Saturday, March 24, 2012


Our new parking lot in town.
Spring arrived and greeted us with a -23 degree knee to the groin.  Well, not a knee, but a huge chunk of snow; covered in ice, frozen again, and then shaped like a knee.  Either way we’re not enjoying warm temperatures like others are bragging about on the Facebook.  The good news is that we are seeing our old friend lots more.  He awakens at about 8:30 and I don’t know when he goes to bed because it’s after I’m in bed.  I probably won’t see a sunset until I get down south because it’s still light at 10pm and I’m in bed by then.

We had parent/teacher conferences last week, so on Thursday, we made moose-meat chili up at the school for dinner.  It turned out pretty good and most of the staff helped themselves to a bowl or two.  Monica still has some troubles eating the moose meat.  I guess she sees visions of Bullwinkle when she eats.  I don’t have a vision, but I can hear his voice in my head singing songs.  But I eaten rabbit before and never thought about rabbits.  Or when I eat Peeps, I don’t visualize baby chickens.  Although I did find a feather in a Peep once.  Weird.

One reason I didn’t blog last weekend was because we had company.  We don’t get company often, so it was a big deal.  What with the wearing pants thing and all.  Our village had its Potlatch last weekend, sharing with our neighboring village Scammon Bay.  Scammon Bay is about 50 miles down the coast from us, so it is a bit of a trip on snowmachines.  Our guests were the family of one of the teachers from Scammon Bay, who is married to a local man. They are involved with their village’s Eskimo Dance.  The Potlatch includes dancing, honoring members who have passed away, and sharing the past year’s bounty. We had a nice visit with our guests and they said they would stay with us next year too.  We did feed them well.
Eskimo Dance

Sharing things from my past with my students is always fun for me and for them.  They enjoy hearing about all the dumb things I’ve done in the past.  They particularly like the part where they can point their fingers at me and laugh loudly.  I think they can get carried away with that.  The other day I was explaining about corporal punishment and how it was carried out when I was a kid.  They all agreed that it’s best that we don’t do that anymore.  Some more than others I’m sure.  When I explained that if we said something inappropriate, we would get our mouths washed out with soap.  I said, “It tastes terrible.”  Oops.  The room got quiet and they all looked at me.  Then one asked, “Did you have your mouth washed out with soap?”  I couldn’t think fast enough.  We all knew the answer.  So I said, “I don’t want to answer that right now.”  This is when I saw all sorts of fingers pointed at me.  I heard several accusations that by not answering the question, it proves that I indeed did have my mouth washed out with soap at school.    Ironically, they did this with no fear of corporal punishment.  I did use the opportunity to introduce the reading strategy of inference. 

We have 8 weeks until we head south for the summer.  Monica and I are going to spend a few days in Vegas before heading to Oklahoma.  I think I’ll forgo any wagering down there after watching my NCAA bracket this March.  But I can say with certainty that I will watch a sunset when I get down there.  Maybe even a sunrise too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


I know I’ve written about this before, but traveling in and out of here usually involves involuntary changes to the itinerary.  Since part of our travel includes four-seat Cessnas, the weather dictates our plans.  Plus, we have to travel through villages with no accommodations, so if we are stuck there, we’re SOL. This past summer, we were stranded in Emmonak, which is just 20 miles from our village.  We were lucky and caught a ride on a boat down the Yukon River.  I use the work lucky loosely, because that was the most painful 20-mile ride of my life. 

On our way back from Wenatchee this week, Monica and I were marooned in Anchorage for a day because of the weather.  I do not consider this unlucky, but I did miss a day of work.   I don’t like missing school.  While I was in Anchorage, I kept looking at the clock and thinking about the class schedule, knowing what the kids were doing at that time.  Even though I was away, my mind was there.  I even hollered at Monica to spit her gum out.  She didn’t. 

When I headed south for Wenatchee last week, I left a day ahead of Monica so I traveled alone.  Observing people at the airport did not build confidence in how we humans are progressing.  While waiting in the airport, I was amazed at how we have become slaves to our electronic devices.  At times I would look up from my Kindle, iPod, or laptop and shake my head with incredulity at how everyone was in their own little bubble, oblivious to the non-digital world around them.  Nerds. 

I’m not a very good people watcher.  I start out just watching, noticing each person’s peculiarity: winter boots, shabby haircut, and a scraggly beard.  And that was just me.  After an hour or two, my mind begins to wander.  I began to wonder, if push came to shove, which people could I take down in a fight?  I never know when I may have to jump into action and take someone down.  After looking at the passengers around me, I hoped I wouldn’t be called upon.  Well, if I could kick the oxygen bottle away from that old man with emphysema (and a ponytail), I could take him down.  But I doubt he could be a threat to anyone.

Anyway, we made it back to Nunam without having to punch an old man.  It was good to be back home.  We left sunny and 60 degrees in Wenatchee for sunny and -20 here. School keeps chugging along.  Last week was our spring break.  It was a three- day break, but it was three days longer than last year’s.  It was nice to be able to recharge a little before our yearly tests next month.  Hopefully the kids feel the same way. 

Even though traveling in and out of here can be problematic (and expensive), it sure is worth the effort.  We have two more months left of school.  The kids are anticipating the weather warming up (maybe) and they sure are enjoying the longer daylight.  They ask almost daily when summer break will be and I am able to give them an exact answer.  It’s nice that we’re all on the same page about something.  Plus, I’m way ahead in my fantasy Iditarod league, so it’s all good.