Posted by: gmelvin | September 14, 2013

Finishing the Musk-Ox

The Mouth Says It All…

            One of my requirements of the subsistence musk-ox hunt in my region states that the lower jawbone and horns be sent to Nome for analysis. The horns were easy to take off, but the jawbone…not quite so. Even when I called Nome ADF&G, it was hard…especially as the new school year placed a huge workload time requirement on my day and weekends. I came down sick for a period one week ago, and the musk-ox head nearby received a few visitors. Maggots. Now, I had never cut the lower jawbone before (it wasn’t required) – so, it was something new. What do I do?

            I did a bit of online research, and found maggots don’t like cleaning chemicals…especially bleach. But how could I bleach Imagesomething as bulky and heavy (but far dirtier) as an old Mac 128K? I thought a few moments, and then remembered the totes I had used to mail stuff up from Oklahoma. I dug one out of conex I share with my neighbors, and filled it up with hot water taken from my bathtub. Once about three quarters full, I added a lot of bleach. I picked up the head of maggots, and dumped it for a good night’s rest.

            The next day smelled quite nice as I dug one of my knives into the head. Another teacher had given me an electric saw, and I used it once I found bone with the blade. It was surprisingly easy. I froze the bone overnight (because it still some flesh on it), and mailed out to Nome the next morning.

More to come…

            I had thought this would be the end of everything musk-ox, but the relief was short lived. I just got word on my travel that Friday for Unalakleet, AK (shorthand UNK). This was our annual SPED teacher training session; so, it should have been an easy week. Nope. My principal came in my classroom that Thursday to talk about the trash container next to teacher housing. You see…when we (speaking of myself and friends) filleted the meat off the musk-ox at my house, the remaining bones got bagged up in black trash sacks and placed in the trash container. Trash is usually picked up quickly. In this case, my principal informed me Imageotherwise, and needed some help. The sacks had maggots.

            The people who regularly pick up trash out of the container, and take it to the dump, were hesitant to do so this time. Thus, you have the reason how our principal was informed. I offered to take it out that Friday – the day I was to fly out into UNK. My flight left at 5:25. School ended at 4:00. I left school at 4:10.

            Problems started when I didn’t have trash sacks to re-bag the rotting musk-ox bags. After a trip to the store, I picked up a trash trailer and started throwing in the old bags. The trip out to the dump took awhile, and I made it back to the house around 5:00. Last night, my dryer started overheating for the first few minutes – so I had to cool it, and restart the dryer during school. I wasn’t even packed. I rushed around quickly, easily forgetting several items. My principal was outside waiting, and we quickly got out to the airport. And waited. And waited. After a call, apparently the flight is an hour delayed. Great.

            Back to the house, waited an hour and tried to clean up more. I walked down to the school, and drove with my principal back to the airport. The plane arrived on time, and there were quite a few people waiting with us. I walked up to the pilot, and he said something, “Sorry, I can’t take you now. I’m going to Shishmaref. I’ll be back in one hour.”

            I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing, and my principal was shocked as well. But good thing – he kept his promise. He was back one hour later, and I was in Unalakleet two hours delayed.

First time for everything…

            Last week, my principal visited me after school and asked, “How friendly are you feeling today?” I smiled, and told her I was fine. I also asked what did she want (jokingly). Then my principal asked something I never thought I would hear in this profession, “Would you mind driving down to the airport to pick up the casket?”

            We have been hearing of an upcoming funeral that week. In our village, and likely a number of others around the state, funerals often occur in the gym. Even if the person who passed away is not from our school, or directly related, we offer the gym as a community service. Our gym is “inside” our school. Several times that week, we planned for the funeral that afternoon and it kept getting pushed back. Big complications in lesson planning. So, it was even a larger surprise that I was asked to pick up the casket today.

            My principal got in touch with some family members to come help me load the casket from the plane. When they arrived, we headed out to the airport and loaded the truck. From there, we drove back to the gym and used the back door to carry the casket up. This incident occurred the same week of transporting the maggot filled trash bags to the dump, and arriving late to UNK for very unusual reasons. Plus, I do not believe many principals in the Lower 48 will ask that question.


Quick Links of Potential Interest

YouTube Video Set of First-Year Teachers – they’re my neighbors!! It’s a good illustration on what it feels like to be a 1st year teacher here

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Shopping Websites Used By Some Teachers

Alaska Bush Shopper

Alaska Mailbox Groceries

Today’s Game – Talisman

            Talisman is a fantasy, role playing type of game that makes the player travel around the game board to gain strength or craft skills, in order to make it through the inner ring of the board (which is quite hard). You have characters with special abilities. Roll the dice, fight the monsters in the card deck, get objects, and get stronger. Seems simple (which it is), but many beginning players shy away because of how many little objects are needed to run the game. Keep in mind this game can also take three to four hours, if not more. Still, if you are willing, it’s a great way to spend an evening with nothing else to do. See the links below:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: