Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sunshine On My Parka Makes Me Happy

"Goethe's final words: "More light.", that's been our unifying cry: "More light." Sunlight. Torchlight. Candlight. Neon. Incandescent. Lights that banish the darkness from our caves, to illuminate our roads, the insides of our refrigerators. Big floods for the night games at Soldier's field. Little tiny flashlight for those books we read under the covers when we're supposed to be asleep. Light is more than watts and footcandles. Light is metaphor. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom Lead Thou me on! The night is dark, and I am far from home- Lead Thou me on! Arise, shine, for thy light has come. Light is knowledge. Light is life. Light is light."
~Chris Stevens, Northern Exposure

They say it was better than the Fourth of July
Apparently I missed the New Year's Celebration of the century here in Quin.

Shootin out the stars
Just like you've seen in the old westerns...okay maybe not so old I believe I'm thinking of Young Guns the stroke of midnight the otherwise calm, quiet people of Quinhagak stepped out onto their porches armed with an artillary of every kind and shot in the New Year. This sent a few unsuspecting 'early-to bed-new-year-or not-ers' diving to their floors and belly crawling for cover.

Shootin up Eric's house
If you weren't awake for the shoot out then fireworks would have grabbed your attention! It was a sight to behold and the talk of the village even after I arrived. The kids couldn't wait to share about their favorite colors. One little girl was trying to explain what they were, "You know!" she said,"The parachutes we watched on New Year!" Evidently a few renegade dynamites didn't quite make the journey upwards and instead struck out horizontally b-lining for Principal Eric's house. No worries, it didn't make contact but did get a shock and awe effect from the crowd.

Shootin around the village
Another Quinhagak specific tradition on New Year's is to play "Follow the Leader" with vehicles after all the shooting is over. I'm not sure how long this went on for but it was a memorable experience for everyone who joined the parade. The kids excitedly reported that they had drove all around the village from the Arolik River at one end clear to the "Airport/Runway" at the other end! And they even went 45 miles per hour!!!! Picture it: dozens of four wheelers, a few trucks, a car or two and allegedly one rogue snow go, all caravanning around the 15 miles of gravel roads Quinhagak boasts. What fun!

Buzzin' the Gut-Life at 45 MPH
You might wonder why 45 is such a daring speed??? First of all we don't have enough road to dare much else even if we wanted to but I was recently informed (to my chagrin) that the reason for 20 mph cap on our speedy wheelers isn't so much to protect our bones from being 'bumped' as much as it is to prevent our lungs from inhaling things like... ecol i. Logically what I have often referred to as tundra dust, increases in direct relation to our speed. Now remember in Quin we still have honey buckets (as you know) and when you dump those honey buckets into the "honey bucket dumpster" well its not always the cleanliest set up. The contents/overflow dries on the gravel, that gravel dust released into the air from speedy spinning tires kicking it up is quite possibly laced with....well you name it...and so we have a speed limit in Quinhagak...or so I've been told. Think of that next time you're pushing 60 in a 55.

Already it is lighter later
Been enjoying those sunsets lately and cheering on the sun as it fights to hang on for a just few more notable minutes. She's already taking back what the night sky briefly tried to claim. We can all tell, a little bit of light goes a long way:)

The Shift
Another exciting event that has taken place while I was away... drum roll please.... my bedroom door closes completely again. My house appears to have shifted at some point this Christmas break. The rock I've been using to prop my bedroom door shut for the last few months is no longer needed. Here's one for the ever changing tundra foundation.

Sunsets on the Bering while whale watching
Ani and I went for our first evening walk out to the beach last monday night. We expected to see no one and instead saw a crowd gathering. Turned out some of the boys were out whaling and everyone was trying to decide through binocs if they had gotten a whale or if one of the 2 boats was broke down and being towed by the other. The sunset was stunning, visiting with friends while debating a whale was exciting and seeing Fannie with her granddaughters out collecting grass for Fannie's basket weaving was joyful. It was good to be home, doing what for this time makes my heart smile. I believe it just might be a glimpse of what makes God's heart smile to. They did get a whale but they had to camp out on the Bering that night as the tide went out before they got in. They had to wait for its return early the next morning before they could land.

Tea, Tents and Catholic Charities Around a Woodwick Candle
As the bride was promenading through the house in her heavy (free) wedding dress (thanks to Catholic Charities in Bethel) dragging the train along; it reminded me of watching the ginormous yachts try to motor around in tiny circles on the man made reservoirs in Arizona, much like the yachts, by the time the train was straightened out by whoever was playing 'bridesmaid', the bride was running into the wall on the opposite side of the house and had to turn around. Meanwhile flower girl and Costa Rican were trying to put up the tent back in 'Ani's' room. Mike sent it to the kids before Christmas. Cleopatra was preparing a tea party with hot chocolate. And a few donning "wrappies" the kids version of "snuggies" were water color painting with spit. Don't worry once I figured out this gross yet innovative method was taking place I gave them the necessary cups of water. The house was alive and buzzing. To end the evening we lit the Woodwick candle that my little brother's girlfriend gave me for Christmas! We loved it, it sounds like a crackling fire.

Caribou Girls Tracking Party

Today Kim, Jerilyn, their cousin Elizabeth and I bundled up, bunged the 270 (just in case...of what??? you never know), and headed out on their two four wheelers in search of caribou sighting (I think their husbands were skeptical) but we were determined, to have fun at the very least. We chugged along, giggling and stopping for coffee to warm our frozen fingers until we were almost to the mountians!!! It was soooo cold but sooo much fun! That's the first time I've gone that far by land. Quyana to Kim and Jerilyn for inviting me. Then when we decided the caribou sighting was probably a scratch and were about to turn around to head the 2 hours back home, Elizabeth spotted them! 2 herds about 300 yards away or so, we tried to get close to no avail but getting to actually see them was priceless!! We made it back just after dark, and hoped nobody was worried we had been out for about 5 hours!!!

My Newest Project for your viewing entertainment....
Well I've been bugging Dennis (one of our stellar teachers on staff at Quin) for months to teach me how to make a fur hat. He is our resident, math guru, chemist, outdoors man, trapper and mad hatter. Friday night at our semi weekly teacher craft night hosted by none other than Dennis and Marsha, his amazing wife who has helped us girls bead all kinds of creations and has willingly, thankfully and generously taken on the role of mother hen to all of us. They are gems and we are so grateful to have their warm, welcoming spirits here. Anyway I finally wore him down with my constant whining and he helped me get to work at sewing my very first fur hat! Again, keep your standards low because I already managed to sew 2 pieces upside down causing the fur to stick up all crazy (actually that is probably more appropriate for me). Dennis had me rip it apart and start again right side up, there's a great analogy to life in there somewhere, lol. But I'll try to keep ya posted.

Talked to Mom tonight and Gram is doing well! She has been moving her right side more and more with the help of physical therapy. Can lift her right arm up into the air at her elbow! These are great gains! Yay! Thank you, Jesus! Thank you everyone for your prayers.

"By your words I can see where I'm going;
they throw a beam of light on my dark path."
Psalm 119:105


  1. Hey Kid, Good to know that everything is going well with you!! Good to hear about your grandmother, too!! I have found that the hardest five words for me to do is, Let Go and Let God!! I guess it is just the humanness in me. We had a good encounter on our flight to see Uncle Mickey and Aunt Minnie in Florida last week and it was such a blessing to be able to talk and share with someone about your faith. Anyway good to follow your blog!! Blessings Always!!

  2. Joe! Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. I agree completely on those 'so simple yet so incredibly difficult to master'..five words. I bet Florida was wonderful, glad you were all able to enjoy some sunshine over the holidays. Greet Faith for me. You two should think about having a tundra adventure of your own???? Okay! I'll talk to you soon. Blessings back at ya, Rachel

  3. Hey Rach,
    15 mph to 20mph is the cap on the speed limit :)

  4. Eric's mom stopped in the library yesterday with pics of them cutting up the Caribou they shot. Our warm up begins. Our temps should be in the 30's the next week. Maybe I can get my car washed and keep it clean. It is a mess right now. I suppose you guys will now be back in the deep freeze. Any new snow? God bless!!

  5. Hi Kris, you got that right we are at -50s with the windchill! I got an ice cream headache walking to work in spite of my abominable snowman apparel. Brrrrr. hope the car says salt-free. Rachel

  6. I doubt it will stay clean for long this time of year. With all the salt and sand on the roads. At least it will be better. It did not hit 30 today after all but 25 was ok. Better than an ice cream headache. We just got home from Impact youth at church.

  7. so good to meet and visit with you!


  8. I feel the same.
    I'm so glad you girls stopped by. It was great to finally meet you too Gwen!
    So much fun.
    Thanks for sharing your pics.

  9. Hey, Rachel I found your blog. I was telling my co-worker about you and then tried to find you on the net, and here you are. I miss you! I hope I get to see you sometime when you come to Bethel again (Jackie, Ann's old "roomie")

  10. Jackie, I just read your post sorry I missed it for so long. I hope to get to see you soon too. Next time I'm in Bethel I will tell Anya we need to get a hold of you to do dinner! I would love to catch up with you and find out how everything is going for you! Take good care girl, we are on the homestretch....spring will be in the air some Rachel