Friday, May 30, 2008

(In the 80s)

I grew up in a tiny community in western Alaska in the cool 80s. Back then, it was so carefree, we left our stuff unlocked, didn't have to worry about anybody taking off with our bicycles if we left them anywhere, we all spoke only Yupik to eachother with an occasional kass'aq word, we spent hours yaaryuiqing and playing "bat". We'd play "Go" where the person who was going first said "Go" and you couldn't laugh out loud from that point on, the person who LOL-ed first would go next. If you forgot to say "Go" before you did your bit, it didn't count. One "Go" I remember was Lenna and I in their old house, she was pretending to play the guitar with a broom, strumming the straw with her fingers and turning her face side to side with her eyes closed singing away to whatever we saw on Hee Haw. When she moved her "guitar" out she hit the cord that supplied light to the room and all of the sudden blackness, Lenna soundless in the middle of her song. We laughed till our tummies hurt, gasping for air I imagine, and probably peed in our pants.

Summers were long and we enjoyed "fishing" in the old dried out lake that had little rivelets running through, using old cans with holes cut on the bottom, and we'd only go after Sunday school for some reason. Our fathers would be out of town fishing and most 20 somethings and older away to work at canneries in Naknek. So the village would be just mothers and children, and we loved those days.

Fall brought mouse food season time. We'd go out to the tundra and feel with our feet for springy parts of the tundra for caches of mouse food. Tear open a piece of moss to find roots a mouse had collected away for the long winter. I'd feel bad for the poor mouse who'd done all that work just to have somebody come around and steal it away, (When I found a cache, I wouldn't take the whole thing and leave some there for the poor mouse.) Lenna had told me when she had went with her aunt Lena, she went to "pakik" a cache and the mouse was in there and popped out!

Winters were long and cold but didn't keep us out. We'd love it after a big snow storm, the big berms of snow to slide down on. We'd build snow tunnels, with the help of the older ones and bring out candles from home to light the long elaborate crawl ways. There was one cool tunnel that I remember where you had to jump in from above and slide down to the lower areas and crawl your way through.

Spring was a new beginning and very refreshing. We'd all go down to the Qukaqllik river to see the ice drift out. As soon as it was out, boats would be zooming past on the cold murky river. We'd be out hunting for eggs of all kinds of shore birds and men in the ocean hunting for seal and ocean birds. You'd wish to be lucky enough to find the bigger eggs. My brother Thomas once found a nest of swan eggs and the shells were thick enough for him to put an egg on each of his back pockets of his jeans while carrying the rest. My mom burst out laughing when he dug out eggs from his back pockets, and asked "They didn't break?"

I wouldn't trade the days of my childhood for anything. All the fond memories, the fun times are irreplaceable. Who else but me have these memories.... Kipnuk is my home, on a bend on the Qukaqllik River.



Friday, May 23, 2008

I love, I hate

I love to eat: pasta, any kind, with shrimp, chicken or whatever's available. Chocolate, the expensive kind, or the ones my husband's brother sends us from Norway. I love to eat salt cured salmon with hot tea sharing with friends. I love to eat butter clams fresh from the sand bars, steamed, and with uquq.
I hate to eat: beets, peas, and chicken ala king, yecchhhhh ~~ I was forced to eat them at school when I was younger and hate them to this day.

I love to go: on vacation anywhere, because its time off from work and a little change of scenery is very refreshing. I love to go to the ocean because I love the open water.
I hate to go: to work on drill weekends. Twelve day work weeks suck butt.

I love it when: my kids come up to me and give me a hug and kiss and say they love me for no reason. I love it when I'm driving through town and all the street lights are green and I don't have to slow down. I love it when I'm the very first person in line at a busy store. I love it when anything I'm purchasing is on sale!
I hate it when: people are grumpy and take out their grumpiness on me even if I have no control of what their dilemma is. I hate it when I go to reach for a nice, thirst quenching Coke and there's none left. And I hate it when there's no toothpaste left in the tube.

I love to see: kids exuberant with joy. I love to see hot air balloons in a big blue sky. I love to see people helping other people out.
I hate to see: construction signs on the road. Trash anywhere, dog hair, dog poop, junk mail, and "closed" signs. I hate to see dirty dishes and unorganized tupperware.

I love to hear: a beautiful harmony, birds chirping, waves crashing onto the shore. I love to hear the voice of a friend on the phone that I hadn't heard from in while.
I hate to hear: incessant chatter, mad, upraised voices in anger, and busy signals on the phone. I hate to hear screeching of tires, and especially, outright lies. I hate to hear yelling.
I can just see on my five year old's face, total honesty. When do we lose that look? I can tell when my 17 yr old daughter is not telling the truth because her cheeks turn red and her eyes are a different sheen. And my 8 yr old, she'll answer too quickly to the untruth when she's been in the wrong, but then she'll tell me later that she hadn't told the truth, and I knew all along.
I myself aren't totally honest all the live long day. To when somebody asks me, how are you? and the automatic answer is "Good" when sometimes its "Not so good".
I remember in 4th grade, I was sitting next to the door with Galecia Evan, our teacher asked me to go open the door when somebody was knocking, (it was a privilege then to get out of your seat) and Galecia went and opened the door instead and I got so mad at him and whacked him on the back with my arm. He cried and Mrs Cyr asked if I had hit him and I said "No" as innocently as I could, and other kids told her that I had, so I had to stay after school for not being honest. I was so embarrassed by my lie. And I wondered, if nobody saw, would I still have been embarrassed? Probably not.
Once I snuck out of the house in the summer time, and Mom woke up when I was walking in the door and I said I was getting something from the porch and I knew all along that she knew I wasn't telling the truth. It was enough to scare me not to do it again.
Thinking of history and happenings in the world, who killed OJ's wife? What really happened with Bill Clinton and Monica? And who killed JFK ..... I wonder...... if there was an honesty pill, how different our world would be.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008



It’s that time of the season where scholars are donning the cap and gown and completing a chapter of their lives. How wonderful! I am proud of their accomplishments and hope that some day that I’ll be in those ranks.

Some of the days I remember about school are fond and I relive them once in a while, especially during this season. First day of kindergarten was one I’ll always remember. It was raining and us wearing our catalog ordered clothing waiting for the bell to ring so we can go into the school. I was holding my mother’s hand and we were standing in the porch of the old 3rd grade building, along with other eager children and their proud mothers. I remember Mr. Elliot being our teacher and how we’d be scared of him. One moment I remember was when he was trying to coax me to go over this huge jungle gym triangle and I was so terrified to throw my other leg over the top, but I did it – and Dora Dock was right behind me and she did it too because I was able to. I remember not knowing which boot to put on the correct foot and I was always asking Lois which one should go where. So many memories. Graduated from 8th grade at the church and I was wearing the dress Susan’s mother had made for me at Susan’s wedding – with my longest sleek hair wearing those barrettes. John Cyr and I had gotten these very nice ivory key chains with our names on them that Steven Mann had carved. The Cyr’s moved away that year and we went on to high school. How very nervous we’d be being in school with the older kids. We had Civics class with the seniors and we’d be so shy when it was our turn to read out of the textbooks. After 4 years, which seemed like forever, three of us walked down that aisle wearing our caps and gowns. It had been blizzardy and none of our guest speakers made it out to the village so they did a teleconference. And that year, they didn’t have a band class so we had to march down to recorded music. The next day after graduation, I got mono, yuck and was sick for 2 straight weeks right at the beginning of summer vacation.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008


E is for Ella. E-L-L-A, I'm named after my grandmother whom I never knew. My Dad's mother , who died when my Dad was about 5 years old --from Tuberculosis. She was an older sister of Lewis Samson, Lucy Martin, James "Bob "Samson and Katie Kashatok.
I hear she was beautiful, like most grandmothers would be. I imagine that she was gentle and loving and caring and all that grandmothers are.
She was a mother of only 2, Anna who now lives in Napakiak and my Dad who lived in Kipnuk and his name carries on with my brothers.
Growing up, her friends would call me her "pet names" .... Mom Samson would call me Taqtass' and her daughters call me that to this day. Nayuumiralria would call me "yuquq" (and I would hate that, and say to her, "Elpet yuquuguten" ) I use to dream of her after she died calling me that. Once I dreampt I was looking in a mirror and she was right behind me calling me that and I looked away and looked out the window and she was there again mouthing those words SOOOOO CREEEEPY!!!!
And Katie Kashatok calls me her Alaq after her and I love that.
Lucy Martin, I had a special name for her, I called her my Kukiiyaaq and wouldn't want anybody else to call her that. I don't know what it means, I had just started calling her that out of the blue and it was what my namesake used to call her. She has a special place in my heart.
If I could have known my grandmother, I know I would've loved her with all my heart. I would've cherished every moment that I would've spent with her.
I know that she lives on with me.
Her name is Acuruunaq, and I'm proud that I carry her name.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Yesterday was Donna's birthday - HAPPY BIRTHDAY DON!! Today's blog will be things that I like that begin with the letter D.
1. Donna - she's a great sister. I can tell her pretty much anything and she'll listen to my griping without criticizing. She and I laugh a lot, esp reminiscing about old times.
2. Diamonds - who doesn't love dazzling diamonds?
3. Dining out - no dishes to do afterwards! I've been craving for Outback Steakhouse.
4. Doughnuts - made the yupik style with hot tea to dunk it in.
5. Dollars - its nice to have a little $pending money.

**image from:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I've Thought

Yo Buddy Old Pal, I missed you, where have you been? (Hug!)
I've thought about you and thought about the fun times we've had.
I laughed really hard when you said "I peed in my pants!" even though I'd done the same.
I thought about the time we laughed, rolling, holding our tummies, cuz it hurt so bad from laughing,
and trying to relax the smile cuz it hurt from so much smiling.
I've thought about the nostalgia of both of us being at the same level of happiness and experiencing the hilariousness at the moment.
And then the next day, we try to tell it, and its not the same .....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Wikipedia says: Courage, also known as bravery, will and fortitude, is the ability to confront fear, pain, risk/danger, uncertainty, or intimidation.
I wonder if it means the same as "Capriteq" (Yupik) Cap = block? riteq = not having? (My poor attempt at breaking down words) I've been told I was capriteq, and sometimes the way its said to me is, kind of, in a bad way. Some people say it in a certain way where it makes me feel that I had done the wrong thing.
Joining the military took a lot of courage on my part, and so many people ask me how I was able to do that. Well, I had two choices, live off my parents in the village (with no running water to this VERY day), doing a dead end job, or create a life for myself and my daughter going to places I'd never dreamed of going and doing things I never imagined myself doing.
I've been to countries that I would have never been able to afford to visit, observed cultures so very different from mine, met a lot of kewl people and saw a lot of things I would have never been able to see stuck in a village 4 miles from the Bering Sea.
Some of the neat things I've been able to do, being COURAGEOUS have been: rode a bicycle to an island on a man made "trail" over the Atlantic ocean in Panama, went shopping in a gondola on a river market in Thailand, experienced a sand storm in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, rode the subway in Tokyo, shopped the street shops in Korea, and saw a magnificent sunset in Italy. If being "capriteq" is that, then:

My message to you my friend is: Be COURAGEOUS and do something different today!!! (If I did, so can you!)

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Saturday, May 3, 2008


Todays letter is B for Bingo!!! I haven't played in a while but I love the game. I like walking into the bingo hall full of older people, the smoky tinge in the air and feeling "I'm going to win tonight!" I like the exhilaration when I have one number left to mark and then seeing it on the screen, then yelling BINGO!! and hear the groan of the other folks cuz they were one number off. I like seeing my old buddies there and telling eachother we needed I-28 for the thousand dollar game and congratulating the winners of the night.
On another note, beginning is another word for b. There is a new beginning, every day, every hour, every second.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

I'm copying a theme that I saw on a different blog. It is where you blog about every letter of the alphabet. Today is A.

A is for Alaska, the great land that I'm from. Where asveq (walrus) is a delicacy especially when sharing with friends from near and far. For akuutaq after and yummiest when its sweet. The aurora, a magnificent sight to see. A is for Alaska, my home sweet home.