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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Portland Love

In the PDX airport. 
Returning home early tomorrow. 
Feelin' the Portland Love~  

The warmth, smiles, hugs and love from the other kindred spirits in my class. 

Retreating to the peace and quiet of my hotel room after dinner. My little slice of quiet and solitude.

Staying up late watching House Hunters. 

Grazing through the stacks of beautiful books at Powells. 

Being in the presence of healers of all types for 4 days-natropaths, midwives & massage therapists. 

Walking through city streets. City lights. 

Portland Food Trucks-especially the Georgian one. Wow. 

Tami Kent, my class instructor. Her skills, patience, expertise…she's a gem. 

Portland food-Smoked Elk Tongue, Rabbit, eggplant dishes, local white wine…yum.

and….my long distance Stalker, Stuey. His breathy voice messages left on my phone. "What are you doing, mommy?"

Portland, I'll be back! 


Jewel Beach

This past weekend it rained on Saturday, but indian summer continued on Sunday.  We went to Jewel Beach with some friends and all the dogs.  The main objective of the trip was to find beach glass, but our friends also brought wetsuits, and we learned that Nora and Stuey REALLY like to swim with wetsuits on.  I'm wondering if we might be swimming in January.

I took a lot of pictures and played with taking backlit pictures of the kids in the water.  I really like how the sparkles turned into little 6 armed 'stars'

Cici, Sophie and Roxanne looking for beach glass

On the way home we checked out an old WWII bunker that was supposedly the main headquarters for all of Kodiak.  I had heard it has 7 stories underground, but I later talked to Joe at the military history museum and he set me straight - only one floor. And yes it was the headquarters for the Army.

The downside of our bunker visit was that Sheba found and rolled in bear poop.  Rotted humpy bear poop - the WORST kind.  I had to wash her in a pond and our car ride home was quite smelly.  Patrick

washing Sheba - at least she stayed still

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dirty old carrot-eating dog

2 1/2 gallons of harvested carrots (1/2 bucket)

You might have heard of the 'egg-sucking dog' - the incorrigible hound best known from the Johnny Cash song of the same name.  Well, here at our house we got our own version of the 'egg-sucking dog' - only we can't keep her out of the garden rather than the 'henhouse,' and she's killing our carrots rather than the 'chickens'.  And if she doesn't stop eating our carrots we are NOT going to send her to the 'great chicken house in the sky' either.

Unbelievable!  We got a dog that eats carrots like chocolates.  

I think next year I might have to use an electric fence.  This year I decided to just harvest the carrots.  It was pretty much time anyway.  I harvested just under half of a 5 gallon bucket's worth of carrots.  And this year we harvested carrots pretty much continuously from late July on. It is amazing how many carrots you can get out of a small garden patch.

I wonder how many carrots Sheba harvested?

Chomp, chomp - Sheba lays waste to the carrot patch (note the slug)

Arghhhhh - is it time for the electric fence?

Fall colors on the Karluk River

The weather was on the gloomy side for my float trip down the Karluk River.  Floating along down the river watching all the colors go by was incredible, but even at the time I was thinking - 'with this light the landscape is impossible to capture on my camera'.  I almost did not even try.  And I do think a few spotlights of sunlight would have brightened things up considerably for the camera.

But what I did not realize was how much the clouds added to the pictures.  I did not even notice them when I took the pictures!  Looking back I wish I had exposed a bit better for the clouds and incorporated them more in my compositions.  Funnily enough, the pictures that turned out the best were all 'accidents'! Patrick

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Class & Burritos

Within a few minutes of talking with the other attendees at the start of today Holistic Pelvic Care Provider Class, I realized that as a Physical Therapist, I was in the minority. And I liked that.

There are lots of natropaths, massage therapists, midwives and only a small handful of physical therapists in this 4 day class. Don't get me wrong, I love my profession but it sure is nice to be around women healers of other sorts (and especially to have the knowledge of so many natropaths in one room!).

I chuckle at myself for being nervous, or not excited about going last night.  I think I was nervous about unknowns…finding the class, a new teacher and style of treatment. And a class which steps away from looking at things from a strictly medical approach. 

 I left class today completely energized and so excited for tomorrow. 4 days of class in't seeming like a long time anymore…not with this group of incredible, thoughtful ladies. 


A Bean & Cheese Chimichanga :)

After class, peers dropped me off at my new favorite Portland digs… a little Mexican restaurant called Santeria. I discovered it yesterday from a google search-it got rave reviews for being a small little restaurant. In searching for Santaria, I walked around several blocks slightly disheartened, as I wasn't able to find it. Finally I asked some people walking down the street and they pointed me in the right direction. It was then that I realized why they didn't have pictures of the restaurant on their website. 

"Oh, its right on that corner, two doors down from the strip club" the two strangers informed me. I looked to a spot of real estate on a block which I had totally avoided on the prior search.  A strip club, a small grocery mart and then several unmarked units adjacent.  There wasn't any markings on the outside of the building for a Mexican restaurant. 

I backtracked, and upon closer inspection, I realized I had in fact walked right by the little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant. It had only 6 small tables in it and a small bar and a goth style decor to it with a few black curtains on the top part of the tall windows. 

The same waitress was behind the bar again tonight. She sings along to songs and occasionally goes over to her phone and changes the tunes playing overhead. She turns the music down, and then a new song comes on and she belts out confidently with the lyrics. 50's and 60's style peppy ballades. I can see it feeds her soul.  She wears a very see through through sleeve blouse top which is barely buttoned up and her bosoms are seriously flowing out of her shirt. In this city, with her neighbors next door, I suppose anything goes. Especially since this little Mexican joint is open till 2 am. I shudder slightly to think of the scene she must have to put up with at that time of night. 

Her tattooed arm compresses the lemon squeezer with vigor over a mixed drink. Lemon juice pours down her arm and some of the juice makes it into the cup. She zests the lemon in a beautiful curl on the edge of glass after glass.  She  takes care to  sweep up any drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice off the side of the glass before bringing it over to the customer. 

And the food….it exceeds my Google expectations. I love Mexican food and especially this style of Mexican food where the meats are marinated there and the spices have an authentic taste to them. Mexican spices which make my taste buds come alive with curiosity.

Glad I have a few more nights in Portland to enjoy Santeria!


Karluk River Float trip

Nate, Donn and Matt on the raft

Yesterday I did a quick, one-day float trip of the Karluk River with Donn, Matt and Nate. A lot of people hunt, fish, hike and camp along the river, and we were helping the landowner come up with ways to minimize everybody's impact on the landscape.  My job was to help with the archaeology.  The landowner wants to make sure the archaeological sites are protected. I've surveyed the entire river and lake and know the area very well, and I had some suggestions for where trails and campsites should or should not be situated.

We started our float trip downriver of where I visited on another quick visit just over a week ago.  At the outlet to Karluk Lake, where I was on that trip, the bears have been demolishing the archaeological village sites (click here to read post).  On this trip we saw relatively few bears and the sites were all in great shape - no digging bears or really any site damage at all (just lots and lots of digging voles).  No damage that is until we got to the Karluk Lagoon.  There, we again saw lots of bears and lots of bear damage.  On the Karluk River the bears seem to be mostly hanging out at the outlet to the lake and at the lagoon.

In years past when I've floated the Karluk River I have always been on survey, and very focused on my job.  Every time I saw a likely spot for a village site I had to stop and go onshore and check it out.  Then if it was a site I'd have to stay a while to map and record it.  It was always vaguely stressful and very much start and stop.

So this trip was a real pleasure. All of our stops were pretty much planned and I got to sit back in my kayak and enjoy the river.  The fall colors were stunning.  Patrick

The fireweed has gone from red to brown to white in the last week

This was my view for most of the day

The lower section of the Karluk River flows through a sort of canyon in the mountains 

Nate and Matt standing in the middle of a REALLY big prehistoric house depression 

The Karluk Lagoon where we ended our trip - that is the village of Karluk on the left

Indian Summer at Mill Bay Beach

Right now I look out the kitchen window and see the streams of water from the over-flowing gutters, and the wind whipping up the surface of Mill Bay.  This morning it seemingly took forever for it to get light outside and, on getting light, the best it seems to have achieved is a dismal and oppressive, 'Land of Mordor', grey.  And I love it!

If it stays this way for more than a week I'll probably reconsider, but this summer and fall the weather has been so good that I'm missing the usual Kodiak fare - the gales off of the Gulf of Alaska and thick fogs and rain.  The kind of days where you enjoy staying inside and looking out at the weather.

The day before yesterday I took the kids to Mill Bay beach in the evening, and it felt like summer.  We've had a couple of frosty mornings, but, in general it has stayed very warm.  I'm surprised that the fireweed has died off and that the cottonwoods are dropping their leaves.  It's been way warmer than it is usual in May, and yet, instead of turning green everything is turning brown.  My guess is that the plants are somehow keyed into the amount of sunlight and not on the temperatures.

Anyway, it was great at the beach.  The kids climbed on the rocks and Stuey threw sticks for the dogs.  Sheba does not like to go swimming, and will run to the water's edge and then stop.  Jake and Tank plow into the water and swim after the sticks.  A few times Tank did not find the stick and kept on swimming and looking until we called him back to shore.


Friday, September 26, 2014

To heal or to be healedl? that is the question

Today I discovered the incredible Portland Food trucks. Enjoyed an $8 Georgian Sampler plate-it was fabulous!

I've come to Portland for a class, and in all honesty- I'm in more of a mood to be healed than to learn how to heal. After a day of eating at amazing food carts and restaurants, drooling at all the books at Powells, retreating to my hotel room to finish 1/2 a novel-It feels so good to just have dedicated time to myself. Away from anyone needing me at home, work, etc. Fellow moms can relate, I imagine.

Today was my "hang-out-relax" day before class starts tomorrow and boy does it feel good to recharge, read, shop, take a nap. People watch. Venture to a fabulous small Mexican restaurant with no real sign on the outside.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a healer at heart.
 The moment that I shake someones hand and I look them in the eye and ask them if they've ever had physical therapy before. Reading their body language as they sit down in the chair. Are they making eye contact? Do thy believe I can help?

I love how my fingertips can tell me so much, and how I've learned how to trust them almost 100% over the years. My sensory nerve corpuscles  in my first and second digits hardly ever lie. These bundles of incredible nerve endings which are abundant with information. And it all helps me put the pieces of the puzzle together on if or how I can help.


I signed up for this class about 6 months ago, after reading a book called "Wild Feminine" by Tami Kent. It was a book my massage therapist gave me a year prior. I  shuffled the soft cover book off to the side, intending to read it "someday".

Then, in  spring cleaning frenzy-I unearthed it and decided I should at least give it a chapter or two before returning it.  That way I could at least say, "Oh, yeah! I read a chapter and it was interesting."

So I read it. And i couldn't put it down.

Tami, a women's health physical therapist,  wrote of  women  reclaiming their (our) femininity, and how in todays culture and life, this aspect of "us" can often be lost without some real attention and effort. In Wild Femine she writes of how to bring these important rituals and traditions back into our lives admits this busy, modern world we live in. And how good it can be for our souls and overall energy for life.

I started implementing some of her ideas into my life and I found myself becoming calmer, happier and my soul was fed.

Hence the class! So I'm here, to learn from her. To learn how to help other women find this place inside themselves. At this moment in time, I'm relishing in not taking care of anyone else, but I know that whatever I learn for myself, or for others…I'll put to good use in Kodiak.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Stuey's first trip up Pyramid

Stuey begins his first hike up Pyramid
This weekend Steuy climbed Pyramid Mountain for the very first time.  Leaving the house the goal had been to 'see our tub on the beach at Afognak' and to 'look for deer like we were hunting'.  We had promised Nora we would take a picture through the spotting scope of the tub on the beach.  And I bet we might have done it, but goals changed when we got to Pyramid and it was totally socked in with fog.

So the goal of the hike changed to 'touching a cloud'.  Stuey wanted to feel a cloud with his hands.  When we started out we could see the start of the cloud right at the top of the first climb.  This goal turned out to be easily accomplished - Stuey got to feel the cloud on his hands, face, and it even got his pants wet.  Stuey described walking inside of the cloud as 'spooky'.

Another goal of the trip was to climb higher than the only other mountain Stuey has climbed - Old Womens Mountain.  So our progress was all in relation to our elevation versus that mountain.  Halfway up became the 'point' of Old Womens and the top - way higher than Old Womens.

Anyway, Stuey climbed up pretty quickly without any stops, and then as we started down he made my day by asking, 'Daddy, pretty soon we can go skiing here right?'

Of course when we got back to the parking lot the mountains broke out of the clouds and it got beautiful.  But I'm hopeful that Stuey will eventually 'get to see Afognak' from the top of Pyramid.  I'm hopeful he'll see the top of Pyramid in all sorts of weather - in blizzards, past sunset, icy, in the rain.  I get the feeling (fingers crossed) we'll be climbing Pyramid a lot.  Patrick

Kinda foggy - it looks like we may not be able to see Afognak from up on top as promised

Hey at least the sun is sort of breaking through

Stuey taking pictures - it's still a long way down to the car!

Red, Red fireweed

Of course it clears off and gets beautiful once we get back to the car

That's where we were - it's a long way up there (WAY higher than Old Womens)

Stuey's picture of the road when we were almost 1/2 way back down

That's me leading the way - knocking the water off of the grass with the ski poles

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Leading the Brownies~Year 2

I"m beginning year two as a girl scout leader and the year is off to a smooth start.  This year I have 10 girls in my troop, as well as lots of helpful parents to support us. The girls were excited at their first gathering, a mix of returning and new 2nd and 3rd graders. There were 3 new girls to the troop and my Brownies are from all different schools. 

The girls ran ahead in the sun-lit trees on the path to Spruce Cape. A smaller pack of us brought up the back and I had a chance to talk with one of the other parents about Girl Scouts. She shared with me her experience of scouting as a child.  Girl scouts provided opportunities to do things that her family didn't have time to do with her. She was one of 8 children and she went on hikes and camping adventures with her troop, which proved so memorable to her. She was glad for her little Brownie to have the same opportunity.

Coming into this year, my mission is similiar to last year, "Keep the Outing in Scouting". At this first meeting several girls had a chance to strike a match for the first time. My hope is for lots more firsts, including hikes, cooking, map/trail skills, survival skills...

And there may be some patches given out along the way and some Girl Scout Journey awards as well, but my focus is going to be to provide opportunities for adventure and learning and supporting eachother along the way.


Shot at redemption

Yesterday a short while after dawn, rifle and ski poles in hand, I was scrambling up the last bit of a steep mountain slope.  A group of deer, spikes and does, was watching me warily from off to the side on a slope of scree.  The rising sun was lighting up the mountain tops all around, but I was only looking for one particular deer.  10 minutes earlier I had missed a shot at a big deer and I feared that that was that.  I was probably going to go home with no deer and no meat on my back.  I'd blown it.

Gregg and I had spotted the big buck up on the slope above us as we started up the steep final ridge to the mountain top.  He was standing broadside but his body language told us that he had already seen us and was about to run away.  There was no time to use our laser range finder and determine the exact distance - I just had time to lie down, put the rifle over the pack and get the scope cross hairs on him.  Then I shot and missed (actually more than once), and the deer turned and trotted out of view.

With the deer gone we got out our range finder and determined to my chagrin that the deer had been a lot further away than I had thought.  My bullets had probably hit a full meter below him.  So off I went to climb the mountain as quickly as I could and see if I could find the deer on the other side.  I did not have high hopes.  Deer are pretty smart and once they hear gun shots they generally run away and hide in the brush.

I got to the mountain top and looked down into the bowl on the other side and no big buck.  By this time the deer on the scree slope were also trotting away.  Maybe they would skedaddle to the same place where the big buck had gone?  And so I looked, and there, in the enlarged view of my binoculars, was the buck looking right back at me from the ridge on the far side of the bowl.  I used the range finder and it was the exact same distance, to the yard, as the earlier missed shots.  I could not believe the coincidence and checked again with the range finder.  It was a shot at redemption!  That almost never happens when you are hunting.  And this time I did not miss.  Patrick

My new Paradox back pack from Seek Outside carried the weight of the meat very comfortably

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bears Being Bears

This is when you wished you had a bit more of a camera than a point-and-shoot

A big part of my job when doing archaeological surveys is assessing the conditions of the sites.  The best case scenario is nothing to note - the site is totally stable.  But generally I find that most sites are getting damaged in one way or another whether by the elements, animals, or humans.  The most common site disturbance is erosion with either a flowing river or the ocean cutting into the site.   In an earlier post (click here) I showed how the Karluk One archaeological site was completely destroyed over the course of 30 years by the river cutting into the site.

In other parts of Alaska global climate change has resulted in increased storminess and rising sea levels and archaeological sites situated on the coast are disappearing at an alarming rate (click here and here for some articles that highlight this issue).

One site disturbance that is fairly unique to Kodiak is 'bear turbation' (click here for an earlier post on the subject).  This is when bears dig into archaeological sites.  On Kodiak's salmon streams bears and humans tend to focus on the best places to catch fish.  In addition bears are attracted to archaeological sites because they are the first places to green up in the spring, and bears love to graze on spring greens.  For the most part grazing and digging for roots does not do too much damage to sites.  What damages the sites are bear trails up and down the fronts of sites to the river and, most of all, bear beds.  This is when bears dig fairly substantial holes for their 'beds'.  Often they like to put their beds where they can watch the river. and this just so happens to be where prehistoric people also built their houses.  At some village sites the bears have done so much digging that they have destroyed the house depressions - the sites are pretty much worthless to archaeologists to excavate because the bears have already dug them all up!

Yesterday when I went to the outlet to Karluk Lake we were surprised by the number of bears we saw.  Lately less people have been using the river and less people means more bears.  The bears aren't getting chased off by people fishing or rafting the river.  And the bears seem to know there are less people around, and this year the outlet to Karluk Lake is a very busy place for the local bear population.  Ironically, less people and more bears means the archaeological sites are taking a beating.

This year I saw a totally new type of bear damage - the bear 'otter slide'.  I saw three of them, and basically they are mud slide tunnels down into the river.  Up on top there would be a bedding area in the grass and then a tunnel that the bears were using to slide down to the river.  Whoo hoooo the 'Karluk River Water Park' - or maybe 'Bouncing Bears Karluk'.  Patrick

Bear Fishing

Bear beds dug into an archaeological site

Matt checks out a bear 'otter' slide

Torn apart salmon bodies, feeding bears,  seagulls crying and the murmur of the river

Approaching squall coming down the lake