Cold Hands, Warm Heart

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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.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Light, Part 2

Here we are, sitting in the classroom at the tail end of lunch, and the sun has made an appearance. This photo was taken at 1:05 p.m. As you can't tell, because I used PhotoBooth, which is for taking pictures of your own face, the sun is actually visible above the horizon:

Why have my last two blog posts been about light levels? Because it's dark most of the time. The sun sets, and two hours later I'm ready for bed. Except that it gets dark up here around 4, which means I'm ready for sleep at 6 p.m., and that's really not good for my social life, or sleep patterns.

Oh, darkness induced hibernation. It's a fun game.

Friday, December 9, 2011


We have reached that point in the year where the light is pretty much gone. Don't get me wrong, there is still some, in fact, outside it looks like this:

But this is about as light as it gets. We've had dense cloud cover for most of the week, and while the sun comes up and goes down, I don't see it, buried under all these clouds. At least it's stopped snowing.

According to the internet, the sun rose today at 12:23 in the AFTERNOON!!, and will set at 3:30, also this afternoon. That gives us a total of 3 hours, 7 minutes of sunlight. Except, of course, we haven't seen the sun in a week.

Trudging to and from school has become just that: trudging. There is a lot of new, fluffy snow that must be navigated. My boots are more than adequate, but I continue to wear skirts to school, and sometimes the snow gets higher than the tops of my boots. Or else my skirt is too long, and drags in the snow, and then I have a wet skirt slapping against my ankles when I get to school and put on my sandals. 

Soon, Christmas will be here, and I won't have to leave my house for days on end. Don't mock, it's a beautiful thing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Update on Life

I'm working on my online class right now, and am doing this as a break between writing my personal opinions on the forums. So, to relax from that, I'm going to... ummm... post my personal opinions on this web log.

Oh, I see the irony there.

My class is asking me to give my opinion on war, gays, Market-Capitalism, and philosophy. I find that as I get writing on these topics, that I am a lot better at telling stories about my ideas than actually telling my opinion. And for those of you that know me, you'll understand that I don't often have a problem sharing my opinions.

So here, in my blog, I will share some straight up opinions about my life:

-I don't care that I'm not the favorite teacher. I just care about that moment when the light goes on in a kid's eyes, and I realize that they suddenly understand what I'm talking about. It's glorious.

-I don't understand how a flight to Nome can cost $340 round trip, but a trip to Brevig can cost as little as $200, even though they're ridiculously close together.

-The older I get, the less my eyes, ears, and joints work. I've got three fingers now that make clicks or stall when I try to bend them. I don't know who said 40 was the new 30, because 30 is starting to feel significantly older than 20 did.

-I finished my Christmas shopping, but am concerned that I spent a lot more on some of my siblings than others. I find myself worrying that I should buy more presents for these people, so they don't feel left out, even though they don't really know what their presents cost.

-Sleeping in a room that is too cold is easier than a room that is too hot. One can always pile on more blankets. One cannot always take more off.

-Some authors seem to write more to show off how smart they are than to share information. (Stephanie Meyer is not one of these authors.)

-While movies labeled "Adult" are inappropriate for everyone, movies labeled "Children" are good for everyone.

Okay, I'll go back to my class now.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Not another apology

I feel like I've started every post lately with an apology about not posting often enough. So here it is: sorry.

I've been reading the blogs of some of the new teachers in the district: Stacey from Wales, and Mike and Lisa here in Shishmaref. Their posts are adorable, and funny. The thing is, I've already posted on the topics they're posting on.

I've talked about visitors to my house,
Walking with kids
Halloween traditions
Melting Snow
Blowing Snow
The joy of produce,
and countless other things.

We had a woman come up here in the fall of '04, and long-term sub for five months. She still occasionally e-mails, looking for information on some of the kids. And I've been known to say this: I know that we were the most exciting thing to ever happen to her, but for us, she was a blip on the radar, and has been gone so long we sometimes forget about her entirely.

I've also heard that when ones goes on a foreign mission, they should take pictures of all the weird and wonderful things when they first get there, because after six months, none of it will seem that odd. I've become this way about Shishmaref. I was talking to someone this morning about whether the coffin got here on the plane today, so we can have a funeral this afternoon. I'm sure that for most of you, the idea of holding a funeral because the coffin hasn't made it from Anchorage yet is shocking and unique. But for me it's become old hat.

Well, it's time for me to go get my sex-ed unit lined up for health class. The kids are pretending they're not excited about it. Uh huh. Sure.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

You're from Shishmaref if. . .

Hello devoted fans. I would start this post out with an apology for not writing more often, but that is a slippery slope of turning every post into a list of apologies. 

There is a new Facebook group, entitled "You know you're from Shishmaref if. . ." and there are some funny ones, and some that I just look at and say, "Huh?" 

I recently returned from three days in Anchorage, and there's nothing like ANC to show me just how different living out here really is. So I thought I'd share a couple things I remembered during that trip.

You know you're from Shishmaref if:

-you write town names as their airport codes instead of names. SHH, WBB, KTS, UNK, OME, etc.

-you don't think it's weird to try to play with random kids at Wal-Mart, because you're allowed to play with all the kids at the stores at home.

-you can't go through the Anchorage Airport without seeing someone you know. 

-you walk up to a stranger at McDonalds, and ask: "Can I sit with you?" because you're not used to eating alone.

-you gripe that someone bought out all the 12 inch tortillas, and then buy all the 9 inch.

-you take a quick shower at the hotel, then remember that they're not rationing their water, and take another one.

-you find that you've forgotten you ATM PIN number, because you never need it.

-you forget that people need to see I.D. (I don't think I've ever been asked for ID in SHH. Not for check cashing, not for voting, not when giving my statement to the police.)

-you see a hotel clerk help carry a woman's tiny carry-on while you shoulder your own 45 lb bag. 

Okay, that's about all I've got for now. I might add more later if I think of anything. Thanks for your patience between posts.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Time just keeps flying

The school attendance doc tells me that today is Friday. Who knows where the time goes.

There is no point to this posting except to say that I can't believe that today is the last day of the month already, and I'm confused about where the time went. Also that it's time to wash my sheets again.

We got snow last night. There's still some on my porch, which has been in the shade all day. Maybe I should stop wearing knee-length skirts outside. . .

Monday, September 26, 2011

First School Day of Fall

I'm not sure if this has been going on for a could days now or not. I just know that today was the first day since Thursday that I've walked to school in the early morning. (We've been in Stebbins for training.)

On the walk over this morning, I noticed that we had frost on the ground. FROST. This is, as usual, the beginning of the end. Wish me luck folks, it's all downhill from here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

New School Year

Once I got back to Alaska, I helped out at the Bering Strait School District Welcome Wagon. (Find a longer title with more capital letters, I dare you.) While there, I helped the new staff shop, get drivers licenses, and set up accounts at some stores. Also, there is sight-seeing. On my last night, one of my graduated students, Katherine, came out to dinner with us. Full disclosure: I drug the WW teachers along with me to have dinner with Katherine. Afterwards, we went to (something similar to but not) Wildberry Chocolates. This is the home of the largest chocolate waterfall in the world, so we had to get pictures in front of it:

After Welcome Wagon, I had several days in Anchorage to play with the Guy family. (Yes, their name is awesome, they know.)

Then several days in Nome, and home to Shish, sweet Shish. Since Amy moved in, we've done an annual Polar Bear Dip. Most places do this in January. That would require us to drill a hole in the ice, so we do it on a sunny day in August. The water isn't freezing, but it's pretty dang close. This year we had several new teachers, along with some friends of the pastor to help us out.

Once we were all settled into our houses, our staff, along with Gabell and Stebbens were whisked off to Savoonga for additional training. We're on a grant for school improvement this year, and there are requirements involved. While there, we were given shirts, hats, clappers, silly putty, whoopee cushions, and an assortment of other things to keep us happy while we learned the new programs. At "graduation," we were asked to dress in our matching hats and shirts. Here is a picture of Erick (who wrote Nacho on his name tag the first day, so now we call him that) and Amy with me at SVA.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Back in Business

As it turns out, I am unable to be logged into my personal Google account, where I can write on this blog, at the same time I am logged in to my school Google account, which we use to do our attendance (through Goggle docs, it's awesome. But maybe they're getting a little too much control of my life? Nah).

The first week of school is now officially over. So here's the update from Summer:

Several areas of The Church have realized that there are a lot of single people between the ages of 30 and 40, who may not yet be comfortable jumping into the "Single Adult" scene, so they've started a "Mid-Singles Group." And this summer, one of these groups went on a cruise around Seattle. There were also dances, dinners, classes, and games. It was a good time. Mostly, I enjoyed hanging out with my sister, Crystal, and my good buds, Megan, Heather, and Amy. I also got to know Yvonne better, which was great.  Also: boys.

 The most awesome thing that happened was driving with Crystal down to Utah, so I could meet Kendall for the first time. I know everyone thinks the babies in their own family are the best, but really, the Deighton genes produce some pretty good looking babies. This one is also smart, nice, and strong. All wonderful traits for a baby. She walks, babbles, and dances to Elmo's Song. We had a lovely time.

Also, I started my next class towards my Masters in Humanities. It's the Evolution of Life and Intelligence. There's a lot of Darwin talk, which has been interesting, but unconvincing.  Enough said.

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted a real one. In a couple days, I'll get the pictures from training and the first week of school up.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to Work

Okay! So today is the first day back to work after summer vacation. Luckily, my brain has not atrophied quite as much over this summer as I have let it in years past. For example, the year I refused to make any decisions. Someone said, "Get in the car," I got in the car. It was nice, but it made coming back to work REALLY hard.

My online class towards my masters has been going for two weeks now, and I've already turned in a paper, so that helped keep my brain going. Also, playing thinking games on my iPad. (Sure, that sounds good. Let's go with that.)

Yesterday was the 3rd Annual Shishmaref Teacher Polar Bear Dip.  And the water was frigid. Believe me. Actually, it wasn't any worse than trying to swim in the ocean in western Washington. And we did pick a day with scattered sunshine, so that helped a little bit once we got back out. 

The new schedule for the school year is out, so I thought I'd share it with all of you. Because of the new School Improvement Grant we're in this year, we are doing our usual week of inservices, followed by an additional week of training. To make up for those five days without kids, we're sneaking those days in throughout the school year. So if you see some Saturday school days, that's why. 

And in case you were wondering what our weekly schedule will look like, here it is. the blocks that we're doing in the afternoons will all be attended on Wednesday mornings. It's going to be confusing at first, but it should be interesting to see what happens.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


I'm so tired. Welcome Wagon was a success. More to come.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Okay, no pictures have been posted. No lists made. No posts entitled clever things like, "I went all the way to Utah and all I got was this crummy toothache."

I'm a bad poster. Unless one realizes that this blog is about my Alaskian adventures, and I haven't had any this summer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Yeah!! I was able to log in again. Updates about the senior trip as soon as I download pictures.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I've already written once about what "waiting" means here in the bush. Recap: to go to the city to wait for the baby to come.

And a funny update on that: One of Amy's 5 year olds told their mother, in regards to their new baby: "Maybe you should take that baby back to Anchorage."  Ahh, sibling rivalry.

But today's post is about the other kind of waiting. The kind that most of us do on a daily basis in a myriad of ways. Specifically, it's about the difference between waiting up here, and waiting over the summer.

Things you wait for, that I don't:

-The car to warm up
-The light to turn green
-Right of way
-Stalled trafic

-Lines at the grocery store
-Lines at the bank
-Lines at the laundromat

-Waiters, plumbers, road crew, tellers, cashiers, etc.

However, there are a couple things I have to wait for. Things that take considerably longer than most of the things you wait for. For example:

-Mail Order Groceries
-Mail Order Clothes
-Mail Order movies, video games, toiletries, Christmas presents, books, and fruit.

On the positive side of that, it's not like I'm actually sitting at the post office that whole time, waiting for my new clothes to come in.

-The dentist to come to town
-Airplanes - but I maintain that my waiting around for three hours wringing my hands to see if the plane is going to make it is far superior to your daily commutes.

I leave Shishmaref in a week, and all of my non-waiting will go away, and I'll join you all at the drive through. I'll be the one in the white pickup truck, with an exasperated expression on my face.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Last Day of School

Good Morning Everyone!!

Today is the last day of school for the students of Shishmaref School, for the 2010-2011 school year.

And I want to cry.

Usually I'm tired, cranky, and ready to be gone. Usually, I'm so fed up with my seniors that I'm glad to see them leave. I think they build in that 18-year-old attitude so we don't feel bad about them leaving. Unfortunately, this year everyone was sweet, kind, diligent, and hard-working. And I'm going to miss them!!

Actually, as I sit here, my first period class is coming in, and getting their work out to finish up and turn in before class is over. This is the LAST DAY of school, and we're on early release, and every other school in the country is cleaning out lockers, scrubbing white-boards, and taking down bulletin boards.

I'm not saying that isn't happening here. Brandi, for example, turned in her big, honking research paper yesterday, and I just didn't have the heart to make her start a new assignment. So today she's going to fix book shelves and put stuff away. Poor kid.

And while the rest of the school districts in the U.S. are having trips to the zoo, field days, and outside recess, we are still surrounded by this:

Sheesh. That's all I have left to say about this snow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Since when?

I once had the opportunity to travel to Elim, to visit a friend, Anna Squires (soon to be something else!!!!)

Their teacher housing has been made by gutting the old school, and building apartments in it. The old offices are now itinerant housing, and the old kitchen is now group storage. The other rooms got split up into bedrooms and had bathrooms and kitchens added to make apartments.

In the old school hallway, which is still the apartment hallway, one of the teachers hung up a big piece of poster-board, and they would write down when someone said something funny or insightful. One quote in particular caught my eye, and went something like this:

For the 2nd highest paid group of teachers in the country, we sure do dress like we're homeless.

I try to maintain a little dignity, but he's got a point. I've seen more sweat-pants, tattered t-shirts, and gym shorts on staff here than at any office or school I've ever seen.

Several of the principals have realized this too, and have started imposing dress codes on us. Usually the basic: No holes, stains, tears, inappropriate logos, etc.  As long as I can continue wearing denim skirts and embellished t-shirts, I'll be fine.

I hadn't really thought about this much lately, but today, while on Facebook (after 4, of course) I saw an ad on the side of the page:

Um, is this what you guys think we look like? And this ad isn't even for "stop being a cannibalistic serial killer and become a teacher" kind of people. No, this one is for CURRENT teachers, looking for their masters. 

Classes USA, if this is the sort of person you're trying to attract, I will not be calling you. Ever.

Friday, May 13, 2011

When I Get Home

-Watching the game with my dad (Which game? Don't care. Just wanna be there.)

-Facebook during daylight hours

-Going out to eat with friends

-Attending church

-Drive Thru


-Laundry in my own house

-Driving my truck

-Meeting new people

-Going to other towns on a whim, with no calling ahead to make sure their is room on the plane.

-Beaches that aren't covered in ice

-An abundance of accessible, fresh, and reasonably priced produce.

I can't think of anything else right now, but I'm sure more will come to me. SUMMERTIME!! Here I come. 

And for those of you not yet in the know, this is as picture I took this morning, Friday, May 13th, at 8:40 a.m.  There is a bit of a puddle started between the houses there, and the snow is pretty slushy, but there's still FEET and FEET of the stuff. I just want some solid ground to walk on. Is this too much to ask?!?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

An Ode To Facebook

Dear  Facebook,

You are like a friend. A true and good friend. And not only do you know me, but you know my family, friends, colleges, and acquaintances. Even the ones who have never heard of each other. You are there to pass on information about all of them, like a gossipy mutual friend.

You will show me someones entire summer vacation photos, with captions. Or, I can ignore all of them.

You keep track of birthdays, anniversaries, and current e-mail addresses. You know when people cut their hair, get engaged, and go on vacation. 

You allow me to send birthday messages, condolences, and funny remarks with little to no effort. 

Thanks for keeping me connected to the outside world. And thanks for letting me keep track of my kids here at home.

Love you,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Almost Done. Halfway. Almost Halfway Done!

I'm in the process of turning in a paper right now. It's "Loading." So I thought I'd wander over here and say hi to everyone.

As soon as this paper is done, I only have one more 15-20 page paper due for this class. And when this class is done, I'm officially halfway done with my Masters degree.  Which is nice. It involves a pay raise, and the overwhelming feeling of being done with it. Once I get up there on the pay grade, I can coast for another five or six years before I have to worry about moving up the pay scale again.

Not that I'm doing it for the money. The raise i get is negligible considering what these classes are costing, but in the long run, it will be profitable.

The real reason I'm doing this is because I've never really not been taking a class. After college, I had to take the Alaska history and multi-cultural classes. Once those were done, I was senior advisor by myself, which occupied all my time. And once that was done, I was at a loss. Sure, I was the cheer coach, but what was I to do with myself in the evenings and weekends? I'm just not comfortable vegging. Once this class is done, I'll have the summer to chill, and run around like a crazy person. The next class starts the first of August, then it's back to the grind-stone.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

10 Ten Reasons. . . Grown-Up Version

My previous students have been stopping by the school lately. I've been told repeatedly that they miss school, and wish they could come back. 

The funniest part is when they used to tell me how the couldn't wait to be a grown-up, and do all the grown-up things they wanted. Well, here's a couple lists about being a grown-up, from yours truly.

Why Being a Grown-Up Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be:

1  Can't call mom and dad to bail me out when I screw up.
2  Have to make my own doctors appointments.
3  Sure, I can go to sleep when I want, but I have to get myself up too.
4  I can no longer use the phrase "I'm just a kid" when I get in trouble.
5  I can buy anything I want, but actually have to deal with the bills.
6  Paying for insurance.
7  I get a big rebate on my taxes, of course, I have to pay taxes.
8  No one is here to take care of me when I get sick.
9  I can cook anything I want for dinner, but I have to wash all the dishes.
10 I get paid sick days, but it takes more work to be sick than to just go to work. 

Why Being a Grown-Up Is Awesome:

1 Cake for dinner.
2 Get to win the mayo vs miracle whip.
3 Unilateral control of the remote (well, as long as you live alone, or with 3 dogs).
4 If I'm sick, I don't have to convince anyone of it, I can just call in.
5 Don't need a note from my mother to buy something/ go somewhere/ come in late.
6 Set your own bedtime.

Sorry guys, that's all I've got.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What I would like to do is kick things...

...but because I'm at school, I will simply share this with you, devoted fan:

-Teachers are not stupid, nor are we blind. We see the cheating, the cell phones, and the notes being passed around.

-We are not "out to get you" or "picking on you unfairly."

-We understand how important your friends are, but will not let you put them before your education while you are in our room. If this means you get moved to another table, so be it.

-We are human. Sometimes we get tired. Sometimes we get grumpy. Sometimes we spell a word wrong on a letter home. (Sometimes we sign letters as the "Cheer Coack" ) It doesn't mean we care for you less, it just means we're busy.

-We don't appreciate comments about how it must be nice to have summers off. I consider summers as compensation for all the 60 - 80 hour work weeks I put in during the winter.

-Just because I hold a position of authority in the school does not mean I should be the one to "tell those kids over there to sit down." If you want them to sit down, tell them. Or tell their parents.

-We get the dirty joke. We've just trained ourselves not to laugh until we're out of earshot.

-We are fully aware that you are trying to drag us off topic. We see through your whole bag of tricks. However, sometimes we would rather talk about prom plans than particle objects too.

-We don't like research papers either. But they have to be done. So let's not drag it out any more than we have to.

-Weekends are my weekends too. As are early outs, and holidays. Please don't come in on Monday morning and ask me if I've graded something you turned in on Friday afternoon. I haven't.

-I get to have pop/coffee in the morning/ during class/ at my desk because I have a bachelors degree, and am an employee of the school. When you accomplish one of those two things, I'll let you wander around with pop in the morning too.

-I will give you all the pencils, paper, markers, and crayons you want. Please leave the pens in my desk alone. I only have 12, and I'd like to keep them. If you want pens, buy your own.

-Sometimes I just want to sit down and watch the funny things at the assemblies without spending half my time trying to get you to pay attention.

Most of these things do not apply to most students. Most of these things don't happen on most days. But sometimes they do, and then I just want to kick things.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Carnival

Okay, so I've been neglecting you, devoted fan. And I'm sorry. Apparently not sorry enough to write sooner, but sorry nonetheless. (Is that really one word? Spellcheck says it's one word.)

Over Spring Carnival, we took in almost $10,000 working in the kitchen. It could have been more had we gotten more pizza, and nacho cheese. The pizza had to do with the big store not having more when I went in there last time, and the nacho cheese was an oversight in ordering. However, we didn't start running out of anything until Saturday, including nacho trays, which made life interesting.  By the end of the day, we had run out of:

Ice cream
Nacho cheese
Nacho trays (does anyone want to buy some tortilla chips?)
Bags of Doritos
Peanut M&M's (actually, almost all of our candy. We simply have one box of Milky Ways, and three boxes of Nerd Ropes, and some giant jawbreakers)
Gatoraide, pop, juice, flavored water, regular water, tiki punch, and anything else for drinking.
Popcorn bags, (so we bought some cotton candy bags off the 8th graders) followed by popcorn seed. (does anyone want to buy a gallon of popcorn oil?)

We still have several hundred paper plates, red and white food trays, corn dogs, a gallon of regular oil, and a 50 lbs bag of flour. Looks like we should make some maple bars. Oh, wait. We raffled off our brand new bottle of maple flavoring.

The kids are exhausted. I'm exhausted. Our supplies are exhausted. The cash box is a giant fatty. (Not really true, we turned the money in. Don't break in to the school, it's not here anymore.)

Now all we have left to do for the senior trip is buy some plane tickets, and pay the rest of our trip fee. I'm super stoked. Or at least I will be, once I catch up on my sleep.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

That time of the year, again.

Well, as I type this, at 10:30 at night, it is still light out. It'll be light out until almost 11. I won't see that, since I'm already in bed (more because Amy is gone, and there's internet in here, but let's all pretend it's because I'm concerned with my sleep habits.) When I woke up this morning at 7:30, it was light outside.

And what does this mean? Pretty soon is will be light until midnight. And starting on that day, it will be light from before I wake up until after I go to sleep. Good-bye darkness. It is always best, when flying from Nome to Anchorage, to be sitting near someone else whose been living up here as long as I have. The day trippers don't realize how living with no darkness can mess with one. When the phone rings at three in the morning, but it's light outside, I get all sorts of discombobulated, and fear that I've slept into the school day.

I know that I've probably talked about this before, but it's the time of the year when this affects everyone up here. When I was locking the door for the night a while ago, I saw a bunch of 10-13 year old girls walking around outside. Since it was still light outside, their internal clocks had not yet told them to go to bed.

And, because I haven't posted many pictures lately, here's one of a couple girls trying on prom dresses at my house today:

Friday, April 1, 2011


I occasionally walk into the neighboring classroom and announce to Bob, "You will not believe this adventure I just had." And he sort of sighs and asks, "What happened this time?" So then I spew my craziness all over the room with my ranting and tearing up and wild hand gestures.

Today, to save Bob from this little slice of crazy, I'm going to share my Alaska adventure with you. Besides, isn't that the point of this blog? To let everyone down there feel better about not living up here. So here goes:

Because I like shopping for pretty things, and because I feel bad for my girls when they buy clothes online that are the wrong size and too long, I have started hitting thrift stores in the summer and buying prom dresses. Then I ship them up here, and sell them to the girls, pretty much at cost.

I have no real reason to keep these dresses in my house all year. Instead, they got boxed up and put in an external storage shed when we moved into the house, and they've sat there quietly for the last six months. Yesterday I decided it was time to dig them out. Prom is in 6 weeks, and if girls are going to try on dresses and buy one instead of ordering, it needs to happen soon.

When I went outside to open the door, I found a snow drift blocking my way, which, while anticipated, was less than thrilling. As I dug out the snow, some of which had frozen into chunks of ice, I realized that the job wasn't going to be as hard as I had first assumed. The actual door to the shed is built off the ground a bit. Under the snow there are actually two steps going up to the opening. This allowed me to get the door open without having to dig down to the ground, which saved a TON of time.

I got the first tup out just fine. Then I took a break, went to a birthday party, watched an episode of Bones, and waited for Amy to come home. She told me that while she showered, I should go get the rest. I told her I'd rather sit on my aekucq and play video games. (You can translate that one all on your own.) She reminded me that I'd have to do it sooner or later, so I gave in.

Tubs two, three, and four had no problems at all. However, when I went back to close the door, my foot hit a soft spot. I'd broken through the top layer of ice, and hit the powder below. I sunk in to at least my knee, and I was only wearing a skirt, so it was bare skin on snow.

I gave a pretty primitive howl, and the began to assess the situation. I was able to scoot my other foot back under me, get it on some solid ground, and pull myself out of the hole. My boot even came up with me. Not like the time my foot fell in a hole and my boot stayed behind and I had to have a kid run to my house and get my shovel and did my boot out because it WOULD. NOT. BUDGE. Nope, not this time, the boot came out too.

Unfortunately, I hadn't actually laced my boot up as tight as I could have. Mostly because I hate tying them, and this way I can slip them on and off like big comfy slippers. That big comfy slipper theory also means that when I sink my foot into three feet of snow, some of that snow is going to get in the boot. Also, some of the chunks of ice that I fell through.

I got my foot and boot out, locked the shed door, grabbed the tubs, and made a break for the house. (Okay, the front door was only like 15 feet away, but I had snow in my boot!) As soon as I got into the arctic entry, that boot came off. Once I got into my house proper the other boot came off, and I went to sit in my chair with my feet tucked under me.

Once I'd warmed up, I thought I was able to put the whole thing behind me. And I was, until this morning. I got up, got dressed, and was putting my first boot on when I remembered that I'd left my other boot out in the kunituq (arctic entry). When I went to get it, I was rather bluntly reminded that the temperatures in the arctic entry reflect the external temperature of the world, and not the internal temperature of the house, and to make a really long story short: There was snow in my boot when I tried to put it on this morning.

I scraped out all I could, but it was still a pretty wet, cold walk to school. As soon as I got into the building, I pulled that boot off, and walked to my classroom with a boot in my hand, and one on my foot. It's nice to know that I switch into my sandals every day while I'm at school. If I had to wear that wet boot all day, I'd be rather sad and grumpy.

Today's dose of crazy is brought to you by the Cabela's, snow, and Mountain Dew.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Scared there for a minute.

When I logged on to the internet this morning, I got the black screen of death. The one that says the content I am trying to access has been blocked.

This has happened before here in the district. I go every day to to every day and click the button to help feed the poor, provide mammograms for women, and books for children. Sometimes I even visit the sponsors and buy things. Last year, when the district decided it was time to reset the parent controls, that site became blocked, because one of the tabs is the breast cancer site. I had to go to the library and see if they would un-block it. It's not like I'm a 17 year old boy looking up pictures. I'm trying to do a slightly good deed for women in need. (And since that rhymes, it must be true.)

When I got the black screen on blogger this morning, I was sad. Today is my 147th post. I had plans to keep this thing going for a while. Luckily (and obviously) when I checked it just now, I was able to get in. Crisis averted.

You may be asking yourself: But Colleen, if you're writing about not being able to get on, what were you trying to get on for?!  And the very simple answer: umm, pictures of poorly decorated cakes.  Yup, that's my level of humor right now.

Break is over, back to work.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Okay, so my Parka (pronounced par-kee) is almost done!!  I bought the velvet, trim, lining, and wolverine pelt, and Ruby Jones put most of it together, but wasn't up to piecing the ruff together out of the pelt I had.

So one Mrs. Bessi Sinnok took on the challenge. She pieced it together like a pro, and now when I walk outside, my face stays toasty warm.

She's going to put a layer of trim on the bottom, so I can be a true Inupiaq, and I'm pretty excited about that.

Here's a bad picture of me with my hood up:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Last One, I Promise

This will NOT become a "whine, whine, whine, I'm old" blog. It will continue to be about my adventures in Alaska, and my students, roommate, night time phone stalker, the dude that brings our Snack Shack food, pilots,  fellow teachers, and Northern Lights.

So this is the last post about my birthday, and how the media hates me. (See previous post) I was on The New York Times, finding out if a man was REALLY dead at his desk for 5 days before anyone noticed. (Answer: no, that's a hoax), when I saw this ad:

Now, I happen to have a birthday that falls between 1920 and 1990, in fact most of the people I know do. As long as one is over 21, (and under 90) they fall into this category. There are 22-YEAR-OLD GIRLS who fit into this category. And yet, look at that picture. Do they think they're going to lure me away from my old car insurance (which I don't even have, because I live in Alaska, where I don't drive) with pictures of a 60-YEAR-OLD MAN?!? And no, I don't believe that man is 55. He is obviously significantly older than my parents, and they're not anywhere near 60 yet.

Okay, enough ranting. I had a lovely birthday weekend, even though one of my hours was stolen via daylight savings. Amy made me a cake, we ordered chinese food, played games at the pastor's house, and generally hung out. It wasn't the labor intensive and hectic weekend it could have been if we'd thrown a traditional Shishmaref birthday, with 6 cakes, 5 pies, three bowls of jello, cinnamon rolls, and juice, but a girl doesn't need that every year.

Amy, Kiley, and Kevin all have summer birthdays. We're thinking about throwing them a party after school gets out for the year. It's also a good way to get rid of all the rest of the eggs before we leave.

Friday, March 11, 2011

29, part 2

Okay, so my birthday is Sunday. And, just to rub it in, the pop-up ads are making fun of me.

I don't care if I am turning 30, that boy just looks a little too responsible and grown up for my taste.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


There are many things I miss about the general United States when I live in Alaska. Radio stations, driving my car, fast food, not carrying my laundry to another building to wash it, drive-in theaters, getting items the same day I pay for them, comparison shopping, buying shoes for their cuteness, and not just their cold weather rating, etc. etc. etc.

Today a small piece of the lower 48 came up to Shishmaref. A piece that I hold very dear. Now, when Amy's cousin's cousin brought us oranges and crescent roll dough, we were pretty stoked. These are items that we can't just buy at the local store. We could buy them in Nome, though. But that's not what I'm talking about. What I'm discussing is something that one can not simply pick up. It requires planning, forethought, and patience (things I don't currently have).

What came was this:


That's right, devoted fans. Mr. Dennis Davis, the biggest Eskimo I've ever seen, brought us Girl Scout Cookies. The kids tried to tell me I should share, because they were "hungry." Puh-lease. One does not eat Girl Scout Cookies out of hunger. One eats them because they are a little bit of American culture, and are slightly magical. 

The kids don't understand. They can't. It's not their fault, but I'm not going to give up my box of Samoas to teach them.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Apparently, I've made an Eskimo faux paus.  (Crystal, how do I spell that?) There are many superstitions I've long been aware of, but yesterday, I screwed up again. So in a couple minutes I have to go beg forgiveness and do the appropriate thing to get the bad luck taken away.

Before I explain this weeks screw-up, let's take a moment to look at some other pieces of information I was completely unaware of before I moved here:

-If you whistle at the northern lights, they'll come down, tear your head off, and play kick ball with it.  (This may have a little more to do with irritated mothers, but who am I to judge?)

-If you chew gum while pregnant, your baby will drool.

-If you raise your hands over your head while pregnant, your baby will get his cord wrapped around his neck. (oh, I see what you did there ladies. I don't want to reach up to the top shelf either.)

-The little people are real, and have powers. Don't mess with them.

There are others, but none are jumping to mind. With no further ado, this weeks' fiasco:

I was in the bilingual room, looking for one of my kids, so I could make him shovel snow, and I struck up a conversation with Bessi, the sewing and culture teacher. She's married to Warren the maintenance man, whom I love.

I was pestering our kids, and we ended up in a conversation about how I can't seem to keep ahold of any of my classroom scissors, and how several of the ones she has look rather familiar to me. Then I picked up a pair, and cut a loose string off my shirt.

Umm, apparently, that's very bad. Like, very, very bad. Shorten one's life bad. One is to remove the garment, and cut the string, or maybe have someone else do it for them. So now I'm in trouble. I was told that the only way to reverse the bad luck, and extend my now shortened life, will be to have someone sew on my clothes WHILE I'M WEARING THEM!! Luckily for me, I have a skirt with a one inch tear down near the floor. So I'm going to head back into the bilingual room, and let one of the kids put a couple stitches into my skirt. Firstly, this will reverse the curse. Secondly, hey, I have a rip in my skirt that I was going to sew up anyway, just not, you know, while I was wearing it!

So here I go, ready to beg forgiveness, and thread.

UPDATE: I am now cured of my curse.

I know that this may seem silly to everyone reading. I get that. When I first got here, I scoffed at pretty much all of these things. While I don't much hold with most of them, I find that I am much less likely to dismiss them out of hand.

For example, Uncle John (carving teacher, also, the man who owns my house) told me that if one had a tear in their clothing, the cold air on the skin could cause frostbite to that area, or even death, if untreated. And, since most people didn't have more than one change of clothes, or were unwilling to get naked in winter, it was necessary for one to have a friend sew up the hole. From this point of view, having someone else sew up your clothes while your in them would, in fact, lengthen one's lifespan.

I'm not saying I believe. I'm just saying that I don't not believe as much as I once did. Besides, I got a tear in my skirt sewn up by someone else, so that's always a bonus.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Getting Sick

I find the world we live in to be absolutely amazing.  And here's how I know: I got strep. Now, the average person would not necessarily equate getting sick with this great world we live in, but I've recently seen two sick people, and the differences between their illnesses has really struck me.

On Friday, after getting home from the ball-games, I found Amy with a grumpy look on her face and a need for sleep.

Saturday, while I was feeling good, Amy got sicker. Her temperature jumped to over a hundred, and she couldn't really get out of bed, and she didn't eat, and her tonsils were swollen. Now, if we were state-side, she could go to a regular doctor, and get treatment, but we were in Bush Alaska, and the clinic wasn't open, so she just suffered through it. 

Same thing on Sunday, where her fever jumped to over 102, and I had to come get her socks out of the dresser for her. 

Monday was Presidents day, so no clinic. I woke up with a tickle, but that may have been due to a stuffy nose and sleeping with my mouth open. I didn't feel bad, so I got on a plane, and headed in to Nome. I was overly tired that evening, but that may have been because of the travel, and the 20 kids we were chaperoning, etc.

Tuesday was a different story. I was sick. Like, really sick. The length of time we were required to stand up for the national anthem about did me in. So I headed to the clinic, waited two hours, got a shot of penicillin, and went back to bed. I slept most of the afternoon, and drank my fluids. 

I woke up this morning feeling tired, but not really sick. However, I'm still here in Nome, because the planes are not flying. And since I'm not contagious starting at about  noon today, I'll be back on duty this afternoon. 

The idea that I could go from a tickle to fully recovered in 48 hours just blows my mind. I mean, how long does it take to get over the chicken pox? 

It boggles my mind to think of people getting strep throat before we'd figured out antibiotics. Being as sick as I was for a week or two until my own natural defenses fought back would have been bearable, but could have killed me, if it had gotten bad enough.  

I feel really bad that Amy was sick for three days before she could even get to a clinic, and i was only sick for a day. 

And now I sit, or lay, as the case may be, a day after my shot, and I'm no longer contagious, just REALLY tired. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011


When I was younger, like 15, I got sick at school. I was too young to have my own car there and too far from home to walk, so I had to call my mom to come get me. But she wasn't home. I racked my brain, and called our family emergency contact person. After all, that's what they're for, right?

She came and got me, drove me home, and made sure I was safe inside.

But what does that have to do with living in Alaska, you may ask? Today we are experiencing a white-out.  It's not as bad as the one we had that caused us to cancel school, but it is bad enough that one cannot see 50  yards out.

The preschool has to sign their kids out to parents every day, but today, because of this storm, every kid in the elementary side had to have a parent come get them. They all called home, and parent poured in by the truckload. Okay, so we don't actually have enough parents to "pour" them, and there aren't really any trucks on the island besides the ones owned by the school and store. But you get my drift.

Elementary school gets out at 3:30, and at 4:10, there were still two kids sitting in the office, waiting for a mom. I feel for them, I really do. That is a feeling of abandonment that I never want to live through again.

But that's exactly what's going on. A grandpa came to the preschool and picked up one of the kids, and an hour later, they still hadn't made it home.  The cop was called, and a search party was sent out. Now we sit and wait. And this is the part where we wait. And hope. And pray.

UPDATE: They're home!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cop out

Okay it once again time for. . . WEIRD STUFF MY KIDS SAY!!

Today we have two contestants, let's meet them now:

Zander is a 16 year old boy from Shishmaref who's on the leadership team, the basketball team, and is adored by most of the middle school girls. 

And our contender, Austin, a 16 year old boy from Shishmaref who's on the leadership team, the basketball team, and is . . . wait. Haven't we already read this intro? Oh, They're also best friends. Good to know.

With no further ado, boys, give us your best lines. Zander, since you're, umm, taller, you get to go first:

Me: "If you could metamorphosis into anything what would it be? Would you go into your cocoon and come out with wings? Or 8 feet tall? Or breathing fire?"
Zander: "Yeah, twice."

Okay, that's very funny, Austin, you're going to have to bring the heat to beat this:

Discussing hyperbole: "Like when I open a cupboard, and a notebook falls out, and I yell, 'I could have been killed!' Could I really have been killed?"  
Austin: If it had a knife in it.

Oh, good one Austin. I'm going to have to vote for your quip. 

How about the rest of you. Go ahead and vote in the comments for the ridiculous statement you like the most!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Working on my masters.

Last week, I was working late, and Amy asked me to come home and play, instead of work. I told her I would if she could answer me one question, and she agreed. So I gave her the prompt for the paper: ·      "Compare Grendel’s encounters with Hrothgar to Beowulf’s encounters with Hrothgar." Her response:

Well, I think it’s complicated on both fronts, but more complicated for Beowulf, since he had a thing for Hagar, and wanted to get him into bed, but really, it was bad on all fronts. Okay, you’re done, let’s go home.

I remember a time before  I started working on my masters. I just don't remember it well.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowl Sunday

So, it's Superbowl day. Facebook is all abuzz with news of the football game. I, however, don't care.


And that's probably a good thing, since we don't have cable here in our house. This was mentioned a couple times during Sacrament meeting today at church, and how people were just as happy without it.

Now, I'm not saying I don't watch "my stories." I'm just saying I can't flip between them. Between Amy and myself, we probably own close to 30 seasons of TV on DVD. Everything from Big Bang Theory to Law and Order.

One of the things I like most about having TV on DVD is watching the extras, and directors commentaries. Also, I can hit "stop" and pick it up again later. Missing the commercials doesn't hurt either.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mirrors are not our friends

Okay, so occasionally, I like a mirror. Like if I feel like putting make-up on, or when I brush my hair, so I don't hear my mother's voice in my head saying: "Brush your hair, people will think you're an orphan."

Today, however, I noticed something in the mirror I never had before: the beginnings of CROWS FEET. Of course, I was smiling when I saw them, so I chalked them up to laugh lines. Then I relaxed my face, and they were STILL THERE!!

My mom turned 30 when I was 4, so I have little memory of just what it was she looked like. I can tell you this: I don't remember her looking old when I was tiny.

When I was in 8th grade, one of the possible electives was walking over to the elementary school we shared a field with, and TA-ing in one of the classrooms. I couldn't have been more than 13 when I was walking with a friend one day. We were discussing my great-great-aunt who had just passed away at 93 years old. (This is how the memory goes. If the math is wrong, blame it on my soon-to-be advanced years.) I remember thinking that to live to 93 would be quite the undertaking, and what would one even do with all that time.

Then I tried to think about doubling my life, and making it to 30. The thought was almost unfathomable. It's sort of like the flying cars we were promised. That's never going to happen. Or like the year 2015. Like that's a real year. I could just not imagine making it to 30. Or, if I did, I wouldn't be where I am now. I had plans, goals, things to accomplish.

Sure, I've done some of them. I have a degree, a career, and I've seen some pretty cool stuff. But I'm sleeping in a rented bed, in a rented house, far, far from Washington. And I'm sleeping here alone.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Church in the Bush

Amy and I only had a couple plans for yesterday, it’s just that every plan took longer than planned, and we finally crawled into bed at about 4 a.m.

Luckily, I have a very short commute to church. In fact, I have church over the phone. And as such, my commute is simply an 18 number code away. (19 if you count pushing the mute button. I count it, it’s important.)

There are some aspects of church, like taking roll, that takes much longer than it would in a brick and mortar building. There are some other things, like transitioning between classes, that takes MUCH less time than it ever did in the family ward back home. Of course, I think the singles ward I went to used to plan a longer break between classes, because their purpose was to marry us off.

Today, I taught Sunday School. And I find that I look at the clock a LOT more on days when I teach.  I thought I’d share church with all of you:

9:49 Hit snooze

9:56 Turn alarm off, find red glowing light that signifies the phone.

9:57 Call into church. Dial code. Find out I’m the 6th person to call in. Be surprised that I’m this early. Usually there are already 24 parties in conference, including me.

10:00 On the dot: start church. Opening song, opening prayer, and 6 minutes for roll call.

10:18 hititng mute for the passing of the sacrament for those families with priesthood holders.

10:23-11:00 two talks

11:01: Closing prayer for sacrament meeting

11:02 opening prayer for Sunday School

11:03 Start lesson
          Freak out a little because I don't think I have enough material to take up the time to 11:40.

11:08 Realize that I hadn't asked for any group participation. Ask for help.
          3 helpers! 
          Heave a sigh of relief that I didn't get cut off, and had been talking to an empty phone-line.

11:15 Unsolicited volunteers!!

11:18 Group Questions- wonderful answers

11:32 Realize that I have too much information left, and not enough time. Start to condense remaining lesson.

11:00 Realize that my time is up, and bare my testimony that I love my Savior, and the truth of the gospel. 

11:42 Done! I feel a little guilty for going over, but it was only two minutes. And it's not like I'm letting my class out after the other teachers are, and holding up everyone. After all, we only have the one line, and everyone is on it at once.

11:42 Closing prayer.

11:42 Turning meeting over to Priesthood/Relief Society

11:43 Opening prayer.

Because this is the 5th Sunday, the men and women's auxiliaries are meeting together. We are discussing raising children in the bush, and teaching them the gospel. 

I am not the only person online right now. Facebook tells me so. Of course, I can't feel guilty that they see me online, since they're online to see me.  I had a similar situation at a thrift store as a child. My mom was looking for second-hand furniture. After all, if bunk beds made it through one set of twins, it's more likely to make it through a second set. I ran into a friend from school, and she was very embarrassed to be seen at the thrift store. She didn't seem to notice that I was there too, but felt the need to make excuses for why she was there. 

But I digress.

12:11 A woman in the congregation who has small children is discussing her 8 year old son. I've met him while traveling. He is a pretty awesome kid. Actually, their whole family is amazing. And I love her especially because she comments during lessons, which helps others feel like they can share. Also, she loves Settlers of Catan, and that is also wonderful.

12:27 I feel the lesson wrapping up.

12:35 Closing prayer.
12:35 Hanging up the phone, and leaving my room to wash some dishes.

Thanks for joining me for church today.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Amy makes me open the cans she uses because her family has always had an electric can opener, and hers is on the fritz right now. I told her she needs to learn to use my manual one, but she says she has no reason. What if she gets hungry while I'm gone? "Don't even talk like that." I also told her that opening a can is a valuable skill during the zombie apocalypse, and she needed to know how to do it. And get this, she didn't even know we wouldn't have power during the zombie apocalypse. Silly girl. I asked her what she thought the people running the power company were going to be doing. They'll be at home with shotguns, using their manual can openers to open food. That's what they'll be doing. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Food, and how to get it.

Amy and I have been on weight watchers lately, so food has become a major topic of conversation, so I thought I'd share some of my Alaska food stories today:

-Since our village has no industry, and sewing and carving do not make enough for a family to survive on, most people here are on government assistance. Which means that on Food Stamp Day, the line at the store is huge. Well, huge for Shishmaref. So maybe six or seven people. I order most of my food, but if I go to the store, I avoid Food Stamp Day, and the day right after.  And yes, it should be in capitals, because as a student said, "It's like a holiday that happens every month, and is just about food." So when he sees me on the 1st of the month, he tells me, "Happy Food Stamp Day!" And I respond in kind.

-Speaking of ordering food. The seniors are going to do the annual Valentine cookie-gram this February. I have already run copies of the heart pattern, and cut out about 800 of them. "How?" I hear you asking. Well, I do it four at a time, while talking to my dad on Skype. It makes it go faster. We will be ordering 15 lbs of butter, 20 lbs of sugar, and 50 lbs of flour just for the cookies. Then there's all the stuff for the frosting, and the sandwich baggies to put them in. I've done it before with Saran Wrap. It's do-able, but not for the four of us that are going to be doing it. Sandwich baggies are just faster and easier. These cookies will be delivered on Valentines day to the kids' classrooms, and the teachers will pass them out during the Valentine parties. (Which we are still allowed to have up here, because we don't mind if it has religious connotations or not.)

-I will also be doing a food order. Now that I'm on Weight Watchers, I have to eat breakfast and lunch, and I find that my canned fruit supply is diminishing rapidly. Also, I'm out of flour, and I just can't bring myself to pay local store prices.

-Today we finished reading Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" in which a small town holds a lottery every year, and the "winner" is stoned to death to insure a good harvest of corn. It's a bit morbid, but most short stories worth reading are. When we discussed how in that time, in that place, those characters believed in what they were doing to ensure their survival, one student raised his hand.

(Aside: My largest class has 12 students. No one raises their hand, especially if they are sitting three feet from me. They just begin talking. I'm working on having them at least address me by name first, so I know that they're talking to me. On this particular student's first day, someone else raised their hand to be funny, and now this kid does it regardless, because he thinks it's funny, or he doesn't know better, or his last teacher made him. I don't know.)

Back to the point: In the story, Tessie is the scapegoat to save the village from starvation. My youngest student raises his hand. And he asks me: "Why don't they just go on food stamps?" And instead of just shutting him down, I asked where the food would come from, if farmers stopped growing it. True to the middle school mentality, he looked at me like I was a crazy person, and responded: "Wal-Mart."

Uh. . . I have no response to that.  Okay, I had a response. It's just amazing to see the thought process of a student who has never left the Alaskan Bush. Of course food comes from Wal-mart, silly teacher. Everyone knows that.

Since we're on the topic of food, I think I'll go find the rest of that Diet Mt. Dew I was drinking earlier. (0 points, just in case you cared.)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Skills I didn't know I'd need

When I was in college, we took a Technology in Education class. It was a well-thought out class, with clear goals and reasonable assignments.

We learned to:

-Make spreadsheets, and turn them into graphs.

-Download programs.

-Edit videos.

-Create posters in Photoshop.

And now that I'm a teacher, I find that I have very little need for most of these skills. I'm not knocking them. They're good skills, and for a college with a ton of money and computers, they're great.

In the real world, I use my old Frankensteined overhead projector more than anything else. Not because I can't have a smart-board, or projector. I have a projector. But if I use it, I have to dedicate a laptop to it, and I don't want to give mine up for the job. I could have a smart-board, but I'd have to take everything I have physical copies of, and scan them all. And one cannot simply Xerox a handout into a presentation.

Also, I find that scissors are my number one friend. I find myself cutting things out far more than I ever thought would be necessary. Right now, it's 1,200 paper hearts, for the senior cookie-gram. I'm getting that divot in my thumb again.

And no Excel document will ever beat out my paper gradebook. Partially because the gradebook is more portable, and I can write notes on it, and I can physically stick a sticky-note on it to remind me of something, and I can tuck a student essay between the pages for looking at later.

I love my classroom, and the things I have. As far as schools go, this one is very high-tech, and very affluent. I just would have liked to have figured out how to write on an overhead projector before my first day of school. My teachers always made it look so easy. . .

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pictures of Me

Okay, so I post pictures of myself on here all the time. Usually involving my different hair colors. I know, I'm obsessive. Leave me alone.

However, if one was to go to facebook, and look for pictures of me, they would see a startling trend started. And it's this: I'm not actually in any of the recent pictures my family has posted of me.

For example, I recently found out that my sister-in-law posted a picture of me. I found this a little odd, considering I hadn't seen her since the summer, and when we were together, I was the one with the camera. So I click on the link. And it's not even a picture of me. It's a picture of my brother holding his baby. Well, yeah, I wanted to see it, but when I rolled over my name, and that little box popped up, it was on her face. Curiouser and Curiouser. Then I scrolled down, and the caption was "Kendall on the phone with her aunt Colleen."


Oh my.

And sure enough, it's not her face that has been tagged, but my brother's phone, held up to her ear.  This is how I'm going to be known to my niece: Your aunt Colleen who lives in Alaska, mails you books, and is only a voice on the phone.

I understand that if I lived in Seattle, I would have only seen her a couple times by now anyway, but wow. And then,  when I looked at the next picture of "me" it was of my sister Randi on the phone with me. Depressed, I looked at the last picture, and found that it was simply a picture of the present Crystal gave my parents. It has six openings, so each kid put a picture of themselves wearing plaid in it. It's a cute concept, and it turned out well, but once again, the sisters got together and took pictures in a park, and I e-mailed mine in.

Contracts came out yesterday. I'll sign. I only have  one more year until I'm vested in the retirement program. Also, I have things to finish here, it's hard to find work as a teacher down state-side, and a hundred other reasons, like I genuinely like my kids. I'm just starting to wonder if what I'm getting up here is worth putting the rest of my life on hold for.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sick and tired of being. . .

Today, for the first time in three days, I've woken up without wanting to throw up. It's been a glorious feeling.

I've skipped around all day, been overly chatty, nice, kind, and sweet. I find myself getting up to get my own scissors, instead of asking a kid to pass them to me.

I know this happens to me every time I get sick. While I'm sick, I can't even imagine ever not being sick. My memories are tainted by my current feelings. I think about the time we went sledding, and I thought: How did I have the energy to do that? And of course, I wasn't sick when that happened. I'm sick now.

Also, now that I'm better, I quickly find myself wondering what the big deal was when I was sick. Why did I have to stop and rest on the couch just from the effort of getting up and getting dressed?

There was a kid in the gym today who threw himself on the floor in a dramatic gesture. I laughed at him, (which was his plan, I think) and I thought about the energy associated with youth. But it's not just youth. We live our lives, and have our battles, our loves, our hopes and our despairs. It's part of being human. It's a great part, to be sure. But without the emotions, even the overwhelming ones, this trip through life just wouldn't be worth it.

And in the words of Forest Gump: And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Yesterday, during 2nd hour, I looked out the window and saw the pink blush behind the city office that meant the sun was starting to come up. I was so excited that it was coming up so early, as 2nd period is pretty early in the day.

Then I remembered that we were having a late start, and it was already 11:30.


The bright blue square is the reflection of the laptop screen in the window. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011


As Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory would say: "People without a grasp of large numbers would call this a coincidence."

I was playing around on Facebook a couple days ago, and came across two friends who had each posted some pictures. I found the juxtaposition to be so funny that I took a picture.

Here are two of my friends: Bob Plumber from Skagit County in Washington State, and Harley Huntington, currently of Shaktoolik, Alaska.  Unknown to each other, they both posted at the same time two pictures. While these may not look related at all, this is what I took from it: On the left-dietary staple. On the right- how he got it.

Sure, for some it's about driving a car to the store and buying some graham crackers. For others, it's hooking a sled up to a snow-machine, heading out to the tundra, and shooting an animal.

I'm not saying one is better than the other, I just found the difference between how life is lived back home and how life is sometimes lived up here to be funny. Personally, I do most of my grocery shopping online, and then go to the post office to pick it up, so I don't have to drive or hunt for my food.

I'm just grateful that we live in a country of riches, where many different ways of life are accepted, and we have the natural resources to both drive to the store and hunt.