Shop local this Spring

As the days lengthen but the cool and wet temperatures drag on, the primal urge to seek signs of spring grows strong within us all. Budding trees and sprigs of green may be hard to find out in the natural world at this time of year in Alaska, but with a bit of simple modern technology and the help of some local professionals, they are simple enough to bring into your life and home.

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Rural Sprouts

“Look! Here he comes!” She points to the sky and waves as we put our arms out like airplane wings and run hoping he will see us. In his Grummans Widgeon, he buzzes the one room schoolhouse, dipping his wings in acknowledgement of our welcome just before his landing on Lake Iliamna. Our mother was the school teacher, our father the pilot.

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Legislative Skits Amuse

Easter was on April Fool’s Day this year, and Good Friday was chosen as a great time to feature the Annual Legislative Skits that began decades ago as a fundraiser for the Democratic Party. The show, which features staff making fun of their bosses, is now unaffiliated to any political organization but gives money to worthy causes in Juneau. Being a people watcher myself, familiar with this Juneau tradition, I went to observe what I knew would be The Beautiful People in all their glory. I don’t begrudge a once funny Saturday Night Live television show--which over the years has become less funny.

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In the information age, radio retains its relevance

Alaskans have ridden high on the 21st-century wave of information technology-- a dramatic tidal shift in the way we live and work. Most of us these days would feel somewhat incomplete without our iPhones, internet, cable and streaming video. But another mode of communication, radio, has stood the test of time. It is as relevant today as it was in the 1920s when the Territory of Alaska’s first commercial stations were established: KGBU in Ketchikan and KFQD in Anchorage.

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Keep Calm and Clean Up Alaska!

One of the best things about Alaska to me is how clean it is. Of course at this time of year, with breakup revealing an entire winter’s worth of trash, you may be wondering what I mean. In general, Alaska is one of the cleanest states I have ever seen. It’s refreshing to be able to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors without having to wade through plastic bottles, bags, paper and food trash. For the most part, people here have pride in the land, community spirit, and I frequently witness people taking a moment to pick up litter and throw it in the bin.   I know we don't live in a litter-free paradise.

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Born to be Wild

Recently I have been seeing FaceBook posts from “East High Class of 1969” friends anticipating our 50th class reunion. I look back with mixed emotions on where I was then, where Alaska was at in context with the rest of the country, and where we have come as a state having tremendous oil wealth.

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Hand-me-down Recipes

People often speak fondly of “Gramma’s cooking.” The “Antique” section of  “Something Special Alaska Style,” a cookbook put together by the Chugiak Elementary Parent-Teacher Association nearly a half century ago has some examples. A recipe for “Know Nothings” cookies taken from an 1856 magazine was submitted by Velma Deavers. Ingredients are 1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, ½ cup water, 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, ¼ teaspoon salt, nutmeg or spice to taste and flour sufficient to roll out and cut. After the mixture was rolled out and cut, Gramma apparently knew how long to cook it in a moderate oven; the recipe does not say.

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The 1964 Earthquake story I’m finally allowed to tell

Ed. Note: Through protracted coaxing and arm-twisting that literally wore us out, ECHO team member Frank Baker convinced us to let him relate his 1964 earthquake story. Every year about this time I think about the March 27, 1964 earthquake—in an odd way, almost anticipating another shaker. The January 23rd earthquake of this year, measured at a magnitude of 7.9, brought that memory into sharper focus. Everyone in Alaska from Ketchikan to Dutch Harbor has told their 1964 earthquake story except me. You see, I was never allowed to tell one because I wasn't in Alaska when it happened. Even my parents wouldn't let me have an earthquake story. To this day, I've considered it terribly cruel and unjust. So now I finally have the chance to settle the score!

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Niitanqaa? Do you hear it?

Let me take you on a journey. Imagine you are sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor of a Native home in rural southwestern Alaska. You have been invited by some locals to have coffee and dried fish while you wait out the weather. You have been taken in to a circle of Yugtun women of varying ages.

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Family: Something to cherish and celebrate

The notion of “ family ” was foreign to me as a child. Not until I took an Anchorage Community College class in Sociology did I understand that family is the “building block of society.” I remember being struck by that notion when I first heard it. The circumstance of my childhood determined my understanding of family as: “Some people got it and some people don’t.”

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