Cold Hands, Warm Heart

My photo
Nome, Alaska, United States
After getting burned out teaching high school in a tiny Alaskan town, I have moved on to being a child advocate in a small Alaskan town. The struggles are similar, but now I can buy milk at the store.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sunshine, like 2 Liter bottles of Mountain Dew, is not available in Shishmaref

It's currently 1:10 p.m. and I just took this picture of the sun peeking over the horizon.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Funding went through. I'm leaving on Thursday after school and taking two girls to Copenhagen with me for the climate change talks. Obama will be there.

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Intense Love/Hate relationship with my computer.

You may have noticed a lack of pictures on the blog lately. That's because I can't post them anymore. Also, I can't use the top row of letters on my keyboard, so I have a white plastic keyboard plugged in. Also, it rejects every disk I put into it at least six times.
There are also some red lines that keep showing up on the screen.
I don't think I've had this laptop very long. I can't really remember when I got it. It's maybe three years old. I did find out that the other teacher with this same brand is also having problems. In that her computer won't turn on. If that happens to me, I'm screwed. All of my presets are on this one, and my research for my masters class, and my student grades, and a lot of music. I think I'll go back some of this up on the server. Couldn't hurt.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ugh. The bush.

Like a responsible coach, I ordered new uniforms for my team two months before I needed them. Two weeks before I needed them, I e-mailed the company to ask where they were.

Today, FOUR DAYS BEFORE WE LEAVE, the school got a phone call from the company, letting us know that they never sent them, since our school address and the district address (on the check) are not the same.

Did they tell us this two months ago, or two weeks ago? No, they waited until today.

I called them, and left a message telling them just to send them to Stebbins, where the meet is being held. Wonder if they'll be there by Tuesday.

Here is a picture of one of our current uniforms, and why we needed new ones so badly:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Today, when I was getting ready for school, I looked at the indoor/outdoor thermometer my dad bought me. Yup, it was 10.5 degrees, F. That's -23* Celsius, for those interested. Winter is here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Mountain Dew Challenge

I feel a little bit like this should be written in the style of a marooned sailor: "Day 18 of my abandonment. Looked for fruit this morning, will go to the lookout fire this afternoon. . ."
So here it is: "Day 6 of my Mountain Dew deprivation. I worked at the student store today, and stared longingly at the glass front refrigerator."

Friday, October 16, 2009


Dividend, also called Div for short, is one of the greatest parts of living in Alaska!!
False rumors about the Div:
-You just have to be in Alaska one day a year.
-We all have to come up here to be counted.
-They give it to you when you show up.
-You have to be a native.
-It's different amounts based on how long you've been in the state.

The truth about the Dividend:
-Once you have been in the state for a whole calendar year, you are able to apply in March, to be paid in October. So, when I started in Aug of '04, none of that counted. I was here for all of '05, so that counted, and I got my first check the fall of '06.
-The amount being paid is based on the average of the last five years' profits of state investments.
-The first people to be paid are those with automatic payments to Alaska state bank accounts. The rest of us (who still bank at home), get our checks several weeks later.
-The first year, you have to have two people vouch for you, and after that, you can just re-up. However, you have to re-up, because they won't just send it to you.

Last year, the dividend was $1800, and we were given an additional $1,200 gas credit. A three thousand dollar bonus was very nice. It almost covered the extra cost of plane tickets, rent, and $8 a gallon for milk.

This year, it's $1,305. This will pretty much cover my plane tickets home for the summer. Yup, that's it. And people wonder why I don't come home for Christmas.

The key to getting a div is to remember that you can't get into the habit of spending the money frivolously, because then you get into the habit of spending that way.

Most of the people in the village have gotten theirs, and have already spent half of them. New shoes, iPods, and four-wheelers. Since parents aren't required to give their children the money until they're old enough (I want to say 16 or 18). That way, last year for example, a family with two parents and four kids would receive $18,000. Enough to buy a new boat, snow-machine, or other major purchase.

Everybody knows we're getting this money. Because of that, everyone is looking for their cut of our money. the following WONDERFUL DEALS are available right now:
-Car lots offer deals where you can get the car now, and can sign your div over to them later.
-Plane tickets are CHEEP this time of year, especially from Anchorage to Hawaii.
-Electronics in Nome are on sale, and we've all been given flyers.

Well, now it's just time to sit back and wait for my check to come in.


After my previous posting about my new need for glasses, and the overwhelming response I've gotten from some lovely ladies telling me to be nicer to myself, or they'll be meaner to me (I know, it doesn't make sense to me either.), I've decided to say some nice things about them.

My sister Crystal called me the other night, as Peg. Now, Peg is the regional President of FOMA, or Future Old Maids of America, for those of you not in the know. I can't be regional president, I just don't have the time. Anyway, here is a list of upcoming activities that Peg has informed me are upcoming:

-Thanksgiving Table for one Pie Eating Contest.
-The Autumn Ho-Down Chow Down, which consists of a gallon of Moose Tracks Ice Cream.
-The Christmas Sing-Alone. Where everyone sits in their own house, crooning their Christmas songs by themselves. It's not as sad as it sounds. Boots and Mr. Whiskers can join in the harmony.

There are some more. I'll write them down when I check the message again later.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Getting Older

For those of you not in the know, I am 28. This bothers me a little bit, but hasn't really affected my life. Until yesterday, when I got these:

Next thing you know, I'll need a walker.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Today, during my prep period, I grabbed the two girls I have in here, and went on an impromptu field trip.  I know, you're wondering why I have students during my prep. They're independently  taking a college course that starts halfway through the hour, so they hang out, then get their laptops and follow along. I'm so proud of them. 
Back to the point: Only one of my girls was 18 yet. The other is still 17, but we didn't want to leave her. When we got there, I showed the 17 year old how to sign in, and I let her go in my little booth with me and mark my ballots. I have a memory of my dad showing me how to do this when I was a little kid.

Side story: Once, when I was home from college, my parents loaded all the grown-ups into the van, and we all five went down and voted. They were pretty excited to see us.

While Holly, the 18 year old, finished filling out her registration, I chatted with the ladies, and in the end, we all got 

Now that we're back in class, Heather is doing work for her college class. She read out loud: "From the top of the mountain, Derek was able to take a breathtaking. . ." and then stopped. So I said, as I do, "panoramic" figuring she was just stuck on the big word. She looked at me in shock. 
"Exactly" she said, "how did you know?!" Turns out she's doing her Greek and Latin prefixes. Whoops.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I know some of you, devoted fans, are wondering what I do with all my time. I thought I'd give you a run-down of my last 24 hours. Not all of my 24 hour blocks of time are this fun, or full, but it is a good representation of where my hours go:

4-4:30pm Special Ed Meeting
Video Conference about cheerleading, which did not apply to me
4:30-5pm Went home, ate a pear, put away fruit that came in from Whole Circle Farms
5-6:30pm Cheer practice. It usually goes to 7, but I got frustrated by them, and ended it early. And yes, that cheerleader to the left is in fact eating an ice cream sandwich at the same time she's doing her sit-ups. I'm just glad she didn't choke on it. The picture on the left is parts of my squad from last year. I just realized, while putting this together, that I didn't have any so far this year. I'll see if I can fix that soon.
6:30-7pm Cleaned my room, gossiped with my neighbors.
7-8:30pm Open House for the school. Talked to parents. Watched Tobacco prevention movie. Again. Played with babies.
8:30-9pm Made salad with Amy. Ate salad. It was FABULOUS.
9pm Received phone call from 5 year old next door. It was an invitation to a party.
9-10:30pm Birthday party next door. Not a giant affair, just the family and 4 guests. Ate cake, played with babies.
10:30-11:30 Watched Alias with Amy. Play jewel something or other on my DS.
11:30-12:30 Read a book I will not admit to. (hint: there is a normal girl, and a vampire boy)
12:30-7:30a Dead to the world.
7:30 am Accidentally hit "off" instead of "snooze" on my alarm clock.
8:25 Woken by roommate. Have a freak out moment.
8:30 Clock in at school (I'm glad I live so close), take some ribbing from the maintenance men, who could pretty easily guess what happened.  
8:30-8:45 Get classroom read for the day.
8:45-12:30 Educate the minds of tomorrow's leaders.
12:30-1pm Planned the senior meeting with Melinda, played with the baby, (he comes for lunch too) and practice the secret girl handshake with some freshmen, who don't realize I'm not "cool" enough to know it. 
1-2pm Theoretically, this is my prep. But I have some independent seniors in here, and we spent an hour looking through catalogs for carnival prizes. 
2-3:45 Mentor young minds to reach new heights.
3:45 Kick kids out. Wonder where the first six weeks of school went. Check out, read the comics, and take a breather before the cheerleaders show up.

There are nights, of course, where we don't have open houses. Then, cheer practice goes until 7, and I go home and veg, or work on my masters class, or visit Steve and Angie, or host Ladies Craft Night, or any other of 50 things. Like the stained glass project I've got going, below:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Who needs birthdays?

Amy, Angie, Steve, and I have all gone in together for bi-monthly deliveries of organic food from Whole Circle Farms. However, they haven't sent us oranges yet. Mostly because oranges aren't grown in Washington, where the farm is. 

However, today, one of my kids brought me this orange, and I kissed it, and they thought it was so funny that I decided to share it with you, devoted fans. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

March may come in like a lion, but September...

Okay, devoted fans. I know some of you may still have some misconceptions about the "allure and romance of the North." I got past this a while ago. 

With no further ado, here are the pictures I've taken out of my classroom window:

See that white stuff behind the building!?! And on some of the sand!? Yup, first snow of the year.There it is again, building up along the edge of the portable. This is not the beginning of the end, I'm sure it will be gone by tomorrow. 

Also, I cut my hair off.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Sometimes, I let my roommate use my laptop. Hers isn't in yet, and the one she is borrowing from the school is old and slow.  Not mine, mine is new and fast, and pretty, and big. It makes large portions of my life easier. I can also look at both pages of the yearbook while I make it without having to squint.

Sorry, devoted fans, I got sidetracked. This is not an ode to my laptop, though that may also be useful sometime. The point I was striving for was this: Sometimes, when I log into Facebook after having loaned her my computer, I find that my status has been changed. Usually to something along the lines of "Amy is my favorite roommate of all times." This is funny, and not quite as inflammatory as the time my brother put on my post that he was my favorite sibling.

Today, I was going to share some thoughts with you on my masters class. When I turned on my photobooth, to take a staged picture of me reading (as it is very hard to take candid pictures of oneself) I found this: 

Apparently, she enjoys taking pictures of herself on photo-booth as much as I do:

And just so you know, she hadn't seen this picture when she took hers, and I took this one sometime last year. It's just a coincidence that we are both doing close to the same face. Or, we're both just too tired to hold up our own heads.

Also, she just stuck her head in and informed my writing class of this: A good essay should be as long as a skirt. Long enough to cover everything, and short enough to keep things interesting.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Today, in honor of 9/11, and because it was supposed to be an early out day, my writing classes got a break from journal time. We were supposed to be practicing using the four types of introductions. Instead, we chose, colored, cut, and taped up patriotic drawing onto our lockers. 

I received an e-mail yesterday, reminding me to hang a flag outside my house today. Then I remembered that I don't have a flag, unless I steal the one out of my classroom, which just doesn't seem right. So, I decided to make my students help me show patriotism here in the building.

This is Jack Pootoogooluk. (That's one of my dad's favorite last names.) He's coloring the flag that says "Red White Blue" on the bottom. Jesse Dubbs (short for "W," short for "Weyiouanna") is finishing Call of the Wild, so he can be with the rest of the class when we start up again on Monday.

This is the first one I made. I was trying to put mountains, and crops, and trade centers in it, but it turned out pretty crappy. Maybe, if I do it again, I'll just stick to the lines that are already there. Also, I don't have a locker to put pictures on, so mine had to be on my door.

Here is Miizuk Nayokpuk. He's pretending to hang up one of the pictures, for the sake of the photo. For the most part, these kids tried to make these nice. There is one, somewhere, where the Statue of Liberty has a face like the Joker from Batman, but otherwise, they're very nice.

Here are some more that the kids made, and posted.  I tried to explain the purpose of leaving some white space around the edges, to give it a clean look. I guess I never mentioned how much tape to use. 

On another topic: Did you know that if you are set to "Edit Html" it is very hard to write between pictures, because I can't tell where one ends, and the next one begins.  Yeah for "Compose."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My adoring fans

That's right my devoted followers. This post is all about you. And just in case you were wondering who you are, here's a map to help:

Now, some of these people are obvious. See the concentration in North-West Alaska? I know those people. I also know (and am related) to several of the ones in Washington State that are following my adventures. However, there are a whole lot that just shock and amaze me. 

Germany? Japan? Blanco, Texas? How do you even find me? Also, and more importantly: Welcome.

I'm pretty excited that you are reading my blog. I know that when avoiding work, you have many options open to you, and I appreciate that you've chosen my life to follow. 

Keep coming back, tell your friends, and I'll try to keep the funny and educational portions of my life coming.

And for your personal edification: These are actual pictures from Stat counter, a website that will keep track of visitor frequency, visit length, etc.  Mostly I just look at my map in amazement. It will help you figure things out, otherwise, ask Angie. 

Friday, September 4, 2009

A morning surprise

Guess what I found on my doorknob when I went to leave my house this morning. . .


No kids, that's not a balloon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

College Bound Reading List

In an attempt to work my way through the college bound reading list I was given back in '98, I sat down to read Call of the Wild, which I will be going through with my kids soon. 

For those that don't know, the whole book is told through the point of view of a dog. One who is half St. Bernard, and half Shepherd. For my own edification, I looked up some pictures online, and thought I would share them with you:

St Bernard. AKA Beethoven. Known for their size, strength, and ability to survive in the great and frozen North.

Shepard: Known for their herding and sense of smell. Note the long hair. Also good for the North.

This dog is supposidly  a half-breed between the two. I'm going to guess that Buck from the story had longer hair. 

If you haven't read the book, I would suggest that you give it a shot. The copy we're reading is only 75 pages, and cost us a dollar a copy. 

I am now a fifth of the way through the college bound reading list. Of course, I could go faster if I would stop re-reading old favorites, and snatching up anything by mph and osc.

Happy reading to all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School. . . Sort of.

We started out today, our first day of school, with an assembly in the gym. This is pretty normal. It's a chance to meet the new teachers, and make sure everyone goes to the right classroom.

Since I'm advising the 7th graders this year, I brought them back to my room after the assembly, and then passed out the schedules. We all high-lighted our own classes, then I took them on a trip around the school, to make sure they knew which classroom was which, and where to go. I don't know if the other teachers do this with the new 7th graders, but it seemed like a good idea.

Following our field trip, we checked all the kids' levels to see where they are, and decided if anyone was behind pace, and set goals to catch them up. This is also pretty normal first day stuff.

During the field trip, I noticed a pile of boxes on my front porch, so during lunch, I went home and put them inside. On my way back to school, I was informed by our village police officer that he was putting the school in a lock down. "Pretty early in the year for lock down drills, but hey, let's get it over with when we're not having real classes." Or so I thought.

We returned to our rooms, and the announcement came over the intercom that we were locking down. If you don't know the steps of a lock-down, here goes:

1) get any kids wandering in the hall into the classroom.
2) Lock the classroom door (by going out in the hallway to use my key), and cover the window.
3) Close all blinds and shut off the lights
4) Line the kids up on the inside wall of the school. If someone shoots through the glass door, the kids will be to far to the side to hit, and if they shoot up through the windows, they'll hit over the kids' heads. 
5) Make sure everyone is there.
6) Wait for the all clear.

Today, however, it didn't come. And it didn't come. And I explained to my 7th graders about Columbine. And about the kid in Saint Mike a couple years ago. Then I read them "Make Way for Ducklings." And still no all clear. 

Then there's a rattle in the lock, and it's the vice principal. Here are the facts as I know them:

-This is not a drill, there is someone in town causing problems.
-Students are not allowed out of the building, until the State Troopers come and fix the problem.
-Even though school is going to be out soon, we can't release the kids until their parents come to get them.
-No one in my room has a cell phone. 

So for now, we are:
Drawing on the board, and playing hangman. 

Sitting quietly, not doing anything, waiting for further instruction.
And making paper airplanes, which the boys have been throwing at each other for at least half an hour now, but they don't seem to mind. Every time one hits me or my desk, it goes in the garbage. They're down to three planes right now.

It is currently 3:25. We've been in lockdown mode since 1pm. School is scheduled to get out at 3:45. Now we wait.

UPDATE: The kids were all allowed to leave when their parents came and got them. The man was apprehended at 5, and is now in Nome. I'd guess county lockup.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Swimming in the Bearing Sea

This title is slightly misleading. First off, it wasn't the Bearing Sea, it was the Chuckche sea, which is part of it. Really, all the water touches anyway. 
This is me on the right, Amy Cellar, the new roommate, leading the way, and Timothy, the science teachers son. Timothy thought he'd like to come too. He even put on his swim trunks. However, when we arrived at the water, he chickened out. I find that I'm okay with this, since his parents didn't know he was with us. He's just really hard to stop.

Amy has already gone in, fallen into a wave, and called it good. I'm still slowly working my way out into the water. And if you'll notice the color of the water, you'll see that it was not a warm and sunny day. However, we were afraid it would just get colder, so we took the plunge when we had the chance. 
I finally got out far enough. I waited for the wave, and jumped into it. I swam two strokes, hit the gravel bottom, and headed for shore. 

Here we are! Brave and satisfied teachers. You'll notice how our students think we're nuts. We gathered a bit of a crowd of kids wh came to see what we were up to. You may notice that my legs are a little purple. They're not normally that color. 

We've been called brave, and we've been called crazy. I don't know about that either way. What I'd like to do right now is get all this sand out of my hair.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Just in case you cared...

Today, I drew out a calendar and figured out the first semester's worth of journal topics.  There they all are, on the sticky notes. Some are worksheets, some videos, (I love School House Rock), and some are things I've come up with on my own. However, having finished this beautiful mess, I am forced to realize that I forgot journal prompts, where the students write about themselves. Whoops. Luckily, I can put those in later, when I put this all on regular sized paper.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Excuses, excuses

Devoted fans, 
  I had big plans, now that I am home, to show you pictures from the end of the year that I never got around to doing. However, they won't upload. Not from photoshop, iphoto, flickr, or just by taking screen shots. Sorry.

Instead, I will tell you a couple funny things from Welcome wagon.

-My going away party ended at 12:15 in the morning, I had to be on the airport shuttle at 2:30, and on the plane at 6 am. When I got to Anchorage at 8:30, I was handed a set of keys, and turned loose with some brand new teachers. Poor brand new teachers.

-We used the tourist map just fine all day, but guess what? The tourist map has no reason to show our dorms. We ended up in a parking lot, calling the guides from the day before. Turns out we could see the road from where we were sitting. 

-Just because the post office is open 24 hours, that doesn't really mean they want to see you there then.  Actually, the post office employees were very supportive and helpful. 

-The heaviest the post office will let you ship is 70 lbs. Our heaviest box was 69 lbs, 14 oz.  That's right, we rock.

-Some people are very particular on whether they shop at Costco or Sams Club. Very, very particular.

-There is some unwritten rule about dorm life. It doesn't matter how tired I am at 8pm, I can't go to bed until at the earliest 1 am. There are just too many fun things to do.

-Checking over one's plane reservations will save a lot of wasted time and embarrassment at the airport. At least I was a day early, and not a day late. 

However, everything worked out, and I'm home. Sleeping in my own bed is a glorious thing.  I am also in sole control of the remote, and have yet to wait in line for the computer or the bathroom. On the other hand, there are no granola bars here, and I have to wash all the dishes.  
New teacher training started today, in Unalakleet, so I'm assuming that's where the new roommate is. We have high hopes for her. My first official day of work starts the 17th. We haven't made up a student schedule for the year yet, I don't think, so I'm pretty sure I know what we'll be doing with our time.

Also, just a heads up for everyone: I don't know when Angie is coming back, please stop asking.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The other side.

Devoted fans, I'm sorry that I haven't written lately, but I've been trying to get this list together. I know my last post was a list of things I was glad to have here in Washington, and now it's time to write the list of things I miss about Alaska while I'm here.

-Knowing every kid that I see in the store.

-Being able to do all my shopping through catalogs.

-Getting from one end of town to the other in less than 10 minutes.

-Not buying gasoline.

-Being able to walk to my friends' houses whenever I want.

-Wireless internet.

-My own bed.

Well, the countdown to heading for home is something like 19 days. Soon you will one again have regular posts.

Monday, June 1, 2009

She's baaaAAaack.

Okay devoted fans, here I am. I was feeling pretty guilty about not posting anything for two weeks, until I logged on, and none of the other teachers I read are posting either, and then I felt better.

Eventualy, there will be pictues from prom and graduation, and the senior trip. Just not right now. For now, I thought you could all use a nice bulleted list of things I'd forgotten I missed about the states:

-Fresh Blueberries.
-Pineapple that's not in a can.
-Animal cookies.
-Drinking water from the tap.
-Adjustable heat showers.
-Showers that aren't on a timer.
-Other people cooking.
-Comparison shopping.
-Cell phones.
-Church with other people.
-Cheap bread.

Well, for now, that's what I've got. I'm just thankful for these things.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm melting... MELTING!!

Well, devoted fans, I recently had the opportunity to go swimming in my very own lake. Let me tell you this: It's not as fun as one would initially think. When I was younger, I thought it would be fun to live a block from the ocean, and on a private lake. I have since changed my toon.

Along with my lake, please notice that my pole is almost uncovered again. It was almost completely covered last month. You may also have noticed that there's not a lot of places to walk between my house and my lake. Going home is a bit of a balancing act. You may have also noticed the sand on the ground. What it means now is that instead of tracking snow into my house, to melt and evaporate, I now have sand on my kitchen floor. Which needs to be swept.

Here is the snow pile behind my house. I'm not sure how long that's going to take to melt. I was talking to a woman from North Pole, Alaska, and she said they had rain, and that their snow was almost gone. Must be nice to be them.

Once again, the view down the side of the school. there is actually dry sand over there! The rest of the town is covered in these puddles, or else snow drifts, like the one on the right. And if you will continue to notice: above the red storage area is a glimpse of the sea, still frozen.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Crazy, crazy time

Okay, my devoted fans. Be aware that coming up are some wonderful pictures from Prom, and graduation. Prom was on Saturday, and Graduation is tonight. I slept through mothers day, but did manage to call my mom after I'd gotten home from decorating cakes at the school.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

View From the North

For those of you in the know, you'll realize today's post name is actually the name of a blog of another teacher up here.
While reading my comments to a previous post, I realized that most of you are unaware of just how close most of the places I go are to each other.  Standing on the front porch of my school, because I took these pictures during break, here is the view of most of my world:
That's my house on the left, the puddle in the middle, and Ken the science teacher's house on the right. Last night, a large piece of equipment came through and made our three foot deep trench go away. I was really excited about it, even if it got a little too close to my house. I can now walk to and from my house without trudging through four feet of snow, or a foot of water on top of ice.  If you've noticed the pole by the side of my house, be aware that that was completely covered with snow a two weeks ago.

Looking to the left of my house, you see the tracks made by the tractor, and also the building our phone lines all connect through.

Traveling farther to the left, you see my closest neighbor on that side, followed by a couple more neighbors, the school's truck, and that bright spot way off in the distance: The still frozen ocean.

Off to the right of my house is Ken's house. Behind him is some storage, and on the other side of a small road from that is the city water tank (blue) and to the left of the tank the city building (green). In the city building is the post office, police station, city council rooms, Shishmaref Dog Mushers Association, Pull Tabs, and another Pull Tabs place. Behind them is the SES, Shishmaref Emergency Services, because they need a warehouse for their equipment.  No, we do not have a red firetruck.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Okay, my devoted fans, I have taken another picture for you. First, for clarification, I labeled a bunch of objects. Thank you Photoshop.  I was standing on the front porch of the school, and once again used my laptop to take the picture, explaining all those really bright spots.

Right now, Lake Deighton is navigatable. There's also room to walk around it. Soon, we shall hit phase III, where I will have to climb over the railings of my house, because the whole distance between will be filled with water. 

On a similar note, the school is out of water. Out. The bathrooms have been locked, and several people have been running to my house to use the facilities. Just remember that the next time you have to go to a different floor to use the restroom. 

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lake Deighton

Okay, this picture is really washed out, but it's the best I've got for now.
On the very left is my house, right next to it is the small bit of melted area, which melted because the heat from the house has a problem staying in the house.
Then my pet snow-drift, the bin I empty the honey-bucket into, and there, on the right, that shiny spot: the beginnings of Lake Deighton. Right now, it's about two feet long and about 8 inches wide. Before this thaw is over, it will be 12 feet long, and 5 feet wide.  Keep an eye out, and we'll all watch it grow together.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Alien Abduction

Yesterday was just a normal day, but I knew that was too good to be true...

We would now like to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog for this important announcement:

For those of you not in the know, I had a little contest last week for a new name to call you, besides just "you". 

Here is the list of possible names:

  • Bob. You could start all your entries, "Dear Bob."
  • Since this Blog could be construed as a giant singles ad, I could address all my blog entries to "Future Husband" or "Prince Charming..."
  • Indian name for myself: Chief Shorts Under Skirt for Safety Reasons 
  • Fans
  • blogspotees, 
  • peons 
  • my people - Matthew style, or shorten the last to peeps, 
  • blog junkies, 
  • "Shtiya" which is an alaskan name meaning My Strength.
As much fun as it would be to simply refer to all of you as Bob, that might be a little confusing, as everyone knows my imaginary friend is named Billy-Bob-Bo-Ray, and I don't want any confusion. I can't think of an Indian name that wasn't hugely pretentious, or self-insulting. I find that calling you "peons" fits in the same category of "pretentious."
Since I am too tired after Spring Carnival, more on that later, to come up with anything of my own, I shall be calling you "my devoted fans." Or, more specifically, we'll give it a shot and see how it goes.

In conclusion, my devoted fans, it seems that the winner of my little contest is one Ms. Haley Beth Smith, or, as she likes to be called now, Mrs. Haley Beth "something-or-other." The funny part of this is that she is the one who gave me the idea in the first place. Thanks Haley. Present to arrive sometime soon. 

Thanks to everyone who participated.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled post.

Once we got the green slime washed off, no one noticed the difference. Funny, huh?

Monday, April 13, 2009


Over the course of my life, I have been called many things. Some silly, some sweet, and some just plain irritating. 
You, however, I have no name for.  In reading the blogs of others, I have been referred to as both a "blogging BFF" and a "gentle reader." While I like being both a blogging BFF and a gentle reader, I have a problem using either of these on you. Not because they're not wonderful, they are, but I'm looking for something a little more me. (And yes, for those of you thinking it: I know you're not gentle).

So, it's contest time. 

Feel free to put as many choices for what you want to be called in the comments section. I'm going to let this run for about a week, and then pick one. The winner will be sent a present. Probably of the Eskimo variety. Maybe something made of seal skin, maybe something beaded. I'll figure it out as the time approaches.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

State Testing

Hello Everyone!  For those of you not in the know, this week was testing week here in Alaska. Most states have some sort of test that proves students are bright enough to graduate. Here in AK, we call it the HSGQE. High School Graduation Qualifying Exam.

In a school this small, we have a shortage of places to put kids. Every grade needs to have at least two places for testing. Those with accommodations, those without. Students with accommodations run the gambit from just needing extra time, to needing the entire test read to them because English isn't their first language. Some of these accommodations can be upheld with others in the same room. Others can't.  Every possible room is used. Offices, the storage room the seniors keep pop in, one of the teacher's living rooms, and some other, unsavory places.

This leads us to the point of the post: On Wednesday, from the hours of 9:30-2:00, I was given four kids, in the absolutely worst place in the whole school. . . 
Actually, that's not entirely true. There is one place worse. The boys locker room. To get to the girls locker room, one must walk through the girls bathroom, and past the tampon machine. Here is a thought for you: I tested one girl, and three boys. If you think the average 14 year old boy can't handle walking through the underwear aisle at the store, just imagine what it was like for them to walk past that small white box.

Here is the girls' locker room. One table is still in there, but the other one has been taken back to the room we "acquired" it from. It's a pretty tight squeeze with two tables and five people in there. The bench couldn't be moved, as it is bolted to the floor, so one of the kids didn't even get the benefit of a lumbar supporting chair. 

For lunch on this magical day, they had burritos. Yup. Stuck in a small room with a bunch of boys on burrito day. When they felt the need to pass gas, they came here, the shower. As if, somehow, we wouldn't be able to smell them from this far away. 

The silver lining of this whole event was that I didn't have to call in to the office to get a chaperone to walk my kids to the bathroom like everyone else did. Maybe I'll talk that aspect up next year, and see if I can't convince someone else that they REALLY want to hang out in a locker room for 5 hours. 

Friday is the last day, and then we're done for another six months, when the retakes start.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Okay, Ladies and Gentlemen. It has come to my attention that I have not posted anything in six days. Who knew my life was so boring? Oh, turns out I did. 

I had the opportunity to help babysit some kids while their parents were "waiting." To the average person, this may be slightly confusing. Here in the Bush, waiting means something a little different.

While most parts of a pregnancy work just like you'd expect, delivery is a little different here, away from medical care.  Three to six weeks before a woman's due date, depending on the pregnancy, they leave town and fly to Nome. There is a Maternity house there, where all the pregnant women live together, and wait to go into labour. 

There are doctors in Nome, and most women do just fine there. However, when there's a problem, they get shipped off to Anchorage.

Right now, our science teachers wife is in Nome, waiting. If the baby doesn't come by Monday, she's getting shipped off to Anchorage, and that kid is going to be born on Tuesday, by hook or by crook. 

This separation, especially between the mother and the young children she's leaving behind is often stressful.  

Once the child is born, there's a couple days of recovery, and mom flies home with the baby. At a time when most women won't take the baby to church yet, let alone the grocery store, the women of my village pack up the kid and everything they needed for the last month, and get on a plane to return home. 

Have I mentioned that the women in my village are amazing? The women in my village are amazing.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Union Negotiations

In an attempt to protect the innocent, no names or actual numbers will be used. I'll just tell some stories.

It all started last year, sitting on the couch at the district office, going to the yearly union meeting. It was time for new officers. In an attempt to be friendly, my new buddy nominated me for secretary, and then promptly slapped his hand over his own name-tag, in an effort to keep himself from receiving the same honor. I have since learned his name:  James the Wrestling Coach from Shaktoolik.  This is how we keep track of people. 

Since I did such a fabulous job being the secretary, I was nominated for the bargaining committee. Is it a great honor? No idea. I got to go grocery shopping, so that's a bonus, but I had to leave my kids for two days a week before state testing, so that's negative. I think I was useful. 

We started out asking for a lot, and they started out offering a little, and after 7 hours of negotiating, we reached a consensus.  7 hours is the shortest time I've ever heard of. We had two and a half days planned, with two more next month in case we couldn't agree this time.  Everyone says it was amazing how quickly we agreed on everything.

In the end, rent went up a little, and paychecks went up a lot, and we'll all have enough money next year to put gas in everything that needs gas. Way to go us.

Sorry this is so short, ladies and gentlemen, but I have no clever pictures for 10 people sitting at a table, and no one wants the blow by blow. I could give it to you, I took notes, but I won't bore you with it now.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Grocery Shopping

There are several ways to get food to the table here in Shishmaref. One of the fastest involves going out and and converting an animal into a piece of meat with the assistance of a small piece of magic we call "a bullet." 

Here are a couple boys with the leftover packaging, after they converted the caribou into steak.

Here is the meat. It's drying out. It can be re-hydrated later for use in soup. 

There is also fishing.
 These guys were probably caught in late August or early September, and were cleaned, split, and left to dry. They'll be eaten over the winter. 

Another popular way of getting food
 is to buy it at the store. While faster, it is more expensive to purchase one's food. It also requires one to make decisions not required while hunting. When hunting there is one choice: the animal in front of you, or hunger. At the store, there are more options.  Food is brought to the store one of two ways, in airplanes all year, or on the barge.
 We get two of these a year. The barge brings gasoline, furniture, and anything else too large to fit on the plane. If you'll notice, this one has a piece of construction equipment on it. 
 The Shishmaref Native Store has four isles, making it one of the larger stores in the area. 
Always available are: Pop, bottled water, canned milk, and juice are available at the store for drinking. It also has a pretty good selection of frozen foods, considering the size.
Mostly always available are: Cereal, flour, canned goods, and dried pasta. Frozen hamburger, banquet chicken.
Pretty regularly available are: Cheese, eggs, and margarine. Potatoes, and onions. Frozen chicken parts. Bread.
Less frequently available:  fresh fruits and vegetables. They had six heads of lettuce last time I went, and half a box of tomatoes. There was also half a box of oranges, so I got some oranges and tomatoes. The lettuce wasn't worth it. I saw bacon yesterday. Hamburger buns.
Very rarely, we'll get bananas or kiwi. Red peppers are unheard of, as are melons and bagged greens. Hot dog buns.
We don't get fresh milk, cottage cheese, or sour cream. 
(Don't even get tricked into thinking that tomato is from our store.)

While you could live on the supplies in the store alone, it might get boring after a while. Luckily, there are other options. One of them is to fly to a store in Nome, and bring back supplies like fresh meat and produce. This gets pretty pricey pretty quick, and is bulky to try to hide in luggage.

A phone call can be placed to Wal-mart or Fred 
Meyers, and they'll mail groceries in COD. Then one just has to go to the post office and pick it up.

Personally, I get most of my dry or canned goods (pasta, corn, flour, pineapple, etc) from Span Alaska sales in Everett, Washington. Then I get my fresh and frozen stuff from Nome when I pass through. Union training, and dentist visits have kept me in the meat. I also have an additional freezer so I can keep larger quantities of meat and tortillas than the average bear. 

If you see me over the summer, and for some reason I just can't get excited over canned pineapple, this is part of the reason. Things that used to be a treat, like canned Mandarin oranges, which I can no longer stand, just aren't as magical as they used to be. 

Another guy I go through, for unusual items, is Mike Werts, out of Anchorage. I fire him e-mails from the senior class, asking for 20 cans of nacho cheese, 15 boxes of chips, six boxes of peanut butter cups, 1000 Mr. Freeze, etc etc etc, and he just buys it, boxes it up, and mails it to me. He'll shop at Walmart, or Costco, or the grocery store. Really, he's just great. He gets a cut, but it's worth it, and his shipments get here in four to seven days, instead of 2-4 weeks, like items from the states take.