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 discussion...smile 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.
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:)"
This was the ride back to Quin from Bethel. Home Sweet Home.