30 December 2005

Just Pix

Four Face Buddah --- This is the 3rd face (love). People from Thailand & from afar come to pray here. There is a plume of incense that fills the air & venders lining the sidewalk to sell you flowers or other items to give to Buddah. I don't know if the women dancing is a regular thing.

Elephant Ride

The guy leading the elephant made this grasshopper for me.

Prayer flowers - Today is a Buddist day. There are 4-5 Buddist days a month.

29 December 2005

Beach Bums, Plantain Eating Elephants, & Going in Circles

∑ Coral Island:
We took a speed boat out to Coral Island where there were umbrella chairs & a long row of shops. I bought a few presents & a purse for myself. Christina & I took Jet-skis out for 10 minutes. We each had our own jet-skis & a co-captain. My ride & I caught air a number of times & my life vest would fly open each time. I know I made the co-c nervous a few times; him grabbing onto my life jacket was the hint. I haven’t driven a jet-ski in maybe 7-8 years. I am So glad I got a taste of it again! Too bad I don't live near open water all of the time.

After eating we headed back to the hotel for about an hour. Though, before driving back, this Hard Rock sign, um, unique. (‘No drugs or nuclear weapons allowed inside’) I wonder what inspired this sign to be made.

∑ Elephants:
First, we were taken through this lovely Orchid & flower garden. Among the flowers were a couple purple & red ones that are velvety to the touch. Then, we watched a Thai cultural show including some dancing, war displays, swords. They also included this funny boxing skit. Naturally elephants were a part of the cast. The 2 big elephants were just for show, but the babies loved to dance. It’s so funny how much personality they have.

After this show there was an elephant show outside. I have to tell you, I was wary of how these elephants have been treated in order to learn these tricks. Most of the trainers seemed like they bonded with the elephants & the elephants seemed happy playing games & dancing. Too boot, after almost each act they were taken out to the crowd to be fed plantains (like mini bananas) sold for 40 Baht each bundle, which is like $1.00 US. The Elephant Acts included: sitting, painting, football (US soccer), basketball, tricycling, lifting people up, pretending to step on people, dancing, throwing darts at balloons, & bowled.

∑ Revolving dinner on floor #52:
So, I saw that we were eating at the ‘Panarama Revolving Restaurant’ on the way to the elevator. Once, we were up there I thought “we aren’t revolving!” I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes I can be slow. It took me a while to notice that the drinks kept moving further & further away from our table. Then, Christina informed me that We were the ones revolving around the center part of the restaurant.

∑ Out at 8:45: I can’t believe we stayed up so late! All decent people are in bed by 8, 8:30 at the latest. To make up for it, I woke up at 5:30 to shower, pack, & write up this lovely message.

28 December 2005

First Day Out - Bangkok

I am just going to bullet things. It is faster & easier for me to post like this. I am thinking that there will be Internet cafe's in Siagon like there are here, but maybe not. If I can't post more while over here, I'll post once I get back to Cali.

On Thailand ground...
∑ Breakfast:
pastries, fried rice, yogurt, noodle soup & omlets to order, fresh guava juice, tea, coffee, salad... According to Christina’s mom, Asian countries don’t distinguish between different types of meals, as we Americans do.

∑ Grand Palace:
The buildings have intricate such designs! We prayed in the Emerald Buddah Temple (rules: ‘quiet, no camera, not feet pointing towards Buddah’). Before going up to the temple everyone must take off their shoes. Inside there was a lot of gold, small mirrors & faux gems mosaic style. The golden pyramid leads up maybe 20’ to the ‘Emerald Buddah.’ There were also donation boxes inside & on the porch. Outside of the praying area there is a basin of Holy water & lotus flower buds, which reminded me of the Catholic tradition. Of course, I asked for blessings & protection with the Holy water.

∑ Driving to Pattaya:
90 minutes from Bangkok --- In Bangkok, lining part of the highway were several Small (maybe 10’ x 10’, maybe) shanty houses on stilts, metal siding as walls, & clothes lines with neatly hung clothes.

∑ SRIRACHA Tiger Zoo:
Pigs and Tigers together for docile behavior – The pigs milk is supposed to be quite nutritious for the tigers. Scorpion Lady. Croc show. Tiger Show. I held a baby tiger! Ate a soft coconut and Croc. meat on a stick.

∑ Unordinary foods (well, for me anyway):
Mangosteen (fruit-hard purple outer shell with a white fuzzy citrus like center), Sharkfin soup, bird nest soup, P...n (some huge grapefruit-like fruit called), crocodile (oh my)

∑ Cabaret:
“Whoa, hot man-chicks with boobs (PIC4). Guy (as a guy) with wicked eye contact. Made me feel kind of funny. In a good way,” Christina wrote with zest!
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

∑ Thai Massage!:
Once you try it, it will be Hard to go back to regular ol’ Swedish! Picture it, a room with about 30 rubbery beds, a woman at each post, curtains wide open, naked bodies (kidding! We changed into pajama like clothes.). The women used their full bodies to massage & close contact wasn’t a question. Mostly pressure point & lymph drainage techniques. Two hours is the standard time I guess. One hour would cost $6.25, or 250 baht. We were told to tip 60 baht, but tipped 300 much deserved (aka $7.25). Now I'm going to have to see what a Vietnamiese massage is like :-)

Thailand Tidbits

Here are a few things I have learned about Thailand.

* Thai thank you = “karw pboon kaI” for a woman to say it (“karw pboon cup” -- for a man to say)
* King Rama IX has reigned 59 years so far; 78 years old. B-day on Dec 5th. His wife is 73.
(There are tons of huge photos like this one as well as statues & shrines posted all around the city)

* Bangkok has 10-12 million people out of Thailand’s 65 million

* 5 dynasties, all of which have been independent.
* Baht is the name of money used here. 100 baht = $2.50
* Thai do not believe in asking for tips in the morning.

* Flag: Red-nation, Blue-royalty, White-religion
* 5 meaningful colors: Red: Lucky, Gold: Stability, Blue: Sincere love & 4 the king, Green: Health, Yellow: Peace
* Five different flowers have five different meanings (orchids-don’t go away?, lotus-wisdom?, a yellow carnation looking flower, jasmine?, rose-smarts?…)

* Silk as well as Sapphire & Ruby gemstones are a specialty here.
* Many houses have Spirit Houses outside, which are decorated & adorned with flowers, incense, & idles. Thai believe in Spirits, so having these Spirit houses will help protect their families.

These houses are for sale. I didn't take a picture of any Spirit houses that were adorned.

26 December 2005

17 ahead of AK, 13 hours ahead of NC ...

Going backwards to forwards in time, uuhhh 'Back to the Future' (cheese, I know.) It's easier to think we are behind CA time by 3 hours, but really we are ahead in the game of time.

The Flight Over ---

∑ Entertainment? -- 2 movies (Perfect Man & A Beautiful Mind), beaded 1 gold ornament (3 to 3 1/2 hours non-stop) & 1/3 of a green & red one, read a couple chapters of Matchstick Men, slept, ate... Exciting, I know.

∑ Before decent to Tokyo, Japan --- 8000 vertical miles, 10 1/2 hours in the air, 30000+ altitude
∑ Tokyo airport --- Real Sushi!

∑ To Bangkok, Thailand --- another 7 1/2 hours in flight from Tokyo.

25 December 2005

I *heart* My Family

So, I've been feeling a bit homesick amongst the excitement of traveling.

The cure - a couple of calls home...
First, I called my mum. We haven't talked in quite a while & it was nice to catch up. My little sis, Tesia, was away so I didn't get to talk to her. :-( Mom had friends over for what was probably a half day feast including chit chat & music. Good times.

Then, I called my Grandmother Steele's house. Upon answering the phone G'ma shuffled me over to Pops because her hearing aid wasn't working. When he announced to everyone that it was me, my aunt Linda chimed in with 'We wish you a merry Christmas' and all uncles, aunts, cousins followed suit. Of course, that gave me a big smile! Afterwards, I proceeded to talk to my aunt Linda (in Asheville, NC), & cousins Eden (Colorado Springs, CO), Laurel(Queens, NY), Katie (NC, soon to leave for the Army again), & Madalyn (in H.S., Roanoke Rapids, NC). Then, to my aunt Elaine, uncle Ron (Charlotte, NC), & my dad before hanging up from the 2 - 2 1/2 hour phone conversation.

Cured! No more home-sickness...

24 December 2005

Asian Holidays

This Christmas I'm spending away from 'home' in NC. I am definitely missing my family & friends already on this Christmas Eve. But, I also have butterflies in my stomach about the trip to Asia I'm about to embark. Woo hoo!

Right now, I'm in Sacramento, Cali. Tomorrow, on Christmas day, we (my housemate Christina & her parents) are going drive to San Francisco & stay the night. Monday fly out to Bangkok, Thailand to stay for 5 days. New Year's Eve I will be in Vietnam (Ho Chi Mein city) for another 5 days. The final stop for my Asian Holiday will be Hong Kong for 3 days before going back to Cali. until the 12th of January.

We will arrive back in California 1 hour Before we left Hong Kong ... so wierd. I hear that the jet lag hits on the way back rather than on the way there.

~ What makes us who we are is how we experience the opportunities we are given. ~

21 December 2005

Jr. High creativity

This message was sent to me today by my roommate Christina:
"So the Teens (Jr. High) have placed a "window" on the wall that separates mine and Eric's room. In his room they put a picture of my head (and drew my body) sitting in the window looking in at his class. When they made the window in my room they decided to make Eric an elf. Hee hee."

The text bubble says, "I want to be on top of the pyramid!" This is part of what they are doing for the Christmas program. On the board in the background, it says, "Dear students, don't mind me & my suit because I'm Santa's elf." ...


12 December 2005

S-Mac’s Getting Hitched

Yeah Sara Mac & Shaun Pzy…!

Heat Wave in the Tundra Triangle

First, I live within 5 miles of two villages: Atmauthluk and Kasigluk (which is really two villages across the river from each other also: Akiuk & Akula). At times, this ‘triangle’ is the only place people cannot travel, hence the ‘tundra triangle.’

Well, I just have to say that last week we had a heat wave. Most days it was right at 30, one day it was even 34 degrees. Needless to say a lot of snow melted & compacted. Oh, to boot, it rained! Yes, rained in December, in Alaska, on the YK Delta, rain! Unfortunately, now that it’s 9 degrees again, we have ice on the walkways and stairs with & without railings.

Thanksgiving Throw Down

Anchorage seems like the place to be during Thanksgiving for AK bush teachers. There we lavish ourselves with indulgences (the usual sex, drugs, & rock-n-roll) for 4 days. Actually, the indulgences consisted of massages at the spa, eating out, friends from other villages, alcohol, movie theaters, health food stores, & shopping. Being able to get to know people that I barely knew from other villages, meeting S-Mac’s new fiancĂ© (as of that weekend we found out later), & meeting more of Sara’s family were highlights of the trip.

One thing I did not get a chance to do was look at a snow machine. We will just order one over the phone or online & have it delivered after our Christmas break. I can’t wait!

We hung out at the Dimond Center Hotel a lot playing Risk & card games, watching a bit of TV (mostly when Eric had sports on), listening to music & telling stories. There is also this awesome, huge chessboard, but I didn’t get a chance to play. To boot, I saw a bull moose for the first time! It was by the road at 33rd & Denali; they aren’t really shy about coming near traffic. This moose’s head was seriously at the top of the SUV in front of us; the horns were above. I did manage to take a picture, but my computer is on the outs right now. This was a definite treat!

08 December 2005

Hollywood Red

Check out www.hollywood-red.com.

Woody is a friend of mine from Asheville, NC. His music is so powerful & you can definitly feel the energy & soul behind it!

He has one album with 'Hollywood Red' on the market right now. If there isn't a link on the website to buy one, I can score it for you. It is definitely worth the $15 investment! I hope he has another album coming out soon with more acoustic songs (hint, hint). Did I mention that he has written all of the songs, sings, & plays the lead & rhythm guitars?

Here's a quote I like from his website:
"Woody Wood is the real deal: one of the best flat-picking acoustic guitar players of his generation... He seems the most likely to single-handedly tear down a hundred years of accumulated rock pomposity." - Sub Pop Free Press, Seattle, 1999

20 November 2005

Right Now - Back Then - When

So, I was writing my friend Robin & I reallized that I had not posted many of the things that I was telling her onto the blog, so that you all could be up to par with my happenings. Here we go. The reality of I Thanksgiving being next week is starting to sink in. Things move so quickly!

~ At work ~
Testing is a big time consumer for me. In addition to actually teaching skills, I have to test students & they have to pass those tests (indicators) in order to move through the school system (kindergarten = phases 1-2, grade 1 = phases 3-4, grade 2 = phases 5-6...). Otherwise, they will just stay right where they are. Many children are behind 'grade' level, so the goal right now is to get them back to grade level. For some this isn't a problem, for some this means 1 year behind, for others this means 5 years behind 'grade' level. This is great for individualized education, but it has it's flaws, which I will not devulge you with here. A llittle tidbit-Our school district doesn't refer to students being in grades anymore, now it's phases - really, they've changed the title again to 'continuous progress model' becauseof the negative feelings teachers & students are getting when the term 'phase' is thrown up in the air.

I have been working what seems non-stop trying to prepare & grade tests for the students. Giving them these official tests is what moves them along in the system (phase - grade). So, the week before last I tested the students in reading alone (which requires 20 min. per book.). I had a substitute in the class & I pulled kids all day for a week! I still didn't finish with all of the testing. To give you an idea. There are 27 students in the class, if I were to give each of them 1 test (many of them were taking 4+) then this would require 9 hours Average, not including transition time. Now this does not entirely fall on my shoulders; there is another teacher perfectly capable of testing, which she has. I just do a majority of it. Administering reading asssessments (RPAs) is good on one hand because they're reading is improving & they are moving along in the phases. On the flip side, this sucks because I can't take a week off & just test like this every 3 months. It is always ongoing; I just negelected to test for a while. Heavan forbid, I try to teach something. Last week, I pretty much finished up. An aide in the classroom took over some lessons so that I could finish up with the reading testing. Math is next, but we can all pull kids for that & some of the tests can be given without reading directions.

Oh, after that solid week of testing, Mary (the other teacher in the class) had the students write letters to me. She began with the 'Dear Carey," & wrote 'Sincerely yours," but they filled in the rest. I missed all of them together So much that week. It was really hard to sit down allll day long, with the exception of picking up students to be tested. They letters were so cute. Most of them talked about how they missed me for a week & loved me & that they didn't 'pula crd' (pull a card). Pulling a card means that they haven't been listening, doign their work, etc. They have 4 chances every day, then it slave labor & no cash for our weekly auction.

~ No work ~
I have been beading a bit, making Christmas ornaments. These little 1-inch cuties take anywhere from 2-5 hours to complete. It really depends on how creative you get with the danglies. I have been averaging 3ish hours each. Most Fridays, one of the teachers (Marsha) hosts a craft night. We go over to her house to make crafts, have snacks & chit-chat.

Although, I missed a couple of weeks, I still enjoy my Tuesday ladies basketball night. We play 12 min. games for 3 hours. The women here are just as serious as men about playing ball. Though we have a lot of fun cheering on people from the other team too.

I am still taking the Yup'ik language course. My mid-term is due next week (we're late, I know). Some times I feel like I'll be fluent any day now. Other times I feel like I have not ever spoken a Yup'ik word in my life. I am still in the 'stage fright' period where I know deep down that I know a response to someone speaking to me in Yup'ik, but the words just won't come to my tongue. I'll get better with practice. Next week, I also have 3 assignments due for a coaches clinic class. I attended an 8 hour coaches clinic in Bethel, took the first aide & coaching tests & passed. Now I have to complete the 3 remaining assignments for 2 grad. credits, which will bump up my pay scale eventually--I mean, it's all about learning new things. We have 2 months to complete everything. I lost my syllabus & by the grace of St. Anthony I found it. It's a good thing too, because my Instructor wasn't very helpful in sending me another one, after requesting 3 times! Never bitter-forgive, forgive. :-)

Oh, we had a wrestling tourny here last weekend. The Quinhagak team came, so we were able to see some students & S-Mac (Sara Mac...). They came over to our house after the tournament for snacks, climbing into our atic, playing with my exercise equipment, & watching the Simpsons until their plane came. We packed them up & sent them to the boat dock (now a snowmachine dock) to be on their way (1 hour earlier than planned, because the agent said the plane was coming). Then, we hear a knock at the door & the flood of them start rolliing back in. False alarm, it was another 40 minutes before they left.

~ Weather ~
The temperature has ranged from -11 F to 13 F. We had a good snow dump the past 2-3 days. I would bet that around 8-12" has accumulated. It's so hard to tell because of the snow drifts. The snow is dry & the wind is high, so it blows into snow mounds. Some places they'll be 2 1/2 feet deep, others you can see the ice on the ground underneath. The snow is so pretty & clean! The air smells so fresh.

When I visited last April (end of April) there were still snow drifts packed at 7'-10' high still, a lump on the ground or up against someone's house. We are kind of in a Tundra Triangle here with the 3 villages. I have heard that sometimes these 3 villages can be the only ones not able to be traveled to in the dead of winter, mainly because of the wind. The weather really does rule our lives around here; it could mean life or death. 'Weather Permitting' is the most common chime you will hear when traveling, or wanting to travel.

~ Thanksgiving ~
We had the traditional community Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. This means that the school cooks & serves whoever from the community wants to come as well as the students. It's like a big feast. Some high school students decorated the gym & the lines were all organized. I was impressed. Even when you see one line going all around the gym (as in Quinhagak), it still impressive. This is something that would be rare, if at all, in the lower 48. I love the sense of community there is here at time.

I am traveling to Anchorage for the long weekend. That will certainly be a change of pace. I plan on eating lots of fresh food, indulging in things such as a bit of wine & a massage, movies & driving a car, shoping for my own food, etc. To boot the school district pays for one round trip airfare to Anchorage every year. Not the amenities, but the travel & that gives me some heavy change in my pocket.

I will be looking into buying a snow machine while in ANC & having them ship it after the new year. Wow! That's right around the corner too! With any luck I'll be in Vietnam for the new year. {Don't worry, I'll still visit NC from around Jan. 8th-14th. Short, but sweet as usual.}

Geez -- This was supposed to be a quick update. Oh well, now you know more about my 'everyday' here.

This is my new passport photo; the most recent photo of me, as I do not have photos taken very often.
I'm going to leave it posted on here until I can figure out how to move it to my profile.

Here's the story... I have somehow misplaced the passport I renewed March 2004. Now, this Christmas break, for 2 weeks I plan on going to Thailand (Bangkok), Vietnam, Hong Kong, pluse another city I can't remember right now. This requires a passport & a Visa (for Vietnam), which requires that you send your passport to apply for the Visa. I'm supposed to leave December 26th & I still haven't applied for the passport. No, I'm not lazy. It's just that our local passport processing center is, well, non-existant. The 1 DMV in Bethel has been closed since August, because there is no one to run the show. Supposedly they were going to open up a few weeks ago. Someone was trained, but they had strep throat so they couldn't start. They were only going to take appointments, because they have been closed for so long. So, I call to set up an appointment; even though for me this means taking a 1/2 day off work, flying to Bethel & back on an $80 ticket. But, it needs to be done if I'm going to go to Thailand, etc.! Waiting until Thanksgiving & taking the chance at a DMV being open in Anchorage over the holiday is just too late. Well, check the calendar, Thanksgiving is next week. Oh, so I made an appointment with someone who actually processes the passports in Bethel. When I called the City of Bethel before this person was 1 of 2 & they were both going to be out of the office until 11/10. When I tried calling after that, the phone line was giving some weird messages. Needless to say I have an apt. on the 23rd, which is when I leave to go to ANC anyway (so no extra $80). Cross your fingers for me that all goes well (not weathered in, lady is actually in the office, mail runs, etc.).

Morel: Don't loose your passport.

08 November 2005

the Tundra

These photos give you an idea of the vast place in which I live.
This watery delta goes on for hundreds of miles.
This picture wasn't even taken near the coast; it was maybe 80 miles in.

Now, the watery delta has turned into a snowly iceland. It's well on it's way. Lakes are pretty well frozen; but, there are thin areas. Rivers are iffy - most are frozen well with some thin ice & open spots. The Kuskikwim river has many thin spots; it's usually the last river to freeze around here. It is the 2nd largest river in Alaska after all, next to the Yukon.

04 November 2005

Hoo Ra - Halloween isn't over yet!

Thursday, 11-03-05

There were about 200-250 community members, including children of course, here for the 'mask contest' Thursday. The events started off with this mask parade. Then, there were several activities, including prizes, for children & adults alike. The events: musical chairs, walking a certain distance with a basketball between your knees (boys vs. girls, men vs. women), walking like the opposite sex, 'come to daddy,' & a musical gift to top off the night. I may have left something out.

What? You want to hear more about the 'come to daddy' contest. It was hard enough for me to get out there for the musical chairs (this is in front of 200 people) & I was swindled into this one. So, adult volunteers were asked to come forward & I was pulled onto the gym floor with some resistance. The other activities involved at least 50 people each, so I thought "hey, I'll just get lost in the masses, even if I am the only 'Gussaq' (white person) here." Wrong! There were 5 women, 5 men. Our task: baby is to 'come to daddy.' Women started. We were to act as babies going over to the man across from you (who I have never seen or met & in front of 200 people). They are to call you as a baby. The first lady just walked over, so exxentially, I was first up. There I went crawling on my hands & knees while this man, as old as my daddy, called me over to his arms. Whew! At least the women went first!

Prizes included pop, candy & cash. The final event was very cool. There were 2 huge circles, one for kids, the other for adults. A heavily wrapped box is given to one person & the music begins. The box is pushed along while music plays. When the music stops, the person who has the box in front of them when the music stops is to rip ir open as much as possible before music starts & try to unveil the prize. If you are the last to unwrap it, the prize it yours. The box was about 12" x 12" x 8" to begin with. Throughout the course of 'rip fest' we found layers of shipping tape, duct tape, masking tape, string tied in knots, cloth tied in knots, plastic, paper, newspaper, a bottle cap, more tape, more string, more tape, more tape, & a $50 bill. The childrens' box had several toys in it. The cool thing about this event is that when the music stops you aren't just helping yourself, your neighbor helps you. Plus, really you all are helping each other throughout. Everyone cheers for you, etc., etc. I think that it shows the importance of community to the Yup'ik culture & everyone working for each other.

The picture won't load, so I'll just leave the mask contest to your imagination.

02 November 2005

}{alloween }{um

This is how Halloween goes down in Nunapitchuk. All of the kids in the village are divided into 3 groups, which trick-or-treat together. It was decided that during the day & the closest Saturday to Halloween is the day to do it. This was originally thought of b/c of pedifiles & kids being out after dark alone (as if they aren't usually). So, we knew that a massive amount of kids & adults would be sweeping through some time during late morning to early afternoon. There was an announcement on the VHF that they were gathering at the community building to make their rounds. There were taps, pounding, & stomping at our stoop. We open our door & there are a few Jr. high students mildly painted up waiting with open bags. No words, just open bags. Then, a rush of about 65 people flooded past our front porch within about 15 minutes. Tau-i (done).

01 November 2005

Winter welcome

Ahhh, people were enjoying this Saturday. It was about 14 degrees F out, the sun was shining, & the river was freshly frozen. We watched this girl skate for about 15 minutes without taking a step; the wiind just blew her down the river. People in the background of this picture are getting fishing holes ready.

Someone is patiently ice fishing.

This elderly man was so cute walking his sled along the river!

I've been told that the river was around 3" thick by Saturday. Keep in mind that not 100 yards down the river there was open water! I'm not walking on that river unless I'm with someone who knows where to avoid that open water.

Boat out of water

It begins! This photo is of our school boat, which is going to be hibernating, most likely until May. This is how quickly the weather can change. We are truely at it's mercy.

*Thursday -- There was one path that had ice thin enough for boats to pass.
*Friday -- Many students could not make it to school because the ice was too thick for boats to go through, but too thin to walk across yet. Some people did walk, but the ice cracked in places as they were walking. Scary!
*Saturday (When I took this picture) -- People were ice skating, ice fishing, & walking sleads across.
*Sunday -- Someone was seen driving their 4-wheeler on the river.

Soon the river will become a highway for snow-go's (aka snow machines or to people in the lower 48, snow mobiles), more 4-wheelers, and even trucks. Yes; I've heard rumor that we have a 'cab' that will use the river as it's road & take you to Bethel (30 miles away) for about $35 & a 1-hour ride. I've also heard that if you get a seat up front that you can stick your head out the window to help the driver vear away from hitting the river bank. I can't wait to try this one. Oh, I've also heard that the planes will land on the river later in the season too.

24 October 2005

Vancouver Bamboo

Chinatown ~ Vancouver, BC

jleody on NYO (Native Youth Olympics)

Jody has some great summaries and pictures of some of the NYO events at www.jleody.blogspot.com (Here and Now). She is so riveting with her everyday encounters out here (in my neighbor village, aka ‘The Island’ or Kasigluk). Her site is one to check out whenever you want to feel pepped up.

Track it Back – October 14-17, 2005

I’ll start with the ‘here and now,’ this week. Well, really I should start with last weekend (Oct. 14-15). I am an assistant coach for NYO (Native Youth Olympics). It is a statewide thing that I hear has even been recognized by Jay Leno or one of those late night guys. Apparently, some guy performed the one-foot kick for him; I think his record height was around 10’. Yes, that is as high as a basketball hoop. Amazing! The one-foot kick is but one event which requires that you jump off of the floor with both feet, kick a ball on a string with one foot and land on the foot you just kicked with, maintain your balance after the land, and vualla.

I should have taken the delay Leaving the village as a caveat into our near future traveling plans. We were weathered in another night due to ice fog and crazy rain. Ok, I could visit with Sara (my old roomy who lives in the neighboring village now). I could pick up food from the local Greek restaurant. It’s fine, I still have another day to make it back and do the things I need to and lesson plan. As a bonus, I was able to meet 4 of the new staff and see 2 students from Quinhagak, the village I used to work in. That was great! It brought back such good memories and I was even able to meet the teacher that has taken over my old classroom. There can be happy circumstances / perks to being weathered in. It’s not so bad sleeping on the floor, in fact it’s good for you, and at least the girls are happy when they are giggling at 2 am. Plus, I was able to read the book I have been trying to get through, but I cannot read regularly because of my other ongoing obligations.

I called the aviation the next day, Sunday, and everything was a go. We went to the airport, checked in, weighed ourselves, paid, boarded the plane, and taxied onto the runway. Then, our lovely pilot received a call over the CB/VHF. The ceiling had dropped to 400’ and visibility was at 1.5 miles. We need a ceiling of 500’ and visibility of at least 2 miles. Ah, the power of manifestation. Flipping kids! The whole previous night and morning I heard echoes of ‘We wanna get stuck,’ ‘I hope we don’t fly,’ ‘I don’t want to go home,’ ‘We should stay here!’ Well, they got their wish. But, we didn’t go back to the school to meet the 3 other teams that were on weather hold, which consisted of cute boys and ex-boyfriends. We waited in the lobby for 5 hours, to see if the weather shifted. It didn’t.

In the mean time, the other NYO coach was at a restaurant waiting for her brother to pick her up in a boat (a 2 1/2 hour ride from Nunapitchuk, on a bad day). They were going to shop and head back later. Upon mentioning that we (myself and the 4 athletes with me) were going to go back via boat if planes were not flying, another coach, from a different village, said that was illegal. I would be personally liable if anything were to happen. After a couple of phone calls, it was confirmed. Bummer; I hate writing sub plans! I was able to send one athlete with the other coach because she is his mom. He couldn’t technically stay overnight with me anyway. There has to be a parent or a male chaperone. He went back by boat.

The 3 ladies with me were able to visit relatives for a few hours. Then, we met 3 other teachers from our village, as well as others, for pizza and chitchat. So, after finishing my sub plans and sending them to the principal and another teacher in our classroom, I crashed on the cozy classroom floor once again at just after 3 am. What can I say, I have ‘night owl’ syndrome. Monday, we were up at 7:30 to clean the room, pack, call the airline, and wait in the kitchen before school started there.

Wait. Did I mention that this weekend as well as the NYO meet in Bethel, there were all of the first and second year teachers in town for a workshop. This is 100 odd teachers that were weathered out of their villages; subs needed to be found, if possible. There are only so many people to sub out here. At least one school had to cancel because 7 teachers (out of 10 or so), including their principal, were in Bethel.

We went to the airport, did the check in, pay and weigh thing. They were swamped with calls and paperwork from not being able to fly the past two days. The wind was ripping outside, which made me nervous. After the weekend and beginning to teach mid-day Monday, I should have known what kind of week it would be.