"A mind once stretched by a new idea can never regain its original dimensions." ~Oliver Wendall Holmes

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Sunday, September 30, 2007


There are still several people who have said that they havent posted comments on my blog because they dont have a google account. You dont need one...I turned that feature OFF a long time ago...just post as anonymous and be sure to leave your name at the end so that I know who the comment is from.

Also, you dont just have to comment on the contents of the blog (brian). Feel free to say just about anything. I'd love to hear what's happening in all of your lives too...please....I feel sometimes as though I've moved to a third world country...it would be great to hear about the happenings of people who are still members civilization. :)

Beechcraft 1900D

This is the building that houses Era Aviation in Bethel. This is where we checked in for our flight to Anchorage. No metal detectors or security guards here. No scales for weighing the bags. The plane that we were scheduled to leave on was about 45 minutes late.This plane that we flew in was a 19 seater plane without a cockpit door, the Beechcraft 1900D. We could see everything that the pilot saw because Chandra and I were in the first two seats. It was pretty amazing to look out the front window and see the runway as we were landing. We would be headed straight for the runway, then all of a sudden a cross wind would blow and the plane would veer off to the right...it was pretty trippy. It made me queasy to watch, but I just couldnt tear my eyes away from that front window. It was also neat to get to watch the pilot flip all the knobs and levers to get the plane going. I could see all the gages clearly...altitude, pressure, everything. It felt like going back in time...this must have been what it was like to fly back in the 60's and 70's? Our flight attendant was also the copilot. The pilot and copilot were both female. It's the first time I've ever been on a plane the started and killed the engine while the passengers are on the plane.
The plane was full and they could not carry our luggage. They had to put in on an Alaska Air flight to Anchorage later that evening, which meant that we had to go back to the airport at 11 o'clock at night to pick up the luggage.
The flight home only had five people on it and all of our luggage made it on the plane, thankfully. I brought home a big rubbermaid bin full of supplies and a bookshelf for Avery. Those were my two checked bags and then I had my same carry on that I had taken with me. So, that all worked out well. The weekend was too short and we're already looking forward to the long Thanksgiving weekend. We already have our flight and hotel booked for that. We will have more time and are planning to do more "touristy" type stuff, depending on what's open, but hopefully there will be snow on the ground so I can take Avery sledding. I am also hoping to get out to see a glacier, but we'll see. It was a nice break to get out of Bethel for the weekend and go out and pretend we have a social life. Now...back to the regular grind.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cabelas girl, Bomber man, and BooBoo boots

We got all of our winter gear from Cabelas in today. I got Avery a coat, snow bibs, a facemask, and a fox lined bomber hat. For me ...a knit hat, fox fur lined gloves, snow bibs and boots. I think we are now officially ready for winter. I just heard the word snow in the weather forcast for the first time this morning. We have had 5 record setting days for rain this month. It has basically rained nonstop for the entire month of September. The average temp for this week was 53 degrees. This morning on my way to school it was 44, but it's really strange because it doesnt really seem cold, just chilly. My friend got a Cabelas card, so we ordered using her card so that she can earn Cabelas points. Here are the three of us with all of our new winter gear on. Much sweating was done to bring you this picture!!!
I already have a coat that I think is heavy enough to get me through the winter and we already had picked up some boots for Avery at a garage sale this summer when we first got here. My boots are so bulky that I feel like I have on moon shoes...they are rated to -60 degrees. That should keep my toes warm. There is a little pocket in the boot liner that you can stick in a hot pack!
Couldn't forget Taboo...I ordered him some dog boots so that he can keep the snow and ice out of his fragile little paws when he has to go outside. He was so funny when I put them on...he pranced around the house lifting his feet way up in the air with every step...he didnt know what was going on. It is already cold here at night...I hooked Taboo up with a heating pad between the layers of the blanket that he sleeps on to keep him warm. I'm hoping his arthritis won't act up too much if I try to make sure and keep him warm. Although, I'm betting he'll learn to be a fast peeer.


just in case you dont know...the packers are 3-0. hah! Two out of the last three games have actually been televised here, so I get to see them...the downfall? The 1 o'clock game...comes on at 9am here. It really sucks to have to get up at 9am, but I guess it's worth it if I get to see the packers win. It's definitely different cooking breakfast while watching the game. Last night was Monday night...so after dinner i was like...oh, let's watch some Monday night football...NOT! Because of the time difference...the monday night game comes on at 4:30...it was already over. More like Monday afternoon football.

Well, I'm on my way to anchorage for the first time this weekend. This will be the first trip that i'm taking into anchorage. I'm going with another new teacher and we are going to spend the weekend just having some fun and doing some shopping. We got really cheap tickets, only $169 round trip...usually it's about $300 round trip. so we're cutting out of school early on Friday to go live it up in anchorage for the weekend and pretend we have a social life. I've also already make arrangements to fly to anchorage for thanksgiving weekend. I'm taking avery for his birthday...by then there will be plenty of snow, so we are thinking of doing some sledding and maybe go skiing. we'll see.

I love and miss everybody...leave comments so i can hear from you...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Too funny

This is a post from my friend's blog. It was too funny...I just had to share it with you.

You Weren't There, So We Just Left It In Your Truck

Last week I ordered a couple things, and some of them were due in the mail Friday. Friday came and went- nothing. On Saturday I went to the UPS store and was told that they had nothing for me. I went over to Alisha's and checked my stuff's progress on the online tracking thing. According to that, not only had my stuff reached Bethel, but it had been delivered. I called the UPS store, where the lady said that maybe all my stuff was still in the delivery van, and that she'd call the driver and have him call me. He called me about 5 minutes later. The conversation went something like this:
Him: You live in city sub, right?
Me: Yeah
Him: Yeah, you weren't there, so we just left it in your truck.
Me: I don't have a truck.
Him: Oh, maybe I don't remember then. Let me call you back.
I never heard from him again. Was I ticked. It turns out he had left my stuff in my landlord's truck, but who does that? Seriously.
Well, after I made that call I decided to go back home, so Alisha drove me back. But on the way we saw these little kids playing in a drainage ditch. They were sitting on a piece of Styrofoam, oaring it around, as if it were a boat. It was pretty comical.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tundra of Change

Fall officially settled into the tundra sometime ago. Mornings are quite chilly and there has been fog on several occasions (fog that would have delayed or cancelled school back in Ohio for sure, but not here). I wore my coat for the first time this week to school in the morning. It is still warm enough during the day for a person to easily forget their coat at school when coming home. My heat at home has started to kick on now on a daily bases. I am told there will be snow within a month...definitely before the end of October.

One thing that I miss being here in Bethel, are trees. There are no trees here and, therefore, no leaves to change amazing shades of red and gold before falling to the ground. You can imagine my awe, then, when I was driving out to the airport last week and noticed that the tundra had changed.If the river is the heart of this place then the tundra is the lifeblood. The people live off of it in so many ways. From the tundra, the people collect berries, herbs for tea and healing, eggs, and even bigger animals such as moose and caribou. I have been berry picking on several occasions. One time, we collected about a gallon of blue berries and had a huge blueberry pancake breakfast for ourselves and the neighbors.
If you look at the previous blog post entitled Our House...you will see pics of the tundra when it was green this summer. Now it has exploded with brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. I miss seeing the leaves change and fall, but I will not miss raking them up! Go tundra!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Moose for dinner

My neighbor in the classroom next door at school is a great person. She teaches junior high science too; four sections of 7th grade life science, one section of 8th grade physical science and one section of Yu'pik multimedia. Her and I have shared many lessons and ideas about teaching already. She is native Yu'pik and speaks Yu'pik fluently. She is a great teacher and I know this because I can tell the difference between the 8th graders who had her in 7th grade and the ones that didnt. She is such a great person to talk too and fun to joke around with too. I feel very fortunate that she is my school neighbor. We have a door that adjoins our rooms and we talk daily.Last week, she told me that she was going to clean out her freezer and wanted to know if I wanted some Salmon and Moose meat. "Absolutely!" I said. She stopped by Thursday night and brought over a ton of stuff. She brought me 3 huge salmon, two packs of mooseburger, one pack of moose steak, two pack of clams, and two packs of salmon strips. Awesome! I get to have local foods. Tonight I used some of the moose hamburger to make a spaghetti bake. I put noodles, moose meat, diced spinach, mushrooms, and spaghetti sauce all together and baked it. It was very good. Moose hamburger tastes much like regular hamburger except its much less greasy/fatty and a bit more chewy. It's just like venison...I think.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chef Avery

Since moving to Bethel, Avery has started cooking dinner one night per week. Sometimes I give him a recipe and just walk him through it. Other times, he chooses a recipe from a cook book. I thought this would help him to gain some cooking skills, teach him to appreciate how much food costs, help teach him about measurement, and help him to work on being patient....among other lessons.Thursday night is Avery's dinner night. He picks the recipe, shops for the ingredients, and does all the prep/cook work. I am just there to guide him and answer questions, but I do not do any of the work.

This week he made Potato Soup-Florentine Style. It was scrumptious. Last week he made Baby Bam Burgers. Baby Bam is a special spice that he made from scratch using a mixture of other spices.

Once he learned how to handle a knife, it was all good! He's a great cook and does any awesome job. Everything he's made has been wonderful.



The amount for this years PFD (Permanent Dividend Fund) check come out yesterday. Alaska residents will receive their checks sometime in October. I will not be receiving a check until 2009 because you have to be a resident for a FULL calendar year before you will receive a check. This years check is a pretty good amount. Record low was around $300 back in the 80's and record high was $1900some in 2000. Apparently Alaska Air runs some really great specials in October so that people will spend their money on airfare. Maybe I'll buy use tickets to Hawaii or something. Hawaii is the place to vacation when you live in Alaska because it is relatively close. Around the lunch table the other day, the guys were telling me that tickets from Anchorage to Hawaii are sometime cheaper than the flight from Bethel to Anchorage.

Also announced yesterday...crude oil has set a new record again...$82 a barrel for October.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

You must be new : )

What do Lysol and Listerine have in common? They both start with "L", right, but not what I'm looking for. Actually, they both contain a fair amount of alcohol and can apparently "do the trick" if you're really in need of a buzz.

On our third or fourth day in Bethel, I was at the store looking for lysol and I couldn't find it anywhere. On my way through the check out line, however, I noticed that all the Lysol was stacked on a shelf behind the counter being guarded by the cashier. I asked the cashier, "Why is the Lysol behind the counter with the Listerine?" He looked up at me with an amused smile and said, "You're new here, aren't you?" With a chuckle I replied that, yes, I had only been in town a couple of days. He proceeded then to explain to me that these items were high theft items. I was surprised. "Why would Lysol and Listerine be high theft items?" I ask. (I have a picture in my head now of people stealing Lysol and running home and secretly disinfecting their houses.) The cashier explained to me that these items have alcohol in them and people steal them to drink them when they run out of booze. They call it booze here alot. Cooking wine is also kept behind the counter, but it is in pretty limited supply.

Bethel is a "damp" community. This means that it is illegal to buy or sell alcohol, but legal to drink it and possess it. All of the surrounding villages are completely dry. There is an alarmingly high rate of alcoholism here, even with the laws. For me it means that if I want to buy alcohol, I have to order it from Anchorage or somewhere and have it shipped or I can bring it home with me if I happen to be somewhere to buy it. There are also regulations on how much you can bring in, but I'm not sure of those details yet. I have signed up for a wine club so that I can at least keep a couple of bottles of wine on hand. I brought a bottle of Absolute with me on the barge, but it is almost gone now.

This also means that if you are feeling especially nice or needing to do a good deed for the day/week/month, you can send me a bottle of any kind of alcoholic beverage and it would be much appreciated. Just make sure you send it UPS...it is illegal to send alcohol through the United States Postal Service. Who knew? I would never have known that if I didnt come here...the things I've learned...character building life lessons here folks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

I stopped at the main grocery store, The AC, after school today to pick up some supplies for a lab that I want to do in my 8th grade science class on Thurday and Friday. It was complete chaos in the grocery store. First thing I noticed was that The AC must be the after school hang out for half the junior high kids in town. They were everywhere. All hanging out drinking slushies from the little store inside The AC. The store is a complete mess. They are remodelling and rearranging the entire store. I can't find ducttape. Nobody knows where it is. Then I can't find matches, the guy I talk to says he knew where they were a few days ago...try by the bbq stuff. There are kids everywhere. A little boy about 3 or 4 is on the ground rolling through the isle...no adult in sight. I go upstairs because that's where they tell me they've moved the markers to...half the stairs are blocked off with brand new, bright orange street cones. The stairs are being recarpeted. On the way through the store, I see so many items on sale, but I dont have my wallet, only the pcard(the school credit card). That's when you have to buy things...when they are on sale, otherwise you buy some ridiculously outrageous price. The have these carts all over the store with items with 50% off stickers. Usually 50%off makes it about normal "back home" price. There are people everywhere, many of them visiting rather than shopping. This is the place to hang out at 5 oclock on a tues evening. Who knew?

I finally make it to the checkout line. There are four lanes open..all are packed with people. They are equally long, no one line looks more promising then the others. I get in the first line, the one I'm closest to. Now I start an interesting balance...keep myself and my cart out of the aisle so the crazy people dont run me over, but dont push my cart too far forward and run into the guy in front of me. There are two construction workers in front of me(unfortunately neither are very good looking) and in front of them are two women, one with a baby and a small child. They are from a village. All of their groceries are being packed in boxes and sealed so they can be taken back to the village either by boat or plane. They will use snowmobiles in winter. These women are obviously using food stamp cards. First they pay for some stuff with the card, then more with a check, then more with cash. One of the women run to get a different item, when she leaves the cashier just looks at her with this, "what the heck is she doing" look. The two men in front of me have moved to other lines now. The woman with the kids purchases some chips and dip, two pops, candy bar, gogurt and a whole case of carnation condensed milk. I am looking at the milk wondering if she feeds this to her baby. He is fat with huge round cheeks. She buys half of her items, but cant afford the rest. The other woman comes around to pay for the additional items.

Finally, it's my turn. The cashier apologizes for the wait. As I stand there waiting for her to ring up my stuff, i see a kid about 5 years old swinging like a monkey from the metal scanner thing by the entry doors. you know...the thing that picks up any stolen items and then flashes and makes noise. He is swinging on it so hard that it is almost swaying to the ground. The mother yells at him to stop. He smiles real big like he has just done the most amazing thing and follows his mother into the store. There are more of the junior high students standing by the ATM machine. They look like they are vandalizing it...noone seems to notice. I finally get out of there. I drop my bags in the truck and walk next door to the UPS store. They have box for me. It's wine from the wine club i signed up with...ah...relief.

I've had three glasses by now!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Before and After

These are pics of my classroom from what it looked like when I first got it and what it looks like now. They will be remodeling my wing this summer, so if I stay next year, I will be in a completely remodeled classroom. At least it gives me incentive to stay next year. My room is really musty smelling, so I burn a candle every now and then. Whenever I burn a candle, the kids notice right away...it seems like their sense of smell is better than the kids back home. I have lots of storage space and two sinks, but one of them doesn't work. There is some lab space in the back of the room but I don't have any stools. The classroom is okay as far size goes, but I have 28 desks in the room, so that pretty much consumes all of the space and makes it seem very small. My biggest class is 27 students. 27!!!! That's so huge. The kids here are much more respectful than the kids back home and I've only heard about 3 cuss words in almost a month of school. They dont even cuss when they're in the halls. I really like my students. My classroom is pretty good. My coworkers are really great. Everyone is so nice, helpful, and just plain happy. The only real complain that I have is about the technology. The whole computer situation is extremely dissapointing. Realatively no tech support either. Stacie, I MISS YOU! You want to come work in Bethel?



Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fish Camp

On Labor Day weekend, we were invited out to fish camp by my principal and her husband. They were going for the whole weekend to camp...we only stayed for the day. Their fish camp is about 25 minutes up river from Bethel. So what is fish camp? Basically, it is a place you go to clean and prepare your fish because you dont want all that mess at home. Only native people are allowed a plot of land to use as fish camp. The fish camp we went to belongs to a native friend of theirs, and they let our friends use it too. Our friends mostly use it for camping and a getaway. Some of the land used for fish camps is owned by the people and some of it is leased from the Native Coorporation. The Bethel Native Coorporation is the name of the agency that holds land near Bethel.
This is the boat parked at the harbor waiting to leave Bethel. I was happy that their boat was covered because it was pretty chilly out...in the high 50's...and it was sprinkling too. Most of the other boats we saw out on the river that day were not covered. When they first called to invite us out, I asked, "What should we wear?" He said, "Oh, you know, just your basic polar fleece, it is kind of cold today." I guess I'm going to have to buy some polar fleece!

Here is Avery and my principals two boys. The three of them get along extremely well. They had a good time at fish camp. This is Avery's second time going out with them. I had to skip the first trip because I was just getting over being sick and did not want to risk getting sick again.

If you look closely you can see that this sign is the BNC (Bethel Native Corporation) Fishcamp Permit sign. You can click on the picture to see it enlarged. There were several of these signs stapled to trees near the fish camp.

This is a view of the Kuskokwim tributary that their fish camp is on. You can see another fish camp set of on the bank of the river across the way. The fish camp we were on would be down the beach about 200 meters or so behind me.

In this picture you can see the amount of erosion that takes place on the banks of the river. The boys are playing on the bank for scale.

I am walking along the beach back to the fish camp. If you took a left when you got up to the boat and walked inland about 25 meters, you would find their fish camp. You can see that there are actually trees in this area as opposed to plain tundra.

This is the actual fish camp. We sat around the fire all day and just hung out. This was wehn we first got there so we hadnt set up chairs yet. It was wonderful to sit around a fire and drink a couple beers. They were the first beers I had had since leaving the lower 48. All my clothes smelled like fire when I got home...oh, good stuff. They are not allowed to build permanent structures at fish camp. The space under the tarp has a large wood table were they would cut, clean, and prepare their fish; mostly salmon.
This was an open space that the boys took me to. They called it Seven Hump Lump. I dont know why.

Yes, Avery in a tree. Shocking, I know!

Later in the day, when it warmed up a bit and had stopped raining. The boys decided to play wild indian tribe. They painted their chests and faces with mud. They used sticks shaped like swords and rifles and ran around screaming IIEEE YIIIEE YIIEE, like wild indians. It reminded us of something from Lord of the Flies. It was very fun! I even got my throat slit by one of those renegades!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dirty laundry

These are Avery's socks. He wore them outside playing in the mud. He did have on mud boats and still managed to get his socks this dirty. He apparently doesnt realize that the boots only go up to his knees and if he steps in mud deeper than that, he will get mud in his boots. You can see the white at the top where they were folded under and didnt get dirty in that spot. This is how dirty everything is here. All of his socks look like this now. Nobody seems to mind, that's just the way it is. Even dirty, I think Avery is one of the best dressed kids at school. When I was packing to come here, I sorted through all of our clothes and got rid of things that were stained or ragged. Now, I wish I would have brought that stuff and left the nice clothes back home. Avery got invited by one of his school friends to a sleep over birthday party this weekend. He seems pretty excited about it. I'm happy to see him making friends and fitting in. They are measuring caribou antlers for part of a math project. In social studies, they are studying frontiersmen and are going to load a backpack with supplies and see which of them can carry it on their backs. Life is good! What a different world we live in!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

On the trampolene...

Did I spell trampolene right? Well...anyway...this is Avery and his friend jumping on a trampolene. This was the second Sunday that we were here back in July. Notice that the boys have on long sleeves and pants in mid-July. You can also see the stretch of tundra in between our friends house and the main part of town. That is the city in the background. I hope the video works...we'll see. I have a new digital camera on the way that I will be able to take video clips with. I'm hoping to post video clips more often.

Leave your comments and let me know you are reading this blog. I miss everyone...take care...call, email, leave blog comments...let me know you're all still out there!

Avery says, "I like BooBoo fudge and monkeybutts, don't you?"

Friday, September 07, 2007

What I miss

paved roads
listening to the radio
being able to "pick up a six pack"
unlimited water
the moon
being able to guess what time it is by looking at the sun
selection at stores
nice clothes/shoes
shorts, tank tops, and sandels
driving out of town
being in the same time zone as most businesses
mcdonalds and other similiar restaurants
being able to go to the store to pick up whatever you need
mail delivered straight to the house
trash pick up at the house
going out on saturday night
things working the way they're supposed to, when they're supposed to

What I dont miss
uptight people
superficial people
unfriendly people
mean people
always feeling like i'm in a rush
people who only care about themselves or their "stuff"
two faced people
being judged by your appearance
designer brands
not feeling like I have the time to relax
disrespectful students
not knowing the names of all my neighbors
sweating on a hot day
living in someone elses house
corn fields, bean fields, or any other similiar crop field
unfounded and unneccesary laws and regulations
tornado drills

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Whatever's Available

Basically people just use what's available in town. Including paint colors. Some of these colors might also have been on sale. It's pretty common to see houses of all colors throughout Bethel.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Paved Roads?

That's right. We have a brand new paved road in Bethel. This is Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway. It runs about three miles from the airport to the main part of town. It even has a bike lane on the right side. Alot of people walk in the bike lane. It took them the ENTIRE summer to repave this road.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Grand Canyon Mule Riders!

On our way to Las Vegas this summer, we stopped at the Grand Canyon. I have always wanted to see it. It was grand...that's for sure.

Here's Avery, Taboo, and I at the top!

I have always wanted to ride a mule down the canyon, but when I visited the website before leaving Ohio it said that you have to make your reservations about a year in advance. The day we got to the Canyon, I called the mule riding place on a whim and asked if they had any slots available for the next days ride. They did! Doesn't Avery make a good lookin' cowboy?

Here is Avery getting a lesson on how to whip his mule right. His mules name was Cricket.

In the pic above you should be able to see the silhouette of an ancient indian cheif who watched over the Canyon waiting for his daughter to return.

This was the cabin we stayed in at the bottom of the Canyon. The resort is called Phantom ranch and they told us that only 1% of the people that visit the Canyon actually get to the bottom. The price of the mule ride included this cabin, plus a lunch on the ride down, steak dinner that night, and breakfast before leaving in the morning. They also had several programs put on by the park rangers. One about bats and the other about scorpions. They took the kids around with black lights to hunt scorpions. It was very cool!

This is the view from the bottom of the Canyon. My mules name was Lilly. Riding down was much harder than riding up. We were there during the summer solstice and it was so hot. Hotter inside the canyon, than up top. It got to almost 110 degrees inside the Canyon.

This is the bridge that the mules cross to get over to Phantom Ranch. This is the only place in the US where the mail is still delivered by mule only. All the supplies to build this bridge were carried down by mules. They are amazing creatures.

Here we are crossing the bridge on our way back to the top the next morning. That is Avery in front of me and our guide in front of him. Her name was Penny and she was a great guide with passion for mules. She's from Ohio, too, and had spent some time riding in Denali Park in Alaska. We had lots to talk about.

This is our group coming up one of the last switchbacks. We had a great time! What an experience. I would highly reccommend it to anyone who likes to ride. It was a great way to see the Canyon, because the mule was the one watching the trail so you got to enjoy the view.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Beautiful Bethel

There are many things about Bethel that are very beautiful. This picture is a good example. This is a picture of fireweed along the river. You can get a glimpe of how beautiful the river is and how big! When we first arrived, the fireweed was in full bloom, like in this pic. Nowadays, the blooms are gone and are replaced with white feathery seeds that are carried by the wind. These last few days feel like fall. The air is cool and crisp. It smells clean and fresh. Inhaling it is invigorating. I took my students outside for a short five minute break during last weeks classes and had them take deep breaths. "In through your nose and out through your mouth." I did it with them...as I exhaled, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. This is a good place to be. I'm glad I made this journey, I'm glad Bethel chose me!