Sunday, May 30, 2010

New Beginnings (or is that redundant?)

Hard to believe this little cutie pie is now a Kindergarten graduate and will be a big first-grader next year. I think Aidan is less than two years old here and we were visiting Aunt Bonnie's classroom in Amarillo. I don't have his Kindergarten graduation photo yet but I am sure he looks like a big boy. I don't know if I am happy about that or not.

Rich and I attended the Unalaska High graduation last week. We had 27 graduates this year---don't you love small town life?! I have known most of these kids since I arrived 6 years ago and have enjoyed watching them grow into fine young people. They are a smart and talented group--you should have seen all of the scholarships that were awarded. Congrats, Class of 2010--go out and change the world!

If you read Sarah's blog, you already know this news but I can't resist repeating it here--we are going to be grandparents again! So excited to welcome Baby Durham #2 in December or maybe late November if he or she behaves like big sister Elle. We're wondering if baby's a boy or a girl and what Sarah and Miles will choose for a name and how Elle will react! Can't wait!

And if you read Bonnie's blog, you already know this, too, but here's Emery back at home in Amarillo, surrounded by the links of love that have been winding through the halls of Amarillo High during her treatment. It still makes me a little teary-eyed when I think about all of the kind-hearted teenagers who care so much about Bonnie, David and Emery. Kids today!! :)

A local icon, the inimitable Ms. Susan Lynch, is leaving town after 20 years to move to, of all places, TEXAS. :) The community threw her a big bash last night, complete with awards, toasts, speeches, poems, and a fabulous video of her tenure (put together by my talented coworkers). Susan is hilarious, outspoken, crazy, and one of the most giving people I've ever met. She and her two youngest sons were some of the first to make me feel welcome and a part of the community that is Unalaska. She will be sorely missed but I am sure she will be shaking Texas up before long.

Best wishes, Susan!

It's finally feeling a little bit like spring. Alaska Ship Supply had a big plant and flower sale yesterday so Rich and I stopped in to make our purchases. It's a community event! I think everyone in town was there, picking through the flats of pansies, petunias, marigolds, strawberries, peppers, chives and more. Now if we could just have a break in activities, we can get these planted!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back from Hiatus

I've taken a little break from blogging lately. It wasn't really intentional--I just couldn't think of anything to write about. And that's not because we haven't been doing anything. As usual, this is the busiest little town I've ever seen. I guess I just couldn't get myself inspired enough to sit here and type.

Rich and I hosted "Flash! Unalaska" last week. For the uninitiated, our local TV station produces a news and community affairs show on Wednesday nights. While a staff member or a well trained volunteer reads the hard news portion of the show, anyone can sign up to host the "community" portion, which includes film clips and chit-chat about all of the goings-on of the previous week. It's great fun and we enjoy doing the program together once in awhile. Let's see, we covered stories about the career day at school, the international food festival, "Just Desserts," an upcoming softball tournament, the Unalaska Divers cleaning up the waters around the small boat harbor as a part of clean up week (finding all kinds of weird stuff, like a mattress!), and a bunch of public service announcements about items of interest everyone needs to know.

Speaking of Career Day, Rich and some of his hotel coworkers participated in that event, providing info to the kids about jobs in the hospitality industry. The highlight of their table, though, was the snacks they brought along. :) Rich did double duty on "Flash!" the other night, because he was also interviewed about culinary careers in the video clip about the day. There's Lisa, Rich, Gina and Brian at their table above.

We had a good book club meeting, discussing The Time Traveler's Wife. Rich and I also watched the movie, which we enjoyed, but I liked the book better--much more detail. It's certainly a fascinating concept and was a sweet, if strange, love story. I've started going to the knitting club and have been working on finishing up the scarf I started way back in Houston. I need to begin a new project but don't have a lot of skill so some of my knitting friends are going to help me out. And I've been going to piano lessons and making a little bit of progress. I still won't make myself practice as much as I need to, so it's very slow going. However, it's a very good sign that I have not thrown in the towel altogether.

A few nights ago, Rich and I went to a gardening class and learned about raised bed gardening, greenhouses, and other means of growing food in Alaska. It would be great to have a little garden spot but who knows if we will ever find the time to do something.

The days are getting much longer and it's staying light till late at night. I love that!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Just Desserts"

The Aleutian Arts Council presents several wonderful events throughout the year, celebrating spring with its annual "Just Desserts" concert. We were very fortunate to welcome Mari Hahn, head of the Voice program at the U of Alaska in Anchorage, and three of her extremely talented students, Amber Gauthier, Alex Pierce and Waylon Waddell last night as they presented our first ever opera and show tunes concert. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the singers, but take my word for it that they were fabulous and you missed a great night if you were not able to attend.

Since this event is called "Just Desserts," you can probably guess that the food is all decadent, sweet and calorie-laden! Rich and I were asked to make a couple of items so we spent most of yesterday working on our contributions.

After perusing various cookbooks, I decided on a parfait with three layers. The original recipe called for a peppermint gelee at the bottom but I am not a huge peppermint fan so we changed it to Thai basil. First, the basil was blanched, shocked in ice water, and pureed with some simple syrup and a bit of gelatin to help it set. We tipped the parfait cups on their sides so the concoction would set at an angle.

Next, we pureed peaches and mixed them with panna cotta that was made previously. There's Vinnie in the background, working away while I am borrowing part of the kitchen. :)

Third layer, pureed strawberries, also with a bit of gelatin so they would not be runny.

Colorful, huh?!
And finally, fresh basil leaves were added to the top. Then chilled in the fridge and ready to go.

Meanwhile, Rich was making a chocolate caramel tart with a macadamia nut crust. Yum!

His finished tart with whipped cream and macadamia nuts on top.

There were so many desserts at the event that I am sure we were all overdosed on sugar!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thanks, Unalaska! Over $20,000 raised!

Roger and Steve

Some of the shavees "before"

Steve getting shaved

Matt, Mike and Gary
Mike and James

Judi and Anne

"Team Emery"--Rich, me, Elaine, "Goldfish," and Steve

and Judi


Saturday started out with more snowflakes but ended up sunny--a gorgeous day for our St. Baldrick's event. After a long but very emotionally satisfying day, I am reminded again that we live in a wonderful community of very caring people who step up time and again to help others. In the middle of the head shaving, I had to run across the street to the school to take part in an annual youth leadership conference. Coincidentally (or not), one of the quotes I had chosen to share with the students was this one from Henrik Ibsen: "A community is like a ship--everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm." I suppose it is even more appropriate since we are a community on the sea and of the sea. Just as the students knew exactly what that quote meant, the people of Unalaska obviously take it to heart as well.

The Burma Road Chapel was full all day. Firefighters, EMS, police, and "regular" folks added up to 25 bald heads. Several women and a darling five year old girl had their heads shaved. Team Emery did great and I think probably raised the most money (yippee!) but it was really all about the group effort with a little bit of playful competition thrown in. Thanks so much to Steve for coming up with "Team Emery" and cute Emery Tshirts for all of us, not to mention his strong fundraising efforts, even though he does not like fundraising all that much. Thanks to everyone who donated to put us over $20,000! As someone who does fundraising as a part of my job, I know it is not easy in a very small town, especially in a downturned economy. There are lots of nonprofits here and we all have to raise a certain amount of cash to stay in business. It is a testament to the kind hearts in this community that no one says, "oh, no, one more charity asking us for money," but "wow, that sounds really cool--what can I do?"

Thanks to Brian Rankin who spearheaded the event, all of the Public Safety folks who got behind it and made it a reality, our MC extraordinaire, Susan Lynch, Kristine King who kept things organized and swept up more hair than you can imagine, all the other volunteers who made the event come off very smoothly, Channel 8 for televising it LIVE, and of course, all those brave souls who shaved their heads. I have to admit I felt a little bit guilty seeing those other ladies up there. :) Thanks, gals. Thanks to my fabulous husband for helping me take hundreds of photos to document the event. There's no way I could post them all here but I wanted to put up a sampling. If you are on Facebook, check out my page because there are lots more there!

It's not too late to go to the St. Baldrick's website by clicking here to make a donation to the Unalaska event. Thanks to these friends and family who sent a donation in Emery's name: Mom, Kathi, Susan A., Lori, Gina, Susan L., and my sister's friend Denise. You are the best!