Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eagles and Things

We were out yesterday afternoon and got to see two Bald Eagles --- up close!  They were right on the road, one across from the other.  I bet we weren't 20 feet from either one.  They were huge.  We watched them both for a while and then we had to get back to work.  No, I didn't have my camera.  When will I learn?

I am busy sorting kid's books.  I have 14 boxes of brand new books --- cost something like $9000.00.  It's a teacher's dream!  The only thing is that we don't have book shelves. 

I got my book for my oceanography class that I will be starting next week online.  It's paperback, used and it cost me $105 from Amazon.  It was going to be $140-160 new.  It's only about 400 pages.  It sure makes me wonder what books would cost if I ever get to take more than 6 hours.  I'm taking Intro. to Oceanography and Educational Technology this semester.  I want to get my elementary endorsement on my Alaskan certificate.  Only 42 more hours to go!

I am still cooking.  Not happy about it, but I'm doing it.  The kids are great about it.  They eat, they clean up and they ALWAYS come to tell me, "thank you."  I would just much rather be in the classroom all day. 

Also, I am feeling much better.  I took some Ny-Quil Sunday afternoon and slept a lot.  Don't know if I was just tired or what.  Of course, since I slept, nothing much got done as far as putting tubs and boxes away.  I am utterly amazed at how much stuff we sent to Pedro Bay.  My recipes have not shown up.  They were my mom's and my grandma's.  That makes me very sad.  They were treasures to my heart.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


These pics were taken on my way back to Anchorage from Newhalen.  These are mountains between Pedro Bay and Kenai just before we started crossing the Cook Inlet.  The views were simply spectacular!!

We talked to the Girl, the Great-Grandmother and all the Grandparents this weekend.  I used the new phone on G-Mail to call my Grandma this afternoon.  It was great.  It was probably the clearest conversation we've had in a long time.  I tried call Montana this afternoon and the reception wasn't so great --- not sure if it was my computer or their cell phone...  The Girl called on her phone to the school.  We haven't called to put in a phone at the house yet.  It's so expensive to get someone out here and if the school's only going to be open until November... what's the point?  Besides we're supposed to have cell service here sometime in October.  The satellite receiver is already up just across from the school.  However, if the Girl doesn't start skyping us, we're going to have to up our minutes!  We've never gone over on our minutes --- no one seems to really want to talk to us!  But, now with her in Sitka, we may need to re-think our contract.

I refuse to re-read the above paragraph.  If it's poorly written and hard to follow, then just ignore it.

I don't feel well today.  I always wonder what I'm going to pick up from the students every year.  And, of course, what will they pick up from us.  When you live in an isolated place like this, germs seem a lot more important. Really, I think I'm just tired.  And the weather.... I think it makes me hurt, too. 

The Wilburton Grandparents are off in Wyoming this month.  Today they called and we chatted for a while.  They were on their way to eat.  A restaurant.  Hmmmm.... I miss restaurants.  And grocery stores.  I think I'll just go on home.  Not getting much done here anyways and thinking about those things makes my day a lot grayer.  Maybe we'll see a bear at the dump --- that's my date with the Mister nowadays!

Does anyone have a child they could send to Alaska for October?  Our school still needs help!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Through wind and rain, sleet and snow but not fog

I think the mail only come 3 times a week here.  The post office is open the other two days but if you've already gotten your mail..... too bad.  See ya tomorrow!

EXCEPT when there is fog.  Every window has lost its view --- the world has gone white.  I can see to the edge of the parking lot around the school.  I have been here since August 10.  That's 17 days.  More than 10 of those days have been lousy weather.  The villagers say it has been a wet, wet summer.  I'm hoping that it means we will get lots of snow!  The temp is 55 today.

We have finished another week of school.  The kids go from 8:30 to 3:15 everyday except Friday and they get out at 1:55 then.  The Mister and I get to stay and work.... until 4:00.

The Girl called yesterday.  She's taking Algebra I, English II, P.E. / Health, and Integrated Science.  Her first class doesn't begin until 9:40.  She thinks she's in heaven.  They are on a block schedule so her classes are an hour and twenty minutes long.  She wants to take chorus and Chinese, too. I don't know if that will work out or not. 

She has 3 roomates now and seems pretty happy.  This week she ran for student council and class president.  Apparently girls from her dorm nominated her.  She didn't get either one but I think she's making friends.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Supply a child / protect a village

My mind is absolutely swimming.  We have had our superintendent, our itinerant principal, and the district curriculum coach  as well as the itinerant special ed. teacher here all this week.  They have all been great.  They have searched high and low for materials for our students.  They have given us lots of pointers on how to do this job really well.  The Mister and I are feeling pretty good about things now.

The superintendent came to our village because we only have 8 students.  State regulations say we must have 10 students during the official count --- which is about 3 weeks in October.  If we don't find a way to increase our enrollment, the school will close in November.  Students in Pedro Bay will either have to move away or be home-schooled.

When the school closes several things will happen to the people in PB.  One of the main things is that the school will be off the power grid and electricity will skyrocket. People won't be able to afford electricity. 
The culture and village life in this area will die.

We have a health-aid position open here and the church needs a pastor.  Everyone hopes that those positions will be filled by people with families --- large, young families!

Some people are looking into foster care.  Others are calling neices and nephews.  Everyone is out looking for school children.  Anybody wanna come to Alaska?!  Housing is available!

Monday, August 23, 2010

How far is far?

These pics were taken on my way to school the first day.  Gorgeous, huh?

Something that has always amazed me is how big the earth really is.  One way that I am made aware of this is by time zones.  Here in Alaska we have one time zone.  It puts us 3 hours behind the folks in Oklahoma.  But, here is what catches my attention.  The Girl has moved to Sitka so I checked on the weather.  While we have 51 degrees and clear weather, she has 55 degrees and lots of rain for this week.  She's also getting a wind advisory this morning that will last most of today.  Down at the bottom of the page is a list of sunrise and sunset times.  Our sunrise was at 6:51 this morning.  The Girl's sun rose at 5:45.  Tonight it will set at 9:45 here in Pedro Bay.  In Sitka it will set at 8:21.  A difference of about an hour and 25 minutes --- but we're in the same state!  It's a long ways from here to there.

A view from our house.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Growing Up is Hard on Parents

Ten years ago I thought I had lived through the hardest day of my life.  Today at least tied.

The Girl left Pedro Bay this afternoon at 2:30.  The plane came 30 minutes early.  We raced to finish packing and loaded the truck.  We beat the air taxi by a few minutes and so we made a few hurried pictures.  The tears surely did flow and hugs were long. 

Where is she going?  She will attend Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka, AK.  It's a state-run boarding school in the southeast part of the state.  If you've taken an Alaskan cruise, you have probably been to Sitka.  It is a beautiful place. 
The school has about 400 students and is well-known for its academics.  The Girl is looking forward to studying Chinese and hopes to be able to participate in the foriegn exchange program. The girl's basketball team won the 3A state championship last year.

Today has brought a lot of changes to our lives.  Even now, after talking with her three times since she arrived in Anchorage, I know she is growing up by leaps and bounds.  Not many 14-year-olds can fly by themselves out of the village, meet complete strangers and then check-in and go through security before boarding their chartered flight.  (Heavens, security scares our whole family and we figured out that at least me and the Mister have flown about 40 flights in the three years since we left Oklahoma!)
I am so proud of her.

The last time I called her was on Skype --- just happened to see that she was online.  She was in the baggage area of the airport in Anchorage.  She said she was bored.  She was getting up her nerve to check-in and go upstairs.

The Boy's take on all of this has been that he is now an only child.  He thinks this is going to be great - no big sister.  No one that he has to share the playstation with!  We think he's going to miss her a great deal.  When I was somewhere around the age of high school --- college, my younger brother informed me that I had had the privilege of having the company of my parents while they were young.  He on the other hand would enjoy them when they had money.
The Boy is getiing neither.  

Friday, August 20, 2010

Close Encounters of the Bear Kind

We went to the dump after dinner last night about 9:00.  Our COD stuff from Wal-Mart came yesterday and we had lots of boxes to take out.  We don't have a school janitor right now so we're taking care of the school trash as well.  It made for a pick-up load. 

We laughed as we headed out.  You get kind of giddy living out here ---- imagine, THEY are paying YOU to live here! The weather was beautiful and there was still plenty of sunshine for our adventure.  We drove up the hill and parked beside the hole where we have been burning our trash.  The Mister threw out the bags and the cardboard boxes and then we decided not to burn it.  We just turned the truck around and headed back the way we had come.  He paused and I told him that we might as well burn it.  So, the Mister got out of the truck and I turned my head to look out the other window.  It wasn't 30 seconds till I felt the truck move and there was a flurry of activity at the driver's door.  Seems the Mister had bent down to light the fire and was reminding himself to stay aware of his surroundings when he looked to see a young brown bear coming down the hill into the dump.  The Mister stood up and hightailed it back to the truck!  We rolled up all the windows and watched.  The bear had run away when he first spotted us but then, sure enough, he came right back down.  He climbed into the small pit and opened up a trash sack.  Someone had put lunchmeat out.  It was amazing to see him go through the bags.  He only opened the ones with food in them.  He left all the paper trash we had set out alone.  No other big bears came so we expect that he is an orphan.  I asked the Mister why he would stay at the dump when just down the road are so many salmon.  His answer was that the other big bears probably wouldn't let him in their territory.

We did eventually make our way out to the salmon pond by the airport.  We only saw a large male as he was going through some grass.  We could only see his back up over the high grass and bushes so I'm just imagining he was huge, too. 

A friend here was out last night.  She and her family saw 7 bears spread over the village area. 

By the way, we have made it through 3 days of school.  I've cooked 3 lunches and no one has died yet.  I am teaching the younger children and the Mister has 6th grade and up.  I have 2 kids, one in kindergarten and the other in third grade.  The Mister has six students.  If we don't find 2 more kids, they will close the school at the end of October.  So sad.  We would be moved to another location.  The students here are very polite and have worked hard this week.  We're enjoying our stay in Pedro Bay.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

She was huge!

The Mister and I went out last night. We left the house at 10:00pm. It was gorgeous --- no rain, few clouds. (It has rained here everyday since we got here last Tuesday. School started and the weather is beautiful!)
We drove towards the airport. It's a three mile loop to the dump, the airport and the post office. We stopped out at the salmon pond. It's the end of the run for them. The red salmon left the Bering Sea and entered Bristol Bay. Then they swam up to Lake Iliamna, which is 90 miles longs and then they came into Pedro Bay. At that point they still had to make their way up the creek to the place where they were born. The water is thick with them. It's amazing. They are a dark but bright red. It is a perfect place for a bear to feast! Last night, after we turned off the motor, we just waited. Then, a face came out of the woods. She entered the water and I about came unglued!!! SHE WAS HUGE! And, she was still a long ways away from the truck. She looked us over --- my camera shrieked --- and then I guess she decided it was okay because she brought out her two cubs. It was a real Alaska experience. One of the cubs even stood up and looked at us. They didn't stay too long, though. It was over pretty quick. We're going back tonight.
The other picture is from our house. We sit up above the playground and look out over Lake Iliamna. The school building is actually over to the right.
Let me just say that my pics don't do this place justice. We are surrounded by mountains. Any direction is breath-taking. We are blessed to get to live here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

School Starts Tomorrow

My classroom is NOT ready. The kitchen is NOT ready. My mind is NOT ready. Can you tell I'm NOT ready?!

Time really does fly here in Pedro Bay. We've been here a week today and absolutely nothing is ready. The house is still a shamble. I have absolutely no idea where all those boxes came from or who sent all those tubs! WHY did I think we needed all that stuff?

The Girl is busy helping me with bulletin boards and moving furniture around. The Boy is helping his dad with trash hauling and he's helping me in the kitchen. My mind is racing and my body is in slow-motion.

We spent a couple of hours yesterday checking in new books for the little kids ---- $9000 worth! It took them 14 boxes to ship it to us. I have NO idea where we're going to put them all. Still, it's a librarian's dream!

A little about the school --- it's like a big square, cut into 3 main sections. Across one end is the gym. It's not full-size but it's nice. Through the middle are the restroom with lockers and showers. Also, the kitchen and storage areas go thru the middle. The other end is cut into 2 classrooms. The school is less than 10 years old and it is very nice. Everything seems to be in good shape and in working order.

I'm off to the kitchen. I'm expecting 1000 pounds of freezer items today on the plane - if the weather clears out. If it doesn't ---- no lunch tomorrow!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wait and then wait some more...

I finally got an email from the Mister. I haven't talked with him since Monday night. Neither one of us now have cell service. Anyway, he was "supposed" to fly out of King Salmon at 12:30 today. He's still not here. It has been a day of wait and see. The Boy and I have been out to the airport twice and sat in the truck for an hour each time. Of course, the scenery is outstanding so it wasn't like we have been suffering. The lesson behind all of this, I think, is that when we travel we should allow a full day to get anywhere. The weather may be fine here but across the lake and down south or across the Cook Inlet and up to Anchorage may be horrible. It's hard to comprehend how a few miles can make such a difference.

Our COD stuff came today from Wal-Mart and our new bedding from Bed, Bath and Beyond. We are some happy campers today! I had almost decided not to go to the post office and then changed my mind at the last minute. We got there with 10 minutes to spare --- on Fridays it closes at 1:00.

It still seems strange to have no store at all. We will have to order out of Anchorage for everything. It does seem like it gets here faster than we ever got stuff in Kasigluk.
The pilot radioed in that Lake Clark Air was landing so there has actually been a 24 hour break here. I drove out to the airport to pick up the Mister. Today (Saturday) I am back in the school as the village youth are using the gym for volleyball and fun. We had a good group of about 10 youth and 5 or 6 adults. Everybody seemed to have a good time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Basics

Note --- Vacation pics. Mt. Rushmore. It was a beautiful park. We all think everyone should see it if you get a chance. The Girl says it's much smaller than it looks in movies.
Message for the day:
Hot water. Food. Blankets. Pillows. Oh, the comforts of life!!! Now we have them, too. Late yesterday afternoon the Girl said to me, "Mom, these windows were open when we came in yesterday. Do you want to check the windows over at the other apartment?" Now remember that allllll our stuff that had been shipped was stacked up over in that other apartment. I said, "Yeah!!!" So my children learned how to take a screen off and crawl through a window to get into an apartment. We were soooo happy!
We opened every tub and finally found 2 pillows, pillowcases, a fitted sheet and a blanket. Oh, we found a camping pillow, too. It was wonderful. We all 3 crawled into the big bed and crashed. The Boy told me it was the best rest he had had since we got here. I reminded him it was only our second night and he insisted it was still the best. We do all feel better this morning after a better night of rest.

We went to the post office this morning. We still about 8 tubs to pick up. The mail lady was very nice and gave directions to the church and the dump.
We drove the loop (3miles) again just to see the salmon and maybe a bear ---- no bears today but the salmon are HUGE!!!! They are deep red/orange and actually look goldfish in the water. There are so many, too. It was hard to imagine how many fish there could be in such a small body of water and having seen it ---- it's still hard to believe! The water is just thick with fish.

The Mister will be home tomorrow. We are all ready for him to return. We feel lost without him. It will be a happy day for us all.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

We're in Pedro Bay

We left Anchorage yesterday at 3:15 and arrived in Pedro Bay an hour later. Rebecca (school board member), her son and another lady met us at the airport. We got everything up to the teacher housing and then turned around and they left us by ourselves. We were exhausted.

The apt. was hot so we turned down the heat. Big mistake. It was on a timer. Then we could only get into our "empty" apartment and the itinerant apartment next door. The keys wouldn't work on the the other big apartment where all our stuff has been stored. AUGGGHHH.... no bedding, no towels, no food (besides what we had brought in on the plane) and then no hot water. We put away what little we brought with us and went to bed. THEN we woke up to a sound like someone was banging on the whole house. That has happened several more times --- I think it might be the furnace. Still scared us, though.

This place is gorgeous. The mountains are right here on us. The lake is just below us. The trees are plentiful and everything is sooooo green. The school is relatively new and simply wonderful. It really is nice.

In case I didn't put this on facebook ---- I will be the new cook for the school. That means cooking for about 10 students and then some elders, too. I will be teacher aide in the afternoons. I've signed up to take 6 hours this fall to work on my teacher certification. We have spent a good portion of today working in the kitchen. Dry goods were already here. Freezer stuff will arrive any day now.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The End is Near

Summer is over. We've spent all our money. We drove 13,000 miles in 65 days. We saw Custer's Last Stand, Mt. Rushmore, Kansas City, Grandparents, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Reno, the Giant Redwoods, the pacific ocean and beaches, Portland, Seattle, drove the Cassiar Highway, the Alaskan Highway and a lot of Alaska. It was a whirlwind for sure.

The mister is at new teacher orientation. Tomorrow they fly to Katmai Lodge which is across from Kodiak Island for teacher in-service. The kids and I will fly to Pedro Bay tomorrow -- Tuesday. The principal flew in last weekend and turned the power on for us. He left the truck at the airport with the key above the dash. It's a 3 mile loop around the village --- it will fun looking for our new house!

I am now the school cook. I will cook 3 1/2 hours a day and then teacher aide for 4 hours. There are only 5-6 students we think .... so we may only be in PB until the end of October.

I'm out of power. More later.