Not that teaching isn’t job enough. And I do have about half a dozen extra duty contracts. And of course I keep up hunting, trapping, riding and hiking. But a few people have asked me about my other hobbies and ways I keep busy. So here are a few of the projects I am working on.
At the moment my primary project is repairing my sled (Which I have finished since drafting this post!). Last year one of the bolts attaching the sled and the hitch broke. It had been under the school and the doors were frozen to the ground and had to be broken free with a pick ax. The lock was also frozen and had to be thawed with a lighter. After I got it out I discovered that the bolts were slightly too large and I will need to borrow a drill to enlarged the holes. Hopefully I will have this done tomorrow.
If you look closely you may also be able to make out my canoe. An ongoing project I have been pursuing involves this derelict canoe I found last fall. It had washed up on shore after the river rose particularly high. After a year of trying to find the owner to no avail, I have decided to repair it. I have some fiberglass and resin. All I really need is to bring it into the school or the kunisuq (mud room) for a day or two. I may work on it over Christmas or spring break. I won’t be needing it until late May as the river is now frozen over.
I am also working on sewing a hat. It is my first and is going slowly because of the many revisions on the advise of one of the elders. Our principal has asked me to make a pair of baby booties for him and I have not yet started. This will probably take president over the hat as it will be quicker and has a deadline of Christmas.
I have also been meaning to make a full cleaning of the kunisuq since the first solid snow. During the warmer parts of the year, there is lots of mud around and the area in front of the house is particularly sandy. As such it is a losing battle trying to keep the entry way clean. I generally give it a rough sweep every now and then. But once it snows and the temperature drops the dirt is covered and the only thing that gets tracked in is snow and water. This means that once clean, it will stay clean for the 7-8 months that the dirt is covered.
The difficult part is that I have so much stuff in there that needs to be cleared to another part of the house. Even then the best I can do is push what is left to the side and clean one side then the other. More over, since I want to mop, the interior door must be open and a space heater set to warm it. If not, I end up with an indoor skating rink.
Tanning has been an ongoing project for the last few years. I have managed to tan a few foxes and muskrats and a beaver hide with varying success. I am still working on freeing the fur of grease and determining the effectiveness and permanence of my method. It is my goal to learn to tan in the fashion of the people here, but I have so far had difficulty getting precise details as to the complete process.
Several times the process or variations have been described in a general manor. I have also been able to see a few steps first hand. However, for a full understanding I really need to see the whole thing through or to have a very detailed explanation. I currently have two beaver skins ready for tanning and am hoping I can find someone to help walk me through the process step by step.
Among my other pursuits are several books on tape, which are great for hands free reading during other activities. Alaska also allows for some great photography opportunities. And I would go out of my mind without a few science experiments of my own aside from the classroom. My latest is an attempt to measure the circumference of the Earth which I am happy to report is nearing completion. But I may save the results for another post.
And of course the snow keeps me busy shoveling and walking to maintain a path and entrance.
The challenge of the week is Transformation. Not that some of the above weren’t enough, but I am always blown away by the difference in seasons. It is also a nice reminder for those people who are thinking that it is snowy in Alaska all year long. True it is cold a good deal of the year, but the rest of the time it is quite nice and bright out.