Thursday, July 27, 2006

25 Years!

Been messing with the code on this blogger. I noticed that things are not right here and can't figure out what it is. I think Blogger is having some major problems. I notice that when I try to upload a picture it does not appear to have been uploaded but when I type in the code it has been uploaded, this editor is just not adding it to the Create New Post box! I may end up changing everything on this blog. But right now, I will leave it and share what's up around here.

Doug (my husband) took a new job and will be joining the daily Valley commuters going to Anchorage for work. This is new for us. He began working away from home when Klinton was four months old. That was a tough one as I never had been alone so much coming from a family with ten kids!

We adjusted. Both of us did. Doug continued on because before being considered for that job he had been laid off and out of work long enough for us to humbly walk into a government office to ask for help. (Which was quickly done!) Our house was in pre-foreclosure and we had no where else to turn for help. I believe this all happened before the days of the benevolent fund being offered to people like we were in those days at our church. We thankfully, had the occassional friends with sensitive hearts who saw our needs and quietly helped us out.

We were so very thankful for the job on the North Slope even though our hearts ached each time he drove off to the airport. I adjusted to being alone and taking care of our four children. Doug went away and came home for 25 years! Now, we are excited about his monday to friday job and working eight to five. He may try to work a schedule where he can get up earlier, work earlier and get home earlier.

Today Doug flies home from work and except for the occasional return trips he has been told he will be taking from time to time on the Slope he will be working home. Coming home for dinner, being home for weekends and we can plan that he will be here for all the holidays. That is just so .... GREAT!!!!

He went to work for the last time up there and the guys he works with (and women too) had dinner with him. He has packed and he is coming home.

One exciting development has occured with this new job; he has been selected to be the man representing his new job's department to attend meetings in Houston, Texas and then on to London, England and ... I get to tag along! I still can't believe that little ol' me will be seeing London bridge soon...Lord willing, of course!

I appreciate all the hard work this guy does and has done for our family and just wanted to say that here. Thanks Doug ---- for everything! Life with you has been .... so good.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


Delta River

To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more then whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persevere,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Anne Bradstreet

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Guess Who Stopped By?

We were eating breakfast when we heard someone on the deck. It turned out to be the City of Houston Mayor and the city of Houston's Road Department! They came out to check out the road.

Doug went out and talked to them and they walked the road talking about what can be done to fix it. We are very encouraged by this and are hopeful that we may see some road work being done soon.

I wish that I could tell you the name of our Mayor but, I seem to have forgotten since the Council meeting last week and we don't even have a City of Houston website to check it out on!

The Mayor is talking and pointing while Doug listens.

If you look closely in the second picture, you can see that Chevy (our big dog) is the only one in the picture that noticed that I was at the window with my camera.

Uh oh! Tire troubles. I wonder if they wrecked their truck coming down our road? Well, it's bad but I don't think that it's THAT bad!

Keeping fingers, toes, eyes, arms, legs and tongue crossed for major road improvements soon!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest

We went to see the movie last night and I have to give it my thumbs up! My kids had gone to see Superman last week and all the showings at Century theatre in Anchorage we sold out. We went to Eagle River last night and the theatre was not busy at all, but we were there early, for the 6:25 showing.

The movie is very WET and lots of sea creature type characters. It was fun and a good sequel to the first Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Just thought I would share my thumbs up with you movie goers that have not made it out to see this movie yet. It's fun, might be a bit scary for little, little kids, it made me scream once --- but sometimes a good scream or two helps to keep the ol' heart pumpin!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Rocky Road

The road into our home here in Houston has been terrible. Doug says, "It is like driving over septic rock!" I think it's like driving on a rocky beach. [I would have shown a picture but Blogger is not working, AGAIN!]

Earlier this summer it was filled with big puddles that we had named after our grandchildren. Lake Alexis, Tucker Lake, Ashlee Lake's were the big mom-mooes. Lake Alexis was the largest and the deepest lake, I mean puddle! That puddle trapped my sister Millie so that she had to call us for assistance.

She was leaving one day in the early spring when she got to the middle of the puddle and sort of spun out; instead of gunning it she stopped. I think there was a bit of ice under the puddle-water, so she got stuck. One of the kids drove out the driveway to help her, got her out (I don't know if they pushed her or pulled her) and then she laughed and went on her merry way. Shortly after that she got a flat tire before she made it out to the road! Poor Sis, no wonder she never comes out here anymore.

Anyway, we have been asking the City of Houston at the very least --- please come down our road with the grader. We would have been happy with the grader coming back here and smoothing out the ruts and then pushing a bit more dirt into the low puddle areas. But, when we asked Houston City Council they said, "We don't claim that as a road." What?

So, Doug called and asked Matsu Borough and they said since we are in the City limits of Houston, Houston is the ones to contact. So we go back and forth about this problem, meanwhile more spring happens and the road continues to get worse.

We have four employed drivers that leave on this road and come home on this road every week day. There are more that leave down the road a bit. Doug drives to work every two weeks. There's the daily driving in and out that goes on with mail checking, groceries, paying bills, etc., which equals more wear and tear and bottoming out the cars.

More phone calls and even a visit to the once a month City of Houston council meeting to make a face to face plea to them for help with the road. They continue to say it is not their problem, they don't claim this as a road! We can't believe that since they have put up public Lake Access signs to the lake! If they don't claim it as a road, how can they put up lake access signs? We asked them if we could put up a gate to keep people out since it was a private road... they said no we can't!

Finally, after more phone calls to Houston City Council and the Mayor they agree to provide us with some gravel to fill the low areas but we have to pick it up and that is all they said they will do.

A guy down the next street decides to help out the situation with his own equipment. He uses his dump truck to haul in gravel and a dozer to spread the dirt. We have a lumpy, stony road now, but the puddles are filled!

My son did some leveling with our John Deere tractor so that we can drive out our cars. Several days before that, I could not even leave home since Doug was gone with his big truck that week. It's decided that we will need to have some road equipment and trained road equipment workers to take care of this mess!

Last week we all attended the most recent City Council meeting to let them know that our road really is a problem and they need to claim it and then help fix it or we will pull down the lake access signs and close the road to the public. By the way, that council meeting was so interesting! I have never been to the meetings before and after that meeting I decided that I didn't want to miss the next one!

The Founder's Day planning committee was there and they were not happy with the councils decision about whether their event would be a city sponsored event or an event that did not get city backing. When one of the ladies walked out in a huff it appeared that they lost their main coordinator over something that everyone there could not really understand exactly what happened, except to say that "she is a very sensitive person."

Back to our road. The discussion for the road problem was put off until after the meeting when the Mayor took us to a back room to tell us that no, they did not have the money to help us and that road was not considered to be one of their roads either. He was told that it was on the City of Houston map! One very understanding council member there informed the Mayor that they did have money budgeted for road work and that they certianly could help out with our road, all the Mayor had to do was say yes, go a head and help them, but he would not. We finally left in frustration mode!

Since that day our neighbor says he has spoken with the Mayor again and supposedly help is on the way.

We shall see what happens with all this ---- down the road.

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Beautiful Church

My mind drifts back to the days when Dad was the lay reader for the Russian Orthodox Church in Old Harbor. The church services were so beautiful. The singing still stills my heart with awe as my mind goes back to the times that church was a part of my life there. I even wish I still was a part of the rituals that put some order into our yearly lives.

There is a stability in having a structure that people can find in the RO church that I have not found anywhere else. The reverence that people give to the Priest is just one aspect of this structure. He has a God-like presence to many. There is no room for questions of his sinful man-ness in his presence, at least when I was a child. How could I even think that he was a man when I looked up at him in his golden robes? Yet, he is a man.

Another is the special church services held throughout the year to mark different occasions that I can't even name any more. Christmas and Easter services are the most vivid. Beautiful singing from home to home announcing the birth of Jesus Christ. I miss the closeness that we felt in the village when we all would follow the Starrer's from house to house and then go inside and sing. After we sang the last joyous song the owners of the home would share candy with all the children and on we would go to the next home until every house heard the Story of the birth of Jesus Christ. That is a beautiful memory.

Easter was another joyful occasion in the life of Russian Orthodox believers. The weeks leading up to Kulich, unending pies, and yummy duck soup was Lent. No treats, no frivolous enjoyment of anything.

"You are chewing bubble gum????", said my cousin. "It's Lent! Spit it out!"

Then Easter weekend out came the bright, beautiful new clothes. The shiny new shoes and in our hands we carried a perfectly boiled egg tied in a pretty hankerchief or setting in a white purse. After church we would go from house to house and exchange eggs saying:



My spelling is probably incorrect.

"Christ is risen... INDEED He is risen!"

All afternoon we would hear the bells of the church ringing and ringing and ringing as children were allowed into the bellfry to ring the bells! Men even shot off their guns on the beaches.

These happy events all ended when Dad read in the Bible that God is a jealous God. He does not want us to "reverence" anything else but Him alone, even if it is an image of holy things. I read the story of the Israelite's as they waited for Moses to come down out of the mountain where he spoke with God. They got tired of waiting and they built a statue which they said represented God. They worshipped God in their own way. The end result was disasterous. God does not want images, or statues or anything that we set our affections on as if they too are part of God.

I love the music of the Russian Orthodox worship and I love the happy occasions and the stability of having a leader that should lead us to God and if there were not so much importance put on the icons ...I could still be a part of this worship.

Being in Kenai this past week and being there with this man Targonsky, I was reminded that this beautiful church could never be a part of my life again matter how much I might miss it. My heart cannot worship God, holy men or icons equally, my heart must worship only God.

I don't hold ill feelings towards anyone that worships in the Russian Orthodox way. Who am I to "judge another man's servants", only God has that right. I encourage all to learn about God. He teaches all those who seek Him through His word, the Bible. Read it.

I read online that Targonsky and his wife Yvette, who work mainly in Kenai and Nilnilchik now, celebrated 50 years of marriage two years ago. Congratulations to them both! That is a major milestone, especially in our world today where there seems to be less dedication to long term families.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Back Tracking

We have been moving around on the highways in Alaska since Doug is on vacation, leaving our camper tracks here and there just like the pests are leaving their tracks on the poor Quaking Aspen. since I took this picture I have learned that the Aspen Serpentine Leafminer is the reason for the silvery look to the quaking aspen in our area right now.

The last time we added up the miles (I won't mention the gas and the dollars!) we have traveled so far we had just returned from Fairbanks. Back then, it was approximately 926 miles! Since then, we have just drove down and returned from dipping for salmon on the Kenai river/beach.

Such pretty weather we enjoyed there. I loved listening to the waves on the beach again. That pleasure is something I miss very much since living inland and away from the ocean that I grew up around.

We had some time before dipping while we waited for the next tide to come in so we took a walk in Old Kenai Town. We looked at a lot of old buildings and then we saw the Russian Orthodox Church there. I saw that the door was open so I started to turn into the gate to get a closer picture. Then a Priest came to the door and he invited me to come and look. He asked me where I was from. I told him Big Lake. Then Doug (who was keeping Chewy on his leash) called to him and said, "She was originally from Old Harbor." He nodded and said, "Yes, I thought so." He said the resemblance is there.

Then I recognized he was Father Targonsky, the Priest that always came to Old Harbor when I was a little girl! I talked to him a bit. Told him I was Senafont Shugak's daughter. He said that he remembered that name and said he remembered Dad. I was not sure he was remembering the right Senafont since he said he used to stay with Dad and Mom. I felt that he was so very cordial and wondered if he would be if he remembered that he shook the dust off of his robes before leaving my parents home that day so long ago after talking with them about the Ten Commandment's, specifically, the one about not bowing down and worshipping any graven images.

I liked to believe that he did remember Dad and Mom.

He told me he was 76 years old now and the first time he went to Old Harbor he was 31 years old. While thinking back to then, it seemed like a life that I had never known.

"What is your baptismal name?"


"Ah, yes, Maria."

I remembered one day during confession when he asked me (and the rest of the village),

"Have you been a good girl?"


"Have you any sins that you need to confess?"


"No sins?"



Targonsky asked me to leave a donation and then said that I could reverence the holy pictures. I knew that meant to cross myself and then bow down and kiss the icon. I stood there and just took in the whole church and the holy pictures that filled the room. I stood there and we both were quiet. My mind filled with the courage that Dad had to have to leave the Russian Orthodox assembly. It was as though right then, I was agreeing with Dad ---who had died in 1987. No. I cannot bow down and kiss these pictures.

I looked at him and smiled then asked if I could take a picture of him and the church.

We spent two days in Kenai dipping for fish before we began the drive back home. A local there stopped to visit with me and commented that it is still a bit too early yet for any good salmon runs. The day before a cannery worker had told us that there is not enough fish being caught to keep the cannery going all day and that the cannery has been shutting down by midday. She said that is not the way it usually goes for this time of July.

I think if we go back we could get a better catch. I just don't know if that is going to work out.

Motorcross racing is making fast, deep tracks in our lives right now! If a race happens to end up down there, then MAYBE we will be back there, if not, I doubt it.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Galloping Glacier

We stopped for lunch at this look-out point and Doug used the binoculars to check for wildlife, specifically for bison. Bison (buffalo) are roaming wild in this area. A herd has been observed from this vantage point by others but we were not so fortunate. According to the Milepost bison do not have trouble with predators so occasionally there is a hunting season on bison to keep their numbers in control.

Barely noticeable in the background is the Black Rapids Glacier. I've read that glaciers sometimes will "gallop" and advance very quickly for a short period of time. This glacier was called the Galloping Glacier in 1936-1937 when it advanced down into the valley to within 1/2 mile of the Richardson Highway. It moved forward about three miles in three months! Since it's predicted that these types of glaciers do this in 60 year cycles they are expecting it to go again sometime soon. I thought all of our glaciers were melting away!

Here we are, a family shot in front of the Alaska Range. You can barely see a glacier. It was hot for us... 75 F.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Polar Roller Raceway

We had fun up in Fairbanks. We watched Alexis race and she had fun. She continues to learn how to ride. She was so happy to get a participation trophy and her Mom was VERY happy to see that she got one too.

My oldest son Klint just could not stand by and not become involved in racing too so now we have two members of the family racing around Alaska with us all in hot pursuit.

The races in Fairbanks had us all wishing for sunshine the whole time. The first day, saturday it was cloudy and cold but on Sunday... we got rain! We got a lot of rain by the end of the day when Klint was scheduled to race his last race. The racers were covered from head to toe with mud! Klint was not prepared for it. Experienced riders were wearing tear-aways in order to see while they were racing.

The trip to Fairbanks was fun except for the part where Alexis got a dog bite. She was returning from going to the bathroom when a dog ran out from his owners campsite and bit her on the back of her leg! I had retired for the day but was told about it right after it happened. (This picture was taken a few days after it happened.)

After the races we all drove up to Chena Hot Springs which was a bit of a disappointment for Alexis family. The pool was closed and the kids could not play in any water except for two hot tubs. The only pool that would have been big enough for kids to play in is an Adult's only spa. That was a disappointing thing about the trip. It is over 50 miles from Fairbank's to Chena on a very bad road you would think that the owners would have made a way for kids to have fun just for a few days until they reopened the pool, especially for a holiday weekend! Boo to Chena Hot Springs.

We drove back to Fairbanks to eat dinner together and celebrate Klint's birthday with him. We could not really find many family style restaurants. We ended up at Denny's. We waited and waited and waited. Then we asked about how much longer. It seemed no one was even setting up a table yet. So we sort of all wondered, hmmm. We waited and waited. Doug finally asked again, oh, we will get two people on setting up your tables. We all left and drove across the highway to the Pizza Hut. The young lady that was assigned to us was such a super duper girl! She made catering to a large family look easy! We all were so impressed with her that we left her a big, big tip. Thanks Pizza Hut on Airport Way in Fairbank's!

All the ones that had to be back to work left after dinner and then we (Doug, myself, Tony, Kim & family) all started down the Richardson Highway for camping. We just got home a few hours ago. What a great time we had!

I hope you all had a great July 4th celebration! Happy birthday America, may God bless you.