Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Farmers Market.

 The farmers market has started but its quite early in the season.  Most people there offered either soap, jewelry, or baked goods. A few had vegetables like cucumbers or starts but that was it. 

Most of the vegetables for sale right now were grown in greenhouses because the ground does not fully warm up till late may or early June.  In addition, we can have snow in June so greenhouses are best.

Today, I'm sharing a few of the more unusual offerings from this past Saturday.  I'll go back Wednesday because the Mexican place will offer their fantastic tamales.  I'll snap a picture of that and maybe Moostard's. 

To the left you see fiddlehead ferns for sale.  These are ready to plant somewhere in your yard so you can have fresh greens in early spring.  I've never eaten them but I've heard they are fantastic.  I might pick some up on Wednesday if I can figure out the best place to plant them.  These guys come in from Manley Hot Springs.

Note we have the guy who makes balloon animals on request for a small fee.  I've never seen him there before but every time I saw him, he was creating something magical. 

He even had a sign loaded with different animals he was willing to make.  He'd labeled it "Today's Choices.


 If you look carefully, you can see a sign advertising Pickled Alaska which does not refer to a bunch of drunk Alaskans.  Instead it refers to the way certain vegetables etc are prepared.
mou know what it tastes like.  I adore the title of her business.
Alaskans like to exaggerate even more than fishermen.  We claim our mosquitoes are large enough to carry off a man.  So this entrepreneur created her pickled mosquito eggs.   
As you can see, they are sold as authentic mosquito eggs.....LOL.  I saw that and absolutely had to get a photo of it.  I suspect she took some quail eggs, pickled them, and now she is selling them as mosquito eggs.

We actually get visiting tourists who come through on a regular basis.  I wouldn't be surprised if she sells several of these every time a tourist bus comes through.

Over the past few years, I've gotten to know many of the vendors because I see them so much as sometimes even buy from them. 

As stated earlier, I'll take more pictures on Wednesday to post and share with everyone.  I hope you enjoyed this short visit. 

Thank you for reading this.  I'll share more later with you.  Have a good day and let me know what your think.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Back in Town

Tulips, Tulip Flower, Flowers  Last Thursday I traveled into town for part of the summer.  It was a long nasty trip.  Since I deal with a very local airline, their schedule is a suggestion.

I was scheduled on the evening flight but they sent an extra flight in the afternoon but I didn't find out about it until it was taking off.

When it came time for the flight, they announced it was delayed by about half an hour.  So I headed up in time for it but they forgot to make an update so I was at the airport but no plane.  It finally showed around 6:45 for a 5:30 scheduled time.

My connection was due to leave at 9:00 and I had to check in by 8:15 or 8:30.  The flight was about an hour so when we took off at 7, I was a bit nervous but the pilot used the tail wind to move us a bit faster.  He even radioed ahead to make sure the shuttle to take us to the other airline was ready to go as soon as we landed and got our luggage.

I got there just as the plane landed so I was able to check on, go through security before boarding the plane.  This is not your normal plane, it was a combi as we affectionately call it. A combi is a combination cargo and passenger plane. The front from the first class to the first exit row is where they put all the cargo that is being carried out to the local hub while rows 17 on are for passengers.  I love row 17 because it has even more leg room than a normal exit row. From then on it was a great trip the rest of the way. 

 I'm going to take a minute to explain the pictures from the weekend.  The few willow trees out where I normally am, never ever get taller than about 3 feet.  They are short and quite spindly but they are willows.  Fairbanks have real trees which grow up to 15 feet or so unless they are in a permafrost area.  If the black spruce is short (no more than 6 feet) it means there is an excellent chance there is permafrost underneath.

As for ice cream, the only ice cream out in the village usually arrives slightly thawed and is refrozen so it has a grainy texture.  In addition the cost ends up double what it is in the city.  I am not going to pay $10.00 per half gallon.  They do not serve it by the scoop out there so I have to wait till I get back here to get it in a cone.

When I'm due to fly back in, I dream of getting ice cream and pizza for my first real meal.  So now you know the story behind the pictures.  Let me know what you think.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Village

 I thought I'd share some pictures of the village as it appears from my house.  The houses are all basically the same but many are bright and colorful.  A couple years ago, many of the houses were repainted.  The most used color was nicknamed "Smurf blue".  I got the name from a friend who said they painted her house that color.

The whole lake is no deeper than chest so its really not that deep.
 This shot was taken looking towards the left from the other picture.  If you look carefully you will see two windmills.  They help keep the cost of electricity from rising.  Its already quite expensive.

The blue building above the basketball courts/hockey rink, right next to the light is the catholic church built in the 1980's.  The one before it became one of the stores in town and it recently closed down due to a death.

This picture shows some of the house colors.

In this picture which has moved left, you get a great view of the hockey rink with the two basketball courts.  I need to get a picture of the courts themselves.

The brown building behind the court, across the lake, is the combination post office and court.  Each occupies half the building.  Several years ago some enterprising young people tried to start a coffee stop in the court building.  One of those places where you stop for a cup of coffee and then move on but it didn't do well and went out of business.
I think it was fine during summer when people were out and about but once it got cold, I think people refused to stop by as much.

To the right you see the peace pole which stands in front of the school.  You are looking at the front of the school building and seeing part of the parking lot.  The only vehicles which park there are 4 wheelers or snow machines.

If it gets too full, the secretaries make announcements over the PA to please move your vehicle because no one can get through.  Its fun watching vehicles roll up and see the students hop off before it heads up.

The part of the building right behind the peace pole is the cafeteria.

Hope you've enjoyed seeing the village I work in most of the year.  Have a nice day.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Eskimo Baseball

 Eskimo baseball is a rather unique version of baseball.  Its known by several names but this is the one I learned it by.  I still don't know all the rules so I'll try to share what I know.

One team is lined up to bat while the other team is off on the field.  The field is actually just the area between the lineup and the safe line at the end. If this were a basketball court, one end would have the batters while the other end is the safe line.
There is a pitcher who pitches one of two ways.  The first is what we are used to.  He or she stands in the middle of the field and pitches the ball to the batter who tries to hit it.  

The other way is to stand next to the batter, throw the ball straight up and as it comes down, the batter swings hoping to hit it.  In this game the pitcher chose the second method.

So once the ball is hit, the batter either runs for the other line all the while hoping no one tags him out or he waits till someone else hits a better ball and runs for it.

 When the ball is hit, the team in the field scrambles to get the ball so they can throw it at the runner or run up to him and tag him.  The ball has to touch the person before they are out.  It follows the standard three outs and you change sides. 

 We played in an area surrounded by channels of water so often the ball went quite a distance and landed in the middle of marshy water.  I'd get a call to retrieve it because none of the kids wore their boots.
 The day was actually pretty nice although still a bit chilly due to an earlier rain fall.  By the end of the day, it has warmed up to quite warm.

I included a picture of the area looking out towards the end of the new airport (the old one is behind us.)  The lake you see is the same one found in front of my house.

It is beautiful out there and I love spring the best when its warm and beautiful.  Have a great day, be back tomorrow with more.  Next week, I'll have pictures of Fairbanks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Late At Night.

 This is a picture of the lake in front of my house.  It was taken around 10:00 at night without any artificial lights.  It doesn't get dark till around midnight or so and the sun rises around 5 or so in the morning.

By mid June, it will be light for an even longer span.  The lake itself is maybe waist to chest high on a normal adult.  I know this because one of the teachers put on a pair of chest high waders and walked across the lake.  It was fun watching him.  He is really tall so it was about hip level.
 Again you see the edge of the lake by teacher housing.  Out here, housing is often an issue so many districts provide housing for its employees.  Most of the buildings are duplexes with a two bedroom and a three bedroom apartment.

The exception is the first building facing the lake which is a quad with four one bedroom apartments while the other is the last one facing the lake with two one and a half bedrooms.

The area between the end of the lake and teacher housing is kind of marshy so you need your mud boots on when walking in that area.  The dogs love wandering through there.

 In this picture which was taken from just in front of the back steps of the school, you see the new airport in the distance.  Its those two little bumps which are two huge maintenance buildings.

To the extreme left is a hockey rink that has never been used for hockey.  The carpentry class built two wooden platforms for basketball.  Kids and adults spend hours playing out there when the weather finally gets warm.

I've seen them shovel melting snow off the platforms so they can get out and play sooner.

This shot allows you to see more of the rink and a bit of the village off in the distance.  All roads are dirt with gravel.

I'm told the city plans to redo the roads so they are smoother.  Last fall they redid the parking lot in front of the Post Office but it rained so instead of ending up with a nice flat surface, it was bumpy, jagged and it dangerous.

I'll see what it looks like when I get back from my summer holidays.

Keep an eye out for more pictures of the area over the next few days.  Later in the week, I'll be up in Fairbanks where I'll take some additional pictures to share the world from there.  I think you'll love some of the countryside because it is so different from here.

Have a good day.  See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

An Afternoon Stroll.

   Since its spring, I've been going out for nice long walks around the village.  Usually part of the walk involves the springy, uneven tundra with its wholes and wet patches.

I need to take my camera out so I can snap more pictures of the beauty to share.  The river is slowly melting but its not quite thawed enough for the boats.

I took this picture while standing on ice located at the side of the river.  The shore that has melted is a oily dark mud which tries to wrestle off your boots with every step.

I started this walk over by the store that over looks the gas station (think a shack with two pumps).  There is a path that curves down to the river and then back up.  I strayed from the path to walk along the shore line.  If you look carefully, you'll see ice chunks below the surface.

 This picture is looking back at the curve in the river.  Those small bumps you see in the distance are actually boats.  When it gets cold enough, they pull the boats up onto the higher ground next to the river.  They leave them there till spring.

The river bank is marshy right now due to the melting snow and the deeper ground not having fully melted yet.  Its not too bad with knee high boots if you stay on the grass.  You don't sink as far.
 This was taken near the end of the old airport.  The old airport was in service when I first came out but within two months, the new airport had been opened. 

Now its used as a street by people heading out to the tundra or practicing cross country. The objects in the distance are boats.  The flat lands allow us to see things a bit further.

If you look carefully, you'll see faint wheel tracks in the tundra from where 4 wheelers (ATV's) drive across the tundra as they head out.


This picture shows the wheel tracks better.  In this one, we are heading back home after taking a nice one hour walk.  There are tons of small lakes around the area.  One of the states claims to be the land of 10,000 lakes.  They have never seen this land from an airplane.

I'll be flying out later in the week, so I'll try to get some pictures to share so you can see what I'm talking about.

Tomorrow, I'll share more pictures of the area around my house but later today  I'll take another walk and  I'll snap pictures of the town, clinic, and the area out by the end of the lake to share. 

I hope you are enjoying seeing what I see and enjoy everyday.  There is this old pickup truck abandoned by one of the small lakes I need to get a picture of to share.   Let me know what you think.  Thank you for reading this.  Enjoy.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Graduation

 Here it is people, a few graduation pictures from Friday night and a couple pictures from the 8th grade promotion held this past Saturday. 

This arch and lights were used the week before for prom.  The arch provided a backdrop for prom pictures while the lights lit the pathway into the cafeteria. 

It is customary to reuse as many of the prom decorations as possible due to the high cost of shipping them up here.  Shipping is about as much as the kits.

In the picture to the left, you see the chairs where the graduates sit after they file in.  Friday night, we had 21 graduates, 3 who took 5 years to finish and 18 who finished in the customary 4.  The people seated behind are the parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, and other relatives who attend.

One tradition is for seniors to take time to give their parents a rose at graduation to thank them for all the support they got during their years of schooling.
 This is a quick picture of the graduating class of 2017.  The two young ladies in purple should have graduated the year before but one had to take time out to have a baby while the other made some not so good choices as a freshman. 

The two young ladies with the yellow bands are the two who graduated top of the class and received scholarships to the state college system.

Both are extremely hardworking young ladies who managed to do well both in academics and in sports.
 This picture shows one of the 8th graders walking in from the locker room area.  He's following the same path the seniors took the night before. 

I've worked with many of his older siblings over the past 11 years.  The middle school students walked quite a bit faster than the seniors the night before.

I didn't take a picture of students after they passed through the arch because their family members and friends stood on the other side of the barrier to take pictures as they paused before heading for the row of chairs from the night before.
These are the students who were promoted to 8th grade.  There is a good chance that many of them will not finish school in four years. 

The reasons are many but its a fact of life out here we are trying to change.  Several students applied to Mt. Edgecombe which is a boarding school for Alaskan Students.

It offers so much more than we can due to the limited staff we have.  Some of the girls chose to wear their prom dresses because this is one of the few chances to wear it while others chose to wear the traditional Quspuk.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few pictures of graduation and promotion from a rural school in Alaska.

Friday, May 12, 2017

After Graduation

Graduation, Scroll, Cap, University Tonight is graduation for seniors who have taken 4 or 5 years to complete the demands of the school board to walk proudly across the stage and receive that magical paper.  The paper declaring them as high school graduates,  The paper needed for jobs but usually ends up packed away after you get your first post high school job.

Many students struggle in this village to complete high school due to seeing no real value in one.  The job market is very limited out here and for many, you don't need a high school diploma.

If you want to work, you need college credits to work at the school as a paraprofessional.  For certain jobs associated with the tribal or city government you do need more than a high school diploma but for most of the jobs there or at the stores or construction you can usually get hired without a diploma.

Since they don't see any value in education, many students lack the motivation to try, so they don't finish.  Their dropping out is a gradual process where they don't bother working so they fail.  They repeat the same classes and fail again.  By the time they are juniors they are behind enough they will not graduate on time.  Others just slowly quit attending until they are officially dropped from the rolls.

The ones who make it through high school to finally graduate fall into two categories.  There is a small percentage to leave the following fall to attend college but very few of those ever finish their degrees. Most last a year before returning because they lack self motivation or lacked the understanding of how colleges work.

The other group decide they can put off advancing their education or decide they aren't interested in doing much more than remaining home, helping out there, and playing basketball a few times a week.  A few do go on for training but the majority never leave, never try to advance their educations, and never even think in terms of their futures.

I'll go to graduation tonight, take pictures, congratulate everyone, and wish those going off to college the best of luck.  I already know that 3/4ths of those who head off, will return by the end of the school year.

I'll take pictures and post them on Monday so you can see the decorated gym and get a glimpse of life out here.  Have a good weekend.

Th

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Times They Are A Changing.

Clock, Pocket Watch, Movement, Horology, Old  Since its the last week of school, I've been showing that great movie Hidden Figures.  I love it because its about three women who were involved in the NASA space program at a time when women, especially African American women, were treated as second and third class citizens.

It is fascinating watching  one of the women train herself to program in Fortran before the computer is up and running.  The mainframe they used is so much slower than today's processors on a cell phone and it used punch cards.  According to someone I know who started working with computers in 1969, the instructions are punched so each card has one line of code.  A whole program could take a couple of boxes.  If you dropped the box, you'd have to check all the code and hope to get them in the same order.

Now we can just type the code in on a screen and voila we are off.  I play with code on my iPad on a regular basis and its so much better because many of the compilers and interpreters automatically give you hints on where the mistake is.  You don't have to spend as many hours debugging as they did them.

Even our calculators have changed.  They used those big mechanical adding machines back then.  I'd never seen one but the person who told me about punch cards said his father (an engineer) had one in his home office.  Now a cheap hand held calculator can do as much or more than those machines.

There was one scene where the lady went to find a book with a certain formula on it?  Today, we'd just power up our cell phones, connect to the internet and find the same equation rather than thumbing through a ton of books.

Our one small cell phone can do so much more than the original mechanical computers, adding machines, and libraries.  All of this and more in a small container.  Yes, things have changed and continue to change so fast.  Faster than most of us can keep up. 

Let me know what you think.  If I think about it too hard, I get awed, so I just accept.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bird Watching.

Bird, Birds, Ibis, Flight, Ala, Stork  The birds are back in town!  In the fall, they head south to escape the coming cold and ice but once things warm up, the birds return.  At first, only a few fly in but later, we are surrounded by birds.

Sunday, I took a walk out by the sort of frozen rriver and followed it around to the tundra, where I continued on to the old airport.  As I wandered across the tundra, I startled a couple of birds hidden in a cluster of bushes.

The beautiful white birds had been hidden by the snow so I didn't notice them until they launched themselves into the air.  I have no idea what type of bird but it was beautiful.  I love hearing their calls on the wind.

Its interesting where some of these birds travel to when they leave Alaska.  Snow geese spend all summer in the arctic but once temps start dropping they head off to the southern United States.  The American Golden Plover flies from the Arctic all the way down to the southern tip of South America! Imagine flying around 30,000 miles south and then 30,000 miles back every year.  Such a long trip.

The most frequent birds seen around town are various geese, swans, ducks,  and ptarmigans. Most of them are still white or light so they blend in with the small bits of snow.  The name originated in Scotland and comes from the word Tarmarchan.

There is a joke around here concerning ptarmigans.  There is a town named Chicken located about 200 miles east of Fairbanks, near the Canadian Boarder.  It is said they wanted to name their town after the ptarmigan but couldn't spell it so they settled on Chicken.  It started as a gold rush town and is one of the few original towns left. 

The town only has 7 or 10 residents but they do have a general store, cafe, liquor store and a saloon but there is no electricity, no running water, no internet, no mayor.  It does have a public toilet, well outhouse labeled "Chicken Poop".

I've never been there because the gravel road is only passable during the summer and its quite remote.  For its size it does host a nice music festival I'm told.

Yes, I digress, its the time of year when I love going outside to enjoy the fresh air, listen to birds, and just get away.  No matter where I walk, I see or hear birds.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Graduation Is Rapidly Approaching.

Graduation, Scroll, Cap, University  Graduation for the seniors is set to happen Thursday evening at 7:00 PM.  It is as much an event as the prom was. 

Girls wear their prom dresses under their gowns while the boys wear their suits.  I'll be helping the boys out by making sure their ties are properly tied.

The gym is decorated as beautifully as the cafeteria was for the gym.  In fact, many of the items used at the prom, are recycled for graduation.  Seniors will spend all day Thursday decorating the gym so its perfect for them.  They even put down a walkway of fancy paper so they have a path to follow to the chairs.

Graduation classes are usually in the 12 to 20 range with several who due to earlier choices do not graduate with their classes.  The families will sit up on the bleachers for most of it but as the students march in, people rush down to snap pictures of the graduate.  There is usually a place up front where the student stops to pose for photos before heading for the seating.

After a ceremony with  the speaker, principal, superintendent, and school board members, and being given their awards and diplomas,  the students head out to the cafeteria to form a receiving line where everyone congratulates them on their success.  The night ends with cake and juice for everyone.

The next evening, Friday night, the middle school has their promotion sending them off to high school.  There are no caps or gowns but the students march in along a path in their best clothing with the families again snapping pictures. 

When I came here, they had preschool, kindergarten, 8th grade and High school graduation.  All of these required the use of caps and gowns with some sort of "certificate"  Over the years the first two have been eliminated and the third changed to a promotions.  The administration has tried to get rid of it but there is a lot of resistance because too many of those 8th graders do not finish high school.

I plan to take pictures of graduation and promotion to share with everyone.  Have a good day and enjoy your spring.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Prom Night

  I will preface this by saying I am a lousy photographer when its kind of dark.  I finally found the flash but  it didn't work as well as I'd hoped.  I got some great photos and some lousy photos.  I did not get any of the cafeteria because the lights were extremely low and I couldn't get any that turned out.  The prom had higher prices for those coming in casual than those who came dressed up.  Many of the girls came in casual but changed in the girls bathroom.  Many of the boys didn't know how to tie their ties, so I had the honor of tieing 10 ties.
 The above is the area across from the office designated for photographs.  It actually covers the door to the gym so no one can go in there.  To the left is a hall with the bathrooms and to the right is the cafeteria complete with food table, DJ, and dance space.  Today, the juniors will have to tear it down.

The boys in this picture are all in grades 6 to 8.  Notice three of them have ties and two have suit jackets.  This is a huge event because its the only time any one has the chance to dress formally.  They didn't do much except wander around but they looked so mature.

Some of them have grown 4 to 5 inches over the year.  The young man in the shirt was one of those who shot up.  I believe he is moving up to the high school next year.


The group to the right are the senior boys with their basket ball coach.  some of the young men are not graduating with their class but most are.  They look so mature compared to when they were freshmen.

I taught math to each and every one of them.  The young man in the hat only wears the hat on special occasions.  He is also the one who gets a long clip tie so he doesn't have to figure out how to tie it.

I don't know how many of them are going to college or into the military.  I know some will never leave the village.

The following pictures are of some of the young ladies for whom this is their only formal event of the year.

They buy dresses and shoes from Amazon.  Have friends or family members fix their hair and just come out to have fun.
 These two young ladies and the one above are high school students.  Sometimes they end up borrowing heels that are a bit big.  Some manage not to sound like elephants as they walk around.











This group are all related, sisters or cousins.  They love having pictures taken because they don't get much of a chance.










These three are great friends and decided to rest a moment between dance numbers.  The juniors placed chairs around so people could rest or enjoy a quick chat.










I hope you enjoy this glimpse at an Alaskan Village Prom.












Friday, May 5, 2017

Prom Time

Salon, Prom, Interior, Luggage  Tomorrow night is the Prom!  The proms out here are similar to those you've seen but they are also quite different. I'll explain about the proms held here and I'll provide pictures on Monday so you get an idea of what they do.

On Friday night and Saturday, the junior class spends the evening and day turning the entry and cafeteria into a wonderland straight out of a book.  I haven't asked what this year's them is but I know it will be great.

One bit thing is to cover all windows so the prom is cut off from the outside world.  A big difference is that the prom is open to everyone from 6th to 12th grade and sometimes even the community.  Its interesting seeing people from the communities coming with spouses and babies who are in formal wear.

In addition, the food provided is usually just finger food and snacks with some sort of punch.  The tables and chairs are often placed in the entry so they have more room in the cafeteria for dancing.  The food table is placed in front of the serving area so people can pop in and out with food as they replenish the goodies.

The DJ,  if you can call it that, is someone with music everyone likes.  Sometimes they get paid a bit but the school usually provides the speakers and sometimes even the computer.  They like the music loud enough to make everyone deaf so if I go, I stay in the hallway, away from the torture.

The juniors usually set up a nice photo area near the cafeteria entrance.  Sometimes they hire a person to take photos (the computer teacher or a parent) but usually I go over with my trusty iTouch and snap a ton load of pictures for students, the newsletter, and parents.

Most of the boys dress up in suits with ties but they've never learned to tie a tie so they ask me.  I've already had one student who wants me there to tie their tie.  Most of the girls do not dress in advance because of the dirt and mud outside.  They do not want their dresses to get dirty so they make sure their hair looks awesome, they have makeup on before arriving at school to take over the girls restroom. 

Many of the 6th to 8th grade girls borrow dresses and shoes so the items might be a bit large.  Few of the girls know how to walk in heals so there is a lot of clunking.  Many of the boys borrow a suit from a male family member so their suits don't fit quite right.

This is one of the few occasions these teens have to dress up. The other event is graduation so if they are a senior, they wear their suits or prom dresses under their gowns.  I love going and seeing how mature some of them look.

Come Monday, I'll share some pictures of the decorations so you get a feel for this wonderland created by the Juniors.

Have a good day.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Darn Winter!

Rock, Ice, Lake, Frozen, Winter, Nature  Every time I think the warm weather is finally here, it gets cold again.  Tuesday evening it was pretty nice even though there was a wind blowing but last night the wind turned extremely frigid.  It was cold enough a thin layer of ice formed on the lake.

Spring in Alaska is a fight between summer and winter.  Some days its absolutely beautiful and warm, while other days its so cold you see chunks of ice floating on the lake.

When I got off of work, the wind was blowing so hard, water on the lake formed peaks which moved across the lake like synchronized swimmers.  Its kind of fun.  Its the type of peak you see in movies where huge peaks rush down a narrow canyon, trying to fall over but in miniature.

In addition, the plane kicked up a huge cloud of dust much like a small dust storm.  The cloud headed towards the lake but it never quite got to the lake before it dissipated.  This morning, it was cold with only a gentle breeze and lots of rain clouds.

It may very well rain later today but I hope not.  If it does, all the nicely dried ground will turn into the oily, cruddy, grab your boots mud.  I hate it because if you stand still at all, it tries to suck you into the earth.  I really hate the mud.  Really hate it.  Playing tug of war over your boots turns your walk into something more.

When I took a walk this past Friday, I headed out to the tundra and around by the river which is not fully melted.  There is a channel in the center where the ice has really started to melt but the only time you see a lot of water is a high tide.  This village is about 15 miles inland via river with a lot of twists and turns.  We are close enough for the village to experience both high and low tides.

Back to the walk.  At points we were walking on river grass to avoid fighting with the mud.  Lots of nasty black slimy mud.  Other times, we had to figure out how to cross a miniature pond without going through the middle of it and possibly ending up with water going into our knee high boots.

It was almost like playing the children's game where you can only walk in certain squares.  I really enjoyed it because the wind was rather warm.  When I first moved here, we still had snow on the ground till the end of May, now it is pretty much melted except for the volcanoes. 

The volcanoes are extinct but I understand if you head out past them, there is some really good fishing.  I've never been there but it is beautiful.  Maybe I'll go out later today and take some pictures for tomorrow.

Have a good day.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mother's Day Gifts.

Bouquet Of Roses, Pink Roses

My mother and I live about 1800 miles apart so I don't get to see her on Mother's day but I make sure I call her every year.  This year, Mother's day is on Sunday, May 14th. The rest of my siblings live near them so she spends it with them as they give her a nice gift or take her out to dinner.

Unfortunately, they live in a small town without any chain restaurants so I can't send her a gift certificate to use.  There are some in the closest city but my father is old enough, his reactions are not great and I don't want him trying to drive there.

So I'm checking out all those lists of suggested mother's days gifts but most of the things on the list are just not my mother.  She doesn't wear perfume, collect knickknacks, or get off on journaling.  I did find a few things for her.  When shopping for a gift, you need to keep in mind the personality of your mother.

1.  The Just Add Ice Orchid from Amazon.  To keep it alive all you do is place three ice cubes in it every week.  This is perfect for my mother as she loves to grow orchids but manages to kill them.  Last time I was on the Big Island, I stopped by the orchid place to get her four baby orchids.  The sales lady said "benign neglect" is the key. Unfortunately, she's killed three out of four so far. Maybe she'd be able to keep this one alive.

2. A bouquet of flowers.  Although my mother loves flowers, she prefers the live plant to cut flowers because she loves to fuss over the plants since her children have all left home.

3. A new summer hat to protect her from the sun.  My mother easily gets heat stroke and must wear a hat outside at all times, even in the winter.  Last time I saw her, she wore one of those small cloth hats.  I think she needs one with a large brim for Sunday's and other important times when she needs something a bit classier.

4. I just saw some fancy candy.  That is something she might enjoy.  Unless my father gets there first before finishing it all up.  She always shares with him.

5. Glass terrariums where plants are sealed inside the glass.  No watering, no care.  This is something she'd love because she could look at it and enjoy it all the time.

These are just a few ideas I found for my Mother.  My advice is to look at all those XX ideas for mother's day gifts to find something that resonates.  Something that says "Its perfect for my mother."  When it does that, you know its right for your mom.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Getting Ready To Travel




Aircraft, Manchester, Jet, Fly

Its May which means I take my first my first airplane trip in about two weeks.  I'll head up to Fairbanks and get there late in the evening.  I think I have two weeks there before I take my first long trip over to Hawaii.  Its actually for business but I've scheduled a couple days over there to relax and get more pictures for my blog. 

I think I'll take a tour around the island just to see what's new.  I used to live there years ago but Oahu has gotten so much more populated that traffic rivals that of Los Angeles.  On the other hand, there is a nice shop on the way to the grocery store that makes fresh pineapple juice.  It is so good with breakfast.

Once I'm home, I have about two weeks before I head off on another extended trip.  This one takes me to Phoenix and San Juan Puerto Rico.  My routing takes me through Seattle to New York before heading to Puerto Rico.  This uses my preferred airline.  I'll be traveling over night so no hotel but I do arrive with very little sleep. 

I think its time to invest in a decent sleep pillow so I hopefully will get a bit of sleep before I hit my destination.  Both trips are to attend conferences but I think I put an extra day in there so I can explore San Juan a bit before the conference starts.  This is the trip, I'm stopping off to visit my parents on the way back home. 

After another week, I'm off to Los Angeles for a few days for another conference.  I'm still waiting to see if I'm going to fit in a trip to Finland after LA and before I have to go back to work.  I had a coworker ask me if I ever take a trip, just for me?

Honestly, I don't because I can only attend conferences in the summer and I don't have time to take trips just for me right now.  If I manage to go to Finland, I am going to leave a few days early so I can make a stop over in Iceland for a few days.  Although, this will be the first Christmas, I don't have a previous engagement,  I might fly somewhere just for me.  Before you think its an odd time of year because its cold most places.  Please remember, I live in Alaska so most anywhere is warmer, even if its snowy there.

I'm thinking of trying to go somewhere just for the fun of it next summer.  Maybe I'll head down to Tahiti?  Who knows.  The future is written in stone yet so perhaps I can have fun.  I am not the type to take a tour. I prefer just wandering and exploring on my own.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Dancing

Today is Monday, the first day of the week.  Towards the end of last week, the school hosted two wonderful nights of dancing.  The first night students and their teachers danced while the parents and family members danced behind the students the second night.  It is so beautiful watching the dances.

video
The above is the 9th grade doing the dances they've practiced all year for this.  Each year, students learn a new dance.  Below is the 10th grade showing their skills.  Some dances are about hunting, or fishing, or making food or even sniffing snuff.

 The way dances work is they have the main chorus with two or three verses performed as demanded by the drummers.  The drummers in this village face the dancers with their backs to the audience.  Its not like this in all villages.  In some villages, the drummers face the audience but they are behind the dancers who dance to the music.  Men tend to be in the front row, while women stand behind them.

At one point, all dances were prohibited by the church.  Many villages lost their dances while others managed to save them.  It is said when the church prohibited dancing here, a group took the dances underground and kept them alive until they could start dancing in the open. 

At one time, all the students from kindergarten to seniors would dance but a couple years ago, one of the elders mentioned that traditionally only those in 3rd grade and above danced.  At that point, the school changed it and now its 3rd and above.  That does not stop the young ones from sitting in the crowd watching and trying to follow.

If you looked at the crowd, you'd see people trying to follow along and you'd see a teacher sitting between the drummer and the dancers showing movements to remind everyone what to do.  They do it the opposite so its possible to get confused.

Dancing is an important social event in the village.  Aside from two dance festivals a year, Cultural Heritage, it is done in memory of a person dying.  A person dies, they have the funeral, a potluck to remember the person and they finish with a few hours where family and friends dance in his memory.  The family holds a pot luck and dance on the first, second, and third anniversaries of the person's death.  It is their way to grieve.

I hope to publish a couple more dances later in the week when I've got them ready to go.  I hope this video works.  Please let me know.