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

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Voted!

Did you? Alaska's primary elections were Tuesday. I voted on the issues only since I really didnt know anything about the people who were running for counsel, house or senate.I got a sticker that said "I Voted Today!" in English and a sticker that said "Cucuklillruunga!", which means I Voted in Yup'ik. I have no idea how to pronounce that, so give it your best shot and you'll probably be right. Yup'ik words are spelled very phonetically (the way they sound).

Friday, August 29, 2008

Cotton pickin' good time

These are Alaska Cotton wildflowers that grow all over our neighborhood. They're really neat looking, esp when they're in a big bunch like this.For more information about the Alaska Cotton wildflower, click here.

Also, remember these? I wasnt sure what they were called. Well, I found out...it's Squirrel Tail Grass. So, hey Kas, you were pretty close with animal tails. I think you were on to something. I miss you! Call me!

Also, I went out and picked a ton of berries today. I got two zip lock baggies full, washed em' up, and put them in the freezer for later this winter. I'm so glad I went out pickin' because the berries are lookin' kinda sparse. Thanks Kale, for the berry pickin' motivation and for the great conversation.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Frequently Asked Question

The question I got asked most while in the lower 48 for the summer, was "What's the price of gas up there?" or some variation of that question. Here's your answer...Think of me when you're at the pump....I put in $75 last week and it didnt even read half a tank. Sad story :(

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fence Art

In what year do you suppose this fence was erected? Interesting, eh? Oh, come on...What do you think?This fence is across the street from our house. That's all I've got to say...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Not designer dogs

Chandra and I were at the store the other day and saw an ad for a Cockapoo (cross between and cockerspaniel and a poodle). We then proceeded to joke about creating a designer breed called a RockaBoo (cross between a Rocky and a Taboo).
When we walked out of the store, we got the biggest laugh when we saw this dog sitting in a pickup truck in the parking lot. I thought it looked like a little bear cub sitting there and Chandra was convinced it looked like a man in a dog suit. So, we named it a Humadog.Then as we turned onto our road we saw this strange looking animal, which we dubbed the Foxdog or Kfox. Isnt it weird looking? It reminds me of the evil wolf thing from the Never Ending Story.

These are just two of the strange looking dogs around town. There are many more that I havent had an opportunity to snap a picture of.

Things are good here. We have been having beautiful weather. Not like the 40 days of rain of last year. It has been sunny and hovering around 70 each day. The dust and the gnats are terrible though. I was able to get out a pick some more berries yesterday. We had a fairly large housewarming/welcome party for the new teachers here in town. There are quite a few of them this year. I cooked up a ton of salmon in various ways...we had salmon salad, salmon cakes, garlic lime salmon, fish soup, and salmon native style. We all had a great time and full bellies.

I am really looking forward to this school year. The first few days have been great and already I am enjoying my new students. I have a new classroom, new supplies, and a great group of students. Avery already seems to be enjoying the junior high atmosphere.

We still have around 16 hours of sunlight left. It is disappearing swiftly though. We're losing 5minutes and 33seconds each day.

That's all for now! Good night!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Around the house...this one's for you Kevin!

When I was in Ohio this summer, my friend Kevin was disappointed that I hadnt taken more pics of our old house. So, I went walking around the house today and took these shots. The house is a three bedroom out on the edge of town in a subdivision called Tundra Ridge. Just like most of the houses in Bethel, the yard is not manicured. It just grows wild. Basically, whatever grows grows. I'll take more pics of the inside of the house when we get completely settled. We're pretty happy with the house. It is coming together very nicely. I spent the evening tonight hanging shelves, hooks, coat racks, and pictures on the walls.
Right outside in our driveway, we have a bunch of these plants that I think are very neat looking. They are much more colorful than the picture displays. Anyone know what they are?And, of course, our massive open tundra for a backyard is full of berries. All you have to do is stand on the edge of the property and you can see a ton of berries. I'm looking forward to doing some more berry picking this weekend.
After the first frost, I'm hoping to also get some cranberries. There are lots of them out there in the tundra, but I've heard that they are better (sweeter?) after the frost. For now, the blueberries need a pickin' anyhow.
Here are some neighborhood kids hangin' around at the little playground right across the street from our house.
And a better close up view of the house. We've got an awesome wrap around deck that we can't enjoy because the bugs are soooooooo bad. Have I mentioned that I literally feel like I'm being eaten alive? Yes? Well, that's cause I do. For some reason all of the gnats are attracted to me. Avery and Chandra are fairly bite free. I am so used to being bitten that I've started feeling as though I'm being bitten even when I'm not. Hopefully they'll go away soon. We didnt have bugs like this last year. We've been having some really nice weather lately. Sunny and almost 70 today. I wanted to open the windows, but the gnats are small enough that they can get through. A friend told me that if you spray the screens with cooking spray that they cant get in. So, today when I couldnt keep the windows closed any longer, I tried it. and guess what? I totally worked. When I closed the window tonight, I noticed that the screen is covered with little dead gnat bodies. Gross, but way better than being eaten alive.
In other news...

Today was the first real day of school (yesterday was for the JH only). For some reason we keep forgetting to take a first day of school picture. Maybe I can get one tomorrow. My classes are great so far. Avery seems to be really doing well and enjoying the whole JH atmosphere. I really think that we're going to have a great year.

Sunlight update...the sun is still rising around 6:30am and not quite setting until around 11:30pm. so the days are still long and it's still hard to get to bed at night. Life is good!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Road Closed!

As many of you may remember from previous postings, most of the roads in Bethel are dirt/gravel roads. One road in particular is the source of a bit of controversy lately. Apparently this road that has been running through the middle of private property since it was created some number of years ago. The owner of the property has (for some reason) decided that he is no longer interested in allowing people to drive on his property, so he has taken matters into his own hands...The house above reminds me of the wizard of oz. It just looks like the house fell into the middle of the road from out of the sky. Farther down the road, he has barricaded the road with a succession of obstacles. Because we live out on the edge of town now, having that road open would be a convenient cut across to the other side of town. Imagine the main road to be a big loop...what happens if you erase the top of the loop? You get a big "U". So, basically the main road in town is now a big "U", so if you want to get from one side of town to the other you are forced to drive out of your way. The house in the background is the owners residence and it makes me wonder if having the road blocked off isnt as inconvenient to him as it is to the rest of the residents of Bethel, Alaska.
Sounds strange, eh? Actually, we have another road in town that is paved for awhile and then not and then paved again. I always wondered why they wouldnt just pave the whole thing. Come to find out that the unpaved portion runs through private property. While the owner of that property hasnt thrown any hissy fits and put up a blockage, the state wont pay to pave that portion of the road because it doesnt belong to them. Only in Alaska...

In other news...tomorrow is the first day of school! Already! I'm excited and looking forward to a really great year. My classroom was remodeled this summer and is nice and fresh. I also ordered a bunch of new supplies for this year so that I can do some labs with my Biology students. I even got some little fetal pigs for dissection in the spring! Yay!

The gnats (noseum's?) here are unbelievable. I have so many bites on my arms that I look like I have chicken pocks or something. They itch like crazy. I feel like I'm being eaten alive.

We've pretty much settled into our new house and like it very much. It's nice to be in an actual house (not a duplex) with all the space and amenities that come with it. Avery has a real nice set up going in his room with a bed and couch and a little flat screen tv to play video games and watch cable with his buddies. I will take some pics and get them up when I get a chance (Kevin).

I havent been reading lately, so no reading updates. I did manage to watch several movies the other night, but nothing spectacular.

Hmmmm...what else? I think I better get some sleep before the first day of school...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our Backyard

I went out to play in our amazingly massive backyard today :) I took the dogs out to pick some berries. I only had to go about 5 feet into the tundra to find a whole massive load of berries. I cleaned them up and put them in the freezer for winter. I was just reading an article in a cooking magazine the other day about how blueberries are "superberries". Nothin' but tundra for hundreds of miles! I picked a half bucket of berries in only about a half hour. That's the best berry pickin' I've had since movin' here. What an amazing view! Taboo spent all of about 5 minutes in the tundra. For some reason, he just wasnt into being out there, although Rocky loved it.
Once we get some snow, we'll be able to go right out our backyard to go snowmachinin'. I can't wait!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Garage sale heaven

Yep, that's where I live...Bethel is garage sale heaven. I helped a friend of mine who (I'm sad to say) is moving to the lower 48 with her garage sale today. Her garage sale was relatively small. She had only one large table set up outside and her small living room was full of furniture for sale. Needless to say, she didnt have too much stuff to sell. She started selling at about 9am and was completely done by 2pm. And when I say done...I mean DONE. Everything was gone with the exception of one small box of clothes and another small box of odds and ends.

What's the point, you ask? How does this make Bethel garage sale heaven?


Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today is the blogs first birthday. I can't believe it's been a year since I started blogging my Alaskan/life adventure. Here we are 238 blog posts later. I've had almost 2000 visits to the blog since February, so I estimate I've probably had somewhere near 4000 visits to the blog since it's conception. The blog has been there for me in my times of need, helping me to keep my sanity during the cold, dark, lonely Alaskan winter. The blog has helped link me to friends back home and help make new ones. The blog has witnessed the good times and the bad. The blog has been the source of many good laughs. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Blueberry pickers

Saturday we all decided to go berry picking. We rode our bikes over to a little spot where I had picked berries last summer when I first got here. The tundra was pretty dry and there werent as many berries as usual, but we still got quite a few berries between the 5 of us. Sunday morning before church I made blueberry muffins for everyone and then after church several of us got together for a big breakfast and I made blueberry pancakes. It all turned out pretty spectacular. I even have some leftover berries to freeze for winter. Our new house is right on the edge of town and the tundra is right in our backyard. We stood on the edge of the backyard and within only a few feet there were tons of berries. So, I'm looking forward to picking some more berries to freeze for the winter.

We cleaned the carpets at the new house last night and are planning to move in tonight. The phone is connected and the number is the same as it was last year, so everybody needs to give me a call or I will make sure to try to call everybody sometime this week/weekend.

I'm sitting in the 2nd day of inservice right now. I cant believe the summer is over already. I miss everybody back home, but I'm really having a great time getting reacquainted with my Bethel friends.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Alaska the Beautiful!

We spent the day Friday in and around Anchorage. We rented a car and drove down to the Portage glacier area. Words can't really describe how beautiful the mountain scenery is, so I'll just let you enjoy the pictures. Here's a great shot of the sun rising over the mountains and Turnagain arm of the Cook inlet south of Anchorage.Byron Glacier reflected in the Portage Lake.
Avery and his friend, Smokey, hangin' out.
Byron Glacier a little closer up and the melt runoff stream that comes from it.
We hiked the trail up to the glacier.
There was an avalanche earlier this year, so there was quite a bit of snow pack under the glacier.
Where in the world can you throw snowballs in August? Alaska! Can you spot the snowball?
Avery decided to try to climb the side of this mountain.
He made it to just above the tree line, then we had to go.
And here's a strange sight...88.5 octane? Never heard of such a thing...until now! FYI...gas in Bethel is $5.97 a gallon.
First day of work is tomorrow! Yay me! We got a ton of cleaning done at the new house today and planning to clean the carpets tomorrow and move in the next day. The phone should be up and running sometime this week. The number is the same as it was last year. Hopefully I'll be able to call you all sometime this weekend. Miss everybody, but it's also good to be back. I've been having a good time catching up with all my Bethel friends.

Sun Chasers

Our flight out of Chicago was scheduled for 7:20, but we didnt actually leave until 8 or so. By the time we got into the air, the sun was setting. It made for a very nice view. Here is the sunset over chicago.
But the really interesting thing is that because we were traveling west and north, we basically chased the sun and for the entire flight we got to watch the sun set. Here is the sunset after we got above the clouds.

And 6 hours later, here is the sun (still setting) over Alaska. Pretty neat, eh?
I figured out that if I load the pictures one at a time, it works, but it's a pretty long process, so I'll try to post again when I have better internet.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Back in Bethel

We got into Bethel Friday night. It was an adventure just getting out of the airport with our 6 checked baggage, our 4 carry ons, and the huge dog kennel with Taboo inside, but we made it. I've been trying to load some pictures from our day in Anchorage (we went to visit a glacier) and from Bethel (berry picking), but the internet I'm on is wireless and it is super slow. As soon as I get some better internet, I'll post more. For now, I just wanted to let you all know that we're here and we're safe. Above is a pic of Bethel at sunrise. I dont know why, but I was up at 6:15 yesterday morning (and 7:30 this morning...YUCK!).

We will be moving into our new house on Friday. The phone number will be the same and should be working by then. So, you will all hear from me probably sometime this weekend. Take care...more soon.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bye for now!

Just a quick note to let you all know that Avery and I are on our way to Chicago tomorrow to catch our plane back to Alaska. I am disconnecting and packing up the laptop now, so I wont be blogging again for a few days. This summer sure did go fast!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Crazy Weather Here and There

This is what the sky looked like yesterday on my way up to Fort Wayne at about noon. You can literally see the front moving in with the warm buoyant air on the right over taking the cool dense air on the left. I've never EVER seen a sight like this. The sky looked like it was cracked down the center. Very strange!and over in Bethel, they were setting new records...

Record Report

Statement as of 8:40 am EDT on August 4, 2008

record event report

National Weather Service Bethel AK

430 am akdt Mon Aug 4 2008

... Cool morning for August 3rd...

The morning low temperature for Bethel Alaska for Sunday August

3rd indicated a new record had been set when the Mercury dipped

to 39 degrees at 620 am akdt. This edged out the NWS record low

temperature for the day... 40 degrees first set in 1954 and tied

in 1973.

However..historical records from other government agencies from

the Bethel area have indicated the daily record low temperature

is lower than the NWS records. Those records listed an all-time

record low temperature for August 3rd as 34 degrees set in 1928.

So, Bethel set a record new low temp and here in Van Wert, we had crazy storms all night long. That massive storm system that went right over Chicago came through here too. I love thunderstorms. I went around throwing open all of the windows so that I could watch. Thankfully we have eaves that overhang our house about a foot in width, so unless it's blowing really hard, I can open the windows when it rains. Unlike all these new houses that are being built that are just really flat on the side. I've had several people recently tell me that they have to shut their windows or it will rain in the house. I'll have to keep this in mind when I buy my next house. But I digress...

The storm last night was very much an electrical storm. I miss having storms like this. We dont get thunder and lightening in Bethel, although we get lots of rain. There wasnt much cloud to ground lightening. Most of it was cloud to cloud, but the sky was lit up like fireworks exploding and the thunder sounded like the sky was splitting open. The thunder was actually pretty amazing. It sounded like it was in 3D...the sounds rolled across the sky. Very cool!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

37 Candles

You know all the extra wax left over after a candle has burned down to the wick? Well, I always save it and then once a year or so I melt it all down and make new candles. For less than $5 at a crafts store you can buy wicks and sinkers. I just use an old pan and melt the wax down in the oven. I made 37 candles today! Candles are pretty pricey these days, so I'm saving money and recycling.