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Monday, April 28, 2014

A Knight to Remember

Last weekend was the annual St. Mary's Serendipity auction. This years theme was "A Knight to Remember" and the gym was dressed up in a castle theme. 

To celebrate the theme, we rented costumes from Anchorage and reserved 2 tables for a batch of peasants, knights, maid marians and kings. This kept the spirits high, bidding steady and when dessert time came-it was dessert mania!! The dessert auction is an annual tradition at the auction. Cakes go anywhere from $50 to $700! By the end of the evening, there were 4 desserts at our two tables, 3 of which were consumed on site. 

I won't say too much more about the auction except that I was just awestruck with the generosity of the community for St. Mary's. There were a few tear jerker moments where prior St. Mary's students gave testimonials about the impact that St. Mary's had on their life. The stories from prior students was a great reminder of why we were all there that evening and it was fun to share in the night with good friends. 


From left to right: Marias, Jason, MJ, Patrick, Zoya, Shanna, kelly, Erica and Dan. 

Nora's class shield

Cookie shots! Chocolate chip cookies which could be filled up with vanilla infused milk! So delicious and fun. 

The king at our table

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Last Talks

I have been presenting a lot of public lectures lately - 6 since January!  Yesterday at the Kodiak Area Marine Science Symposium I presented on how archaeological data can be useful for marine scientists studying the Gulf of Alaska while last week, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Great Alaskan Earthquake, I presented on how earthquakes have effected Kodiak and the Alutiiq people in the past.  Yesterday's lecture should be the last one for quite a while - phweeeew!  I have to admit that talking in public makes me nervous so it is kind of a relief to be done for a while.  Below are a few of the slides from my last 2 talks.

In my talk for the Marine Science Symposium I basically talked about how archaeological data can be used to give time depth to analyses of the Gulf of Alaska's ecosystem.  How did people react in the past to changing conditions in the Gulf?  Also I showed how archaeological data can be used to examine what the Gulf of Alaska looked like at various moments in the past.  Sometimes I think marine scientists assume that conditions in the Gulf for the last 50 years are 'typical' when in fact commercial fisheries have created a system in far more of a state of flux than normal.

My presentation on past Kodiak earthquakes focused on Afognak Island and emphasized how such earthquakes have occurred every 400 years or so.  Back in the 1990s I excavated a village that was abandoned after a huge earthquake in about AD 1550.  Basically the same thing happened to Afognak Village in 1964.  What's amazing is that these events do not seem to have effected the cultural trajectory of the Alutiiq people - they seem to have weathered such events remarkably well.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Art Lessons; Receiving and Giving

Several weekends ago I attended an "artist in residency" training with the kodiak school district. All attendees would be given the certificate and "two thumbs up" to teach art in the schools. With quilting being my primary artistic medium, I was curious with how it would be to delve into other  art mediums and the big question...."How could I possibly teach other mediums if I'm not already familiar with them?"

After two days of experiencing art ourselves with drawing self portraits, block printing, and learning about how to teach art appreciation, I left feeling WAY JAZZED about teaching art! St. Mary's, here I come! :)

Sheila D, who is a popular sculptor statewide, taught the class and was so positive and encouraging to go, try, learn. My take home message from the weekend was a reminder that art is so good for the soul. Time to explore art more! 


Reading in Church

Several weeks ago when I was at work, I got a text from my friend Angie. 

Attached to the text was the picture below and Angie said that Nora was doing the reading for church that morning. 

As Patrick and I  later discussed, we're grateful for public speaking being part of the education in the earlier years...makes it seem less daunting and scary for the little ones as they get older. 

Nora has come a long way with her reading and writing this past year and I'm proud of her hard work!


Nora reading scripture at school mass. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Scouting

I"ve been doing my best to keep the "outing" in Scouting with my Brownie Troop #118. Several weeks ago we went on a hike through the woods to a beach. Along the way, the girls had a scavenger hunt where they had to notice different elements of nature and check them off on their list. Things like "something translucent" or "something sharp"  or "something with veins"….it kept them guessing!

Once we got to the beach, the girls assembled a fire from tinders and beach wood. Several of the dads led the girls in lighting matches.

And they enjoyed roasted marshmallows… (mom-I spelled marshmallows correctly! Woo-hoo!)

Another fun day in the sun with Troop #118! 


Surprise 30th for Rachel

Our friends Rachel and Matt are in town for several weeks before they head out to North Carolina to live. They were out next door neighbors for years and they left last fall for a several month trip to Australia. 

Its been wonderful to see them again, they are like family to us. During their Kodiak visit, Rachel turned 30! We had a surprise birthday party for her last weekend.

Cutting the red velvet cake--Rachels' Favorite!


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Afternoon Ski

This afternoon I rushed up to Pyramid to go for a ski and when I got the parking lot I noticed Gregg's parked pickup truck.  I looked up the mountain and there was Lisa and Gregg on their way up the trail. I hurried up after them, caught up, and then spent a couple hours skiing with close friends - a perfect Sunday afternoon, and totally unplanned.  I love totally unplanned ski dates!  Patrick

Friday, April 11, 2014


I just spent the last 2 days in bed sick, and I have not been that sick for a long time.  I had flashbacks to times when I was sick as a child - to that 'Alice and Wonderland' world where everything is either too big, too small, too hot or too cold.  For hours at a time I half dreamed vivid scenarios where I would try and get everything just so in my head - only a few hours later all my earlier thoughts made no sense.  I also had a REALLY bad sore throat and cough.  Kudos to Zoya for putting up with me.

It wasn't all bad.  I did sort of come to life for a few hours at a time and read books.  The dogs kept me company on the bed and the sun shined in the window.  Our bed has a view out over the ocean - not a bad place to be stuck.

Today I feel much better. No more sore throat or wild dreams.  Right now I think I am feeling more the after effects of being in bed too long than the cold.  It's time to return to day-today life.  And let's hope no one else catches my cold.  Patrick

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Another Try on the Red Alder

A few years ago I went on a quest for a red alder tree to plant in my yard (see old blog post here).  I found what I thought was a red alder tree and planted it, and it turned out to be a common sitka alder -  not the red alder I had wanted (click here for post).  Eventually, a blog reader named Tom took pity on me and sent me some actual red alders to plant (click here for post).  That first summer the new red alders did really well and actually doubled in size.  I thought I had accomplished my goal.

And then came a very hard winter which frosted and killed one alder and damaged the others.  Still in the spring the alders were doing well and when I left for the summer field season they were all leafed out and growing.  But when I came back later in the summer I found to my horror that the lawn mowing service had girdled the trunks with the weed-eater.  And so phase one of my Cliffside alder quest ended - All red alders dead.

Anyway, last fall Tom called and asked how the alders were doing, and I told him the sad news.  He commiserated and asked if I wanted to try again.  Boy did I ever!  And so I recently got another shipment of red alder saplings along with some big leaf maple and grand and douglas fir saplings.  I planted them all in various protected areas of the lawn.

I've learned a few things - only the most protected spots this time; each sapling will get a metal cage, and next winter (and the next few nights which are supposed to be in the low 20s) each sapling will get coat to protect against extreme cold.  I also talked to a local tree expert who recommended putting dead leaf litter from common alders around the red alder tree roots.  He said there is a symbiotic bacteria that alders use to fix nitrogen, and that it would help the new red alders get going if I could fix them up with some of this bacteria.

And so the red alders are in - and now it's time to care for them and keep the fingers crossed!  Thank you Tom!


Monday, April 07, 2014

"From Kicking and Screaming to Kicking and Gliding"

This was our 2014 submission for the Island Trails Network Film Festival.

"From Kicking and Screaming to Kicking and Gliding" is a condensed 3 minute short of 7 years of cross country ski footage (and bloopers). Enjoy!


Saturday, April 05, 2014

Bike Rides to the Park

Last week Nora, Stuey and I 'discovered' the bike path into Abercrombie State Park.  Of course I had known about the path, and, to be honest, I have always been a little disturbed that they cut down so many trees to build it.  But it was not until last week that I actually gave it a try.  Now I am very happy with the trail.

It is a GREAT way for the kids to safely get to the park and it is a GREAT trail for bike riding.  In the past they have just done loops in our driveway.  Now they have some place to go.  Still, Stuey does have some things to learn about crossing roads so it will remain a parentally guided trip - for now.  But in the not-so-distant-future I think it will become the go to trail.

I was also surprised at how many other bicyclists and hikers we saw on the trail.  I had always sort of assumed it did not get much use, and whenever I use that park entrance I've gone by car.  Now I see that the bike trail and sidewalk have made it much more pedestrian friendly.

Inside the park we also found this old time well and pump.  I showed the kids how to pump up water.  It had a warning sign about how the water needs to be treated before use.  But I bet it is good water if you boil it first.  Actually, I bet I've drunk far worse water and done nothing to treat it - dead cow water from Chirikof comes to mind.


Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Springtime in Kodiak

In the middle foreground is the plateau where I have been skate skiing for the last few days

It's my favorite time of year.  After rising above the land on the other side of the bay all winter the sun is finally starting to rise out of the ocean in front of our house.  By mid summer it will be rising out of the trees on the northwest side of the bay.  The days are getting longer.  The crocuses are blooming.  And best of all the skiing is great.

We've had a long run of cold sunny weather and I have been skiing every day after work.  Today I realized that I have gone for a ski every day for 4 straight weeks!  I am beginning to get a little tired.  Maybe a rain/snow day would not be such a bad thing?  Patrick

Still coming up over Spruce Cape, but just barely.  By next week it'll be rising out of the ocean further to the left.

Skate ski tracks at my own personal terrain park

Birthday Cards

For my birthday Nora and Stuey made me hand made birthday cards.  I think Stuey took A LOT of time working on his.  I love the deer on the mountain and the caption from my mouth that 'I am the birthday boy'. Hand made cards are the best.  Patrick