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.