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Monday, March 30, 2015

Outing in the rain

It's Sunday evening and the sun just broke out of the clouds.  Buildings and trees are glowing in the evening sunshine. Stuey just came inside for dinner after playing some basketball.  It's nice outside.  But that's not the way it has been, and I sort of suspect it's not the way it will be either.  I kind of suspect it is a 'sucker hole'.

We've been cooped up in the house all weekend while it rained and blew outside - lots of Monopoly, minor squabbling, and March Madness basketball.  Finally about mid day Nora had had enough and asked if we could go outside for a walk.  This almost never happens - usually we as parents have to force the issue.

And so we went hiking to Jewel Beach and it POURED.  But everybody was happy and had a good time.  Back home Stuey later asked if we could go back tomorrow.  Patrick

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Hip Class in Houston

Life changing yummy Texas Brisket atop an bed of grilled Avocado. So glad I had some Texas bbq before leaving Houston.   

The sign on the lawn at my B&B. Very fitting for the weekend of learning with great peers. 

Course instructor, Ginger Garner, and myself. She is a gem. 

I"m leaving Houston in an hour. 
On my way to the airport I had some Texas BBQ brisket, something I promised my co-worker that I would get while in Texas. Boy was it worth it! Brisket-piled atop half a grilled avocado...wonderful medley of flavors.

Some Texas cooking' was a perfect way to celebrate completion of a 2 day class learning about the hip joint. The instructor, Ginger Garner, is well versed in the hip and does research, writes articles, blog posts etc on the hip. Occasionally when I work  with clients with low back pain,  they will mention hip pain, popping, feelings of instability and I have not had much to offer them in terms of treatment or approaches to take.  Now i have a better understanding of what causes the symptoms and how to address it. 

I find so much new information daunting. I remind myself it doesn't have to feel that way, and I remind myself that I  always feel this way after taking classes. I always wonder "Will the techniques work?" yes, of course they will! I have to trust they will and gradually introduce them to my practice and see what happens!

Just like you have to go right outside your comfort zone to build muscle when weight training, you have to go outside your comfort zone when learning new things and adding new skills. Its not always fun, or easy, or comfortable, but the long term payoff is worth it. 

Thank you, Ginger Garner, for taking me outside my comfort zone this weekend!


Friday, March 27, 2015


Its early evening and I"m out on the patio along with some spring birds making calls I do not recognize, the sounds of kids playing on a street nearby and occasional barking dog in the distance. Houston has been good to me. The drivers are friendly, people are kind. Food is good. Weather is warm, but not too warm. The trees hanging over the streets are gorgeous.

And   I"m using airbnb  for lodging for the very  first time and loving it.

I have one bedroom in a precious little house in the Rice University District of Houston. This morning at 8 o'clock when I arrived to the house, Sarah and her standad grey poodle, Tilley, welcomed me. Sarah so warmly introduced me to where things are in the kitchen, the various amenities which awaited me in my bedroom. After she left, I crashed for 4 hours, as I had flown all night.

Sarah is a painter. And her dog is a Therapy dog at the local hospital. I don't know much more about them aside from that. Sarahs gorgeous paintings decorate the house. Her work has so much color and depth to them.

Her home has such wonderful energy. I am grateful to be here for 3 days when taking my class.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

March Madness Fun!

March Madness basketball  fever is unusually high at our house this spring!  Between Stuey's growing love of basketball and having Wisonsin make the playoffs, tensions are very high during Wisonsin games. Stuey sits on the edge of the couch in our kitchen and announces fouls, travels, free throws, three pointers, etc. He says things like "oh it won't really matter if Wisconsin doesn't win" although we all know it totally does. 

Stuey awoke the other morning, crawling into my bed, declaring he had a dream about Wisonsin playing North Carolina, and how Wisconsin beat North Carolina by 100 points. I love watching Patrick  watch a Wisonsin game. His pride is so strong that tears of joy well up in his eyes if Wisconsin wins or if the cameras spend an extra amount of time on shots of the Wisonsin coach. (and admittedly, the same is starting to happen to me, too!)

As I wrote this, I was on an airplane headed to Seattle. As I boarded the plane, the Wisconsin game was on the terminal TV and my  favorite player, Frank Kaminsky, had fallen to the ground and Wisconsin was down by 3 or 4 points.  With considerable angst for Franks' wellbeing, I  boarded the plane wondering how the game was going. 

The guy sitting in the window seat of my row  had 3 electronic devices-2 phones and an ipad-all up and running.

 I joked with him, "Wow! I think you need one more electronic device." He explained the reasoning for all the devices, which I don't remember much of, aside from one being a work phone. 

Then I jokingly said, "Hey as long as one of them is playing the Wisconsin game, then its all good!"   People were getting settled and I heard the gal behind me say something about NEEDING Wisonsin to win. It was nice to have a fan nearby who understood my curiosity. Several minutes later, the guy next to me hands me a phone with the game live on it.  I hovered the phone over the crack between the seats and the gal behind me and I watched for about 5 minutes, then the flight attendants announced preparation for departure. So I gave his phone back. Minutes clicked by. The suspense killed us. Even as the flight attendants were preparing the cabin for departure, then the gal behind me pulled the updates up on her phone every 10 seconds for the last 2 minutes of the game. 

And Wisconsin beat North Carolina. We gave each other high fives. 

It was nice to depart Anchorage thinking about Stuey and Patrick and Nora at home, all so excited about the victory!!! I bet there were some tears of joy. 



I took these pictures a few days ago while on my daily ski, and I can't decide which one I like best. It is the view northwest from the saddle of Pyramid Mountain towards Afognak Island.  I first took it as a wide angle panoramic and then zoomed in closer and closer for the subsequent pictures.

On the one hand, I like sweeping grand view of the wide angle panoramic, but on the other hand, you can't see the details of the landscape like you can in the closer views.  On the computer screen it's possible to zoom into the wide angle panoramic and see the individual trees and small islands shrouded in fog, but when looking at the picture as a whole on the computer screen you can not.  However, you can see the details in the zoomed in pictures.

Thinking about it I realized that panoramics lose their impact unless they are blown up huge.  They need to be on big canvases set on a wall where you can see them as a whole and then walk up close to see the details.  They are not good to look at on computer screens where their canvas size is limited.  In order to see detail on a computer screen you have to zoom in, and then it might as well have been a smaller canvas picture to begin with.

Anyway, just some food for thought the next time I am taking landscape pictures.  Patrick

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My new bow

Old bow on right and new bow to the left

Recently I bought a new bow.  My old bow was over 15 years old and had seemed adequate for late season, road system goats (click here and here for some recent bow-hunting for goats posts).  But I decided to upgrade after I drew a bow-only sheep hunting tag for the Eklutna Lake area just outside Anchorage.  At around a 1 in 20 draw rate the sheep tag is a very difficult one to draw, and with a new bow I hope to take full advantage modern bow technology - basically, I wanted to increase my odds of bringing home a sheep.

After trying out the new bows I was amazed at how far they've come in the last 15 years.  New bows are practically like rifles.  My old bow weighs 8 1/2 pounds and is only good out to about 30 yards.  My new bow weighs 4 pounds, is far more compact, and is good out to about 60 yards.  WOW!  It makes me wonder how I ever killed anything with my old bow.  I'm also far less in awe of bowhunters using the new gear. Today's bowhunters don't have to get within 30 yards of animal to make a kill. Believe it or not, but I can actually shoot better free hand at 60 yards with my new bow than I can with my rifle.

Now to bring home the bacon. ... ..


Friday, March 20, 2015

Day One - Paper Route

Early last week Nora came home from school asking about having a paper route. One of her school mates had a paper route and it piqued her interest. As serendipity would have it, that night in the newspaper I saw that our Cliffside Drive route was needing a carrier.
One phone call later and I had the details:
 -yes, a 9 year old could be a carrier
-21 houses on the route
-the route is streets all around our house
-pay is $50-$60 a month plus tips

After orientation hour at the newspaper, Nora had her plastic news paper bags, big carrier bag and list of houses on our route.

So today, the first day of spring, we had our first day of the route. The clouds parted, sun was out and after stuffing the papers into the bags, Stuey Nora and I set off.

Nora was having a glum, mopey moment as we headed down the road. I wast sure why she was grumpy-was it the heavy newspaper bag she didn't want to sling over her shoulder? Or was it because she doesn't like walking on roadways in public eye. I wasn't sure.  A $20 bill changed her mood-at one of our stops, a customer gave her a $20 tip! She was elated and quickly showed it to Stuey and I. From then on, she was all smiles.

The route took a little over 30 minutes and I think its a perfect spring/summer endeavor for Nora and our family. Nice chance to get outside for a quick walk, see neighbors, and give Nora a chance to earn money.



As I posted earlier this week, the snow conditions on Pyramid were excellent on Monday. So when I left work under sunny skies on Tuesday I was looking forward to another excellent daily ski run.  As it turns out I learned that just as it is sometimes awesome when you expected the worst so it can end up terrible when you expected the best.  Tuesday was not good skiing.

By the time I started up the mountain the clouds were socking in and the winds picking up.  All the powder had turned to slush lower down and to windpack up high - no more powder to be found.  And it was super windy.  At one point it blew me up hill.

Nonetheless, I was rewarded by a momentary break in the clouds when I got to the top.  It was like a spotlight breaking through the clouds to shine on me.  Patrick

An Old Soul

Jake one of our black labs is getting old, or rather has gotten old.  We got him from the pound back in November of 2006 (click here to read our blog post about his arrival), and they told us, at the time, that he had already cycled through a few families and was 5 years old.  That means he is somewhere near or past 14 years old, and that's old for a black lab.

He's always had a bad hip, and a few years ago I thought the end was near when he could not walk to the park all one winter.  But he rebounded and out lived Roxydog who did walk in the park all that winter.  And this winter he is still taking short,  slow walks to the park.

Part of the reason he rebounded, and has been doing so well for the last few years, is that we got 2 new dogs.  I think he realized the new dogs, Tank and Sheba, are his replacements in the pack, and he stepped it up a notch.  We also started to let him, and him alone, up on the bed at night.  He has thrived with the extra attention.

But just in the last few days he has lost the ability to jump up on the bed.  And he is too proud to willingly let us lift him up onto the bed.  He walks around the bed looking up, and then when I get off to lift him up he trots away.

He's an amazing dog and it does make me very sad to see him get old.  I plan on appreciating every moment of the rest of his life.  Patrick

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Paper Route

Winds and rain rage outside and its the middle of spring break week. The notion of "Spring Break" is false-it isn't a break at all for parents. I"m still doing physical therapy at the base for my standard hours in the mornings as the kids are home with a sitter here at the house. It would feel more like a break if we were all someplace warm and tropical.

Nora starts a paper route on our street on Friday. It all started with her mentioning that a fellow student at school had a paper route and low and behold-that same evening in the paper I noticed that the Cliffside drive route was available. One phone call later for the details-21 houses, approx $60 a month, streets were right around us-Nora was excited! Stuey is bummed and a bit jealous I believe.

We met with the local paper today and Nora learned the ins/outs of what to do in the case of dangerous dogs, how to be a responsible carrier, etc. I see the route being a family route, as I think it will take around 45 minutes to complete and I imagine some days when Nora has outings or playdates she'll want help with it. That said, she'll be doing the bulk of the route. Its a perfect blend of exercise, outside time and work.


Fresh Powder

Last week the mountain was a sheet of ice and on Sunday it warmed up and rained hard.  It was even raining when I drove in to work yesterday.  So yesterday after work I was not expecting good skiing on the mountain.  But i went up anyways just to get some exercise.  Boy was I surprised.  There was almost a foot of new powder!  And sunshine!

It was so beautiful I could not stop taking pictures.  There is nothing quite like looking back and seeing just your own ski tracks winding down the mountain.  Patrick

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Rounding Spruce Cape

"Dad, are we around Spruce Cape yet?" my ten year-old self would cry out from my bunk, rolling back and forth-ready to be home. Hours it had been on our journey towards town. Stomach upset-I was on my dads 48 foot fishing boat, for days or a week at a time. Tired, after a long trip home. I was ready to be in the quiet of the harbor.

"Not quite. Almost there, though." Dad would reply.

"Ughhhh…"I replied.

Spruce Cape was the final rough bend on fishing trips home. It brought with it some final ocean chops and swells.  If we made it around Spruce Cape, we were golden. We were then protected on all sides by the channel for the final stretch into St. Paul Harbor. No matter how rough the swells approaching the cape, or around the cape, the channel always brought solace.

 "We're around Spruce Cape!" dad would yell below. Then I knew the worst was over. No more rough swells. I could get out and enjoy the approach towards the harbor. By the canneries, under the bridge and slowly into our boat slip.

This week after dinner, I've been piling Tank and Sheba into the car and driving to the Spruce Cape trail. At the end of the trailhead is a gorgeous beach with lots of driftwood and it is often in the lee of the wind on windy days.

This evening a small white fishing boat passed by the entirety of the cape. I sat on a log and watched it pass, and disappear around the corner towards town. Chances are low that there were kids on the boat with a dad reassuring them 'We're around spruce Cape!".

But, nonetheless, I felt their joy of being on the final bend and remembering that sense of being through the worst of it.

Fishing boat rounding Spruce Cape a few years ago

Science Projects

Nora and Stuey recently completed their Science Fair projects.  Nora investigated milk and mold while Stuey made a sundial.  Nora discovered that certain kinds of milk are more susceptible to mold.  Soy milk molded the fastest.

I helped Stuey create his sundial using a box, kayak skeg fin, and an old Brunton 'pocket transit'.  The Brunton had belonged to the famous archaeologist William S Laughlin, and has his name written on it in sharpie. I think I may be the only one who thinks the latter point adds to the project.  Anyway, Stuey had to learn about magnetic declination, the cardinal directions, and that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Earlier in the week at St Marys they had to explain their projects to a panel of judges.  The judges asked Nora which type of milk she liked the best.

Stuey managed to explain the sun in relation to the cardinal directions and his sundial  won an honorable mention.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tarzan and Alex Haley

Today I toured a Coast Guard cutter. After working as the Coast Guard Base Physical Therapist for 2+ years, I was long overdue for checking out the steep ladder wells, fitness room and berthing area on this ship. WOW! I'm in awe. As someone who gets sea sick, I don't know that I could do it. Gave me a better appreciation for the men and women who spend months at sea.

Posing with 'Jane' from Tarzan!

Last weekend I took my brownie troop to the local production of Tarzan. One of our own Brownies, Cassidy, was a gorilla in it! So fun to watch the show with my Brownie troop. I'd totally do that again.


Sunday outing in Anchorage

Lots of people hiking and skiing on the trail, but no one other than me went more than halfway up the valley

After the anthropology conference in Anchorage ended I had a day to kill before I came home.  When I first booked my tickets the plan had been for Zoya and the kids to join me after the conference and participate in the Tour of Anchorage ski race.  However, the race got cancelled, and so many people had come to Anchorage for the Iditarod start that I found it impossible to change my ticket.

I was stuck in snowless Anchorage - or so I thought.

Funnily enough Anchorage DID have great groomed ski trails right in town until Friday.  During the conference I went out to Hillside every afternoon and found freshly groomed skate ski tracks.  And then Thursday night it rained, and rained, and even Hillside became a sheet of ice.  The Anchorage bowl had finally lost its snow (although I gather the icy Hillside trails were been groomed back into skate skiing corduroy on Monday).

So I tried Glen Alps - a State Park trailhead a short drive above Hillside 2700 feet up into the Chugach range. And the rain had fallen as snow up there.  It was like a return to winter.  Fluffy powder on spruce trees, glinting ice crystals, and ptarmigan tracks on top of the snow.

To kill time on Sunday I decided to go back as far up the valley behind Glen Alps as I could.  The parking lot was packed and the trail up valley reminded me of the trail up the mountain to Dawson in the 1898 Gold Rush - a black line of traffic.  Fat bikes, hikers with strollers, cross country skiiers, dogs on leashes - lots and lots of dogs.  All the traffic had packed down the snow and I flew up valley in my cross country skiis.

But about halfway up the valley all traffic petered out.  No one had gone more than halfway and I had to use my skate skiis like classic skiis to bust trail the rest of the way.  Since I had no grip wax on my skiis I mostly pushed with my poles as I slowly climbed to the back of the valley.  I was amazed to find a place so remote so close to downtown Anchorage.  I was also amazed that I was the only person who went back there on a calm, sunny, weekend day.

The return was slightly downhill and I glided back in my broken trail to where all the people were on the hard-packed trail.


My skate skiis were perfect at the start where the trail was beaten in

It's been windy! 

My skate skiis were NOT good for breaking trail beyond the well-travelled trail section

The reflected light in the shadows was pretty spectacular

View back to where I started on the horizon just below the cloud

View of the bowl at the head of the valley

Monday, March 09, 2015

Ammo Cache

Concrete pad

A couple of weeks ago I went exploring in behind Boy Scout Lake with Nora and her friend.  This winter the area has been a favored destination for family exploration (click here for another blog post).  The area is full of old WWII structures, and when we explore we try and imagine what each one we find was used for back in the day.

On our recent trip we found the very unique structure shown below.  It had a grate at either end and was neatly roofed with slate shingles.  I suggested storage of some sort; Nora thought it might be a house.  So I asked my co-worker Marnie who has been researching the area and she tells me it was for storing small arms ammunition.  The slate roof was supposed to keep the bullets contained in the event of an explosion.

While attending my recent archaeology conference I saw a few talks about historic archaeology surveys (lot of old mining camps and tin cans), but nothing as cool as what we get to find on an ordinary walk on a Sunday afternoon here on Kodiak.  Patrick

the back end of the 'ammo storage' building

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Time with other archaeologists

For the last few days I have been in Anchorage attending an archaeology conference.  Four days of nothing but archaeology-speak.  Almost everyone at the conference is an Alaskan archaeologist and this is the yearly get together where we all compare notes.

My paper was all about the Alutiiq Museum's archaeological surveys of the rivers on the southwest corner of Kodiak.  We've been surveying them for the last 10 years and have pretty much finished - so I was able to synthesize a bit of what we've learned.

I put all the sites we've found on a map and then mapped all the resources and various river characteristics on the same map.  I determined where silver salmon spawn, bears concentrate to feed on fish, where the rivers are shallow and deep, and much, much more.  Then I looked for patterns.  Where did the Alutiiq choose to build their villages in relation to resources?

I discovered that Alutiiq people have always mostly focused on catching spawning silver and red salmon at their inland settlements.  What's interesting is that where they have chosen to catch the salmon has changed through time as Alutiiq society changed and evolved.

In the beginning, more than 4000 years ago, Alutiiq hunter gatherers speared spawning fish in shallow water - the same places where bears concentrate to feed on fish.  These are the easiest places to catch fish.

Later in time, when the Alutiiq began to live in larger villages and needed more fish for their growing population they started to use nets to catch fish.  They would set their nets in shallow, slow-moving water where the salmon pool up - mostly on the lakeshore.  This is the most efficient way to catch lots of salmon.

Finally, around 800 years ago, when the Alutiiq people had become a ranked society with chiefs and large villages, they started to use weirs and spears to catch fish.  Their villages moved down river from the lakes to shallow strategic places where they could control the river and catch fish earlier in the run - not necessarily the best places to catch fish.

Anyway, that was my story and the other archaeologists seemed to like it.  That's always a HUGE relief.  Patrick

Sunday, March 01, 2015


Today when I climbed Pyramid it was foggy at the parking lot.  So foggy that I could barely see a couple of hundred yards.  I also gather that quite a few flights out of the airport got cancelled.  But when I got high up on the mountain I broke out into glorious sunshine.  It was an unexpected bonus.  Hard to believe the gloom and doom below the fog.  And yet, when i got back down again it was still foggy and grey.

Up on top, the sun had some pretty good sun dogs on either side.  'Dogging' it so to speak. Very pretty but as harbingers of bad weather they are a bad sign.  And indeed it is supposed to rain some more.  Patrick