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.