Sunday, April 27, 2008

Things to be Happy About

When I was 9 or so my grandma Kavanaugh was hit by a drunk driver as she was crossing the street. It was horrible and she suffered many injuries and was in the hospital for what I remember to be quite a while. During the course of her hospitalization or recovery someone gave her a book called 14,000 Things to be Happy About. It was a thick book and was just a huge list of things that over the course of numerous years brought happiness to the author. I remember looking and watching as her bookmark slowly made it's way through the book and after it had reached the end, it started it's journey all over again.

The last few days I have been feeling kind of blah. Not down, not negative, not really anything. Just kind of blah. The weather has turned cold again and all the excitement of spring has kind of faded away. The puddles that children were happily playing in only a few days ago are now slick ice. It snowed on Friday.

Yesterday I went out for a walk with the dogs. Even that was sort of blah. I tried to cross the gigantic pond in back of Oscarville only to realize that every step I took I was walking on thin ice. (I've heard my mom and dad say that a million times...never thought I would actually get to say it literally.) To boot, the huge Malamute I was with kept running into the various piles of garbage strewn about and would not come when I called him. Which meant that once I did catch him I had to walk on thin ice (hee...hee...) with that dog right next to me and you better believe I kept him on a very short leash (I'm so witty today.) Anyway, I broke through the ice in a couple of spots and my feet got a little wet, but we all arrived home safely...and exhausted. It takes a lot to control a huge dog. Even though I tried to be in a good mood, the blah sort of feeling that I had been feeling all weekend sort of crept back into my soul and stayed there the rest of the day.

So, today I was thinking about that book my grandma had. It amazes me that one person could find so many things to be happy about. To try to put a spin on my mood I've decided to find as many things as I can to be happy about...

I timed myself and this was the list I came up with in five minutes. Feel free to add to the list. I'd be interested in hearing what things make other people happy.
  • my dog
  • my family
  • my nieces (Claire and Mairin)
  • Jon Schroeder
  • Rosco
  • Dizzy (looking forward to meeting you!)
  • mac n' cheese
  • american cheese
  • pepperjack cheese
  • habenaro cheese
  • feta cheese
  • my roommate
  • my friends
  • magazines
  • cards in the mail
  • care packages
  • new socks
  • a new book
  • a well read book
  • emails from friends
  • spinach
  • cookies
  • tea
  • computers
  • my students
  • smiles
  • good smelling soap
  • showering
  • baths
  • reading good books in the bathtub
  • dinner with friends
  • incense
  • writing
  • sewing
  • knitting
  • crocheting
  • watching movies
  • wrapping up in blankets on the couch
  • Green Bay Packers
  • going to a live baseball game
  • concerts
  • playing instruments
  • beading
  • making jewelry
  • baking
  • buying a new CD
  • sharing music with a friend
  • payday
  • internet shopping
  • laughing
  • giving hugs
  • receiving hugs
  • grilled cheese sandwiches
  • fresh vegetables
  • sleeping late
  • exercising
  • waking up early
  • fireworks
  • beer
  • an occasional cigarette
  • driving
  • traveling to new places
  • meeting new people
  • traveling to old places
  • seeing old friends
  • learning something new
  • teaching something new
  • puddles
  • mud
  • ice
  • snow
  • my snowmobile
  • walking
  • colors
  • babies laughing
  • campfires
  • roasting hotdogs over campfires
  • brat sales at the local grocery stores
  • Friday Fish Fries
  • weddings
  • The Chicken Dance
  • Duck Duck Goose
  • Hide and Go Seek
  • playing Canasta with friends
  • Nintendo DS
  • Nintendo Wii
  • Digestive Biscuits
  • Tetley Tea
  • hiking
  • camping
  • backpacking
  • physical labor
  • mountains
  • forests
  • rivers
  • kayaking

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

C'mon Spring -- Bring it On

I just returned from a walk with Macy. I wore my Muck boots and rain gear and I proved that you are never too old to run and jump and splash in puddles. I'm sure people looking out their windows thought I was crazy as I was traversing through and jumping around in six inches of water, but I don't care, it was fun. There is just something magical about jumping in a puddle that always make me feel joyous and a bit silly. Plus, I think everyone in town has realized that I am a bit crazy and I feel they have accepted my quirkiness and still have welcomed me with open arms.

Last night I rode down to Napakiak for an "end of the year" dinner with my friend, K.C. If the river breaks up before we leave we'll probably see each other before summer, if it doesn't, it will probably be August until I see him again. The river was a bit tricky for traveling on. The last few days have been warm and it rained earlier in the day yesterday. There was plenty of water sitting on top of the ice and I never broke 20 as I rode downriver. I admit, I was a little freaked out. Last year I crashed my sled in very similar conditions. Macy was with me when I crashed last year and we both flew off in different directions and my sled flipped over. As a result, she runs and hides under the table whenever she thinks I may be getting ready to go fora ride and am going to take her with me. Macy was quite tense on the ride down and back. Her eyes were huge and she was ready to jump off at a moment's notice. Perhaps in her little doggie brain she realized that we were traveling on water in warm weather for quite a distance. I think memories of that horrible morning came flooding back and were too terrible for her to deal with.

I've been amazed at how quickly the weather has changed and what it looks like outside my window. Just last week I was thinking that I was going to ride my snowmobile out of here in May but with the temps in the 40's the last few days it looks like I'll be getting a boat ride out after all.

After helping a student out with some paper writing earlier this evening I decided to head outside to document the various signs of spring.

Here are our or two more rides before we have to put them away.

Rubber boots are back out in force. It's cute to see all the kids come into school in the morning wearing their little rubber boots. Today, a little girl proudly showed me her boots and informed me that now that she has rubber boots she can go in the water. I bet her mom would have a different opinion.

However, I do agree with that little girl, rubber boots are good for going in water. I like going in the water. In fact, I like going through water so much that I bought a pair of waders earlier this fall. Other people also agree with me that going through water is fun.

Spring also means that the kids here are starting to play basketball again. Since we don't have a gym the kids love when the play deck in back of the school is finally free of snow. As soon as it got warm out the kids all grabbed shovels and started clearing the snow off. On Sunday afternoon I stopped by and helped for a little bit. They had gotten about half the court cleared and when I went by today all that was left of the snow on the court was a pile at one end and a gigantic wet spot.

Here are some pictures of various puddles in the least the deep ones.

Here's a picture of the river that has formed on the river.

Boardwalk in view! 'O! the joy!

On the way back to the house I joined some of the students in a game of junkyard basketball. I had no idea how to play but the kids quickly taught me. (Yes...I am trying to wrestle a ball away from a 10 year old...she was STRONG and put up a great fight...I did win in the end)

After my walk around the village and seeing all the signs of spring I have to say I'm ready. Now it's just a matter of waiting the river out until the ice breaks up.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tape Dispenser

I have gone the entire year without a tape dispenser. I used to have two in my classroom but I have no idea where they are. I must have put them away at the end of last year. All year the students have been asking where the tape is. My response has been that I don't know where the tape is and to look around until they find some. Of course, that means that I have random rolls of tape floating around my classroom and I can never find the tape when I need it.

Imagine my delight and my surprise when a tape dispenser recently appeared in my room. I was so happy I giggled. We only have four weeks of school left but I really felt that the next four weeks was going to be filled with blissful happy taping of random items. In fact, I have caught myself carrying the tape dispenser around just because I like the feel of it in my hand.

However, I just showed my tape dispenser off to Christina and she told me it was her tape dispenser. Sigh.

Now I don't have one again.

Culture Week

This past week (April 7-11)was our annual Culture Week. Culture Week is a week devoted to learning all about and participating in various cultural activities. This year the students made Eskimo yo-yos, dance fans, bird houses, hats and mittens. They also did beading and my all time favorite activity ICE FISHING.

The students learned how to make nets last year and they were all in the process of making nets when the school year ended last year. Their nets were stored in zip locks and our intentions were to continue to work on them during this year's culture week. When the teachers went into Bethel to get supplies for culture week they could not find the type of twine they needed to continue making the nets. So, it was decided that the students would go ice fishing in lieu of net making.

The first day we went out it was fairly warm but it snowed the entire time.

Here is one of the junior high school students and me. We are making ice fishing fashionable. Look for us in the next issue of Cosmo.

The two handed approach to ice fishing.

Of course, I was tired at the end of the day and hitchhiked a ride on a sled. Yes, the girl I made pull me is seven. She had fun...she did fall, but she was ok. I told her to toughen up and get walking.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NYO Pictures

While we were waiting at the airport in Napaskiak for the planes to pick us up we took a picture with Flat Stanley.

We had a little time before the meet started so we walked to the stores (Tununak has two stores) to get some much needed supplies (pop and chips). Here's Macy and I near the shore. Tununak is right on the Bering Sea and was a beautiful place. Macy is intrigued by the mountain behind us.

The NYO meet started with a dance by the local community dancers. The elder in one of the pictures lit some labrador tea that he cut up into small pieces and went around the gym and blessed everyone in attendance. Following the ceremony, the community dancers came in from each door and took their places. I love Eskimo dancing. The dancers get so into their movements and when the drumming starts a whole new energy enters the room. It was cool to see people from the audience jump up and join the dancers. It was nice to see people smiling and having a good time right off the bat.

The next pictures are of students doing the One Arm Reach. In this event, athletes have to balance the weight of their entire body on one hand while reaching up with the other one to hit the seal skin ball. The hand that the athletes use to balance has to be placed by their abdominal area and it is extremely tricky to hoist your body up while your arm is in that position.

The next event is kneel jump. In this event, athletes have to kneel down at the line and then gain momentum by swinging your arms up and down. When the athletes are ready they then jump as hard as they can and propel themselves forward. The athletes cannot touch the floor with their hands after they jump and both their feet have to stick the landing in order for it to count. I only have one picture of this event....I'm not sure why I only took one. This picture is of one of my students immediately after he jumped.
Another event that happened was the wrist carry. During the wrist carry athletes have to hang by their wrists from a smooth wooden stick. No other part of their body can touch the stick and they have to grip the forearm of the arm they are hanging from with their other hand. They are then lifted off the ground and carried around the gym by two other athletes. They are timed and the person who hangs the longest wins. I helped time during this event so I wasn't taking pictures. However, the students had the camera and here are the pictures they took of the event.

The concession stand also sold ice cream cones during the meet. What a treat!

This is the Eskimo Stick Pull. Basically, you have to be strong enough to get the stick away from the other person. The athlete cannot twist their body or the stick. They have to pull straight back. If the athlete does twist then the other person wins. If the athlete successfully gets the stick away from the other person they win.

These last pictures are of the team from Tooksook Bay heading home on Saturday after the meet. Tooksook is about 6 miles away from Tununak so they were the only team able to make it out of Tununak on Saturday. There were about 10-15 snowmobiles in the group and it was super cool to see them dotted across the white tundra.