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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

School's Out for Summer

Nora and Stuey with their class and awards

It's funny but I remember when the last day of school was the best day of the year, and the first the worst.  Now the last day of school just means more chaos at home.  But the kids certainly are happy!

Today I went to the awards ceremony and there was a bittersweet moment when their teacher had the 4 students that she has taught for the last 4 years come up and stand with her.  Next year they will all have a new teacher.  They have been in her class for 4 of the 5 years that she has been a teacher.  It was hard not to shed a tear and Nora is very sad to be moving on.

That said there is a lot of squealing and commotion going on about me as I write this.  This afternoon Stuey and Nora had classmates over for a playdate and they made pretzels.  Then hide and seek.  Then keep Stuey and his friend out of the house (locking doors and windows). ... .. They seem to be enjoying Summer just fine.

Nora and her gold achievement award - the only 5th grader to get one!

Stuey's Ode to Dad and Nora's Menu

 Nora and Stuey did these projects at School and I found them lying around the house.  They made me smile.  Nora's menu was a Spanish class assignment - a menu in Spanish - while Stuey's Ode to Dad is a writing assignment about someone they admire.  Nora wrote about me last year for this assignment (click here). 

Both are too good not to share on on the blog.  And I'm happy that 'Overall' I'm the 'Best dad ever.'  Patrick

Monday, May 22, 2017

First Salmonberry Blossom

Nora came home for a paper route with a present for me - the first salmonberry blossom of the year.  She knows that I care about such things and try and keep track from year to year when such events occur.  Well this year the first salmonberry blossom is May 22.  And that is actually pretty late.

Last year the first salmonberry blossom was on the 25th of March! (click here for post)  But that was the earliest I'd ever seen it, and I think the event typically occurs in the second week of May.  So we are about a week late this year.

Although I will add, I've been seeing a lot of dead salmonberry plants.  The plants out in the open got frosted this winter, and these are also often the first to blossom.  The salmonberry bushes in the woods are doing great but they typically bloom a bit later.  So perhaps summer is right on time only the typically early blossoming plants aren't blooming because of the raw winter?

I certainly do know that green up is occurring at a rapid rate this year!  And for those who care - I think this next week is morel mushroom seeking and picking week!  The cottonwoods are leafing out and the pushki is getting to be knee high.  Time to seek out those tasty, crenelated fungi.  Patrick

Sunday on Mill Bay

Yesterday it was supposed to be cloudy with sprinkles.  But the forecast was wrong.  Nothing but sunshine.  The kids and I took the dogs exploring on the beach and later we had friends over for a fire pit dinner.  On the beach Stuey and I played tag on the driftwood.  You had to stay on the logs and could not touch the ground.  It was a surprisingly vigorous workout, and good for the balance!

Later at the barbecue we cooked deer burgers and later Cost Saver cow patties and hot dogs. The sunshine was warm and the grass so green.  Pretty soon I'll be mowing the lawn.  Patrick

Tag on the logs

May Snow

Right now it is just about the best skiing of the year on Pyramid Mountain.  Ego snow.  Soft corn that is easy to turn in and go really fast.  Over the weekend we even got some new snow too.  But the season is quickly winding down.  Everyday I see more grass poking up where once there was snow.  And pretty soon the skiing will be just limited to the upper reaches of the mountain.  In the meantime. . ...

Yesterday morning was particularly spectacular - Dale and Chloe on her graduation ski

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Survey Methods

Out on the Shelikof on an abnormally calm day

On the last survey Gregg and I got a lot of help from the Afognak Native Corporation's patrol boat.  They helped us to survey a lot of the coastline quickly and moved us around to more efficiently cover what we needed to survey.  Without their help the survey would have required at least twice the time.

That said there were a lot of areas that the big boat could not reach or that needed to be hiked.  We did spend a morning hiking up to Selief 'Lake', and hiked most of the little islands off the south end of Raspberry Island.

At the end of each survey I try to mark on a map which areas I surveyed on foot as opposed to by boat.  Hiking coastline is the most time consuming method of survey but it also finds the most sites.  Hard to miss a site when you walk across it.  But if you had to hike everything you would never complete the job - so I had to constantly assess whether coastline was 'worth' hiking.

Surveying entails a lot of getting in and out of boats.  It can get tiring, and there is the often an inclination to just say, 'nah', and stick with the boat.  Needless to say, but I got in and out of the boats a lot and did it ALL day.

On occasion I even hike coastline that doesn't look promising just to make sure my 'worthiness' model is up to snuff.  I don't want my model to determine where I find sites - that would be a self-fulfilling model.  So on every survey I do check random places and climb mountains etc, but I also balance that by not checking on a lot of unlikely areas.  These are the coastlines where we just paddle or motor on past - slowly of course and with the binoculars in hand!  Patrick

Here I am thinking, 'do I need to get out and check this beach for a site?'

Tonalite dike on the beach on the North end of Little Raspberry Island

Something related to the Port Bailey Cannery? That's one BIG engine

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Time in the Teepee

I love camping with a teepee and wood stove.  I like the stove even more when it is cold, rainy and raw and you REALLY appreciate it.  Camping with a wood stove and teepee in the summer or when the weather is clear is sort of blah.  Why bother with the stove?  But when it is raw outside and you are wet   you feel immensely self-sufficient drying out by the wood stove.

Another benefit of the wood stove is that you are not limited to 'quick' freeze dried type meals.  You can cook meals slowly over the wood stove.  One night we even had pasta with an alfredo sauce seasoned with morel mushrooms.  MMMMMmmmm.  Try getting that meal in a 'just add boiling water' packet.

On our last trip we needed the wood stove.  There was a lot of cold and raw weather.  Having the wood stove made the trop enjoyable.  Patrick

Nothing beats waking up with the heat of the stove on your face - makes getting out of the sleeping bag easy

Cooking dinner on the wood stove - browning the onions and hard salami