Monday, March 30, 2009

Just some ramblings about the past few days

This weekend was a blur.

It all started Thursday afternoon when I mixed up some bread dough on my lunch hour and then ran back and forth between the school and my house the rest of the afternoon checking on the bread. Alex, the NYO coach, had informed me the previous day that I should cook something for the NYO meet on Friday. Although we make the kids eat crappy cafeteria food during the meets the coaches get treated to a wide array of wonderfully delicious Native foods. During the dinner break at every meet the coaches stuff themselves on dried fish, baked fish, fish soup, meat (caribou) soup, akutaq, and bread amongst other things. So, it was my turn to provide some food and I was EXTREMELY nervous as I diced up the caribou I was going to turn into soup. I kept trying to think about all the times I've had meat soup and how it was prepared. I put in a little of this, a little of that and let the slow cooker do it's job.

The next day I woke up and went to work. There was a career fair happening at the Cultural Center in Bethel and I was in charge of taking my two high school boys, Andrew and Carl, to check out some career options. As Carl was gathering his winter gear Andrew came to my house to start my snowmobile and to stay warm while we waited for Carl. I gave him a tiny little taste of my soup and he deemed it high quality. After reminding Chris, my site administrator, not to forget the soup when he drove the kids over Andrew, Carl and I took off for the career fair.

The career fair was pretty good. Although I was told many organizations didn't make it in to present I felt that the ones who did make it in were pretty good. I think it helped Andrew and Carl to realize how many options really are available to them and I'm hoping that they have a few more ideas about what they want to do after graduating.

By about 2:30 or so we were all Career Fair-ed out and we hopped on our snowmobiles to head home.

I arrived home and quickly checked in with Chris. The soup had not made it across the river with the kids so I brought it over to Eliza's house to bring with her soup. I then grabbed my backpack which held my overnight stuff, jumped on my snowmobile and headed to the NYO meet.

At about 4 my soup showed up with Eliza and her soup and I became instantly nervous. I really wanted it to be good and was hoping that people liked it.

I told Darren Kellerby, one of the coaches from Napakiak, that I made the soup and that I was really nervous about people eating it. He reassured me that it would be fine and I had to stifle a big laugh as he proclaimed, "This is such good soup!" after one bite. Later on I asked a coach from Kwethluk what he thought. He responded with, "It didn't taste Native." I'm not sure if that was a compliment or not.

NYO went well. I was glad that it was close to home and although I couldn't go home PKA feels familiar enough to me that I actually slept fairly well on the floor of the school.

Mr. Bodily stopped by to say hi. I like seeing him so.

On Saturday I rushed home and after showering and changing my clothes I went up to Bethel to meet up with my good buddy Kale for an all out exclusive Erin and Kale Day.

A little bit about Kale. He is a teacher in Mekoryuk and over the past couple of years I've really grown to be good friends with. He's really become quite a close and dear friend of mine and although I understand his rationale for doing so it saddens me that he's leaving our school district to head home. Kale has really been a wonderful friend to have out here the last two years and there are times when I was about ready to lose my mind and he was there to help me cheer up or feel better about my job and life in general. His positive energy and loving nature really are going to be missed up here.

So, Kale came to Bethel to hang out with friends one last time before the end of the school year. I was honored that he made sure to spend some time with

Erin and Kale Day started with some hanging out at Erin, Angie and Sadie's house where he was staying. We then got on my snowmachine and headed to the District Office. I was supposed to help a woman do some iMovie stuff but she had already gone by the time I got there.

We then went to Swanson's to get him some groceries.

After the groceries we headed to the Tundra Oasis to see what the folks there were doing. It was then decided that Kale and I were going to head to Oscarville to get Macy and bring her back to the Tundra Oasis.

So...we headed down to Oscarville on my snowmachine to pick up the doglet. Then we went back to Bethel.

After bringing Macy to the Tundra Oasis Kale and I headed to the Cama-i festival to do some shopping for Native crafts. I found a really kick ass pair of seal skin mittens. The woman who made then didn't speak much English and became very excited when I told her I was from Oscarville. She then communicated to me that she had once lived in Oscarville herself and that pretty much sealed the deal for me. I felt like I had to buy the mittens then! I absolutely love them. However, due to warmish type weather and my lack of getting outside the last few days I haven't been able to wear them yet! I want to post a picture of them on here soon.

The Cama-i festival was interesting. You can read about it here (thanks Alisha!). There was also an incident that happened to Brian that Kale has accurately and hilariously recounted. Then of course, there is always Brian's response to said situation.

That's enough. I'm blogged out for now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Geocaching is STILL fun!

Last spring my class and I planted a geocache out in the "woods". We took the coordinates using Christina's GPS and I registered our geocache on the geocache site.

I received word later on from the geocache people that our coordinates put our geochache somewhere in Greenland! Well, using my power of logic and my sense of direction I surmised right away that the coordinates we submitted to the geocache website were probably in some way...incorrect.

I meant to go out last spring and check the coordinates of the cache again but life got busy and the geocache got put on hold.

It's funny that with all the really important things I have to think about geocache coordinates keep popping up inside the mess of thoughts I have running around in my brain.

On Sunday K.C. did a surprise stop by and I told him I had something really really fun for us to do and he agreed to accompany me. It was only after we got his GPS working and got ready to go out that I told him we were going to tromp through the woods to look for our geocache.

Since it was so bright we both put on sunglasses. Not only were we being pragmatic, but we also looked hella cool as we set out in search of my geocache.

We didn't find the geocache but we did have fun digging around in the snow. Well, I had fun digging in the snow. KC just took pictures of me and complained.

What do you think? Think I was close?

Monday, March 23, 2009


When I was a kid I remember reading a book with my dad. I may as well be making this up but the memory I have is of us in his bathroom and me reading to him as he shaved. I'm not entirely sure what the book was about but I remember at various points throughout the story the main character would yell "EEK!". My dad then pointed out that my initials (Erin Elizabeth Kavanaugh) spelled EEK and I felt very special seeing my initials in writing.

Throughout the years other people have figured out that my initials spell EEK and some have chosen to call me that as a nickname. Other people have cool nicknames but I got stuck with EEK. I also got stuck with some of my brothers' nicknames as well. My brothers' friends would just add Lil' in front of whatever my brothers' nicknames were. So, I went through high school as Lil' Kavanaugh, Lil' Kavy, Lil' Shaft, and the worst one Lil' Fatty.

When I arrived in the Y-K Delta I was surprised and amused to find out that there was a village here called Eek. When I asked someone here in Oscarville what the word Eek means in Yugtun I was told that one day a man was traveling on the tundra when he encountered a huge rabbit/mouse hybrid. This man then apparently screamed out "Eek!" I still have no idea what "Eek" means and apparently no one else around here does either, but it does make for a good joke.

The whole point I'm trying to get to is that this weekend I got to see for myself the village of Eek when I accompanied our NYO team to their meet. Although small, our NYO team is always a force to be reckoned with at meets. This week's past meet was no exception and our team did quite well. Our high school team took second overall and we had many athletes who took first in many of the events!

The schedule for NYO meets is always the same. We begin with the Kneel Jump. Here's a bit more about the Kneel Jump:

The Kneel Jump
Similar to the Scissor Broad Jump in that the hunters must develop the skill of quick movement to be successful in jumping from one ice floe to another. This game also develops leg muscles necessary to lift heavy game and carry it back to the village.

Here is one of our students doing the Kneel Jump.

Next up was the Wrist Carry. I love the Wrist Carry simply because I am amazed at how long the kids can hang from a stick by their wrists.

The Wrist Carry
A test of survival. This event has origins based on hunters being able to carry their game back to the village. Hunters had to develop endurance and strength in order to carry the game over a long distance.

Here is one of our Junior High athletes doing the wrist carry. It was her first meet and she did a great job. She looks so tiny compared to those guys carrying her. She kept looking at us and smiling because she knew she was doing really well. If she concentrates a bit harder next time she will totally take first.

I took quite a bit of pictures and movies this past weekend and it would take me forever to go through and explain what was going on in each one. So, I just made a big slide show.

Of course, what NYO meet would be complete without a puppet show! haha
This is what we do while we have some down time between cleaning the room up and waiting for the awards ceremony to begin.

This weekend is the annual Napaskarville NYO meet. This is a meet co-hosted by the folks from Napaskiak and Oscarville. It's really fun. I love NYO and it's a bit sad that my time with the NYO team here is winding down. Perhaps they will still allow me to travel with the team next year if they need a chaperone. Sigh.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Package Smackages

Today a plethora of wonderful completely amazing packages came in the mail for me!

First, let's start with the not so exciting one. In fact, this one downright ticked me off. I received a package from Apple today. We have had numerous power cords go to pot this past year and I finally devoted to an hour and a half of my life to talking to the Apple people on the phone ordering some new ones for the school. What I received today was not what I had in mind and I am not looking forward to talking to the Apple people again any time soon. But it must be done. Here is a picture of all the useless stuff Apple sent me.

Package two is kind of cool. I received a package from the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Public Health Section of Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion. Inside were surveys I am supposed to have students fill out and as a "thank you" for the time I am going to put into this the State of Alaska sent me a nifty little satchel. Thanks State of Alaska!

The last two packages were from very special people in my life and I cannot possibly rank them. So, I hope no one reads more into which package I talk about first because the order carries no meaning whatsoever.

A belated Christmas present came for me today. After watching me nearly chop my fingers off with the dull knifes I have around my kitchen Mr. Brian Rendall, concerned for my safety, ordered and sent what looks to be a very professional and very SHARP Japanese chef's knife. I love it! It's all shiny and new and I'm almost tempted to display it rather than use it. I wish I had had it on Sunday evening when I cut open a spaghetti squash with an uluaq and a hammer! Thank you so much Brian! I cannot wait to cook a meal for you with my new knife!

Finally, a much anticipated package came today and after tearing many, many layers of tape off (you did that just to annoy me -- didn't you?) I discovered many lovely things that had been packaged with care and sent all the way from Afghanistan! According to the letter inside, this particular box contained everything I need to have an proper Afghan tea party. There were little tea glasses, figs, almonds, and pistachios! I was also very grateful for the detailed instructions on how to prepare the tea! I cannot wait to try it.

Thank you to all who sent me lovely things today (except Apple)! I am so spoiled! It means so much to have such caring and wonderful people in my life (except the State of Alaska -- you're just trying to bribe me). After a long day my heart has been regenerated and I feel great! Thanks so much for making my day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Life Update!

I never intended to stay in Oscarville or even Alaska this long. When I first arrived here my intentions and my plans were to simply work a year and to pass some time until other things panned out.

Well, thanks to some guy named Todd in Tennessee (I still harbor unkind feelings towards that man) life took a different turn and the plans I had desperately hoped would work out fizzled out instead. Once I accepted that my life wasn't going in the direction I had anticipated, I accepted another year here in Oscarville.

I guess what I'm saying is that my move to Alaska was supposed to be completely temporary and that I never intended to be here as long as I have. However, various thing have kept me here.

I know I complain about my job at times and I get upset or cranky when things don't go quite my way but I really have been blessed to live amongst such wonderful people. I truly have found a second home in this community. People here have done so many wonderful things for me. They've listened to me when I've felt completely alone and needed someone to talk to, they've laughed with me, cried with me, supported me, invited me for dinner, included me in their family celebrations and have just overall welcomed me into their community with open arms.

However, in the past year I've really started to feel that I am ready to start exploring other opportunities and to try something new and different.

A few weeks back a job was posted on our district email. The job was for a Teacher Technology Trainer and I went ahead and applied. I had my interview almost two weeks ago and I was offered the job. After tossing and turning on the decision and a late night email to a friend about my dilemma (which has gone unresponded to -- you know who you are!) I went ahead and accepted the position!

So, what does a Teacher Technology Trainer do? Well, a Teacher Technology Trainer goes from village to village and helps to train teachers on how to integrate technology into their curriculum. A large portion of my job next year is going to be playing around on these snazzy computers we have here in LKSD!

What else does this mean? The hardest part of accepting this job was the fact that I have to move into Bethel. Don't get me wrong, Bethel has it's up side. There are plenty of pros to living in Bethel. I also have some friends moving to Bethel and Shaun does a much better job verbalizing the pros. Thanks Shaun.

The biggest con to moving to Bethel is that I really, really, really like living in Oscarville. I love being able to put my kayak in the slough right outside my house and to while away time just floating around. I love walking to "Erin's Tundra" (it's my secret berry spot that I'll show anyone if they want to see it) and picking berries and occasionally camping there (although I haven't been camping back there for quite some time -- not after being kept awake one night by Macy's continuous cacophony of little woofs and barks). I love exploring the area around Oscarville and have come to feel confident and comfortable setting out with no destination in mind and never feeling lost as I wander. I love having to take a boat to Bethel to shop when the river is unfrozen and even more so, I love driving my snowmobile in the winter.

Even more important than all that other stuff is the fact that I love my job. I truly, truly love my job. I never wake up in the morning dreading entering Qugcuun Memorial School. Sure, there are mornings I wish I could lay in bed for a few hours longer but I never wish that I didn't have to go to work in the morning. What makes my job so awesome is that I get to spend my day working with some really, really kick ass kids.

These kids are amazing. I know I complain and get frustrated at times but that's because I know how awesome they are and I get pretty ticked off when they don't work to their full potential. When I walked into my room four years ago I not only had on way nicer clothes than I wear to work now but I also have zero experience. That first year I worked late quite often, cried at the drop of a hat, and learned from my students how to be a teacher. The second and third year got even better and this year has been phenomenal. Even some of the students who tend to frustrate me the most have really matured and pulled it together and I'm optimistic we are going to get a TON of stuff done in the last nine weeks of school.

Oscarville really is a tiny little paradise in so many ways and that is what has made it so hard to walk away.

Two Fridays ago I sat the Junior High and High School down to tell them I was leaving. I got about three words into my little talk and started crying. They just sat patiently and waited for this wave of emotion to pass. They all know me quite well at this point and I think there are many times they are more in tune to my moods and emotions than I am. The emotion did pass and I sopped up the tears and I broke my own heart as I spilled my guts about my big old fat secret.

The reaction was mixed. Some looked sad. Some were excited about getting a new teacher (which I understand) and others had many questions. At one point I told them I had not broken the news to Macy yet and was open to any suggestions as to how I could do so! One young man told me to keep throwing a ball from Oscarville to Bethel and when we get to our new home to lock the door once she's inside. Another student suggested breaking the news with a treat. He told me to hold up a treat and say, "Here's a treat...we're moving to Bethel." All those are good suggestions and I'm currently working on finding a place that is suitable for Macy.

So...that's my big news. It's a total change and I am hoping it won't be a decision I regret. If anyone has some leads on places to live I'd be interested in hearing them!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


For the first time this winter I did just what I always hate doing. I got my snowmobile stuck. I'm not really sure what happened. Christina and I were heading to Bethel and it was a beautiful day. I was flying down the trail and I guess my thoughts were elsewhere. Anyway, I wasn't really paying attention to where I was driving and I suddenly realized that the path I was on was not the true path that would bring me safely into Bethel. With that realization I did the stupidest thing one can do when they find themselves off trail. I stopped....and my machine sunk into the snow.

Christina and I then proceeded to try to dig, lift and shove the snowmachine onto some solid ground. Nothing we seemed to do worked. With every step we took we sunk into the large drifts. After about an hour I climbed on Christina's machine and headed to a friend's house to get some help. My friend told me I could borrow a couple of shovels and then told me her husband was outside and he would probably help. I thanked her profusely and walked outside. On my way towards the shovels I ran into her husband and he promptly jumped onto his snowmachine and followed me.

I watched in awe as he made three circles around my snowmobile and created a nice packed down path for it to ride on. He then got off his snowmachine, grabbed my front left ski and with one hand pulled mine into position (remember, Christina and I had been trying to do this for an hour). He then kind of motioned at me and told me to ride it out of the hole. I got on and rode it out of the hole. What we had spent an hour and a half on with no progress had taken him about 15 minutes (including the time it took him to get there and back to his house) to complete. Feeling like a complete idiot I thanked him and made a mental note to bake that nice man and his wife some cookies.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hey Rendall...

Look what came today! I'll find a safe place for them!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

I did call. It was late (your time) and you were still out

Hope your day was great! Talk to you tomorrow!

Monday, March 2, 2009


I was informed this past weekend that the snowgo thief has been apprehended and will be charged.

I still have to call the Trooper back and get more details but from what I gathered it sounds like a young man stole it.