Wednesday, May 17, 2017

School is Out!

It is over.  Summer is here.  We are packing for Anchorage.

I just found this blog again.  Forgot all about it!  This will get you caught up with us and the family.

We moved from Perryville to Chignik Lake and spent 4 years there.  Last year we decided to move back to Perryville.  All the teaching staff were leaving and it was a good move for us both.  Joe was already principal in Perryville (PVL) and I could teach kindergarten through third grade.  Today marks the end of our first year back in PVL and our tenth year in Alaska!  WOW!

Perryville is at the end of our district --- Lake and Peninsula School District.  We are about 500 miles out of Anchorage.  The only way here is by plane or boat.  The village has less than 100 residents and a  school population of about 17.  Preschool will have 5 next year. We will have 3 teachers here and I will have kindergartners and second graders. Joe will be principal here, Chignik Lake and Chignik Lagoon.

Our daughter and son both attend the University of Alaska at Anchorage.  Hannah will student teach next spring and then teach in the bush.  Nathan is a biology major and hopes to attend medical school.

We still have our two dogs - long-haired English cream dachshunds.  Schultz and Carson keep the rest of us in line.

We will be staying in Anchorage this summer.  We will fly out of PVL tomorrow and will be back August 21.  School doesn't begin until September 5.  Our school district has cut the year by 20 days --- as opposed to going to a 4-day week.  They are hoping that by using this "subsistence" calendar, the students will be better settled when school begins and most fishing and gathering activities will be be over.  We're hoping to see better attendance over  the year.

So, this was going to be brief --- just something to get back into writing.  I hope there are still people out there who want to read.  Please, ask questions --- we'll be happy to respond.  This life we lead now is so different from before but seems so natural to us now.

Back to packing ----- Melissa

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back at School Notes

Okay, we've been back in the village for a couple of weeks and I'm beginning to be able to see things a bit more clearly now.  Here's a brief account of our summer:

We left the village on May 19 and flew to Anchorage.  We picked up the truck and fifth wheel.  The first two weeks were spent making visits to new doctors and dentists.  It had finally dawned on us that we had to move our medical life to Alaska.  For four years we had always gone back to OK but this year we had decided to stay in AK.

Then we spent a month in Valdez.  That city is absolutely gorgeous.  We love it there.  The boy celebrated his 13th birthday while we waited for the grandparents to arrive from OK.  They made it in around the first of July and camped with us for about a month.

We moved to Homer in July and also visited Soldotna.  Homer is another place that we really enjoyed staying at for a while.  The end of July took us to Danali National Park --- Mt. McKinley.

We were back in Anchorage by the first of August and spent several days buying supplies for the year.  We spent way too much but since it looks like we will be in the village for the entire year, I was bound and determined to have something "different" to eat and clothes to wear.  It is cheapest to order by the case when you're sending out to the bush --- but you can only stand so many "cases" of a certain flavor and then you just want something different.  Anyway, when we got home we had a LOT to put away.  Thank goodness we have the apartment with a walk-in pantry and 2 large closets!  Now if I can just remember where we've put it all --- sometimes dinner is like a scavenger hunt!

The boys have been fishing after school down on the beach.  So far, no halibut.  I'm really, really hoping that they catch some this fall.  Meat is so expensive to fly in and fish in the freezer would really help out. Of course, I can't wait 'til spring and the crab boats will be here.  :)  The other teacher caught 2 silvers (salmon) on Sunday night.  One was 31" and the other 36".  He caught a flounder, too.

I have 10 kids in class so far.  One is still at fish camp and will return next week or so.  Today I have 1 out sick and I out for unknown reasons and 3 have gone visiting to another village.  Sometimes parents don't think to well when planning for their children.... How can they learn to read if they're not here?
Btw, that's 6 second and third graders and 5 kindergartners.

I am taking 2 college classes this semester and the Mister is, too.  He is working on his principal certificate.  I can't start one of my classes without the book.  I ordered it last week from Anchorage but the post office hasn't been open since Friday.  There's been a death in the village and now it's anyone's guess as to when we will get mail again.  Over 500 pounds came in Monday on the plane but we can't get it. Sure do need it.

The Boy is 13 and in 9th grade this year.  He seems to like it well enough.  The kids made him parliamentarian for student government.

The Girl is 15 and a junior at school in Sitka.  It's a boarding school.  Her roommate this year is a foreign exchange student from China.  She seems to be enjoying it but has said it is a little overwhelming.  She had a really easy year last so this year's class line-up is a bit more challenging.  She will take both geometry and algebra 2 this year as well as Chinese, US History and a Pacific Rim course, journalism and English 3.  I can't remember what else.

Well, this catches you up somewhat on the lives of 4 Okies in Alaska.  It has become our life and feels normal to us now.  If there is something you would like to know --- write a comment.  I'll write you an answer as soon as I see it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A little bit of everything

How is it that the last 3 months of school can go so fast and so slow at the same time?  We are down to less than 20 days before we are out for summer break.  Our last day of school is May 19 and then it's just until the plane comes!  Which could be at 12:00 noon or as late as 4:30 or not at all and we would have to fly out the next day --- just depends upon the weather.

We are staying in Alaska this summer.  We had planned for me to take some classes but now it looks like the Mister will be taking 2 to 3 classes for his master of leadership degree which will get him his principal's certificate.  I have syllabi and books for the classes I plan to take in the fall --so I'll spend the summer getting ready for those.

We are going to be in Anchorage until June 3 and then we're moving the trailer to Valdez for the month of June.  We are so excited.  It is just beautiful there and we need the peace and quiet.  The mister can connect with the university there for his classes.  We're hoping for long, boring days sitting out on the spit watching people fish for the salmon as they head inland. 

The Girl will be home next Friday -- the 6th.  We are really looking forward to seeing her.  January 8 was a LONG time ago.  I think she has had a good year.  I know she's learned a lot.  I know she has grown up a lot, too.  Most 15 year olds have a hard time doing their own laundry, keeping up with their own bank card and expenditures and getting the homework done but she has done it.  She even got herself up to go to church most Sundays.  That was impressive to me because not many in her dorm go to church and they sure don't go to the Baptist church!-- Which, did you know that the first pastor at Sitka Baptist was from Oklahoma?  Yep -- I think the church formed in 1959.

Tomorrow is graduation for Perryville School.  We have 3 graduating.  Everyone gets their certificates for passing levels of work and all 3 students are presenting a speech and a visual presentation.  Then there is a potluck afterwards.  The principal is here and the couselor for the south part of the district is here.  The plane just arrived --- they've been trying to get in since Wednesday.  The superintendent will fly in tomorrow with a principal from the northern end of the district who is giving the "big speech."  Everyone is getting excited.  This is a village celebration.  There will be a potluck and a dance after the program.

We are getting warmer and warmer however it did snow this week.  The whales are coming through our bay.  The beach apparently drops off very quickly and they like to come in close and roll through the black sand to get the barnacles off.  The mister saw one last week and he and the Boy have seen 2 or 3 seals.

Speaking of the Boy, he has finished several levels and feels very much at home here in Perryville.  He goes to Open Gym every night they have it and he has started waiting until the last session so he can play basketball with the high school boys and men from the village. The Mister and I were leaving school last week late and walked into the gym --- it took me a minute or two to realize that the Boy was out there playing with the big boys!  He'll be 13 in June and he's really growing up fast.

In case you're still reading --- and you wonder about "levels" ---- we are a standards based school district.  This means that every child works at his or her own pace-- more or less.  For instance, the Boy has finished the reading requirements for graduation but he still has 2 levels to finish for writing.  He will be finished with the math requirement by Christmas.  Once a student has reached the final levels they may continue to come to school but they are enrolled through the University of Alaska for distance learning.  The district pays for these classes.

I can't think of anything else.  Time is slow and fast.  So much to do.  You know, we were always bad in Holdenville to get into the van make it about 2 block and have to turn around and go back.  Out here, when you get in that plane, you'd better have EVERYTHING you need 'cause you're NOT going back!  Lots to plan for the summer!

Friday, March 11, 2011


Well, I did not realize that the last time I checked in was when we had the "big" earthquake!  So... we are fine.

Thursday evening we had eaten dinner with teacher friends and had also attended the call-in session for the Girl's high school parent meeting.  Our boxes from our trip to Anchorage arrived that afternoon and so we had some new movies to watch.  The Mister had put one on the tv and I promptly drifted off to sleep.  At about 9:30 he woke me up because the village leaders were on the radio saying that an earthquake had hit Japan.  We scurried around gathering things for a tub and then they announced that we were evacuating.  The 4 teachers from Perryville plus the Boy plus the 3 itenerant teachers who were here loaded into the truck with the head teacher's Chow and about 4 or 5 Rubbermaid tubs and all our winter gear.  We drove up the hill to the shelter and then sat there and watched the rest of the village follow us.  I stayed in the truck for a while but eventually the need for a restroom overcame that option and I moved inside.  There were cots and blankets and some mattresses.  We sat in folding chairs and the Boy took a cot.  We waited until 3:00 when they had told us they thought the waves would  hit.  Everybody was really nice.  We sat around and talked.  Then we waited for the all-clear.  Finally, about 5:30, we packed up and went home.  At 8:00, our head-teacher called and said we would in fact have school.  At 9:00 (regular start time) we had 3 kids and 3 teachers and 1 aide.  We are all tired but it was a good morning.  We got to do some individual things with the boys and then we had lunch.  It's a short day today, they went home at 2:30.

It was an interesting night.  Did you ever play that game --- what would take with you if....? It was no fun last night.  What would we need if the waves did wash out the village?  We ended up packing a Rubbermaid tote with underwear, tee-shirts, a couple of towels, some peanut butter crackers, peanuts, 3 small jugs of water, medicines, computer, nook, kindle, phone, charge cords, passports, checkbook, social security cards.  It filled up fast.  I got to the shelter without a hat or gloves.  Although it is March and our temps are warmer, I was dressed in a tee-shirt and jeans.  We did have our snow pants and coats.  It was cold and we should have been better dressed. 
I didn't take my camera.  We did take toothbrushes and paste. 

We have spent time today talking about next time.  We know there will be a next time.  Hopefully, it won't be soon.  It wasn't bad last night but if we had need to stay another night or more --- it was going to get bad really quick.  We will definitely work on being better prepared. 

The Girl slept through the whole thing.  They did not evacuate the city she is in.  Apparently the drawback does happen there but the actual waves don't come in because of the surrounding islands.

We are counting down the days until summer vacation. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


We were in the last hour of school.  We were making a story map.  Everyone was anxious for the last bell because Tuesday's are "Afternoons of Fun!"  Then it happened.  About 3:40 the room began to shake.  At first the Mister and I thought the big kids must have been running in the hall; but, nooooooo..... about the time we figured out that the earth was grumbling..... the building probably lasted about 15 seconds.  And THEN, about 30 seconds after that.... our students began to cry.  They tumbled like dominoes ---- first one and then they just fell right in order down the row of desks!  Had we not been scared to death ourselves, it would have been hilarious.

The village president came in shortly afterward and checked on everyone.  He looked it up online and it was a 5.9 and it happened down close to Sand Point.  There was no warning and no tsunami was expected.

So..... now I have news from Perryville.  And here we've been telling all our friends and family, "Oh, I really don't know anything...."  Hmmmmm.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I need some blue sky!

Beautiful sunset in Perryville, AK

July, 2010

We have had rain, ice and wind for a couple of weeks now.  I need some blue sky --- and I'm getting antsy for summer --- so I dug through the photo library.  I have no idea where this is but it is somewhere on the Cassiar Highway in Canada.  I can't wait to get on the road again!

Not much new is going on in Perryville.  We do have crab boats in the bay.  The teachers are so glad we're not fishermen on crab boats for this weather.... we're sure the men are glad their not teachers, it all works out!  The waves in the bay have been 7-10 ft. tall.  Pretty impressive!

Spring Break is only 4 weeks away ---- can you tell I need out?!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Just stuff

Perryville, AK Russian Orthodox Church

After my walk home.

We have gorgeous sunsets nearly every evening.

We got to the beach one day while Hannah was home.

Hannah left, I cried, Dad was stoic.

He's not quite as tall  ---- YET!

We started class last Tuesday --- Jan. 11.  We've had masking every night since then -- It's part of the Russian Orthodox tradition.  They wear masks and dance till really late.  Russian New Year was one night with bells and fireworks, too.  Anyway, I'm not so sure how much learning has taken place yet.  Everyone is so tired. 

We are busy with testing for AIMSWEB --- the results let us monitor kid's learning on a very close schedule.  The weather has been lousy --- rain - not snow!  However, it did snow about 8 inches over the weekend and the Mister went skiing on the beach.  Cross-country.  Yes, we brought the skis even though former teachers told us we wouldn't have enough snow.    Oh!  there are boats here in Perryville this week and they are crab fishing!!!  We are hoping to get some before they leave.

We are out of eggs and are anxiously waiting on our shipment from OK.  If you haven't used powered eggs --- Honeyville Farms puts out a good product.  Of course, they won't ship to Alaska so I have the Wilburton folks ship them on up to us.  You wouldn't want to scramble them but we use them in cooking all the time.  I'm bringing 5 dozen fresh eggs back from Anchorage next month if I have to hold them in my lap all the way!

We got our SpanAlaska shipment in this week ---- all attitudes have improved!  Wal-Mart won't ship pop during the winter or mayonaise, for that matter.  It had been 2 months since I'd had a Dr. Pepper.  My, oh my.  Some things are just good.  :)