Thursday, March 28, 2013

Moose Hunting Trip- My First Catch

Sammy and I decided to go moose hunting the beginning of February since our number of weekends were dwindling and the season was ending at the end of February. We set out on a beautiful sunny day and even spent some time playing around in the snow while waiting to see if anyone else was going to come help guide us.
Heading out towards Nunam, leaving Alakanuk behind.

Riding under the beautiful sky with my Tikka 30-06
My first catch.
Sammy and I split up at one point. She went one way with one guide and I went the other way with Greg. Within a few minutes we spotted a few moose standing in the willows. I stopped and aimed, but nervously asked Greg, "Which one do I shoot?" He told me the shorter one on the left. So I shot, but it was high. They started to move around a little bit, but I aimed again lower. The moose turned and took a step or two before collapsing while the other two took off. Greg warned me that they could charge since one was the mother. We drove out to the open and kept our machines running and I reloaded my gun since I only had one left in it at this point. Greg's son was on the machine with me and we went on either side of the willows a few times to try to see if the moose had left yet for us to go inspect my moose.

Meanwhile, we heard a gunshot from not to far away. Then I spotted Sammy and the rest of the group only about 200 yards away. We drove up and they told us they shot at a couple but they had run off. I let them know I did shoot one and we were going to go check it out so they followed us.

We walked into the willows and started finding a way to get the sled in closer. While we were standing there we heard a shaky voice yell, "Dad?" from just outside the willows. "The moose came back." All of us adults started rushing back towards the machines. The mother had come back for revenge and was threatening to charge. Sammy got her. The mom didn't want to give up her fight, however. Sammy ended up using her 30-30, my 30-06, and her .44 pistol to keep her down. It was definitely exciting and fun for us to catch our first moose on the same day!

Sammy and guide, Willy, just after Sammy caught hers.

Gregory lopping off the top legs to throw in the sled.

Since we were racing daylight, Greg quickly worked.
Mothers have large hearts. 

(My own mother is probably not impressed with this caption or picture.)
6 hours of hunting... Not bad.
The next day after school, we took the moose out of the connex where a friend had let us put the sled. Sammy and I along with an older son of Greg's cut up all the rest of the moose meat to distribute to the elders in the community. We had an interesting time figuring out how to do it all. In a little over 24 hours we had gone hunting, brought the meat of two moose back, taught a day at school, cut up the meat, passed it to the elders, and cleaned up the kitchen. I'm surprised it didn't take longer or feel more difficult, but we were too giddy and giggly the entire time. All the elders really appreciated receiving a part of our first catch and it was a fun time.
Knee joints. Those blasted knee joints.
Sammy found shattered bone in an entry hole.

Cover the kitchen table with cardboard and avoid the cold.

Two legs carried out to the sled & traded for two more.

Those knee joints were a bit confusing at first.

The day after cutting moose, I was embarrassed to see I had pulled on my bloody jeans with a nice kaspaq.

Sammy's brisket looked like a Longhorn, just for Texas Jamie.

We were incredibly blessed to have amazing friends to guide us, help us, congratulate us, and more. Thank you to everyone involved! I loved every second of it and it has made me much more excited to try track and spot moose since then while I go snowmachining or flying. I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

My Yup'ik Namesake

I was named by Clem Joseph after his mother Itegmikalria. I was given her name in August of 2010 when I first moved to the village. In the Yupik way, he is now my son and I am an "elder's elder" so some people in the village call me Auntie or Grandma. Clem told me it means a precious gift from God. I'm pretty sure Jana also means that same thing. He has also told the students that I was called to the village for a reason to teach and also learn from others. I believe that, too. I'm proud to carry her name.

Freezing Our Eyes Off

I apologize for not updating my blog for a month now! There has been an issue with uploading pictures still. I have continued taking pictures, and will make one large catching up post as soon as I get it figured out. Until then, please enjoy my friend, Holly's documenting skills on our trip to Emmonak to go get groceries at a large new AC store. 

When I go into this store, I feel like I have walked back into a different world. However, while I push my shopping cart around, I glance down at my fur hat, goggles, face mask, goggles, and Skidoo keys and remember I'm still out in the bush. Also, the fact that prices are twice as high, and they don't even have the option for bags (only boxes) give away that despite the large fancy grocery store, we still are quite far away from any city.

Holly's recent blog post- "Frozen Eyeballs"

Frozen Eyeballs is an appropriate name because there was so much precipitation in the air, our goggles fogged up quickly and we ended up driving the majority of the 9 miles with our goggles off. I'm still breaking in my new machine and I like to travel at varying speeds so I took the back behind Sammy and Nathaniel and Holly. Right before we got back to Alakanuk, I crossed behind Sammy as she hit a pile of powder and as it hit my face my left eyelashes got stuck together. A frozen, mittened hand is not the best device to try pull my cheek down and I probably had a shut eye for about 30 seconds before I finally got it unstuck.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Alakanuk Christmas Program

This year, our Christmas program was on December 13th. The kindergartners through sixth graders performed prepared songs, movies, and dances of all styles. My 5/6th grade class sang two songs. Both songs had verses in Yupik and English-- Silent Night and Quyaunga Wiinga. We also recognized students for their athletic and academic achievements, had a couple extra dances performed by Natural Helpers and the staff, and had Santa come with lots of donated gifts and hand knitted gear. Some comments from the audience after the program included it being very fluid and organized, entertaining, and fun. It was a great time for staff, students, and community to celebrate Christmas together. Lots of hard work was put into so many of the details by so many different people and it was an honor being a part of it all.

And also for your viewing pleasure, below is a video posted on, choreographed by one of our teachers and danced by ladies on our staff (including myself).

Staff Dance at the Alakanuk Christmas Program

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Snow and Snowmachines on the Slough

Friday morning a freezing rain coated our boardwalks.

After the rain, and many people's falls later, the snow came.

We got about a half-inch of snow--enough to cover the dust.

The trees caught some of the flakes.

Our neighbor's dogs, while I headed on my little walk to the slough.

I've been hearing a few more snowmachines in the past couple days.

Some people who live on the other side of the river have to cross some water still.

The laundromat is on this side. I don't believe any of the
houses on that side have water or sewer.

I'm guessing she was getting caught up on laundry
because she made lots of trips back and forth.

The slough was busy. Many planes were also flying overhead
(they haven't flown due to weather for a couple days). That means
we also haven't gotten mail since the middle of last week.

He was trying to find a way to the dump to get rid of some trash.

Chunks of ice and water near the shore.

I watched them work on setting up their net for a little while.

They use ice picks to make holes and feed the net into.

Sometimes you have to make work fun, right?

Lots of birds were also out enjoying the "warm" weather.
     After the open gym at our school, it was nice to go for an impromptu walk and see all this activity with my camera handy. After a while though, I needed to go inside because I started getting chilly. My camera lens fogged up instantly and I noticed my fingers were bright red after I stepped inside my warm house. We have Christmas lights on, candles burning, and Christmas music playing today so it's nice and cozy. I'm hoping for more snow soon since I've got nowhere to go and I'm hoping to buy a snowmachine. Let it snow!

Cherish the good times-- Cupcakes and Smiles.

As this was my third Halloween in Alakanuk, I was looking forward to dressing up and seeing others' costumes and smiles. Many adults even dress up and join in on the fun at the school or while bringing their kids out trick-or-treating. I was going to be a ninja turtle, but I received a couple fine cowgirl accessories and decided to wear my new cowgirl hat and some chaps to school on Wednesday.

Mom mailed me cupcake supplies, napkins, and stuff to decorate them.
We had a cupcake decorating contest during our Halloween party.
I received a box that made it to my house after being in the mail for quite some time on that Monday. Tuesday night I made some funfetti cupcakes and the following day at lunch I made some orange frosting for them. (I actually used almost half powdered milk and powdered sugar which made it a little less sweet and delicious!) The students earned "pirate tokens" as an incentive to join the party. When it came time, I had them line up outside our classroom. We accepted the tokens and gave them a glow bracelet as they entered. The students had fun playing around for a bit before we turned the main lights back up and they got to decorate the cupcakes.
Some of the kids just loaded on the goods.

Others carefully designed and snacked while they decorated.

This one has some mini-chocolate chips for hair.

This one reminded me of one I'd see in a fancy cupcake shop.

It was costume day during our Red Ribbon Spirit Week, so I was a cowgirl.

The winners got to eat their cupcakes. :) All of them won.

A couple of my happy trick-or-treaters.

Lots of painted faces and masks with warm coats to block the 18 mph winds.

On Halloween, we had a high of 26 degrees.

It was fun seeing everyone's wigs and costumes that night.

One of my old male students with a female kaspaq and mask.

One of our students was absent with an ear infection, but Mr. Skeleton helped him out.

Many of these wonderful ladies have worked here at the school for years!

Sammy Jo was expressing her anguish that the plane for volleyball travel was on weather-hold.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Freezing Slough before Halloween

This tower is what I aim for when I'm heading home on the slough.

Boats are up for the winter.

Looking north east down the slough near my house.

When these pictures were taken (just before Halloween), there was still some open water.

A select few still boat through the ice to get to their house on the other side.

Quite a few people have at least a week where they're either stuck over there or stuck on this side.

It gets to a point where people can't boat across or ride a snowmachine yet.

Designs in the frozen mud.

What's left of fall colors that are freezing into winter.

Buoys and fishing nets are common anywhere along the shores.

Happy Graffiti I found.

I love trails. Reminds me of my childhood.