Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween Everybody!

Happy Halloween Everybody!
Originally uploaded by jleeody.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The dock meets the ice.

The dock meets the ice.
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
This is ice.

This little freeze occured virtually overnight.


Originally uploaded by jleeody.
Well, the time of year is fast approaching where the river goes from a rolling waterway to a highway.

Since I have been here, boats have been the method of transportation used to get everywhere.

In the very near future that will all change.
Instead of boats floating on the water, there will be cars and snow-mobiles zooming along on the frigid freeway.

This is only the begining

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Small town life has is ups and downs.

The upside
I personally know the parents of many of my students and I can easily reach them whenever there may be a problem.
We, the teaching staff, know the when and why many of our student's problems and home issues.
We all know where the kids go after school.

The downside fits well against the up.
Everyone knows everyone else’s business.
Gossip rules supreme.

Some of the flying rumors are lodged in the truth.
Others are anything but.

Today, during my planning period, the social worker walked into my classroom. He asked if I had a few moments to talk.
There is a rumor flying around that he wanted me to be aware of.

He sat down.
A blush filled his cheeks. He suppressed a giggle.
"Some of the kids I speak with say that you and a co-worker (a female) were seen kissing."

Suddenly I am the Ellen of rural Alaska.
"I never should have worn those cargo pants." I thought.

I am not gay!

We talk about the rumor, who is involved, and how to kill it.
Then I ask, "I am not gay, but how does the culture respond to homosexuality?”

Apparently it is easier for the villagers to accept gay men than lesbians.
Talk about a cultural difference.

Women are looked down on in this society, like most. The concept of two women who don’t need men is ridiculous.
Plus it flies in the face of the premises of a male dominated society.

But two men without the need for a woman is a-ok.

So, not only am I suddenly gay, but I am the wrong kind of gay.

The other teacher and I are the only single teachers in this 300 head village. Due to our similar lonely status, we end up spending a lot of time together.
Hanging out. Watching TV. Writing lesson plans.
Making crafts.
Not making out!

I am not gay!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dog eat dog.

I got home from my misadventures, all excited to sleep in my own warm, cushy, QUIET bed.
Walking toward my house I notice the ringing beat of many unhappy dogs.

My neighbor bought a dogsled team while I was gone and it is now penned up right outside my window.
I don't even think she knows how to dogsled or whether she plans on working them.

Every time someone walked down the boardwalk, they bark.
Everytime I turn on my bathroom light, they bark.
Everytime a boat speds by, they bark.

There was howling this morning. Lots and lots of howling.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It's over

After several hours of weather holds I finally made it home!

Just thought you'd like to know.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The last leg, I hope

It’s 10:25 in the evening and I am finally laying in my sleeping bag.
Surrounded by giggling girls.

This has been the day from hell.

It was a full day, starting at our 6:30 wake up call and ending moments from now.
We had too much down time, too much sugar, and too much time outside their comfort zone.

I have attempted several times to write down the adventures of the day.
There are too many different stories to pick from. The whole day could be seen as one post after another.

There have been injuries.
Punishments and successes.
Wall flowers and dancing queens.

A day of torture in the most interesting ways.

But the story that sums up this misadventure the best occurred last night.
Or this morning… judging by the hour.

We were all laying in sleeping bags.
There were still some conversations on their last legs.

When there was a rumble in my tummy.
We had eaten a number of foods with questionable origin.
Though I tried to silence it, I farted.
It would be considered loud on the scale of the lower 48, but up here it was more in the range of the norm.

Suddenly the room filled with laughs.
Real belly laughs.

“What?” I asked, blush creeping into my face. “You guys do it all the time.”

“Yeah, but we have never heard a kassiq fart!” they squealed.

All day I have heard about the “farting kassiq.”
Tonight I have heard these unassuming pre-teens let loose some real strong explosions with barely a giggle.

It’s just not fair.
I think this is discrimination.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The week gets longer

The flight to Akiuk was a bumpy one. The gusty wind blew the plane too and fro.
One of the other people on board gets airsick.

Good times were had by all.

Landing was uneventful compared to the excitement of the blustery ride.

I arrived at the island at 10:19 a.m., I was in front of my class teaching by 10:30.
No shower, no changing my repeatedly worn outfit.

Many hours and exhaustion headaches later the school bell rang.
Thoughts of escape ran through my head.

But wait; I had to make lesson plans before I could leave the building.

Not just lesson plans, but sub plans.

Tuesday morning I would be leaving again.
Back to Bethel
With 10 students in tow.
For a speech contest.

That lasts 2 nights.

After a mere 26 hours at home I once again boarded a plane to bethel.

It is now 10:30 at night. I am laying in a sleeping bag on the floor of a classroom in the Bethel Regional High School.

I think it is a high school science room. Judging by the notes on the board and books on the shelves.

We are finished with round one and two of the competition and I have one student in the semi-finals.

They have already braded my hair and have decided that tomorrow they will braid my whole head and use rubber bands.

They really want to use my computer all the time.
To check their e-mail.

For such technological isolation, they certainly depend on e-mail.

Tomorrow will be another day,
Another long day.

Wish me luck!

more servicing...

Last time on “days of our in-service:”

At last post it was Sunday morning and I had been stuck overnight in Bethel.

We looked toward the sky, waiting for the infamous fog to lift and allows us privilege to the friendly skies.

At 11:00 that morning we called the airport to see what time our flight might be.
The requested that we call back at 3.

My day suddenly got longer.

We hit breakfast, the grocery stores, and made our way back to the lobby of our hotel.
Where we sat.
Until 3:00.

It was a party.
There were about 12 stranded teachers camping out in the cushy furniture of the long house.

Laptops littered the scene.
Laughs and perverse conversations echoed against the walls.

3 o’clock came and went. Still not one plane left the ground.

We ordered pizza.

5 o’clock arrived with a shock.
Everything is grounded. Prepare for another night in the big city.

Suddenly there was a flurry activity. Hotel rooms were reserved and roommates were found.

Lesson plans were emailed and subs were found.
My school was canceled.

I now sit at Craig air, waiting to see what the cruel god’s of weather have in store for me.
The fog has lifted. Visibility is great.

There are 45 mph winds.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

new teacher inservice

This weekend I attended my second in-service in the big city of Bethel.

I arrived in town in the afternoon on Friday.
I was a beautiful day.
There was a blizzard in the west.

Early Saturday morning we all made our way into a stuffy 8-hours lecture of fun.

5 o’clock my flight was due to leave. A typical boring “fun filled” district sponsored trip into the hub of tundra civilazation.

The ceiling dropped.
Fog filled the sky.
No planes left the ground. We found that we were stuck in town.

There were many note-worthy events of this weekend.

There was drama of the most interesting or intimate kind.
Former friends turned foes had it out.
And ex-Chicago Bear happily stated “dude, I’m so glad I didn’t get knifed”.

But none of this will stick in my mind in the months to come.
Sara, Jennifer, and I had the opportunity to attend a party where the alcohol flowed in the most stingy ways.
We managed to imbibe a bit and were feeling good when the safety factors turned to the uncomfortable levels and a taxi pulled up out front.

Sitting in the back of a cab, going in circles, we sang Britney Spears’ “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”

The taxi driver just grinned as the lyrics everyone knows, but no one knows why flowed from our mouths.

The song ended, we giggled and the moment of embarrassing melody was over.

The driver must have missed the entertainment because he stopped, mid intersection to switch his CD player to another song with lyrics that have a habit of seeping into your brain when no one is looking.

Ricky Martins’ “Livin La Vida Loca”

We did not let him down.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Originally uploaded by jleeody.
And you don't even have to distill it before drinking.

october 12th

october 12th
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
Ok, this is the last "Oh My God, It's Snowing" picuture that I'll put up.

From this point forward I will post "Oh My God Look How Much Snow" pictures.

But, one last time, Oh My God! It's Snowing!

look, snow

look, snow
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
The speech club took a trip outside.
The snowflakes were huge.

And, well, I am a sucker for the first real snow of the year.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


NYO not you momma’s sports.
(Native Youth Olympics)

This weekend I chaperoned a NYO event.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect when leaving for the overnight sporting event.

This shit is hard-core.

Some of these games have a strong and significant cultural background.
They were, at one point, training activities. They taught and honed the skills necessary to survive on the harsh reality of living in Alaska.

Now they have morphed into a sporting event.
The cultural significance, however, has not been lost.

The really cool things were fast and difficult to catch on my lame camera.
I did my best though.

In the future I will have a betterr camera and may be able to accuratly portray these insain-o events.

Toe Kick

Imagine you are standing at the line for the long jump.
In front of you is a wooden rod. On your right is a judge with a meter stick.
The purpose of this game is to jump as far as you can. Not uncommon, right? Typical long jump, right?


There is a catch.
While in the air traveling across the field, you must dip your feet down and kick the rod, with only your toes.

You may not land on the rod.
You may not touch the ground.
Just a little flick.

You succeed the first time, they move the rod a little farther away, and you repeat.
The winner is the student that can go the farthest.

The winning jumper made a 52" leap from the starting line.

Wrist carry

wrist carry
Originally uploaded by jleeody.

This was, by far, the most ridiculous of all the tasks.
The contestant sits on the floor. Above him or her is a wooden rod supported by two of the stronger coaches.

The player hooks one wrist over the bar.
That’s right, wrist. Not their hands or fingers or elbows. Their wrist.

They then pull their body from the floor.
Using their wrist.

The “muscle” holding the rod begins to walk forward.

Our crazy strong participant hangs from the rod by their wrist, while swinging from the motion of this little jaunt.

The one that holds on the longest (not the farthest) is the winner.

stick pull

stick pull
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
This game is played tornament style.
Kid against kid.

Pull the bar, the one that beats all the others is declared the winner.

I tried this one agaist on of the coaches.
He was a rather muscular man and gave me a break.

He held on with just one hand.
I won!

Then with the other hand.
I won.

Then he held on with both hands.
We started pulling.

The bar wasn't moving.
Which means, I wasn't winning, but I was putting up a fight.

I look up to see his face.
He is just smiling at me.

With little to no effort he pulled the bar from my hands.
Like candy from a baby.

Two foot kick

A ball hangs on a rope from the basketball hoop.
At first it hangs at about chest height.

The student approaches the ball.
Feet together.
They jump.
And attempt to kick the ball.

Their feet must remain together at all times.

Think it’s easy?
Try it.

The winner of this one made a whopping 80"!
Thats the same as the winner of the Alaskan High kick.

One arm reach

one arm reach
Originally uploaded by jleeody.

This event was an interesting test of strength, flexibility, and concentration.
The contestant sits on the floor below the hanging ball.

They then place their hand on the floor below their body.
Balancing all their weight on that arm, they take their knees off the ground.
Now, they quickly take their other hand off the floor, reach up, and hit the ball.

The ball continues to rise until there is only one participant that can reach it.

One foot high kick

one foot high kick
Originally uploaded by jleeody.

This event begins with the player standing.
The hanging ball before them.

They jump off the ground and kick the ball.

Here’s the catch.
Both feet must leave the ground at the same time and they must land with the kick foot.

The Alaskan High Kick

The Alaskan high kick is similar to the one-arm reach.
The participant sits on the floor, holds one foot with one hand.
At this point only their butt, one hand, and one foot are touching the floor.

A ball hangs above them.

They heave all their weight onto to that one hand and kick the ball with the free leg.
They must land on the kick leg.

The whole time they must hold that extra leg with thier extra hand.

The ball continues to rise until there is a winner.

Some of the boys in this competition got to the point that, while standing up, they could barely touch the ball with their fingers, but they sure could kick it.

The winner kicked the ball hanging 80" from the ground.

Indian stick pull

indian stick pull
Originally uploaded by jleeody.

Two-foot long stick. Tapered from the middle (thick center to thin points)
Two people hold the stick, each with one hand. The first to let go loses.

The background or reason for this event has to do with the ability to hold onto a wriggling, heavy, cold, wet fish.
A strong tight grasp was a necessity to catching food for a family.

Seal hop

seal hop
Originally uploaded by jleeody.

Can you do a push-up?
Because this event gives push-ups balls.

It is a race. Contestants start at one end of the gym in the push-up position and hop their way across the gym.
Until they collapse.
The one that hops the farthest is pronounced the winner.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


comming soon!

(Native Youth Olympics)

Pictures and descriptions of all the most interesting and difficult sporting event I have ever seen.

This is not like anything I have ever seen.

I am currently at Nunapitchuk, chaperoning students for this overnight competition.
When watching sports I can typically think, "I could do that." or "When I was in better shape I could have played."

Not here.

These trails of strength, cordnation, and flexibility are as fascinating as they are difficult.

Ok, enough suspence building.
The pictures will come later in the day.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The kids love me

I helped out with lunch duty and was watching the little kids. About 7 of the girls have a habit of trying to get me to play with them.

Today they took the game farther.

One jumped onto each of my feet and held on for dear life. The others formed a circle around me.
A new game was formed.

The ones in the circle would run around me holding hands.
The two on my feet would try to break up the circle of death using any method possible: tripping, nudging, and The all-powerful tickle.
When the circle broke it was my swore duty to run as fast as I could which was not all that fast considering the 50 lb weights on each foot.
I had to stop when the circle reformed.

After about 10 minutes of this riveting game the kids started to get bored and my legs started to ache.

Now, a few wanted to play "Jody the jungle gym"
Not my favorite game.

When one took a flying leap onto my back the game was over. Weighted down by my leg braces I fell to the floor.

Now it became "Jody the trampoline".

The language barrier came into play. They have not started their English classes. How do I say, "let me the hell up!" in Yupik.
It turns out a stern voice is the answer.

I escaped.
My hair-do didn't.

I looked around with triumph. I had freed myself from the grasps of the tiny demons.
The other teachers had been standing behind me, laughing the whole time.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Look, water

Look, water
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
I know this veiw is becoming a common theme on this site, but if you walked out of your house to this every day you would photograph it often as well.

Just think, very soon the landscape will change quite alot.


Originally uploaded by jleeody.
Moose season is open!


October 2nd

October 2nd
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
It snowed!
I can’t believe it!
October 2nd. The Beginning of this month usually signifies the beginning of fall.

But no, not in Alaska.
I looked out the window this morning to see a fresh white layer of powder had fallen across every surface in the night.

Most are thinking longingly about the upcoming corn mazes, picking pumpkins, and hot apple cider.
I, on the other hand, have already seen the first snow and am looking to the upcoming sled rides and snow boots.

Sara... cause it's funny

Sara... cause she's mean
Originally uploaded by jleeody.
Sara took this picture of herself.
She wanted everyone at home to know about her hurt thumb.

The pity party can begin now...

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