Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

How can you tell it's Easter in Kodiak? By the fresh snow!

We had snow showers all day yesterday, but the snow was melting quickly. The temperature dropped a few degrees last evening, and it snowed lightly all night. This is what I awoke to - 3-4 inches of new snow!

It almost never fails to snow on Easter here. It is beautiful, today especially with the sun shining so brightly. Our daylight hours already exceed 12 hours, increasing several minutes each day. I imagine the children hurrying to find eggs in the snow, their hiding spots betrayed - the snow around them dyed pastel red, blue and green!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Still Settling

I am still housesitting, and in the meantime, looking for a more permanent place. I had not counted on there being such a shortage of rentals in Kodiak, and on rents being so excessively high! It has been quite the sticker shock for me - to look at 450-sq. foot apartments going for $950/mo., or new, roomy apartments for $1375/mo. ! Maybe I am just picky - but so many places don't measure up to my standards of cleanliness or just decor. Of course, I left my own home that Bren & I decorated with our own hands and invested 'sweat' equity in over the past 5 years. It's decorated in our collaborative style of Asian modern with art work in all the rooms. The other hard part is finding a place with room and light to do my artwork. I need a space where I can make a mess, and where I can 'spread out', and that has good lighting. That is a challenge! I have been feeling increasingly discouraged.

It doesn't help that I am such a creature of habit, and a homebody. I miss my home, and my things - books, masks, art supplies - and most of all, my life-partner and my pets. Until I had traveled back to my home town, and slept in a strange house the first few nights, it hadn't occurred to me that I have never lived by myself. When I went away to college, I had roommates. Then my son was born, and after college, I lived with my mother for 10 years. Then I moved to Seattle and have lived with Bren for the past 11 years. It isn't that I can't stand to be alone - on the contrary, I've always relished my 'alone time' - having the house to myself for a few hours, or getting up early on a Saturday and drinking my coffee while reading or sketching, or just musing.

This is just a different phase of my life. I am too busy now to be lonely - there is always my mother to visit, or errands to run, or another apartment to view. The sun has lengthened her hours in the sky from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The cold winter days have persisted, and the hiking trails remain icy, but I can enjoy a brisk walk after work across the bridge to Near Island, toward the boat harbor.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Settling In

Here is the view from an upstairs bedroom window of my housesitting gig. I took this photo yesterday at sunrise. There were eagles and crows alighting on lampposts and rooftops all around me, but my zoom isn't strong enough to get non-blurry pics of them. It was around 20 degrees yesterday morning.

I'm working on a slideshow of the photos I took yesterday. My nephew Herman & I hiked out at the State Park - Abercrombie. It was snowy & brisk with a wind coming from NW, right into our faces. For some reason, all my photo uploading services are extremely slow the last few days. I'll post the slideshow here when (and if) the pictures get uploaded!

Here's a slideshow of the photos I took yesterday:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Big Commission - Finished!

The Sunday before I left for Alaska, my art patron picked up the large commission I had worked on since last August for her. The finished panels turned out great - and my client was delighted with her pieces. The photos don't really do them justice. But here are the finished panels, which measure 2.5 feet x 3 feet each. The panels hang side-by-side, but the column of my blog page is too narrow for the photos to show up that way.

(top) Octopus with 2 Jellyfish; (middle) Hair Seal Inhua, Salmon, and Bubbles with Jellyfish; and (bottom), King of the Salmon with Bubble and Jellyfish. The King of the Salmon piece measures about 26 inches long, and 24" wide; he carries 8 small salmon on the fin-like appendages (they are about 3 inches long). The Octopus measures about 28" across her longest tentacles. The frames around the panels are about 2" deep. The masks are stained with oil-based stain, and the panels are birch plywood, stained with watered-down acrylic, and finished with paste wax.

After Tina picked up her artwork, I began a marathon of preparations to return to my home town of Kodiak, Alaska, where I began my new job on Friday, Feb. 1. I shopped for necessary items on Monday (including new boots for the muck & snow), and spent Tuesday packing. I made it to Kodiak Weds. evening, after an almost uneventful flight. We spent an hour on the tarmac in Anchorage, after a check light failed to come on. We taxied back to the gate, and sat playing trivia games for cans of pop, pretzels, and a few lucky airline miles. Our Alaska Airline flight attendants were great & cheerful, and we finally took off over 1 hour late, and arrived in Kodiak after dusk. I was bummed, as I had chosen a window seat to see the islands as we descended. Of course, all I could see were the lights of town. But my first few days home have been spectacular - sunny, everything sparkling under 8 inches or more of snow. More to come in another post on my temporary new digs, the scenery, the snow, and my new job!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Homeward Bound

Here's yours truly and my partner, Bren at the Capitol in Olympia on New Year's Day.

For those of my friends whom I've gotten to know through the blogosphere, I want to share the following announcement, which I sent out to my friends and family members earlier this week. It won't make any difference to those of us who only know each other through the vast expanse of the Internet, but is likely to have a huge impact on my blogging, my artwork, and my outlook on life overall.

I applied for a job with my regional Alaska Native corporation, Koniag, just before the Christmas holiday. Last Friday, January 4, I traveled to Anchorage for a second interview, returning home that afternoon. Late Tuesday afternoon, I received an offer from Koniag, which I have subsequently accepted. The position is hareholder Communications Specialist, and is based in Kodiak. I will be traveling frequently (every other weekend) around Kodiak Is. (to the villages), as well as to Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, and to Seattle. I am very excited to return to Kodiak working for Koniag, Inc. I start my job on Friday, Feb. 1, and anticipate arriving in Kodiak a couple of days prior to that. My last day at work here in Seattle will be Jan. 25. I will be making arrangements for temporary housing, and then looking at a more permanent situation after I get settled at my new job.

Bren will be staying here to hold down the fort, as tax season is just starting up, and she already has clients beating down the door! Some time after April 15, she will come to Kodiak for a visit, and we will start planning what do to for our long-term living arrangements.

We are both really excited about this opportunity. When the job posting appeared in the most recent Koniag Newsletter, I felt like it was an answer to my prayers to figure out how to spend more time with my Mom and Dad, who are both in their late 80's. This affords me the perfect opportunity to enjoy their company as well as my other friends & relations (at least them who live in Kodiak), have a good career with challenging new opportunities, and a healthy diet of salmon, halibut, and hiking/beachcombing, etc.

Thanks to you who have supported me in this endeavor, and with whom I've worked in the past! I will be in touch as soon as I have a new snail-mail address, etc. In the meantime, the best way to contact me will be via my e-mail or checking in here at the blog. Here's a link to Koniag's website:

Friday, November 02, 2007

Check out my Slide Show!

November Work for Sale

I have been busy getting ready for an art sale tomorrow (Sat.) at the Koniag Native Corp. Annual Shareholder's Meeting. These three small masks, and eight little boxes are all done and ready for Saturday. These masks are inspired by old masks that were collected in 1842 by the Russian ethnographer, Voznesenski. The originals are housed in the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Koniag Bird Man mask: 7" high, 4" wide, cottonwood bark, roots, acrylic paint

Koniag Sandpiper mask: 10" high, 12" wide (including feathers), cottonwood bark, roots, turkey feathers, acrylic paint

Koniag Happy Fellow mask: 9" high, 10" wide; cottonwood bark, roots, copper wire, duck feathers, acrylic paint

Small boxes. These range from 1" diameter to 2.5" diameter, 2.75" high. Each box has a leather closure and hinges, with a glass bead clasp or button. Some are inset with glass seed beads. All but the obelisk (far right, second row) have painted designs inspired by traditional Yupik paintings. I used either a sun or hand symbol for these boxes.

For all of these pieces, I used acrylic paint rather than oil-based stain with a beeswax finish. The colors are more intense, and of course they dry much faster. I usually use the oil-based stain mixed with tung oil, which allows the wood grain to show through, gives the pieces a more subtle aged patina, and hardens and protects the wood.

The last time I had my work for sale at my native corporation annual meeting, the little boxes were very popular. Everyone enjoys being able to own something that bears marks inspired by our ancestors. The Alutiiq people were expert craftsmen. They made beautiful wooden boxes and bowls for food and tool storage, and adorned them with powerful symbols of protection, or to honor the animals that gave themselves to humans for food and clothing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Brief Update

While I was on vacation the first week of September, I completed another mask for the commission. The piece below is the 'Seal Inhua' - unfinished. This mask is dry-fitted together. When it's stained it will be white (it represents a hair seal), with black and a little bit of red. The original mask was surrounded with a white caribou fur ruff. Lacking access to caribou fur, I will replace the ruff with a 'ruff' of white feathers. This mask is about10" long and about 5" wide.

The crack that runs diagonally across the piece is inherent to the cottonwood bark - it is actually the grooves in the front side of the bark that I carved down to. I thought about filling the crack with putty, but the piece isn't unstable - I did insert a dowel through the underside of the crack. The oil stain should also seal the wood and keep it from checking - I've never had problems with the bark doing that. The only other option is to make a new seal.

On vacation, I also completed a partner doll for my friend Rebeca's Baba Yaga. This is Pavel. I finished his clothes last Sunday, and he has now gone to his new home, where he is keeping Baba Yaga company. Pavel is dressed in a Cossack costume, with a green tunic and trim that match Baba Yaga's outfit. I'll have to go visit Rebeca again to take a photo of the two together!

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