Monday, March 29, 2010

Fitness, Cheapskates & Me

For me, the time for resolutions doesn't come with the new calendar year, but with the academic school year. September is my time of new beginnings. I have nine months of classes ahead of me, a fresh group of students walking into my classroom and new coworkers to get to know. Maybe it was the knowledge that my 30th birthday was sneaking up on me that made this year, the year, I would make a permanent change and commit to an exercise routine.

My friend, the Northern Cheapskate, mentioned earlier this month that Money Saving Blog was challenging people to quit the gym for the month of March. They're not advocating to give up on fitness, but rather to find a more economical way to achieve your fitness goals.

"Quit the Gym" month is a good excuse to share my success and how I avoided spending much to get in shape. A gym membership is not an option for me anyway, but here's what I did for little to no money.

Cheapskate Strategy #1: Get Workout DVDs

At $15 or so a piece, workout videos are really not that expensive. The routines are designed to work your entire body and get your heart rate up for a significant amount of time. If I tried to do exercises on my own, I'm sure I'd quit too soon or neglect certain parts of my body. I'd rather have an expert leading the way and honestly I'm just too lazy to push myself. I accumulated a collection of four different videos over the past few years. I really had good intentions of using them but now was the time to put them (and me) into action.

I started working out regularly in September with a goal of working out at least four days per week. For the most part, I have met that goal and have gotten to know those four videos pretty well (I have the words the instructor says memorized). Things were getting seriously redundant for a while.

Instead of buying more DVDs, I got a brilliant idea that solved the boredom factor. I turned off the volume to the TV and cranked up my favorite tunes instead. It was a heck of a lot better than listening to the same instructor chit chat and strange workout muzak day after day.

Recently I borrowed some videos from a friend. It was just what I needed to change things up a bit and stay interested in my workouts.

Cheapskate Strategy #2: Wear Grubby Clothes

I admire the cutie patootie workout outfits the ladies on the video wear but my old t-shirts and sweat pant cut offs work just fine. Hardly anyone sees them (especially if you're not at a gym) anyway, so what's the difference?

Now I have to admit that I recently bought a pair of stretchy workout capris. BUT they are so darn cute and make me feel like I can leap tall buildings. *sigh* It was a moment of weakness.

Cheapskate Strategy #3: Use Homemade Weights

After I made some good progress with my fitness level I decided I wanted to focus on upper body strength. I needed heavier weights. Of all the dumb things to buy and ship to bush Alaska, it's weights for the sake of having more weight. Instead, C.O. made me two sets of these babies that he found from the dump. They're cast iron parts from double hung windows. He spray painted them white then wrapped them in hockey tape. Yay for DIY!

I'm not really sure how much weight I've lost, maybe 15 pounds, nothing super significant. Weight doesn't really matter anyway. What's important is that I can do so much more physical activity than before and for longer periods of time. The most noticeable and exciting part is that I've dropped two pants sizes since August.

This is where the whole "getting fit on a budget" thing fell apart. Two sizes smaller meant I needed to replace ALL of my pants. Ya, I know, poor me right? A few years ago I came to grips with my new size and got rid of all my tiny pants. The first size down was no big deal, cinch the belt a notch or two tighter, BUT two sizes down . . . I refuse to wear clothes that just hang off my body. So, I've been shopping for quite a few new clothes lately. I figure it's part of my reward for actually being committed to my workouts the past few months.

I'm all proud of myself for sticking to my resolution and actually getting results. So I guess my getting fit on the cheap kind of blew up in my face, but in a good way. =)


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Springtime Boating

A few people are starting to get their boats ready for spring time hunting. We will still have ice here within Port Clarence until June, but 10 or 15 miles out to on the other side of the sand spit it opens up sooner. Both of these boats are standard 18' Lunds with 60 hp motors. As long as the ice is not too rough a snowmobile will easily pull them on a sled like this.


Monday, March 22, 2010

The Two Kusugluks

I've been meaning to snap this photo for a while. These two fellows share the same Eskimo name, Kusugluk, so I thought a photo together would be a neat memento. I finally caught Buddy and Harold together before church last night.

The story behind Harold's Eskimo name can be found here.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Brevig Mission, 1968

There are seven degrees of separation they say. Though experience is telling me it's more likely there are only three degrees. We hear so many stories of people who travel about the world, meet and chat with strangers only to find they have some sort of connection. It's a small world we muse.

This is one of my favorite and most special small world stories.

My friend Krista is a pharmacist and was working in Minneapolis at the time this connection was made. She was chatting with a coworker of hers, Steve, only to find that he had been stationed at the Port Clarence coast guard station in 1968. Port Clarence is a LORAN coast guard station located 15 miles outside of Brevig Mission.

In the spring, many people from Brevig go out to "Spring Camp" which is on the same sand spit as Port Clarence. Here people hunt for walrus and seals and search for bird eggs. It's a tradition many people continue to partake in each year. As soon as school lets out, people pack up their snowmobile sleds with camping supplies and drive 15 miles across the sea ice to their camp. They also tow along a boat. People generally stay until the sea ice is gone. They arrive by snowmobile and return by boat. It was during spring camp, more than 40 years ago, that Steve had photographed some people from Brevig.

Krista contacted me to let me know about her coworker and about the photos he had taken. He generously offered to send them here since they would mean a lot more to the people of Brevig Mission.

He was right. Soon after the photos arrived, I brought them around to a few households to help me identify the people in the photos. The photos brought a lot of joy and memories to everyone.

I've had the photos for over two years now and I finally got them scanned. My plan is to print of multiple copies and deliver them to the families of the people captured by Steve's camera.

Siblings Ines, John and Ben

Inez, is grandmother to many of my students.
One of her granddaughters in particular looks EXACTLY like her.
I have taught the children and grandchildren of John and Ben as well.

This is Lily.
She is an elder now and the matriarch of a very large family.
Maude Weyanna

The children have proven to be a bit more difficult to identify.
The gal above continues to be a mystery.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Humbling Experience

Tuesday March 2nd, 2010

It was a dark and stormy night . . . o.k. So it wasn't dark, but it was pretty stormy. It was definitely too stormy for planes to land in Brevig Mission.

Tuesday morning was when C.O. and my parents were expected to complete their journey that began in Minnesota the day before. One look outside filled me with disappointment knowing I’d probably have to wait another day or two to see them.

I had been single working mom-ing it for a week and a half and was pretty anxious to have C.O. home for a little support. I had worked too many days in a row and had had too many interrupted nights of sleep. Harold kept waking up in the middle of the night for various reasons and the exhaust pipe on our monitor heater kept frosting up. The monitor would start making obnoxious humming noises at random times during the night. I would bundle up, go outside at 3 o'clock in the morning in the freezing cold and scraped off the frost with a butter knife. It’s a great way to go from a deep sleep to wide-awake in about 25 seconds. But I digress, back to the story.

By the end of the school day, I had come to terms with the fact my husband and parents would NOT be arriving today. A babysitter was lined up for the following day and supper was getting started when . . . I received a message on my phone. C.O., Mom and Dad were all hopping on a plane to Teller and I could pick them up there. Wahoo!!!

A frenzy of activity: Traveling from Brevig to Teller

Step 1: Find someone to watch Harold. The weather was too cold and stormy to bring him along.

Step 2: Get someone stronger than me to start the snow mobile (I'm just not strong enough to pull that rope to start it up, especially when it has been sitting for ages in the cold.)

I called on the help of our neighbors, Sally and Allen. I asked Sally if she'd watch Harold and Allen if he'd start the machine. They willingly and kindly agreed to do both. First two steps completed.

Step 3: Gear up and pack bags.

It was a little tricky to do step three on my own. The snowmobile was cold and needed someone to tend the throttle so the engine wouldn’t quit. Fortunately, another person arrived at the scene and was willing to lend a hand. It was someone I had happened to be very critical of that morning. She had agreed to baby-sit Harold and then fell through at the last minute. She was very apologetic and proceeded to apologize and make sure I wasn't mad as she help me get the snow mobile warmed up. While she did that, I got my parka, snow pants, boots etc. on and packed some extra warm gear for C.O. and my parents to use on the trip back from Teller. My helper tied my bags into the sled and watched as I took off toward Teller.

Step 4: Drive 8 miles across sea ice to Teller.

At this point I was thinking about how well things were working out, how I was managing to get all these things together that C.O. usually does, and about how lucky he was to have such a tough, competent wife. I was so busy thinking these things I didn't pay close enough attention to what I was doing and where I was driving.

There's this thing that happens with sea ice, sometimes it pulls away from the shore and leaves large, deep cracks between the land and ice. Because of this you have to be careful where you make that transition from land to ice. I THOUGHT I saw tracks that led onto the ice. It's generally safe to assume that if someone else went a certain way, then it's safe to follow his or her lead.

The light was flat, I was not in the best frame of mind, I was going too fast and either there really weren’t any tracks or the ice had moved since someone had gone that way. Anyway, it was too late by the time I realized that there was driving off a small cliff in my future.

It all happened so fast but it went something like this:

Oh shoot!

Me fly through the air on the snowmobile.

The front end of the snowmobile hit the other side but didn’t clear the gap completely.

Upon impact on the other side, I flew through the air without the machine and it somehow flipped over.

I landed on the ice but didn't feel hurt. The upside down snowmobile ran for a bit, smoked and then quit running.


I called C.O. to let him know what had just happened. All he cares about is that I’m okay and he then makes a plan to get someone down to help me.

Step 5: (An unexpected step) Get the machine flipped over and running again.

C.O. called his friend J.J. down to help me out with my little mishap. Jay is always joking around and has some kind of smart remark to make about everything, so I was just imagining what he would say to me once he arrived.

He came in less than 5 minutes. Stopped, surveyed the situations, here it comes I thought . . . “Are you okay?” (His tone had deeper meaning “Holy smokes, I can’t believe you’re not seriously hurt.) Phew, no jokes, no criticizing, just genuine concern. “Ya, I’m fine, you think you can flip it back over on your own?”

It took about 15 minutes but he got the machine righted and eventually started. Turns out snow machines don’t like being upside down very much. After that, they are a pain to get started again. But J.J. did it and once again I was on my way.

Back to Step 4.

I arrived in Teller without any further problems. It was stormy and difficult to see, but fortunately the trail across the ice is well marked with willow bushes every 100 feet or so. When you first see the guys marking the trail you think it’s strange that the trail markers are so close together. But when you're driving in a white out situation, you’re suddenly thankful for each and every tree.

It is very important at this point to note that about a half mile away from Teller, the trail markers suddenly stopped. But I could make out the buildings in Teller so I continued on my way without any present worries.

It was a happy reunion with my husband and parents at the Teller church and within a few minutes we were packed up, baggage was tied down and we were driving back to Brevig.

Step 6: Get back to Brevig

I the meantime, the storm had gotten worse. There were higher winds, more blowing snow and was a significant decrease in visibility. At this point I was also starting to notice some sore places on my body. Hmmmm, maybe I did get hurt from my little accident.

I mention to C.O. that the trail markers ended quite a ways outside of Teller, but we should be able to find them easily enough. Turns out finding little trees in a storm is a much harder task than finding the numerous large buildings in Teller.

We only drove a little way before we could no longer see Teller behind us and we could not see the trail ahead of us. Not knowing which direction is which or where you are heading is a very scary feeling. We had no compass, no GPS and were basically driving blind.

So, we turned around and followed our tracks back to Teller. In Teller, we made a surprise visit to some friends. Nicole and Jason welcomed us in, let us use their bathroom and agreed to help us out.

While at their house I receive a call from Sally. Sally didn’t mind watching Harold, but I had been gone way too long, and with the raging storm, Sally was getting pretty worried. I explained everything much to her relief.

Jason came to our rescue by leading on his snow machine to the start of the trail markers. We would be fine from there on.

Let’s try Step 6 again.

This time we made it home without any trouble. Tired, cold and hungry. I was a bit banged up but everyone was home safely.

I was both humbled by all the folks that helped us out, as well as by the weather and landscape out here. Getting hurt or getting lost in extreme cold and storms is a serious matter in the arctic. It doesn’t take long to go from feeling safe to getting yourself in a potentially life-threatening situation.

The bruises on my legs started showing up that night. For a couple days I couldn’t stand to have anything even lightly touch my legs. Now, two weeks later I still have some lovely green and yellow marks that remind me of my adventure and very humbling experience.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Beaver Hats

Don't they look so cute in their new beaver hats? I made these for my Mom's late birthday present and threw an extra one in for my Dad. Warm gear is essential when traveling to the arctic this time of year. We've had some pretty serious cold weather during their visit with temperatures dipping to 20 below plus some wind chill. Brrrrr! But despite the cold, their heads are now toasty warm.

With so much family living in this region (2 children, a son-in-law & a grandchild), my coworker asked why my parents don't just move up here. They're probably not ready to leave Minnesota behind, but I'm very thankful they're willing to use their time and energy to travel all this way to see us.

We really enjoyed the week and a half we spent together. Time flew and we wish they could have stayed longer. Their travels will now bring them to Elim to see John, to Nome to see some Iditarod mushers arrive and to Anchorage for the State 1A Basketball Tournament.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kitchen Island

Our beach house had very limited counter space, so I decided to build an island for the kitchen.

It is made from several 4"x12" wooden timbers glued together.

The shape was cut out with a chainsaw and smoothed out with a grinder. After a little sanding, a few coats of spar varnish brings out the character in the wood.
The legs are made from 1 1/4" galvanized pipe and industrial handrail flanges.


Just For Fun

the pop art version . . .

Sunday, March 7, 2010

All Bundled Up

Grandma Cindy, Grandpa Roger & Harold
ready to face the elements.

1A Regional Results

Elim vs. Brevig Mission

It was another exciting game of basketball last night
at the regional championship. Elim was ahead by 10
at the half when Brevig came back hot and closed
the gap to within a couple points. In the end, Elim pulled off
the win to claim their 3rd successive regional championship title.
Both teams fought hard and gave it their best. Well done guys!

Final score: Elim: 63 Brevig: 56.

Second Place Winners: Brevig Mission Huskies
First Place Winners: Elim Eagles
My mom and dad and my brother Brian will be in Anchorage
for the state tournament in a couple weeks to support
John and cheer on the Elim boys.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Elim's Basketball Team 2010

How could I pass up this photo opportunity? These boys look so sharp in their men's kuspuks. Some of the ladies in Elim got together to make the boys matching kuspuks for the 1A Regional Basketball Tournament being held this weekend in Brevig Mission. It's no coincidence that my parents' visit coincided with the tournament. Notice the only ginger in the picture? Ya, that's my brother John, the coach for these handsome and talented young men.

Almost the entire Lindula clan has gathered in Brevig to cheer on the teams (we wish you were here Brian!) We will be spending a ridiculous amount of time over at the school this weekend but it should be a lot of fun. Good luck to all the teams!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sliding Hill

We are very excited to have my parents here visiting us for the next few days. They arrived safe and sound on Tuesday evening despite some sketchy weather and a memorable snowmobiling adventure (more on that later). After their stormy adventure, they were due for some tamer winter fun.

So, today they joined my class and me for an afternoon on the sliding hill.

My folks are the ones in the matching khaki green parkas with fur ruffs. The parkas were a Christmas gift from us, a necessity for anyone spending time out of doors this far North. Now they really look the part of arctic inhabitants.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I So Need These Shoes!

One of my students showed up in these AMAZING shoes today.
The centers of the flowers and some of the sparkles on
the toe light up when she walks and everything.
I'm pretty jealous of her new footware to be honest.

This isn't the first time I've coveted children's shoes.
When Heelys first came out, I watched with envy as kids
glided past me with their dual duty shoes. They looked like a blast.
C.O. and I searched the Mall of America over until
we found a store that carried them in adult sizes.
I am proud to say I'm now the owner of a pair of Heelys
and a proficient Heely skater as well.

Hmmmm . . . I wonder what happens if I google,
"sparkly, light up, psychedelic, hippie shoes, women's size 7"?