Saturday, October 30, 2010

And What Are You???

I don't know that there are real ghosts and goblins,
but there are always more trick-or-treaters than neighborhood kids.
~Robert Brault

Wilderness First Responder Training once again comes in handy in this vast tundra wilderness.
Well, we technically may occasionally be in a wilderness context since 'wilderness' requires one's whereabouts be at least 2 hours away from definitive medical care. Therefore if the weather is good and planes are flying we are indeed 1 hour, at most, from Bethel hospital. Now whether you reeeeeeeealy consider the hospital in Bethel definitive medical care is also subjective. No offense but I've heard too many stories. Anyway, if planes aren't flying we are at least 7 hours from Bethel's definitive medical care and that is by boat or... at this point not much will get you across the tundra lakes. They aren't all frozen yet and snow keeps reappearing and disappearing so snow go is not really a viable option. My point is we are probably about as wilderness as the next guy. Anyway, Jerilyn and I were chatting on the phone between disconnections (gotta love GCI) while her daughter was howling in the background, not all that uncommon when you have 3 children under the age of 8. Then Jerilyn shocks "Oh, no I think she really hurt her toe! I gotta go." She calls back a minute later and asks what to do if her toe is dislocated. Now if it is dislocated you reduce the dislocation but I couldn't see her toe so had no idea if it was really dislocated. "You put it back in place." I thought out loud. Immediately I hear Dakota shriek on the other end. "Okay, I don't know if that worked." Jerilyn says matter of factly. "I'm bringing her over." Suddenly I'm wearing a WFR hat. Something was certainly not right about Dakota's toe. It didn't appear to be dislocated or need to be reduced further so after consulting Google and the local first responder (who assured us she wouldn't have any better idea so proceed with whatever we were doing) we just taped it to the toe next to it, iced it and gave her a sucker. Jerilyn did end up taking her to Bethel the next day and she in fact had a broken toe. Apparently we did the right things, thanks to Wilderness Medical Associates training. You may be wondering what landed little Dakota in this predicament in the first place??? She missed her sister and kicked the wall. Last year I got to use my WFR skills to clean out Steph's puncture wound on her foot. That was thrilling.
Pumpkin Carving Contest
Around these parts pumpkin carving is not to be taken lightly. Pumpkin carving is a serious competition. That's Jim's Class's 1st place porcupine next to Mrs. Z's Class's rendition of Jim.

Halloween Costume Contest
The annual school costume contest was hit. I even got to play make-up artist. Unfortunately in the process I accidentally glued Nelsiann's eye shut trying to adhere the fancy false lashes...

Principal Eric was a robot, Einar was a fireman and the 6 Flags Guy took first.

Larissa's Big Win!
Our very own Larissa flew to Bethel with her Coach Alicia for the Jr. High Speech Meet. She arrived home with first place, her trophy in hand and to a lobby full of excited fans.

Speaking Ani-ese
I just feel like I have to brag about my dog for a bit. He's been patiently sitting on the couch while I'm camped out on the genuine, artificial zebra patterned curtain from Gram and Gramp's cabin turned rug, blogging away to you all. It (the rug, not Ani on the couch) reminds me of again childhood summers spent at the cabin, when catching perch off the end of the dock was done with bologna and a snoopy fishing pole (it may well be the best fishing I've ever encountered until the Alaskan salmon run), waiting to see headlights across the lake signaling visitors (almost always cousins, aunts and uncles) needing us to hop in the boat and come pick them up, was better than Christmas. It makes me feel close to my family and good times, we were remote then too you can only get there by boat. Before cell phones and underground phone cables the only way we could get in contact with the mainland was to listen to 'The Message Period' on the local radio station...I remember everyone shushing each other and huddling around to hear if anyone would be visting...the cabin. It's still a part of me. What a blessing. Something about this fake zebra rug is my roots, ha, roots in a piece of zebra fabric...Where did this crazy fabric originally come from anyway, I remember it hanging in those big glass doors, we'd peek behind them every morning hoping to find sunshine through the trees out on the lake. That was when I was like 5 years old. This fabric is old...maybe this is where 'the fabric of our lives...' comes from. Strange that someone in my family (actually, I take that back it's probably not strange at all) saved a 3 x 3 square of it for this long and now I too am guilty of salvaging it and sending it up here to my stilted trailer in the tundra to use as a rug. It adds a certain flare. Ah, life. Again the best advice I got before moving here was, "Surround yourself with things that make you smile." That's what I'm doing. Now, watch me pull this brief cabin detour back on track....Ani makes me smile:)
Truly he is the best listener, I bet your dog is too. I'm glad he doesn't speak English even though I have a hunch our crazy conversations would be safe if he did. He does think I talk too much, don't run enough and am definitely way stingy in the dog treat department and still he acts like he cares and couldn't have said it better himself when I babble on. Wags his tail when I tell him anything in a happy voice, stands on his hind legs waving his front paws in the air almost dancing like he couldn't wait one more minute to see me, shares my pillow on the couch, also tries to push me off, escorts me around the house as if he's helping me find my way, maybe he does actually think he's chaperoning me, Lord knows I need it. I love his company. What a blessing. Dogs are a perfect example of God's Grace. We don't deserve such unconditional love but He gives them to us anyway. Animosh loves Ritz crackers and grapes...weird I know. He's really the silent type, only whines when he needs out and only howls or barks when Eric's dogs are being harnessed to pull. He has a phobia of kids and vacuums, becomes paralyzed with the first group, pees and hides with the second. His breath stinks and I still want to hug him. He's a good dog. And you know what I actually think he's fond of me too even when I'm totally myself, what a lucky dog owner I am.

Happy Halloween!

Trick or Treaters were knock, knock, knocking on my door starting around noon and ending around 7. Only because I left to go maqii with my friend Karen and family. I was delighted to find that as I ran errands throughout the day, I could put out a Rubbermaid full of candy with a little note that said "Please Take Only One" and they did. There was even candy left when I got back! What great kids we have in Quinhagak. This is Karen chain sawing wood for the maqii.
Since the chainsaw fit the character she decided this could be her 'Jason'
costume for Halloween.

"He's your bodyguard, shielding every bone;
not even a finger gets broken." Psalm 34:20

Monday, October 25, 2010

...It's That You Begin

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~Seneca

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 7:00 AM: Drag myself out of bed, bumble around my house for 30 mins, lug backpack out the door, down the steps to the bus, drive to school with hopes of a plane out by noon.
7:45 AM: Arrive at school share excitement of impending travel plans with Connie. Hope to use a 'buddy pass' (for those of you who don't frequent the friendly skies, the 'buddy pass' is virtually a "get to ride for free ticket" which you might be blessed enough to be given if you have a friend who pilots one of these blazing chariots. It's a perk that they have but often times don't use. I am very blessed with such a friend. And for this generosity I am very thankful.) Unfortunately if it seems too good to be true... The catch is that if you use the 'buddy pass' you also fly 'stand by'. This means you will be bumped off the flight you want to fly for any paying customer, understandable but a bit of a conundrum when trying to get somewhere at a specific time. And so the lesson in flying 'stand by' for me, began.
7:50 AM: I find out that all flights I was hoping to 'buddy pass' fly on are booked. You see, it just so happened that the Alaskan Federation of Natives (AFN) was having a huge gathering in Fairbanks this weekend too. So to get from here to there one must travel the same flightpath I was needing to travel. Thankfully Connie, well versed in the wiles of airline inner workings, gave me her most serious look, confirming my gut, and warned, "You better try to book a flight or you're not going anywhere this weekend."
7:55 AM: I immediately book the one remaining flight on Alaska Airlines out of Bethel that afternoon. Whew. Thank you God.
10:00 AM: I hop the first flight open out of the village to Bethel. Whew. Thank you God.
3:00 PM: Touch Down Anchorage...Whew. Thank you God. (aside a great read: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Greg Stein). Josh whisks me away from the airport to...
4:00 PM: Pick up Marathon Bibs at Skinny Raven pleasantly surprised that if you are running the full or ultra they immediately usher you directly to the front of the snaking line. There should be some perks after all;)
5:00 PM: Enjoy Moose's Tooth, finally see Josh's trophy mountain goat skull from his successful hunt with Mike last week, supervise completion of tiling Chris' bathroom. (both featured above).

Friday, October 22, 2010: Sleep in, get up enjoy trees and fancy carved pumpkins on Chris' living room balcony. Laugh at Josh's carved pumpkin which is decorated with a 2 by 2 inch square hole. Josh reports it is 'hair'.
Go to salon in Eagle River (thanks to my good friend Ang who has graciously prepped the unsuspecting stylist of my recent and somewhat questionable highlighting history, part of which Ang was directly involved, if you remember the post from last May) to get my own hair done. I've gone back to dark brown and love it. Stylist forbade me to highlight it again until I come back in March. Again mixed response from friends back here in Quin. John Teddy however is thrilled and that's all that matters. Later have spaghetti thanks to the keen cooking skills of the boys then force Chris to take me to Mama Mia! (the Broadway Production conveniently preforming in Anchorage this week) where I finally got to meet up with friends Erin and Emily who ran their first 1/2 Marathon the next day too and kicked some butt at it! Got home, wondered what my plan was for the 26.2 mile run that would greet me far too soon. Didn't have an answer for myself, went to sleep.

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 7:00 AM: Whined out of the way too comfortable bed in the spare bedroom. Wondering what was my plan for the 26.2 mile run that would greet me in the next hour. Didn't have an answer. Got dressed, high fived the boys who were ignorantly eager to run their first marathon ever.
7:30 AM: Load into the ever reliable Monte C drive to Kincaid, Josh registered (he wasn't registered until 15 minutes before the race). Wipe the sleep out of our eyes.
7:59 AM: Wandered to the staging area under a stunningly appropriate full moon, impressed by the many zany zombie costumes worn by surrounding enthusiastic runners, wondered what my plan was for the 26.2 mile run that was being counted down, didn't have an answer, howled (as commanded by the race director) to start the race, put one foot in front of the other toward Goose Lake 13.1 miles out where we would do an abrupt 180 and head right back to Kincaid.
9:00 AM: Chris calls his mom to tell her he is running a marathon. I enjoy the perfect view of Mt. McKinley from the infamous Coastal Trail. Josh thinks this whole marathon thing isn't such a big deal, and checks to be certain he still has all 25 of his Gu packs. We are all carrying our water bottles. We chat excitedly!
10:00 AM: We see Erin and Emily in the herd of oncomers as they run past us at the start of the 1/2. Their cheers, great zombie decorated faces and costumes make us smile. We round the post and begin the run back. The first half is behind us. We agree we can/are doing this!
11:00 AM: Alyssa Chris' friend meets us by Ship Creek and gives us a much needed encouraging cheer! Chris gives her his garbage. I stuff mine in my pockets. Josh throws his in the can he runs past. We discuss the logistics of high jacking passing bicyclists. We comment about the fitness of the 70 year old who just trotted past us.
11:30 AM: I start visualizing my Quinhagak running routes...This is same distance as the Arolik Run, the Airport Run, the Cell Tower Run, the Beach Run! The boys don't appear to appreciate my comparisons. And wonder if they'll 'hit a wall'. We check to see if we are all okay.
12:00 PM: My comparisons are tossed out the window as the Kincaid Hills relentlessly spring up in front of us....always in front of us, never seeming to have a down side. They are no match for my flatlander tundra training. We concur the 'wall' has been hit.
12:10 PM: Chris gets 2nd wind and decides to ditch his running partners of the last 25 miles. He finishes his first marathon 4 minutes ahead of us!
12:20 PM: Little Bro and I finish together. He completes his first marathon! Our reward for accomplishing such a feat? A stake that says 2010 Zombie Marathon.

12:30 PM: Everyone hobbles to the car, exhausted but triumphant.
1:00 PM: Crawl into the arena to see Skylar's hockey game! They won 7 to 1.
2:00 PM: Get back to Chris' and collapse (exhibit A below).
Sunday, October 24th, 2010 11:30 AM: Hobble to Change Point Church, very good check it out if ever in Anchorage. Josh and Chris looked more like 120 year olds shuffling around than 30.
1:00 PM: Take nap by fire.
2:00 PM: To Eagle River to visit Ang and company. Baby Alivia offers to come back with me, just let her grab her car seat:)
6:00 PM: Birthday dinner at Alyssa's! On the menu? Alaskan Mountain Goat thanks to Josh's shooting skills and Alyssa's cooking skills. Very good.
9:00 PM: I start freaking out because I don't have a flight back to Quin the next day.
9:30 PM: Book last available seat on 7:00 AM flight with Alaska Air Monday morning.

Monday, October 25th, 2010 5:00 AM: Leaving Anchorage...
Made it back to Quin yesterday morning earlier than expected around 10 AM. What did we miss in the village while we were gallivanting around the city? Dennis and Jim got a big brown bear up river! Amazing! Allison's parents came to visit all the way from Minnesota and as Einer so happily informed me...the Packers beat the Vikings...

Shout Out To: Mi Amiga Amanda! Cumpleanos Feliz Chica! Y tambien Alyssa en Anchorage! And to my friend Shay Marie Happy Birthday! To Mary Lou Who back home in Wisconny Happy Birthday on the 30th and to our very own Mrs. Z Happy Birthday on the 31st! So thankful for God's amazing gift to this world, each of you!

"How wonderful, how beautiful,
when brothers and sisters get along!"
Psalm 133:1

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ready to Run...Away

"Which would you rather watch: sword-swallowers and snake charmers from New Delhi...or *MacGyver*?" - Shelly, Northern Exposure
That quote reminded me of a comical conversation I had with a student earlier this fall while walking down the gravely road. The student had dropped her cell phone in the water. We were trying to come up with some way to dry it out. The conversation evolved into me trying to imagine up some other unique amazing use for a soaked cell phone. To this she commented, "There you go getting all 'MacGyver' on me." Initially I laughed at her comment, then it struck me odd that this 15 year old was using the word 'MacGyver' at all. "Wow!" I responded with pleasant surprise,"You've watched MacGyver? I didn't even know that was still on."
"What?" she frowned with a puzzled look, "Watched MacGyver????? I don't know what you are talking about but MacGyver is when you turn something into something out of practically nothing. Don't you know that?"
"Oh, I see." I nodded trying not to let my expression say how old I felt at that moment, "Well, back when I was young MacGyver was a T.V. show. The main character's name was "MacGyver". He was always making something out of practically nothing. That's were that term comes from."
"Hum," she shrugged not sure if she should believe me, "Weird."
I felt like I had crossed through some: "You know you're getting older when".....rite of passage.

Meanwhile back at the ranch (stilted trailer) I'm packing for ANCHORAGE!!!! Yep, I'm off to the big city tomorrow afternoon. Haven't been out of the village that far since my arrival in August! I hope writing that down just now didn't jinx me. Watch the wind start blowing. I'm very anxious to get out, see everybody, get my hair done, eat at a restaurant and hike up some mountains! Not to mention the marathon, yikes, seriously I almost don't want to mention the marathon. But if I tell you about the race then there's more reason to finish it, hopefully. Anyway I'm still up at school right now and as my VHF always calls out "It's time to Go home." So have a great weekend everybody I'll be thinking of you from Anchorage.
"Run with endurance the race set before you." Hebrews 12:1

Monday, October 18, 2010

Happy Alaska Day!

State Motto - "North To The Future"

Since Monday October 18th is officially Alaska Day I thought I should give ya a few facts about this great State I now call home.
Alaska Day marks the anniversary of the formal transfer of the territory from Russia to the United States and the raising of the United States flag at Sitka on October 18, 1867. It is usually celebrated on October 18 each year.

State Song
- Alaska's Flag

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue -
Alaska's flag. May it mean to you
The blue of the sea, the evening sky,
The mountain lakes, and the flow'rs nearby;
The gold of the early sourdough's dreams,
The precious gold of the hills and streams;
The brilliant stars in the northern sky,
The "Bear" - the "Dipper" - and, shining high,
The great North Star with its steady light,
Over land and sea a beacon bright.
Alaska's flag - to Alaskans dear,
The simple flag of a last front

Alaska was the 49th state it became a state on January 3, 1959.

State Nickname

The Last Frontier

Origin of the Name... Alaska
The word Alaska is from the Aleut Indian word "alaxsxaq" or "agunalaksh" that mean the mainland or shore.

Alaskan Mountain Roll Call

Mount Denali: 20,320 feet (Tallest in North America)

Mount Elias: 18,008 feet Foraker - 17,400 feet

Bona - 16,500 feet

Blackburn - 16,390 feet

Sanford - 16,237 feet

Vancouver - 15,700 feet

Churchhill - 15,638 feet

Fairweather - 15,300 feet

Hubbard - 15,015 feet

Bear - 14,831

Other Fun Facts

  • Alaska is larger than the next four largest states combined
  • Alaska contains 17 of the 20 highest peaks in The United States
  • Alaska is only 50 miles from Russia.
  • The Malaspina Glacier near Yakutat is larger than the state of Rhode Island
  • Kodiak Island is the 2nd largest island in the United States
  • Alaska is 586,400 square miles...very big!
  • Alaska has 29 volcanoes
  • Alaska is 1,400 miles North to South and 2,700 miles East to West
  • Alaska has 33,000 miles of coastline...more than the rest of the lower 48 combined (This includes island shores)
  • Alaska is the only state to have coastlines on three different seas... Arctic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea
  • There are more than three million lakes in Alaska
  • Lake Iliamna is Alaska's largest lake with 1000 square miles of surface area
  • The Yukon River flows 1400 miles through central Alaska and into the Bering Sea
  • Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers which cover almost five percent of the state....More than in the rest of
Sadly enough We did not make it to Bethel this weekend. We were on weather hold into the late morning Friday and called the whole in service a wash once we had missed the vast majority of it by the time flights started floating along. Instead we...

Walked for a Cure... Connie had planned to walk for a Cure in Bethel this weekend. Since we didn't make it to Bethel, we had our own walk here in Quinhagak. Connie made us pink ribbons and all. Even Ani sported his ribbon. In talking about it we found that each of us had a loved one who fought the fight with beast cancer.

We had our 'bike joring' debut! It was just like ski joring except instead of sporting skis we were riding bikes. Ani enjoyed himself and is now sacked out on the couch. Ran into a rogue jellyfish out on the beach too. That was a first.

Ended the weekend with a trip upriver with Olin and Jack. Lots of bear prints out there folks no signs of hibernation yet.

"...I'll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM God." Exodus 6:7

Thursday, October 14, 2010


"Ya gotta steak knife? I could see if you're done, ha ha ha ha!!!"
~Karen at Maqii tonight.

We (Connie and I) were supposed to be flying to Bethel tonight to take part in a district wide special education training tomorrow morning...but around 7pm after an hour of wondering and waiting we got the word that there would be no flights in Quin tonight. There weren't any flights today either, no mail came in or out. It seems that pesky fog and freezing rain were holding up air traffic today at the Bethel Regional. So instead of dinner out at Demetri's like we had dreamed, we accepted the offer to take a steam with Karen! The only real trade rivaling a flight to the big city. IT was a scorcher folks. For the first time in my short 'maqii-ing' history I got the 'salmon' spots. Yep, I tried to get a picture for you. Here's the deal, they get the steam so sizzeling hot that it practically burns your skin and hopefully for me only temporarily turns it spotted. For my Yupik maqii-ing friends they have these spots as permanent badges of honor. Maqii tatoos if you will, seared into their skin.

Reading over breakfast this morning...I had to catch up on the local newsletters that find their way to my P.O. Box. So I'm sharing with you the latest from Quin, hot off the presses!
Have a hilarious weekend everyone! If you are bored I heard a little rumor that our very own Kuskokwim Delta Famous Traci Buckle of Eek, AK will be singing at the Saturday Night Just Desserts up at the Cultural Center in Bethel. Come on over for some excellent entertainment.

"And when the sun was up, they were scorched;
and because they had no root,they withered away.
" Matthew 13:6

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Into the Wild...Weekend

"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in...In God's wildness lies the hope of the world - the great fresh, unblighted, unredeemed wilderness."~John Muir

Sunsets on the Tundra (Evening Jogs) Been trying to run a bit more lately since the marathon is coming up ("Even I did 16 this weekend";). The only time in the day available is after school so I've been enjoying the sunset on the Bering light up the Kilbucks as I wish I could run right to them. There is something about the mountains in the evening...and every other time of day too I suppose but, the last week has renewed my appreciation for these towering rock masses 15 miles across the tundra from us. They mysteriously rejuvenate the soul, they're one of God's free therapy plans.

I am the Walrus Did you know that there are two dead walruses on the beach? Yep, dead walruses are humongous. Just thought it was weird and had to share. And interesting to note we do in fact have walruses in Quinhagak.

October Skies have been mostly clear believe it or not. Or I wouldn't be able to see the therapeutic mountains. We have had crisp mornings and cool nights, lots of blue, much less rain and snow than the last couple weeks, more oranges, pinks and purples in the sunset vistas. Everyone has been outside soaking it up. It's been great for the progress on the new store and cold climate prototype house too. They got the walls up this week.

PFDs Everyone Wins That's right! In the Last Great Frontier they pay you to live here. So right around this time each year everyone gets a little spend happy and giddy. It's as if everybody's won the lottery! Not a bad idea, eh? Of course I haven't lived here long enough yet so I just vicariously live through everyone else;)

My Whole House Quakes when I try to do my laundry. It feels like we are having an earthquake and that the whole house is going to shake off its stilts. Not sure if something is out of alignment or what, but it's kind of scary. Is there an official name for fear of doing laundry...I am becoming laundriphobic.

Hooten's Christmas Tree, My Forest When the Hooten's moved away last spring they graciously bequeathed me their fake Christmas Tree. Immediately I toted the precious evergreen branchful treasure directly to my living room where it was permanently 'planted'. That is where it stands to this very day. The kids come in and ask, "Why do you already have your Christmas Tree up?" "Ah, ha very good question," I reply,"if it was actually a Christmas Tree, but it is so much more... it's an every kind of day tree. It's my own forest really. Welcome to the woods in my cabin!" They look at me funny and nod.

Another Beach Bonfire with a Rescue Twist We had our second bonfire at the beach tonight and was it eventful! The Cold Climate Crew brought left over palates to supplement our randomly collected beached wood we had been burning. Our little campfire quickly became a blazing inferno which was thoroughly appreciated by our freezing fingers and toes due to the 30 degree temps. We got down to the business of roasting hot dogs and smores as the tide roared in sploshing waves so close that it threatened to douse the raging fire. Above us the chill of the air provided the perfect window upwards into the sparking sky to watch shooting stars streak across the Milky Way... Just as we were ouuing and ahhhing one rouge star shot up out of the Bering hung there for a moment and dropped back into the water. It took our enamored brains a moment to register what we had just witnessed. Unanimously agreeing it was a FLARE, we were on the phone with the Village Police Officers and Alaska State Troopers within moments (this time thanks to our GCI cell phone tower in spite of the most dropped calls record it holds). Was someone out there in the icy Bering waters in danger? Did we happen to see their flare for help? At one point the VPO launched a rescue boat and was headed out into the ocean. We could see it from our fire on the beach and they in turn could see us. They called my phone and asked if they were in the general vicinity of where we had seen the flare. They signaling to us from out on the water. "More to the left." I stupidly responded, "or is that your right?" "More south." Connie helped me, "Tell them more south, Rachel." At any rate the Coast Guard out of Juneau was calling in the wee hours this morning to clarify more questions. They hadn't found anything or registered any distress, or missing vessel calls but assured us they were thankful for our call which was very appropriate. Yep, just another wild weekend in Western Alaska:)

"...I want a walk in the country,
I want a cabin in the woods..." Psalm 55:7