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

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Number 24 complete!

When I received the above magazine in my school mailbox the other day, it was a clear sign that I was ready to complete Number 24 on my birthday list. I have been a member of National Science Teachers Association in the past and always enjoyed their magazine as well as the other membership benefits. I had been thinking about rejoining for some time now, so I looked them up online this morning and signed back up!

I have also been making some progress on some of my other birthday list goals. Avery and I have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia for some time now and last month, we read Prince Caspian. So, that will be my February book for the progress toward Number 2. I am also currently reading a book called Hawaii. I started it way back in January and it seems no matter how much time I spend reading it, I am still only about 1/2 way through it.

I have also been working on Number 16. We have had vegetarian meals one night a week for the past two weeks and I have one planned for the week coming up. The first week we had baked potatoes, parsnip and cauliflower casserole, and dinner rolls.
Last week, we had grilled cheese sandwiches, broccoli cheese soup, and corn bread. I know that these meals still have alot of animal products in them, but they do not include meat. I am hoping to make my meals include less and less animal products in general. This week, I am planning rice with veggies, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

I am also currently working on Numbers 4, 11, and 12. Many of my goals are things that I wont really be able to declare as complete until the end of the year because the are year long projects. Having the birthday list has already motivated me to do some things I would normally do. We road the snow machine to school 3 out of 5 days this week!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Frosted glass

After all of the horizontal snow that we got after the massive beating of a blizzard that we got a couple days ago, Avery's bedroom window has been covered in a layer of snow. It looked like someone had come in the night and glued a bunch of packing peanuts to the window. Weird!

Then today, we had another storm that brought freezing rain into the delta. When I got home the front window looked like this... Anyway, it looks as though all of the storms have passed for now, which is nice. I'm hoping to get in some fun activities during this week of freedom, maybe even check some things off of my birthday list (Christina? Erin? are you up for it?) We had one crazy week full of delays and early releases at school combined with testing going on which pulls out some kids but leaves others and then an assembly today which cut 5th hour a half hour short. So, it took us an entire week to accomplish what I had planned for one period (block schedule). I am so happy to be home with the thought of a whole week of unscheduled freedom ahead of me. I've been relaxing on the couch reading for several hours and it's still not even 10pm yet.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The lookout

Taboo, just like the rest of us, gets sick of being cooped up in the house for too long. On days when it is warm enough, he likes to sit out on the front porch on his chain and watch the world go by.

We had a hour delay school start this morning due to the unreasonably crazy monstrous blizzard that was still raging at 6am when my phone rang to tell me of the delay. It had died down by 8am and we were good to start school by 10am. By noon, the sun was out shining brightly in spite of how wind whipped the town and it's residents were.

We are gaining 5minutes and 40 seconds of sunlight each day now. Just think, that means we are gaining almost an hour every 10 days. That's alot of sunlight. The sun is officially up before the start of the school day now and is still up well past 7pm now. It's great. Next weekend we will set our clocks forward for daylight savings time and it will be staying light until 9pm. Then, it will become difficult to get to bed at any sort of decent hour whatsoever.

Next week is spring break and I CANT WAIT. I really need the break and I think the kids do too. After spring break, we only have 10 weeks of school left. Summer is just around the corner, folks! There are so many things that I want to get done over spring break too. Things that it is just really hard to do when I'm working all day. But one thing that I want to do is just sit around and read. I have a book that I have been reading for about a month and I am still only about half way through it because I just cant seem to find any significant amount of time to just lay around and read. Also, I need to work on my college class stuff, find a summer job, take care of some insurance stuff, clean my house, do some lesson planning for the rest of the year, do some people's taxes, run some errands, get some things checked off my birthday list, study for the Biology praxis test, etc, etc, etc. Spring break is going to fly by i'm sure.

Avery and I have been playing alot of board games lately and doing puzzles. Last night I finished a puzzle that was a picture of Mt. Mickinley. Tonight, we started a cool glow in the dark wizard/dragon puzzle. I am always so tired in the evenings after school that I just dont really want to do much, esp when we are doing labs in class. Doing lab is really hard work, you really have to be on top of everything. This week, my 8th graders were doing pH testing and were working with some pretty dangerous chemicals. It really takes alot of preparation to set those kinds of things up and then to run them, but the students learn so much more from doing than just from hearing. I had my formal evaluation today and my principal had some really great things to say about me and my teaching. It is so nice to hear when you are doing a good job.

So, I've been thinking...you know how when you are doing a puzzle there are always a few pieced that are already matched together? I figure there are two types of people...those who break them apart because the whole joy in doing a puzzle is to put it together yourself OR there are the people who leave them pieced together for whatever reason. Do you think that says something about your personality? If so, what? Which type of person are you?

I think that's all for tonight. Have a good night, everybody!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I understand what the Three Little Pigs felt like!

"I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll BLOOOOOOOWWWWWW your house down!" said the Big Bad Wolf.

Have you ever wondered what the three little pigs felt like? Or maybe Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz when her house was picked up by a tornado?

I totally understand what it felt like! I feel like my house is going to get blown right off of the stilts that it's up on and I'm not even exaggerating. We are having a massive storm here right now. A blizzard. Truly. The trees (if you could call them trees, they're really just tall bushes) are bent sideways, the blowing snow is so intense that I cant even see the house across the street. My house is literally swaying and rocking side to side. The weather service has announced sustained winds at 45-65 miles per hour with gusts up to 75 miles per hour. Intense! We are getting freezing rain, snow, and ice pellets. It's 21 degrees, so still relatively warm. The wind is clearly out of the west and is bringing snow with it and kicking up some other snow off the tundra. The street light across the street has either blown out or is being completed obstructed by horizontal snow. My guess it's the latter. Hopefully it will die down before morning because I cant imagine going out it this. School let out a hour early today because of this storm, but it was mild compared to what it's like now.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Number 15

I donated all of the clothes that I cleaned out of my closet to TWC, the Tundra Women's Coalition. It is the local women's shelter. We even gave them a few coats/jackets of Avery's that were too small for him.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ask (or beg) and you shall receive!

A couple days ago, I pointed out to one of my coworkers that last year, when I was new here, everybody was falling over themselves to give me moose and caribou meat. This year, not one single person has offered ANYTHING to me. Later that day, I heard someone walking up my front steps and I looked out to see her delivering an armload of meat. Thanks, Sheila! I cant wait to make some moose meatloaf, and moose stew, and moose stroganoff.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Snow Highway

I have been working on Number 11 on my birthday list, which is to ride the snowmachine more and drive the truck less. I havent even driven my truck for two days now. The last few days have been wonderful for riding the snow machine. It has been fairly warm at about 13above and the sun has been shining and the weather has been great. When you ride out on the tundra, their are lots of trails that can be followed, but some of them are more well used than others. These are highways in the snow. You can clearly see the difference in the snow between a major snow highway and just a path the one lone snow machine or two has made. The picture above shows the highway in the snow that I took to get home from the post office yesterday.

The pictures below shows the place near my subdivision where the snow highways all come together into a sort of "on/off ramp" from the tundra into the subdivision.
This is the snow highway that runs behind my house. This is such a major trail that it sometimes shows up on online maps. It is really nice to travel by snowmachine on these major trails because they are fairly nice and smooth because they have been tramped down by all of the traffic. They are also very easy to follow.You can clearly see below where the highway splits off into two highways, one that leads to a village and another that circles around the back of town.
Here is another spot where two snow highways come together into town.This is just a glimpse of how beautiful it was to ride across the tundra yesterday after school. This picture was taken at around 5:45. The sun is just about an hour away from setting in this picture. Gorgeous!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

One weekend, two plays

Two weekends ago, Bethel was the host of two plays. The first was a school play entitled, "You Cant Take it With You". It is always fun to see the students dressed up and acting like someone else. It was fun!

It frequently amazes me how much there is to do in a town this size, although you often dont hear about the things that are going on until after they have taken place.

The second play was put on at the cultural center by the Bethel Actors Guild. It was, very obviously, "The Wizard of Oz". It was also fun, but mostly because the little dog they used for Toto kept freaking out and snarling at the actors. It even bit Dorothy in the arm once!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Goldfish in view

This is my view out of my main front window in the living room. I was given this goldfish plant by a friend who moved away from Bethel in the fall (Miss you, Christy!) I really didnt think the plant was anything great until it started blooming a couple months ago. Now, it seems everyday when I get home and see this plant in the window, it has more and more little goldfish flowers jumping from it. Pretty neat, eh?

In other news...
I've been talking about the weather alot again lately. That's because it's crazy weather. This morning I went out to a truck that was covered in marbled ice about a quarter inch thick. It was raining as I walked into school and it is almost above freezing. Just yesterday, it was -30 ambient and -48 with windchill. The day before it was 30 above. We just keep flipflopping between really cold and really warm...it's just weird. Both types of weather present their own problems. This morning it was slippery and the truck had to be scraped before we could go anywhere. If you live anywhere where you get freezing rain sometimes, you know how hard it is to scrape off a quarter inch of ice. Taboo frequently runs away when it is warm like this because he gets sick of being couped up in the house. The upside is that it is warm and that is nice, but the sun doesnt shine when it is warm like this because the clouds are what keep the warmth in. I dont have to plug the truck in when it's warm which is another added bonus because it is expensive to use that energy. And we are forecast to get 3-9 inches of snow, which is fun, but also a hassle.

On the flip side...yesterday when it was so cold, my truck ran like crap and my check engine light is back on. Everything is stiff because it is so cold and I had to stand outside of my classroom door for a minute while I waited for my keys to thaw because they were frozen together. Not to mention that it is just plain dangerous to spend any amount of time outside when it is that cold. I walked out to my truck yesterday without my gloves on and for about 30 minutes after that, I felt like my pinky finger was going to fall off. Then I have to plug the truck in which is expensive. Taboo's leash freezes closed so that we cant hook him up, but he usually will come right back when it is that cold. And then he limps because it hurts his bones and he gets ice up inside his paws. The upside to it being so cold is that it is gloriously sunny so I had the curtains open yesterday and the sun was shining in which means I dont have to use the lights so much and saves energy.

Also, we are up to 9hours and 26minutes of daylight and 10hours and 55minutes of visible light. We are gaining 5minutes and 36seconds per day, which is an insane amount. That means it will only take about 10days to gain over an hour, which is AWESOME! It is sooooo nice to have all the extra sunlight. It is actually still light out when I get home from school!

I've been working on numbers 1, 2, 4, 11, 12, 15, 16, 19 on my birthday list.

I've been really tired lately even though I've been getting to bed early and sleeping well at night. Not sure why.

We're going to the recycle center with the Boy Scouts tonight, but if the freezing rain keeps up, we might not be able to go. Who knows...in Alaska EVERYTHING depends on the weather.

Avery is doing really good lately. Good grades in school and getting involved. He seems to have many more friends this year and hangs out with them more often which is good.

I have to go to another stupid, waste of time teacher inservice provided by the district on saturday...my favorite thing to do! NOT! Hopefully it will be worthwhile, but they very seldom are when they are put on by the district. On the upside, I will get to see some of the other teachers from villages that i dont get to see much.

I have my taxes pretty much done. I tried Turbotax this year just to compare what I got to what they got and my numbers where WAY higher. Good thing I do my taxes by hand. I would have gotten screwed if I used Turbotax!

Well, I think that's all for now. TTFN...ta ta for now! :)

As if a blizzard weren't enough

28 °F
Light Freezing Rain

Statement as of 6:57 AM AKST on February 18, 2009

... Blizzard Warning now in effect until noon akst today along the
... Freezing Rain Advisory in effect until 2 PM akst this
afternoon inland...

The National Weather Service in Anchorage has issued a Freezing
Rain Advisory inland... which is in effect until 2 PM akst this
afternoon. The Blizzard Warning is now in effect until noon akst
today along the coast.

A strong weather system passing over the Kuskokwim Delta has
spread snow and gusty south winds across the area. Snow and
blowing snow are reducing visibility to one quarter mile or less
along the coast. Conditions will improve around noon when
temperatures warm up to near 32 and precipitation changes to
rain... before changing back to snow overnight.

Inland... freezing rain is falling in Bethel and will continue
spreading inland until warmer air at the surface changes
precipitation to all rain by early afternoon. Freezing rain will
be mixed with sleet and snow this morning.

A Blizzard Warning means severe winter weather conditions are
expected or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds
and poor visibilities are likely. This will lead to white-out
conditions... making travel extremely dangerous. All travel and
outdoor activity is strongly discouraged.

A Freezing Rain Advisory means that periods of freezing rain or
freezing drizzle will cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for
slippery roads. Slow down and use caution while driving.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Today's Forecast...Freezing!

Now -27
-46 with windchill
Wind Chill Advisory... Through 1201 PM...north wind to 20 mph along with temperatures 25 to 30 below will produce wind chills to 55 below zero. Currently wind chills are ranging from the 40s below along the coast to 54 below zero at Bethel.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Two broken records

Record Report

Statement as of 5:39 am EST on February 16, 2009

record event report
National Weather Service Bethel AK
157 am akst Mon Feb 16 2009

... Record precipitation and snow...

5.3 inches of snow fell here at the National Weather Service
office in Bethel as well as 0.55 inches of water equivalent
precipitation. The 5.3 inches of snow breaks the record of
3.4 inches of snow on February 15 1990 and the 0.55 inches of
precipitation breaks the record of 0.31 on the same date.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Winter Camp Out

We did end up going camping with the Scouts on Saturday night. We camped at the fish camp of one of the scout leaders, which was about 2 miles upriver from town. There were 5 boys and 5 adults and 8 snow machines.

When we got there, we had to shovel lots and lots of snow. Here's Avery shoveling the picnic table off. There's about 2 feet of snow on that table.
And trees all around...it was wonderful to see trees.
This is the cabin where the adults slept.
And one of the scout masters wearing the classic Alaska fur hat and ice in beard look.
Settin' up camp...
How many scouts does it take to pitch a tent?
Tent's up, now we need heat...it's 0 degrees out!
Using a saw and an ax is a scout requirement...
Splittin' logs...
Learning how to set a rabbit snare...
Camp fire blazin'
The boys tent at night...
Grillin' out at zero degrees...
Here's the trail leading to the outhouse. The snow on either side of the trail is about 3 feet high and the trail is still about a foot off the ground. That's alot of snow!The outhouse...brrrr!
Our procession packing up...
A snow friend...
Avery and I hangin' out, packing up. It was about 33 degrees during this pic. We were standing there in our sweatshirts talking about how warm it was and how we would be whining about it being cold if we were back in Ohio.
Here is a fish camp across the river from where we were...isnt it cute?
While on this camp out with the boys', I did several things I've never done before, including...
winter camping
split logs with an ax
used an outhouse
set a rabbit snare
chopped wood from the forrest for a campfire
slept on a cot
drank hot Tang

All in all, it was a really good time!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Number 11

The snowmachine is starting my yearlong task to accomplish Number 11 on my birthday list with 1618 miles on it. I dont know how many miles we put on it last year, but it certainly could not have been much. My trip odometer reads 437, but some of those miles are from this year too and I cant get it to reset, so I dont even know if it works. We rode it to school this morning since it was a balmy 34 degrees out and then rode around after school running the errands that I would usually run in the truck. Avery's scout master came over the other night and helped put a new belt on it and now it runs sooooooo much better. He recommended changing the crank case chain oil and I think one of my students is going to do that over in the shop here at school. I went and got some oil after school today. And I bought a new belt so that we could carry a spare. See the missing teeth on the old belt? It is still missing its windshield and I'm looking into getting that fixed. They want $110 for the windshield at the Polaris shop, but I'm thinking maybe I can find a used one somewhere. We'll see. I definitely need a windshield if I'm going to be doing any serious riding.

Avery took it out for a ride after school while he was waiting for me to finish up my lesson plans for next week(yes...I turned my lesson plans in on time this week! WooYoo!). Here he is outside my classroom window... We bought a brand new heavy duty chain with a lock to keep it from being stolen. I also sewed up the big rip in the cover last night while I was watching a movie. Batteries Not Included...remember that one? This weekend we are going winter camping with the scouts and will be driving it out to the campsite, possibly hauling a large sled full of gear behind it. Also, Christina over in Oscarville invited us to go ice fishing and spend some time over there in the village which would give me more of a chance to ride the snow machine more and to do numbers 1 and 19 on the birthday list.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lumpopotamus: a new species

Taboo has been given another new nickname...lumpopotamus. He has had lots of nicknames over the 11 years that I've had him, the most frequently used is BooBoo. Some of the others are...Boo, boogle, trash dog, trashy, buttlumpakus, lumpy, mr. boo or mr. taboo, big dog, booglybear, boobie, stinky, old man, fat dog, fatso, fatness, lumpy mclumplump, fatty mcfatfat, or just fatty for short...and others that I cant think of right now.
For several years now, Taboo has been growing lumps. Lipomas to be exact. They are just fat tumors and not dangerous or anything, except when they grow in a spot that could interfere with other bodily function. A couple years ago, he had one removed from the back of his throat. I was afraid it would block his airway, so I had it removed. I've been noticing more and more lumps lately and he even has lumps growing on his lumps. He has 15 in all that I can feel; ranging anywhere from the size of a baseball to a pea.
A few fun pics...
In the pic above, Taboo is actually sitting about 5 feet from Avery, but Avery rolled back at the same time that Taboo turned his head. Funny!

Avery and Taboo are buds, even though Avery bugs Taboo alot sometimes. Taboo is just old and doesnt want to play anymore. He pretty much just lays around all day.