Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Socks!

Thanks to my good friend, Traci Buckle, I can now say that I know how to knit socks! She helped me start a set over Thanksgiving and was kind enough to allow me to use her size 7's DPNs (that is knit speak for 'double pointed needles') and patiently helped me through the pattern. When I left at Thanksgiving I had one sock all done. I meant to work on the other sock but ended up taking a bit of a break due to traveling and just being busy in general.

My good friend Dirk (yes, Dirk from Eek, yes, Dirk who I go hiking and camping with, that Dirk) came to Bethel a few weekends ago to get his dog's shots updated and to get her health certificate so she could travel to Maryland over the holiday break. Dirk intended to stay on Friday night and I convinced him to stay Saturday night as well. We watched the movie Up each night of his visit and just hung out and had a good time. I'm super happy and grateful that he brought a small little bicycle maintenance kit and helped me get my nifty purple bike functioning better.

Dirk left on Sunday and we hugged good-bye and I stood by the door and waved and everything as his cab pulled out of my driveway. That was about noon. About six I heard a car pull up and I looked out to see Dirk getting out of a cab with his dog. His flight had been canceled due to the crappy weather and he ended up spending ANOTHER night.

Sunday night pretty much consisted of sitting around and movie watching. I may have cooked something for us to eat, I don't remember. Dirk coached me through a training session on my bike (which he enjoyed...he kept scolding me every time I slowed down) and after I finished knitting my little socks. Dirk was very supportive of my sock knitting and was very happy I was finally finished with them. He didn't have to listen to me swear and watch me pull rows of stitches out any more.

I already gave the socks to my favorite little Przybylski.

I was informed that Isaac loved the socks and had in fact worn them on a number of occasions. As soon as Sara gets the socks washed she's going to send me a picture of Isaac wearing them!

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Caught A Noodle...

I was chatting with my good friend Paul Dhaemers today and we were discussing a trip I took to Goodnews Bay earlier this year. It sounds like we're going to be heading out that way again within the next few weeks and Mr. Dhaemers and I were discussing which fun winter activities will be fun for us to do. He informed me that there probably won't be any noodles in the Goodnews River this time of year but that I was welcome to come down and fish anyway. I was then reminded that I hadn't shared my noodle story with my blog readers (hi


Paul Dhaemers was nice enough to bring us all fishing (me, Brian and Paul's friend, Ken, who was here visiting from South Dakota). South Dakota doesn't have it's own professional football Anyway, that's all beside the point.

It was pretty chilly when we headed out but we were all excited. Paul kept telling me how many fish we were going to get and how much fun we were going to have and all that. He really built it up that it was going to be the trip of a lifetime.

Heading to the Goodnews River...

Dhaemers driving his sweet marine rig...

We got out on the river and went to Paul's favorite spot. We fished for a bit and I think we may have caught one there but we definitely weren't slaying them as Paul promised. We moved a couple of times and tried our luck elsewhere. As we fished I was successful in snagging some things. Mainly logs and the other shore. Every time I snagged something I'd try to unsnag myself. Paul would then saunter over, reassure me that it's about having fun and that everyone loses lures and then tug until it came free or the lure came off. He'd get me set up with another lure and I'd start casting again. I even caught the same snag twice. That's how awesome I am at fishing. I lost the lure. Paul put a new lure on. I cast again (in the same exact spot mind you) and lost the lure again. Paul never even wavered...he was super patient and kind to me.

Anyway, we ended up in the spot where we initially started out and then we began catching some fish!!! They were super feisty and put up a great fight. We were just really getting into 'catching' when I reeled in the best catch of the day...a noodle...a fettuccine noodle to be exact.

I wasn't sure at first what it was hanging off the end of my lure. I kind of stared at it a bit and yelled, "Hey...this looks like a noodle!" Then I touched it, immediately started laughing and yelled again, "I CAUGHT A NOODLE, I CAUGHT A NOODLE!" (the caps lock was on purpose...I was trying to show how excited I was). Paul, Brian, and Ken came over and were all amazed at my super cool noodle. We figured someone must have dumped their lunch in that particular spot in the river and I was the lucky one to catch the dumped noodle.

We also saw a bear. Paul was super tough and fired a round off to scare it away. That bear just wouldn't go though. Paul ended up guarding us and watching for the bear. Ken and Brian quickly cleaned fish and I...well, I continued to fish. I had protection, I didn't have to get my hands dirty and I got to continue to have fun. It was a great trip and a wonderful adventure! Lookin' forward to my next Goodnews adventure!

Scary bear...go away!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On to Mekoryuk, AK

I was super stoked when I heard that we would be heading to Mekoryuk, AK after our work in Newtok was done! I had never been to Mekoryuk although my good friend Kale worked there for the past couple of years. Although I had promised him several times I would come visit I never made it out there...sorry Kale.

Mekoryuk is a cool place simply because of it's location. The village of Mekoryuk is located on Nunivak Island about 30 miles or so from the coast.

Our original plan was to take a scheduled flight from Newtok to Toksook Bay. We were to spend the evening in Toksook then fly to Mekoryuk the next morning. However, the wind in Newtok was blowing hard and many flights that day were canceled. We decided to try to make it back to Bethel instead and to try for Mekoryuk in the morning.

Grant, the principal at Newtok, brought us up to the airport and we boarded the caravan that we were told was enroute to Bethel. It took a few minutes after the plane took off for me to realize that we were not flying in the direction of Bethel, in fact, we were flying in the direct opposite of Bethel. I looked out of the plane windows and through a break in the clouds I saw we were above the ocean....we were heading to Mekoryuk. When the plane landed the three of us kind of laughed and Lee went to talk to the pilot to see if we could stay in Mekoryuk. The pilot of course agreed and we grabbed our gear and exited the aircraft.

By a sheer stroke of luck, Gary, the Site Administrator at Mekoryuk was at the airport also and we threw our gear in the truck and were in the school in no time. After we got settled Tony and I decided to walk around the village a bit. The wind was still blowing like crazy. Sand was pummeling our faces and in no time we could feel the grit in our mouths. We still got some pretty awesome pics though...

Tony...he's such a poser

After we went for our walk Tony, Lee and I combined our food and had a pleasant dinner of various things. We did this both nights we were in Mekoryuk and we ate like kings. Tony introduced me to canned oysters which I now think are the cat's meow.

I made some super awesome soup that my mom sent to me! Thanks Mom! We all loved it.

Over the next two days we worked with teachers and students and had a blast! I love seeing kids get so excited when they get a computer in front of them. Look at how into their projects these kids are.

Tony and I went out into the village to take more pictures of various points of interest. The students then used these pictures to use in their projects.

Tony in front of the church. He wanted to ring the bell but I told him that was probably a bad idea.

Da skool.

There is a stop sign in Mekoryuk. Here it is in all it's glory. People tend to stop here.

This was another little store...I think they sold candy. Tony was super excited about it. He likes candy.

Inside the store...

Outside the store

Mekoryuk was awesome. We all had so much fun! I met some really cool people there and I enjoyed working with the kids. Tony did a great job working with the students and I do have to say that this week was one of my most favorite weeks since I started this gig. I am looking forward to working with Tony and the other Apple trainers some more in the near future!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Newtok, AK

The past few weeks have been busy busy busy!

LKSD was awesome enough to buy some days for Apple to come out and train students and teachers on how to use some of those Apple programs.

A couple of weeks ago Tony (a.k.a Apple Tony) met Lee and I in Bethel and we quickly departed to Newtok, AK. This was my second visit to Newtok and I had just as much fun as my first visit there. Upon arrival in Newtok we were immediately put to work and we spent the entire time teaching students and teachers how to use iMovie, Keynote and other Apple Apps as well. I really like Newtok...the teachers are great there and the students are great there too.

One of the teachers in Newtok also had his kids working on a really fun project. Their task was to dismantle a dead copy machine and to create a toy. The class was totally into the project and the room was entirely destroyed. There were little pieces EVERYWHERE and all day long you could hear the kids pounding away on the copy machine! It was so fun. When I went in there to take pictures some of the kids didn't even notice I was in there.

Here are the pics from Newtok!

Apple Tony going over Keynote!

Look how excited the kids are! And they're working together!

The Repair Shop! I love this quote!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nayagaq Goes to NYO and Flies a Kite

I just lived through a really busy weekend. I was so busy this weekend that I felt entirely exhausted as I crawled into bed on Sunday night. I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow and I awoke with a start some time later. I felt I had been sleeping for hours and hours and hours and when I got up to check the time I was surprised to learn that I had been sleeping for only about an hour! What a glorious feeling to realize I could lay my head back down on the pillow and have seven more hours of sleep before I had to get up and get back to work.

This weekend was so awesome. I traveled to Kongiganak to work with some teachers there. I had a great time in Kong...the staff was great, the students were great and I was busy the entire time. The school was all a flurry on Friday due to the NYO meet that was happening there.

If you've been keeping up with my blog over the last few years you will know not only how much I adore the Oscarville students but also how much I love NYO. Over the years I have made some really really great friends through NYO and it was so great to see them all again.

Many of you may not know this but I received an official Yup'ik name last year. It took three years but I finally got one. My lack of a Yup'ik name would become a talking point every once in awhile but after a day or two the thinking of what my Yup'ik name would be other more pressing issues would demand more immediate attention and I would continue to go nameless. One morning, while we were doing our morning meeting, I was watching one little girl at the table. This little girl and I had much in common as she was the little sister of only brothers. I leaned over and asked Olga if there was a Yup'ik word for little sister of only brothers. She leaned over to tell me then immediately got excited, "Nayagaq! Nayagaq! That's what we'll call you. It means little sister of only brothers!" (For those of you who don't know, I have three older brothers and am definitely the little matter how old I am.) She then proceeded to announce my new Yup'ik name to everyone there. The only problem is that since I had gone without a name for so long I kept forgetting what my name was. I kept having to ask Olga or one of the other ladies. They would patiently remind me and spell it for me.

Earlier this year I received an email from my good friend Jimmie Tulik in Nightmute. In this email he asked what my Yup'ik name was and I we had to exchange a few emails before he could figure out what I was talking about. Since then, Jimmie only refers to me by my Yup'ik name and I'm finding others, especially Yup'ik folks in the village, are using my Yup'ik name more and more. When I go to schools I tell students they can either call me Erin or Nayagaq. I'm getting used to responding to either.

Anyway, that whole long explanation about my Yup'ik name was so everyone could make sense of the title of this post. I went to an awesome, awesome NYO meet. The kids were great, they performed well and as always, amazed me with their skills and abilitites. The coaches, who are mainly Yup'ik men from the villages, spent quite a bit of time teasing me. However, it felt so good to be sitting around with a bunch of them on Friday night eating dry fish and a mixed veggies from one of those premade veggie trays from the grocery store.

Macy and I left Kong on Saturday and the rest of the weekend was an intense flurry of activity. It was absolutely beautiful out and I quickly showered (I always feel gross after sleeping on the floor of a school) and packed up my knitting stuff and rushed to the library where I joined some ladies for a little knitting circle. It was my first time in a long time making it to the knitting group and it was fun. I felt I had enough support and wisdom around me to start a HUGE project that I've been putting off for some time now.

After knitting I went for a run but had kind of a bad run. It wasn't totally bad, I just didn't feel it on Saturday. I had better runs on Sunday and Monday. After running I went to a nice little dinner party with some friends and ended by day by falling into bed completely exhausted.

Sunday was another busy day. I woke up and biked over to a friend's house for a small little brunch get together. I was biking home after brunch when my phone rang and I pulled off to the side of the road to answer it. I was so stoked to hear a fromer student's voice on the other end telling me he was in Bethel and asking if he could come visit. I biked home and shortly after met Patrick and his little brother Jeffery at my house. The three of us sat around for a bit when suddenly I had a great idea! We'd go fly the new kite I bought the day before at a rummage sale.

I called a couple of other friends to see if they wanted to come fly a kite with us and soon we were all down by the water watching the kite soar higher and higher. A great time was had by all. One of my friends got some picures of kite flying and I hope she shares them with me so I can post them.

I had a great weekend. It was super fun and I loved spending so much time with such awesome people. This week my coworker, Lee, and I are going to be traveling with a trainer from Apple and going to Newtok and Mekoryuk with an overnight is Toksook Bay! I look forward to seeing and meeting even more friends. I have my camera back so the next post should be nicer to look at! lol

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


First things first, I lost my camera. I know where it's just not at a location I'm usually at and I need to get on my bike and go over there and get it. To say I misplaced it or left it at a friend's house is not dramatic enough. I want to make my blog readers feel sympathy for me and my "lost" camera. Anyway, there is going to be a huge lack of photos on this post. I'm working on a really cool video that I'm hoping to post soon....ohhhh...just you wait and see!

Anyway, there has been lots of traveling to villages happening for this little lady. I took a few days off due to a cold. I then got antsy to get traveling and went down to the beautiful village of Quinhagak where my cold promptly came rushing back and lasted well into the next week. I don't think it was Quinhagak's fault...I probably should have taken more time off before I traveled. Sleeping on a school floor doesn't always promote the best health.

I had a pretty great weekend after traveling to Quinhagak. I did a day trip to Nightmute and worked with some really rad teachers there. Some of the Yup'ik teachers in Nightmute are really working to interview and collect oral histories from the elders in the village. They are also doing many other projects with technology in their classes and are eager learners. Even though it's a long flight I was happy to go down there just for a few hours to work with the Yup'ik teachers. I also saw my first snowfall in Nightmute while I was there. Then it turned to rain. While I was in Nightmute I really started to not feel well. My good friend Jimmie Tulik stayed with me until the airline called and said that plane was landing in a few minutes. I got my 4 wheeler ride to the airport and was heading home in no time.

I was scheduled to go down to Oscarville last Wednesday and decided to go by boat. This fall has been really weird and although it's mid October it's still super warm up here...upper 40s or low 50s. I convinced one of the guys from the technology department to ride down with me and we had a fantastic ride down river. Although the temps have been warm the hours of darkness have been creeping up on us. I went for a run this evening and had my headlamp on the entire time. It's funny how in the darkness things look so different and sometimes even scary. I usually run along the river bank and take a back road up to the main highway. However, this evening as I was running I started to turn right to head down my normal route and in the dark it looked so much scarier. I started to imagine scary people lurking in the bushes and all that and turned around and went the other way. In all honesty though, I really think I was smart to not go down the dark pathway. There are some shady characters in Bethel and when intoxicated they aren't afraid to let you know how they feel. It's also odd how much I've gotten used to such people. The other day I was biking home from the store in broad daylight and as I was walking out of the store I was saying hello to everyone and smiling at them as they walked past. One man was approaching me as he headed into the store and I could tell even from a distance he was intoxicated. Every few steps he would erupt in giggles, he'd take a few more steps and then giggle again. As I passed him I said hello. He took a few more steps and as I walked away I heard him say "F- YOU!". Now, the smart thing for me to do would have been to keep walking but perhaps it was all my years of teaching, perhaps I felt a bit miffed that I was nice to him and he wasn't nice back, whatever caused me to do so, I turned around and yelled back, "That wasn't very nice AT ALL! You don't have to be mean!" then got on my purple bike and rode away. Super tough, huh?

I'm in Kongiganak right now and was asked by Chris, the Site Administrator in Oscarville if I would be willing to stay an extra night and chaperone the kids. There is an NYO tournament happening here this weekend and I just super giddy waiting for it to start. There is tremendous engery in the school right now and everyone is super pumped for the other schools to arrive. It's only a matter of time! I've asked Christina to send an extra camera so I can take pictures.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fashionable Macy Part Duex

Last Sunday evening I invited Iain over to taste some yummy Apple Upside Down Cake. I actually made two cakes, one with straight apples and one with apples and tundra berries. According to Iain they were both absolutely disgusting and quite horrible (me thinks Iain lied). Out of politeness he choked down the cake. It was during this awful time that Iain discovered a tiny little baby hat I had just finished. Don't worry the baby hat is not for's for a friend who just welcomed a little girl into the world. Anyway, Iain snapped this picture of Macy modeling the hat. I think she looks quite cute and now I'm going to make one with little holes for her ears. She also looks kind of pathetic.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Berry Picking and Fall Colors

First things first, I've had berries on my mind. I've been traveling so much and KEEP FORGETTING MY BERRY PICKER! However, I've been just using my hands and one of my friends in Nightmute was kind enough to loan me his picker.

September has really flown by and I've been kept pretty busy up here. The new job is going ok. I'd lie if I said I didn't miss the classroom. I miss Oscarville, I miss the kids, I miss the people I work with and I miss all the every day successes and achievements I've had the pleasure of sharing with my students on a daily basis. I don't miss having to deal with behavior issues, attendance issues, and all that other fun stuff that kind of sucks about being a teacher.

This new job has been interesting so far. I've been traveling a TON and feel like I'm constantly moving and going. Which is good. However, I also feel like there's an endless amount of work at my house that I am failing to get done. There's always wash and dishes and now I'm working on revising a baby blanket I started for a friend last year. On top of the normal amount of stuff I have laying around I now have various colors of purple and pink yarn balls scattered about my living room.

Fall has definitely arrived in the Delta and winter is close on it's heels. When we were approaching Nightmute the other morning there was a light dusting of snow on the mountains. I was told by the Site Administrator in Nightmute that the snow just arrived that night and that it was new. It also took me about a half hour in the school before I had two good leads on some great berry picking spots. I picked about a gallon and a half of red berries the other weekend but it seems that the more berries you pick, the more you have to clean! Go figure.

Anyway, when I walked into the school in Nightmute there was a man sitting on the couch in the teacher's lounge. His name is Iaso, he was from Japan, and I later found out he was touring bush Alaska in his plane. I asked Isao if he had gone out berry picking yet and if he'd like to go with me that evening. My friend Jimmie was nice enough to loan me his berry picker and since I forgot my bucket I had to use my hot pot for a berry vessel. Iaso and I were on the hill picking berries when we were joined by two professional berry pickers. The girls showed us where the cranberries were and we had a ton of fun playing around on the tundra, laughing and enjoying the crisp fall evening. Below are some of the pictures Isao took of the evening.


Incidentally, this was the second consecuative time a photographer/someone with a fancy camera accompanied me berry picking. A few weekends ago my friend Jennifer and I met a guy on the road who had all sorts of fancy camera equpiment. We invited him to come along berry picking as well and he took a TON of pictures. Although most of them were of Macy to make her the most photographed dog in the Delta, I think he got some berry picking action shots of Jennifer and me as well. However, he still hasn't posted them to his flickr page and I'm axiously awaiting them.

I know this was just a quick update but I have to get back in the blogging mood. I'll do another post soon and keep everyone updated!

Friday, September 4, 2009

More fish...

After the lucky day fishing with Lucky Bob, Shaun, and Dirk we decided to try that same spot again the following weekend.

This time it we Iain and Bethany and Brian and me who all headed upriver. Since it would take Iain's little boat 13 years to get up to the spot we were heading it was decided we shall take my boat.

The fishing this time started off a bit slow but then they started hitting. It wasn't as bountiful as the previous weekend but we got enough to keep the excitement rolling and ended up having a ton of fun!