Thursday, February 26, 2009


This evening I was preparing to head to Bethel to pick up my veggie order and as I was heading out the door a phone call came in from K.C. in Napakiak. K.C. informed me that a woman named Lucy had contacted him and said that the VPO had found my snowmobile in a snow drift by the sewage lagoon (which was thankfully frozen). K.C. said that the VPO was calling the State Troopers to make sure it was mine and shortly thereafter the VPO called me to tell me that was indeed my snowmachine.

I quickly put my vegetable plans on hold and asked Christina if she would run me down there to pick my snowmobile up. Christina was quite agreeable about dropping everything she was doing at the moment to run me down there. Quite sure that the hooligans who had stolen my snowmachine had driven it until it was out of gas I borrowed a couple of gallons from Chris and rode down with a gas can on my lap.

It was so great to see my snowmachine parked next to K.C's when we arrived at his place. I ran over to it to assess any damage and I immediately noticed my gauntlets were gone. A string of swear words then escaped from my mouth until I heard Christina laughing. I looked up and saw K.C. standing on his porch chuckling at all those horrible things coming out of my sweet innocent mouth. He chucked the gauntlets down off the porch at me and I was surprised and pleased to see that they survived the theft. In fact, my gauntlets not only survived but the thieves actually took them off and put them in the trunk for safe keeping! I was a bit pissed that my gauntlets apparently weren't "cool" enough for the pirates to keep on as they flew out of Oscarville on my snowmachine. I mean, who thinks to themselves, "Wow! What a cool snowmachine but those gauntlets have GOT to go! I can't be seen riding a stolen machine with those things on!" K.C. did point out that gauntlets tend to make it a bit more difficult to maneuver the machine when you are airborne. Touche.

Another pleasant surprise was that there was 3/4 of a tank of gas left! With gas at almost $6 a gallon that is something quite amazing. I had filled it up on Tuesday evening so the tank was completely full when it was stolen. I'm guessing that they hot- rodded from Oscarville to Napakiak via the bluffs, got the machine stuck in a drift in Napakiak and just left it there.

There are a few things very minor things wrong with the machine. I'm sure it needs a new belt and I have to fix the whole "it now starts without a key" issue. Also, some of the rubber things that hold the hood shut have been torn off. I'm sure that Dave, my regular mechanic, will be more than happy to fix that stuff for me. I have to get a new windshield anyways (that was my fault) so I'm sure he'll help me out with that other stuff. He's a pretty rad dude.

This whole situation could have been much worse and the fact that the Troopers and the VPOs think they know who did this makes me feel much better. I'm sure it was just a young kid making stupid decisions (and I'm not really one to talk about being a teenager and making stupid I Mom and Dad?). I do hope that this person is caught. As much as I understand that sometimes people just screw up I believe that people also need to take responsibility for their actions and come to realize that their actions affect many other people around them. It's all about personal responsibility.

Christina and I were just talking about how we should hire someone to come in and help clean around here. Perhaps that could be the thief's restitution. He could be our personal little slave for a few weeks. I'll suggest that to the Troopers and the Alaska Court System to see what they think of that!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I walked out of my house around 6:15 this evening only to find that the place where my snowmachine usually sits was empty. It felt like I was in a movie. I looked left, I looked right and I just kind of stood there. The keys in my hand felt quite useless and I just laughed in disbelief. I walked back into the house and told Christina three times that my snowmachine was gone. She finally had to step outside to see for herself and, the space was indeed empty.

Unfortunately, we have had wind and snow all day so any footprints have been covered up and even if there were identifiable footprints my English degree unfortunately has not given me the type of skills that would be useful in drawing any sort of conclusion about the footprints. After calling the local police (he was out feeding his sled dogs…I was told to try back in an hour) and the State Troopers (they have Bethel PD answer after 5…I was told to call back tomorrow) I hopped on Christina’s machine and went to meet my friend.

I’m not really sure how I’m feeling right now. I tend to trust everyone in this village and I know no one here would steal it. My students are respectful and I know none of them would ever think to do something like this. The conclusion I come to is that someone from one of the neighboring villages or Bethel had something to do with my machine’s disappearance and the fact that people of such little morality were literally right outside my door really unnerves and angers me. I love the community in which I live and to think that someone has breached the little circle of trust that exists here really gets my goat. People here have been great though and are really trying to put the word out that it was taken. It feels pretty awesome to have that kind of support!

I love my snowmachine and yes, I do realize that it is just a machine. As Christina reminded me, it could have been worse, what if they had taken Macy or something. If that had happened I would have my bags packed in a second and I would be out the door. However, in the last three years my snowmobile has been a life-line and a sign of independence for me. It is easy to feel stuck living in a place such as this and although the walk to Bethel isn’t bad it does take just about 4-5 hours roundtrip to get back and forth. Sigh. I really hope it turns up.

I posted this on our email system today. Christina helped me write it and it helped me to laugh a bit about it today!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Amazing Things

The last fews days in Oscarville have been packed full of amazing things and discoveries and learning.

Amazing Thing #1

I have a meal worm that is still alive. When I arrived home after Christmas break I noticed that a well intending person had "watered" my meal worms for me. Apparently, instead of dampening the paper towels this person directly poured water into the container. Since paper toweling can only hold so much water at once the water that was not absorbed in the towels soaked into the oatmeal that the mealy worms live in. Apparently it takes about three weeks for wet oatmeal to grow mold and after four or five weeks the moldy oatmeal gets hard. After examining the wet oatmeal I decided nothing could possibly survive in that stinky horrible mess. All the tiny little beatle and mealy worm corpses in the container backed that idea up. I then reached in and dug out the moldy oatmeal, added some fresh stuff, and waited to see what happened. What happened was that I thought I subsequently killed everything in the jar. Lo and behold..I saw this wriggling around in there yesterday. My hope is that my meal worm population will replenish. We are all waiting in anticipation.

Amazing Thing #2

Macy can clean up after herself. I don't know how this escaped my attention for so long. All this time I've been picking up her toys, washing her blankets, putting her blankets on the couch just right when it turns out she is more than capable of doing chores herself. The other evening I filled up Macy's water dish and then went to bed. I figured she might get thirsty at night and might like some water to drink. The next morning I woke up to this sight. Macy must have thought I spilled some water or something and wanted to help me clean it up. She, ever so carefully, got a washcloth and made sure the water was all cleaned up for me. What a nice dog! She showed me that she really is ready to take on more responsibility around the house and I feel that she just might be ready. She is oozing with personal responsibility.

Amazing Thing #3

We had a visit today from Dr. Kenji Yoshikawa, leader of the UAF Permafrost Outreach Program. The amazing and wonderful thing from Kenji's visit is that he single-handedly captured the attention of all our students in grades 5-12 for 45 minutes. Short of setting myself on fire and doing cartwheels across the room I really have not been able to accomplish that feat. Not one student stirred through his entire presentation. All were quiet and all were respectful. Kenji is a pretty neat guy. He travels via snowmachine to many of his participating schools and villages.Yesterday he showed up in the rain and was soaked to the bone. Nevertheless, he did his work and moved right on home to Bethel. Kenji presented in my room and I was a bit embarrassed about how much stuff that he picked up and moved or even cleaned up as he presented. At one point he noticed that the box of Pilot Bread I keep in my classroom was open and the crackers were spilling out. He picked it up and set it back upright. Then he turned around and put a bunch of writing prompts that were lying on the floor back in their box. When he finally he realized he had about 4 Post-It notes stuck to his sock he peeled the Post-Its off and put them back near the poster they had fallen from. Thanks Kenji for being such a cool guy. The students are really excited about this project and are excited to be monitoring the permafrost tube for you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book Update

Here are some more books I have recently finished reading.

What is the What by Dave Eggers

This is the story of Valentino Achak Deng. Although his story is true, the book has been placed into the fiction/novel category because there were so many things that Valentino was not able to accurately recount so many years after they had happened. The story begins in pre-war Sudan when Valentino is a boy and takes us through his survival through the war up to his early twenties as a young man chosen for resettlement in America. This is a great read and I found myself choking up numerous times as Valentino reflects on the life he once lived and lost, the hypocrisies of America and how living in America, in some ways, is much harder then living in war-torn Sudan. More importantly, all proceeds from this book go to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation to help the Sudanese in America and in Sudan.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

Although this is a young adult novel I thought it was extremely entertaining and would recommend it for anyone. This is the story of a young boy, Junior, who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Junior decides on his own to attend an all white high school 20 miles off his reservation. Not only does Junior have to deal with all the normal woes of adolescence, but he also has to deal with trying to find his place in two vastly different societies and cultures. To add to the charm of this book Junior is a cartoonist and the book is full of his reflective illustrations about the situations and events he experiences. This book is extremely honest and heartfelt and can make you laugh and cry all at the same time.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is the story of Melinda, a young girl who has been ostracized by her entire high school for summoning the police to an end-of-the-summer party. What the students in her high school don't realize is why Melinda called the police. Feeling that she has no one to confide in and to share her secret with, Melinda slowly withdraws into her own world until she hardly speaks to anyone. As time passes, Melinda finds solace in her artwork and comes to terms with what happened to her at that party and is finally ready to speak about that night.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

I read this to see what the fuss was all about. I don't know what the fuss is all about. It definitely does not even deserve half the hype it's getting as a book or as a movie (unless they make the movie a heck of a lot interesting). The plot is mundane and predictable, a man reads characters out of books and the characters he accidentally reads out of the book are greedy villains who are after the man and his daughter and the man and his daughter have to flee the villains but get caught and then have to escape and then get caught and then have to escape and at some point the young girl learns she has the same ability as her father and the villain then tries to get her to read his evil friend out of the book but then the man has to save the daughter and so on and so on. It was 544 pages of predictable plot and way too much description. I recommend reading it if you have a student or kid reading it...just because it is always good to be able to discuss books with them, but overall, I wouldn't spend my precious time reading it again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Catching Up

I realize my blog has been without a new post for some time so my purpose today is to inundate all my lovely readers out there with an extremely long post full of fun, fun stuff. Be aware...this post will be fun.

I left off almost a month ago (yikes!) with a long post describing my test taking woes. I'm delighted to inform all of you that our tests have not been graded as of yet although the promise of this so called "grade" has been repeated over and over again. Whatever..the tests are done and now it is on to thesis writing!

This first little video is from way back to the K300. I was sitting in my house the evening after the start of the K300 and heard all sorts of commotion outside. Curiously, I poked my head out the door and saw a group of children watching the K300 fireworks on my doorstep. Every time a firework would explode the riffraff on my steps would erupt into a cacophony of sounds.
Unfortunately, when I showed up to record this spectacle the kids started to ham it up a bit. However, this is fairly accurate in terms of what I heard from these kids.

In early February we had some visitors from Juneau come to Oscarville. The Juneau guests were visiting Napakiak as part of the Rose Program. The purpose of this program is to foster cross-cultural understanding between urban and rural Alaskan residents. The guests from Juneau come to a village for a week to experience what life is like in the Bush and then village students go to a city to experience life there. I would love to get my students involved in the program but I just don't feel like I have the time to organize everything. It is a ton of work and I commend all the teachers involved for the time they put into the program. My good friend K.C. works his tail off to ensure that the program goes well and that the students from Juneau have plenty to do while they visit. For the past few years K.C. has made a trip to Oscarville part of his program. He tells me that the Oscarville trip has been a favorite amongst his guests in the past. This year the weather was beautiful out for their trip upriver and after a quick tour of our little school, many of our students took the Juneau kids out skiing. The ski trip was followed up by cupcakes and hot chocolate and fun was had by all.

My students have been working hard. Here are some pictures of them working hard.

We have also had lots of visitors so far this month. At the beginning of the beginning of the month we had Mr. Lee Sundby come stay with us for a few days. He helped me out with some website stuff . I was finally able to devote a small amount of time to updating our school website. Check it out! Thanks for all your help Lee!

I also attended a Fiddle Dance in Napakiak earlier this month. One of the teachers there, Darren, is raising some money to send some of the students to Colorado. The entertainment for the evening was provided by the Akiak Jasper Band. They were pretty good. One of Brian's roommates, Joel, came with Christina and I and although we were surrounded by men only one male was brave enough to ask me to dance. After that one song I was done two-stepping for the evening. My favorite part of the evening was the Broom Dance. I really wish I had had my camera for this event because it really was something to see. The Broom Dance begins with all the women choosing a partner and begins to dance. One woman walks holding a broom amidst all the couples. After walking around for a few minutes the woman throws the broom to the ground and all the women must run and find a new man to dance with. Of course, one woman is left without a partner and must pick up the broom and dance with it until the feel like dropping it again. Then, the women all switch partners again. The whole point of the Broom Dance is that you don't want to get stuck with the broom. When the broom drops women hurtle themselves toward the first available man (which isn't really that uncommon in the Bush). It really was quite a comical spectacle to see. The Fiddle Dance was fun and was a great way to spend a Friday night.

Students in my English Language Development class have been working hard to create some movies to enter into our district wide multimedia competition. Some also entered movies in the Alaska Society for Technology in Education (ASTE) iDidamovie competition. It's amazing to see how much effort and work it goes into making a movie. We spent four weeks planning, scripting, filming and editing all the movies and we still had a few that just barely met the deadline. I'm so proud of all their hard work! They don't know it but today we are going to celebrate all their work with root beer floats and popcorn!!!

Here are some pics of them getting all their stuff together for the Multimedia Competition. Between you and I...we have the competition in the bag. I hope some of my students post their movies to their blogs so everyone can see their awesome work!

I'm also happy to report that we have been getting a nice amount of snow within the last couple of weeks. I came home from the school one evening and went out skiing with Macy. It was so relaxing and nice. The snow was perfect for skiing, it wasn't too cold and we didn't see another human the entire time we were out. The middle picture is of what it looks like on the slough when I don't use a flash...dark, eh?

Then, of course, there is Valentine's Day. I have discovered that many more people than I originally thought hate this holiday but I am always amused at the effort that goes into Valentine's Day in Oscarville. Maybe that is because so little really happens here that every little holiday becomes a big deal. Christina, knowing that I would be a Valentine's scrooge, bought some little candies for me to give the kids. I appreciated that very, very much. I usually do give the kids something for the big heart day, but this year I completely forgot. The kids had fun at our "party" and it was fun.

Macy also came to the Valentine's Day party. I was in the middle of taking a picture of her when a student stepped in front of me. Here is the resulting picture of Macy at our Valentine's Day party.

This past weekend Mr. Rendall was in town and we had lots of time to hang out. He had off of work one day last week and spent his time with Macy. I brought her up on Wednesday evening and she spent all day Thursday there. You can read more about their Play Day here. I traveled back to Bethel on Friday evening and Mr. Rendall made us some wonderful pizza pies and we just sat around and talked. Saturday was spent lounging around and drinking coffee and other various early morning liquids. We then traveled to the A.C. to get some food stuffs for our breakfast. Since it was so late in the afternoon Brian had to work extra fast to get breakfast on the table!

We came back to Oscarville on Saturday evening to find my house full of students preparing for the Science Fair this week. Brian and I decided to make ourself useful and unburied Christina's snowmobile from the drift she had buried it in earlier that morning. After that we were asked to join other students in the school to partake in some experimentation that the Junior High students were conducting. One experiment required us to eat a ton of noodles. We left the school tired and all sorts of pasta-y.

All in all the month of February seems to be dragging by. Next week I am heading to the ASTE conference in Anchorage. My friend Emily from Aniak is going to be there as well and I'm looking forward to some fun times. Never a dull moment with that girl around.

Here are some pictures of Macy enjoying life...what post would be complete without a few images of my awesome, awesome pup.