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.

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.