Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sweet Saturdays

"I used to think of all the billions of people in the world, and of all those people, how was I going to meet the right ones? The right ones to be my friends, the right one to be my husband. Now I just believe you meet the people you're supposed to meet."
~ Maggie O'Connel (Northern Exposure)

Chan-nel Ra-chel
My life is a sitcom for days when God needs a good laugh. This is the only logical conclusion I can draw to explain me to myself sometimes. Is that normal? Do you ever feel like that? Yesterday's episode would have started something like this: me in my admittedly warmer than most, 70 degree house, layering up in my parka (actually that part could be an episode in and of itself): zippers, buttons, pockets, flaps, fake fur flying around, over-sized hood blocking my view, do I put my mittens on before so the parka cuffs cover them but then I have to fight the whole zipping up drama, hat on before or after (its hard to do with the mittens on) but now I'm sweating and I haven't even gotten my boots on or out the door...wait do I have my keys on my lanyard around my neck? Ahh, geee, now I have to unzip everything, take off or set down my mittens depending on what I decided and dig around searching for the lanyard. Yep, I have it on. Okay, re-suit up. Finally I'm ready to go, out the door into the arctic air and whoops, just about slipped on the 5 inch mogul that has formed right outside (nearly amputated a innocent trick or treater later the next day). Steadying myself and finding solace in the thought that even if I did luge down the 6 steps to the ground, I would surely be unharmed with the amount of padding provided by my trusty parka (yes, feel free to envision the little brother off The Christmas Story movie). Squinting in the noonday sun and trying to regain my breath I plod off in the direction of the Quarnituug Inc. our local and only store. My mission? To go shopping. Delighted, I take the the new short cut "the snow go side walk". Thanks to the wonders of winter travel vehicles, there are now hard pack icy trails across ground that only a week ago was wet tundra. This is where I now walk. I have Ani with me. Upon arrival at the store he is promptly tied to one of the metal pipe-like frames under the store where he will patiently wait for my shopping fix to come to an end. In the store I wander up an down the aisles purposely not grabbing a basket because to buy the amount of items it would take to fill a basket would cost me next month's paycheck. Inevitably it turns into a walmartesq spree and I should have grabbed a basket. After an hour of perusing the shelves, I'm dying of heat exhaustion (my parka works really well), my arms are overflowing with incredibly expensive things that I don't need, I can barely walk in my arctic pack boots and to top it all off I'm obviously not sneakily blending in, in all of my 'cossack'-ness (that's white person in Yup'ik) so I'm sticking out like a sore thumb and (I say that with all the respect and humor I can possibly convey);) As I near the check out 6 people turn and look at me sympathetically. "Basket?" One lady asks? " Oh, No Quyana" I stupidly assure her further confirming whatever skeptical hilarious thoughts of me she was already thinking as beads of sweat dripped off my forehead, "I..I'm checking out now," I offer, as I stumble over my 'good to 100 below Sorrel/Ronald McDonald boots' toward the counter not registering the fact that I had just blatantly budged in front of a young man who had only one bottle of oil to buy. Then deposited my random purchases all over the counter. The cashier smiled stifling a chuckle as the basket lady at the check out next to me kindly offered to let the victim of my budging go ahead of her, that was the point I realized what I had done, ouch. So I sheepishly apologized and we all laughed at my expense. I bumbled around a few more minutes trying to collect my bags and found myself in the usual predicament trying to re-suit up this time with a line of people patiently waiting for me to get a move on. "Now where did I put my other mitten?" I mumbled to myself. "Did I drop it somewhere?" I try to peek around without anyone noticing. But the basket lady hears me, smiling she points to the 'mitten' tucked under my arm. "Quyana." I say again wanting to run for the door but knowing full well that if the bags loaded with expensive cargo didn't slow me down the layers of arctic wear would. "Well, folks it's been fun, I'll be here all year!" And with that I exit stage left but only after pushing the pull door. Cue the cheesy clapping and laughing. The screen goes black. Credits role: God-Author, Editor, Creator.

Knit, Knit, Knit so Thankful for the 'K'

Auntie Jan will yell out an' Amen' of this I am certain. After all she is the one who would for hours, tirelessly weed threw my heavy, lengthy locks with a fine tooth comb (literally) the couple times I was lucky enough to bring home unwanted hair guests throughout my last 10 years of teaching. Early on I adopted the mindset of "Bugs happen." (Calm down, no, Molly is not nit picking through my hair this pic was just to humor you. She was actually assuring me that she could braid and was giving it a whirl;)This became my motto as a way to remind myself to lighten up! The whole thought of invasive parasites feeding off one's scalp and the hours of work cleaning and exterminating that would follow wasn't really as dramatic as people make it out to be, like many things in life. The 'calling' everyone I may have come in contact with urging them to check their own heads and confessing I was 'infested'. Oh, the guilt but eventual humor. You know, everyone should have to experience a nit infestation at some point, it takes the fear and blame of the idea away. Bugs happen. O well, pick em out and get on with it.

What was my point you maybe wondering? Okay you are definitely wondering and your head kind of itches, lol. I just thought this post needed a unique intro (drum roll please): I have officially finished my first ever 'knitted' (with a K) item! It turned out not to want to be a scarf but prefer to become a 'neck up'! You know, one of those 'tubes' you pull over your head and wear around your neck. And if you live in Quin, you then, pull the remainder up over your face, assume the Frankenstein approach to walking and care less about your lack of sight than about the warmth of your cheeks and nose! Yep, the project is complete. Thanks to the help of Traci (Quyana) who taught me (trust me that part was not easy) and provided the needles and entire skein of yarn! And Sherry who helped me 'cast it off' to completion. Ironically that's exactly what I wanted to do with it after 4 hours straight of knitting this morning. I'm even dabbling in the knitter language, albeit not fluently:) I must confess this neck-up-tube-thingy does look better than the scarf I made for a friend of mom's during a very short lived (much to her relief, unbeknown-st to me) crocheting stint I went through several years ago. Apparently, when I wasn't looking she forbade him from wearing it in public. That's right, it was a scarf even a mother couldn't love. Rest assured this one, though nowhere near perfect, might even earn her scarf-snob approval;)

Trick or Treaters
Here are a few pics from our annual Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat (our school's name in Yup'ik, no I can't pronounce it yet I need a speech language program here more than my students I think;) The way one speaks Yup'ik requires the use of muscles I didn't even know I had, in order to formulate words in a manner of such that make rolling an r in Spanish seem like child's play:) But I'm trying. Anyway here are the Halloween Costume/Pumpkin Carving Contest candids. Steph and I tied for 3rd in the teacher contest. I was sporting the traditional Costa Rican Dress and Steph is Cleopatra, thanks to Geri Lynn sending up costumes! (the general consensus at the school however, was that I must be wearing a gypsy costume, probably more appropriate for me anyway;) Note Principal Eric and John Teddy, they went as 'Twins'. And, yes, even Elvis was in the building.
So starting at noon today and not ending until I left to make my first attempt at skijorning around 6pm, little lions, tigers, punk rockers, transformers and screams were knocking on my door, slipping and sliding their ways up and down my steps. What fun! Most costumes were hidden beneath layers of snow pants and snowsuits or stuffed amongst them. Below is Emma one of our stellar kindergarten teachers carving away!

Skijoring in Da' Moonlight
What way to ski! Ani chased Seeker and Sherry who led the way, while we jored off into the moon rise across the tundra toward the mountains. I've never felt like such a clutz except for earlier today okay and every other day. I fell more times than I want to say but thoroughly enjoyed doing it! Ani was a pulling fool. But his incentive might have had something to do with Seeker being in heat and me keeping him behind chasing. Either way I'm sold on the whole skijoring deal! We jored past frozen tundra lakes exposed from the wind blowing the snow off, under the ceiling of the first few stars stirred with a dash of pinkish, orange sunset and a nearly full helping of moon hung in just the right spot to provide the perfect finishing touches. As we zoomed along, headlamps flashing I couldn't help but sport a grin from ear to ear! It was like opening a present from God! S.W.A.K! I couldn't believe I am here with a friends and dogs and tundra. Wow, I truly stand in awe. I wish you could have seen the sun and mountains on our way out and then the lights of the village on our way back. It was a great first skijoring experience. Thanks Sherry!

Aye, Maqii! Do you?
We ended the whole beautiful day with an invite to maqii (take a steam bath) with a few friends. (To the left is an example of a steam house the little building in the front to the right of the snowgo) Jerilyn's husband Tim chauffeured all of us on their honda to the other end of the village where the steam house we would be using was located and then picked us up a few hours later to haul us back. Those two hours inbetween, were spent in the traditional Yup'ik manner of steam bathing (think super hot sauna) into the inner room with the hot rocks and stove then out to the changing room to cool/breathe, back into the steam room (which, if Tracy was in at the same time dosing the stove with can after can of water, I swear the mercury had to have hit about 6000 degrees) I don't know how she does it, anyway repeat that process like 10 times. It was one of those "no-way-could-I-have-planned-this-out-when-I-woke-up-this-morning-kind-of-days" day. My hope? That you all are having the same kind:) I'm going to sleep like a baby. Buenos Noches.

Shout Out To: Mike!!! He just called to share that today he became a GRAMPA for the first time!!!! Of a beautiful baby girl "Alana Rachel"! Congratulations to Daddy Nick and Mommy Rachel. And of course to GRAMPA MIKE!!! Gramps says to tell everyone out there reading hello too:) Also to Farve and Company!!! Go Vikings:)

"Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow." Matthew 6:33-34


  1. Hey Kid Always good to read your blog and see how many lives you are touching with your caring attitude and always finding a way to make someones day extra special. Loved the pictures of the Trick or Treaters!! Have A Very Blessed Week!!!

  2. What great fun!! Great costumes! Did someone grow the pumpkins locally?

  3. Great Costumes! Called J.T. last nite and laughed about the twin costumes. The pumkin carver Emma is another cousin and so is Dora Strunk, Kathy Abalama, and numerous others that are working there at the school. As the saying goes" You can't pick your relatives but you can pick your friends."
    Qanirtuuq, Inc is a little pricey 'cause they have to tag on the frieght cost to all the items in the store. A couple bags of groceries can cost you an "arm and a leg."
    Speaking our language is a lot of gutteral sounds. As my wife puts it, "You have to clear your throat at the end of every sentence."Qussack" or white person as you are called, the origin of the word came from Russian prononciation.
    Ah Maqii! I miss having excruciatingly hot steam baths with my "Iluqs" (friends) Where the pourer tries to out last everyone in the steam bath. You try to stay in there as long as possible but the sting from the steam eventually overtakes you and you bolt out the door. Always relaxing at the end and you sleep like a log!
    Hope Fannie is doing ok, every winter it seems like the elders have prolems with their health, my mom is no exception, there'll be times when one of them will be "medivaced" because of a respitory illness or another and you pray and hope they will be ok.

  4. Henry, Did I mention how happy I am that you are the reading and sharing your wealth of knowledge. I appreciate it. I talked to Fannie last night she laughed and told me to tell you hello in return. She sounded good. She was checking up on me since I didn't go to church yesterday. I sometimes listen to my pastor back home via computer. Fannie is quite a lady. I'm so blessed to know them. Well I have to get ready for school. You have a great Monday.

  5. Kris, The pumpkins were either shipped in from Bethel or Anchorage and yep they were probably grown there. Often times we get produce from Washington/Oregon area too.

  6. Does anyone have a greenhouse there? I would think that some things would do well with the long days and with some coverage from the wind. Things like lettucce, carrots, etc. Warm weather is returning this week - it will near 60 later this week. Nice - for the first week of Nov. Well time to head to work.

  7. Eric and Sherry have a pseudo greenhouse in the back of their house. That's all I know of in Quin. I'm sure people in Bethel have some, I know of one organic farm in Bethel that keeps a greenhouse all winter. Certain that Anchorage has some. Enjoy the warm weather. We are a balmy 25 degrees this morning.

  8. We will be there soon enough. Oct was colder and wetter than normal - I guess since Sept was so warm and lovely we could hardly have it again this last month. Now, the forecast is for warmer weather for the next week. We know it won't last long. Before we know it snow will cover our ground too. I head to ILL Thursday to visit our youngest daughter and family.

  9. Does your immediate family live in MN? I grew up in Bloomington, MN - attended my first two years of college in Bemidji. I have relatives in Crookston and our present minister lived in Crookston for 10 years.

  10. Yah, you betcha...I originally hale from the big International Falls, Minnesota/Fort Frances, Ontario locale but Hayward is my home now and has been for the the last 10 years. Family is all over: Int'l Falls, Roseau area, Minneapolis area, Hayward, Ontario, we're scattered;)

  11. I dated a fellow from Greenbush!!! Had many friends in those college days from that part of the state. Hockey!!!!

  12. Will you head back to Hayward in the near future? Is this a long term teaching post or short term?

  13. Greenbush eh? Yup that's up Roseau way. Where I go from here is up to the Lord. I'm leaving the details to Him:) I've found my plans are generally not the same as His:)