Saturday, January 29, 2011

Do The Shuffle

Roo: Look, mama, look! A kite!
Kanga: Oh, my goodness! It's Piglet!
Winnie the Pooh: [Being dragged behind Piglet] Happy Windsday, Kanga.
Happy Windsday, Roo.
Roo: Can I fly Piglet next, Pooh?

"Do, do, do, do, do, do, do do... Do the hustle!" (but change it to 'shuffle' instead) Tundra Shuffle that is, come on sing it out loud. You know the song I'm talking about from the disco 70s I think. Well that's what came to mind when Ken and Connie stopped in this weekend after making the long and precarious journey from their teacher housing down by the school 3/4 mile away to our teacher housing on the other end. Ken said, " Yep, dang dangerous out there today. A person's liable to pull a groin muscle. That's why we're doing the Tundra Shuffle." Ah, Ha! I knew there had to be a name for that penguin-ish walk we're all doing lately around here as we slip and slide all over the sheets of ice we call roads while we're are at the mercy of the wind whippng us around to and fro. So after Ken named it for me, that song pops into my brain and I spend the rest of the day..."Do, do do do do do do do do etc. Do the Shuffle!"

Bradley Blows Away This is just how bad the wind has been. So Friday morning Connie and I were on our usual bus route. On one particular stop the wind was just right (or wrong) depending on how you want to look at it. We stopped, I flipped on the red flashing sign to which the arm extended and was nearly torn off, while Bradley and his brother Brolin burst out their front door and excitedly ran toward the bus as they do every morning with Bradley singing out his normal "Good Morning Rachel! Good Morning Connie!" But Friday as he rounded the front of the bus with intentions of bopping through the open doors the wind, instead, grabbed ahold of him heaved him right on by us.... Turning Friday's morning greeting into something that sounded more like this "Good Morning Rachel! Gooooooooooooood Moooooooooooorning COOOOOONNNIIIEEEEEE HEEEELLLP!" "Ahhhh!" Connie and I both yelped in shock "BRADLEY!!!" Connie turned super woman leaped into action and off the bus, chased down the wind and Bradley then dragged him back to safety. "Whoa!" he laughed uneasily as he climbed aboard huffing and puffing, "So hard is the wind today!"

The wind blows where it wants to and you hear the sound of it, but you don't know where the wind comes from or where it is going. It is the same with every person who is born from the Spirit." John 3:8

Thursday, January 27, 2011

3's Company, 5's Crowd, 6's a Herd?

"I don't know about you guys but we are the weirdest herd I've ever seen."
~Sid the Sloth, Ice Age

Family Pack
Last night the Skime trailerhold consisted of what only seems appropriate to call... a herd. Our members are as follows and (in no particular order): my friend Erin who is one of our fab itinerants - she slept on the couch, another new friend Pam who was in to do NAEP testing - she slept in the spare bedroom, Seeker Mumma dog, Jet, Tak, Car - they slept in the arctic entry, Me and Animosh - we slept our room! It was a trailerful! Principal Eric, Sherry and kids are in Juneau enjoying pleasanter climates so as they are basking away and I was given the wonderful opportunity to puppy sit! Yep, all 4 and the kennel arrived on Monday night. That night I woke up at 1 o'clock am to escort one of the howling babes back to the kennel. Somehow in the night she had lost her way and was nosed against the wall in the arctic entry. At 2 o'clock am I woke up to a whining Animosh needing to go outside for a potty break. At 3 o'clock am I woke up to Seeker trying to burrow through the cardboard boxes looking for what?? I'm not sure, all I could do was pray it wasn't in pursuit of some unwanted furry rodent! My next thought was to worry that maybe I'm not cut out for this 'not sleeping' through the night business. I had a moment of unbelievable empathy for my friends who are mothers...I have no clue how you girls do it! It was only my first night and I wanted to sit down and howl right along with the pups.
The Dentist Office came to village and set up shop in the school library.
Yep, conveniently located... our fly in dentist opened up for two fun filled days in the school library! Everyone got their teeth checked up and books checked out!

Pic to the left is Connie leading the Head Start kiddos out the front door, everyday it is a different theme. This day they were a team of tigers you could hear them all the way out the door. Roooaaaar!!

Well Duh?!
Again merrily teaching along the other day and in our book a question about a picture came up... the question was... "How can you tell which child is a girl?" The goal behind it being to learn how to pick out specific details such as..she's wearing a skirt, she has ribbons in her hair, the proverbial sugar and spice and everything nice scenario... Well one of my keen little guys piped up "Cause her hair is scribbly!" "What?!" I gasped dramatically looking at the picture a second time,"Surely she can't have scribbly hair!" Truthfully I wasn't quite sure what he meant but upon revisiting the picture true enough the drawing showed a little girl with what could be construed as curly/snarly hair. "Oh," I agreed, " You mean snarly hair? Like, messy?" "Yep!" he beamed confidently "That's how come I could tell it was a girl!" Okay I sceptically observed my own disheveled locks flying around. Note to self next week's focus: better hair do.

"Good Morning"
Ode to scribbly hair! I confess, I am not a morning person (exhibit A to the left). I actually have come to invite the dark Alaskan mornings, they justify my desire to sleep in late, wake up slowly and wander around in the peaceful dim quiet of the morning. Most days I even do my hair in the dark...I really don't like bright lights in the morning, bright sunshine sure, but bright lights...negative. I think it stems from my precious mum's well intended, certainly love filled but to me... incredibly obnoxious wake up calls as a child. There I'd be snoring away in peaceful slumbers, suddenly like a freight train plowing through the wall of my bedroom she'd burst through the door flip on the light and sing out "RACHIE!!! RACHIE BABY IT IS TIMMMMMMMEEEEEE TO GET UP! WAKE UP! IT IS TIME FOR SCHOOL!!! RACHEL BETH, RACHIE, RACHIE BABY!! WAKE UP! GET UP ETC....." Seriously, it made me want to scream, I'm not joking (I love you Mum but my personality could not handle it, I think I was actually kind of scarred.) Talk about waking up on the the wrong side for the bed or light for that matter! As if that wasn't enough she'd leave the light on and trot out the door, forcing me to grumpily crawl out of bed to turn it off. This was how I started my days for the first 10 years of my life until I realized the freedom having my own alarm clock beheld. It was then my quiet morning routine began. Hummm, what was my point in all this? I just got a little carried away, way off topic. My point was? I think I was orginally going to tell you about morning phone conversations in Quin. They always, always begin with whatever the reason is for the call and end with saying "Good Morning" just before one hangs up. I love it. How's that for a story??!! I digress:)

Is it Delivery? No! It's DEBILT'S!
Last night Teacher Of The Year, Tim Debilt, stopped over to let us sample jar his very own pickled herring and a jar of his smoked herring, yummmy I need to learn how to do that! It was sooooo delicious we gobbled up both in record time. We were entirely impressed and surprised with yet another one of Tim's many talents! The list just goes on and on and he's so humble. Anyway tonight we are relieved to know that the wrestling team led by none other than Tim Debilt himself (of course) is busy cooking up a storm in the school cafeteria to have their second fundraiser delivery night. Erin is weathered in here again tonight (winds are gusting up to 60 mph) so we called and ordered in! The boys said they'll be knocking on the door....sometime. We are eagerly awaiting and preparing all the fixings to go with it! What treat! Debilt's Delivery in Quinhagak!

"And a great crowd of people followed him because
they saw the signs
he had performed by healing the sick."
John 6:2

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday, Sunday

"Three feet of ice does not result from one day of cold weather"
Chinese Proverb

Nobody's Going Anywhere
Most of the weekend we were weathered in here. No mail, no movement, no hum of incoming airplanes only...

Gentle Tundra Breezes blowing through my house!
Blasting through my house is more like it, it reminded me of last year when I thought my little trailer might be snuffed off it's unstable stilts and sail away across the flat icy landscape. Confident however that the work they did on my foundation last fall could take on whatever this winter would blow at us, I let the howling lullaby sing me to sleep. Little did I know as I was snugly tucked away under my covers a not so snugly deep freeze was settling into the rest of my once cozy abode. I awoke to my eyelashes frozen shut and my breath crystallizing around my head. Sure enough the house was still standing but somewhere in the frigid of the night the furnace all but gave up, surrendering to a few weak intervals of kicking on and then shutting down like a sputtering engine. The temps in the Kuskokwim Delta plummeted 70 degrees below zero with the windchill, suffice to say I felt it! I quickly grabbed for my trusty cell phone, careful not to let too much of my salvaged body heat escape my blanket, and called Principal Eric. "My house is frozen," I whimpered. "Are you out of stove oil?" he questioned. "I don't know. It sure feels like it," I responded through chattering teeth. "Okay, I'll be over in a minute to check it out," he assured me, "Turn on your oven in the meantime." "Alright," I muttered knowing that would involve me having to exit the only warmth I currently felt.

Alternative Heat Sources
So to our left my immediate back up. Open the oven door, crank it to 500, stand close and warm hands. To our right the prehistoric Preway oil stove which in my household has only ever been used as a lovely table (but don't let it fool you). Principal Eric got it lit on the 5th attempt and within hours it had my house piping hot, NO JOKE! The catch? There's no real way to adjust the temp. Yep, at its lowest setting the Preway had my trailer scorching at an easy 95 degrees. Last night I slept with my bedroom window open! Today our wonderful maintenance man Bob checked my furnace issue and says it is resolved I'll be back in the land of milder temps in no time. What a weekend. My little Preway heater incident reminded me of the Porcupine Mountains, where we used to take our students backpacking. We would rent little rustic cabins to stay in about 1/2 way through our trip, always a welcomed treat after a week of camping. These bare bones structures just happened to come equipped with what those who came before us deemed "the Iron Dragons" based on journal entries they left behind. After lighting those cast iron stoves that heated the little cabins to beyond sauna level, we understood where the term "Iron Dragon" came from. Needless to say everything that was wet when we arrived was dry again before we left.

Thawing Out
So after the Preway warmed the house you can imagine my confusion when I realized that my hot water pipe in the shower was somehow still frozen solid. Deciding not to let it get me down or keep me unclean I proceeded to fill the bathtub with hot water in buckets from the kitchen sink.

Wafer Cookies and Moose Stew

Jerilyn and Steph came over for coffee Saturday and we had the best cookie wafers (thank you Amanda) ever. I felt like I was at a coffee shop:) I cooked up some Moose Stew too and tested it out on Fannie. She gave it the two thumbs up! If you were here I'd have invited you to try some:)

Kuskokwim 300 Results

Congrats to Paul Gebhart who came in first and Mike Williams Jr. of our very own Bethel came in second less than a minute behind Paul! What a race!

"And in the morning, It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and has a gloomy and threatening look. You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." Matthew 16:3

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fun In The Tundra

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music.
~William Stafford

"Hey, Hey, Rangle," one of my speech kiddos, Adin excitedly ordered, "Cose your eyes! Now yook at Me!"
This is the sight that I beheld. Just the surprise I needed during a midweek blah. So entertained was I that it seemed fitting to share Adin's humor with you all. Connie in the background got a good kick out of it too. Just when paperwork, data, laws, data, mandates, data, protocols, data, testing, and data loom over you like a whiteouting Northeaster... An 'Adin' breeze thaws you and gently reminds you why you do what you do in the first place. A breath of 'fresh air' so to speak.

Here's an interesting little tidbit Connie just shared with me. If you are ever lost in the tundra in the winter (this could happen, Karen and I tried to go running last night at 7pm in a windstorm, not my most shining moment) you can figure out which direction is which by digging a hole in the snow down to the ground. Once you see the grasses you observe which way they are laying because they almost always freeze from the northeast. Of course that probably wouldn't help me since I wouldn't know which way to go from there anyway. But for those of you not so directionally challenged as myself, there ya go. Tuck it away for that just in case you're lost in the tundra moment.

Taking full advantage of the new fallen snow today, our intensive kiddos donned the newly waxed skis and had a go. None of them had even been on skis and all of them loved it! What fun:) What a great staff we have willing to have a new adventurous experience.
Kusokokwim 300 Dogsled Race starts Friday night in Bethel. We'll be watching the results from afar. Go Dogs Go!

"Children are a blessing and a gift from the LORD."

Psalm 127:3

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Little By Little

It is only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day-to-day basis.
~Margaret Bonnano

It's halfway through the school year, taking a moment to evaluate how and where things are going. Amazing how much ground is covered in such a seemingly short time. Kids who couldn't read are and kids who were are reading even more. Starting to notice how much taller they are all getting. Time marches on.

Was in Bethel (The Heartbeat of the Alaskan Tundra) so I heard it called the other day, for a special education training on Monday. Very interesting and so great to get together with teachers from other villages that we don't get to see very often. Ends up kind of being like a class reunion. People tend to gravitate to other teachers who started in the 'same class' or year as them.

Meanwhile it had been super cold here. Evidently several people attempted to brave the bitter winds on snow go. They are now running around school with frostbitten faces to varying degrees. Then strangely last night the weather changed and sharply warmed. This morning at the coffee pot Karen said," Maybe the weather was searching for someone." She gathered from my puzzled look I needed more explanation. "It's part of our culture here. We believe when the weather suddenly gets warm that it is searching for someone who is going to pass away." Sadly, a friend of hers in another village did in fact pass away unexpectedly.

Meet Qimugta - Means 'dog' in Yu'pik, is pronounced (kay-muk-tah) and is officially his name.
We will call him 'Tak' pronounced (tuk) for short:)
Here he is, my little boy puppy. He has already doubled in size! He took his first steps before his sisters two days ago, is bigger than both of his sisters and growls. He is strong even though he has no teeth yet. Sherry says he is going to be a great ski joring dog. His eyes and ears are still closed but should be opening sometime this week. I'm in love. But seriously, how could you not be??? Just look at these snugly, fuzzy bundles of joy!

Parent Teacher Conferences

And here in Quin we like to spice things up a bit, you know, present a learning opportunity or two. Not just your run of the mill Parent Teacher Conferences. So Principal Eric hosted a Ski Waxing Clinic, setting up shop directly in front of the main entrance in an attempt to draw in spectators. His first eager volunteer??? None other than your friend and mine.... Mr. Randall! I have to admit the kid was a natural. I'm happy to report every set of our cross country gear got a hot ironed fancy face lift. They are freshly waxed up and ready for snow.

Wassillie Bavilla Memorial Feast at the School

A dear, loved one from the village and an amazing pioneer for helping spearhead the creation of the Coastal Villages Region Fund
along with many other wonderful gifts he facilitated for the people of this community and for Native Alaskans, passed away a year ago today. So in Yu'pik tradition his family held a Memorial Feast in his honor. Representatives, friends, and family as far away as Anchorage and beyond arrived today to offer their support and respect. The only location in village large enough to contain everyone was of course the school, so this afternoon and well into the evening, the parking lot filled up with snow gos, four wheels, and cars while the gym filled up with kids and adults alike laughing, talking and remembering their incredible friend, Wassillie Bavilla.

No Pain No Gain
The Coastal Villages Region Fund brought with them enough fresh crab legs for everyone at the feast to get their fill. Quyana.
Right: Chuck demonstrates cracking open a crab leg...Ouch!

So That's About All For Now:)
Tak is the big boy on the right!

Shout Out To: Martha Bavilla, Jessica Alexie and Family! I didn't know him personally but the beautiful stories I've heard from so many only confirm that his kind selfless spirit lives on in each of you. What a blessing to celebrate with you. And to the Beckerman's who are welcoming Little Annabelle Marie born yesterday into their beautiful family! Congratulations:)

"...You will be sad, but your sadness will become joy." John 16:20

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Now That's The Spirit!

The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places - the school, the church and the skating rink
- but our real life was on the skating rink.
~Roch Carrier (Off the Canadian $5 Bill)

Ice  Skating on McVille Dam
This pic off the internet brings back memories.

Hopping aboard the recently resuscitated Magic School Bus, brand new battery shipped in from Anchorage and all, I was headed home today thinking of the million and one things I would never get accomplished tonight nor was ever meant to. But that didn't stop me from stewing about the mental list I have accrued lately. So my mind was reeling and I hadn't even gotten home yet, when out of the corner of my eye I spied a sight so precious I had to stop the bus and shout out a "You Go Girl!!" There she was taking full advantage of our ice covered tundra roads, little Katelyn had laced up her ice skates and was gliding past where others were only walking. She grinned at me, waved and skated on. I saw a piece of my childhood reignite. Yay! It hasn't disappeared into X-Boxes and Play Stations, some of those kiddos are still carrying the torch out there and going for it. Growing up we skated on any frozen water we could find lakes, ditches, stalk ponds, puddles, you name it. Just about everyone had a hockey stick and pucks laying around their house ready at a moments notice. So seeing Katelyn skating down the road tonight made me a little homesick for times gone by and a little hopeful for times carrying on.

"Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father."
Matthew 18:10

Monday, January 10, 2011

Yesterday I Fell

"I knew I was clumsy." ~Jerry Rice (even!)

Up to the foot of my front steps you recall the ice skating rink is back. Such that, all our gray water draining out from teacher housing floods the ground, we should put a frozen arc in there with little toy animals. Somedays it's more slippery than others. And yesterday morning was one of those days. I was all hopped up on caffeine bopping across the street from coffee with Sherry, the kids and puppies, empty mug in hand. I rounded the corner to my front steps, missed grabbing the rail by a long shot since my feet were already out from underneath me and continuing in the wrong direction while the rest of me was rapidly headed iceward and in a very precarious manner! Waaaaaaaaa-whhhhhhhhhhooooooooo-eeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! There was simply nothing graceful about my performance, this was immediately confirmed by my trusty neighbors Alison and John who had ironically been standing in their kitchen window at the precise moment I came cruising along. "Are you okay???!!!" they cried out the window, they had heaved open in an instant to verify my pulse. "I'm okay." I answered as shocked as them doing a quick inventory on all necessary parts and holding up my empty coffee cup miraculously unharmed. We shared a moment of camaraderie while I crawled up the steps. It seems they each had their own recent luges along the frozen waterway between our houses. Teaching is a physically dangerous job this time of year.

And the day before I fell down
to the foot of the front steps owing my survival to my trusty pupperoo, Animosh who was faithfully at my side ready to come to my rescue at a moments notice (mostly though that's because I always have a hold of his collar when we walk out the front door or he darts off disappearing to the dog lot). Anyway because I had that tight grip, he was easily accessible as an impromptu stabilizer. As I slipped toward the series of slick steps below, I grabbed onto all of his 30 pounds of village born and raised husky mutt to which he bared down digging his claws into the ice. It was a triumphant moment for us. We were a team. I owe him. Even if his saving me was mostly secondary to trying to save himself. The claws digging into the ice may also have been an inevitable law of gravity reaction to which he had no control over from adding my body weight to his. But what can I say I'm a hopeless romantic.

I initially splinted my mallet finger (looked it up on the internet) with a Popsicle stick. The bugger won't straighten out on its own so I devised an almost professional looking treatment. My brother Josh wanted to see a picture of it so I'm taking one, this is for you Joshie. I went to the clinic yesterday and this was the lovely splint wrapping job I returned with.

"...They'll run here and there, back and forth, as if running for their lives even though no one is after them, tripping and falling..." Leviticus 26:36

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm a Mom (Sort of)

Happiness is a warm puppy.
~Charles M. Schulz

Exciting Arrivals: Our Newest Additions to the Quin Pack
We have puppies! That's right yesterday Seeker had a beautiful litter of pups. We've all been anxiously awaiting their arrival. Got the phone call from Sherry that the first one was healthy around 10:00 am. 3 more followed and when it was all over we have 2 males and 2 females. Sherry is our resident obstetrician. So one of those precious babes is mine! Can't wait:) All Ani has been talking about is how excited he is to have a little sister or brother. I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm doing the same.

The Magic School Bus Limps On
Everyday, rather every time we turn the bus off and need to restart it, Principal Eric has to jump it to get it running. It's not an ideal situation (especially for Boss) but it works. Or at least is going to have to until a new battery can be secured, heard the order was placed. The school suburban is reportedly on the brink too. So it seems our Quin Fleet has taken a pretty hard hit lately but we are keepin on keepin on. Since we can't drop the ailing vehicles of at the local mechanic we (by we I mean Principal Eric and our stellar school maintenance men) are forced take matters into their own hands. Don't ask me how they do it maybe call the dealer. Like a non medical trained person forced to perform emergency surgery with instructions from a doctor via satellite phone, like that one House episode.

Time-Where does it go!!!?
It's January already. Steph and I got out last night for a quick ski jor.

Water Worries and Other Day to Day Adventures of Village Living
Word in the steams is that the village water plant is short on water. Evidently somewhere underground, similar to my own kitchen sink conundrum, but on a much larger scale...the pipes froze. I see they have some heavy equipment and are digging up the solid tundra in search of the blockage. Principal Eric says to fill some buckets with water just in case. We girls decided totes were more appropriate. The spare bedroom may well become the water room very soon.

This just in: It is no longer a rumor, confirmation as of this am... "Water is out in the village. Conserve! Conserve! It will quickly be in short supply," warns Principal Eric. So here's my water supply for the next..well who knows how long?
Honda Coats
Been meaning to get a pic of this innovative dual purpose technique for keeping both your four wheel ignition and hands from freezing up round here in our neck o the tundra. Kinda like the sleeping bags they put on the planes here too. Can't you just see us out shopping for our vehicles, "Oh, this would look so cute on my four wheel. I wonder if this will fit my plane?"

The Basketball Career
Well, I played the 2nd game (maybe it was the 3rd or 4th I can't remember how many we had to play last year) of basketball ever in my life this morning in the Native Village of Kwinhagak Tournament. We lost but we played with heart. Secretly I was glad we lost so I wouldn't have to play again as I haven't improved at all since last year, though Kathy is trying to tell us we have to play again later anyway, ugh. I'm still running around out there on the court with no more purpose or direction than a chicken with it's head cut off. In the process I did manage to jam my finger which now looks like a hook and get blisters on both of my feet! Ouch, I'm too old for this stuff, lol.

"But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind." Job 12:7-10

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year Everybody!

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential. ~Ellen Goodman

Nothing Like Family Except Friends
It was so wonderful to see my family and friends back home over break. Though I was incredibly ill (yep it is sadly true I was sick the entire first week) despite my germs and serious warnings to 'stay back' I still managed to receive some hugs from a few assuredly immunity-filled souls. It was a break full of those moments when you wish with all your heart that you could just make time stand still so you could soak up, inhale and relish each emotion, smile, laugh, sound, and face around you. I lay on the couch with a throat so sore I could barely breath and quietly thanked God for this crazy, wonderful, perfectly dysfunctional group of characters I have the awesome privilege to call my family. I knew there was no other place or group of people I could want to be with more, though I won't speak for them. It was the typical, comforting Christmas gathering..way too much food being prepared, everyone milling around stealing bites of whatever before it was served, chatting about weather, school, and life. Gram sat in her chair, surely in wonder as to how in the world she spawned this colorful conglomeration wheeling around before her- (literally, Josh likes to hop aboard and do tricks with her wheelchair, kinda as if he should be one of those wheelchair Harlem Globetrotters. Everyone has to be ready to jump out of his way as he zooms by on the verge of completely flipping over backwards). Anyway, somehow every year, miraculously, as many of us as able, manage to magnetically pull together under the same roof to thank God for Jesus and each other. This snowy year was no exception. It was a blessing to be...home.
In the Midwest and lots of it. Took advantage of it by getting Ma and Pa out cross country skiing. Now for any of you that have been on the Birkie Trail or mingled with a Nordic crowd...well these pics will simple speak for themselves. They also do a great job at giving you a sampling of my upbringing. The moral? One must simply not care what other people think, what is 'cool' and what is not cool never was on the table for and ski on. As you can see Mom is sporting the latest snow go jacket-hint: hardcore (if you can describe a skier as hardcore) silent sport skier types that abound on Ye Old Birkie Trail usually don't particularly appreciate the finer side of the snow machining apparel. She was nearly able to redeem herself with Auntie Jan's skate skis, that was until she actually tried to 'skate' in them. Meanwhile Dad was unashamedly rockin the ole 3 prong binders circa 1973. Mom had dug them out of Gram and Grampa's garage. I tried to pass him off as cool 'vintage' but I knew that wouldn't fly when you combined his camo hunting jacket get up and aviator shades, as he raked the never-been-waxed-fish-scales along the carefully groomed Birkie snow. Both of them very appropriately finished off their less than kosher attire with none other than their denim jeans. I think we single handedly turned whatever ambiance skiing has tried to create in the Hayward area on it's head. There we were...the dream team skiing (if you can call it that) along. Yes, sore thumbs blended in better than we three, as dozens of sleek, svelte, spandexed pros swished past us quizzically. Not sure I've ever laughed so hard or enjoyed not really skiing so much. So if you were one of the lucky spectators to enjoy our little performance that day, well I guess you were just lucky.

Follow the Leader Around the Village a New Year's Tradition
Meanwhile back in Quin I understand the New Year's Celebration was as entertaining as ever. The Qanirtaaq (the village store) hosted an amazing display of fireworks. Immediately followed by several speedy rounds of 'Follow the Leader' along the 15 miles of gravely village roads, honking. Apparently it's a caravan of cars, trucks, four wheels and snow gos, everyone jumps in and buzzes the gut in joyous celebration of the New Year. I believe a few pistolas were fired to ring it in as well.

RIP Squatter Dog
I regret to inform you all I received a saddening phone call about 1/2 way through the break. It seems that our beloved 'squatter dog' aka Benji, aka Rusty, aka Sandy, aka Ani's heat source when I send him out to his dog house during the day, kicked the bucket in Ani's dog house no less. So the mangy mutt is frolicking about in doggy heaven and Ani is gonna need to add a few layers to make up for the absent heat source.

Internet Star Sensations
Did you get to see Jim's Class Internet Sensation??? If you didn't you should look it up on Youtube: Quinhagak Hallelujah Chorus. They made the front page of the Anchorage Daily News, Indian Country out of Hayward!, Alaska Public Radio, Senator Murkowski called in person to talk to Jim!, he got a letter from the Commissioner of Education, Sarah Palin posted it to her facebook and that's just a few of the blessings! As of today there were 435,000 hits. So proud of them.

An Unicorn?
So I was teaching along today about using the word 'an' with nouns that start with vowels. The kids were really getting it, volunteering all kinds of great answers which we immediately would put into a sentence. Shirley called out "UNICORN???" "Great!" I responded and asked for an example sentence. "I want an unicorn." Shirley offered. "An unicorn?" I asked aloud to myself. 'An unicorn does not sound right." "But it fits the rule!" my observant students argued. "It's true," I conceded but determined not to lose the teachable moment I added "But much like many things in life... such as airplane schedules and daily mail, sometimes the rules don't apply quite right. And sadly, that's how it is with our unicorn. A unicorn, that is:)"

The Return
This was the ride back to Quin from Bethel. Home Sweet Home.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17