Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I had a snowboarding "breakthrough" just in the last two weeks. All of a sudden I can snowboard black diamond runs no problem. I'm not sure why I got so much better, but it is definitely more fun! I learned how to snowboard two years ago and at the end of my six lessons I felt like I stayed at the same ability level for the next year. I had thought that I would take more lessons this year, but now I don't think I need anymore lessons. I've been able to snowboard everything Ryan has taken me down so far this year and I only had one major crash (it involved a tree and there were no serious injuries on either side).
I posted two videos, one of Ryan and one of me yesterday. I know I don't look like as much of a pro as Ryan, but you have to remember that two years ago I could barely make a turn on the bunny hill!
Monday, December 20, 2010
|Emily digging in midden from 1000 years ago|
|Patrick recording the stratigraphy from midden deposits dated to about 3400 years ago|
The midden from the "Trench" is definitely Early Kachemak. The radiocarbon date from a charcoal sample indicates that the top shell layer was deposited about 3400 years ago (in the second photo, that's the white layer just above Patrick's head). At the bottom of the archaeological deposits is a brown volcanic ash and below that is the old beach gravel. We know that the brown volcanic ash is 3800 years old (based on dates from other sites in Kodiak), so we now know that all those layers of shell and bone were deposited in less than 400 years, from 3400 to 3800 years ago. This is great news for me because Early Kachemak sites are rare in Kodiak. Even more rare are Early Kachemak sites with preserved shell and bone.
I am particularly interested in this time period because it represents a significant change in the economy and settlement patterns of the Alutiiq people. Before 4000 years ago, people on Kodiak lived in small groups and moved often, following seasonally-available food resources. Around 4000 years ago, at the beginning of the Early Kachemak time period, people began to build more permanent houses, mass harvest salmon in nets, and smoke/dry and store salmon and probably other food products for the winter. Many archaeologists have studied this transition, but due to the lack of sites with fauna, we don't have a very good idea of what people were eating. I am hoping that my dissertation research can help answer some questions about the economic changes that happened after 4000 years ago in Kodiak.
I was also hoping to find midden from between 800 and 200 years ago. In the top photo, you can see Emily digging in a test pit that we hoped would be from that time period. The date turned out to be about 1000 years old. While that's a little older than I had hoped, it will have to work! Now I have samples of fauna from 3400 years ago, 1000 years ago, and 150 years ago. Hopefully I will be able to say something interesting about how diets changed through time in Chiniak Bay.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I've stayed busy canning this fall and I think I have finally put up enough pickles and jam to be satisfied for the rest of the year. I also think it's time to stop spending my weekends canning and get back to the lab to finish my analysis for my dissertation. Canning was a much-needed, and very enjoyable, break from the monotony of spending evenings and weekends at school but it is time to buckle down again. Any fun time I allow myself in the next couple of months will be taken up by snowboarding!
I have been very happy with all of the pickles and jam I've made. I think my favorites have been peach jam, dilly zucchini, and peach salsa. I'm a bit lazy when it comes to peeling and cutting a bunch of fruit or vegetables so I was thrilled to find peeled and sliced frozen local peaches at the grocery store. If only I could buy everything else already chopped and peeled. If you'd like any of the recipes I've tried, just let me know!
Sunday, December 12, 2010
There are some great shots of us trying to "escape from Penguq." You'll see us walking through thick brush, standing water on the tundra, and even paddling across the river in Patrick's inflatable canoe. My favorite scene in the video is when Ryan turns to the camera with a huge grin on his face and gives a thumbs up - only the type of enthusiasm a real outdoors-man could have after hiking all day with no headnet! I'll let him explain the nude hiking scenes (all shots are, however, censored by backpacks or vegetation)...
You will also notice that it was rarely sunny at Penguq. While the vegetation seemed to green-up over the month that we were there, it paled in comparison to the lush greenery we saw when we arrived back in Kodiak. The day we left Penguq it was gray and as you will see, Kodiak was beautiful and sunny. We were reminded how nice it is to be home.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
|The original photo of flowers on the Alaska Peninsula|
|The print on canvas|
|Ryan putting faces and buttons on the snowmen|
|One angry cookie.|
Monday, December 6, 2010
|My Flight Map for 2010. Many of the paths were flown more that once.|
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
|In front of the Parliament building in Victoria|
|Replica of Old Town Victoria in the Royal BC Museum|
|Replica of a cannery scene in the museum|
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
While it is 13 degrees in Seattle, it is in the 30's in Fairbanks and Anchorage and 40's in Kodiak. Snow is serious business in Seattle: it doesn't happen often, and when it does, all chaos breaks loose. The same is true when it rains in the winter in Fairbanks: the streets turn into ice skating rinks, quite literally. It sounds like the weather in Fairbanks right now is similar to February 2003 when it rained in Fairbanks and the icy roads were covered in water. I remember that you could barely walk around campus without falling.
It started snowing in Seattle on Monday and I opted not to go to school based on my previous experiences trying to get to and from campus in the snow. I usually ride the bus or bike and neither is a very good idea in these conditions. Buses often get stuck, run extremely late or never, and if they do run, they sometimes run alternate routes. I've spent my fair share of time waiting for buses in the snow and if I can avoid it, I won't do it again. After hearing about the horror stories of people stuck on I-5 for 11 hours in the middle of the night trying to get home, I'm very grateful that both Ryan and I had the flexibility to not go to work!
Today it was beautiful and clear with a good 3" of snow on the ground at our house. UW closed the campus today and I think a lot of people stayed home if they could. Being snowed in is a good excuse to walk around our neighborhood. Yesterday we walked to the grocery store and today we walked to a restaurant to meet some friends who were just passing through Seattle for the day. It makes me think that we really should be walking more, but alas, hopping in my car and being at the grocery store in 2 minutes is just so convenient - and so American.
In addition to the snow, it has been a bit blustery here too. It started on Saturday and shortly thereafter one of our lovely neighbors came over to tell us that part of our (new) roof was coming off. Ryan was on it immediately and it looks like he did a great job gluing/nailing it back down because it's held ever since. Ryan and his dad with the help of some of our friends re-roofed the back portion of our house about a year ago. Seattle is not normally very windy and I think the winds we had this weekend were the strongest our new roof has ever seen. Last night it blew about 20 mph with gusts up to 35. I read that there were widespread power outages and I am so glad we haven't lost power. We have electric heat (no woodstove or fireplace) and I would hate to find out how well (or not well) insulated our house is on the coldest day I have ever experienced in Seattle.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
|Huskies playing the Bruins on Thursday night|
We are not big sports followers but attending a Huskies' football game was something I had been thinking about since we moved to Seattle. On Thursday night the University of Washington was playing UCLA for a prime time game. This was a big game for the Huskies and was broadcast on ESPN. Of coarse 62,000 people gathering in one location is bound to be a traffic disaster let alone at 5 pm on a weeknight in Seattle. To avoid this Molly and I rode our bikes to campus, locked them in her lab, and then walked down to the stadium. Husky stadium is quite impressive, it is the largest in the northwest and can hold over 72,000 people. Husky stadium is also know for being the loudest in the nation The stadium is also impressive in that it overlooks Lake Washington and has views of the Cascades and even Mt. Rainier. It was dark so we didn't really get to enjoy the views but I was thoroughly impressed by the engineering of the stadium. Anyways, it was a good game, I would say more but if are really a fan you would have already read about it in the news. Most importantly the Husky's beat UCLA! WOOF WOOF
UW agreed to host a weekday game last year, and it became very clear this fall that the UW administration had no idea that there would be a serious backlash of angry UW employees and students who were inconvenienced due to the game...because this game was on a weekday at 5pm, it created a lot more havoc than a regular weekend game does (and if you live near the U District, you know that a weekend game creates plenty of chaos already). What ended up happening is that many classes were canceled and employees and students were encouraged to work from home or leave early if at all possible. Those that couldn't work from home were encouraged to walk, bike, or ride public transportation rather than drive. Ryan and I chose to ride bikes because I had the feeling that about 10,000 other people would be trying to board the 65 bus at the same time as us.
Not only was there a fair amount of backlash over the inconvenience of hosting a weekday game, but Thursday was also coincidentally the day the Board of Regents voted to approve a $250 million remodel of Husky Stadium. While we all know the role that athletics play in public universities in America, in a climate where academic programs are being cut and tuition is drastically rising, you could imagine how some students feel about UW borrowing $250 million internally to remodel a stadium that doesn't seem to have anything wrong with it. Apparently the remodel will all be paid for by private donations, but that is once they raise the money. In the meantime they will borrow it from a pot of internal money for renovations. After the renovation, the student section will be moved from the 50 yard line where it is now, to the west end of the stadium and student tickets will almost triple in price. I find that a bit sad, but I know people love football and I'm sure soon enough there will be a whole new set of college students who won't remember when season tickets were $125 and were at the 50 yard line. Go huskies.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
|Painting of an Aleut man cod fishing on Unalaska Island in 1872|
The collections we looked at in the U Penn Museum were from all over Alaska and included many amazing bone and wood artifacts not preserved in most archaeological sites. Because I have never worked at a site with wood preservation, most of the wooden artifacts were completely foreign to me. At one point I picked up a long, cylindrical object and asked what it was. Someone explained that it was a kayak bailer. I had never seen anything like it before. This turned out to be a bit of a coincidence...
Back in Seattle, Ryan has been reading Ivan Veniaminov's book "Notes on the Islands of the Unalaska District" which is an ethnography of the Aleut of the Eastern Aleutians written in the 19th century by a Russian Orthodox Priest. Ryan has been continually amazed (as have I) at the ingenuity of the Aleuts - at how they were masters of a very harsh environment. This weekend when I got home he was telling me that he had been reading about Aleut kayaks. He went on to explain that he had read about kayak bailers, their shape and how they were used, at which point I exclaimed that I had just seen one at the U Penn Museum and knew exactly what he was talking about! Veniaminov explained them perfectly in his book:
"It is nothing other than a cylindrical tube about a half arshin long, a little thicker in the middle than an arm, but tapering gradually toward the ends, so that the end itself can be taken into the mouth."
Not only did Aleuts have kayak bailers, but they also had paddle floats - used in exactly the same way we use paddle floats. The only difference is that an Aleut kayaker was more likely to exit his kayak on purpose to perform repairs to the skin of his kayak, than to capsize on accident. Imagine just hopping out of your kayak in the middle of the freezing cold North Pacific to sew up a rip in your boat! In calm weather, the sea mammal bladder would be used as a kayak float to get back in. In rough weather the bladder would go inside the kayak to keep it from sinking, even if it was swamped. Veniaminov reported that these bladders became obsolete during the Russian time period because kayakers never had occasion to venture out alone, as they had prior to Russian occupation.
Throughout the book, Veniaminov states that the Aleut are superior to the people from Ka'diak in many ways, from kayak construction to warfare. His comments always make me chuckle and wonder if he would have thought the same if he had lived in Kodiak instead of Dutch Harbor. I'll end with this quote where he talks about Aleut kayaks:
"One has only to look at the baidarkas of the Kad'iak people, the Aglemiuts (people from the Alaska Peninsula) and other northern inhabitants...and at the first glance, the advantages of the local baidarka over them all are apparent."
Saturday, November 6, 2010
|The newlyweds, Kelly and Alex|
Last weekend my sister and Alex tied the knot in Missoula, Montana. My parents were there for the ceremony on Friday and Ryan and I were there to celebrate with them for the weekend. I had been looking forward to making a wedding cake for them ever since they got engaged last year. Cake decorating is one of the hobbies I picked up post-comps and after I was (mostly) done taking classes. I had so little time for fun activities in my first two years of grad school that what kept me going was vowing that I would learn to do all the things I had been missing out on.
The first new thing I did was take snowboarding lessons - and I am SO glad I did! After that, my friend Megan taught me everything she knows about cake decorating. I've always fancied myself a little bit artistic, but between all the school work, field work, and travel over the years, I haven't had much time to explore that side of my interests since high school.
For Kelly and Alex's wedding I wanted to make something simple and elegant. The basic design for this cake is featured on the cover the first Wilton cake decorating book. I adapted it to be a two-tiered cake and added the decorations around the edges. What I learned from Megan and the Wilton books is that there are a few very simple steps to decorating a simple cake with buttercream frosting. The first is to use the Wilton buttercream frosting recipe (basically crisco and powdered sugar). The second is to use the Wilton decorating spatulas and dip them in hot water after each time you spread frosting - this step makes a big difference! That is how the frosting looks smooth. The roses take a big of skill - mostly in getting the frosting to the right consistency - but they are well-worth it. I am also a big fan of using dots to decorate, they are simple and they can add a lot to a cake.
Ryan also has a bit of an artistic side when it comes to woodworking, which he clearly gets from his dad who made nearly all of our furniture. Ryan has made a few signs with names on them as gifts when people get married. We pick a font we like, print the letters out really big, and then Ryan routers them onto a piece of wood, then paints and/or stains it. We got the idea from my mom, who has made a lot of signs like this over the years. Ryan gave this one to Kelly and Alex last weekend.
I'm happy for Alex and Kelly and so glad we were able to be there to celebrate with them last weekend!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
|My favorite tool saves the day again (the sawsall)|
|Now just add plumbing and insert dishwasher!|
|First load of dishes|
Sunday, October 24, 2010
|The spider and web in front of our kitchen window|
|A spider outside our bedroom window, about to get the broom.|
Ryan finally went on a rampage with the broom and I haven't seen as many of them since. I know my mom is going to cringe when she sees these photos, but the webs really were beautiful in the morning with the sun shining on them, especially after it had rained. I thought they were worthy of a few photos. That said, I hope we don't have another bad spider year for a long time!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
|The Renaissance Vinoy Resort|
|Fort De Soto Beach: "America's #1 beach"|
|Downtown St Pete|
Ryan's conference is in downtown St Pete at the Vinoy Resort - a totally swank hotel resort with a golf course. We've heard from a few different people that the hotel was run down and abandoned for a long time before it was bought and turned into the Vinoy Resort. It is amazing that a place that fancy used to have homeless people living in it. St Pete has a very nice downtown area with lots of green space. It's hard to imagine what it was like with an abandoned building right on the waterfront.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
|Spicy pickled carrots and zuccini|
|Pickled chili peppers and bread and butter pickles|
I've been very happy that canning has turned out to not be nearly as daunting as I thought it would be. I got some great advice from my friend Ginny as well as a recommendation for the book "Put 'em up!" by Sherri Brooks Vinton. All the pickling recipes I've tried so far have come from that book. My mom is a master jam/jelly maker, as many of you know. I had to call her three times in one afternoon when I made my first batch of jam!
I wish I was making jam from berries I picked myself, but unfortunately this year I didn't have much of a chance. It was a poor salmonberry year in Kodiak and I left before the blueberries or cranberries were ripe. When Ryan and I were in Palmer briefly we did go up to Hatcher's Pass with his mom and we picked a few quarts of blueberries and crowberries from which I made jam last weekend. I was counting on picking huckleberries in Seattle, but that was almost a complete bust. It's a good thing I stocked up on store-bought strawberries and raspberries when they were on sale a few weeks ago, at least I will have something to make into jam!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
|Small apples from our tree|
|10 lbs of apples!|
When we bought our house last April we suspected that one of the trees in our backyard was an apple tree. Unfortunately it didn't have any fruit on it last summer, so we stopped paying much attention to it. This spring I was surprised to see white blossoms all over it. I just assumed that the year before we must have moved in after it bloomed. Right before I left for Alaska in June I happened to notice while I was mowing the lawn that there were tiny green apples all over the tree! Since I was gone all summer, I was very happy to see the nearly-ripe apples when I got home in September. You can't really grow fruit trees in Alaska, so it is very exciting for us to have our own apple tree. We also have an italian plum tree which was covered in plums last year. This year it didn't have any. The hot and dry weather last year must be good for the plums and the cool wet weather good for the apple tree.
Tonight we picked all the apples. Some of them were really small, but most of them were good. Ryan cut up about 3 lbs of them and we boiled them down with some honeycrisp apple cider from our local farmer's market to make applesauce. We are VERY happy with how it turned out and can't wait to eat some for desert tonight. I found some good tips for making applesauce from this blog: www.foodinjars.com and of course from my mom!
Saturday, October 2, 2010
|Chris and I on the north end of Lake Washington|
|The Sammamish River|
|Loading the boat at Magnusson Park|