Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Update From the Blog Slacker

I realize it's been awhile. In fact it's been so long that today's post comes from pretty much the same standpoint as the last post. Only the location, the in-between events, and the lights on the horizon are different.

See, last post came on a day of preparation for departure from Kasigluk-Akula. Today I am on the eve of departure from Atmautluak (home of the Falcons). I guess it bears repeating that time does fly.

I came out here right after Kasigluk and got classes going. After the first week, I had to head to Bethel for an inservice. I stayed around for the week, off contract. I needed some time to get re-energized, and I had hopes to get out and harvest a caribou. The first was a success, the latter was a bust. I had no luck finding anyone to go with. There's still plenty of season left though.

I also got to put a few fun miles on the new machine which I'm liking. It's not the sportiest by any means, but it's been airborn a couple times now. I thought about riding it out here, but am sure glad I decided not to. All the snow is gone, thanks to a warm rainy weekend a couple weeks back. It's pretty interesting watching people in the village continuing to ride their snowmachines around.

And of course, there was thanksgiving dinner, where I joined the old crew over at the Tundra Oasis for an outstanding meal. Lee made a heck of a bird, including a homemade bratwurst stuffing that was unreal.

Back at Atmautluak, classes resumed after Thanksgiving weekend. We've been at it ever since, and even with some small and dwindling class sizes we made some headway. My welding class refurbished a bike rack for the school so that the kids won't need to dump their bikes on the boardwalk or else in the mud anymore.

We've had some beautiful weather as of late...clear, crisp, and lots of frost on everything. Gorgeous, really. I didn't take any pictures, because I just knew there was no doing it justice. As soon as you put a boarder around these sunrises they cease to be. I felt pretty lucky, also, to have clear nights the last couple nights, since it coincided with the Geminids meteor shower. Sunday night I went out and saw plenty of meteors. Last night I was out and only saw 5, but it was nice just to be out, all bundled up, hiking across the river and laying on the bank to gaze at the billions of stars.

Obscure candy available at Store here: Chick-O-Stick. Once in a while you find the darnedest things at village stores. I had forgotten all about the crunchy peanut butter coconut goodness of Chick-O-Stick. I don't think I've seen one in 20 years. Still taste darn good, by the way.

Tomorrow I head to Bethel, and on Saturday I begin the journey to Wisconsin. I decided to treat myself to a nice hotel in Anchorage for Saturday night. I'm looking forward to getting some good chow, soaking in a tub big enough to drown a calf in, and sleeping in a comfy king size bed. Even more, looking forward to the next day, arriving in Wisconsin. I can't wait to see family and friends.

Oh, and speaking of family... Happy Birthday Mom!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Pre-Flight

So this morning is the beginning of my last full day here at Kasigluk-Akula. In a little while I will use the break in my daily-changing class schedule to start carefully packing delicate hi-tech gear in foam lined boxes so as to alleviate stresses from the shocks and vibrations that are part of the fun of being transported in small planes and the backs of pickup trucks. Like anything in life, this procedure begins with a good hot cup of black coffee. Beyond that, I thought I'd try something different this morning, and reflect a little on my on my time and place here, and in doing so, hopefully get "into" the dull ritual that lies ahead.

My plane is scheduled to arrive at 1:00 tomorrow. This means I need to be ready by noon, and not surprised if it shows up late or never. That doesn't mean I have to like it though. Regular readers might remember from last spring when I was leaving Donkey Kong, I waited for hours. The company I use is kind and friendly, so I stayed loyal. Screw me again and watch my business go next door though. But that's tomorrow's concern. What about Kasigluk?

I've had some pretty darned nice students this year, and the trend has held up here. Teaching has been pretty fun. One trouble, though, is that of sticking with a commitment. For example, I teach a driver's ed class in the evening. There were 18 on my roster the first day, 11 of which showed up. The next day we were down to 9. This remaining 1/2 has stuck it through, although a couple with not enough regularity to get school credit. Predictable is this scenario during the last week of class: I'm approached by somebody who signed up but never showed up, and later heard good things about the class from a friend. Now they want in. They'll approach me in the hall and ask, with a day or two remaining if it's too late to be in the class. I know what you're thinking, but the problem is, it's ILLEGAL to smack people upside the head. Opportunities sometimes knock. "When will you be back to do this again?" "Probably in about 2 years." Realities set in.

Glaringly missing from my stay here, as well as last month's in Kwigillingok, was a real social life. It happens that way once in a while, but usually not. Never had it twice in a row before. Just not many young, un-married people around who do things besides work or sleep. That, and all the night classes make it hard too, as in Kwig, where night classes thwarted hunting plans.

Well sheesh. This is really not the direction I had in mind for this post. It sounds pretty down and out, and it shouldn't. Ahead of me lies a 2 day-that's right-a TWO DAY weekend in Bethel. I don't know what exactly I'll do with it. Have some good meals, for sure. Pick up my snow machine. Sadly, rains ruined the snow we had, so riding will have to wait. Hopefully things freeze up good and solid by Thanksgiving, so I can set out on my chainsaw-with-a-seat in search of some game. There's some photo exhibit I'll go check out. Watch some Sunday NFL. By the way, it killed me to miss the Favre-Bowl, and I'm happy for the outcome. I hope Teddy the Rat is squirming and nervous. One last thing on sports: yankees win the world series and nobody cares. yankees fans, you don't count. Anybody who does not or has not lived in New York and is a yankee fan is a poseur.

This is getting off topic and rambling, so you know that cup of coffee is finished and my body is caffeinated. Breakfast of half a can of corned beef hash has been ingested. I'm ready for what's ahead, ready to move on. Time to go pack up the stuff and take it all down, the circus is leaving town.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Count Akula in the Spooky Bingo Parlor

Doesn't that sound like it would make a great title for one of the old Scooby Doo cartoons? I spent the 2009 All Hallow's Eve at the Akula Halloween Carnival here in Kasigluk. What a carnival it was.

My plan was to go as a character I thought up named Count Akula. (ha ha ain't that clever) But, I left my cape and fangs in Bethel, and besides, I think vampires are really pretty lame. Nevertheless, for the evening I decided to mentally be Count Akula. A Halloween costume is really a state of mind anyways.

Speaking of costumes, there were some good, non-mental costumes at the carnival. We had a parade where the contestants all walked laps in the gym to the rhythm of various tunes. My personal favorite came when some youngsters put on a costumed dance show to Alvin and the Chipmunks singing the Achy Breaky Heart song. It was one of those things of which few, and certainly not I, could have possibly dreamed.

After the parade there was some judging, and prizes awarded for different costumes. After that, a full blown CARNIVAL broke out in the Tundra Fox Gymnasium!! There was a cake walk, a slush-puppy machine, a free-throw shoot, skill crane, chuck a baseball at some metal bottles, balloon animals, face painting, eat an apple on a string (best deal of the night in my opinion), fishing for goodies over a wall, men's bingo and women's bingo.

I was busy teaching Saturday class when the carnival was organized, so I had no designated post. Therefore I assumed a roving helping and laughing role in the carnival. Count Akula was there to help should anyone need it. I sold some slushies. I tied some apples to strings. Then, the Count was beckoned to an emergency situation. I followed along, and was led smack dab into the middle of (do I really even need to say it or did you guess already?) women's bingo. They were shorthanded in there, with only a caller and a checker/ticket taker. But there needed to be a ticket seller. Enter Count Akula. But what the heck...I've never had so many women wave tens and twenties at me in my life. I didn't even have to dance, and the only clothing I took off was my flannel shirt because the room was so hot. The prizes for bingo were things like T-shirts, yarn, Gladware, coffee creamer and other assorted goodies. No huge prizes.

The prizes in the gym were even smaller. BUT, everybody had a nice time. I was really impressed by the maturity and cooperative effort put forth by the high school students here, who did most of the organization and work.

At the end of the evening, sleepy after having taught class all day, been to a carnival and worked at bingo, Count Akula retired to the dark Akula attic.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No News is Good News, Mostly

So here I have been quiet on the blog for too long again. Sometimes it can be hard to find the time and ambition to get around to putting a post on here. The next thing you know a few weeks trickled through our fingers and I've been riding around in more airplanes. Generally speaking though, the better life is, the less frequently I find myself blogging. (Better to be living than talking about living, wouldn't you say?)

Kwigillingok is but a memory and life goes on. It was an interesting departure there back on the 16th. The plane showed up about 1/2 hour earlier than what would seem possible. Consider that it is about a 1 hour flight. Now consider that I called the airline to check on the flight, and they said they would send the plane right away. I set out in search of a man with a 4 wheeler and trailer who could help me with all the gear, and found him. The next thing you know, somebody finds us and says my plane will be here in 7 minutes. Better early than hours late. I had to high speed gimp around loading and moving all the heavy stuff, but got it done and airborne.

You heard me right, gimp around. Let's have that bad news now, shall we?

My knees are going bad on me. I played ball with some students one night and the next day my knee was stiff, sore, swollen, and noisy in motion. I went to the doctor and after a checking over, they gave me some motrin and some steroids. The 'roids seemed to help for a few days, cutting down on the inflamation and what not. We shall see how things progress. I probably only had 5 or 6 seasons left in the NBA anyways, before I would have had to go play in Europe.

As long as we're taking a quick ride in the waambulance I'll give you my other piece of bad news. I may have wrecked my computer in what will forever be known as the 2009 Kwig Tea Debacle.

So, my body is getting old and I'm no good at liquids, basically is the gist of it. But I've got lots of good news to offset it.


I had a great week in Bethel. I got to see some football on the TV. I was a judge for LKSD's junior high speech competition, which was tons of fun. I had a good productive week in town, made some good professional in-roads, and feel pleased with the way things went. Aside from that little computer thing of course.

I had some wonderful friends come and visit this past weekend. We went to a really neat fundraiser called Just Desserts, where nothing but dessert was served, and enjoyed the musical and dancing variety show that went along with it. We have some really talented people in and around Bethel. Add to that fun, even more fun gatherings, fellowship with friends new and old, and, well...I guess what I'm blathering about is that it was a great weekend that ended way too soon for me.

Monday I flew to where I am now: Kasigluk-Akula. Kasigluk is a village aquatically divided into two parts, each with their own school. I am teaching at Akula, home of the Tundra Foxes. The other side, Akiuk, will be pretty hard to get to until there is enough ice, unless the bit that there is melts away for a little while.

So far it seems fine here. It is early, but my morning classes went well.

Oh, and yesterday before leaving Bethel I bought this:

So, bring on the winter. Life is good.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Martha Stewart Was Here

More on that title in a bit.

The week has been somewhat long and decent overall. I mean, it is long, and there isn't much opportunity for leisure or fun activities. We didn't make it out bird hunting last weekend afterall. There was a conflict of obligations for the people, and Sundays are out. Hunting is illegal on Sundays here. But I do have really nice students, and that makes work not seem so worky sometimes. One more week down, one more to go here, and then it's onward and forward.

I just got back in from my walk to Store. Despite high winds it was a nice little stroll. Last post I mentioned how I get to craving salad and the like when in villages. The other thing I really crave is eggs. So when I found a cooler full of eggs at Store you could have knocked me over with a dried salmon. Eggs over hard, fried hard for Sunday breakfast in the bush tomorrow. Or maybe huevos rancheros. We'll see.

I'm making good on the photos I said I'd post. Do you care about the photos? Here are a few I snapped here in Kwigillingok over the past few days. Nothing too special but I kind of liked them, so why not make them viewable to people all over the universe I figured.

Teacher housing is what's at the end of the rainbow. It depends on perspective though. A few weeks ago I saw a rainbow circle from up in the plane. It's been a rainbowy fall.

The arctic pipe heads off into the sunset.

The game goes on as kids play basketball past dark.

Now for the Martha Stewart thing. When I'm traveling I try to not rely too much on canned foods, but it's pretty unavoidable. Ya know how soup cans love to put recipes on the side of themselves, giving you new innovative ways to use their contents. Usually it's a passable sacrifice on something you could make better yourself, but good to keep in mind for when you're in a pinch. Well I noticed one this week that is just absolutely brilliant. This recipe is for the Ultimate Roast Beef Sandwich, and it appears on the side of a can of some kind of meat/gravy/potato/carrot product made by a company whose name rhymes with minty door. The recipe has an ingredients list and a step by step process, of how to open up the can and spoon this crap onto a hotdog bun. It comes with a finished photo so you know what it looks like. Somebody better call Arby's and tell them to watch out.
Next week, Oscar Mayer's recipe for the ultimate stew. Ahh, who can wait that long. What you do is, you throw two hotdogs in a bowl with two biscuits and eat it with a fork.

Bon Apetit.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How About a Nice Hot Cup of Kwigillingok?


First off, sorry for the delayed post. It's been over a month, I know. Life has been busy, and there have been a couple of technical issues on top of it. If you've checked in you may have noticed some unintelligible notice saying this blog has been flagged for some type of objectionable content, waa waa. The first time I thought maybe Blogger had discovered that fish video I posted from Copper Center. Alas, it's just a problem with the site itself. In any case I couldn't log in until one of my computer geek friends taught me about another secret entrance. And then I had to remember to use it...

The other issue is that I don't have internet at the NEW PLACE IN BETHEL. That's right. We moved into a new place, one big enough for the three of us. The mark I leave there is: a stack of rubbermaid bins in a closet, a red truck out front which moves around for the week I am in town, and...I don't know I guess that's probably it. But still it feels like a home when I'm there.

I returned from Goodnews on the 18th of September with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. It was nice to be back and see my friends again. At the same time, I was missing the people, the river, the coast and the mountains out in GNU. Hopefully I will make it back sometime in the not too distant future. In retrospect though it was probably good to give my arm a break from reeling in all those salmon. I was beginning to consider switching my reel to a lefty just to even out the burden.

In Bethel I had quite a busy week at work topped with an inservice on Saturday. I consumed many fresh salads and vegetables I had been craving when away in the village. After 3 or 4 weeks in the bush, few things are as mouthwatering a thought as a spinach salad. It's true.

This past Monday I flew through the fog and mist and landed in the village of Kwigillingok (KWK), Kwig for short. Home of the Eagles, by the way. Actual pronunciation is more like gwee-hee-yeeng-hawk. But that's not really right either. I'm told that in Yup'ik it means "place with no rivers." One of my community member students in Drivers Ed is going to tell me the story behind the name sometime, as she noticed the look on my face when she told me the meaning. (right now I can see the river out the window, and there is a barge in it being unloaded with a crane, so the look on my face was one of puzzlement I'm sure)

Things here are going fine. I work an odd schedule. The students are pretty nice. The little kids all know me, and for some reason they often would ask me for pepsi which I couldn't figure out until just yesterday. My coffee cup has a pepsi logo on it, so naturally I would therefore have pepsi in my backpack. That is the rationale of a first grader... Myself and a couple of my welding students are planning on going bird hunting this evening.

Other than that, it's been rainy, autumn has come, the tundra is browning, we've had some frosts, the bugs are dead, the Brewers are 78-82 with two to go. Send in the clowns.

I'll try to pull out my camera and push some buttons before the next post.

Enjoy Monday Night Football this week. It should be memorable.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Good News for People Who Like Good News about Goodnews

A few changes are afoot since the last post and life is fine. Work has been within spec, and so has the fishing. Back on the 16th, Erin, Macy, friends/coworkers from the District Office Iain and Bethany headed out in Erin's boat once again. Earlier in the day Erin and I took a ride down to her old home of Oscarville to visit and drop off/pick up things. I basically went for the fresh air, as the day was a real beauty.

When we pulled up in the Oscarville Slough, I busted out laughing. There were little kids all over the slough, swimming in the cool water and totally full of mud, head to toe. They were all so thrilled to see Erin and Macy both. So all these mud caked boys and girls are running and yelling along the shore as they see Erin's boat approaching. It was pretty cute, and after some hellos we headed inside Erin's old house for a bit.

While the girls chatted, Macy and I went and played with sticks and fed ourselves to the gnats.
After a while we got out of there to go pick up Iain and Bethany back up in Bethel on the way further up river to the Kwethluk River. This time Erin had some secret hole in the river that had yielded several big silvers on the day after my prior fruitless journey upriver.

This time I got on the salmon board. First Erin caught 2 or 3 fish. She was on fire and we all were just looking on in amazement. She seemed to know just where the fish were. My first rod-n-reel salmon of my life was pretty unspectacular. I set the hook, it thrashed for a couple seconds, and then a boat went by doing about 80 knots. The waves rinsed the fish right up on shore, where I subdued it in short order. The afternoon had a fair amount of fishing action, and I got this one on what I had mentally said would be my last cast of the day. (and it was)

Macy was acting like it was really cold on the ride home, but she's kind of a wuss.

Back to work on Monday I spent my week setting up schedules, planning, setting up gear and getting everything ready for the Fall '09 Tour. First gig:
Goodnews Bay
Rocky Mountain School
Home of the Bears

And here I am...

So far life here has been great. I made friends with most of the staff last year, as they stayed at the TO from time to time. Really really good people to be around.

Monday I did the usual: pack up, haul gear to Yute Air, sit around, fly out, unload the plane, haul all the gear to school, schedule classes, set up gear. I got that stuff down to a science last year.

In the evening, a couple friends here Chris and Amanda invited me on a hike up Rocky Mountain which is just behind the school. We picked and ate some berries on the way and I snapped a couple photos of the village from on top.

Tuesday I kicked off classes. They all seem to be going pretty well so far, by the way. But after class was even better. Chris (teacher here, great guy, husband of Amanda), Paul (teacher here, owner of a boat, all around good guy), John (itinerant worker, former TO housemate last year) and myself (you know me) piled into Paul's boat and shot up the Goodnews River a spell. The fishing was unreal. I got fish on each of my first 2 casts. We stacked up fish for a couple hours and then set about cleaning.

The rest of the week went smoothly by, and today we got out fishing some more. This time is was Paul, Ken (Paul's friend from back home), Amanda (teacher here, Chris's wife, all around good lady) and myself. Today the fishing was equally awesome, with a few real bigguns. The weather was pretty much perfect, and I was in short sleeves alot of the day.

The bears were pretty active today too. I was fishing on the bank when I heard a twig crack behind me, and I turned to see a big brown furry head looking at me. A lot of shouting got it to leave the area eventually. Getting snuck up on like that had me keeping a closer eye on the brush.

After a while of catching more fish we decided to head down river to clean the fish away from the good fishing hole and fix up some dinner. About a half hour into the cleaning we had another visitor. This one acted aggressively and it wasn't until Paul cracked off a warning shot that it got the picture and boogied. I think it wanted to run us off and take all our fish. It wasn't too long before the darned thing circled back from down river and started up towards us to feed on our fish carcasses as the current carried them away. It got yelled at plenty, and the agreement was that it could eat all the carcasses it wanted as long as it did so down away from us. Not that it much cared what we thought...

We finished our business, got back to the village and called it an absolutely awesome day. A person's gotta enjoy days like these for what they are.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back in Good Ol' Bethel

Well this won't be the most picturesque or exciting post of the blog, but I think it's time to say "Hi" to the dozens of you readers out there.

I landed in Bethel here on the evening of the 3rd. So far it's been good here. I've been staying at the TO again. The place Erin and I are to live in is small. We knew this ahead of time, but I think it's becoming apparent that it is quite small for us. There is another place owned by the landlord that will come available and the plan seems to be to move in there once it is ready. In the meantime, the situation remains in flux. It's fine, though. The TO is happy and vibrant as ever.

I've reunited with my buddy Big Red Fred and have been cruising Bethel in style. I've made a couple improvements to the rig, with a few more planned yet.

One night in the first week, Erin, KC and myself went out in Erin's boat with a net we borrowed from a co-worker and took advantage of the silver salmon run that is still on. We netted 15 and were just getting the hang of working as a 3 person team, with a nice haul of 11 fish on our last set, when it was time to head in. We were up cutting fish til 1:30 in the morning, but it is nice to have tasty fillets in the freezer. A few days later we headed up river, past Kwethluk to try some rod-n-reel fishing. The fish were not cooperative and I landed the only catch of the day, a smallish pike which yielded some fillets for the freezer. The next day they went back with some other folks and caught a boatload. Usually fishing you hear "ya shoulda been here yesterday" but this time I guess it's more like "ya SHOULDN'T have." Ah well though. In a week I'll be heading to Goodnews Bay, where the fishing is supposed to be really good, and the views majestic and beautiful, so I'm excited and all...

Last week was back to work for me. Monday was inservice for 2nd year teachers in the district, such as myself. Tuesday and Wednesday were district-wide inservice held at the high school in Bethel. It was great to catch up with all the friends I made in all the villages from last year, and meet new people. We got trained on various things, both technological and teaching practices, and overall it was very positive. Wednesday brought a neat surprise with a couple of very important speakers: The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development commissioner Larry LeDoux and Alaska governor Sean Parnell. We all felt very honored to have such distinguished guests at LKSD, and they had some very encouraging words for us.

Now I'm getting all geared up and ready to go for the new year. I have lots of ideas and am just overall excited to get after it.

I hope that you all are well. Stay tuned. Go Brewers.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Copper Center, etc.

On July 22nd I made the flight from Minneapolis to Anchorage. It was a little under 3 hours long, that flight, but seemed closer to 6. That's what happens when you cross 3 time zones...

After collecting my bags off the conveyor at Ted Stevens International, my friend and former TO housemate Lee met me outside to pick me up and head over to his place in Copper Center. The drive to Copper Center takes close to 5 hours and was pretty spectacular overall. After you get through the Mat-Su valley, you find yourself surrounded by mountains of varied size and shape, and there are countless panoramic views.

Eventually we got to Lee's place in Copper Center. It's a big 5th wheel parked on the land of some of his good friends, Mike and Pauline, and their large family. Their family, besides their two daughters, includes: 5 dogs, 6 cats, 4 chickens, 2 geese, and a horse. It was a fun, friendly, happy and relaxing time in Copper Center, and a great way to bring vacation to an end after all of my summer travels.

On the weekend of July 24th, Lee and I headed up to Fairbanks to see what was there and visit our friend Erin, who was finishing up her masters classes at UAF. I didn't use the camera on that excursion, but I'll tell y'all the highlights: Erin rented an inflatable raft from campus, and in that raft Erin, Lee, myself, and two of Erin's friends Mae and Donald floated the Chena river. We had a nice time, although the river was a bit lazy. It was nice and safe, but, alas, not an adrenaline rush at all. Camaraderie was the thrill of the day.

The next day Lee, Erin and myself drove out to Chena Hot Springs. The drive was really pretty when we were out of the smoke. The area had lots of smoke because of wildfires, and depending on the wind, it could be hazy, or you could have "ash snow" falling all over you. Many of the mountain views were obscured by the haze, but many were spectacular as well. After a while, seeing moose wasn't as exciting as it had been on my ride into Copper Center. Kind of like when you see your 10th or 20th deer of a drive...whoopee. But they were massive animals of course, all cows and calves. The Chena Hot Springs reminded me of the other hot springs I once visited at Thermopolis. It was warm and soothing, and I really think that sulfur does good things for your body besides make it smell like eggs. Also at the park, Macy, Erin and I took a hike and picked some blueberries.

On Sunday, it was time for Lee and I to break camp and head back to Copper Center. We had a nice drive, and it was impressive to see all the various craft and weaponry as we rode past Eielson Air Force Base. We didn't stop on the 4 hour drive back to CC, other than to implement some roadside dust control.

Back in Copper Center on Monday, Lee was packing up his belongings in anticipation of the end of his vacation. Meanwhile, Mike and Pauline said they had room in the van, which they were driving to Valdez to drop off their nephew. Of course I took them up on it, and was really glad I did. It was a gorgeous ride and Valdez was a pretty port town. It wasn't even raining on the day we were there. Here are some pics I took on that ride:

These are of a breathtaking place called Thompson Pass.

This is the end of the road for the Trans Alaskan Pipeline, where the tankers pick up all the black gold. No big tankers at the time, sadly.

This is one of the many glaciers I saw. This is Worthington Glacier. Apparently they're smaller now than anyone remembers.

Next is a racy video I shot in a nearby stream of some hot pink salmon action. Mature audiences only, bow-chicka-bowwow.

In Valdez we filled our guts with some good Mexican food and headed back up to Copper Center. Over the next couple days I relaxed, read, helped Mike out with "The Wheel" and tended to the animals when Mike and Pauline went up to Delta to the fair with their daughters. The horse only escaped once. Luckily she's a good horse and cooperated for me.

Wanna know about the wheel? It's yet another new way I've learned to fish here, and what ingenuity it is too. I could try to describe it, but here, just see for yourself. This is in the Copper River. I'm told that if you fall in this river you need lose your clothing fast, or it'll fill with all the silt and bring you right down. I did my best not to fall in.

It's a very efficient machine, but the one problem is that it gets entangled with lots of wood coming down river, which means pulling, chainsawing, and winching logs and debris. But when we had it running it brought in some red salmon. The fish in the basket drop on a slanted slide board which drops them right into the holding box on the side. Brilliant!!

Where the Klutina converges with the Copper, the eagle has his own methods of catching fish.

Finally on the 2nd it was time for me to load up and get a ride to Anchorage with my friend Sarah, as I was flying into Bethel on the 3rd. And here I am...back to work in just a couple of days. What a summer though.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Frost Is Not Yet On The Pumpkin

Summers come and go so quickly. There is actually a difference in the rapidity of time's passing in summer versus winter. That's why it's called "summertime." BS? Think back to last week, how much fun you had on the 4th of July. THAT WAS OVER THREE WEEKS AGO!!!


I made sure to pack my summer with as much fun, recreation and relaxation as I could, and what a blast it was. If you were part of it, then thanks for being part of it.

Reflecting back, here are my highlights in no intentional order:
-Trip to Maine
-3 visits of northern Wisconsin
-Great America
-A couple Brewers games, which, sadly, they lost
-Great America
-Catching up with old friends
-Fishing, personal bests of musky, smallmouth, and rock bass
-Many rounds of disc golf
-Witnessing talented musicians play
-Seeing and experiencing new beautiful things back in AK
-Sleeping in tents
-Driving my truck and my boat
-and so much more

The only sad thing is the finite amount of time, and not getting to see enough of some people as a result. Maybe somebody could elongate summer.

I've got a couple weeks left, one last gasp, before I get back to work. Hopefully I will have some more items to add to that list by then. Hopefully one of those items has the word "salmon" in it.

I'm back in Alaska, so regular posts will be starting to chronicle year 2. Stay tuned.

Enjoy the rest of summer everybody.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Full Blown Springitus

Forget the swine flu. I have no hard data to support this, but I'm certain that Spring Fever has taken many more casualties this season. It's a northern hemisphere pandemic!! Disinfect everything you see!!! And if you should come into contact with me, you had better drink a gallon of OJ, get lots of sleep, and do whatever else it is that you do, because I am a carrier and I am contagious.

My students have it too, but I don't think we caught it from each other. The students lately have been coming to class exhausted. That's because the sun sets at about 11:30, it stays light/twilight til 12:30, and the kids stay up til 2 or 3 in the morning. But it is what it is. It's frustrating, but not daunting. I just stay upbeat, try to make it fun for the kids, and if all else fails, torture them with hands-on, minds-on assignments. Oh, the horror.

My symptoms:

Baseball. It's no secret that I love the Milwaukee Brewers. I love the fact that I can listen to them online, broadcast by WTMJ, courtesy of MLB.com. 4,000 miles from Miller Park I can hear the action clear as a bell. I have subjected several Yup'ik Eskimo students to hearing Bob Uecker do play-by-play. I also love the fact that the team is playing great. Today we listened to the Crew beat the Cardinals 1-0, much to my delight. I love pitcher's duels. I wish all games were 1-0 Brewer wins. "Hope springs eternal" was a phrase made for baseball. By the way, if the color scheme on this page makes you think about the Brewers, then I'm glad.

While I did get to catch a few pike and a few tomcod over the winter using a manaaq, that was a far cry from scratching the itch. Normally I would have organized all my tackle in mid-April, one of my annual rituals. Instead, I can only daydream about bringing fish into the '76 Starcraft I have collecting dust in Racine. Can't wait to get out fishing and camping.

I haven't had one since the end of February. I'll go visit Barber Bill once I get to town, and try to get presentable.

Food. When I think of summertime food like brats on the charcoal grill my mouth floods with drool.

Family and Friends. I
can't wait to see everybody. You're all loved and missed.

And the cure: If all goes according to plan, I'll be landing in Madison on Sunday the 24th.

Oh yeah.

I've got it bad.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Eek! A Village!

I'm squeezing in one last village for the year before the highly anticipated summer break. I landed here in Eek (home of the Cougars) on Monday and so far, so good. Two of my three classes are taught during the normal school day. No big shocker as to which of the three has attendance issues. What teenager wouldn't want to stay after school for an extra class in May? Especially when there are geese, swans, and cranes to hunt.

This past Saturday was prom night. I wonder what attendance will be like now that the staff here can't use that old "if you skip or misbehave you can't come to prom" threat. If you're wondering about the prom, I didn't go. I had the opportunity to chaperone prom back in my first year at Maple. I'm really not into dances. But, here's a picture of the parking lot at Eek school at 10:30 on prom night.

The accommodations here are top-notch. That's because I have a friend, Traci, who teaches here and has an extra room at her house. It's nice to finish out the year at a place with a comfortable bed, good food (including fresh fruit and vegetables), and good company. She has a couple of kittens that are actually quite friendly. In fact, overly friendly at times. They do make things interesting, it's just that if I sit down they climb all over me, they follow me around the house, and generally are pretty friendly. I'd still take a dog any old day of the week, but these felines are ok.

I got out for a couple of walks around the village. The Eek river is broken and flowing strong.

Here's the runway at the airport.

Just kidding. This is the old runway. They have a new, nice one now. This one looks like it would have been a tad spooky.

Other than that....2 weeks from now I should be in my truck bringing my boat to town for lots of summertime use. Students aren't the only ones who get excited for the summer.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Birds Are Flying

Yesterday I flew out of Kwethluk and back to Bethel, a flight of about 10 minutes. It was and is absolutely beautiful. T-shirt weather. Remember when I was stuck sitting at the runway back in Kong for a long time? I was actually kind of hoping it would happen yesterday, it was that nice out. Sadly, the plane was right on time.

Once we got up in the air we saw lots of geese flying. One group was relatively close to us and the pilot quick cut and released a hard right, flashing the wings at the group. We had a laugh over that one. It was so pretty to see the melting riverways and animals on the move, I would have loved to just fly around for a while for the fun of it.

Monday I'm flying out to Eek which is further away so hopefully it's a nice day. I'm looking forward to Eek, but I am worried about these birds. Bird hunting takes over peoples lives this time of the year, I am told. It was beginning to become that way at Kwethluk. Students fail classes because there are geese. People lose their jobs because there are geese. I'm worried about geese thwarting my attempts to teach.

I shot video of our takeoff from Kwethluk yesterday, just for the fun of it, to show the friends and family back home the difference between my commute to work and theirs.

Speaking of friends and family back home, I love and miss you all. I'm really excited to see everybody in just 3 short weeks!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We Saw Us A Critter!!

Not a heckuva lot to report here in KWT right now. Classes are in full swing, and with the great weather we've had over the past 10 days, student attendance is the #1 obstacle I'm facing. The calendar is a distant second.

Last Saturday Erin and Joel (roomate at the TO) rode their snow-gos up here to get me, and we rode on down to Bethel for the evening. I was able to do a little laundry and pick up some fruit and veggies to bring back to the village to share.

Sunday on the ride back we saw a big ol' lynx running across the river in front of us. It stopped on the edge and gave us a withering glare before turning away to the woods.

We've had even warmer temps this week, up to about 40, and last night and today some rain. It's making things a sloppy slushy mess, and the hikes just don't sound as appealing.

Spring was nicer when it wasn't so springy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Touch of Spring Fever

Each evening in Kwethluk has been sunny, and they've gotten warmer by the day. It's light until 10:30, and it would be a pity to waste the daylight. I've been doing some hiking and exploring in and around the village. Here is some of the evidence:

This is from the Kwethluk River, an offshoot of the Kusko. That burnt-orange looking thing in the upper left corner is the school.

This is what I believe to be called Birch Hill. It was a nice hike out to it, and the panorama from atop made it worth the while.

Ahh, spring!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


The busy, needed, and fun-filled week in Bethel is over. And what fun it was...

The first weekend back, I went out manaaq-ing for the 2nd time in my life. The first was out in Toksook Bay, this time was down river from Bethel at the confluence of the Kuskokwim and Johnson rivers. Don't worry, the ice was plenty thick. How thick? Well, we drilled as far as the hand-auger would go, and still needed to work hard with a pick to get through the rest. Luckily, after a couple of holes were drilled with much effort, a nice Native man came over with a power auger and blasted several holes for us, so all we had to do was pick through the last 4 inches or so. It was about 4-5 feet thick.

Having holes, we moved on to the fishing, which meant using a stick with some line, a heavy jig tipped with a pike eyeball, some jigging and some patience. Our group got several pike, I got 3 myself.

Another thing I'll be missing out here is some of that fancy home cooking at the TO. Here's John displaying a pan of brownies Jimmy made.

Now I'm at Ket'acik Aap'alluk Memorial School (Home of the Kings) in Kwethluk (KWT). Classes will begin this afternoon. I went out for a nice long walk last night, and there were lots of people out walking around enjoying the beautiful weather. (It was clear, calm, sunny, and zero)

There are trees here that are taller than me, which is a refreshing change.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

So Long, Boiler Room

This past Friday was the day for me to skedaddle from Kongiganak, aka Donkey Kong, aka Kongiganak, pronounced in the traditional, non-kassaq way. Normally I like to do these departure things on Saturdays, as there are tons of SNAFU possibilities when traveling, and having the whole day as a buffer for them is helpful. But this time I had my final inservice of the year to attend in Bethel on Saturday, so Friday afternoon we made a go of it. More on that in a bit.

How was Kong? I'm sure that's on everyone's minds. Kong was ok. There, I've said it. Positives first: I met, as always, some kind and friendly staff and locals there. I had a nice comfy living area up amongst the ductwork. I was so used to the hum up there, I was kind of sleepless my first night back in Bethel. Kind of like missing the sound of the trains at night in Gordon, WI, which I do. There was a pretty nice (clean) kitchen to use at the school, and even an open shelf in the fridge where I could keep my perishables. Oh, and they let me have a key to the school. Some places like to hem and haw about borrowing me a key to use while I'm there. Some make me sign my life away on a sheet of paper. Some pretend not to have any or know their whereabouts. Some just refuse. Anything besides giving me a key right away is stupid. Kong passed the B.R. Key Loan Intelligence Test.

Not-so-positives: My classes were all taught after school hours at Kong. This meant that my day was spent doing prep work, reading, conversing with friends, etc. I'd much prefer to teach in the day and be done in the evenings. The kids like it better that way, too. The thing is, they have a choice, and several chose to drop out of the classes, since staying enrolled would involve being at school until 8:30 at night. It gets frustrating having kids drop out of your program, especially since it's an opportunity they haven't had before, and may not have again. On the plus side, the students that stuck it through were dedicated.

Also, the facilities had a couple issues. With pretty much every village I go to, it's a given that there will be some civil construction project, with construction workers living out of the school, cramping my itinerant lifestyle big time. At this one, there was actually a temporary living place near the jobsite for all these guys to live, with most of the necessary amenities. The one thing they were missing out there was showering and laundry facilities. Not to worry, as Kong has a washeteria for them to take care of their needs. But, the day I arrived in Kongiganak was the day the washeteria burnt up and the music died. Doing hygiene, for me, meant waiting til stupid hours of the night for this parade of workers to be done in the only men's bathroom in the school.

Speaking of the men's bathroom, special thanks to the kid, who every 3 days or so would go in there and piss all over the place. Oops, I almost forgot to thank his buddy, the kid with the bloody nose who leaves blood on the floor, sinks, and walls.
Every school should have staff facilities, separate from everybody else's.

I suppose at this time I should cut to the chase and discuss the travel back. My charter plane was scheduled to arrive to get me at 4 PM on Friday. I had the maintenance man help me get the gear onto the sled and out to the runway 15 minutes early, just to be safe. The weather was about 5 degrees, wind about 20 knots. Not too bad. But, by the time the plane showed up at 5:20 I was kind of cold. Evidently the airline had me down for 4/7 instead of 4/3. When my ride went to pick me up at the airport in Bethel and asked about my flight, they made the panic face and scrambled to send a plane out for me. Not only that, but in the meantime a big A.T.S. twin prop cargo plane showed up and was taking up most of the taxi area, which meant I had to move all the stuff from the usual loading spot. Moving all the gear over to my plane across glare ice without spikes was a tricky, backbreaking pain in the posterior.

After loading up, it was a cold, drafty, noisy ride home. I got the plane with the really bad doors this time. I always have earplugs in my coat, largely due to the possibility of sometime having to ride in this particular plane. It pays off...

Arriving at Yute Air so late in the day, nobody was there besides the employees. My ride/box van was nowhere to be found. After I called the TO for a ride, then my coworker showed up all stressed out about the whole thing. So I had 2 rides show up. Right away, the scheduled driver said how they had to cancel an appointment to get me so late. Since they were the same person who set up my flight, I informed them that I had been sitting at the runway for an hour and a half, what the #@&* happened to 4:00?? Who knows how one can mess up the difference between Friday 4/3 and Tuesday 4/7. Soon enough I was at the TO, wolfing tacos for dinner, and Donkey Kong was just another one for the books.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I went to Cama-i Dance Festival in Bethel this weekend and all I got was this lousy shirt puked on.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Home Sweet Home

Here's my cozy little private living quarters I carved out for myself here in Donkey Kong. The hum of HVAC is so restful...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Donkey Kong

So this past Monday I had quite the experience. I flew out to Kongiganak and I've been here ever since. The day started like any normal Monday Traveling Day. I got up and hurriedly threw together the rest of my gear, because it had gotten too late on Sunday night to choose finishing packing over sleeping on my to do list.

After taking care of some odds-n-ends at the DO (District Office) I had a coworker drive me and the gear out to Yute Air for the time-honored tradition of sitting around at Yute Air all day long. The standard procedure here is to show up and offload the truck at the dock. Go inside, tell the lady at the counter that I'm here, and then head upstairs to Brothers Pizza for the AYCE pizza lunch special. After lunch, the thing to do is to sit and read a book for an hour or so, then put in headphones and listen to some tunes for maybe an hour, and then go to sleep until one of the girls wakes you up and says "your flight is cancelled, go home." I had checked the weather on Kusko.net, and it said the wind was 40 knots out on the coast here. One knot equals 1.15077945 miles per hour (approximately). This being the case, I figured that the flight was pretty unlikely.

Evidently I figured wrong.

About the time I pulled out my book after my pizza lunch, this pilot, an older guy with thick glasses whom I'd flown with before, started calling my name. Making our way out to the plane, I asked him how the weather was out on the coast, as I'd seen high winds forecast. He said "Aaagghh, not too bad. I was out in Kipnuk a couple hours ago and there was a little ground blizzard. Up in the air it's fine." I figured well, he's an old-timer, he's been doing this a while, he knows what is what.

After flying for 20 minutes or so, the view up in front of the plane was a looming gray thing. After another 15 minutes we were in the gray thing and couldn't see the ground. Once in a while we'd get a little bit clearer spot, and I could see that the ground was pretty close by. The wind was really ripping by this time, and the 207 was jumping and dipping like crazy. Meanwhile, the GPS on the instrument panel said we were at Kongiganak. We couldn't see anything though. I was thinking to myself "Okay psycho. Turn the plane around, we'll try again tomorrow." But no. What I saw was Wall-Eye pulling his head down and squinting at the GPS, repeatedly, and trying to figure out where next to steer the plane to try to find the village amidst the blizzard. I was at this time hoping there wasn't anything tall in Kong for us to smash into, since the GPS claimed we were there. Plus, as my friend Lee at the TO (Tundra Oasis) once pointed out, sometimes clouds have rocks in them.

What happened next was very bizarre. The pilot turned sharp to the left, and soon we were at a right angle to the wind. We got down even lower and I could see the ground. Relative to the ground, the wing out my side was leading the way. Literally, we were flying more sideways than forward. The side window was the new windshield. We spotted the runway, made a crazy circle to double back to it, and somehow managed to touchdown, with the plane tipping, dipping, and skipping all the way. I guess that's how you get to be the only person to land in a village on a particular day. Everybody else had sense enough to not try it. I've got to commend the pilot though. I think that it was a needless risk to land here Monday, but he did demonstrate exceptional flying skill in doing so.

As we unloaded the plane, the wind was blowing so strong that I had to catch my big backpack as it tried to blow away. By the time we got into the school, everything already had a layer of snow blasted onto the side of it. As soon as I got in here, I heard the VHF radio in the school office, and it was a pilot radioing from another airline, checking on Kong's weather conditions. The local agent told him "It's not goot. Zero zero, go back."

Anyhow, I made it. Dick R. Kiunya Memorial School, home of the Wolverines (BOOOO!!!) is an older school, and way overcrowded. On the first day here it was a real struggle to find a place to store my stuff. I slept in a classroom and then had to put away my sleeping bag/air mattress and everything else before there would be kids all over everything.

Tuesday, in my quest to find a place to store my stuff, I discovered a new home for myself. It may not be pretty, but it's relatively secure and private. I was even able to sleep til 8:30 there this morning, which is nice since my classes are all taught after school here, and my nights become later than I'd like. In my next posting I will take you all on a little tour of my new home.

For you folks back in civilization, enjoy the March Madness. I do wish I could be watching. I love sitting back and watching hours of college hoops in March. Good luck Bucky.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Two Really Long Left Feet

Yesterday provided me with yet another friendly reminder that I am and always have been a clumsy oaf with regards to recreational activities which rely on a sense of balance. My mental filing clerk brought up old memories of youth outings to the Rollerdrome, drinking lots of fountain soda and playing arcade games because I was sick of falling down and crashing into walls. One time I even fell out the open back door of the place, spilling out of the dark roller rink into broad daylight.

I never got into the skater fad of the late 80s/early 90s. Partly because it was dumb, but mainly because I couldn't skateboard my way out of a wet paper bag.

I rollerbladed one time in our gym class at LaFollette. Once was plenty.

In that same gym class, we did a lot of cross country skiing. I actually kind of enjoyed it, despite the fact that I fell down constantly. To this day I have never made it skiing down a hill of any magnitude without falling down.

One time this winter I almost did. I was with Erin and Macy in Oscarville, and I went down a little hill and was doing really good. I wasn't flailing my arms or anything. But, directly in front of me Erin had decided to stop in the middle of the trail and stand there talking about her dog. I had to bail in order to not completely blast into them. And there went my one moment of not falling down a hill.

I've always been envious of those who go downhill skiing and snowboarding because it looks so unbelievably fun. But based on my experiences with waterskis, wakeboards and snowboards, I know that will never happen for me. If I ever attempted downhill skiing, it would almost certainly cause lots of pain, humiliation, and X-rays.

I only mention all this, because yesterday after school, Dirk and I decided to load up a bunch of clips of 22 shells, ski out to the dump and shoot stuff. The dump here is a wasteland of dead appliances and snowmachines jutting out of the tightly packed snow.

I only fell down a couple of times on the way there.

I think it's pretty cool that all the way out here there is a small wind farm. With all the wind out on the coast here, I don't know why there aren't more of these things in place.

Last weekend when we were ice fishing, I could hear the whoosh whoosh of the blades of these
turbines slicing the wind into pieces. Much quieter than the diesel powered generators though.

After come cathartic plinking of things in the dump, Dirk's dog Katja was getting cold and we were windblown, so it was time to head back. Back down the hill. I watched him go first, and it looked like fun, cruising effortlessly down a gentle slope, gaining some speed. In no time he was about 1/4 mile away, down at the bottom.

I made it about 100 feet before I fell. I was actually pretty happy. This was a personal best. I got back up, and made it about 100 more feet before falling again, this time a little harder. When I got back up, I was on enough of a decline that I started to slide right away. Boom. Repeat that 2 more times. Finally, I was on a flat spot where I could regain footing and attempt the rest of the hill, which I fell on only once. By the way, when I call this a hill, that's an exaggeration really. It's nothing more than a gentle slope. Sad sad sad!!!

Earlier in the week Dirk had mentioned going to ski this hill behind the village.

Sounds like fun. Looks like fun. But, I really think I'd be be a lot better off with a sled on this one. I'll probably try it anyways.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Quick Fishing Report

After watching an exciting fly fishing DVD on Saturday night, Dirk and I were primed with the urge to catch some fish. Sunday it was decided that we'd make it happen. Dirk borrowed a snow-go and sled from a coworker, and called up some students to be our "guides." Our target fish was the tomcod.

Out in the bay was a nice view of the cliffs. The students like to "high point" these on their snow machines, running up and down the gradual, sloping spots like a huge half pipe.

The route around the ice out there needed to be chosen wisely to go around and over all the compression cracks. It is not exactly flat ice...

Using a stick with some string and a jig tipped with a small strip of smelt, I was able to catch over a dozen tomcod. A couple of them were around 12-14 inches, and the rest were smaller. Everybody was having some action.

Everybody had a pretty good time, especially the kids.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Already one week of this next stop is over and done with. Today I sit in the village of Toksook Bay (OOK if by air), in Nelson Island School, home of the Islanders. I give it a big "so far, so good."

The students are pretty motivated, interested, bright, friendly and fun. I have 5 groups, and time flies by with each class. So far my main worry is whether or not I can cover all of the content that I would like to. It's going to be tough.

This place has the most topography and beauty of any of the villages I have seen thus far. There is a range of very large hills (volcanoes) and of course the ocean is very close by. The school itself has an interesting layout, and some traditional crafts and artwork displayed inside, which gives it some character.

There are actually living quarters at this school, put here for itinerant teachers such as myself. But, they are in the midst of a few projects here involving generators, plumbing and electrical systems which means they have several workers from out-of-town here in the village. Interestingly enough, I got to talking with one of the workers here, and it turns out he's from Wascott, WI of all places. I drove right past his house many times on the way to one of my favorite fishing holes when I was living in Gordon. The Improbability Generator says it's a small world afterall.

So, the living spaces here in the school are all occupied. I was offered my choice of classrooms to sleep in at night, which is every bit as appealing as it sounds. Fortunately, I met a fellow here named Dirk Martin, who is a good friend of my good friend Erin. Dirk very graciously offered to have me over to crash in his living room, which beats the heck out of sleeping in a classroom any way you look at it. I'm having a good time staying with somebody of a similar age group and agreeable mindset. Thursday night we feasted on halibut, which I think I could happily eat every day if I had to.

Yesterday I was supposed to fly in to Bethel for inservice. "Weather permitting" is something that I guess you are required to say at the end of discussing travel plans. It's like saying "Amen" after a prayer. Or "suck" after "the new york yankees." The point being, I didn't get in to Bethel due to fog. I participated in our inservice via a polycom thing, which we use for distance delivery of classes from Bethel to villages. Basically, I sat in the school with a TV connected via internet with a little camera on me, and tried to approximate the experience of an inservice. Halfway through, the internet connection was lost. By the time it came back on, I had no frame of reference for what was going on. I could have buzzed in and asked what they were doing. But when you tune back into an activity and find that everybody is cutting out little pictures of women in dresses, sometimes it's best to not ask.

Tonight hopefully Dirk and I are going to get up on the hills, and I'll hopefully get some photos of the natural beauty here to share with you all. Weather permitting. I'm going to get out of the school now and enjoy the rest of the day. Moreso than one of the workers, who is yelling and cussing up a blue streak in here. Do you think it's the one from Douglas County, WI?

Could be....

Friday, February 13, 2009

Play Day

You know it's time for a day off and some relaxation when you are excited to spend an entire day in the company of somebody who: has no thumbs, smells of lingering fish, and has a vocabulary consisting of grunts, huffs, and woofs.

On Wednesday night, Macy's mom dropped her off with a backpack full of toys and supplies, and specific feeding instructions. Erin kind of reminded me of a parent sending their child off to that first day of kindy-garden. Eventually we cut the cord, and Erin blazed a trail to Oscarville on her Ski-Doo.

Macy was kind of a pain on Wednesday night. She was a little restless without her mom, pacing and chewing on sheets. In the morning she heard the voice of Jimmy out in the kitchen. In the kitchen, Macy likes to corner Jimmy with her sad, beckoning eyes and rope him into giving her treats. It works every time. He's powerless to it. Jimmy's voice is to Macy as the bell is to Pavlov's dogs. This nonsense began early in the morning on my play day. OUR play day. During which, by the way, this little con artist managed to get herself a piece of steak, a leftover pork chop, and several pieces of cheese. Shameless she is.

After Macy calmed down, we got to sleep in, which felt realllllllly nice. I got up and cooked us some breakfast. (yes, she got an egg too) Our day was filled with games of frisbee, rope, loofa doggie and blanket monster. In between dogsports, I had many cups of tea in hopes of thwarting this illness which seems to afflict nearly everybody I have seen in the past couple of weeks.

When we weren't playing, Macy assumed a sentinel role, protecting the house from any would-be intruders.

Sleep well tonight, people. Macy is on point.