Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You might be a bush Alaskan if...

Living hundreds of miles away from a clothing store, most of mine are purchased over the internet.

Long live Amazon.com and all of its cousins!

Being able to buy clothes online is a blessing and it's usually a relatively easy process, but...pants are a problem.

Invariably, I choose items that are just wrong for one reason or another. It doesn't matter that I know my size. Even if I order the same brand and same size...something is always...hinky. And returning is a real pain-in-the-neck. I've done it, but don't like it much. There is a hefty stack of ill-fitting jeans in my closet to illustrate the point.

So...shirts I've got.

Socks are plentiful.

But, at this moment in time, I am pants-poor in the worst way.

I have put off buying pants until I can get down to Fairbanks or some other such city with actual dressing rooms and garments that I can touch and try on for myself. What luxury awaits!

Last year, I didn't get down to Fairbanks and what's left of my "trouser-wear" is on its last leg...uh..so to speak.

Last night, I was up late patching holes in my khaki-colored jeans by hand.

Now, it's embarrassing enough to admit that my clothes are so worn that I have to patch them. I'm not a little kid, after all. I haven't exactly been climbing trees or sliding into second base. I have no idea how I've managed to reduce heavy denim to thread-bare rags, but what's even more embarrassing is that I didn't have any actual patches, so I had to make some out of an old kitchen towel.

Yes, I said kitchen towel.

Yes, there were images of roosters printed all over it, but I did take care to place the patches on the inside where the roosters wouldn't show. At least, I don't think they show.

It was late, I was tired, and the lighting in the room was dim. Sewing by hand was slow and tedious, but by the time I finished up the last patch, I was feeling a little proud of myself for saving those raggedy khakis.

I felt rather resourceful.

Practically handy.

And I had to smile at the notion that my little patching job was a very "bush Alaskan" thing to do.

Even if it didn't involve any duct tape.

Sometimes I think being Alaskan has as much to do with the state of a person's mind as the state in their address.

Sunday, April 11, 2010



Until this weekend, springtime has been a reality (pretty much) in name only.

Then... yesterday ambient temperatures shot from -20F to +1F above zero. I thought that was really something, but this morning I opened the door and was slapped in the face with a major blast of warm air sporting +28F degrees!

Now, I know that doesn't sound very warm, but after months and months of subzero temperatures, twenty-eight degrees above zero is practically toasty.

And signs of spring are finally creeping into view.


Very nice.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Testing Terror Turns Tasty!

This has been one loooooooong week of state proficiency testing.

Practice tests, official tests, make-up tests...they're all done and should be packed up and on a plane as I type.

Thank goodness!

After such a week as this, ice cream makes perfect sense, even when it's still -6 degrees outside.

What an excellent way to celebrate and soothe those testing jitters!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Joy of K-12 Schools


There are challenges associated with meeting the educational needs of diverse students regardless of the setting. Having experience as a student, as well as a teacher, in both rural K-12 schools and larger metropolitan schools, I know there are pros and cons on either side of the equation.

But on days like these...


...I really enjoy being in a rural K-12 school. Kids of all ages participate right alongside each other. No one is too cool to have a good time (not even teachers).


As a part of our celebration of the Inupiat Value of Humor, our Inupiat teacher planned a few fun cultural games. The photos above and the video below highlight a traditional (and challenging) activity intended to strengthen ice walking skills.

Though this is an inland village and seal hunting is not common here, this is still a coastal culture and one never knows when such a skill might come in handy.

From what I hear, the cans we used on this day were much larger than the soup cans used by previous generations, but I guess you've got to start somewhere and these guys did pretty well!

We also played a game called Akuu, Akuu. This activity is sort of a combination of Red Rover and Simon Says with a little Inupiat flare thrown in. Instead of holding hands, teams take turns calling across to one another, asking for particular players to come over, performing or acting out a certain character.

For example, the student team called out, "Akuu, Akuu. Send Lindsay over like a walrus." Then sixth grade teacher, Lindsay, had to cross the gym to the student side, acting like a walrus.

Oh, yeah.

I forgot to explain that participants aren't allowed to smile or laugh as they cross the gym acting like who-knows-what and the opposing team does whatever they can to make them laugh--of course.

If successful, Lindsay wins the towel for her team (and she was). If she's not, like if she cracks up (which she didn't), then she remains with the opposing team.

Students are much stricter about the smile thing than the teachers are. Teachers seem to be conditioned to reward good effort and often bend the rules in favor of the other team.

Students have no such compulsion.

In a final push for victory over the teachers, the student team called out for Neal, our third grade teacher, to come over "doing The Worm." If you aren't familiar with this particular dance move (and I use that term loosely), here is a demonstration performed by one of my students.

And here is Neal, God bless him, who cannot do The Worm, but he does something that I think is much better. At least, it's a lot funnier. I don't know if this will be as hilarious when you don't know the people involved, but I've watched it over and over and it still cracks me up.