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

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Denali, here I come!

Tonight I'll be getting on an airplane headed to Anchorage. Tomorrow I'll be on a train riding up to Denali National Park. My friend, Kassia, and I are staying two nights at a lodge just outside the park (there is no lodging in the park). I was reading in a guide book that Mt. McKinley is only visible about 25% of the time during the summer. Here's hoping that Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday fall into that 25%. I would love to see the 20,000+ peak, North America's tallest mountain!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

10 done, 20 to go

On Sunday, I spent the day out on the river fishing. We used a net to catch 15 salmon. We were only out on the river for a couple of hours. It was a fifty foot net which is actually pretty small for around here. Most serious subsistance fishermen around here use a 150 foot net.
Even with our little 50 footer, we already had a fish in the net before the whole thing was even all the way out. Getting the fish out of the net was the hardest part, but we got the hang of it pretty quickly.
I also got to learn how to gut the fish. We gutted them right there on the boat and dropped the heads and guts right into the water. It made for pretty easy cleanin'.
Back at a friends house, I learned how to filet the fishes. We had a nice huge stack of filets before it was all over. I really sucked at cutting them, but I got better as I went along. Cutting the first side is much easier than cutting the second side.

Then, I went home and cooked up one of those fine filets for dinner that night. All in all, it took about 7 hours from river to mouth.
Number 16 on the birthday list is complete. Filet, cook, and eat a salmon that I caught...done!

It was a beautiful day out on the river. Sunshine, 65 degrees, no bugs, no wind...it was perfect!

It's fun to watch and wait for the top of the net to bob. Or like in the video above when a fish gets caught near the top of the net and flops wildly all around.

Good fun!

Monday, June 21, 2010

After all the crappy weather we had last week, now...

Record Report

Statement as of 4:10 PM AKDT on June 21, 2010

... New record high temperature for toady...
just after 4 PM today the temperature in Bethel hit a record 75. This
reading breaks the previous record 74 set in 1957.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Papermaking 101

My friend, Sadie, and I went to a papermaking class at the Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. We learned a very easy way to make paper from left over scraps of paper. This is the ultimate form of recycling. We put the old shredded paper pieces in a blender with some water and blended it to form a pulp. Then we added some plant matter to the blender to give the paper some texture and scent. Next we poured the pulp onto a screen down in a container of water, swished around the pulp in the water, then slowly lifted the screen to allow the paper pulp to settle into a new sheet of paper. We also added more tundra plants to our paper during the last step. We picked flowers and other plants from outside and used those in our paper. Sadie and I both made one piece of paper and one envelop. Now that hard part...who to send it to???

Saturday, June 19, 2010

An Unkindness of Ravens

I woke up this morning to a commotion outside of my window. It's 7am on a Saturday morning and I'm awake because of an unkindness of ravens arguing over some trash. Yes, that's right, an unkindness. That's what a group of ravens is called...an unkindness. Kind of makes sense if you think of the fact that a group of crows is called a murder and ravens are very similar to crows. They have also been named a dark and unpleasant name. I found this really interesting website about ravens...check it out! They certainly were unkind to me this morning...waking me up at 7am on a Saturday morning...that's definitely what I call an unkindness.

In Yup'ik traditional stories, the raven is known as the creator of everything, the bringer of death, and also as a jokester or trickster. This morning it was just being a pest! There were three of them in the dumpster and three of them on top of the roof of the house right next door. They were squawking back and forth to each other as if arguing over who would get the trash. None of them were actually eating the trash, but I'm sure they'll get to that at some point today. There must be something good in it today.

So, anyway, I'm up now. I've called back the person who called me at 5am. It was mom, apparently Avery cut his hand this morning and they took him in for stitches, but he didnt need stitches, so they just wrapped it and sent him home. She was just calling for the insurance information. I've weighed in on the Wii and I lost 2.2 pounds, yay! I've brewed some coffee. I usually dont drink much coffee, but it's kind of like my saturday morning treat. To me coffee is something that I associate with a leisurely morning when I get to lounge and relax in my pj's for awhile. Now I'm just writing this post while I wait for my workout partner, Sadie, to call and come over for Saturday morning yoga. We've been doing the Wii Biggest Loser game and today is our challenge and weigh in for the biggest loser! So fun! I've never played it long enough to get to a weigh in and elimination before...I am curious as to how it will work.

I love the fact that I dont need to turn on any light arounds the house anymore. It's been days since I've turned on a single light! By the time I woke up at 7am, the sun had already been up for several hours. Unfortunately it is still cold, overcast, and raining. It's been like this for at least a week and I'M SICK OF IT! Come on sun!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010

What friends are for....

Today was the first day of summer science camp. It was fun! I think it went really well and that they have already made an impression on the kids. I guess the true test will be to see how many come back tomorrow. After it was over today, we continued to work until 8pm getting ready for tomorrow. When I left, all I wanted to do was come home and lay down on the couch and go to sleep. I was exhausted!!!!

But...My friend, Sadie, and I have made a pact to work out together for the next couple weeks. We have started a routine where one of us does a Wii Biggest Loser workout while the other one rides the stationary bike, then we switch. Tonight, when all I wanted to do was crawl into bed, Sadie encouraged me to workout instead. It was a super tough workout and now I feel great. Here it is, midnight and I am bursting with energy. And even though Sadie was feeling a little under the weather today, she also pushed through and worked out.

This is why having a workout buddy is so awesome. Neither one of us probably would have worked out today had it not been for the other person pushing them to go for it! I'm really glad we decided to do this...I am so motivated to give it my all when I know that someone else is in the trenches with me!

Also, a few of us came up with a really great idea for when we all get back after summer. We are going to do our very own biggest loser!!! It should be soooo much fun and super motivating. The will be weigh in and prizes and everything! Stay tuned...you may just see a picture of a skinnier me before ya know it!

Have a happy, healthy summer!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Joys of Renting

I got a new refrigerator yesterday. I've been asking for one since I moved in. We've gone back and forth for months. Them saying no and me telling them why the old one sucked. Them saying maybe and me telling them how I'm planning to stay for awhile. Then finally, the other day I got a knock on the door from the maintenance guy saying my new refrigerator is here. Awesome! So, now I have a new frig and I love it. And I didnt have to buy it, I just told them I wanted one and I got it. I didnt have to measure or shop for it. I didnt have to have it delivered or install it myself. I just sat around playing my video game while they put it in. Like I said, "Awesome!"

In other news...
The summer science camp I'm teaching starts on Monday. We've had to rearrange the schedule more than half of the materials we ordering havent gotten here. First, the shipping company lost a box, then they shipped it again the slow way that will take weeks, now today they shipped it AGAIN. Hopefully, it will get here in time. We are supposed to do a soil sampling lesson on Wednesday. We have a trip out to the farm planned to take soil samples and then run some tests on the soil. But we dont have our soil sampling kits yet. It's been a very frustrating ordeal with the supplies. The camp should be good though, we've got alot of great stuff planned.

It's cold again. After having beautiful days for weeks, the cold feels more cold than normal. It's only been running in the 40's each day and even down into the 30's at night. It's usually been rainy and overcast in the mornings, then sunny (but not warm) in afternoons and evenings. Brrrr!

I had a bunch of people over for dinner last night. It was really good. The food was great. I made spagetti with moose meat and veggie sauce, cole slaw, and garlic bread with tomato and mozzarella cheese on top. Some friends brought a delicious pork roast and another friend brought brownies and icecream. We had a feast. I think it was the most food that I've eaten for weeks. The house was packed with people. I also think that was the most people I've had over in this apt too. We had a great time. Eventually, we busted out the Wii and made Mii's for everyone because people wanted to weigh themselves.

Speaking of weight. I cant seem to lose much, but I have been so busy these last few days that I havent been working out though either. I know what I need to do. I need to do some strength training. That's when I lose the best, but I just havent done it yet. I've still been doing cardio and alot of walking, but my body needs strength training. I should get on the ball with that.

I'm not sure what I want to do with the blog now that I have Facebook. It seems redundant to do both.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

9 done, 21 to go

I finished playing Zelda: Twilight Princess yesterday. This completes number 20 on the birthday list. It's so funny that I am playing the same game as an adult that I used to play as a kid. It has all the same characters...the princess, Zelda, and the hero who rescues her, Link. The game is played as Link and always involves some sort of dark wizard and magic. Above is the scene right after I beat the "big boss" and below is Link.
The history of the Zelda games is actually pretty interesting and can be read in this IGN article. Although this game is the same old Zelda in theme and characters, it is a much different Zelda in terms of gameplay and graphics. Ohhhh, the graphics. They were awesome. Beautiful. Below is the Twilight Princess, Midna, who was with me (Link) through the entire game. We were actually trying to save her kingdom, the Twilight Realm.
You might think it's a little weird that I got so into this game and for a breif moment after it was over, I may have agreed. I spent approx. 88 hours of my life playing this game in the last 8 months. 88 HOURS! That's a long time. The reason that I liked this game so much was because it is a role player game (RPG). I like RPG's because there is a story. So it's kind of like reading a book, expect you get to PLAY the book instead. I will say that the ending was a bit anticlimactic, but overall is was fun and a good story with lots of angles and plot twists to keep me interested.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A sunny spot

My friend, Crystal, and I have taken to spending sunny days out by the river on this little hillside spot. It is a nice little spot to sit in the sun, read a book, and relax.
From this little spot, we have a nice view of the goings-on at the riverfront. Above you see the fuel barge delivering a fuel shipment. I wonder if the fuel prices are going to go up or down??? In the picture below, you see the regular barge delivering long awaited supplies. I have seen several NEW cars driving through town in the last few days, undoubtedly fresh off the barge.
Yesterday, we spent a part of our sunny day flying kites. It was fun! And something that I have never done in Bethel. I also started reading Animal Farm as part of Number 5 on the birthday list. I do have a dilemma with number 5, because Newsweek has taken the Meta List down. The website is gone and I never printed the list. So, I will have to choose a different list to work off of.
Anyway, this little hillside spot has become my sunny day staple for reading, thinking, contemplating, relaxing, and even kite flying.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

(almost) vegetarian summer

In additional effort to "get back on the wagon" in terms of weight loss, I've decided to try to go (almost) vegetarian for the summer. I've been walking alot and doing other excercising. Today I went on a bike ride and for a long walk with my ankle weights on. I've been drinking lots of water and eating healthy. I also ate completely meatless meals today. I'm also keeping track of my calories each day and measurements each week. Over the last two weeks, I have eaten completely meatless meals 7 out of 10 days. Even on the days that I did eat meat, it was usually only 1 meal, so probably about 75% of my meals these last two weeks have been meatless.

The reason that I say (almost) vegetarian is because I am still going to definitely be eating some fish. Also, because I am not going to completely avoid eating meat. If someone else is cooking meat, I will eat it, but if I am cooking my own meals, I am going to avoid it. This is much easier to do since it is just me that I'm cooking for and I have a much less hectic schedule. I have no intention whatsoever to turn into a true vegetarian, but I would like to be healthier about what I am putting in my body...so more fruits and veggies for me, please!

Today is my 365th day on the Wii...I am 21 pounds lighter than I was a year ago and I am on a mission to be 20 pounds lighter than that by the end of the summer!!! Think I can do it????

Saturday, June 05, 2010

May recipe

I'm a little late on getting this one posted. This is my May recipe for Number 10 on the Birthday list: Use my cookbooks to create a dish once per month. This one was worth waiting for. It's on the left in the picture above.

Asparagus with Oyster Sauce and Sesame Seeds
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 tsp oyster sauce
4 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced ginger root
1 1/2 lbs asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

1. In a small saucepan, combine first 8 ingredients. Mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Set aside.

2. Cook asparagus in boiling water for 4 minutes or until tender. Drain and place in serving dish. Pour sauce over and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serves 4: 85 calories per serving

Taken from Rose Reisman's Enlightened Home Cooking Copyright 1996

The sauce is what makes this recipe. IT. WAS. AMAZING. Sometime in the near future, I think I will just make a big batch of the sauce (maybe like 5x) and put it in a container in the fridge to use when I can stirfry and other asian dishes. Even if you dont like asparagus, give this sauce a try. It is soooooo good.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

8 done, 22 to go

Number 19 on the birthday list is complete! A group of about 9 of us went to play Bingo tonight. We had a great time! It was mostly us girls with only a couple of guys thrown in. In addition to enjoying the friends and the game of Bingo, I also like going because the Bingo hall is 1 of the 3 places in town that you can get a fountain soda. I indulged in two fountain Dr. Peppers while I played tonight. But...you want to hear the best part? I won!That's right...I got a BINGO! I won $65. I was so surprised and shocked that I could barely contain myself. How awesome is that? A little extra spending cash never hurt!

So much for warm weather

This morning it was 30 degrees while I was walking to school. It is windy and cloudy. After a week of fantastic, warm, and sunny weather, it feels extra cold out.

In other news...
The class that I'm taking is almost over. Just one more day after today. Thank God! It has been grueling.

I've been walking alot. Each day, some friends and I go for a walk after dinner. I have also been walking to school and back each day. I have only driven my truck a coulple of times in the last few weeks. It's kind of nice.

The final arrangements have been made for the trip to Anchorage in a few weeks. I'm really looking forward to it. I really need some time off! I need a VACATION!

We've had some kinks in the summer school program that I'm supposed to be teaching this summer. Our science supply order got lost and we still dont have enough kids signed up for the program.

I finally created a facebook account. After years of people bugging me about it...you WIN! Seems I cant escape it! Everybody is on it. I've resisted this long, but finally gave in. I know some of you will be very happy. Hopefully Facebook wont kill my blog. I really enjoy blogging and dont want to give it up.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Midnight sunset

Bethel might not be the prettiest place on earth, but I would be willing to argue that we have some of the most beautiful sunsets. These pictures are mostly taken out of my living room window and Avery's upstairs bedroom window.
All of these were taken at Midnight last night. Most of these pictures are the view from my couch in the evenings. Are you jealous?
Because we had some clouds come late in the day yesterday, the sun shining off of the dense rain clouds made the deepest purple colors I've ever seen in a sunset.
See my herbs growing in the window? They are loving our 18hr36min days! They are growing soooooo fast!
Amazing, isnt it?