Thursday, August 11, 2011


An Invitation

Jimmy is frying something weird on the stove
Well, I imagine him to be frying something weird
I’ve never been invited to his home
The rumor is
They are ashamed --
Old couch, stained carpet,
A bucket for a bathroom,
Seven children and two bedrooms,
An invitation:
Come and sit,
Have some coffee, and
Oh, I just fried some walrus,
Please try some.
That’d never happen.
So I ask his daughter:
Please, can I have some polar bear?
Before I leave, I have to have polar bear.
She says: I’ll go ask my dad.
So she goes and asks Jimmy,
And she comes to class,
With her right hand
She gives me a big bowl of bear meat,
(I heard the shots that took its life)
With her left hand
She hands me a framed newspaper article,
Glowing, she tells me:
“My dad was in the paper
When he was 18…
Killed the biggest bear ever.”
I smile, and think:
This is an invitation –
To share what she has.

Monday, August 1, 2011

from Diomede to Annapolis

One year ago, I was preparing to move to Diomede, Alaska.  I have been missing Alaska lately, as some of my friends are headed back to the Great North for another year. I miss it. I miss the pure white tundra. I miss flying in between mountains and over ice floes. I miss the sheer cliffs of Diomede. I miss the birds that were louder than the waves. I miss looking out across the Bering Strait at Big Diomede, wondering about the Russians who were staring back at me (presumably). I miss my little apartment, with all of its quirks -- its sinking floor, the sloping oven, the snow in the back closet, the wood paneling, and the webcam in my living room that would move and shift with its mechanical noises as people eyed the Diomede islands through the Internet. I miss seeing kids play on the heliopad. I miss chopper day. I miss watching movies with my roommate. I miss the house shaking because of the wind. I miss the walruses and the polar bears, the whales, the crabs and all of the amazing wildlife that writhed in its home. It will continue to be so, even if I am not there.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I miss this.

I am going through my Diomede pictures so that I can print some and make an album to take to my family reunion tomorrow.

I miss Diomede tonight.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Graduation, Snow & Mist, Kite-Flying

It's hard to believe that I have been back in the Lower 48 for two and a half weeks. This is, as I am sure you've guess, the reason for my absence on this blog. It seems that I am busier here than I was on Diomede. How is this possible? School is out! But it is the good kind of busy -- the kind of busy that makes you happy and fulfilled.

The last two weeks of school were a whirlwind of events. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that Diomede School celebrated the graduation of three of its students. Many of the people in the village came to the graduation, and afterwards we ate turkey, crab soup, pizza, macaroni salad, and cake! It was a feast for all.

 Kindergarten Graduation

 Pre-School Graduation

 Two of the three graduates.

 An elder from the community speaking to the students.

 Brother and sister.

Mother and daughters. Sistuq, on the right, is the one who helped me sew a rabbit fur and calf-skin hat for my niece.

 This was taken May 8th on the way to church. It's unbelievable that that much snow could be covering the steps in MAY!

 St. Jude Catholic Church usually had 4-5 attendees including me and Adrienne.

 A principal from the 80s created these stained-glass windows as a gift to the church.

 Every Sunday the mayor takes Holy Communion to an elder who cannot make it to church on Sundays.

 This picture was taken May 10th.

 Within a few days the ice completely broke up.

 It's funny to think that seeing a walrus flipper lying on the ground is a normal occurrence.

 Big scary dog.

 The lower level is the post office, and the upper level is the city office.

 Girls' Night! :)

 On one particular night (it may not look like night, but it is!), the mist was amazing and shrouding Big Diomede.

 In the words of Adrienne, "It's like we're in heaven."

 On the last day of school we flew kites. The wind was perfect for it, and the kids had a lot of fun!

 Cute, cute, cute.

 Waiting for the chopper to pick us up. Adrienne was my source of entertainment during the school year! 

 Goodbye, my classroom.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Time Lapse Video of the Ice Break-Up

This is a time lapse video created by Willis Ferenbaugh, the other high school teacher. It's pretty amazing to see how quickly the ice broke up.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In Golden Light

Perhaps my favorite thing about Alaska is flying. There are different kinds of flying though -- there is bumpy flying, smooth flying, flying above mountains, flying between mountains, flying over tundra, flying over open water, flying over ice, flying next to islands. Each flying experience is uniquely exhilarating in its own way, but above all, flying in golden light -- this is the most beautiful.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

School Trip - Part 4 (UAF's Museum of the North, Chena Hot Springs, Driving Back to Anchorage)

While in Fairbanks, we went to the University of Fairbanks' Museum of the North. It was a great museum. If you ever find yourself in Fairbanks,  you should definitely visit.

 The one on the left was made by the great grandfather of one of my students.

Two of my students (cousins) took pictures of this blanket toss carving. It was made by Moses Milligrock who was their grandfather and great-grandfather, respectively.

 Talking about the carving and "Uppa Moses."

"Unknown 21st Century Family" (2009) by Sheryl Maree Reily

The girls looking at masks from the Bering Strait region.

This pair of masks is from Diomede.

"Things I Ate in Alaska" (2003) by Michael Nakoneczny


The pictures above are of the "Great Alaska Outhouse Experience" (2005) by Craig N. Buchanan.

This one is my favorite: "Oscar Scared Him with His Icon" (1977) by Alvin Eli Amason. I wish I knew the story behind it.


The next day we went to Chena Hot Springs. The water was 107 degrees! It was a beautiful day too.

Even though it was probably in the 50s when we were outside, it felt amazing. I guess when you're use to temperatures that dip into the teens during March, anything above 50 degrees is swimmin' weather. Of course, 107-degree water helps. :)

On Easter Sunday (I was sad to miss church), we drove back to Anchorage. It was a long trip, but oh-so-beautiful.

 What a lovely state...
I will miss Alaska's beauty.