Friday, July 31, 2009

We're Off Like a Dirty Shirt

This evening Uyaana and I leave on our yearly pilgrimage to the Motherland....New Hampshire. We will be there for 11 days and then we will be in Portland, Oregon for 3 days. I have some photos set to post tomorrow of boating pics from last weekend. After that I will probably post some pics from the vacation. We will head back to Kotzebue on the 14th it we don't croak from heatstroke first.


Picking Aqpiks

Here are a few photos from last weekend.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Opinions are like what now?

This blog has been going on now for about two and a half years. During that time I have received many comments and emails asking questions about Kotzebue, the people and the culture. For the most part I am happy to address these questions. I have also received comments emails asking my opinion about certain social issues and whatnot. Which brings me to this comment......

By now many of you, at least those of you in Alaska, are familiar with the Dillingham blog debacle. You can read about it here on the Anchorage Daily News. Basically, the former news director for the local Dillingham radio station had a obscure little blog. Someone didn't like what she wrote and emailed the blog ALL over Dillingham and then all hell proceeded to break loose.

When people ask me why I don't write about local politics or social issues my answer is always the same...."You don't anuk where you eat." Especially in a town that consists of 3,000 people on a gravel spit one mile long and a half mile wide 500 miles from the nearest Dairy Queen.

I have received one comment and several emails about this issue and for once I am going to break my rule and give my opinion.

On her blog, Eileen Goode liked to go on and on about this and that, part of which included "humorous" social commentary. In her most recent post she states, "I am an insensitive jackass who more or less was trying to be funny and was not attempting to write a comprehensive or particularly journalistic account of Western Alaska"

The problem is, there is not much funny about alcoholism, domestic violence, social dysfunction and matter where you come from.

I think Eileen Goode's view is that the people of Dillingham are angry because they want to cover up the town's problems and that her blog was just bringing these problems to light and if no one knows about the problems then nothing will be done about them. Well, that's a good theory, but bad form.

One person commented on her blog... "I’m getting sick of people saying that we Dillinghamers are denying that we have a problem and that we are avoiding whats really going on, WE ARE AWARE! We are aware of these things that go on, and we aren’t ignoring them! But we also aren’t making fun of them and using them as entertainment for the entire world to see on the Internet."

Eileen seemed willing to air Dillingham's dirty laundry but I am not so sure she was backing it up being involved a grass roots effort to make a difference. Does she think her blog is a form of advocacy? Airing Dillingham's social dysfunction on the internet but not being part of an effort to effect change is no different than idle gossip in a coffee shop.

The thing that gets me is that she claims that she loves Dillingham. She states, "I do not look down on, or hate this area or these people. Quite to the contrary, I love it here, it is beautiful, it is unique and it a real community where people are no anonymous to each other." She goes on to say "I believe that it is no sign of respect or love or care to look the other way and refuse to tell someone when there is something wrong, something broken and something that needs to change."

Well you know what...I love my son too, but sometimes he does some stuff that really drives me crazy. I probably won't be putting that stuff on my blog anytime soon because it would be hurtful to him and wouldn't make it any better. Heck, maybe Eileen does love Dillingham. Maybe she does wish that things would change. I disagree with her methods. You know the old saying, "If your not part of the solution your part of the problem".


Monday, July 27, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Roley Poley Fish Heads


Eat them up yum!

It's salmon time here in Kotzebue. The salmon start running usually about the first week in July and continue into August. Kotzebue mostly has chum salmon although we do get pinks and an occasional silver or king. Now don't go hating on the chums. Kotzebue Sound chums are firm and fat and good eating, not like the chums found in other areas of Alaska.

Every summer we spend a lot of time setting nets, filleting and packaging fish for the freezer. We also can and dry some. We eat a lot of fresh fish during the summer too, in many different ways...baked, fried, made into spreads and dips. Of all the ways to eat fish one of the local favorites is boiled heads.

You take the fish head and cut the jaws off right above the top teeth. Then you split the head in half between the eyes. Throw them in a pot of boiling water.

Don't forget some salted belly pieces. These are my favorite.

After the heads and bellies have been cooking for a while you throw in a few skeins of roe. You don't want to boil them too long or they get too hard and lose flavor. 5 minutes is usually plenty. You can tell they are done when they turn pale orange.

I like to boil fish outside on the primer stove so the whole house doesn't smell fishy all day.

And there you have it, boiled salmon heads, bellies and eggs. They are tasty served with dried seal meat and seal oil with slices of raw onions.

Bon Appetit!


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Arctic Thriller


An arctic tribute to Michael Jackson from Toolik Field Station in Alaska's Brooks Range . I think the mosquitos are a nice touch.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hotham Inlet Sunset


Taken July 18th 2009 12:07am


I Didn't Move to the Arctic to Sweat


It's hazy, it's humid, and it's hot. At least it feels hot. Ugh. I always say that I didn't move to the arctic to sweat but this summer has been a hot one. Anything beyond 55F is excessive. It even got up to 86 degrees one day, but I was in the hospital that day so given the choice of 86 or the hospital I would have chosen 86.

Uyaana leave on July 31st for our annual pilgrimage to the Motherland. We will spend 11 days in New Hampshire visiting the relatives. Usually I get to look forward to unbearably hot an humid weather. Last year it was awful. On the day I was supposed to take Uyaana to Canobie Lake Park it was 100F degrees. I had to tell the poor kid we wouldn't be able to go because I would DIE of heatstroke.

This year it looks like we might not have to deal with that. All the New Englanders have been moaning about what a cold rainy summer they have been having. I just hope New Hampshire isn't saving up a heat wave for our arrival.


Aqpik Bonanza!

I just received these photos from a recent top secret aqpik reconnaissance mission. Holy moley!

Look at the size of them. They are huge and there are zillions of them. I have been sworn to secrecy. I can't wait to get my fingers on these babies this weekend!


Monday, July 20, 2009


I was putting together a blog post and while I was working on it I noticed something.

This blog post is post number 605. Six hundred and five posts. Holy cow! I have to tell you that when I first started this whole thing I NEVER would have imagined how far it would go. I certainly never though I would stick with it a month much less two years and 605 posts.

So then I thought "I wonder how many photos I have used in this blog?" The answer is easy to get. It says it right on my photobucket account. Two thousand three hundred thirty three photos (not including the two used for this post)! And that's only the photos that have been used in this blog. No wonder I clogged up the entire hard drive on my computer.

This blog, which started out as a way to show family back east some photos of Uyaana and whatnot has really become a labor of love. It is a lot of work. There are times when I really don't feel like uploading photos, or getting off my butt to take photos, or trying to think of comentary to write with the photos...but then I remember that there are people, literally hundreds of people, checking in here each day. So now I feel sorta...well...responsible for all of you and I worry if there is nothing new here for you to see each day. It never ceases to amaze me that so many people think that my life in my little corner of the world is interesting. So even though it is a lot of work, I truly enjoy blogging and I feel lucky that I get to share this place with all of you, and I am grateful for all the people I have gotten to know.

Anyway, I just thought that was neat. Here's to another 605 posts.


Sunday, July 19, 2009



While in one of the channels of the Kobuk River yesterday, I saw this bird.

We have several different kind of raptors in the northwest arctic but I had never seen this kind of bird around here before.

There were two of them, a male and a female. It looked as though there was one large chick in the nest at the top of the spruce tree.

I mentioned the bird to someone who has a camp located near the nest. He said he looked it up in a bird book and thought they were Osprey.

When I got home I looked it up too and it does look like an osprey. Osprey are common in certain parts of Alaska but this is the first time I have seen them on the northwest arctic coast. Has anyone else been seeing them around here?


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kotzebue Shore Avenue Project


Today was the groundbreaking for the Kotzebue Shore Avenue road project. This is a project that has been over a decade in the planning. Because of where Kotzebue is situated we have erosion problems on the ocean side of town.

The ceremony started with an invocation by Pastor Miller from the Friend's Church. We start everything around here with an invocation.

Kathleen Westlake gave a great acapella performance of the Alaska Flag Song.

These kiddos did an Eskimo dance welcoming all the visitors. The improvements to Shore Avenue is a 38 million dollar project, 6.5 million dollars of which comes from economic stimulus money.

This is...ummm....a guy from the state DOT. I forget his name...a photographer I may be, but journalist not so much, sorry.

I do know who this is. This is Leo von Scheben, state DOT Commissioner.

This is Alaska Lieutenant Governor/Soon To Be Governor Sean Parnell.

Golden Shovels. This project is expected to take about 2.5 years to complete and it scheduled to jump into full swing next summer. If anyone is interested in learning more about the project you can go to the City of Kotzebue's Shore Avenue Project website.