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Monday, March 31, 2014

Questions for the Tooth Fairy

The other day when Stuey lost a tooth a he wrote up this note for the tooth Fairy and put it under his pillow with the tooth.  The Faerie did not answer the questions this time but he/she will get around to it for the next tooth payment.  Somehow I get the feeling that Stuey is working up the nerve to ask her on a date.  He just wants to get a few things established before he asks her.  Patrick

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oh No

This afternoon I noticed that the crocuses are blooming in our yard.  I can't complain because for a while there it looked like they were going to bloom in early February.  And I also know that just because they are blooming does not mean we will not see any more snow in our yard.  Every year it seems I take a picture of crocuses blooming in the snow.  But I will admit that crocuses are a harbinger of spring.  Soon enough the whole yard will be green and I'll be mowing the lawn once a week.

Nonetheless, April is the best month of all for skiing on Kodiak.  This is when we generally get most of our snow up high.  It is also when the crust sets up and the days get long.  So the best of winter is yet to come.

Today I went for a skate ski up in the mountains.  I will be doing this more and more often in April.  Patrick

Monday, March 24, 2014

Vertical Pans

Lately I've been holding the camera vertical when I create panoramic pictures.  Rather than a very long and thin picture the pans have a great deal more vertical depth.  I've also found that they tend to stitch together better. I created the one above this afternoon on the 'automatic stitch' setting on the camera and it did a pretty good job.  I can't believe it has taken me so long to figure out this trick!  Patrick

Sunday, March 23, 2014

End of Spring Break

Today is the last day of Spring break and this afternoon we took the kids to Spruce Cape to break up a little cabin fever. It worked! Within moments of all of us piled in Patrick's Hyndai, moods were improved. Tank was happily perched in the backseat between Nora and Stuey.

It was a a very windy day on the cape, not great for hanging out on the beach at the end of the trail. But the hike out and back was fun with some running, walkie talkie time and "sword fighting" with old pushki rods. 

This spring break we were blessed with nice sunny weather, snow for the kids to ski on and I had a lot of time off to hang out with the kids and their friends who came over for play dates. 


action shot!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Skiing at the Golf Course

We got a snowstorm on my birthday and since then the weather has stayed mostly cold and sunny.  It's been dropping down below freezing at night and then getting up to near 40 during the day.  If this was New England it would be perfect maple-syrup-making weather. Here on Kodiak it is perfect for cross-country-skiing-in-the-afternoon-with-kids weather.

And, since it is also Spring Break, the weather is very much appreciated.  Over Christmas Break the weather was mostly grey and rainy and the kids did not want to play outside.  It felt like we were all cooped up in a cell at Rikers Island or something.  For this school break they have been self-entertaining outside and, wonder of all wonders, even playing together outside.  We have made trips to the golf course, and there have been after dinner walks down the road in the evening sunshine.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Evening walk with Stuey

Stuey's pic of the light through the trees. 

"Mom, don't Power Walk!" Stuey exclaimed at we headed down cliffside road towards Ft. Abercrombie this evening.

"Stuey, did you just say, Don't Power Walk?" I questioned. A smile formed on my face and I chuckled to myself. Images of women walking very briskly holding onto hand weights came to mind. And then there is me...just walking my normal pace. 

"Yes..when you walk too fast!" he replied. 

 Stuey is so insistent on me not walking beyond him. At times it really starts to cramp our walking or skiing moments. 

As we entered into the park, Stuey continued to  insist I stay behind him and not walk an inch ahead. 

"Stuey, I'm going to head back home now because this isn't fun for me to not be able to walk a normal pace." I asserted. 

"Ok, then I'm going to stay right here," he protested.

I turned and started walking towards home farther and farther.  A minute later I turn back and Stuey is sprinting towards me and he says "ok, mom...I want to walk."...out of breath. 

I was glad that he came around with my walking pace and we headed into the forest once again. Stuey likes to do short sprints and he talked about who is the fastest sprinters in his class. He asked me how you get stronger. I explained how running builds muscle and you have to keep running to keep that muscle. 

At one point he charged ahead in a swampy area, deep in the forest. 

"Mom!!!" he exclaimed from afar. 

"Yes?" I questioned.

"Look! The sun!" he shouted.

The evening light was so stunning on the trees. As I approached Stuey I saw him taking a picture of it. He loves his photo safaris.

During the walk, I promised myself that I need to do this more often...take off with Stuey on hikes. Oftentimes he says "no" to going when I ask him. He is such a fun walking partner and its the most precious time ever with him. I get to hear all about the thoughts in his mind and his questions about the world. 


Spring Break Kodiak style

Staycation at Pasagshak cabin

Spring break arrived in Kodiak with a bang...a big snowstorm! Finally, some snow to have fun in. 

Nora and her girlfriend made a cute snowman outside. And they did lots of sledding on their luge tracks down the hills on our yard. I love snow because the kids scramble outside for hours...and I can hear the squeals of delight from inside the house. They come in wanting hot cocoa, with bright red cheeks and smiles. 

On Saturday night, my girlfriend Elise and I ventured out to Pasagshak beach to stay at a friends cabin. It was a 15X15 slice of heaven. Cozy as all get out.  

The cabin had a toyo stove heater which quickly heated up the tiny quarters. Elise prepared a wonderful meal of spanish rice and tortillas on her camp stove and we enjoyed the meal after a walk down the beach. It was a perfect staycation. The next morning we awoke to a significant blizzard. Fortunately, Elise drives a subaru AND had 2 chains that we put on the front tires. Then we headed off, back towards home. 

putting the chains on

 Cabin on the beach. 15X15 slice of heaven.

And we awoke to a blizzard! 

Mision accomplished: Chains on!


Mother Nature brought Patrick the best gift ever for his birthday last week~a snowstorm!

Patrick was able to go for a ski on his big day and we enjoyed a ski themed cake that my friend Megan made (as well as his traditional birthday pumpkin pie).  For dinner we made sausage burgers and lisa and gregg brought smoked salmon dip. 

Heres to a fun-filled, laughter filled 49th year, Patrick!


Saturday, March 15, 2014

A ski with Gregg & Lisa

Today I went up Pyramid with Lisa and Gregg for my birthday ski.  The snow is finally starting to get deep up there and we actually found a seam of deep powder in the South Bowl.  For the most part, the skiing up there is not all that great.  Lots of drifts and patches of ice etc., but it sure was beautiful!

I forgot my camera so Lisa and Gregg took all the trip photos with their iphones.  Initially, I was sad that I forgot my camera - such a great day for photography.  But by the end of the day I was glad I did forget it.  Since I did not have to worry about getting the picture I just sat back and enjoyed the scenery.  Also, since I usually take most of the photographs on trips there are never any pictures of me - Not this time. Thank You Lisa and Gregg for the great day of skiing!  Patrick

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Small Fish in Big Tank

At times, with being from Alaska, professionally...its easy to feel like a small fish in a big tank.

Last month when I was at the Sections of Women Health conference, I went to a Section of Women's Health chapter happy hour. It was held in a very loud, hip bar serving electric colored  martinis and there were lots of women there with a shared enthusiasm for women's health. It was a step outside my comfort zone...entering a party where I didn't know anyone. When I entered the Women's Health host put a string of mardi gras beads around my neck and introduced me to someone and from that moment conversations took off. But, as I"m discovering...its those moments when growth happens!

Throughout the night I exchanged  a few business cards, and gave away a couple. I articulated to a couple of women how I wanted to check out the national scene somehow-something that could make a difference for women. I was vague...wasn't even sure if I wanted to do anything on the national scene.

After the conference, I didn't follow up with any of the women and thought that perhaps I didn't have the time, anyhow, to take on such an endeavor.

Or, more honestly, perhaps I didn't even know where to start or who to bug.   At conferences where you meet the "movers and shakers"...the women who are big on the collegiate level or research levels, I left wondering if I really have anything to offer.

A week ago I received an e-mail from a woman, Susan, who is on the board of Section of Women's Health. She said she had received my name as a person who would be  interested in helping develop clinical practice guidelines for women in the post-partum time.

As I re-read the e-mail, I kept thinking, " did she find me, or remember me?" I didn't remember giving her my card, or if I did, she said very confidently, "Plesae contact me if you're interested in helping."

She found me. And my name was along with two other women I didn't know on the e-mail.

Today we had a conference call....3 other women on the other line from Pittsburg, Denver and New Jersey. All very accomplished, newly graduated with research and women's health experience.

"Just to let you all know, I've been up here in Alaska doing clinical practice, but I've had very little contact with new research since graduating." I informed them in full disclosure.
 "I won't be much help if what you are looking for is someone to obtain research articles."

It felt good to be honest about who I am, what I am and am not capable of. The ladies immediately responded that they are glad to have someone who is a sole clinician on the team to help decide what articles are clinically pertinent or not, and they are all in university setting with access to articles.

At the end of the conversation, the leader asked that we share a little bit about ourselves, where we are, what we do, etc. The other ladies are professors, accomplished researchers. Then there was me...

My story of being raised in Alaska. Returning. Becoming a Doula. Attending 50 births in that capacity. Teaching birth classse. Caring very much for women. Feeling like women are neglected in the post-partum time.

And a career A-ha moment followed when the women on the other end of the line responded so excitedly at my experience. "Oh I want a doula for the birth of my next child, " one piped in. They kept saying "Wow!". It took me by surprise and I somehow felt validated for doing the small town rural work that I've been doing. Its not that I need validation for the work...the work I do is incredibly rewarding to me. Its just that I never imagined that researcher PT's in the big city would necessarily see it that way.

The women on the other ends of the phone line this morning all want to see the care of women change in the post-partum time. Our similar passion drives us in this project.

I got off the phone feeling like I DO have something to offer this group. A few tears of excitement welled in my eyes. I really liked the energy of the ladies on the phone.  And in this process of helping develop the guidelines, I"m going to learn a lot about the current womens health research.

Feeling pleased.... because the 'Big Tank' isn't quite so big, afterall.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Funny Pictures

Stuey and mommy do a 'watercolor' 'selfie'
Stuey and Nora love to take pictures on our point-shoot cameras' special settings.  Their favorite of late has been the 'reflection' setting.  This creates mirror images that can create some funny and bizarre pictures.  Some of their pictures are quite well composed and could even be considered art.  I really like Stuey's reflection picture of the sky with just the chimney of the house next door sticking up out of what looks like water.  When they are playing on the cameras you will hear giggles and then an explosion of laughter as someone catches a really funny one.  Patrick

Stuey creates reflection image of his face - which side is real? Hint: check the writing 

Double brownie by Nora

Sky reflection by Stuey

Tank the dog

Julie in 'fish eye' mode doing the 'scream'

Ray as an obese cyclops

Monday, March 10, 2014

New Snow

It was one of those days when I did not expect much of my after work ski.  It was raining in town and looked grey.  I only drove out the road because I needed the exercise.  And then I got to the pass and found a 1/2 foot of new powder and sunshine.  When I started up the mountain it was so bright I had to keep my eyes shut and open them every once in a while just to orient myself.  Where did the rain and grey go? Then a few clouds came in and obscured the sun.  Still, I'm putting some sunglasses in the car for the next time this happens.

I got to the top and then ripped on down through the new powder to the car without stopping.  Whoo weeeee what a day!  Patrick

Downhill Ski Season

The view near the top of Pyramid yesterday - still pretty icy!

Every year about this time I start to do more and more downhill skiing and less and less cross country skiing.  The Tour of Anchorage is over so there is no need to train anymore, and this is also the time of year when we tend to get most of our snow up high.  Spring on Kodiak is when the downhill skiing starts to get really good.  It is also when we get some of our best cross country skiing - great crust cruising.  But these days more and more often I will find myself climbing up Pyramid rather than cross country skiing at the golf course.  Patrick

Sunday, March 09, 2014


Last night I got back from my sojourn at the Alaskan Anthropology Annual meeting in Fairbanks.  It was a small conference, but most of my 'archaeo' friends were there. It was good to hang out with old friends and talk shop.

Everyday I also managed to get away to go for a cross country ski at Birch Hill.  I wish I'd taken a picture of where I skiied through the birches - hundreds of vertical tree trunks and shadows on the snow.  As I skiied along the shadows and trunks would shift.  The 'White Bear' loop in the sunlight with fresh snow is really one of my all time favorite ski trails.

One of the conference highlights was a guided visit to the Museum of the North ornithology collections.  Jack W who accompanied Catherine, Sam and I to Chirikof Island last summer showed us the lab and collections.  I particularly liked seeing some of the very birds he collected during our Chirikof trip last summer.  Bob K came along for the visit too, and as a 'fauna' guy I think he liked perusing the collections too.  He certainly took a lot of photos with his iphone!

I was surprised how cold it got at night.  I left the rental car extension cord at the airport by accident and  so I could not plug my car in at night and keep the battery warm.  Every morning there was a bit of drama when I tried to start the car.  Would the battery turn over?  The last morning the car thermometer read negative 18 degrees Fahrenheit and it went, 'wughhh wughhhh' twice before it barely caught and started up.

But despite the cold night time temps it warmed up everyday into the teens.  Beautiful weather.  Fairbanks is a great place to visit in March.  It's an even better place to visit when all your friends are there.  Patrick

Bob, Sam and Catherine at a corroding ice sculpture in front of the Museum of the North

The car thermometer on the second morning of my visit - will the car start?

Jack did not collect these 2 birds and explained that new permits were required on a regular basis just to keep them in the collections

Catherine and BIRD bones