Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Have you ever heard of it? Not all of our trash ends up in the landfill. Apparently this patch of floating plastic junk, collected by swirling Pacific currents is up to 10 meters thick and you'd think, "Wow I bet it's miles across." No, it is thousands of miles across. It is estimated to be larger in square miles than the continental United States. You can read more about it here if you want to get bummed out. Why is there not more good news when we need it so badly? Well I guess I should be making more use of those reusable shopping bags I bought.

How our dogs feel about winter

This is how Siska feels about winter...

This is how Lady feels about winter...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sick Isiik

So I have been battling this cold for about two weeks now, and I am really hoping it will get better by the time we fly south on Thursday. Yes, another trip. This time to see Jeremy's mom in Tennessee, his Dad and the Counceller clan in Connersville, IN, his ex-step dad in Kentucky, his ex-common-law step-mother in Indianapolis, and also attend our friend Wade's wedding to Gertrude in Cincinnati. I thought a 10 day trip was long, but considering how much driving we will be doing, there won't be much "vacationing" going on!

I am sad to be missing the vice-presidential debate while we are on the plane. Not that I have TV, like I mentioned before, but I was looking forward to listening via NPR's streaming audio feed. I'll have to watch snippets later on You Tube.

Well, my complaining is going nowhere. Here are some more pics of Emmy being cute and also enjoying our first snow on Saturday.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator

If you were born to Sarah Palin, what would your name have been? Well, you can find out here!

(Be sure to comment back on what your name was. Sincerely, Copper Catfish Palin)

Saturday morning

Well, it is snowing here, just a few sprinkles, but it is official. Since I think we all need a break from politics, here are some cute Emmy pictures.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sarah Palin's Interview with Katie Couric

You may have seen this already, if not, catch some of it here. Since I do not have TV, I end up catching clips of the news over the web. Not that I thought I would be happy to see Sarah do so poorly in an interview, but I was surprised at how sorry I felt for her. It was pretty pathetic, like a baby deer in the headlights.

I have given her an Alutiiq name. It is Tuntungcuk - little deer.

Winter is on its way...

I have been thinking about winter now that it is just around the corner. Last winter we were on our way up here to Fairbanks, and soon we will be making the journey in reverse. Well, it is still a few months off, but it will be here before we know it. When we arrived here Emmy was only 8 months old. At that time she could hardly crawl - she was doing the army crawl where she pulled herself along the floor by her arms while her legs dragged behind. She has come so far since then! Now she can run, climb, and has even started saying a few two word phrases like "love you" and "baby butt!" The picture above is from when we first arrived in Fairbanks last January.

The feeling of running out of time is definitely there in relation to my school work. School has been in session for a month already and since I am done with my course work now I do not have my regular class assignments to gauge time by. It is up to me to get writing done on my dissertation, to make my own goals and meet them. And with all the travel I have been doing, and will do (I just returned from one trip, and am leaving in 6 days with Jeremy and Emmy to Indiana and Tenn.) I am seeing that I will need to be very strict with myself in order to make progress. Ay'aa!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Featured Photo of the Day: Afognak by Patrick Saltonstall

Back from D.C.
Tired and sick but happy to be home.

Here is a photo by one of Alaska's most overlooked photographers, Patrick Saltonstall, which I stole from the Saltonstall family blog.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Report from D.C.

I leave this afternoon to head back to Fairbanks. I look forward to sleeping in my own bed with my own pillow. The young woman in the room next door does not realize how loud her phone conversations, singing and belching are through the thin door between our two rooms. And despite my excitement to have TV to watch, I realized once again that there is not much to see.

Ever since I arrived here, as soon as I mention I am from Alaska, you can guess the first question I get asked. Melissa and Rachel who are also at this conference representing the Native Village of Afognak actually started counting the number of times people ask about our Governor Sarah Palin. We all usually respond carefully in the same way..."Well, she has been a very popular governor, but...most people aren't sure if she is qualified to be VP." This response I believe shows great restraint, since we could go into her record on Native issues or how as mayor she denied funding to the Police Department to cover evidence collection for rape victims (apparently they should pay for their own rape kits) or how she slashed funding for the covenant house in Anchorage, a place where young unwed mothers can stay until they get on their feet (ironic, you might say). It calls to mind the sign I saw in photographs from the recent anti-Palin ralley in Anchorage "FINALLY...A WOMAN who is not afraid to HATE WOMEN."

In other news, I went to the NMAI yesterday, which was emotional and inspiring. the exhibits were beautiful, which is something I always keep an eye on now that I work in a museum. I did think the audio content was a bit overwhelming, since often you could hear multiple soundscapes at once. I saw my Dad's kayak paddles for sale in the gift store, so I had to call him up and tell him how proud that made me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Off to D.C.

Tomorrow morning I am headed to Washington D.C. to receive an award on behalf of the Alutiiq Museum's Qik'rtarmiut Alutiit (Alutiiq people of the Island) Language revitalization project that was funded by the Administration for Native Americans. This Commissioner's Award is being given only to grant projects that performed well, so I am so proud of our museum and language program, especially our dear fluent speakers!

This morning I checked on what kind of weather I can expect when I get there. Tomorrow is going to be 83 degrees! It is warm here at 38 degrees at 8:17 AM due to the light rain we are having. So it looks lke I will get a chance to wear those summer clothes one more time. Of course, being in a conference for the next few days I may not get to see the weather at all. And being an Alaskan, 83 degrees seems a little hot for my taste, so perhaps sitting in the air conditioned conference room might not be so bad. Well, if you are curious about how the weather is treating me between now and Wednesday, you can check it here.

And Jeremy wanted me to add that he will be caring for our toddler Emmy all by himself while I am gone. I am not worried - last time I left the two of them for a trip, she learned to walk the day after I left.

And here is a photo of the presidential suite at the Hilton, where I will not be staying.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Weather Report: Goldstream Valley

Pat'snartuq. Unuarpak 20 degrees-mi. Tunturpak taillik engluma caniani. Maamankuk, carliani-llu.

It is cold. This morning it is 20 degrees. Two moose came close to my house. A mom and baby.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sick little Emmy

Emmy is so funny because even when she is sick she is in a remarkably good mood. I knew she was pretty sick when she kept laying down on the dog bed to rest. Naklleng! She is on the mend though and so am I. Jeremy will probably be next. We are getting an early start on October, a.k.a. "Kakegllum Iralua" (The month of runny nose).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Era of Anxiety

We are a stressed people. I just drove home listening to Fresh Air on NPR. The financial expert talking to Teri Gross was discussing the takeover of AIG by the feds. Basically something like this has never happened before, EVER. And the only reason they did it is because there is a REAL concern that we are teetering on the verge of a depression. Not a recession, a depression. Never before in my life until recently did I give daily thanks that I have a job. Maybe soon that won't even be enough. I don't even want to go into what could happen if Obama doesn't win - that is something I worry about daily. We are at the breaking point on so many levels, not just the economy. We need a change, a REAL change, and we needed it yesterday.

Featured Photographer: Jeremy Counceller

Thunderstorm in the Goldstream Valley

Emagale Alice Counceller with milk

Happy dog, Chatanika River

Near Delta Junction

Autumn moonrise, Fairbanks

Monday, September 15, 2008

Life as an Artist

There was a good article about my dad, Jerry Laktonen in the Everett Herald. You can read it here.

The fluffy lamb cake

Since Melissa's theme in her new nursery is lambs, I decided to make her a lamb cake for her shower on Saturday. Since I talked it up so much, the pressure was on to make beautiful cake! But this one turned out pretty good.

I used two cake mixes and two frostings, a bag of small marshmallows (fur) and eight large ones with the ends dipped in chocolate (legs). I made the grass from coconut with green food coloring, and the flowers were made from flattened gum drops. I made two round cakes for the body and baked a small cake for the head in a bowl. there was a bit of batter left so I did an extra side cake as well.
The shower went really well I think. Lots of ladies showed up and played our "what candy bar is melted in the baby diaper game." Melissa made out like a bandit with all the great gifts.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Down in K-town

Emmy and I came down to Kodiak on Thursday, if you noticed that I haven't posted in a few days. this rain and fog sure makes me feel at home :-)

As soon as I flew in on Thursday I dropped Emmy off at Melissa's and did interviews for the Language Outreach Specialist. I think we may have found someone good to replace Peter who is leaving for Law school in December. We had some sad news though. "Papa George" Inga, one of our former Alutiiq language masters  from Old Harbor has passed away. It is hard to state the significance of this. He was a great man who was raising his great grandson, who is now in high school. So sad. It definitely cast a shadow over our New Words Council meeting on Friday.

Today we held a baby shower for my little sister Melissa who is due with a baby girl in a month. I made a lamb cake which turned out good. I will do a post on that after I get back to Fairbanks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Palin's Tribal Record

I got this emailed to me this morning from two separate people. It has been commented elsewhere in the blogosphere that McCain doesn't really have much of a tribal platform. So Palin's record for us Alaska Natives will have to do for now. Since it is a few pages long I decided to just give you a link to the text on another web site. Sarah Palin's Record on Alaska Native Tribal Issues.
Barack Obama on the other hand actually addresses Native issues and has posted specific plans on his web site. He supports Native language immersion:
Indian Language Education: Tribes are struggling to preserve their languages. It is estimated that by 2050 only 20 of the over 500 Native languages once spoken will remain. Research shows that instruction in tribal language increases Native American academic performance in other areas like math and science. Barack Obama supports funding for Native language immersion and preservation programs.
You can see the rest of his plan here (And thanks to Alaska Real for citing it on her recent post)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Emmy's top 20 words

At first this was going to be the top 10, then we had to do 15, and I keep hearing her say words that need to be on the list! But now I have a full 20 and I am going to leave it at that!
Listed in general order of most usage:
1. Daddy/Mommy
2. Siska
3. Mikie
4. Yay-Yee (Lady)
5. Hi!
6. Bye!
7. milk
8. water
9. shoes
10. na-na (banana)
11. uh oh!
12. yock (sock)
13. Go!
14. cheese
15. Judy (her daycare lady)
16. Juice
17. cracker
18. baby
19. dog
20. Night! (good night)

Fall colors in Fairbanks

I don't know if these pictures will capture it fully, but the fall colors around here have been great, and I expect they will intensify for a few weeks before fall begins to turn into winter.

Last night Jeremy and I were looking at a cabin that is for sale - not to buy, but it had mentioned that it was vacant online and we were just curious. Following real estate is kind of a hobby of mine. So, maybe we were technically trespassing, but it was all very innocent. So as we were standing on this deck admiring the lake view, a truck comes barreling down the driveway. They had set up a motion alarm after someone broke in recently and stole the monitor heater. Instead of being mad they let us in to look around. I didn't have the heart to tell them we weren't that serious. It was fun to see inside anyway.

After that we went to Mike's for a barbecue. He will be leaving in a few weeks for ski season, and it will be sad to see him go. Especially since Emmy and Lady are sooooo in love with him :-)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Update: Thai iced tea... and (!)

I got my big box of thai iced tea mix in the mail yesterday from importfoods.com. It was pretty cheap, especially when you buy it by the pound! I got it with this muslin tea strainer that is about the same size as one of those little nets you catch fish in in a fish tank. You spoon the looseleaf tea into the strainer, boil it in the water, and let it steep for a long time, and add a lot of sugar. Once it is cool you pour it over ice and top with half and half. I was surprised to learn that besides few herbs, it is mostly just black tea with yellow food coloring. Mmmmmm. I have tried my homemade thai iced tea though and it is delicious. Maybe not exactly like from a restaurant, but close.

Totally different subject, but this really grosses me out. What's with the "balls" that people are hanging from the back of their trucks lately? Quoted from Wikipedia:
"Truck nuts, also known as truck balls, also known as truck scrotums, are accessories for pickup trucks and other vehicles. Capitalizing upon the association of trucks with machismo truck nuts resemble oversized human testicles inside scrota of various colors."

Yes, I get it, your truck has balls. But do I want to be staring at your anatomically correct balls when I am behind you at a stop light? NO. Get some class. I guess a few states have introduced legislation to ban them, but I doubt Alaska will be doing this any time soon. I bet Sarah Palin has some on the back of her SUV.

Dare I even include a picture? Okay.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

de Jong Family history

My Aunt by marriage ("Anty Kim") has put together a very nice looking collection of old photos of my mom's side of the family on her blog, from a trip they took back to Holland, 1963. It shows the bridge where my grandfather got wounded during WW2 and some other nice family shots when my mom was a little girl.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

News from my student existence

I have a stack of articles to read that is about 4 inches thick, give or take a few inches. They are primarily about terminology development, endangered language planning, and progressive research methodologies. Emmy is busying herself pulling books off my desk and throwing them on the floor. I am convinced this means she is advanced. So anyway, I am at the beginning of the semester, with a whole horizon of possibilities for the next few months. I am overwhelmed, but still early enough in the game that I can convince myself all will go well. I just have to write 50 pages or so of the dissertation, while working, mothering, traveling (every other week it seems). It is all going to seriously get in the way of my obsessive news checking and instant email responding. Then in December we will be planning our move back to Kodiak during the shortest, coldest days of winter in Fairbanks. However, the thought we might have Obama elected by then gives me a warm toasty safe feeling.

And, here are a few pictures of "the E", since I feel my posts are so much less interesting without a visual component.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jojo the homeless Husky mix

Jojo is a small white husky mix I met through the Loving Companions Animal Rescue in Fairbanks. We cannot adopt him since we already have more than we can handle around here, but I think he is a great dog, who deserves a forever home. I guess he doesn't make a great sled dog and really wants to be a family dog with a caring and patient family. When we met him he was surrounded by jumping and barking sled dogs and he just sat there looking at us with his big brown eyes. He is a little shy but very friendly and probably just needs to learn some confidence after being without a home for some time. Are you his perfect match?

This is the address for his page on petfinder.

Airborne refunds

If you bought any of those Airborne effervescent tablets to stop a cold in the past 4 years, you can get a refund, even if you no longer have the receipts. This is because their claims were wildly exaggerated. There is a news article about the case here. You can place an online claim here. You must do it soon though, as the deadline is Sept. 15th.

Ugnerqartukut awa'i

We are having fall now.
This morning the thermometer reads 28 degrees. Yesterday afternoon it was about 70 degrees. We are having very warm days and cold nights. Lady was waiting to be let back in instead of roaming the yard when she went out to potty this morning. Siska doesn't seem to mind. He's out on the run, enjoying the view, maybe hoping a few moose or sandhill cranes will wonder by. Yesterday morning there were two moose in the yard, probably the same mom-baby pair we saw earlier this summer, but now the baby is a BIG baby.

Random picture: Emmy's cousin Ravenna at the Alaska State Fair

Monday, September 1, 2008

Palin's daughter pregnant!

This morning I was checking out a blog that claimed that Palin's 5th child was actually her daughter Bristol's. 5 minutes later I check the news headlines, and it turns out Bristol is pregnant. Not that it disproved the earlier rumors, but what an unexpected turn of events. Does this make Palin even more "All American?" While it said McCain knew about this before he chose Palin as his VP, you have to wonder, could he have any idea how this will play out? Then again, why should we care?

I have been thinking about what the point of this blog is. Is it going to be quazi-political, at least until the presidential election is over? Is it going to be a parenting blog? A way to practice my Alutiiq? A collection of really deep thoughts? Well, I guess it will be all of those things and more. Because it is mine, that's why.