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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Stuey's Family Portraits


The other day Stuey worked hard to draw a portrait of all the human members of our family.  Next step is to draw portraits of all the dogs.  Patrick

Stuey ('ME')



My Old Red Sox Cap

Wearing the hat - Karluk One excavation mid 1980s

The Alutiiq Museum is in the process of publishing a book about the Karluk One excavation.  So I have been going through old photos from the dig looking for suitable images.  This was the dig that first brought me to Alaska in 1985, and I have enjoyed finding some serious 'blasts from the past' - photos that strike a memory chord.  A couple days ago I found this one of me in a Boston Red Sox cap.

I was a serious Red Sox fan and wore that hat until the red was pink and the blue faded.  In the photo the hat looks almost brand new, but I later took that hat with me to Africa and I dipped it in every major river or ocean that I ever visited.  It has been dipped in the Indian Ocean, and the Zambezi and Mississippi Rivers among other bodies of water.  I wore the hat while waiting in line for over 40 hours to buy Red Sox tickets in 1986.  A photo of me sleeping in the hat even made it into the Boston Globe. I still have the hat somewhere about the house.

I always used to wear the hat when the Red Sox were in the playoffs.  It was supposed to help them win.  And yet they always lost.  Ironically, ever since I stopped wearing it they have actually been winning championships (2004 and 2007).  Now it seems everybody BUT me is wearing a Red Sox cap.  I very much want the Red Sox to win, and so I did not even dare make this post prior last night.  And last night they won it all.

This afternoon I'll have to look around for the hat.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Stuey and Bob the Horse!

Tonight Stuey and I drove out in the pouring rain to the fairgrounds for his first horseback riding lesson with Ms. Rebecca and horse Bob!

The pre-riding horse brushing routine. 

Even though Stuey is only in first grade, I"ve felt borderline guilty about the fact that he isn't involved in anything extra curricular. Nora has girl scouts and Dance, and all summer Nora had her auditory processing program with me 5 days a week. When I heard of the lessons, it was a gorgeous fall day and the kids and I piled into the car and drove to the fairgrounds to meet the teacher, Ms. Rebecca and Horse Bob.

As a kid I took lessons for maybe a year out at a small arena in Bells Flats. My recollection of those lessons is quite vague-I remember there being a LOT of cleaning out horse hooves with semi-sharp implements and little riding. (I don't know if this is my skewed memory or really how it was. I also remember never being able to gallop or jump after months of lessons. Maybe it wasn't the case, but goes to show how those moments from childhood lessons really stick with you!) 

Learning the ways of the reins and how to hold them.

In any case, as I watched Rebecca take Stuey through the grooming rituals this evening, it all came back to me...the combing, how to tighten the saddle, putting the bridle on, etc. 

Stuey learned about where the horses' ticklish spot is, where to not stand (behind it!) and then we went to the arena where Stuey began riding.

Rebecca has an incredible patience and intuition with kids and horses, which I really appreciate. She taught Stuey how to respond should Bob decide to shake-which he did at one point. Stuey held on for dear life as Bob vigorously shook his body. She taught Stuey about horse body language and how to give Bob nice "atta boy" pets. 

At the end...scoopin' the poop!

I anticipated sitting in the bleachers and reading my book while Stuey took his lesson. But in the end, I didn't. There was something viscerally very pleasing  about watching Stuey go around the arena on Bob and watch Ms. Rebeccas cues to him. 

It was nice to be on an outing with just Stuey.  As we drove home from the lesson, I didn't ask Stuey questions about the lesson. I wanted to, but didn't.  Stuey sat quietly in the back looking out the window at the rain outside. I turned on Pandora and decided to just let him look out the window and "be". 

I have a good feeling about horseback riding for Stuey. It will be a skill builder, confidence builder and something I think we'll really look forward to together!


Walking Bob

Halloween Gathering

Last weekend we had some friends over for a halloween party. This year I used a gift certificate on a DJ that I had from an auction last winter.  He set up in the corner of our living room with lights, incredible muscic, etc. It was so much fun to dance with others in costume and have the DJ take care of keeping the tunes current, fun and dance-able!

Family pic! Stuey was an "ink blot"...he wasn't terribly inspired to dress up during that he just stayed in his school uniform clothes!

Mary Poppins and A Hanson brother form the movie Slapshot 

Characters from the miniseries "Glee"

Poseidan and mermaid

Mildred-lunch lady!

A vintage evening!

Cave man/woman and the cave art (center!)

Spook-tacular food!

Retro milkman and wife!

Winner of most creative costume-jellyfish! Home made by Adelia!

From TV miniseries about women in prison

Another TV miniseries costume

group pic in the kitchen


Ms. Alaska and Mr. Clean!

Dancin the night away!

Snowden--with top secret info on his flash drive!

Cost of Meat

Lisa and Gregg with the meat of a road system deer

The other day I was a part of a discussion on subsistence.  Kodiak's status as a 'rural' community where residents can claim legal subsistence rights was recently challenged, and of late it has been a hot topic around town.  I listened as one older man declared that no one hunts for true subsistence purposes - he claimed that the trophy value and adventure trumped the value of the meat.  Another older man vehemently argued that he had it all wrong and that many, many people rely on wild game as food.  The first man countered that wild game is always more expensive than store-bought meat, and so, why would anyone bother to hunt unless they also valued the trophy and adventure?

Neither of the discussants changed their mind - both men sticking doggedly to their viewpoint - and to some extent both have a point.  Some people do hunt for the meat, and there are also trophy hunters who spend a lot of money on horns. But the discussion did get me thinking.  What is the true cost of meat?

Just based on dollars and cents wild game can be very cheap - far cheaper than store bought meat.  A road system deer can be had for the cost of gas for the drive to the trailhead, ammunition and gear depreciation.  My rifle has already shot over 30 deer so the cost per pound of deer meat is way less than a dollar a pound.  Our seiner based elk hunt was far more expensive - diesel is expensive and we had to motor all the way to north Afognak.  We also had to buy food and many people had to take time off of work. Still, not counting the time off of work, we got so much meat that the cost was still less than 3 dollars a pound.  However, some years we do not get an elk, and we do not always get so much elk.  So for elk I'd put the cost at more like 5 dollars a pound.  When Gregg and I went even further afield to North Alaska and the Brooks Range to hunt dall sheep, airline tickets to Fairbanks, truck gas, hotels and food brought the cost up to about 10 dollars per pound.

And then there is the value of the meat itself.  How much more valuable is wild game?  I know that I would rather have my family eating wild game and not feedlot fed, hormone injected, beef or chicken.  And if I do buy meat at the store I try and get the organic, free range stuff that is far more expensive than ordinary store meat.  When I eat the meat that I hunt I know where it came from and since I also butcher my own meat I know that it is very well taken care of.  There is a lot of value and satisfaction in that. I'm proud to provide for my own family.

I also admit that I hunt for trophy value and adventure.  Hunting is fun and great exercise.  And if I see 2 big bucks at the same time I generally shoot the one with bigger horns.  Unless its during the rut - then I shoot neither but keep looking for the does.  But yes I am proud of big racks.  But does it really matter?  Recreation also has value and since I am having fun while hunting that is a benefit that reduces the cost of the meat.  Put another way, if I was not hunting I would have to pay someone to use their  gym or amusement park etc.

As I see it, the cost of meat is relative and depends on what an individual or family values.  Store bought meat is very convenient - put your money down and go home with a slab of plastic wrapped product all ready to cook.  Wild game that one hunts oneself has additional value - recreational, qualitative, and self worth value.  While our family's wild game actually costs less than the stuff at Safeway, even if it was double the monetary cost it would still be cheaper.  Patrick

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Last Buck of the season

This morning Brooks and I climbed up into the backcountry to hunt deer, and the sun was just coming up when Brooks dropped a nice 3 point.  I think we had only been really hunting for about 15 minutes or so.  It is Brooks' first deer which is funny considering he has already shot 2 Afognak Elk (a far more difficult quarry).  He pointed out that all packs seem light after packing out an elk.

Deer hunting on the road system closes in a few days.  You are only allowed to shoot bucks on the road system, and it has been a banner year.  All told, the group I hunt with harvested 11 bucks on the road system and most of them were unusually large.  For my group I think there were only 3 or 4 unsuccessful hunts.  That's a pretty good success rate and far better than it has been for a few years now.

However, even if the road system stayed open for deer we'd be done hunting for bucks.  The rut (deer mating season) is close and the bucks are starting to smell.  The scent glans on the deer Brooks shot were weeping musk.  We cut the glans off and skinned the back legs, and got rid of the musk smell.  It had not yet gotten into the meat.  But I bet that in a week things will have amped up a bit and all the bucks would taste pretty rank.  It is time to stop shooting bucks!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Walk to Abercrombie by Stuey

This is my favorite of the books Stuey made while in Homer.  He does not clearly state that it is about a walk to Abercrombie, but all the events fit the familiar pattern of one our frequent walks to Abercrombie.  I just love that while he was in Homer he was thinking of me and of our walks together to Abercrombie.  Patrick

Inside the house and obviously bored and in need of a walk

There is a steep downhill just as you leave our house on the way to Abercrombie State Park

At the end of our road there is a footbridge across a small stream

After the bridge and stream there is a big parking lot and some houses

Stuey tells me that this is the trailer where there is often trash that the dogs try to get into

The road ends and the park trails begin

we have obviously made it the crossroads just inside the park


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Taking the Kennecott to Homer by Stuey

Last week Zoya took Nora and Stuey on the ferry over to Homer to visit their grandparents.  While there Stuey got into making his own books.  He makes them all by himself but does ask who ever is present how to spell words.  When they got back he immediately showed me his books.  Now I know what Stuey was up to when he visited Homer.  Patrick