Saturday, December 22, 2007

Our Annual Seattle meet-up!

Our Annual Seattle trip was full of great visits with truly awesome friends, who stay close friends regardless of the time and distance between us in the rest of life. And of course Esther and Ya-Ya had the best time together!

Here are Esther and Ya-Ya under the amazing aquarium at the Rainforest Cafe.

Esther with Adriana and Sandra -- Esther and Adriana are destined to be best buddies:

We got to meet Lucas Hunter Marshall, the newest addition to the Marshall family, and he is so super cute and STRONG!:

And it was great to stay with our heart-friends Joyce &Erik (and we even caught a glimpse of Sylvia!):
We also had a great dinner and evening with Melissa & Dan and Carrie & Kara. It was a great trip, and for the first time in years, (knock on some major wood!) I didn't get stuck in the airport either direction.... :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The first snow: Early October

What a gorgeous surprise to wake up to, one Saturday morning in early October: our first snow, and a substantial one, too. Esther had cousins Avery and Jasmine over for a sleepover, so we all got dressed to go "play out."Jasmine making snow people on the porch.
And of course, a roll down the hill was necessary:

Our sweet new Addition

She's just the best dog. We rescued her from certain Hooper Bay dog death, and I think she knows. She is probably around a year old, and she is the spitting image of the dog I fell in love with, here, two years ago -- must be the original Odin's daughter. She came with the name Abby and I was going to change it, but then it just suits her sweet nature.
She's excellent with Esther, as you can see, and she's very happy being an outside dog. In fact, she seems to think her little house that we built for her is the bomb. She has also caught tundra mice in the grass on our walks, so I am really afraid to let her in the house with my kitty Ping. Best to just keep them in their separate realms, I think!

She's just the perfect dog for us: not small, but not too big, really nice coloring and a good thick fur coat, and a very lovable demeanor. Note that the stripe down her snout goes all the way onto the black of her nose! Cute.

The Fall Tundra

Fall on the tundra lasts a millisecond -- it's good to capture it while it lasts:
Behind Esther, to the right of her, you can see the small arch of a rainbow.
Esther catching a ride on Tuluk's shoulders.
In this picture, it's early October, and already the sun is rising so late that I could take this sunrise picture from my classroom window during the first hour of school (so around 9:30am), I think.

Esther's first boat ride: Across Hooper Bay to Chevak

The Sunday of Labor Day weekend, Tuluk chauffered us to Chevak on an amazingly calm, sunny afternoon. The water was so smooth:It was Marta's first time out on the bay, and to Chevak, as well.
Esther loved it so much that she fell asleep. It was super-cute, though, thinking of her getting so much healthy fresh air that she zonked out. :)

Merry Manuqing

On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, Marta, Esther, and I joined Tuluk a short walk from town to spend the afternoon manuqing.

Fishing for little fish in the tidal rivers around Hooper Bay is called "Manuqing." We fish for little flatfish that are a type of flounder, delicious buttery fish called a tomcod, and then we catch lots of (but don't keep) the infamous devilfish. Supposedly elders eat them and think them delicious, but I'm not ready to go there yet!Tuluk is casting with a regular fishing pole, but I prefer the low-tech traditional stick with a string on it. The hooks are tied on to the end of the string, and the string is unwound from the stick to cast. When you cast, you are supposed to say "Aqfau!" which is a Yup'ik command to the hook to "Go get it!". I always say aqfau without fail, and I really think it helps!:) Anyway, the best part about using the low-tech stick manuq is that you can stick it down into the mud on the river bank, then, and have several manuqs going at once. But then it gets difficult to keep track of which one has a fish tugging on the end of it. Here Esther is going to try reeling in her line with a fish tugging on the end of it:
And she caught a little "nadukanuk," flounder. Way to go, little fisherwoman! Marta & Esther showing their catches:
And I had luck, too.

Yum -- the best part -- cooking them up! Mainly they are poached in some shallow boiling water in a pan, this is them just mostly cleaned up and ready to cook. There is one nadukanuk in this pan, but all the rest are tomcods.

Beautiful, Bountiful Berries

We spent a blissful day on the tundra plucking lucious berries for our winter enjoyment in August. We went farther out on the tundra than I've ever been in the summer, almost to the mountains to the north.
Lovely Salmonberries -- pinkish-orange, tangy, burst in your mouth.
Black berries
Blueberries -- they look just like Indiana blueberry bushes, but they are much smaller, and very close to the ground.
Tuluk was our guide on this outing.

On our way home, we realized the tide had come up in the marshy creeks we had to cross to get home. We were scouting out good areas to cross, and I decided to take a picture of Esther waiting for us on the honda. And about two seconds later I stepped backwards and went up to my chest into one of those creeks-- not scary or moving fast, just still, deep water. And so I had to say goodbye to my camera -- it was a good one while it lasted. Luckily our school district had just issued every teacher one to use for the school year!
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