Monday, April 14, 2008

Time to consolidate

I've been sending various people information and impressions about life in rural Alaska so I am going plagiarize (myself and post a few pearls. (or cheap plastic imitation pearls):

...I think its beautiful here and so do most people who come here. It is different though; there are no trees taller than...well,,,really they aren't trees. They are bushes and not very big ones at that. The tundra is a thick, wet carpet full of moss, lichens, ferns, blueberries (out the yin yang!) crow berries (also called blackberries but not like how we think of blackberries), salmon berries (to die for!) and cranberries. It is intensely green in the summer and then, right with the nip of frost in September, it changes color orangish-reddish-brownish and still green. When the snow falls, in October it's beautiful. It does blow a lot right here. In fact, we are one of the windiest parts of Alaska but the teacher housing is fairly snug and we stay warm inside. We've been XC skiing a good bit this winter and it's been pretty good on calm days.

It's pretty safe to turn down the jobs that just don't fit. In our district, the interview was questions like: Are you sure you want to do this? Positive? just because they didn't want to have to replace teachers after one year of misery because they missed their cars and Wendy's.

We are 500 miles from the nearest Walmart! ...A good thing!

My wife and I are teaching in a Yup'ik eskimo village on the Bering sea (8 years now). We are 500 mi from the nearest Walmart (HOORRAY!) We were in Austin for about 20 yrs but they actually pay teachers in Alaska so it made sense to make the move. We haven't looked back...except for the music. We still head south every spring but it is just plain wrong to leave Alaska in the summer time so our annual sojourns to the sunny south consist of a couple weeks in Austin (where we have a house we don't live in, ever, and Baton Rouge, where our daughter, Senna is living, then back up to Kenai (south of Anchorage, on the road system), where we now have a house, to spend the rest of the summer just chillin'...and fishing/cycling/kayaking before we settle in for another school year out here in the village. It's a system that works for now and we've worked out most of the kinks so it's actually gotten easier over the years.

... We've been here most of 8 years now and this is longer than anyplace I have ever lived except when I was a kid. It's mostly been very good for us. We've lots of good friends and we are definitely part of the community. We're actually famous since every kid in the village knows where we live and has probably come to visit at some point. Our cat is really popular with the little kids even though he can't stand little kids and runs and hides when they come. Even still the kids seek him out and really want to maul him, were he to let them... which he won't.

The job is different from any teaching job we've ever had. We kinda live in fishbowl and everyone knows a lot about our business (not everything, thank goodness) We manage to get out periodically during the year, either some conference or training, or union business, which gets me at least in to Bethel, t(he local hub with an airport big enough to land a jet) once a month or so.We also spent Christmas break in Kenai at our house since we arranged with our tenants to have that time when they moved in. They went to Hawaii for their honeymoon since they just got married in July. When we do get out, we can buy fresh groceries every now and then. Otherwise, we order things from an expediter in Anchorage. We've gotten pretty good at doing huge shopping and sending everything out to ourselves in Rubbermaid tubs. We have about 50 of them now so we're ready to move, whenever we do decide to find a new place. For now, we're staying put though. I can retire with full benefits in 9 years! That doesn't even seem that long now. I'll still be in my 50's.

The continuity is rough since most of these were excerpts of messages I sent to other people but a lot of it is just off the top of my head which is what a good blog need s to start as anyway.

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