Monday, August 13, 2012

Buskin River Salmon Fishing with the Bears

Salmon Fishing at Buskin River with the Bears
It was a rainy day, but Tom and I didn't let that stop us! We packed the back of the Nissan X-Terra and hoped the weather would clear up so we could go camping. Tom had reserved the Scamp again through the Coast Guard, but I had told him I didn't want to go camping unless the weather cleared up. So, in the meantime, we headed out to the Buskin River to go salmon fishing...this time, in the rain.

When Kodiak gets rain it can be miserable. The winds blow, the clouds settle in close to the coast, and the misty/rainy weather can cool you off quickly. Despite the weather we were determined to catch some fish.

Tom and I had gone fishing for salmon at the Buskin River for the first time two weeks ago. The sun was out and it was an amazing day. We caught two salmon (one was a "humpy"), and Tom even caught a tiny flounder fish (usually you see these guys at about 130 pounds or so...big difference to this little guy!).

This time, when we got to the location where we had fished previously...We saw that there was no one there. When we had been there two weeks ago the sun was out and there were so many people fishing that Tom and I had to go waaaay up stream to catch anything. As someone put it, it was "fishing war-fare".

Now, two weeks later, no one was there and we had the pick of fishing holes. I asked Tom, "Do they know something we don't?"

It wasn't until I had chosen a fishing hole and shimmied down the bank that I saw them...

Big Ol' Bear prints in the mud!!! When we looked around, we could see that the grass had been trampled by something large.

Tom and I, with bear pepper spray at hand, decided to catch some fish anyway.

And, catch them we did...

Tom caught four and I caught three. Our limit was five a piece. We decided to stop after five hours of fishing. We were both exhausted, Tom even more so because he had to gut and fillet all of those fish!

He did an amazing job, though, (even with the sea gulls dive-bombing the scraps when Tom threw them in the water) and we went home happy!

Great fishing in Kodiak!!! No bears...thank goodness (although, Tom really wants to see one...hopefully from a distance). This time, no camping. We ended up going home, renting a movie and splitting a pizza. My kind of night!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Update on Career Choices...

Some Career Changes

The last two and a half months have been full of relaxing, doing art work, and getting to know Kodiak (as you've seen through the blog entries).

Now, I’ve realized that I miss working. I miss being busy with projects, meeting with new people and making a difference in people's lives.

So, I’ve decided to make a few changes...

Just like I had planned prior to moving to Kodiak, I will still be teaching a few classes at Kodiak College this fall. In fact, classes begin in 2 weeks. I will be teaching "Interpersonal Communication" and a science writing class (yes, I know. Science? It's actually more of a writing class and I've been told it will be a good intro level course for me to teach. I'm not yet totally convinced of this, but I'm sure it will go well regardless).

In addition to Kodiak College, I decided to apply for a job at the community mental health center here in Kodiak. It is through Providence Medical Center.

Although I have been offered a job as a therapist at the mental health center, I still have my license (Licensed Professional Counselor) that needs to be registered here in Alaska. They do things very differently here and it takes awhile, but I am excited about doing therapy again and working with what seem to be some wonderful people.

In the meantime, I have been working with an International Art Therapy Organization called CHART (Communities Healing Through Art).

We are in the process of developing a blog that will be linked up with the Facebook groups created around this wonderful organization. I'm thrilled to be working with them and can't wait to see where we go with the development and fruition of the goals outlined for the work that is being created around the world.

Finally, I am taking on more and more roles with in the art therapy community. I fly out to North Carolina in September to be a part of a leadership committee associated with the credentials board for art therapists nationally.

Ok, maybe not so finally...since I love writing as well, the blogs are up and running as well as the development of a few books. I'm looking in to self-publishing (both on-line and hard copies) and will keep you updated on when they will be ready for purchase.

Quite a lot going on! There's nothing like doing what you are passionate about, however. And, I for one am all for fulfilling on dreams :)

All my best, from beautiful Kodiak, Alaska!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Russian Orthodox Church of Kodiak

Beautiful Russian Orthodox Churches

A large part of the history surrounding Kodiak is the influence of the early Russian settlers. The Russian Orthodox ministers that came to this island became icons that now inspire pilgrimages from around the world.

There are two very predominant churches that reside in Kodiak. One of them (the white with the tuquoise blue tops and gold crosses) you can see in most pictures of Kodiak town. I had taken a picture of the church when I first came to Kodiak.

The second church is housed at Saint Herman's Seminary. It is the smaller of the two but has a lot of character and you can see.

This last week, the sun had decided to come out (which has turned out to be a very rare sight this summer) and I decided after dropping Tom off at work that I was not ready to go back home yet. I thought I would take the pictures of the churches that I had wanted to see since coming to Kodiak. As an art therapist and a lover of art history, seeing these buildings and their art work intregues me a great deal.

After meeting with Nicholas, a seminarian who once was a Psychologist in Anchorage, and getting a tour of the seminary church I was encouraged to go to the bigger and more popular church just down the road. It is the church where all the pilgrims go when they come to Kodiak. It turned out that a major Saint (Herman) in the Russian Orthodox Christian Church lived in Kodiak in the early-1800's. He was close with the natives, advocating for their rights when the brutal Governor Barnov took power and enslaved the natives to hunt for furs and other things that made Russian investors rich. Saint Herman's remains are now housed in the larger, white church where they get inundated with people coming to view his remains. The pilgrims also make a trip over to Spruce Island where Saint Herman is said to have lived. The pilgrimage takes place in August, each year.

The door was unlocked so I went in. Upon entering the church I realized it was filled with even more iconography than St. Herman's Seminary church had been.

There were several pictures of St. Herman that surround where his remains were located, just to the right of the sanctuary as I come in to the church.

Bonnie, a pilgram from Portland, Oregon, pointed to the coffin just above the candles at the center of the picture.

She was very friendly and clearly loved her faith. She was very excited about being in Kodiak and expressed what special meaning each of the items in the church had for her. She had brought some of her own items that related to Saint Herman, to share with the other believers...

The book she had of the saint was outlined in pictographs that depicted the story and miracles of Saint Herman. He had stopped a tsunami in its tracks by placing the iconograph of the Madonna and Christ Child in the sand. He had also prayed and the terrible storms would pass by Kodiak, saving the inhabitants.

On top of the coffin was a painting placed directly on the wood. It was also very beautiful and intricate.

Saint Herman is famous for the words of wisdom he imparted to those he came in contact with:  "From this day, from this hour, from this very minute let us love God above all."

There were also many other icons in the church that were also rather inspiring...

All-in-all, it was a beautiful church whose people seemed very humble and kind. The women wear scarves over their heads during the services, or upon entering the church sanctuary. And, the Reverands wear long, floor-length black robes with hats covering their heads. You can often see them walking around town.

We have been invited to a Thursday evening session (begins at 6:00pm) for church services. I've already talked to Tom and he's ready to join me in this cultural exchange! I will keep you posted on the experience and how it goes...

Russian Orthodox Church Seminary

Saint Herman’s Seminary

This last Tuesday the sun came out and I decided to go get pictures of the Russian Orthodox Churches here in the Kodiak community. Little did I know I would get the full tour and meet a Reverend-in-training that knew what Art Therapy was!!!

In Kodiak there are two very beautiful Russian Orthodox Churches. One is chocolate brown (above) and the other is white with tuquoise tops (see next posting). Each church is so unique that they are often highlighted in Kodiak brochures and tourest information.

In the late 1700's and early 1800's Russian Orthodox Christian priests came over to Alaska. One in particular settled in Kodiak, Alaska. His name is Saint Herman. He was made a saint after performing many great miracles, including stopping a tsunami from hurting Kodiak and keeping storms away from the island. He also is well-known for being a very humble man and standing up for the rights of the native people, the Alutiiq, when they were getting used and abused by Governor Barnov.

When the sun came out on Tuesday I figured it was a perfect time to go get the pictures of these two churches. I began by taking outside pictures of the white church, but did not attempt to go in. I was unaware of what the culture was of this church and was unsure how welcome a strange visitor/tourist would be.

When I moved on to the next church, I found out that it was Saint Herman's Seminary.

Outside, as I was taking pictures, an older gentleman was painting some of the brown trim on the apartments that surrounded the church. "Would you like to see inside," he asked me out of the blue. "Yes! Of course," I responded. "Let me go get the keys. I'll be right back."

Sure enough, within a few minutes, he came back and let me inside the church. When I went in I was astonished. Inside was a beautiful sanctuary filled with lots of light that highlighted the iconography that was reminiscent of the Byzantine era art ( As an Art Therapist I remember taking several art history classes and being enthralled by what I was learning. Each image has special meaning and holds important meaning for its creator and the viewer.

There were images of Jesus, Mother Mary, Saint Herman, and many more. 

It turned out that the gentleman who had let me in was Nicholas Montego (sp?). He said that he had been a Psychologist in Anchorage, but when he retired he decided to come to the seminary school to become a Reverand.

When I had told Nicholas that I was an Art Therapist, his eyes got big and he said excitedly, "Oh! You guys are wonderful!" Apparently, he had worked at an In-patient facility in Anchorage and the only people that could make a difference with many of the children there were the art therapists. "They would just open up to you guys! I'm so impressed with the work that you do! How great that you are hear in Kodiak. You will be such a blessing with those you work with!"

He made my day. I was smiling from ear to ear. It's a rarity to find someone who knows what an Art Therapist is, let alone what we do and the difference it makes. I was overjoyed to meet him.

Nicholas shared several stories, talked about each icon and what they meant to the church and to him. He shared about his favorite icon who had been an old woman that would give her food away constantly, even to the dogs, when she had none left over for herself. She simply trusted that God would provide and she continued to encourage people to love one another and be good to each other. These thoughts seemed to fit Nicholas and his personality well.

Nicholas invited Tom and I to come to services at the white church down the road. That is where the formal services were held. He also invited me to go down and walk in to the white church, suggesting that I come find him if it was not open for some reason.

The whole experience was so uplifting and so beautiful that I not only ended up going to the other church to get a tour, but I met a pilgrim from Portland, Oregon, and struck up another wonderful conversation.

What a gloriously beautiful day it was...both inside and out!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Live Music at the Fairgrounds!

Live Music at Kodiak Fairgrounds

Last night Tom and I got a chance to hear some of the local bands come to play to the Kodiak crowd at the Fairgrounds. The concert was in the same building where the Farmer's Market had been the first time we had went. It seemed like a great venue for having a concert.

The bands that were playing were hand-written on a list and then duct-taped to the back wall...The concert was called "Warm Awesome Night" of music. In August it is supposed to be warm in Kodiak. However, the weather has been consistently cold and wet, averaging 40 to 50 degrees both during the day and night. Luckily, Tom and I dressed warmly and there was plenty of shelter to help stay warm.

The "Good Leutenants" were a rock band, playing songs from the 70's and 80's such as Jimmy Hendrix. The kids came out to dance and play (you can see them in the picture below, infront of the stage. They are blurrs of activity going by) while the band had fun playing and laughing with the audience.

The second band, the "40 Miles Road" band, was more of a blue grass band. They also played some hits and had a wonderful following of dancers that included some very bizarre characters...

By the time Tom and I had waited to hear the third band, the temperature had dropped and it had become very cold (Tom thinks it was around 40 degrees). In an effort to stay warm, we headed out for the bon fire just behind the mass of people.

The bon fire was very warm and we enjoyed listening to the music from the stage.

It was a fun night, full of great music and lots of locals who were wearing their infamour "Extra Toughs". What fun!