Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A pokey little puppy.

Here's our Sisualik house. My dad built it with my mom because he lived out there for years. It's a perfect one bedroom, five bed, one honey-bucket room sized camp house.


Oh, and what's that over there?

closer house

Let's get a little closer shall we?


Ah, gross. It's a porcupine. Ick, I hate porcupines, because they like to chase me. And when we were kids, they ransacked the dog yard and us kids had to pluck all the quills out of the howling, biting dogs.


Dean caught it when they were "squirrel hunting" and the girls were looking for starfish on the beach.

What am I supposed to do with it? They're not too bad tasting, once you get over the quills and long blond hair that you have to burn off with a propane torch, or a campfire. Then, peel the skin off and then you can cook it. Not too much meat on these critters.


Although, if you were to gut it, you could carefully remove the intestines and pinch the insides off like a long piece of sausage from the butcher, let it hang and dry, and use it for all your stomach ailments. Sort of our Eskimo version of Tums. (Yes, I have had it. Yes, it works better than Pepto!)


But, first of all, I need to get the quills off. The lazy version, I just pinch them all off with a leatherman until I discovered that they even stick to the wood I was using to push back the hairs.

pull it out

Into the tupperware you go, little quills. Enough to make several earrings out of, once the points are removed. They are great decoration for barrettes, and beaded jewelry.


Monday, August 30, 2010

The simple life.

Oh how I yearn to live a simple life. One without chaos, or business, or screechy electronics. Granted, I usually make my own drama cause I can't keep my mouth shut, and I pretty much am to blame when I am super busy all the time...but the electronics, that's not my fault.

girls in plane

I want that simple life where you and your family can get in your plane and run away to the place where you wake up every morning when you want to, because its nice and quiet, and the only "noise" is dogs barking for their morning meal.


Then someone puts perfect rainwater on the stove and boils it for three whole minutes, just in case, and then pours it over some Folger's coffee.

six star

And even though you don't drink camp coffee, you wouldn't wake up without that telltale smell and cool crisp air from a fire well past its burn.

girls dean

The simple life that includes fluffy blueberry sourdough hotcakes sizzling on the stove in a cast iron skillet, because that's the only way to make them. Kids sleepy eyed coming out of their sleeping bags like yearling bears coming out of hibernation smelling coffee and hotcakes and bacon or spam.

star putuguk

The life where after breakfast, you don't mind doing the dishes, because it's not rushed and you can take your time looking out the picture window at the waves rolling and crashing on the beach as my kids tease them and get their toes wet in anticipation of the next big wave.

stars on corner

The willows turning yellow slowly and the squirrels chirping while the wind blows the smell of tundra into the house. Pretty soon, you wish there were more dishes to do because it is so peaceful sitting at the kitchen table with your rain water dishpans washing, drying and wiping clean.

girls in water

The life where you choose what you're going to do each day based on how the berries are doing, or if its sunny, or if the caribou are fat, or how many fish are in the net, or if you just want to play on the beach with the kids again and find rocks/shells/starfish.

plain star

The life where you eat what you caught/picked that day for dinner, and hopefully your 13 year old son and his 13 year old cousin caught some ducks so we can actually EAT dinner that doesn't include spam, or cup-o-noodles. And then as they are walking back home you breathe a sigh of relief because he showed up with three ducks and plopped them on the table, without saying a word, then starts cutting wood, cause its getting kind of chilly in the evenings.

how many stars

I want to live the life where after dinner, you sip on your hot tang and haul more rain water into the Sauna where your husband has made it nice and steamy in anticipation of your coming in to relax. Then you sit in there and think of absolutely nothing while your pores sweat away the City toxins. And your mind clears away the bad juju.

three stars

And when you go to bed, the simple life allows you to dictate your bedtime based on if you can get your gas lantern to work or how dark it is with candlelight while your kids read Archie comics and you stare at them because that's what you used to do when you were a kid, and it was the best life ever.

clara stars

And it still is. Between Friday and Sunday anyway.

Friday, August 27, 2010

It's Chilly, I should have some Chili.

Man, I brought up alcohol and the world exploded on my computer! Oh well. People have strong feelings about alcohol. I don't.

Up here in the Arctic, it's getting pretty chilly at night. I mean, the other night as a cardboard box was banging against our house, I walked downstairs with my .357 and went to shoot the intruder. (P.S. Note to thieves...please don't come to my house in the middle of the night, I like to keep a gun next to my bed...oh, and my son does too. Oh yeah, so does my husband, so...its not a good idea.) Finding out it was cardboard was great. Except that I crunched some frost on the deck. Ugh. FROST. Like as in, it's cold at night here.

Darn. I thought we were having global warming and maybe, JUST MAYBE we wouldn't have a winter this year!!? Shucks. That wasn't the case when the thermometer read 33 degrees out.

What's better than chili on a cool autumn evening? Not much in my book, especially if its my kind of chili. Which, by the way, is COMPLETELY different than my mom's. I mean, I like chunky chili and she likes two ingredient chili (meat and beans) that's runny.

So, when a friend of mine asked me, via Facebook, cause you know that's our mode of communication now to make Chili, I was on it!

Here's MY recipe for the BEST chili ever.


Maija's BEST-EVER Chili (!)

A medium onion, chopped
Three or Four carrots, chopped
A TBS or two of oil
Cook until the onions are translucent in the bottom of a large pot.
Cut up one whole section of Reindeer Sausage. Polish sausage works just as well. Slice into disks, then quarter and add to carrot/onion mixture and brown.
Add to it two pounds ground moose or caribou meat (And if you MUST use beef, I'd cook it first, then drain the crap out of it, rinse it with water and then cook the onion and carrots, adding the cooked beef (gag.) afterwards. Cook until your meat is browned evenly.
Add your chili spices. (I use a combination of prepackaged mix and chili powder)
Open an industrial size can of Kidney Beans (for four or five small cans) and pour off about half the juice, then add to the pot.
Add half an industrial size can of corn (or two or three small cans), drained.
Add three or four cans of Chili Ready diced tomatoes.
Cook the crap out of it until its reached the thickness you want.
We serve ours with Corn Bread and Sour Cream. Yum.

OK, don't say I never gave you anything now! Enjoy your Chili on those Chilly nights!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kotzebue, where you can legally buy liquor now!

For over twenty years, Kotzebue has been classified as "Damp" meaning that the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited, but, one may declare it in his or her baggage, or have it shipped from what's locally known as "the native store" (Brown Jug Wharehouse) in Anchorage. (OK, don't get all huffy now cause its called the native store, I'm native and I don't take offense. Also, why would any Anchorage-miut get liquor from there when they can just go to the Tesoro down the street!?)


I remember going to the liquor store with my mom and waiting outside so she could get a six-pack of Miller Genuine Draft, bottled of course, and wondering what all the hubub was about. In 1987 that changed. The All-American City voted to prohibit the sales of alcoholic beverages. All the bars and liquor stores went out of business and the social services department at Maniilaq tripled. Rather than drinking in a bar, people started to drink at home.

Fast forward to three days ago. You could still get a bottle of R&R whiskey for $60 (I think), and you could still take 12 bottles of wine with you as luggage. You could still go to the Lion's Club during a private party and have an open container of alcohol, as long as you were 21 years or older and invited. And you could still order your alcohol by the cases to drink at home.

Police on duty

An entire generation of "drinkers" was born and raised in this atmosphere where there seems to be no "social drinking skills." People covet their precious bottle of whiskey that they paid four times the amount for and drink to get drunk, rather than to enjoy the smoothness of a rum and coke while watching Monday night football. People here just don't know HOW to drink. And I don't blame them. They were taught this by everyone else in town who hoards their alcohol and would rather drink a fifth of whiskey to themselves in one night instead of share with their cohort. There are no social drinking establishments here. It's home, shop, or pretty much, home or shop!

john buying

Pause on today: When the liquor store opened earlier, we joked that my friend who works as an Alcohol/Substance Abuse counselor should stand outside and give out her cards as the cases were bought. "Get em while they're hot!" We also watched as people timidly walked into the liquor store like they were doing something illegal, by purchasing a six-pack of Alaskan Amber. Ooohh, the bootleggers are gonna be maaad!


There were 42 people standing outside, standing inside and watching from their vehicles. Local paparazzi, in the form of Cathy , myself and KOTZ radio were there too, to "document" the "historical day". THE DAY KOTZEBUE opened a liquor store. Oh, sorry, RE-OPENED a liquor store. Lets just hope that the social problems from 1989 don't come out of the cracks and work themselves back up to 2010.


Why after twenty years did the City decide to open a liquor store? I don't know...go ask your dad. Oh oops. Long story short: Pretty much because the City is in financial distress. The bootlegging economy is thriving. People want to buy liquor. So, its a simple enough answer. The city is the only establishment allowed to sell alcohol, so everyone is going to go to them to buy it.


City residents must purchase a $50 "liquor license" and present that with a photo ID at the time of purchase. Each year it will cost $25 to renew your license. In order to be a city resident, you also must show a bill with your PHYSICAL address on it. And that's not easy to do here unless you have a City water and sewer bill. (like me!) Permit holders are those people who have no conditions of release, have committed no crimes involving alcohol, who have proven residency and paid their $50 fee.


In addition to the permits, the "Alcohol Board" has strict guidelines and daily limits. So, I can't go into the store with my permit and ID and purchase a case of R&R. (sorry dudes.) But if one is persistent, they can get one bottle of R&R a day... (gross)


I have extreme mixed feelings about the liquor store. One one shoulder I have little-maija saying, "WHY the hell would the city open a liquor store without a BAR for everyone to drink at? What? So they can spend all their money on new police officers and social programs and houses for kids who are taken out of the homes of drunks???! AND more medivacs and accidents and DWI's???!! " Then, on the other shoulder, I have little-maija saying, "Yay. Now I don't have to ship all my bottled wine! AND, when I want to make beer-battered shiifish/halibut/anything, I can just pop on over and get an Alaskan Amber to do the job!" (Although the wine selection is grody, at best. I mean come on, yellowtail and boxed wine??! They NEED me!) My little-maija's are constantly fighting in my head.


So, "the store" opened and door prizes were given out. I got a text from Dean after work saying, "I got a Molson Ice shirt with my Rainer!" which is Gross cause Rainer is disgusting, but the shirt was nice and since he's Canadian (sorry dad) he will wear it with pride! Also while I was there, it was nice to see that for the most part, the majority of people just wanted a beer!

pbr on its way

Actually, the first purchase by a resident "permit holder" was for an 18 pack of PBR. And to top it all off, how else would an 18 pk of PBR ride home in a village? On a 4-wheeler, Represent!

(* Note: I am in no way "FOR" or "AGAINST" the opening of the liquor store in Kotzebue. I understand some people really don't want it, and some really do. Keep an open mind and remember...you can ALWAYS make your own blog with your OWN opinions too!)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cheater picking...

For as long as I can remember I have always shunned "cheater berry picking."

I used to talk to myself and say things like, "God, I wish all the blueberries in this whole area (and then I'd visually scan an area) would just jump up and I could run around as fast as I can and scoop them into my bucket..." And then I'd wait, just in case God decided to grant my wish.

Yes, she does go berrypicking in a tiara...

But He never did. Instead, he made it easier and easier for me to see the berries so I could bend at the hips and pluck them off the two inch bush myself. Except in the sun, I can't see berries in the sun, which made yesterdays excursion not too fun.

Except that I cheated.


And yes, while it's sunny you can get awesome iPhone photos, but if you can't see the berries and are sort of impatient, then its not too fun at all.


My contraption of choice? Something I picked up with my Bed, Bath and Beyond gift card I got for Christmas! (I know...but we don't have a BB&B here and I always forget it on my Anchorage trips...)


Cheater picking uses the best $19.99 I've EVER spent to help me pick berries. I mean, I've seen them being used and always gasped in a hushed voice..."How could they!?" And then in the same train of thought, "what a bunch of lazy bums..."


Oh, I know, they have lots of laundry piled on the couch and still have to clean the kitchen and put away all the from-town goodies they bought and don't really have time to pick berries one at a time, so they simply scoop them up and pour them into their buckets... That's how they could. And I am proud to be a lazy bum who is taking care of her new berry picking machine! (I'm gonna clean it and oil it and call it George!)


And that's how I did. I LOVE this thing. I mean, in the time that my master-berry-picker mom picked her two quarts, I had done the SAME thing AND had time to goof off and even eat some.

Heaven I tell you...heaven. Except that I couldn't see berries in the sun so we didn't get that many. But today...today it's foggy and rainy, a PERFECT day for berry picking!


And for all of you who are in need of some hunting season eye candy...here are three new knives my husband of Siksu's Knives made. Go on over to the Facebook Page and LIKE it. We're giving away some t-shirts next week to all the "fans!"



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Can I just say...

That I never got nervous before "the big game..." Who am I kidding? I don't usually get nervous about anything really. It's just a game, or a run, or a day.

But today. I was throw-uppy, teary eyed, and frog throated. Ugh. I don't even know what to say.

koy comes

Today I watched my 13 year old son run in a high school 5K for Cross Country Running at Bartlett High. It sort of brought back wonderful memories of (when I was skinny) high school and running at Kincaid/Nome/Kiana, and yes, even Elim! :)


I couldn't even yell, I was tearing up. It was sort of hilarious in a, "what the hell is wrong with me?" sort of way. I can't even imagine being my Aunt Lulu...cause my cousin Jani won the race.


Jani is a Senior at Service this year. He won the 5K Cross Country run in (unofficially) 15:55. Like fifteen minutes. Or, in non-runner terms, EFFING FAST. And this is no, Idaho Cross Country track on grass and pavement with no hills. Our cross country runs are full of tree jumping, hills and dirt. And the further north you get, the more puddle jumping you get, and if you run WAAAY up here, its tundra running!

Anyway, I choked up as we waited to see the lemon yellow of the Kotzebue Huskies uniforms at the end of the Freshmen Boys race. I wasn't expecting to see Koy in front. I didn't even expect him to be in the middle. And I certainly didn't expect to watch him run gracefully around the last leg as quickly as he did and pass three other kids.

koy goes

I mean to yell, "There's a Husky!" when we saw him, but what came out of my mouth was sort of a choked up version of, "Is that my son...?" I was in awe watching the little boy I raised as a single mother. The boy who cut his lip so many times the doctors stopped stitching it and just started gluing it "until the next time." The boy who takes his gun out to get some ducks, ptarmigan, geese, etc. all on his own. The boy who watched "A bugs wife" so many times that we had to get another VCR tape of it.

Yes, his whole life flashed before my eyes while I watched the last leg of the race. My sister was with me and telling me to "calm the heck down," cause it was just a race and he's only 13!

koy and tim
What the heck? Boys didn't look like this when I was a freshman!

I gotta stop being such a wuss and start being tough! In the middle of me screaming, "GO KOY! COME ON KOY! DIG KOY!!!" of course! :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto...

Well, Kotzebue either for that matter.

I'm in the "city." I saw the sun again. I see trees and smell cut grass. I had to put a seatbelt on and drive the car over 25 miles per hour!

I went out to eat at a restaurant not owned by Koreans.

Yum Yum bubblegum

I spent a lot of money. Oh, oops, scratch that last one honey...I didn't really! ;)

But the best of all...I was RECOGNIZED! I mean, seriously. I had a real live fan. Not a computer screen name! (Thank you for filling my head with hot air by the way, it was AWESOME, even if I did say, "Pretend you didn't see me drink a glass of wine!" What I MEANT to say was, "Oh, HI, nice to meet you too. How are you? I am doing great! Why, yes, I am totally going to blog about this!" So, let's just pretend that I did ok!?)


So, I was eating at the Spenard Roadhouse. (Very good, in case you were wondering, and not just cause I don't really have anything to compare it to. Even if I did, it would still be good!) While Elsa and I were leaving, a nice young woman said, "Oh, excuse me, I just wanted to say Hi, I was sort of excited when I saw you, cause I TOTALLY READ YOUR BLOG!" (Yes, this IS me giving you PROPS!) I seriously felt like a celeb! Does this mean I have to fix my hair or put on some makeup? I hope not cause I like sleeping till fifteen minutes prior to going to work...

Well, Hello world! Oh, and I LOVE you too. (As long as you're not an environmentalist who's sole intent is to stop us savage natives from killing seals! or Mice...cause it ain't gonna happen.)

ice creamy fun

Oh, and by the way, I would like to take this time to say that it is SO not my fault if I come home with several yards of new fabric. It is extremely hard to practice self control at the Super JoAnn Fabric store when you go all summer without seeing any new fabric. I mean, that's like taking an alcoholic with a credit card to Brown Jug wharehouse. Ok, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

More Grants Management tomorrow...THEN its my sonny boy's FIRST high school race! He runs Cross Country tomorrow in Seward and then at Bartlett High on Saturday and YES, I will be that mother screaming for her son and every one else's kids too that I know! Whoop, Whoop, GO HUSKIES!

dairy rea

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Asraivik mean's blueberries. (ush-RAY-vick) Kotzebue coastal dialect

berries again

And this year, we have an abundance of them. Chalk it up to crappy blueberry years prior. Maybe they follow the rabbit population. Last spring we had so many rabbits, that they were making dens in our bushes in the yard!


kyle raspberries

Literally you can drive out on Ted Steven's Way and park your car off the side. Walk about fifteen feet and step on thousands of blueberries.

holy berries

Our berries are the bog blueberry type. Much sweeter and smaller than commercial blueberries. I've never tasted anything better than Tundra Blueberries. And coincidentally, when I was in Finland a few years ago at the same latitude, the exact same blueberries exist! I was amazed and happy to find an after-dinner snack!

kids picking

We go after work, during lunch and all times in between. We take kids, don't take kids, force our husbands to go out, etc. It's just a short ride away, and since there are so many, there is really no excuse not to have any this year. Well, maybe you just had a baby and you're tired, that's a good excuse though. And maybe you can't walk. But other than that, NO EXCUSE!


In addition to the MILLIONS (yes, I changed the number) of blue's out there, there is an abundance of wild raspberries as well. They are really good. I mean, I can't even explain it. They just burst your taste buds with flavor and dang all that work digging in the willows is well worth it for a handful of those. The kids work hard looking for them and eat while they pick.

berreis in a bucket

Add a few aqpiks to the mix and you have yourself a wonderful "night dessert" as my kids call it. As for me, I like to hoard my blueberries and eat them quietly remembering my youth at Sisualik. Yelling at Josie and Grover because they are "STEALING FROM MY PATCH!" Or eating Hotcakes hot off the cast iron skillet, freckled with blues during this time only. Ahhh.... Asraivik. Taikuu for being SOO GOOD!