Saturday, May 22, 2010

Anchored Down in Anchorage...

"...And you know you're in the largest state in the union when you're anchored down in Anchorage, Alaska..." ~Michelle Shock
Ani taking in the view from the top of Mount Baldy in Eagle River

As you can see, the fog lifted in Quinhagak and we made it into Bethel then on to Anchorage! Ani freaked out on the 207 ride into Bethel from Quin. I felt like the worst mom! He was howling and crying. It literally scared the crap out of him. The pilot looked at me, I shrugged and offered,"It's his first plane ride ever. He's never left the village. Give a dog a break." We basked in the waft all the way to Bethel, pilot even cracked the window, lol. The great pilots at Haagland totally hooked me up with a bucket of water and soap. Yuck. But we got everything cleaned up. Wandered around Bethel and finally loaded on the big plane. I have no idea how everything went for Ani in the cargo compartment, but on a good note there were several other dogs traveling that day too, so he wasn't alone. We met Geri in the airport as she flew in about an hour before us. What perfect way to touchdown in ANC INT'L! Ang picked the whole herd of us up. Josh and his friend Chris met us at Humpy's for supper. I was giddy with joy to be around family and friends in a place with green trees, mountains and weather that involves flip flops and tank tops!
Ang and Aliva, Mio, Geri Lynn, and Joshie

We've been busy making multiple Wal-Mart runs on one of which I purchased my snazzy new wheels for next year in Quin! A genuine duplicated Mongoose Mountain Bike, it should be on its way north already. We highlighted hair. I should have recorded all the conversation between Ang and Geri as I was at their mercy. Geri volunteers,"I'll do this side, I've never done this before." Ang responds,"Sure, opps I think I missed a piece, ahh, no matter its on the bottom layer you won't even see it. I don't think." Meanwhile I just grab another slice of pizza and pray.

We have eaten out several times. Josh and I took Geri and Ani on their first hike up Mount Baldy.
On the way back down Josh discovered a quicker route, not to mention a whole lot more fun! We threw caution to the wind, plopped down on our behinds and slid all the way to the bottom. From the road you could look up the mountain and see our butt prints perfectly. Which reminds me of a great poem someone sent me once...

Buttprints In The Sand
(or in our case snow)

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some strange prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you along.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."

~Author Unknown

Geri and I acting our age!!!!

Yesterday Geri made Ani and I run up the road to Mount Baldy, shockingly we made it! 4 miles up mountain. About 1/4 of the way up Ani took his usual position on the gang line and fell behind me creating 'drag' not what I wanted as I huffed and puffed vertically. So Ironwoman Geri offered to take over. Relief, at least for me, lol. Ang picked us up at the top, otherwise I'd have been looking for another slide down! Today it is sunshiny and gorgeous so I'm typing in the front yard. We will start packing up the car today and hit the 3500 mile road tonight or tomorrow morning: gas can (check), fix a flat (check), tire plugs (check)...okay we're ready to roll! It has been great getting to run around Anc again. Thanks Ang and Brandon for welcoming us in. Speaking of, Ang just served up delicious pancakes with strawberries and whip cream. That's my cue, gotta eat;) Caio! Or maybe I should say "Chow!;)"

Peter invited them in and made them feel at home. The next morning he got up and went with them. Acts 10:23

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

We're Leavin On A Prop Plane...Maybe

"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."
~Garrison Keillor

Well, my first year teaching in rural Alaska has come to an end. Ani hates his kennel and has probably chewed it to pieces as I type, he's 'practicing' being in it. Hey like my new paint job? I painted the house this weekend so we can return in August to a cozy remodeled-ish place. So after calling Quin home since August 1st, 2009, the day I thought I'd made a huge mistake (just one of the many times I've been wrong, I was homesick to say the least), to today as I shed tears handing over my keys, take a last look at my little neighborhood, and shut my door on this first year. We are headed south ...2 bags, 1kennel, a girl and her dog. Ironically or rather fittingly my little brother, Josh, is coming back up to Anchorage to work for the summer again like last summer when I started this blog. He is going to pick me up at the airport just like a bookend to last August when my brothers dropped me off that fateful morning (I had no idea what would be in store). Also my dear friend Geri has graciously agreed to fly up and keep me company on the drive home! She promised she would last year when I was leaving and it is already here! I can't wait to have a few fun days in Anchorage before we make the long trek 'south' to what many 'downstates' consider 'up north', lol, in that case it's all relative, it would seem. 3000 + miles worth of catching up on life, what a blessing! Gonna miss Quinhagak, Alaska and all my friends here. But Lord willing, we will meet again in August. Come on down to Wisconsin if you get the whim:) Before I get too choked up I should tell you all the facts...a great cloud of fog has settled on our little village this morning and it hasn't cleared yet no planes in or out at this will I be leaving on a prop plane????

Either Kevin (our speech path/chef extraordinaire/and today the hamburger flipping king) or Chuck here, is going to hate me but....I simply couldn't resist, the similarities between the two were uncanny, te, he, he, he.... Have a fun summer boys!

Shout Out To: My cousin Randi! Happy Birthday and to think I used to be jealous that you were 2 years older! LOL;)

"After saying good-by to each other, we went aboard the ship (plane), and they returned home."
Acts 21:6

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Caribbean of the Kuskokwim

"If you never did you should.
These things are fun and fun is good." ~Dr. Seuss

Blue Fast Dashers Build Their Human Pyramid

Exciting Events in Quin
A few of the boys kicked the summer off with a camp out behind Debilt's house. Looked like great fun to me;)
Happy Belated 13th Birthday to Matt on Monday who got to have swan soup on his birthday after all.
He was a little worried Dad wouldn't come through but in a last ditch effort hunting trip at 9 pm the night before Matt's big day, the swan was in hand and soon to be in pot! I tried some at his birthday party, it was delicious. Thanks Tim and Diane! It was a pretty exciting birthday for Matt too, because his day was announced to the whole state on the nightly Channel 2 News thanks to Anchor Megan Baldino! Of course as luck would have it none of our satellites where pulling in Channel 2 with only 20 minutes until show time! The whole village was awaiting what Megan would say about us after her stay this weekend. We did find that Jim and Steph's satellite worked so about 20 of us crowded in to catch our 15 minutes of fame. The name of Quinhagak was thrown around left and right through the whole newscast, it was great! Also Quinhagak was officially put on the map!!! The weather map that is, at least for Monday! We chuckled knowing most of Alaska was wondering what is the deal with this 'Quinhagak' place???? At the end Megan again told Matt happy birthday, showed pics of prom and congratulated the graduates, Terrilyn and Clarissa and even managed to sneak in a wink for John Teddy at his request;) We were all pretty thrilled. Thanks Megan:)

Kiddie Prom Kiddies get their chance to dance Monday morning:)
That pretty much says it. The little ones get to have their go around out on the dance floor the Monday morning after prom while the decorations are still up. Here's a peek.

Wacky Olymics Frozen T-Shirt Contest All Teams for Themselves!
Tuesday Steph had the whole school building human pyramids, throwing marshmallows, shooting 3 pointers, and trying desperately to put on frozen t-shirts. What a hilariously fun time! Everyone laughed until their sides hurt. Thanks Steph.

The Annual End of the Year Beach Party! Hamburgers and Hot Dogs cooked over a campfire!

Waiting in line.

So at the end of every year the school hosts a picnic-cookout at the beach weather permitting. Today was no exception and to boot we were just in time to have front row seats to watch the tide roll in. I haven't see the water that close since last fall. It was great to see the kids kick off their shoes and socks, hike up their pants and dare to test the frigid Bering Sea waves. Some of the boys played football and practiced their wrestling moves while the girls walked around giggling and talking. The elementary kids built sand castles and tried to bury each other. Unfortunately that only ended up being each others feet since the ground is still frozen about an inch down;) Evelyn, our excellent cook, with the help of Principal Eric, Speech Path Kevin and Teacher Tim roasted enough hamburgers and hot dogs over 3 fires to feed the school. It really did remind me of the Caribbean just add a few layers of clothing, drop the temps in half and listen to four wheelers instead of reggae. Tah-Dah!

Watching the tide come in.

Quinhagak School Staff 2009-2010

Shout Out To: The Hooton's and Hosetter's! We are gonna miss you guys but best wishes on your new adventures. I'm so blessed to have gotten to know you and have you as my neighbors! Now I'm all alone on our side of the tracks.

"Now I'm returning to you. I'm saying these things in the world's hearing So my people can experience My joy completed in them." John 17:13

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Graduation/Prom "A Night To Remember"

The tradition of the toast hearkens back to 17th century England, when the health or success of a new venture was christened by a drink of wine with a piece of toast submerged in it. Over time, we've dispensed with the actual toasted bread, but the intent remains the same.

- Maurice toasts Shelly and Holling
Megan Baldino Speaking to the graduates.

Graduate Clarissa receives a scholarship.

Kindergartners Bob and Annie giving each other a pep talk.

Graduation and Prom 2010 went off without a hitch, thanks to Marsha and Steph organizing and executing the whole shebang. We had 2 graduates, one of which had written a letter back in December to Megan Baldino, (Alaska Famous Lead Anchor of #1 rated Channel 2 KTUU News), asking her to be the guest speaker.
(Above Megan with Graduate Terrilyn, R. Megan speaking to Tim Debilt's Journalism Class) Megan enthusiastically agreed and arrived 'in village' Friday morning. She spoke to the journalism classes, toured the school and village, visiting with kids and staff alike.
Everyone was pretty star struck and Megan handled our awe with the utmost grace.
(Above Boys doing hair, Girls doing hair) She even entertained us by fully participating in Prom complete with dressing to the nines (thanks to everyone in Nebraska and Wisconsin sending us all those dresses and suits, the kids looked stunning), hair do-ing, (which was a blast! Salon Rachel in the Resource Room opened for clients
from 3pm until 8 pm and I tell you what, I have a whole new respect for hairdressers on their feet all day) dancing, dining and toasting with sparkling apple cider ("To an awesome prom!" "To the graduates!" "To great salmon run!" " To winning our first basketball game in 14 years!" "To the Hootons who will be dearly missed!" " To Megan Baldino!" Einar chimed in!). (Styling chicas in their beautiful dresses, Group shots with Megan) We even had fruit trays and meat and cheese trays shipped in from Bethel. Eric had suggested Megan stay with me so as to get the full effect, honeybuckets and all. What a sport and super down to earth person! Everyone is hoping that she'll return soon and put Quinhagak on the map;). We all think KTUU should consider a Quinhagak based satellite;) Note: Watch the evening news Monday night she'll be sharing about her trip out here. (Like my 'village' prom look with the xtra tufs? I thought they added a certain flare.) We had waffles at Eric and Sherry's this morning then the whole herd of us (Eric, Sherry, Addy, Einar, Tim, Matt and me) loaded into the suburban and saw her off at the runway. We all had a pretty good laugh on the ride home wondering what in the world Megan was really thinking of this rag tag posse of renegade bush teachers and the wonderfully amazing community of Quinhagak that embraces us, we call 'home'. Quyana Megan! Come on back anytime:)(Prom King Lonnie and Megan dancing, Below Quinhagak Prom Pic 2010)

Matt saying Good Bye to Megan!

Upriver in search of 'kapuuk'

Kapuuk that's the Yupik word for 'greens'. I was invited to hope in a boat and head upriver with my friends John Teddy, Pauline Hunter and family. We left today around noon. Ice went out on the Kanektok last week so we cruised up 10 miles or so. It was rejuvenating to be back on the water after months and months and months lol, of winter.So anyway we parked to boats, trekked across the once again squishy, spongy tundra following John Teddy, to some lakes where we began digging up and picking 'Kapuuk'. We everyone has a garbage bag full we tromped back to the river had a picnic and zoomed home. The girls all stopped by for hot chocolate, I'm gonna miss them this summer. Rumor has it the fishermen will be coming back as early as next week (go figure) to get the guide services back up and running for the summer 2010 season.

Captain John Teddy and the Hunters following!

Shout Out To: All Graduates! Congratulations!

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.

Psalm 30: 10-12