Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A few things: My Amuati finally got here as did my Kindle.
For those just joining us, an Amauti is a type of parka worn by Inuit (the name preferred by those circumpolar natives from Canada...the Inupiat of Northern Alaska are fine with being called Eskimos). It is designed with the purpose of carrying infants/toddlers in the back of the coat. It has a sizable pocket in the back wall of the jacket and the hood is extra large to accommodate two heads. It has a sash or belt that you tie around your waist to secure the child. To carry a child this way is to amaaq (UM uck). It means "to follow". The Amaiti is a pull over. It is a little trickier for me to amaaq than with my zip-up parka. Eloise and I have perfected our amaaq-ing ability with the zip-up parka. We are pretty darn good. I swing her into a piggy back. She holds on around my neck. I am hunched over a bit and I get my arms in the sleeves of the parka and then pull it up over us. I zip it up and tie a scarf around my waist. It helps Eloise from slipping too low in my jacket. She likes to have her head poking up. I pull the hood up and over her head. Off we go. It keeps us snug and warm when the temperatures are frigid.

More about the Amauti and how I got it: In August after attending an Inupiaq Day, I started to think about how I was going to keep Eloise and myself warm through the winter. I looked for a pattern for a parka. I stumbled across the Amauti Baby website. Susie is a SAHM with a home business. She makes these beautiful parkas. I gasped at the price of having an Amauti made. Upon a more careful search of her website, I saw that she was having a contest. She had three categories. The one that I entered was to submit a logo for the company. That is what I did and in November Susie contacted me announcing that I had won. Check out to see my logo and to read more about the merging of beauty and function in an Amauti. The prize for winning was an amauti. My amauti came in the mail last week. I keep promising pictures. When Paul gets home from Anchorage on Sunday I have him take some pictures of us.

A Kindle, for those still using covered wagons to get places, is an e-reader. It replaces my voluminous library in Spokane to the dimensions of Cliff Notes  (the books are not condensed, but the size of the device on which you read them is condensed). It is no thicker than a magazine. It has a screen that seems like a magna-doodle. It is not like a computer screen, it is not lit. Eye strain isn't really an issue with this. Instead of turning pages you hit a button that says "next page". It is pretty cool, you might want to check it out on

There are some interesting things that happen when the weather stays consistently 15 below zero. Most of it happens to door knobs. Who knew? Our house is designed with an arctic porch (the natives have another name, but I have yet to find a person who knows how to spell is my phonetic attempt: cunny-chuck). It is like a mud room. In some houses it is spacious enough to accommodate all the winter clothes and the washer and dryer. In our situation it is much more rustic. We use it for storage for things that withstand being frozen. I have all our flattened boxes out there. We have our 15 cu. ft. chest freezer out there too. There are some shelves. And now to Door Knobs...Our door knob for the door to the outside is usually covered with a thick layer of frost. The door itself has to be cleaned off often. Blowing snow coats the door and it is very easy to get frozen inside your house. We have other frosty things inside the house...we are not talking about me on a bad day. The outside edge on the windows usually has a layer of ice. The fuel line for our oil heater is coated with frost until the first elbow in the line. The locks on the door knobs become a problem. You can twist the little thing on the inside, but that doesn't mean the door is unlocked. It can take some slamming, vigorous twisting, and warm air to get doors to lock and unlock. It is also interesting that at times it is easy to lock and unlock doors while other times you can't get it to work to save your life. Just when you give up trying and think "I am going to try this ONE more time." and VOILA! it works. iritating. The other thing about the effects of the cold is a cold floor. Our house, like most in the village, is about 3-4 feet off the ground on piers (keeps the permafrost better in tact and also helps if damage does occur to the permafrost...also in our case the tide can rise extremely high on our narrow spit). Though we have insulated floors, the floors are still chilly to walk on. I have to wear more than just socks. My slippers with leather soles are not cutting it at the moment. I sent up my crocks (I knew they were useful for something) to combat cold feet.

We are starting to gain some of our day light back. Sunrise has been around 11:30 am and sunset at about 4:30 pm. We have gained 2 hours this month. We are now on a course to gain almost an hour a week. Won't that be divine? It was wonderful when the sun started climbing high enough to make it over the hills that run southwest of the village. I was in Paul's office and I just stood there with my eyes closed. It was pretty amazing to sense the rays penetrating through my eyelids, the brightness only thinly veiled. Each day the sun climbs a little higher above those rolling "mole hills" (they are barely hills at all). It is like the Palouse with a frozen ocean next to it. I am still waiting for things to get "really" cold. We were told early on that it would be -40 for 3 months. Yah...that hasn't happened yet. It has hovered between  -15 and -25.I find it hilarious to rib my family members who reside in Florida and California when they complain about it being cold. I just laugh robustly at them. I mock and point fingers. I call them wimps and weenies. I am pretty merciless about it. They know nothing of the real cold. Despite the cold, we are thoroughly enjoying our time up here.

Thank you to all of you who follow this blog. It is an immense pleasure to describe how one gets along up here. I enjoy coming up with humorous quips about being an Alaskan. I feel funny saying that...being an Alaskan. I think you have to live here longer than 5 months and start receiving your PFD before you get to call yourself that. It is like considering yourself an adult. It takes a few hoops before you are legit. I still feel like a Washingtonian pretending to be an Alaskan for a day. I have to keep rubbing my temples and repeating "YES, you are an Alaskan" over and over.

TTFN...will write again soon. Probably at another moment when I am finding things to do besides the dishes.
Next installment will include book and movie reviews.

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