day of fun in the sun with long time friends, Jennie and Bob, here in Seattle. We met up  at Green Lake Park. The weather was in the 70's and all of our kids played on the swings, merry-go round so well together for hours. 

Jennie and Bob are friends who came to Kodiak for many  years doing archaeology and would stay with us for large chunks of the summer. The bulk of their time in Kodiak was before we had kids and its been 5+ years since I saw Jennie last.   

Yesterday when I saw Jennie from afar on the grass, I got a little choked up inside to see her again. I have so many memories of dinners, times on the deck in the sun, barbecues and such fun conversations full of laughter. She is someone I associate with the golden years of archaeology summers...full of super silly times. She is a friend who came to visit and we would spend hours pondering dating, marriage and then with time,  kids. 

Our kids got along well and it was wild to see Jennie as a mom! This was my first time meeting her kids. 

Last night Nora and I were both so tired from the activities of the past week. Nora fell asleep at 7:30 and we both slept like logs until 6:45 am. I am realizing how much solid rest Nora and I have needed for the past several days-its been busy! I"m thankful for the good sleep, as today Nora starts her week intensive with Ms. Becka at Lehman Learning Solutions. 

Jennie, Nora and myself. 

From Left to right: Jennie, Matt, me, Bob and Charmaine. 

I loved seeing the kids grab eachothers hands when walking across the lawn!

off to pizza! Longtime friends and kiddos!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Climbing Old Womens with Stuey

Today Stuey, the dogs, and I did a quick hike up Old Womens Mountain.  It had been a brilliant Sunday morning, but the forecast was for afternoon rain.  And we could see the clouds building behind Bells Flats.  So we had to be quick.

Up on top it was a glorious fall day.  The fireweed has all turned red and we could see a group of ladies and children sky lined in the distance picking berries.  Stuey had wanted to turn back before we got up out of the alders, but once on top there was no stopping him.  The clouds and rain kept on getting closer but we kept on heading down the ridge towards the building storm.

Finally I did persuade him to turn around. And it is a good thing we did turn back early because it started to rain pretty hard halfway back to the car.  Patrick

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Big City

Today Nora and I had a full day of flying to Seattle. 

As we flew over the city, Nora remarked "Gosh it looks so pretty from up here, but its so crowded down there." She wasn't terribly thrilled in the car when we were crawling along I-5 at a crawl and she was hungry, but she hung in there!

Its summer still here in Seattle and its fun to be warm once again!

Arriving at the B & B

We're staying at a B&B, which is a good experience for Nora to have. She saw the dining room table and food set up downstairs and was quite inquisitive about it. She said, "Mom, I think we should go someplace else for breakfast. I don't think we'll want to sit with other people." I replied, "Nora, its really fun! We'll meet new people!" I'm looking forward to the experience with her tomorrow. 

I remember going to B&B's when traveling with my parents in middle school to Europe and it was so fun to see all the little quaint houses and inns!

Nora doing a word search book waiting for the plane. 

In the airport, Nora told a lady who had a India-style wrap over her head, "I really like your thing-y". The lady was gracious, and smiled and said, "Sari...thank you!" The stranger handled it perfectly. I chuckled at Nora's choice of words. 

Bears waiting on the B & B bed...Nora was most impressed with the bathrobe!

Wow. Speechless.  THe gurest book at our B&B. Hundreds of kind, awesome comments...then this. So unclassy. But I admittedly laughed out loud when I read it. People never fail to surprise me!

City parking...argh... Luckily we had a zone 6 pass! Phew!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Photo Safaris with Stuey and the Dogs

Stuey finding a 'new' trail and negotiating the brush

For the past month or so Stuey has been taking photography hikes with me and the doggies.  Stuey has inherited Zoya's old waterproof camera (slightly obsolete), and we both bring our cameras along to see what we can see.  All of our hikes have been just down the road to Fort Abercrombie State Park.  I LOVE that Stuey now likes to go for hikes.

Stuey also likes to explore and is always on the lookout for 'secret trails'.  Often these are game trails that Tank finds for him first.

The cameras have become more important now that we have hiked practically every trail (where dogs are allowed) in the park.  When we take pictures we go slower and stop a lot to look at things.  Last weekend, in this way, we took almost a 2 hour hike!

Anyway, here are some of my photos from these hikes - in a post below I have posted some of Stuey's pictures from the 2 hour hike.  Patrick

Dogs wandering ahead

Stuey pointed out this tree to me - for some reason I did not see the face right away

Devils club - Stuey took a picture of me taking this picture

Close up of our nasturtiums back at home

Stuey's Safari Pictures

Daddy taking a picture - creating a panoramic actually

Here are Stuey's pictures from our last photo safari to Abercrombie State Park.  Stuey likes to play with his camera controls and currently the camera is set to Portuguese (I think) - So I had a difficult time helping him reset the controls to take pictures on a dark day in the park.  Still his camera seems to have taken some good pictures!

A lot of the time he took pictures of me taking pictures, or took pictures of the same things I was photographing.  But at other times he saw things like hearts or interesting bones etc that he just liked and took their photograph.  He got some good images that I did not see to take myself.

Whenever he got a picture that he liked he would come over and show it to me: 'see daddy, I like this one'.  I'm liking our walks and so are the dogs.  Patrick

I took a similar picture and then Stuey re-interpreted it

On patrol for more pictures

Stuey sees a heart on the ground - he took this one for 'Mommy'

Lake Gertrude and tree silhouettes

Fungus on tree by Stuey - I did not think to take this picture myself

Stuey taking a picture of me taking a picture that I posted above!