Monday, December 20, 2010


"Teacher says every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

James Eastmen Barthelman AKA Mr. B AKA Jim and his 5th Graders humbly present their version of the Hallelujah Chorus! You Absolutely Must Watch This It Will Make Your Day:) It certainly made all of ours up here:) They worked so hard on this! Rumor has it they spent 15 hours this weekend running all over tarnation in Quinhagak putting this together. Their incredible debut was today for the whole community at our Kuinerrarmiut Elitnaurviat (Quinhagak School) Christmas Program! We laughed, we cried, it's simply a joyfully-village-filled-moving rendition of Handel's Messiah like you've never seen it before:) It is Amazing!!! Enjoy and Be Blessed!
Great Work Jim and the fabulous 5th Grade.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”
(which means, God with us)
Matthew 1:23

Sunday, December 19, 2010

We Wish You a Village Christmas!

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."
Dr. Seuss's The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Sammy's Slushies
The other night Ali and I decided it was a perfect time for a Slushie from Sammy's! Sammy's is the only place in Quin one can get a Slushie or a video even after 7 pm. Why am I writing about it...because it was dark out, 20 below zero, our jackets were crackling like they were plastic while we had our mittened hands wrapped around styrofoam cups full of frozen Slushies! Yep, we trudged home, fur hoods pulled tight around our faces, giggling to one another as we slurped know you live in bush Alaska when...Slushies in frigid weather sounds like fun!

Ginger Bread Houses

What's been happening at school? The kids made ginger bread houses! What a grand work of art it was! See for yourself:)

Staff Christmas Party

Thursday night was the annual staff Christmas Party too! After Danny (at left) presented his senior project to a few lucky members we morphed Marsha's room into the party place. Everyone brought a gift for the 'Yankee Swap' and a dish to pass! Principal Eric ordered pizzas that were flown in from Bethel which always, always signifies a special occasion. Marsha made a layered, pudding pie, Steph brought homemade pumpkin ice cream, Emma brought brownies, I brought Chex Mix (he, he). After we had all sufficiently filled our tummies, the present stealing game began. Larry stole my electric fryer, Mary took the afghan Marsha knit from Alicia. Then Connie stole Einer's tanned beaver hide Dennis brought, but Alicia turned around and stole it from Connie. Einer was sad but got to open another gift and that turned out to be a brand new honey bucket!!! Principal Eric was absoslutely thrilled, Einer and Addie thought it was the best thing since bubble gum. Kinda that whole age old kids enjoy playing with the box over the toy concept, except in this case the box is a honey bucket, lol. Emma shook every present and that was against the rules, but everyone ultimately ended up with a wonderful gift to take home and more importantly good memories together.

2nd Annual Christmas Sleepover Party
Sometime probably back in August I promised the girls a sleepover party before Christmas. Well, last week they reminded me again for the 43rd time and asked, "When will we have the sleep over party???" Oh, my, okay, yes, I guess we have to have it on Friday. And so it was...Our second annual Christmas sleepover party at my house. This year I had 19 girls tearing around and 1 two year old boy briefly (my friend Karen's little boy, Trenton, stayed with for a few hours since his sisters were all here too). 16 of the girls lasted the whole night. It was hilarious, did all their make up then they did mine. Nails were being painted as was my kitchen floor (no worries Boss it all came off with a little remover and elbow grease). A few made brownies, while others did dishes, still more colored in books Mike sent them. Speaking of Mike we called to sing Quyana (Silent Night in Yupik) to him. All the while I'm yelling where's Trenton every 2 minutes???? It was a regular 3 ring circus but these are the moments to cherish! Of course, the 'fashion show' was back by popular demand...suddenly my house was transformed into a runway full of America's Next 19 Top Models. See for yourself, I was given the duty of emceeing the whole to do. Makes me have to thank my mom and Mike both of them having been amazing examples to me on being in the moment with these kids. Calvin Klein, Ann Taylor, Joe Shome Fancy Designers got nothing on these eskimo chicas! Round about 1:30 A.M. I finally convinced them to at least find somewhere to sleep. And they did, all over my house: 2 in the tent that we set up in the kitchen, 1 in the recliner, 2 on the couch, 1 in the hallway, 1 on all their coats in the laundry room, 4 on the living room floor, 2 on the bed in the spare bedroom, 2 on the floor in the spare bedroom and 1 kindergartner with me! (Deep Breath!) Luckily the other 3 kinders wanted to go home when bedtime approached or I suspect I'd have had 4 with me! LOL. We watched Charlie Brown Christmas when they woke up and as they got ready to go, then 2 by 2 sometimes 3 by 3..they filtered home. When the last little fashion model paraded out the front door I collapsed;)
I love those kids.

Up River 'Collecting' Wood

Karen and Evelyn invited me to go upriver 'collecting' wood for maqi Saturday after I recovered from the sleepover party. Getting out of the house and up the river sounded like a great idea to me. I envisioned us scouring the river bank for sticks, you know, 'collecting'. We headed out on Karen's honda and Evelyn with her snow go. Let me set the stage for a minute, we had a low pressure arrive the other day that brought with it heavy, icy fog. The kind of fog that prevents you from seeing more than 1/4 mile in any direction, then coats your goggles with a hearty layer of ice just for good measure. So we were venturing out into what by anyone's standard... appeared to be a big cloud of nothingness. After blindly riding for 30 minutes or so we slowly turned off onto the river making sure the ice was safe as we traveled forward. To the trees we crept! We spent the next four hours 'collecting' trees...this entailed using hand saws and axes to down the dead logs, I'm talking straight up lumber jack style "Timber!" and all. Then we had to drag them through the woods (I use that word 'woods' very loosely here the trees are mostly small alders that don't get very big but for our tundra purposes they are very much 'woods') back out to the four wheeler. I definitely got my workout lugging those buggers through that dense undergrowth meanwhile Karen and Evelyn had a day of good laughs at my expense;) For the life of me, I could not figure out which trees were kosher and which weren't. I wandered around for a while looking up...hum, "Is this a good one???" I'd call out. "Or what about this one?" "Is this one okay?" Finally frustrated, Karen replied "Quit asking and just cut." Okay. So I did. We managed to load more wood on that four wheeler than I would have ever thought possible! Then we again slowly, blindly and now loaded down heavily began the crawl all the way back to Quin before nightfall. Karen was more than happy to share at maqi that she had to laugh as she was trying to start the steam, "I kept chopping the wood and saying...yep, this is one Rachel picked." The steam was still hot so hopefully it wasn't a complete wash;) It was an adventure.

Ptarmigan Soup, Boiled Beluga and Seal Oil, top it off with a good hot steam and you have the fixins for a perfect 5 hours of daylight filled weekend. Enjoyed supper at Liz's (Karen's mom,Quyana!) she made the above feast. I've not had beluga yet and found that I like it. Reminded me of seal oil.

Today it was off to church which is now elaborately, festively decorated for Christmas. So many lights it could give Vegas a run for its money. Wreaths, trees, tinsel, and sporting a big, beautiful Noel sign above the pulpit. It reminded me of decorations for a birthday party like no other. And you know what? It is! Happy Birthday Jesus!

So I think this will be my last blog until my return next year! We teachers, are praying for good weather on Tuesday as that is when we will try to begin our various journeys homeward for two weeks of family fun. To all of you out there "Have a Very Merriest Christmas! And a Blessed New Year!"
The crazy mirage-like view of our mountains when the low pressure moved in!
"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!" Isaiah 9:6-7

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Weather and Light Hold

"Who would've thought such a slight tilt in our earthly axis could make such a big difference in our lives? The big wheel keeps on turning and here we are again,
looking in the sweet face of darkness.
'Now the day is over, night is drawing nigh,
Shadows of the evening, steal across the sky
A KBHR caution to all our loyal listeners: you know tonight marks the end of our collective midsummer night's dream, so get those pupils ready to dilate, because for the first time in a long time, our constant companion, old Sol, is about to go on a quickie vacation, a short dip beneath the horizon, a junket to whichever Club Med accommodates medium-sized stars. While he's gone, I want you to be alert, be careful, and please, please, please, three times please,
turn on your headlights."

~Chris in the Morning, Northern Exposure

Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round, Round and Round, Round and Round...
So I wanted to give you all a peek into life as we know it. This is our ride to school in the frigid cold mornings now. That is of course, if the bus starts:) No more do I bundle up like I'm going on the next arctic expedition then set out for a 3/4 mile trek to the other end of the village. Nope, now I fire up and unplug the Magic School Bus, let the windows defrost, load my neighbors/fellow teachers up and cruise down the 6 lane interstate to school. I drop them off. Connie and I climb back aboard and pick up the kiddos. Speaking of picking up the kiddos...

Smells Like Home....
Today round about our 4th or 5th stop the kids started complaining about the distinct scent of rotten eggs wafting about the bus. I couldn't help but agree, choking on the fumes reminded me of my hometown and our beloved paper mill, exact same smell. Connie concurred adding that her eyes were actually watering. By that point the kids were coughing, gagging and squirming around in their seats, Joe had even managed to pull his coat 1/2 way over his head in an attempt to filter the nasty sulfur stench. In the end Principal Eric conferred with his mechanic and it turns out gas was boiling on the converter??? Something easily remedied.

Weather Report from the Kuskokwim
Today...Sunny. Highs zero to 15 above...warmest along the coast. North winds to 20 mph.

Tonight...Clear skies. Lows 10 below to 10 above...coldest inland. North wind 10 to 25 mph. Wind chills 20 below to 35 below after midnight.

Wednesday...Sunny. Highs zero to 25 above...warmest along the coast. north wind 10 to 25 mph. Wind chills 20 below to 35 below in the morning.

Wednesday Night...Clear skies. Lows 5 below to 15 above... Coldest inland. North wind 10 to 25 mph. Wind chills 20 below to 35 below after midnight.

Thursday...Mostly sunny. Highs zero to 20 above...warmest along the coast. north wind 10 to 25 mph. Wind chills 20 below to 35 below in the morning.

Thursday Night...Partly cloudy. Lows zero to 10 above.

Friday...Partly cloudy. Highs 10 to 15.


Way up in Alaska wherever you are,
If you're headed out close or you're headed out far,
And you're going by plane you can add (and it's fitting)

I'll be there good buddies... weather permitting.

It could really careless what you're planning on doing,
An operation, oration, a wedding or wooing,
When you go to the airport you may need your knitting,

For you'll only be flying with... weather permitting.

I have fretted and stewed I have stamped on the floor,
I have shouted and screamed and started to roar,

But there's no use in fuming or fussing or snitting,

You'll always face this... it's weather permitting.

So don't get disheartened in the far golden North,

If you suffer delay as you sally forth.
Just learn to relax without fretting or quitting,
You can depend on one's just weather permitting.

When the rich folks all come with their clothing so fine,
With their high fashion wardrobes and special french wine.

They'll stop for a while then continue their flitting,
Go on with their jet permitting.

And whether you're working or playing around,
Flying through mountains or over the sound,
In what kind of season your travels are are hitting,
I will guarantee permitting.

And it gets in you're blood then whenever you go,

So I said to my sweetie, how I love you so,

She said I adore you, come close where I'm sitting,

And I'll do what you want me permitting.

And when the grim reaper comes I can see it all clear,

I'm alone in my shroud happy heaven is near,

I'm coming Saint Peter! This old world I'm quitting,

I'll be along soon...Weather Permitting.


This poem is posted in a frame at the Haagland Air Company in Bethel and well, with all the time I spent there yesterday waiting on weather hold to get back to Quin after a fun weekend in Anchorage, I wrote it down to share with you all. In asking around about who might have wrote this fine specimen of rhyming art, the general consensus amongst staff was that over 10 years ago a high school class from one of the nearby schools put this together and gave it to Haagland to proudly display on its walls for the enjoyment of waylaid travelers. Rest assured many a frequent bush flyer has laughed their head off and nodded in miserable approval:)

My friend Karen shared with me her 8 year old daughter's translation of the temperature gauge reading in their truck this afternoon, "Mom, Look it's take away 9 outside!"
So as I watched the Anchorage News tonight the temp in Bethel was currently 'take away 36'! Brrr!

"God made two big lights, the larger to take charge of Day, The smaller to be in charge of Night; and he made the stars. God placed them in the heavenly sky to light up Earth And oversee Day and Night, to separate light and dark.
God saw that it was good.
It was evening, it was morning— Day Four." Genesis 1:16

Friday, December 10, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

"Season's Greetings, everybody, from KBHR, the heart and soul of Cicely, Alaska. This is Chris In The Morning. From where I'm sitting, I've got a great view of all the yuletide decorations going up all over town. That's right, everywhere I turn my head I see ebony birds roosting for the holidays. You know, twinkling colored lights are nice, and so are plastic Santas and reindeers and manger scenes, but I'll tell you something, friends... nothing like the sight of beautiful black-as-pitch raven to get you in the Christmas spirit."
Chris Stevens, Northern Exposure

'Tis the Season Ya'll!

From Our Teacher Housing to Yours
We wanna wish you a Merry Christmas...

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...And it's making me miss home.

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful... So I've had to crank up the heat to 85 in order to keep the not-so-tundra-friendly-insulated housing unit I call home a balmy 68 degrees.

Rockin Around the Christmas Tree
...Now my 'forest' has become acceptable to my students. One of the girls even excitedly exclaimed (just as if she hasn't seen the tree for the last 4 months sitting in the same spot every time she comes over) "A Christmas Tree! Wow! So Auspek (beautiful)!" Yep, that's another reason why I love kids, so in the moment and easy to please. Gotta love it.

Shoppers Rush Home with their Treasures...that finally arrived at the post office and were unpacked from the piles upon piles of backed up mail when the planes weren't flying the last few days.

Oh, There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays...But for now Anchorage will have to suffice. I'm headed there for the weekend, Lord and weather permitting. Gonna try to soak up some holiday hustle and bustle, Christmas lights and fiestas.

Have a hilarious weekend, wherever in the world you are:) Get out there and go sledding, skiing, listen to a choir sing, drive around ouuuing and ahhhhing at Christmas lights, buy a gift off an Angel Tree or call your Gram and tell her you love her, just go out there do some general Seizing the Season, eh?;)

"Sometimes you can't see the forest for the tree."

"An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:9-12

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Even the Sun Put On Its Mittens!

"'It's a beauteous evening, calm and free.
Broad sun is sinking down in its tranquility.'
It's 9 pm Cicily do you know where your caribou are?
Chris in the morning here, with an evening storm update. Supposed to be getting more of the white stuff throughout the pm so you might wanna put a shovel to your roofs before they take on more weight. Route 6 is still closed to traffic..."
Chris Stevens, Northern Exposure

Mittens on the Sun?
I'd never heard the expression before but I nodded in full agreement when Adam made some goofy comment about the frigid weather we've been having the last few days being cold enough for the sun to wear mittens! "No, really," he insisted, "Go look the sun has mittens on." So I did what any once a blonde (that's for you Dorothy) would do, bundled up enough to go see what color mittens the Sun wears. I'm eager to report that the Sun wears rainbow colored mittens. If I'd have had my camera I'd have gotten you a picture but I'll give it my best shot of explaining. So have you seen the 'sun dogs' we have back home in Minnesota and Wisconsin? It's a giant circle around the sun usually signifying cold weather. It's like that but they are on either side of the sun looks like the two opposite sides of the rainbow with no bow in between, like this, but this isn't actually in Quinhagak, I got it off the internet.

You get the idea. So it's true, here in the tundra it gets so cold even the sun pulls on a pair of mittens. We were discussing the sharp drop in temps this morning in the office while loading up on caffeine and why 15 below zero in Quin feels so much colder than 15 below anywhere 'down states'? Our new Assistant Principal Les chimed in, "Well, you know we are living on a big block of ice up here. It's called permafrost. So it is colder." Hum, maybe that's why despite our most valiant efforts the last two crispy mornings, the magic school bus still sits frozen solid outside my trailer refusing to take a jump from anything even after being plugged in for the last 48 hours. Go figure. Also today I taught in my snow pants, scarf and hat for the first 4 hours of the day. No kidding, I could see my breath when I walked into our classroom this morning. Brrrrr. I highly encouraged my students to grab their hats before entering our room.

A Hunting We Did Go...

Principal Eric and Jim scan the horizon for the herd

Nope, it's not a read it correctly...This weekend we were up early for coffee and pancakes at Principal Eric's excitedly discussing the hunt we were headed out on! Thank you to his momma Jackie who is here visiting from 'down states' and Sherry for the flap jacks! And to Carmen his niece (also visiting) without whom the expedition would surely not have involved me;) Quyana Carmen! Sherry sneakily informed me the night before that a hunting trip (Jim and Principal Eric taking Eric's niece caribou hunting) was planned for the am and would I like to join them. Yep, where should I be and when??? The alarm went off at 8 am and the layers went on. (Me and Carmen to the left, Jim to the right) By the time we were ready to ride not a piece of flesh was exposed. All the while I'm thinking, "Am I going to be able to move fast enough to shoot anything?? By the time I get my gun pulled up and situated amongst all my winter wear the caribou are going to be long gone, lol." I was feeling less like a hunter and more like the abominable snow woman, but I wasn't alone everyone else was looking much the same. Principal Eric let me take Einer's old faithful "Red" snow go, Quyana Einer! Eric and Carmen took their other snow go with a sled in case of success. While Jim hopped on his fancy new aerodynamic ski doo. And there we were speeding off into the tundra like a motorcycle gang gone wrong. (yours truly to the left with 85 layers on) Guns slung around the front of our bodies, again surely in a manner that I would most likely hang myself trying to right it, in the event of a potential shot, but who cared, I was actually going. As we flew across the mounds of tundra blanketed with snow, sun just beginning to peek up over the horizon I couldn't help but cheer! "This is absolutely beautiful! We are snow machining across the tundra at sunrise looking for caribou! Wow! And I look like a sniper with this gun strapped across my chest! Oh how this would make my mum proud!" Just as I was soaking up the scenery, Jim zinged out ahead of the pack pointing and taking us in a totally different direction. What could possibly be causing this suddenly switch? That's right CARIBOU! A whole herd maybe 25 or so stampeding across the frozen terrain like it was AstroTurf, leaving a billowing cloud of snow trailing behind them. Quickly judging their direction, he motioned toward an elevation that would hopefully serve as an ideal point to shoot from. We made a b-line to the little hill, turned off the machines then much to my surprise both Jim and Eric immediately dropped to their knees and proceeded to 'army crawl' up the ridge. Okay, I can do this I assured myself. I flopped down, fell over and I flailed around in the deep snow trying to fight off my over sized parka as it attempted to hog tie me, free at last I continued on wrestle-dragging the ill positioned gun the remainder of the crawl up the hill as it mocked my every forward motion. Finally the summit, I doggedly propped myself up looking through the scope while it insisted on fogging up from my huffing and puffing. There we were, all four of us lying our bellies, a would be war party peering over the crest, we could see the herd. Unfortunately the 'bous', Quin slang for caribou, lol;) were already high tailing it outa there. "Welp, Let's Go!", the guys said as they jumped up and headed back down the hill. 'All that for nothing??' I whined to myself, dragged my body to its feet and tried to keep up with Principal Eric running through the knee deep snow I had just swam up! I wished I could lay down and roll to the foot of the red snow go. No such luck:( We leaped to our machines and were immediately in hot pursuit. Stopping multiple times, we tried to get a decent shot, to no avail. So after strategically yet unsuccessfully sneaking along behind them for the better part of the morning our frozen fingers and toes finally forced us into a surrender. I have to say that it was as wild a hunt as I've ever had. Besides if ya got one every time it wouldn't be hunting and who can shake a stick at tearing around the tundra with the caribou? Thank you very much Principal Eric and Jim for letting me tag along.Caribou Herd Tracks

Shout Out To: The Quinhagak Seahawks Volleyball Team who placed 3rd at Regionals in Akiachuk last weekend!!! Woooo-whooooo Goooooo SEAHAWKS!!! Nice work Coach Steph! And to Lonny who was selected for the All Star Team!

Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!...
He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.
He casts forth His ice as fragments,
Who can stand before His cold?
He sends forth His word and melts them
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
-Psalm 147:12-18-

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Somethin's Burnin

"Lots of things are rare in Cicely. Boxed lunches, public transportation, victimless crimes. It doesn't mean they don't exist."
- Joel to Ed, Northern Exposure

Protecting and Serving
Sally (Connie's dog) and I were trucking across the tundra the other day, when we witnessed Bob (one of our wonderful maintenance men) speeding (at least 40 mph) down the road in the school truck. Luckily Carl one of our Village Police Officers happened to be buzzing down the road on his 'honda' at the same time. He too noticed the 20+mph over the posted speed limit Bob was pushing. He quickly gestured the local equivalent of flashing their lights as a warning...standing up on his honda he raised his hands motioning 'slow down' 3 or 4 times as Bob blew by him, Dale Earnhart style. I wondered aloud to Sal if Bob might later be served a ticket or if Principal Eric might confiscate his keys. We rounded the corner toward the school to find an unusual number of staff out on the steps peering down the road in the same direction Bob had zoomed. Surely they'd seen his Nascar debut too??? "Hey!" Principal Eric shouted to me, "Did you see the fire?" "What fire?" I was confused. "There's a house on fire somewhere." Tim (Teacher of the Year) reported "Bob just went to help put it out." Hum, guess Speed Racer Bob will be served a medal instead of a ticket.

Shed On Fire
Sure enough, word had thankfully spread faster than the flames. After scaling the bus (aside: which I got stuck earlier this week in the snow drift that formed in front of the school) I realized there was a coat of ice all over the windshield which would obviously take a good 15 minutes to defrost a hole big enough for me to see the house on fire through (I can't reach the windshield with the scraper) so I improvised rolling down the driver's side window and slowly navigating the 3/4 mile stretch to teacher housing, all the while praying it wasn't my house on fire and taking rubber necking to a whole new level. It seemed that one of our local young-ins had been disobeying Smokey's advice not to play with matches and had lit the neighbor's little shed behind my house on fire. By the time I crept past with the magic school bus, head hangin out the window like it was a scorching July day, there was no fire left and my cheeks were frostbitten.

Stove On Fire
So later in the week I was making some soup and had fried some bacon. "Always save the grease," Dr. O ordered, "Ani should get all the fat he can." It's Ani's lil treat. Obediently I had poured the bacon grease in a tin bowl and was letting it cool. Stupidly however, I was letting it cool on the stove where I was also boiling water to make Justin and Albert some hot chocolate (they stopped to visit). While removing the whistling tea pot, I bumped the cooling bowl spilling the grease all over the stove and more dangerously, directly toward the hot burner. It was slow motion as I turned to see the grease making it's way to the searing burner. "Outa my way!" I screeched pushing past the boys, yanking a towel from the drawer and leaping toward the ticking bomb! "Ahhhh! Watch out! Get back! Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!" I attempted to sop up the oily mess with the dry towel but not before the red burner and the bacon grease met instantly igniting! Blot, blot, tap, mop, I kept snapping at the flames as they appeared, until...yep, you guessed it, my greased soaked towel caught on fire too. "Ahhhh!" I flung it into the sink. Somehow, miraculously, rather mercifully...Thank the Lord, this potential 'real' house fire went out. I turned to the boys whose eyes were as big as saucers. "How did you know it was going to catch on fire?" they asked completely shocked at the episode that had just unfolded or exploded before them. "It's grease guys." I pointed out. "That's what grease does. Now who wants hot chocolate?" A good life lesson was had by all then we agreed it was also a good thing Bob could drive like Dale Earnhardt when needed.

Snow Brought to You by Blizzard!
Planes had been grounded for days. Nobody coming or going. No new mail, no new food at the store but lots and lots of new snow. Just the right kind we needed to bust out our school's cross country skis for the first time this year. At least that's what Jenny and Lonnie thought when they knocked on my door this morning while it was still dark out "Can we ski?" "Ski??" I mumbled rubbing my eyes to make sure I was seeing these two early birds correctly. "You girls, it's still dark out." I whined, "I was sleeping." Undeterred they looked past me, "Well, um, sorry can we come in? There's lots of snow! We can ski now!....Can we ski?" "Yeah, yeah." I submitted stepping aside so they could stomp the snow off and come on in, "The skis are at the school though, so you have to wait for me to wake up and get ready." "Okay!" they cheered immediately getting to the business of entertaining themselves while I bumbled around with the coffee pot and appropriate attire. So what began with two of them skiing turned into ten of them skiing and some of those little die hards even skied into the evening. I have to smile. I love skiing too. Were it not for one of my own teachers during elementary school providing the opportunity for me long ago I wouldn't have been able to be dragged out of my toasty warm bed this morning to gear them up today. Oh, the ripple effect:)

"Then everyone will know that I, the LORD, started the fire. It will never be put out." Ezekiel 20:48

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Boys Were Back in Town

Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.
Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.
~Jane Howard

That is a very true statement and this is a very quiet night. Too quiet really, the kind of quiet that makes you want to throw up...if quiet can do that. I dropped the last of 'the boys' whom would be my lil bro Joshie, off at the runway today and he promptly flew away back to Anchorage leaving me eerily wondering if anyone had ever been here at all. You know the worst thing about company up here is that they inevitably leave and the void is deafening. Makes me sorta sick to my stomach today missing them or maybe I have a touch of that flu that has been swarming around... at any rate you'll be happy to know I was much braver than the last time earlier this fall. If you recall I spent the whole day sniffling then. Of course it may be due to the fact that today I had to work there was no time to contemplate the impending doom of his leaving and they all 3 didn't leave at the same was staggered. But I'll tell you what their company all week was a blessing. Quyana guys for coming up to our neck of the tundra again. The very fact that the boys did come back again and Mike for a third time, says a lot about this place called Quinhagak and the beautiful Yupik people who inhabit it. It's why I'm here after all, it's why I can stay in this place so far away from my own family and things familiar. It's the welcomed stopping in at Fannie's after church, knowing invading John Teddy's for some music anytime is fine, it's an invitation to steam and laughing with Karen and family, coffee with Jerilyn, a jog down the beach with friends, it's the kids chirping out a greeting wherever you run into's knowing people and being known that makes me feel like this place is home. That is the secret out here on the edge of nowhere, warm hearts-real people. It's the knock, knock, knock on my door of Bobby and Carrie just now at this very minute...
"Can we visit?" their rosy cheeks smile at me hopefully.
"I thought you'd never ask." I breathe a sigh of relief, my company is back.

Attention All Quin Kids!!!

They wasted no time tracking Mike down the minute he stepped off the plane. So the rumors were true "Mike is back!!" News spread faster than salmon swimming out to sea! The bond he has with these kids is inspiring. He's been here 3 times and is somewhat of a legend amid those 12 years of age and under. I have learned that my house will be abuzz the entire time Mike is 'in village' and have embraced it. By the time I get home more than 20 kids have made 3 batches of brownies,drunk several pitchers of juice, put together and taken apart miscellaneous puzzles, coloring books, tea sets you name it and are trying out their latest 'substitute' for the word please which I believe was 'hippopotamus' this time. They are dressed in every costume they can dig up including my winter apparel. And this round Mike had an accomplice, Chris, who elected to be the group jungle gym continually piggy backing one child after another around while dragging the next two in line on each arm. I sneaked through the door (actually I think I had to knock, ahem "Can I visit?") only to behold this gloriously exhilarating chaos. This is it! The moment each child has been anticipating and asking me about since Mike's last appearance back in March "When will Mike visit?" As a matter of fact I think that was the first question posed to me, upon my own return in August. Not 'welcome back Rachel' but "When will Mike visit?" LOL! I imagine myself kind of like the Mom character in "The Cat In The Hat" book. Quick let's tear everything apart before Rachel gets home and tells us "No." It all works out they eventually clean up and trudge out the door longingly looking over their shoulders at us with puppy dog eyes..."Can we visit tomorrow?"

Bopsy Twins Triplets

Josh and Chris waltzed into the school Thanksgiving Feast in their self proclaimed 'standard issued' attire-matching. Yup, it's not just for 2nd graders anymore. Matching outfits are fair game for 30 year old men who view themselves as tundra grade Indiana Joneses! Even Mike joined the uniform albeit inadvertently...all 3 of them strutting around the gymnasium turned cafeteria in duck brown carhartts and army green flannels as if it wasn't a tad bit odd even for the edge of nowhere. Chris brought me one of my very own... though I couldn't bring myself to wear it while they were sporting theirs, thoughtful as it was...I mean I had to live here after they left ;) I'm kidding Chris, quyana I love the shirt...seems to me there has always been something about army green flannels in my life...

Fannie's Smorgasbord
A trip to this side of the Arolik River simply wouldn't be complete without a pop into the Simon residence. It's like going home as I've already alluded to. Fannie's granddaughter is in love with Josh. She calls him Uncle 'Gus' or 'My Gus' short for Gussack (white person in Yupik) it is an endearing term. She hugs him and cries when he leaves. He wouldn't want me to reveal his ultra sensitive side but he loves her too. He had to be sure he stopped to give her the birthday present he brought her from Anchorage after Chris informed him it would be her 3rd bday while they were here. I didn't even know that, Chris got the down low when he spent the day with Fannie while I was at school. While we were there Fannie busted out all her local cuisine: dried white fish, northern, coho, sockeye, seal and caribou. You could say we had an impromptu dried meat tasting. Coho was decidedly the the tastiest, sockeye a close second, then seal...caribou we think is better as a roast or in stew;) Washed it all down with a hefty helping of salmonberry and blackberry akutak (eskimo ice cream). She sent Josh off with a bag of died fish and lamented that she didn't get to see Chris before he left. She decided it was better then she wouldn't have to cry so much. LOL. I agreed. We stopped in at John's so Josh could say hi and bye quick after church last night. John had been looking forward to taking the boys upriver to have at some last minute fishing. Unfortunately with our stranded in Eek episode it didn't work out.

Traci's Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving in Eek was wonderful. Traci, Erin and Dirk took us in like family. Heather opened her apartment to us to use which was wonderful since we were a small herd. It was a feast to be sure complete with all the staples; everything from turkey and stuffing to sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole! We even brought a pumpkin pie that we made here in Quin...that's another story, it was taking forever to bake and I fell asleep while it was still in the oven. Luckily Chris stayed alert for the duration, saved it from being pumpkin crisp and the house from burning down. Anyway back to the Eek was delicious!

Trivial Pursuits And Live Music-Entertainment Eek Style
Every night well.... except the night after Traci tore her calf muscle during an intense game of volleyball 3 on 3 I think that was Saturday night which we were successfully losing; we played Trivial Pursuit and listened to Traci and Dirk strum away on the guitar and ukulele while they sang all kinds of songs.
Reminded me of nights back in Hayward at Madeline's Open Mic Night. Traci actually has a CD out so we pretty much had our own private concert. They are pretty serious about their board games over in Eek. I've never been much of a board game player myself but as they say while in as the Eekers do. Eventually Josh and I ended up on a team all by ourselves out there on display demonstrating for God and everyone our profound lack of trivial knowledge and the pursuit of it. Josh painfully mumbled to himself about midway through," I just don't have room in my brain for all this trivial stuff." I giggled answering, "We don't know," for the 4th time to a question neither one of us understood. We did end up getting 4 pies mostly based on charity;) We watched lots of movies, pigged out on leftovers, wore pjs all day while drinking multiple pots of coffee and strolled around the tundra. Quyana to our fabulous hosts over Eek way! Your gracious hospitality is most appreciated!

Your Location Could Not Be Determined...

Not even Dirk's google earth search could find our position in Eek, Alaska. The above title was what was given in return.

Caribou Dreams-Shattered

The boys (Josh and Chris) really, really wanted go hunting for caribou...and they were determined to take me with them, it's the thought that counts. Sadly the lack of snow and consequent sequestering in Eek prevented any of that from even coming close to happening. O well. Better luck next time;)

Peter (Brett) and the Wolf

Quite possibly the most exciting event that happened in Eek was the Great Wolf Hunt of 2010 that unfolded right before our very eyes. The wolf like creature loped back and forth out by the dump; then it would saunter in toward the dog lot (Principal Brett has a team in Eek too) only to dart off back toward the dump again preventing any clear shots as Principal Brett put it in his cross hairs. Was it a wolf or a wild dog? Whatever the mysterious canine was, it obviously wanted to get close to the sled dogs. Principal Brett was having none of it. Even enlisting a few locals to assist. Together they had it surrounded and we had front row seats peering out the 2nd story windows our noses all squished against the glass "Lemme see, hey move, watch out". We spied with binoculars and gun scopes to get a better view. The boys of course really wanted a piece of the action but alas it was not their hunt, it was not their hunt. They settled to play second fiddle from Heather's picture window vicariously living through Johnny Hawk and Brett as they chased the wolf dog to and fro. In the end we didn't know who won the wolf dog or the hunters. Shots were fired and it disappeared into the tundra while the hunters retreated to their houses. Either way it was a few good hours of entertainment and imagination!

Shout Out To:'s been fun, Adios!

"This is the family tree of the human race.
When God created the human race, he made it godlike,
with a nature akin to God."
Genesis 5:1