Christmas Break

Like most Saturdays, the family watches a little basketball or football, Jason and Romay do their routine check of the traps, and Mom bakes something tasty, today it was a batch of Godiva chocolate chip cookies. We can hardly comprehend 2 weeks off of work. As a kid, Christmas season was filled with snow globes, rehearsing for Christmas plays, delivering presents, and the free time, clearly, had a different perspective. Now a teacher, remembering the good 'ol days, when my job was to achieve good grades; I almost feel as if I've come full circle. I watched my Middle School students, their enthusiasm for pulling sleds in the snow, their little crushes, movies late at night, and no school for what seems like an eternity, and remember having similar thoughts and activities to look forward to at that age. I have a sweet group of kids this year, not to mention how nice it is to work with students who can rise to academic challenges. Romay's class did a couple of lip synced songs for their Christmas Pageant, being the jock she is, she wasn't exactly in her element as they did Hula dancing to "Mele Kalikimaka." She was a good sport, smiled and I got the sense she was relieved when the song quit and the curtains closed. Merry Christmas. As wondeful as the giving of gifts are, we pray that God's gift through Christ's coming as a babe will be close in your hearts.


A Dry Spell

This blog isn't going to the grave, hopefully posting this will allow people to think about checking our blog, heck, I can even make it a goal to make 2 or 3 posts this month. Snow, snow, snow, our skiis will be making their way out of the shed soon. Jason and I did routine maintenance on our vehicles, theres a plenty to do with a Bronco II, 4-wheeler, snowmachine, go-kart and boat. The snowmachine got a dose of love, I changed the spark plugs, sure enough, the blackened tips gave themselves away as the sno-go was not running smoothly, but, that's changed. Roger and Carole's house is equipped with a nice wood boiler, except it was missing a part, an integral part of the iron beast. We replaced the baffle (thingy that is bolted to the back wall to keep the wood steadily burning in the box). Jason does the advanced jobs and well, I do the ones that require no or little skill. After teaching a full week, doing something progressive with your hands is a great reward. Speaking of school, life went from busy to busy as ever. I know why I did it, but I signed up as the boys assistant basketball coach, and so therefore the dynamics of the household have changed a little, now I pretty much use home as a sleeping place. I've been at school from 8 am to 7 pm this past week. There hasn't been questioning on my part as to why I'm doing this, maybe Jay will be questioning a little down this year's season. Other than that, we're still saving our dollars for the house plan. We feel much more confident about this house plan coming up, its worth the wait. We send our love to you out there, in Alaska or the 'lower 48!'


Gram Makes Another Visit

We try to keep Gram's visits a surprise anymore. Of course we keep it from Romay and mainly, its a huge test on Jay's and I's endurance to keep it hidden. BUT, we did it yet again! No spills on information on our part and the wait is worth it all, you know, the 10 seconds of surprise on the child's face. We're moved into our place on the Yukon River, the Huntington's have us spolied, huge windows that give us a priceless vista.


12th year

Romay woke up on a saturday morning to the usual morning greeters-Kemper, myself and Jay. Jay and I had been up for a couple of hours already. Saturday morning is golden, the usual morning routine of coffee, visiting, and warm slippers and without the 'rush' of being at work at 8 am. "Happy Birthday Romay!" (hugs and kisses). Romay usually snuggles up on the couch for a few minutes, deciding whether or not she really is awake. Jay and I looked at each other, knowing that we felt like little kids, except with the thought of joy in watching Romay opening presents. "Want to open presents, Romay?" Well, she was awake. Out to the garage she went and got a large box mailed from Michigan. It had been hiding in the garage for days, covered with a green sheet to keep curious eyes from peeking before the time was right. Romay had grown several inches since last spring and though the box would've been just inches below her height last March, her growth spurt had revealed that items such as this box were less cumbersome, especially in carrying it up the stairs. A few minutes later, we were all marveling at the youth bow grandma and grandpa Harris had picked out (A HUGE THANKS AGAIN!). Next, she opened a small box from Mom and Dad, a digital camera and one that wouldn't eat batteries in a couple of days. That afternoon, we could hear arrows hitting insulated sheets in the yard. We'd peek out and see a content 12 year old, shooting and fetching arrows. I'm not sure if the ptarmigan, grouse and rabbit know about the little archer in their back yard now.


Moose Season

September, a month which marks drops in temperature and shorter days. More accurately, moose season. A cooler sat ready, complete with butchering knives, game bags, and staples for 1 or 2 days of hunting. Another cooler, packed full of breakfast items and dinner for three, served also as a place to sit in our latest purchase, a 20 ft. Lund. We'd had experiences on rivers before, learning channels, where to rest out of the wind, little secrets that made pleasant trips out in the boat in Koyuk. But out on the mighty Yukon? A sure way to spoil your idea of what your idea of "must haves" for any boat is a depth finder. Sometimes we'd catch Jay staring at the illuminated red oval screen, "ahhhh, why don't you look at the river, Jay..." Inevitably, Romay and I would follow the same pattern, the need to see how deep the water was at a particular bend or stretch of river. It usually read 30 ft. on the channel. Jay and I had a process down by the time moose season was over. About wednesday night, we'd start scheming, along with another family about the particulars and well, usually reminiscing about the last trip. Funny thing is, half of the fun was talking about what kind of food we'd cook over the Coleman, or the camp fire. The Browns, a family of three, whom we happened to pair up with on our weekend excursions, were nicely outfitted, professionally outfitted. They, being fellow colleagues and school employees, could only afford weekends as our time to search, relax and have the opportunity to fill the freezer with meat. Mr. Brown awed us with his jetboil, "90 seconds to boil a liter of water" or something like that. I can still hear the burner after a dramatical start, sucking butane as I watched our water slowly heat over the propane fed Coleman. I might want one of those for Christmas, since I seem to have problems when it comes to that time of year in relating what I really need. And yes, its developed into a need. A christmas with moose season as its theme, I can see it all now, complete with Cableas smiling down our credit card purchases and well, it'll be well worth anyone's contribution. We had a girl turn 12 in the house. You know what that means, or I know what it means in our household. Usually, it requires having two sets of things. One butchering knife for mom and dad and one for a 12 year old girl. A sleeping bag, no longer belonging to the parents, but "her own" bag, and the list goes on...her own tent, headlamp, cot, gear, perhaps because one day she will do these things without mom and dad. I actually think we'll get together on such occasions, or hope at least. We didn't catch a moose. I organized and cleaned the boat on return trips more that I can count or care to remember. But, Galena has shown its generosity again. Friends have supplied us with enough, enough to remain happy and share. Afterall, the adults in the teacher lounge, which I still have to see in Galena, talk about the latest happening out on the Yukon that time of year. And we love it.


We're doing fine...

in our little hole, called Galena. I know its hard to communicate with us through modern means; the telephone, internet, or even cell, but this post is to confirm our existance! UPDATES: We're NOT buying the house, we're now building in the spring. The difference between you and I is that you can get over this news pretty quickly. See. Now you're over it. Romay's birthday is saturday and she is turning twelve! THis is a busy weekend and so we'll be celebrating it next weekend. We will be moving into a friend's place for the winter as they needed housesitters, yay, score! We had some boarding school kids over last weekend and celebrated a birthday together. Well, that is so much news, I'll just have to sign off and not give too much of an update, what would I talk about next time? (BYE! I am 'borrowing' airwaves and wanted to keep this short)


In Times Like These...

"...we need a Savior, in times like these, we need an anchor..." I can distinctly remember the voices singing in unison at church. The song might have been sung in English, then, after a brief pause, an elder would start the translated version in Eskimo and the 'ol domino effect of voices joining took over. I admire the Inupiaq versions of hymns. I can watch drama or read the inspirational stories without getting the lump in my throat. BUT! The translated songs just have a way with me :) A simple hymn, Gram's natural ability to sing in her language without flaw, again, memories and a tune sung to remind us of a Savior who will help us in our time of need.
Gram is recovering well from her little stroke she had last wednesday. I left Galena in a hurry, landed in Fairbanks and hopped back on a plane to get to Anchorage. My brother picked me up at the airport. I had planned to stay with Gram at the hospital and wasn't sure of any kind of arrangements, so a Fred Meyer sleeping pad was tucked under my arm as I made my way up to the 5th floor. I wasn't sure what to expect.
I came around the corner and saw Gram's back and it looked like she was getting up. I knew, by her fairly straight posture that she was okay and going to be okay. Her body language communicated that to me more than anything. I remember the nurse being in the room, although Ellen was the only one I could really focus on. "Hi Qaqatuq." "Ohhhhh, My!" she said. We grabbed hands, hers soft and welcoming. It was almost strange to see her dressed in a hospital gown, she had color in her cheeks and seemed to glow.
She was discharged by the weekend. Her brain scan revelaed a speck that might had even been an earlier tiny stroke. I think the overwhelming picture here is that prayers were answered. Thank you to those that lifted Ellen and our family in your prayer time. She has a follow up tomorrow and we're considering Ellen living with us for the time being. She shouldn't be alone and well, lets just say that she is stubbornly admitting that a woman of 79 might need someone to help her for now. Its quite late and I do have to check in at 5:45 am. I was driving 'home' tonight with the perfect country song, you know how country tells to story of life and well, life is taking a new turn. And under the circumstances, even though I'm sure at times it'll all be a stuggle, I'm thankful for reminders of encouragement from a simple hymn.


August Boating n things

Meeting with friends. Great friends! We have been staying at the parsonage while we wait out our housing saga and have met really wonderful people in the process. All of us have ways of passing time, my favorite and top of the list-visiting!

We finally have a boat.

Both Jason and I joined the Civil Air Patrol here. I flew into Anchorage with a friend to get this flir installed. Flying into Merrill Field with a 172, all the traffic and landing in the middle of a city was definitely an experience.


Sweet Times

I had the priviledge to travel to Nome and be with Gram and have her all to myself :)
A cup of this is equivalent to several oranges in vitamin C.
Gram dresses up to go the the post office. Whenever we go somewhere, we run into someone she knows. I remember standing by her or Papa for 15-20 minutes while they'd visit with others at the store, PO, just out and about. I loved it!
A pair of Gram's handiwork.

I spent a week in Nome with Gram, just the two of us and did we have a lot to catch up on. We talked a lot about Papa (passed in '97). Gram had a lot to say about their younger years, how they met, their early marriage years and then on. It was as if 60 years hadn't passed and all the events had happened yesterday. The photos of Papa really left a deep impression on me. The picture of him is when he was in his late 20's or early 30's. The photo is of him doing the 2 foot high kick during the 4th of July games (he was the winning participant that year). As a child, I knew of him from his sixties until his passing and I always knew he was a strong man. I was fortunate to have Gram pass down stories from a lifetime in which I did not experience. Gram is doing well and trusts God each day for her well being. We had a chance to do some salmonberry picking, something that I will never take for granted as there isn't much of them in interior Alaska. Visiting in Nome, in a way, changed me for the better. Living in Galena, although Alaska, is a different culture, it's as if Gram helped me to remember where I come from.


July Trip

You may already know that we ventured from Galena down to the Kenai Peninsula to visit friends and to do a little fishing, almost a MONTH ago. Although its taken me a few weeks to post, consider the fact that, because we are technically renting a place to live while we await closing on our house, we haven't had regular access to the internet. Well, I can hardly excuse my own self for not posting these sooner, in fact, I am in Nome visiting my grandmother, where I can do such posting business! The trip. It was quite an experience to feel the rolling waves and coordinate pulling a relatively heavy fish, but the Harris' caught on' (oops, haha) quickly and would definitely like to return next summer if time and money permit. For the most part, the gentlemen on the boat were amazed with Romay and she kind of just acted like a spotlight was on her the whole time we were fishing. "Wow, only 11!" "Imagine how she'll fish when she's 16!" Let's just say that she won the heart of the captain, who allowed her on the steering deck as we were driving the hour and a half back to Homer. I just know that I will catch up with blogging as the inevitable school year is rolling in, so I'll save more for later.


Lame Post...no pics, just news...

(we're on the road now, will post pics later!!) We left Galena last saturday after Romay's last softball game on friday. She has grown considerably, just remembering last softball season, both physically and maturing in skill as well. Saturday plane trip into Fairbanks involved getting a birds eye view of the forest fires around the Fairbanks area and on the ground, we inhaled the effects of that massive fire. It didn't put a damper on our spirits though (haha): camping in town and telling stories in the tent, visiting an awesome family-the Foshee's, Romay buying an air soft automatic BB pistol, reading in our down time, Barnes and Noble...

...we left for Anchorage and took our time heading down the highway. We saw a few beaver dams around Denali and started a joke about 'high altitude beavers.' We created a few spins off that idea and this seemed to entertain our hearty group of three...we arrived late afternoon, EXHAUSTED, since we had so much fun staying up late with the Foshees' the evening before...ahhhh, relaxation and a BED!!

...so tomorrow will be great: seeing Tera, Matt and AYUU!!!! She is almost a year old and this aunt can't wait to meet her! Hmmm, I better buy something to eat so she'll really like me :) :) :) Jay will do a little tinkering with the F150 since it is making a few unnecessary noises, sorry, no techy automotive talk from me! Jay teases me about a quote about my lack of expertise on motors...he can write about that sometime, ha. Thursday we head to Homer and will visit with a family friend on their property and set up our tent there...Friday 6:30 am-fishing!! ...halibut and silvers...Romay picked out our charter...about 10 hours of ocean time!! woo-hoo!!

...more later, with pictures!!!!


Jason's Birthday

I've got to get better orientated with the order in which I post the pictures...so we'll go backwards...AGAIN...okay. These first couple of photos are of one of the most basic, sometimes essential, pieces of furniture. Well, while waiting...and waiting...and waiting...for the bank to get their business in order, we Harris' stay busy. This coffeetable was built, literally, pretty much from scratch. Jason is now powered with a table saw and we 'found' some old local milled cottonwood underneath the parsonage. It seemed to look quite weathered and probably would go to waste, so we put our heads together and began ripping some boards into cleaner looking lengths. You can imagine how much gratification we were receiving, instant, and unlike dealing with a bloodsucking, or ummm....labor intense banking process, our minds could get a break from the 'what if this...what if that...' emotional deal. I can't help but think of Papa (Howard Slwooko Sr) while working with Jay. I only knew him in his 60's and 70's, but man did he teach me a few work ethic lessons through little jobs. He loved Gram dearly and now that I'm married, I can see and understand how much a marriage relationship is a blessing through a couple. Anyways, before I get on that rabbit trail, I'll post the cottonwood coffeetable pictures.

Jason celebrated his 31st birthday on June 26th. Not only did Romay and I have 'Dad's' birthday to think about, but also Kempers! This is the first time we've been with our beloved yellow lab on his birthday. Just to give you an idea of how much he is a part of the family, he ate the same biscuits, scrambled eggs and bacon with us for his birthday breakfast. You see, part of making Jason feel special on his day, is to treat the dog in a special way. So, that works for us.


Inside of the Possibility

These photos are in NO particular order, why did I even put the title "Inside of the Possibility?" Well, this first photo is from last Thursday as Romay was heading up to Kokrine Hills Bible Camp. She will be camping for a whole week and I don't know if I could technically call it 'camping' as I know it the way I was raised. They have running water, mattresses to sleep on and so many cool activities. Most of all, we know she will enjoy fellowship and being around her peers.
So now we come to a photo of the kitchen upstairs in our possible first home, which of course, is more in harmony with the title of this post. We LOVE the exposed beams and the fact that there is a balcony that is a few feet away from the location in which I took the picture. Jason is already planning on making our table with his tablesaw, skill saw and sander.
Here is a shot of the gravel leading up to the garage door and I guess you could call this elementary landscaping as the rocks are stacked neatly. I don't know if landscaping really exists in the bush. For those of you that have traveled to the bush, maybe landscaping is a yard that isn't littered with several vehicles, mattresses, and dead freezers or refridgerators...haha.
Sometimes we head over to the house, just to appease our imagination, wondering 'what would it be like to actually own our own home?' Like we had said before, we are learning trust in our Father, because we know that each day shouldn't be 'wasted' with wishing and waiting, but with peace and joy for each day. It truly is a process and journey that has taught us to be more content with status quo.
Finally, a downstairs view of the place. As you can see, the flooring hasn't been added yet, which is a minor detail Jay and I will take care of should this all happen. I'm already scheming of paint colors to break up the whiteness of the living space. Behind me, there is a garage door, which isn't an ideal decoration for your living room ;) So we'll live with it for a year and then add on next summer, MAYBE, again, IF and only IF...meanwhile, we celebrated Fathers Day with a nice moose rib dinner, don't ever let me hear you down talk moose ribs :) Mmmmm, caribou ribs are a different story, if not done a certain way, you might as well eat leather. Anyways, we had some time to chill with friends this early afternoon and just take it easy. We've been delighting in a little thunderstorm activity each day, water for the garden and a great way to keep the dust managable on the roads. Until next time....


This post is all about the...

...way we got our years worth of food to Galena! What is that you're standing by Jay? 'Well, since we didn't want to spend $250 for a measly 4'X4'X8' container to go on the barge, I bought materials from Home Depot and put it together, right on this campground!' "Wow, how long did that take?' 'Just a couple afternoons' (wink)

...'you see, we made about 4 Sams Club trips and loaded the F150 bed with all sorts of staples and supplies...'

...'one night, while I was pondering how the forklift was going to get the container off the back of the truck, a friend hopped out of the bushes! This at least cleared my thoughts of the logistics for some time and Myra was happy to not have to listen to me rant about it!'

'...for added sustenance, we sampled some nearby rose petals, they taste the way they look!...not a filler, but a tasty treat...'
'...now the container is loaded with supplies, it is dropped off at the barge landing in Nenana, and now we can enjoy our fire and last couple of days in Fairbanks...' THE END