Tom’s Christmas Present


Originally uploaded by Andrea Pokrzywinski

Tom is wearing his new seal skin and otter (inside) hat. This is a traditional Yupik hat called a Malaggaayat. A craftswoman from Tuntutuliak made the hat for him. We met her at the Saturday Market and the hats she had were too small. Tom wanted otter instead of beaver too. So she measured his size with her fingers. The Yupik have a very sophisticated measuring system that utilizes their hands, fingers and arms.

The hat kept Tom warm on our snow machine ride to Brown’s Slough. Tom is trapping black fish for ice fishing out there.I went with him and got to help him free the 3 muskrats that got caught in the black fish (minnow) trap. They were cute, but mad at Tom and tried to feebly attack him. They ran off and watched us from under the ice. I got to drive the snow go home across the slough and the river. My hands got cold even with the heated handle bars. I think a pair of beaver mittens are in my future.

Sprint Races


Originally uploaded by Andrea Pokrzywinski

The cold has frozen the river and the first sled dog race of the year was able to run this weekend. These were sprint races with 8 dogs. Nolan and I watched the first races Saturday. Nolan caught the air of excitement. Some of the handlers wore ear muffs the howling and barking gets so loud. It’s fun to see the dogs so excited. They were jumping straight into the air and spinning circles. There were other antics that are better told offline :-)

Fresh Produce at -19

It’s been -19 for 3 days. But Freeze or shine, we have a box of fresh organic fruits and vegetables waiting for us in the heated halls of the public library. Over 100 residents of Bethel get a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from The Full Circle Farm in Carnation Washington. Our boxes are shipped in one day and arrive on the 5:00pm flight.

This box of sunshine has a great lifting affect on our week. “Is it veggie day?” Then all week we enjoy fresh organic pears, spinach, potatoes, and more from the west coast. It’s hard to believe that we can get such a service flown into the tundra all year.

Robotics Competition


Originally uploaded by Andrea Pokrzywinski

Last week I had the privilege of acting as a referee for the Lego robotics competition. Students flew in from all the villages to compete. They had to create a robot that would build alternative energy systems for the competition. They also had to do an energy audit and present their findings to the judges. It was really cool to see all of the students engineering their robots and competing academically. The Oscarville team won first place and will go on to Anchorage for the state competition on January 12th. They worked with their community to develop a plan to put in a river turbine to power their community as a result of their energy sudit. Two of the villages do have wind towers. Next years competition theme is Global Warming.