Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Our Christmas tree.
Well, we’ve made it through our first week of Christmas break and Monica hasn’t smothered me with my pillow yet.  I believe this is because of her strong convictions that most murders are wrong.  It still makes me nervous each time she rolls over during the night. 

I’ve stated here before that we don’t have a store in our village.  This means that our ability to purchase fresh produce is limited.  There is an online outlet that will deliver produce out here called Full Circle.  It is expensive since it is delivered by airfreight, but worth it since this is the only way to get it here.  We get a box arriving weekly containing assorted vegetables and fruits.   The options are limited to what is available to them, but we’ve been getting hard fruit and a variety of vegetables each week.  I was a little worried about the amount of roughage we would suddenly be getting, but so far so good.

We have finished our first week of break, or as Monica calls it, “Cooped up with Clay”.  The temps have dropped below zero with the forecast calling for us not to see positive temperatures for a week or so.  With it that cold, we are not persuaded to go outside for any length of time, so Monica is cooped up with me.  I see this as the perfect time to spend with me, hearing about ideas I’ve come up with.  What she deems as bizarre, I see as brilliant.   One of my ideas is a TV show about an Amish astronaut.  Because of his religious convictions, he’s unable to use any of the buttons, levers, or dials that are used in his astronaut duties.   But he has the most brilliant astronaut mind ever.  So NASA sends up a monkey with him to be his hands while in the spaceship.  Well, we can all imagine what hilarity would ensue.  But Monica pooh-poohed the idea by consulting Professor Google and reading to me the tragic history of monkeys in space.  I reminded her that millions of people find Two and a Half Men to be entertaining so this should be a shoe in.  I’ll work out the title of the show later.  And not to worry, there will be a poop-throwing episode. 

This is about as high as the sun gets this time of the year.
Monica is working hard on her college courses.  She is working towards her teaching degree through Western Governors University, an online college.  She had a few troubles with taking tests because of our isolation and lack of reliable Internet service.  But that was fixed when our counselor was able to proctor her tests.  This got me to wondering if online colleges have online sports teams.  Do they have a team of students who are on scholarships that sit in basements and play Madden Football with other online colleges?  And if so, I wonder if I have any eligibility left.

Well, we’re down to -19 at sunrise this morning at 11:28.  The days will be getting longer now, so I can’t wait until sunrise is before lunch.  We are still lucky in that we still have running water and sewer.  Most houses around us have no water or sewer right now, so we’re just hoping not to be one of those.  The city workers are trying to resolve the problem.  But I’m not eating any of the fresh fruits or vegetables just in case.  Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Our winter break started on Friday and I am ready for this.  I strongly believe that having nothing to do is very underrated.  People like to talk big about how much work they do.  But you never hear people boast about how they loaf around all day and have nothing to do.  Until now.  I truly have no activities that require a large amount of effort during the Christmas break.  Eating may be the most physically demanding activity I do today.  Maybe I’ll put it in a small plate so I have to get up twice for a refill.  Or maybe I’ll just bring the skillet to my chair and eat it there.   By eating straight from the pan, I will increase my physical activity by have to dodge dirty looks from my wife.  So I’m not sure if the trade-off is worth the extra effort. 

Fishing on the Yukon.
Monica is learning things about me she probably didn’t want to know.  Monica and I have spent more time together up here than we have in any other time in our marriage.  Monica worked the night shift as a 911 dispatcher before heading up here, so our schedules were not in sync.  She’s beginning to observe first hand my slothful ways.  One of the things she hates is how I have everything I need at arms length (except the toilet) when I’m at my chair.  Luckily I don’t need very much, but I know I can get to it in short notice and without the extra effort of leaving my chair.  I know there are many other things that she finds exasperating about me, but I fear if I share them, everyone will know how big of a toad I really am. 

Something that I have discovered about Monica is that she can cook.  And cook very well.  Who knew?  I didn’t.  And I am a bit miffed that she never shared that information with me before.  We’ve been married almost 9 years and I’m just finding this out.  So, for all of this time, I’ve been doing the majority of the cooking (and eating) out of fear and love.  Now, I find out she can cook.  She’s been keeping this from me so she didn’t have to do her share of the cooking.  Not telling me this is akin to me having the ability to fly and keeping it a secret from her because I knew she’d pester me to run more errands.  I think that would be an abuse of my power, flying to Starbucks for a cup of joe.  But, it sure would come in handy for a beer run.  Or to show off at class reunions.

We had our school Christmas program last week.  After hearing ‘It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas’ constantly for the past two weeks, I’d love to punch Michael BublĂ© in the face.  So we sang that and we read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’.  The kids did a great job in spite of fact that their teacher does not have the proper skills or knowledge on how to choreograph our part of the program.  Guess I’ll start watching Glee. 

I have over two weeks to rest up for the second half of the school year.  Next week we can begin to count the hours of daylight as they increase.  Most of the teachers have headed south for the break, so it will be very quiet here.  Our school counselor is staying so we’ll have Christmas dinner with her.  Our snowmobile is scheduled to get here next week, so maybe we’ll have that to help entertain us.  Monica will be busy with her college work, so I’ll be able to play Tiger Woods on the Xbox.  The sad part is that I won’t be able to spend my break watching Oprah.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


The early winter has produced some pretty strong storms up here.  Usually, the strong storms appear in February-March.  We’ve had a couple already, including this weekend.  Our house is built on four-foot stilts so when the wind blows, our house rocks back and forth.  And not in a baby-in-a-cradle kind of way, more like a house rolling down a hill with lots of big rocks on it.  The house shakes violently when the big gusts hit, and shudders unevenly with the regular wind.

10ft snowdrift outside our front door.
Our village, Nunam Iqua, sits about one mile inland from the Bering Sea.  This allows us to enjoy the severe breezes the Arctic has to offer.  Earlier this week we had difficulties on the walk to work during a storm.  This storm brought about 5 inches of snow and 40 mph winds. The problem with the combination of wind and snow is that the snow does not spread evenly.  It piles in unfortunate places.  For example, right in the path I want to walk.  Some of the snowdrifts were taller than I am. The drifts we couldn’t conquer, we walked around.  Most times in ass-deep snow.  The land is flat, so we don’t have to worry about hills and the lake we walk on doesn’t collect drifts.  The lake we walk on is also frozen.    

After a storm, the path becomes much easier to walk on because people drive their snowmobiles on the path and pack the snow down.  The majority of the time, the walk to school is a pretty easy walk.  All of us have very good cold weather gear to wear, so the temperature really doesn’t affect us; it’s the wind that causes most problems.  But walking to school in a storm is pretty exhilarating.  And exhausting.

Now, I know that sounds like a lot of whining.  But it’s not whining.  The fact is I love the storms.  I love standing at the window, watching snow hurry past at 40 mph.  I also love the fact that I’m holding a hot cup of coffee, wearing warm slippers, and have a furnace that works harder than a one-legged man at a Riverdance audition.  I love that only inches away, the storm is raging. Yet where I stand I’m comfortable and untouched by Mother Nature.  When I was in the Navy, I felt the same way about being on the submarine: at 800 ft under the surface of the ocean, I was dry and breathing mostly clean air.  Well, filtered.  Actually it was nasty, but the fact that I was breathing was a huge comfort to me.  It’s also like standing two feet from the pit-bull who’s at the end of his chain, exhorting all of his energy to break free and eat my liver.  I’m not really sure why I enjoy endangering my life by trusting that things don’t break.  I do realize the fragility of what is involved because there is no way I could ever bungee jump. 

I’ll continue to watch the storm from the comfort of my living room.  I may have to transport a teacher to the airstrip tomorrow, but the worst the storm has to offer should have passed.  I will also rethink the logic of taunting a dog on a tether.   Which shouldn’t take very long since there is no logic in that activity.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011


The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a weird time.  Everybody knows how many days until winter break begins.  Kids are announcing the countdown when they enter the classroom in the mornings.  I try to remind them about the big picture; it’s the summer break they need to get excited about.  But it’s difficult for them to think about the summer when it is so far away.  It also doesn’t help when other teachers are so giddy about flying south for a couple of weeks.  I’m even thinking about telling the kids that there is no Santa.  I know it might break a few little hearts, but at least they won’t be so excited about the break and they could concentrate on their schoolwork.  It may seem a bit cruel, but in the long run it will be better for them. 

Sunrise out our front window- 11:15am
Getting groceries up here has been a challenge this winter.  We ordered the bulk of our food last summer.  These orders should last us for the entire school year.  We ordered a couple of hundred pounds of meat, cases of canned food, sugar, flour, etc… and most of that will last us.  The perishables are a different story.  We did an order in Oct for some items and it took over a month to arrive.  We also didn’t get everything we ordered and some items came frozen (eggs).  We order from a grocery store, Fred Meyers.  They take the order, send someone through the store with the list and a shopping cart, fill the order, and ship it.  Seems simple enough, but something broke down in their system. 

We received two shipments; one through the mail and one through a shipping company.  Their statement was that the perishables had to be shipped through the airfreight service.  This is expensive, but it does get here much faster and is kept in a controlled climate.  The problem with that was that the controlled climate was the freezer, as requested from Fred Meyer.  Nothing we ordered required freezing.  This included two dozen eggs.  Most of the order was shipped through the post office, cutting the cost of the shipping dramatically.

Our indoor porch this morning.
Most importantly, we got our toilet paper.  We were really counting on using that.  Unlike butter, I am unwilling to ration the use of toilet paper.  I don’t really want to consider how a person would ration toilet paper.  When rationing butter, you could just have butter every other day instead of every day.  Ok, butter is delicious and pretty important.  Let’s use broccoli as our example when it comes to rationing food.  But for rationing toilet paper, I don’t imagine it could work like that.   Also, I refuse to ration coffee.  I would rather go without than have only one cup a day. 

I may hold off on telling the kids about Christmas lies.  If I remember correctly, the Grinch was unfairly portrayed as someone malevolent and evil.  I’ve discussed this with Monica and she was pretty quiet on the subject.  Come to think of it, I don’t think she was even in the room when we discussed it.  Most of our conversations take place with me in the living room, talking and her not.  I find her more agreeing this way and she finds me less irritating.   Win-win.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


            Thanksgiving has come and gone and that once again reminds me how much I loathe shopping.  We have chosen to live in a place so far removed from shopping that we don’t even have a store in our village.  We are 500 miles away from the nearest Wal-Mart or Costco.  Being this far away one could rest assured that the crazy ‘black Friday’ thing could go unnoticed here.  But no, we had to watch it on the news, over and over.  This has become an event, with people choreographing their moves from store to store.  Some people wait in line for days in order to get in the door first.  This is the equivalent of me camping out in front of my dentist’s office so I can be the first root canal of the day.  People do this willfully, without getting paid.
            If it seems like I’m cantankerous about this, there is a perfectly good reason: I am.  I don’t understand it.  I must be in the minority, because after watching two days worth of news coverage, I see that most of the country is willing to stand in line in order to spend their hard earned money.  Additionally, holiday cheer is abundant.  Nothing says Merry Christmas like shoving an old woman to the ground in order to get the last 22” flat screen TV.

Thanksgiving with the gang.
            Ok, I’ll quit being so negative.  We did have a very nice Thanksgiving Day.  We spent the morning on the computer, talking with family on Skype.  Skype allows us to see and hear what others are doing without us.  What we’ve found is that they’re all having lots of fun and food without us.  After we spent some time on Skype with our families, we went back home to have our dinner.  We had all the fixens, cranberries included.  We also had very good company.  Essie, Brittnay, and Grover came over for the afternoon.  They are all teachers here too, so they did know us and willingly came over.  We all contributed to the menu and had way more than we needed.  I ate until I couldn’t eat any more, then I had pie.  I did wait for a few hours until I ate my second piece of pie.  Out of consideration to our guests, I had to try both the apple and pumpkin pies.  Also out of consideration to our guests, I kept my pants on after the meal even though both me and my pants agreed it would have been much more comfortable to shed them.

             We did have a very nice and relaxing break from work.  Monica has been working much more than we had anticipated.  She also will be teaching the preschool after the first of the year.  It has just been funded through a grant and we have been without a preschool for a few years here.  She will be setting it up also so that will keep her busy.  That and going to college full time.  She barely has time to wait on me hand and foot.  We have three more weeks of school until winter break begins.  We are staying here for Christmas, as it is so expensive to fly south for the two and a half weeks.  Hopefully we’ll have our snowmobile so we’ll have plenty to do.  Now, I have to get ready for ‘cyber Monday’.  I really hope it’s about shopping. 



Sunday, November 20, 2011


Well, the announcement came and once again I’ve been snubbed by People magazine.  The sexiest man alive was given to one of the ‘Hollywood elite’, ignoring the popularity of overweight, unkempt gentlemen.  Bradley Cooper may have some primal appeal to the American women, but the ‘Scraggly Beard’ look has become vogue for the fashion enlightened.  People was on the right track but they picked the wrong guy from The Hangover.  

The banks of the Yukon River.
Last week we had a pretty big storm, even for up here.  What made it so bad was the high winds caused a big surge in the tide.  There was no coastal freezing of the Bering Sea yet, so the tide was pushed up into the villages situated on the coast.  Winter storms normally occur later in the winter and the sea ice protects coastal villages from flooding.  We are about a mile from the sea, so we were spared major flooding.  We had water up to our house, but we’re on 4ft stilts, so no flooding damages to homes in Nunam Iqua.  But this does cause other problems.  We are on the banks of the Yukon River, and when you have flooding in 20-degree temperatures, it leaves an ice sheet behind.  Also, the Yukon already had a two-foot layer of ice on it.  The sea surge buckled and broke the river ice, pushing some of that close to houses.  A few years ago the floating chunks of ice, some as large as cars, knocked a few houses off their pylons.  People were nervous about that last week.  But we couldn’t just pack our valuables in the pickup and drive to higher ground.  (no roads) (or pickups) The Yukon Delta sits at sea level and the nearest hill is 15 miles away.

The weather had all of the airplanes grounded in Western Alaska, so we had no choice but to sit it out.  As it turned out it was not as bad as feared.  But what got me thinking was, what if something happened and someone needed medical attention?  I’m at the age where sharp pains occur suddenly and for no apparent reason.  Maybe they did when I was younger and I just ignored them.  But now, I fear them.  Any pain that happens in my chest area convinces me I may be having a heart attack.  I don’t know what a heart attack feels like, but I’ve been certain a hundred times that I was having one.  Or a headache reminds me of tumors.  But so far, no medical emergencies.  Even on a clear day, it would take at least an hour for a plane to get here and then another hour to get to a hospital.  So if I do have a heart attack, I hope it’s one of those slow moving ones. 
Morning coffee without heat.

So we’ve survived the storm without incident.  Well, we did lose power for two separate nights.  We realized how unprepared we are for that, since we had only two candles.  My mom did send up a flashlight that has a crank to recharge the battery, so that gave me light to read.  The real bad part was that we don’t have heat without electricity.  We don’t have a wood-burning stove, but it wouldn’t matter if we did since there are no trees here on the Tundra.  The school has a generator, so if it got too bad we could always head up there. 

I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to see if People Magazine has changed its biased and uneducated views on the definition of the word ‘sexiest’.  Or ‘man’.  Or ‘alive’.  I should qualify for at least one of their antiquated stipulations on their competition.  It would sure enhance my career.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011


This past week was a busy one for us.  It began like all Monday mornings for me.  The alarm starts squealing at 5am.  I shut the alarm clock up and fumble for my glasses.  I check the bed to make sure it is still dry.  I should say I check my side; Monica can check her own.  I sit up and take off my Breathe Right strips.  I’m not sure if they help with my snoring but I have stopped waking up in a panic with a pillow pressed to my face.  I then shuffle off to the bathroom to shower and get ready for the day. 

We had a teacher in-service on Monday, so we had no students.  A quiet day and we were able to get a lot done.  We also had our parent/teacher conferences last week.  The turnout was larger than I had anticipated.  I enjoy talking to parents about their kids and showing them what we are doing in class.  There seems to be a disconnect between some parents and their kid’s school career.  Formal education isn’t very high on some people’s priority list, mainly because knowing how to solve an algebraic problem doesn’t have much to do with hunting moose and catching salmon.  We are only two generations removed from everyone living a total subsistence lifestyle here.  This culture did not have a monetary economy; it was based on being able to gather resources to survive.  If you had more than you needed, you shared it with those who didn’t.  Their language was a verbal communication, not written.  Education was not done in classrooms formally but taught out in the tundra, learning by doing.  So I completely understand why some parents don’t feel that writing book reports are very important in their child’s life.  My job is to stand in front of their children and convince them that it is important. 
Friday night was our Halloween Carnival at school.  We had face painting, ring toss, a fishing booth, and Monica and I set up our X-Box with the Kinect.  We had it hooked up to a Smart Board, which is equivalent to a 60-inch screen.  Two hours of carnival time equals about ten hours of regular time.  We had a full house at the gym and a great staff who worked their butts off to make the carnival happen. 

I also have a birthday tomorrow.  According to my driver’s license and every mirror I happen to look at, I’m reminded that I’ve made it half way to 90.  I can’t imagine what 90 will feel like.  Friday night I sprained my ankle sitting in a chair.  Not while actively taking a seat, but while I was already sitting down.  No weight on my feet.  I pivoted my foot and felt a sharp pain.  You’d think with all of the practice I’ve had, sitting on my ass doing nothing, that I could sit safely.  Guess not.

Now, we have to get ready for trick-or-treaters.  I wonder where we are as a society when we encourage children to dress as monsters and demand candy from strangers.  And if the candy is not awarded to the little extortionists, they threaten to do harm to our dwelling.  And while they’re doing this, their parents stand behind them, quietly encouraging them.  Luckily, eggs are a very expensive commodity up here so we don’t have to worry about getting egged.  Unfortunately, rocks are free.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Fall is my favorite season.  The cooler air feels better in the lungs.  The leaves turn to colors that make even a drab countryside look spectacular.  We celebrate two holidays that require us to eat until we are ashamed of ourselves. We sneak up on unsuspecting animals, shoot them, have our pictures taken with them, and put that picture on Facebook, smiling with pride about how we outsmarted an animal that is still confused by headlights. Football starts Friday night and ends on Sunday night.  Fall is a grand three months. 

Here in Nunam, fall lasts for about 7 minutes.  The grass turns from green to brown overnight.  Since we don’t have any trees here on the Tundra, there are no leaves to turn color and drop.   Just one day it snows and winter is here, no fanfare.  It’s like when you are out with a bunch of friends and the weird guy just kind of appears.  Or how most people describe it: “Crap, Clay found us.” 

We finished our first quarter last week.  I’m looking at this school year like a football game.  It’s time to take stock in what we’ve done so far and make adjustments accordingly. I am seriously thinking about wearing a helmet and a cup next quarter.  Report cards are done and parent/teacher conferences are next week.  The time has gone by quickly and it has been a good quarter. 

Next Friday night is our Halloween carnival at the school.  Last year I ran the bowling booth, with me being the pin-monkey.  (Insert your own cruel joke here.)  This year Monica and I will set up our Xbox with the Kinect to the Smartboard.  This will give the kids something new and will keep me from injury.  Last year with so much bending and squatting picking up those bowling pins, I was gimping around for days after that.  It’s like I aged a year overnight.

We had a Saturday Fun Day with my class this Saturday.  With the help of Monica and two other teachers here, Brittnay and Essie, we showed a movie, made spider hats, and served lunch.  It was a good time for the kids by all accounts.  At least nobody cried.  This was the second Fun Day we had this year and I’m trying to do one a month.  This gives the kids a few hours of activities on a Saturday.  There is no other place in town for the kids to go to.  They literally have no place to go other than their house or play outside.  As I’ve said on here before, we don’t even have a store in the village.  Now that it is below freezing in both the day and night, being inside where it’s warm is nice for the kids. 

Monica and my spider hats.
Now that we won’t see many days with the temperature above freezing, it might be time to drag out the cold weather parka.  I’m waiting for someone else to use theirs first so I won’t look like a wimp.  Nothing will put your manhood into question quicker than overdressing for the weather.  Or wearing white after Labor Day.  At least I can put my shorts away now and wear my Levis.  

Saturday, October 8, 2011


October is here and cooler weather came with it.  We’ve had some hard frosts and we had snowflakes yesterday.  Nothing stuck, but it was still snow.  It isn’t light outside till 9am, so we get to see some nice sunrises during school; those never get tiresome to watch. 

I spent part of last week in Hooper Bay, which is a larger school in our district.  Half of the district’s teachers met there for our in-service.  We flew out of here on Wed. and came home Friday night.  We were accommodated the floor of a third grade classroom.  I did have an air mattress, so at least I didn’t have to touch the floor with my head or side of my face.  Third graders are not discriminate about where they step so I can’t imagine good things being in the carpet.  Well, gummi worms are good, but not to sleep on.  Dog poop is not good for anything, especially not to sleep on.  Now I have to take another shower.

We talked about curriculum and classroom management.  Talking about curriculum is usually coma inducing and this time it was no different.  When talking about classroom management, it became teachers trying to out-story each other.  Everyone’s anecdote was worse than the others.  It seems that vampires and werewolves are alive and well up here too.

Anytime teachers clump together, a single phrase seems to always come up: teachable moments.  In college, they told us ‘teachable moments’ were times when something unexpected happens and you use that situation to teach something important to the student blah, blah, blah.  I have found that when something unexpected happens that is a good time to yell at students.  Last week I came upon an unexpected situation and I decided to leave what was said alone.

I was showing the class some pictures I took during a vacation to Washington DC a few years ago.  When the Lincoln Memorial picture came up, one of my 4th graders started to tell the rest of the class about the Memorial.  He pointed out that it is huge and that Lincoln’s hands are positioned so one shows strength and one shows compassion.  (I did not know that.)  The rest of the class was listening attentively as the student talked about Lincoln’s life as a lawyer and then as President.  He told the class solemnly that President Lincoln was shot in a theater while watching a play.  One of the students asked why he was killed.  The student calmly explained that Lincoln wore a tall hat and the guy behind him couldn’t see the play so he shot him.

I know, I should have corrected him and explained how Castro plotted with the CIA to kill Lincoln because of his views on Israel.  Wait, that was Garfield.  Anyways, I didn’t correct him because I saw the way the kids were listening to him.  They will learn soon enough why and how he died, but they will always remember that he was shot in a theater.  Another reason I didn’t correct him was because I was laughing so hard.  Quietly.

It is always fun to listen to what the kids infer or make up on their own.  But I guess they’re learning something, I know I am.  Transferring knowledge is important.  I for one will never wear a stovepipe hat where it can obscure the view of another patron in the theater.  Lesson learned Mr. Booth.

Monday, September 26, 2011


The days are getting shorter. Well not the hours in a day, it’s still 24 hours, just the daylight. We are losing about 6 minutes of daylight each day so it adds up fast. It’s not getting light until after 8:30, so when I sleep in on the weekends it feels like I’m getting up real early because it is still dark outside. The problem is that I get real sleepy when it gets dark. Like going to bed sleepy. Which is fine now, but in a month, it will be dark by five, so I’ll be getting plenty of sleep this winter.

I teach three separate grades: 3rd, 4th, and 5th. The great thing about that is that I get about two-thirds of the same kids back the next year. The bad thing about that is that I get about two-thirds of the same kids back the next year. Really, it is a good thing. It’s nice to know the kids and what they are like in the classroom. It also really helps me because they know me and how I rule my classroom. They know how much they can get away with and how much they can’t. They also know what it means when my left eye starts twitching.

This means that the third graders are the newbies in the class. They sit in their cluster and watch me with curiosity and skepticism. They are not sure if they should fear me or laugh at me. The other two grades already know that answer: they laugh nervously. One of my new students reported to me that she needed a drink because her “lungs are dry.” I told Auquawoman to wait until our next break, promising her that she would not die of thirst.

I use a graphic organizer for writing in my class and it is labeled ‘THEMATIC WEB’. Last week I had my class write about their favorite movie and we used the graphic organizer to help organize our writing. (I’m thinking you wish I was using one for my writing.) The organizer has a main topic box and six ‘detail’ boxes that connect to the main topic box. The students were to put the title of their favorite movie in the ‘main topic’ box and then add six details in each of the ‘detail boxes’. One student’s favorite movie was “The Matic Web”. Apparently it was a story about a spider, named Matic, who weaves webs and talks with pigs.

I had my hair cut today. Since there isn’t a barber for a couple hundred miles, we ordered clippers from and Monica cuts my hair. She’s done this for years because I don’t like other people standing that close to me, touching my head. I’m not really fond of her touching my head, but since she said I looked like Friar Tuck, I knew I needed to get it cut. I also decided to trim my beard right after my haircut. You know, the whole package. I hadn’t had my hair cut since May. It is depressing to see that the amount of beard trimmings was more than my hair trimmings. It is bizarre to have hair disappearing from my head and migrating to my shoulders, sprouting in places they hadn’t been before. I even found one growing inside of my ear. How can that be useful to our species?

Not only is it getting darker, it is getting colder. I saw the weather forecast for next week and we may get snow by the end of the week. I don’t have to shovel it or drive in it, so I say bring it on. It’ll be nice to see the snow falling while I’m reading my new book about Matic and her friends.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Week four is done and I don’t have much to whine about.  Last year it was nice to write my blog and bellyache, since Monica wasn’t hear to suffer my babbling.  But she is able to hear it firsthand this year.  Since writing is similar to work, and I’m lazy, I tend to whine more with my face-hole than with writing.  That’s my pseudo-attempt at making an excuse as to why I didn’t write a blog last week.

I was in Anchorage last week, receiving training for a tutoring program I will be helping with this year.  Our school offers an after school program for up to 15 kids three days a week.  It is administered by an outside group, which sets up the curriculum and even provides snacks.   Another teacher and I will be sharing the duties of managing the program from our end.  This will give us a few extra bucks to go towards our next purchase: a snowmobile.

Well, it’s called a snowmachine up here but I’ll stick with using my southern accent.  Having a snowmobile would give us something to do while it’s frozen outside, besides just watching TV.  Not that TV is all bad, but getting cabin fever may be dangerous this year.  I don’t know how Monica will handle being up here all winter, knowing there are sharp objects in the kitchen drawers.  Plus, when I’m asleep I snore.  Loudly.  And I have no way to defend myself while sleeping.  So this snowmobile purchase just may save my life.  It would also allow us to do some shopping at an actual store.  Emmonak is about 20 miles away on the Yukon River and has two stores.  Once the river freezes by the first part of Dec., it is used like a road for people riding snowmobiles. 

It will be expensive to shop there.  Just the gas will be a big part of the cost.  It is about $6 a gallon and may go up during the winter.  Food is pretty outrageously priced; eggs are about $5 a dozen. Crappy, small red delicious apples are $13.29 for 5lbs.  Monica went up there yesterday on a boat with some friends and bought a few things for us.  Eggs, not apples. 

Monica has been working more than we had anticipated.  Way more.  In 19 school days, she has worked as a substitute in 14 of them.  She has subbed as a special ed teacher, special ed aide, general ed class aide, and a math/science HS/MS teacher.  She has not subbed in my class yet, but maybe someday.  She will be starting her college career next month, so she’ll really be busy, with subbing and doing her own homework.  I’m not sure how the laundry will get done, but maybe the Laundry Fairy will show up.  I was the Laundry Fairy one year for Halloween.  Ok, it wasn’t Halloween, but it sure makes a Tuesday go much faster.

With nothing to whine about, I have to look for a new hobby.  The snowmobile will give me something to do once it gets cold.  Until then, I can try out the Xbox.  Monica and a couple of other teachers have already started by playing some Kinect games (dancing and jumping around).  I have yet to succumb to the urge to dance to Lady GaGa.  Maybe the Laundry Fairy will help me with that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I realize I didn’t post a blog last week, but I was busy entertaining my parents.  Not entertaining in the way of an old-thyme Vaudeville act, but in the way of sitting on an old, uncomfortable couch, painfully realizing what people did before TV.  They talked.  They talked about mundane things that aren’t discussed much these days.  Once Philo Farnsworth put the television in living rooms across America, we were spared conversing about how one’s day went.  Now we can watch The Simpsons instead of listening to someone drone on about the difference they are making in the world.

But, we were without TV for most of the time my parents were here.  Apparently the cable that runs from the dish to our TV had an open in it.  We learned this by doing a little troubleshooting.  Our troubleshooting consisted of me holding a ladder and Monica crawling up on the roof, unhooking the old cable, hooking up the new cable, crawling back down the steep-pitched roof to the ladder that was firmly anchored back on the ground.  So it is a bit self-serving when Monica rolls her eyes when I explain how we fixed the problem.  Without that ladder secured to the ground with my anchoring skills, she may not have been able to scale the roof so we could fix the TV. 

We finished week two of the school year.  One of the great parts of teaching multiple grades (3-4-5) is that I already had 2/3 of the students in my class last year.  The new 3rd graders are still trying to comprehend what has happened to their lives.  They are still trying to figure me out; wondering if I’m serious when I tell them they cannot have a drink of water.  I’ve known camels that drink less water than these kids.  (Some of my best friends are camels.)  I give specific breaks for the students to use the bathroom and get drinks so they are not constantly asking for breaks throughout the day.  One of the 3rd graders asked is she could get a drink of water because her “lungs were dry”.  I’ve heard of severe dehydration before, but she must have really been experiencing an awful amount of pain.  I told her no.  The good news is that I know what I’ll be teaching in health now.

Monica has kept busy up here.  Not including playing a cable repairperson, she has worked 6 of 10 days substituting at the school.  It looks like she may be able afford to pay for her plane tickets home. She’ll be starting on her college classes in Oct, so she’s already on her way to a teaching career.  After taking two classes last semester, I swore I would take a year off before taking any more classes.  I’ll be taking a grad level writing class this semester.  Maybe after this year my writing will be improved and I’ll figure out what a transitive verb is.  I always thought it was a verb that dressed as a noun. 

The year has started smoothly so far but I know grief will show up a few times for me.  I have Monica here this year to complain to, which she is looking forward to.  Our pantry is filled with most of our year’s food and our freezer is filled with meat.  I am convinced I will have another great year here in a place called The Middle of Nowhere, Alaska.  I think I’ll have another cup of coffee and watch football for the next 14 hours.  (Thank you Monica)

Sunday, August 21, 2011



School starts Monday.  I had all summer to prepare for the first day.  I didn’t.  I had all of last week in my classroom to prepare.  I didn’t.  I even have the weekend, but I’m sure I won’t be ready until Monday morning at 8:50 when the kids walk in the door and wait for me to tell them what to do.  They will then do something very dissimilar than what I just asked them to do.  They’ve been ready for weeks.

After a weekend to settle back in, the teachers reported back to work last Monday.  Everyone was talking about the exciting things they did this summer.  People traveled and saw new things and experiences.  Everyone really loved my story about how we packed all of our things into boxes.  They were on the edge of their seats when I described in detail how I picked up each box and placed it in a U-Haul trailer.   You wouldn’t know their amazement by the way they pretended to not care.  At all. 

The week without students went past quickly and without incident.  This year I planned better for the start since I may have gotten smarter.  We’ll see about that on the first day, but at least I feel better prepared.  I hope that feeling doesn’t go away the second the kids walk into the class.

On Friday morning, my parents showed up for a ten-day visit.  I don’t think it will take ten days to tour the whole village, but they should have an intimate knowledge of Nunam Iqua by the time they leave.  They’ve already seen the school and have met most of our staff.  (Four people)

 Our house up here is a two-bedroom/one bathroom, so there is plenty of room for the four of us.  But it does change our day-to-day routine a little bit.  For one, Monica insists I put pants on when we eat.  Even when I explain that I don’t plan on going outside she is pretty adamant about it.  So, I put pants on and try to act natural. 

Another thing that is different is what we hear.  70yr old men make sounds that can be quite alarming.  I’m not sure if I should say anything because nobody acknowledges the noises.  Mom pretends they’re normal or at least she ignores them.  They frighten me.  The noises I mean.  Well, my parents do a bit too.

They also say things that I don’t need to hear.  One of the last things I need to hear coming from the next bedroom right before I go to sleep is my mother saying, “We can still cuddle.”  That is something I cannot un-hear.  It does make it a little harder to get to sleep after having that running through your head.  We were also treated with “Honey, were are my clean underwear?”  This implies two things.  One, a 70 yr old man is naked, wandering around the house, looking for his underwear.  Two, there is a pair of a 70 yr old man’s dirty underwear lying around somewhere.  I hope to God they are not the tiger striped bikini type.

I think I’m as ready as I will be for the kids on Monday.  Monica is working as a substitute classroom aide this year and will be at work Monday also.  I hope she listens to me when I try to boss her around.  I’m sure she will.  I just wish she’d hurry up and find those dirty underwear so I don’t step on them in the dark.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

8-13-2011 Part Two

Another passenger from Nunam had landed and wasn’t about to be stranded.  She called her uncle, who agreed to get her in his boat and take her to Nunam.  Grover was standing at the airlines when Monica called to check in.  They handed the phone to Grover and he said if we could get to the dock, we could get a ride home.  Perfect.  We gather our belongings and get a ride down to the dock, where we climbed into a 20-foot aluminum fishing boat. 

The hour-long boat ride home was an experience.  It was cold, rough, and foggy.  We couldn’t see both shores at the same time through the fog.  We did get a “Yukon face wash” during the trip, with the waves coming over the bow of the boat often.  The flat-bottomed boat gave us a punishing trip in the rough waters.  The other person on the boat had just had surgery, shaming me not to bitch about have the crap beat out of me.  But we did make it, wet and cold, but finally home.

We were both a little anxious about opening the door to our house because we had been informed during the summer that the house had been broken into.  We didn’t know the extent of any damage or mess that would be waiting for us.  Fortunately, the ones who broke in were just looking for a place to hang out.  The mess was small and not much was missing.  We did lose our DVD player, but the TV was still there.  Someone did leave a small deposit that was still there.  We have called this the Defiant Turd. 

The Turd was still floating in the toilet.  Monica was the one who discovered it and saved me from having to witness this horrific site.  Since she was the one who found it, she would be the one who would dispose of the Turd.  She claims it was scowling at her, and had mold on it.  When she tried to flush it down, it stayed above the water line and refused to be dragged down the drain.  Monica’s determination conquered the Turd.  It finally succumbed to the drain.  I was afraid to ask what her methods were and I pray she takes that to her grave.

If you made it to this point, thank you.  I know it was long but it’s the first of the new season.  We are happily settling in and I’ll start work on Monday, sans students for the first week.  Then my parents will arrive on Friday.  That will give me plenty of material for the blog.

8-13-2011 Part One

Well, we made it back to Nunam Iqua last night.  We left Tulsa on Wed and spent two nights in Anchorage.  That was our last time to get Starbucks, beer, and most foods available to people living near a store.  Anchorage was also a time to do a grocery order from Fred Meyers and a meat order from the butcher.  Both will take at least a week to get here, so we also packed a suitcase with meat and cheeses and checked it with our other luggage.

This posting will be longer than usual and in two parts, but I didn’t want to leave anything out.  Plus, you’ll have to read all of this to get the story of the Defiant Turd.  True story.

The trip started out just fine.  We left Oklahoma, where it was finally raining and under 100 degrees for the first time in three weeks.  We checked our bags and headed straight to Starbucks.  (Monica’s idea)  It was only 8:20 so I passed on by the lounge.  Sure I thought about it but I kept going, showing surprising restraint, considering it would be 9 months until I get to display my lack of self-control. 

We switched planes at DFW and SeaTac before heading to Anchorage.  These flights were all uneventful except for the usual crying kids and cramped spaces for sitting.  I’ve also noticed that since airlines started charging for checked luggage, the carry-on luggage is huge, which takes longer boarding and deboarding the plane.   Some people (those in front of me) forget that there is 100 other people waiting to get to their seats and spend an unwarranted amount of time stuffing their kitchen sink in the space above my seat.  I wanted that space for the kid.

We spent two good days in Anchorage, finishing up with shopping and last minute gorging.  We also enjoyed trading the hot Oklahoma temps for the much cooler Alaskan climate.  We left for Bethel, where we would change planes yet again.  It was raining but Grant Airlines boarded us for Emmonak, which would take us to our last leg of the trip.  This was where things went off track.

The weather was somewhat worse for flying once we landed in Emmonak.  We were grounded there and had to wait for our 20-mile flight to Nunam Iqua.  At about 1pm, the pilot came to us and suggested we start making alternative plans.  If I was on the moon and NASA suggested I start making alternative plans, I would have the same look of fear on my face as I did when the pilot spoke with us.  The pilot had the same demeanor as a Dr. explaining some horrible disease they’ve found in your brain.  Our problem was that our alternative plan was the same as our original plan: getting on the plane and flying to Nunam. 

I remembered I did kind of know one of the teachers in Emmonak.  Emmonak is in our school district so I used my one chance of an alternative plan by calling the school.  They sent the teacher out to get us.  She invited us to her house but we decided to stay at the school since she was in the middle of moving from one house to another.  Three hours later, we decided to call the airlines to check in with them, hoping the weather had lifted enough to allow us to fly.  Nope.  But, a teacher from my school had just landed and was in the same predicament.  Grover was about to save the day.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I have finished my first year teaching in the Alaska bush and will be returning to Nunam Iqua for a second year in August.   I’ve been back in Washington for almost two weeks and have eaten enough for the entire summer already.  I doubt that I will slow down my eating, since I like to stay ahead in that department.  People like me can stay in cold water longer without succumbing to hypothermia.  We’re also more buoyant. But on the down side, we may look more delicious to sharks and other people-eating animals in the ocean and swimming pools.

The last few days of school went by without any incidents.  The kids were ready for the break.  As I’ve mentioned before, it is staying light outside past midnight, so the kids are already into their summer mode of staying out past midnight.  The last two days of school consisted of watching a few movies and having a day of games in the gym.  The high school had probably a thousand balloons left over from the prom, so we had games that incorporated balloons.  The last game had the kids popping all of the balloons as fast as they could.  I know that sounds fun, but listening to all of that popping for about 3 minutes can be a bit annoying. 

I’m already adjusting to being back to the lower 48.  It hasn’t been as warm as I would want, but I’m surviving.  The first weekend back, Monica and I headed up to the North Cascades to our cabin on the Twisp River.  As seen on TV, the rapture was supposed to commence on that Saturday evening.  Monica thought it might be funny to slip away and hide at the predicted time, pretending to be ‘taken’.  I failed to notice she was absent since I was not paying attention to her in the least bit.  I was busy with beer, a fire, and a podcast from the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe and did not have the ability to keep track of one more thing.  One might think that I would be more curious about people suddenly disappearing, leaving us heathens behind.  But no, I was concentrating on my tasks at hand, totally ignoring my wife’s disappearance.  When she ‘returned’, she asked if I wondered what had happened to her.  I had no idea what she was talking about so I just smiled and said, “I knew you’d be back”.  Not the best answer, considering my moral compass isn’t always aligned correctly.  True to herself, Monica forgave me once again for something I had no idea that I had just done. 

Our summer is pretty much planned out already.  We have a couple of Mariner’s games on our agenda and a household move to Oklahoma.  We plan on moving all of the stuff we cannot give away in mid-July.  Monica’s family lives down there so we’ll be doing a lot of visiting before we head out.  We’ll fly out of Tulsa in Aug for another year in Alaska.

I am going to continue with this blog through next year, but I won’t be writing every week during the summer.  Once we’re back in Nunam Iqua, there will be plenty of new situations that will occur and I can write about.   I’m sure Monica will point out things I miss.  Now, if I can just find her.  I thought she was in the bathroom…

Saturday, May 14, 2011


No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.   That song can get quite annoying; or so I learned on Friday by the other teachers in the building, who not so politely told me to quit singing that song.  Apparently they didn’t agree with my style of teaching rhymes.  Also, limericks are not appreciated in the elementary level either.  But I dare anyone to find a better way to get kids to value literary art than to include swear words.

For all intents and purposes school finished on Friday, although we still have classes until lunchtime on Tuesday. The kids have made it clear that they are done learning for the year and I don’t have the will to bend spoons, so we’ll call it a draw.  They’ll be watching a movie and helping me clean the classroom.  I’ve also made a DVD for them, using video I took throughout the year.  We’ll watch that and I’ll give them each a copy for their troubles.

Students have been falling asleep at school more frequently lately.  I know what you’re thinking, but their daytime slumbers are not indicative of my teaching style.  Well, not entirely.  It is still light outside until past midnight, so the kids stay out much later playing, making them tired during the day.  It is also getting warmer outside now.  We topped 40 today and it didn’t even freeze last night.  This was the first morning in a long time that it hasn’t been below freezing.  The Yukon is still frozen and will be until after I head south for the summer.  A huge problem that can happen during the breakup is flooding caused by ice-dams.  We are seeing that now on the Kuskokwim River to the south of us.

With less than a week left until I head down south, I’m looking forward to a warmer climate.  I’ll just have to put things away for the summer and hope nobody decides that I’ll be better off without some of my stuff.  It usually isn’t a worry that someone will break in the houses during summer, so I feel our house will be safe.  I am going to hide the small TV just in case. 

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the blog after next week.  I planned on writing just for the first year, but I may continue with it.  This has been cathartic for me to be able to talk about my week without being interrupted.  Monica will be up here next year, so unfortunately for her, she’ll be hearing all about my day in person.  She tolerates my ramblings pretty well.  And when I say she tolerates, I mean she ignores. She has to.

I’ve baked my last loaf of bread for the year, so most of my chores are done.  Except for the report cards, but at least I can have toast at midnight when I’m still trying to finish report cards.  And I have learned my lesson about using limericks in the report cards.  Until I’m able to find something else that rhymes with Nantucket, I’ll be using Spenserian sonnets.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


I would like to start out today by wishing my mom a Happy Mother’s Day.  I would love to talk about the many things she did for me when I was young, but my therapist told me I should be careful with what I shared.  I can tell you that she has made me fried chicken for every birthday I’ve been home.  She is the one who taught me the importance of hard work and the value of living a clean life.  Unfortunately, I never heard a word she said because I was too busy goofing off.  Man I miss my 30’s.

Last weekend ended my semester for college.  I needed to take two classes for my teacher’s certification, so like a fool I did it this past semester.  I have two years to do this, but I thought I should take this on.  But I am a much better student this time around.  25 years ago, Eastern Washington University sent me a Dear John letter.  They told me it wasn’t working out between us, and we should see other people.  I was shocked.  I thought I was the best student a university could ask for.  I didn’t qualify for any scholarships, so they got full price from me.  Since I didn’t go to class, I did not use up the school’s resources.  Professors didn’t have to spend time grading my homework, answering any of my annoying questions, or yelling at me for bringing a parrot to class.  (You just look foolish in a pirate outfit without a parrot.)  I never used any of the school’s other services, mainly because I had no idea they had any.  I thought tutoring was a class on the British Monarchy.  I also contributed to the local economy by attempting to purchase all the beer in Cheney.

This weekend we are having our prom.  I was not invited.  Which wasn’t a big disappointment to me.  Or to anyone else I suspect.  I attended the prom twice when I was in high school.  Both times my dates were way out of my league.  They had no business going to the prom with a guy like me, and I’m not talking about a restraining order.  So I happily went.  This has continued in my life, since I over reached in marrying Monica.  But, back to the prom. The kids and most of our staff worked hard on decorating the gym for the evening.  Last year the prom turned into a basketball game, but the teacher who coordinated it this year said it wouldn’t happen this time.  I haven’t heard yet how it turned out.

We will have our graduation next week.  We are graduating two students this year.  This isn’t an unusual number of grads.  Some years there are none, so it’s nice to see a couple this year.  Unfortunately, the graduation rate is not where it should be here, so I hope that number goes up.  I do have some influence on this and I do take that part of my job serious.  It is a goal of mine to help bring that number up.  I always tell them if I can do it, anyone can do it.  They in turn point and laugh at me.

I have 10 days until school is done and 11 days until I fly back to WA and OK for the summer.  Monica is telling me about having the “yard boys” (it’s not a boy band) over to do yard work for her.  I’m still sinking to my ass in snow here so I’m glad I’ll be seeing green soon.  I hope every mother has a good Mother’s Day.  I want to wish Polly a Happy Mother’s Day (biscuits and gravy) and Carolyn a Happy Mother’s Day (tacos).  Happy Mother’s Day Mom (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn).

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Several people asked me on Friday if I watched the wedding.  For the sake of this blog, several means two.  I’m not sure what I ever did to make a person, much less two, question whether or not I would spend my time watching someone else get married on TV.  I wear flannel shirts (usually untucked), old Levis (usually with at least one hole) and a scraggly beard (also with at least one hole).  I was 12 the last time I combed my hair and I haven’t cut it since Christmas.  It would have made more sense to ask if I had read the Unabomber’s manifesto.

My blank stare and prolonged pause should have given them time to think it through and realize that no, indeed I did not watch the wedding.  Instead they must have thought I didn’t hear them, so they repeated the question.  I repeated my blank stare routine on them, hoping they would just walk away.  I didn’t know what to say; I was at a loss for words.  Because when I said, “No”, they waited for an explanation.  They wanted to know why I didn’t watch the wedding.  Luckily I must have creeped them out by just staring at them, because they did slowly walk away, avoiding eye contact.

School is coming to an end for the year.  Or so says my students.  I have just over two weeks of school left.  We had our 2nd annual Math/Science Family day at school on Thursday.  It went very well.  Our class had to do a presentation, so we did one on the transfer of energy.  We used a bicycle and a student to explain potential and kinetic energy.  The class also lined up like dominos and fell down, hopefully showing the transfer of energy.  On Wednesday two of the students thought they would perform a different presentation, using punches to show the transfer of energy.  We stayed with the bicycle.

The weather is warming up so the snow is beginning to melt.  The snow has drifted into piles well over 7 feet in some places, so that will still be here when I leave.  It did snow most of today, but it was 35, so it wasn’t piling up like before.  One huge problem is that we’re now starting to fall through.  One part of the trail we use to get to school is on a frozen lake we walk across.  The lake has about 3 ½ feet of snow covering it.  Now that it is getting above freezing during the day, we’re starting to fall through the snow.  I’ve gone in to my waist but I’ve yet to lose a boot; others have.  Crawling out of the snow must look hilarious, judging from the sounds of people who are looking, pointing and laughing.  Soon it will settle enough, but I’ll probably be in WA when that happens.

With 2 ½ weeks left, I’m already thinking about putting some ribs on the smoker and a beer in my hand.  I’m ready to wear something besides snow boots.  I’m ready to see my wife.  I know Monica should have been listed first, but I’ll share the ribs with her.  I know she loves me, because she is going to DVR the Ted Kaczynski wedding for me.  I love a happy ending.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Monica made it out of here safely on Friday afternoon.  I took her out to the airport in the stretch limo (a snowmobile pulling a toboggan).  This was during school, so when I got back to the classroom, all my students had their faces pressed against the windows.  They turned and looked at me with an accusatory glare.  “Why didn’t you stay out there until the plane left?”  I tried to explain that she was able to get on the plane by herself, and that just standing there wasn’t going to make her flight any safer.  It ended with me yelling, “It was cold, ok?  Don’t judge me!”  They didn’t say anything, but I know they were thinking bad things about me.

Monica was able to spend some time in my classroom while she was up here.  She took my place and read to them after lunch.  They liked listening to her read more than listening to me, so she’s got that going for her.  I think its because she didn’t make them sit still while she read to them like I do.  She did well and the kids really enjoyed having her here.  We have drawings hanging on our living room wall made just for Monica.  She’ll start her college work when she gets out here in Aug. so she can teach too.  The school districts out here in the bush really like teaching couples, so it should not be a problem finding someplace to for both of us to teach.  This village will be difficult for both of us to teach in because there are only two elementary teachers in our school and that is what she is going to teach too. 

We have less than four weeks of school left.  The school year is winding down and the kids know it.  Even though it feels nothing like spring here yet, they know the end is near and are acting accordingly.  They are able to communicate silently, coordinating behavior that is similar to wolf packs.  Or a school of sharks.

It is weird being here alone again.  When I look over at the couch, I expect to see Monica sitting there, plotting how to rearrange more of the house.  But it does look much nicer than before she got here.  I’m going to try and not touch too many things, so they’ll stay the way she put them.  I am able to live like a bachelor once again, at least for a few weeks.  I can eat out of the skillet again without getting dirty looks.  I can use the bathroom without shutting the door.  My neighbor may not appreciate that, but she should mind her own business and keep her curtains closed.

It is warming up some, getting above freezing for the past two days.  Three days in a row above freezing is called the start of spring around here.  It looks like it will be warmer for the next week, getting above 30 for most of the days.  I’m not looking forward to the snow melting into a muddy mess.  The tundra doesn’t drain well, so there will be lots of standing water and mud.  Knee high rubber boots are a necessity here unless you like walking in wet shoes.  We had Cabela’s send Monica’s boots here so she’ll be ready next fall.  That should let the kids know how thoughtful I am, thinking of Monica’s feet that way.  I hope that will buy me about 3 more weeks before they find some other character flaw in me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


I’ve seen beautiful sunrises and I hear there are nice sunsets, but I’m not awake for those.  It’s odd that I’m up to see the sunrise every morning, but I miss the sunset because I’m already asleep.  The sun rises at 7:00am and sets at 10:30pm right now, so it’s not that bad.  Ben Franklin said “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.  Well, I’m still poor and dumb, so I’m not taking everything Mr. Franklin says to heart.  Remember, he was the one who flew a kite during a thunderstorm.  I believe that to be the equivalent of sticking a hairpin in a light socket.  Ben also sported one of the first mullets, which Tom Jefferson referred to as “ridiculous”.

I am not experiencing Spring the way I have been accustomed to.  I’m used to seeing some green beginning to show.  At least bare ground.  Here, it has finally moved up to the single digits at night, so I guess that is progress.  Yesterday we hit 32 with no clouds in the sky.  Monica and I took a short snowmobile ride and crossed the mighty Yukon River.  Although we couldn’t tell it was a river.  It was just a couple feet of snow over ice.  If we could see the river, I think that would have been a bad thing, since I’ve heard that falling through the ice can be a bit dangerous. 

Monica has been here for over two weeks now and still plans on coming back up here with me next August.  She has spent some time in the classroom reading to students.  She has made this place more like a home than a place where I sleep and watch TV.  When I was here alone, I ate rice 4-5 times a week.  Since Monica arrived, we have not eaten rice once.  We’ve had homemade pizza, pasta with sausage, moose meat chili, a roast, paninis, and potato soup.  And that was just the first day.  This morning, Monica made her biscuits and sausage gravy, which she learned from her mother.  To give it a local flair, maybe she could use seal oil instead of bacon grease, and reindeer sausage instead of pork and pour it over pilot bread.  Or maybe she could just keep on doing it how she usually does it.

I have one month until I leave for the summer.  We are going to stay in Wenatchee until mid July and then move our belongings to Oklahoma.  We’ll fly out of Tulsa in mid-August to start school.  We needed a place to put our things and a place to stay in the summer, so this will work out just fine.  We could stay up here for the summer, but I don’t know what we’d do.  Getting a boat would be the only way to travel after the ice breaks up on the river in late May.  Having the summer off will give us time to visit family and friends.  Plus, being able to order a beer at a restaurant will be nice.  So nice I may have more than one.

Monica will leave Friday and I’ll get back to eating rice for most of my meals.  Having to hand wash all of my dishes, my decisions on what to make for a meal now are determined by the least amount of dishes I’ll have to wash.  If I can make my meal in one dish and eat of the same dish, I’ve just saved myself extra time by having less to wash later.  Plus, having a handle on your dinner plate is a good idea.  Maybe this is what Ben was referring to as being wise.  TJ would agree, shouting, “Hells yeah!”  That was how they voted back in the day.  When our government would vote on a measure, they would vote “Hells yeah” or “Nope”.  "The 'hells yeah' have it.  Now, let's go shoot us a turkey. Unless Mullet Head objects." I think President James Buchannan changed how the votes were tallied.  Jerk.