Heather Lende's blog

Primary Day and A Passing

It is primary election day in Alaska, but before I vote, I have Charlie Brouillette's obituary to write. The 86 year-old retired teacher , fisherman, and the grandpa of my son and daughters' friend James, died Saturday. He came to all the basketball games and was so proud of James when the team won the state championship. We ride bikes past his house on the side of the road by the airport almost everyday, and I love the stuffed moose head in his old outhouse.

Choosing Joy

 The party was in a lovely home, with timbers, cabinetry, tile, and furniture all crafted by local artists. Yukon songsters Nicole Edwards and Annie Avery played and sang in front of a colorful wall hanging of strutting purple and teal peacocks, some serious, others sort of startled looking. There were chairs set up for the thirty of us or so that were invited to this house concert. Apparently they do this all the time in the Yukon. It is the first one I've been to in Haines.

Last Day of Summer

 I am glad it is raining, since I can't do much until my knee gets fixed (next Friday in Juneau) except laundry and closet cleaning. I could write, and I really should, but with all the family here that is harder than you'd think. I'm a day time writer, not a night time one. And everyone is around all day. JJ and Caroline will be here from 9am to 1pm today, and as soon the baby arrives she gets all of our attention, which is how it should be. A long time ago, I heard Tom Bodett speak about the writing life.

A Quick Question

 How did I raise my children without the 5-point child restraint strap and buckles system? I have just installed a car seat in my Subaru, but getting Caroline into it properly might take a NASA engineer. I think I may just stick with the stroller. That's not all. Before she could have lunch in her  new high chair we had to read the instructions. The thing is designed like an ejecting seat for baby F-16 pilots. I'm surprised she doesn't have to wear a helmet and goggles.

Berry Business

 Eliza says the berries in Juneau are huge -- like grapes-- and there are so many you can pick a gallon without moving. We are heading up the hillside this afternoon with a friend from Klukwan. I asked how Eliza found the great patch. In Haines, it would no doubt be a well kept secret for a select few. She said in Juneau it is easy, since there not that many pickers. Most people in the capital have jobs, and they go to work everyday, year round.

Happy 100 Haines

 At the community picnic celebrating our town's centennial, I saw John Schnabel (he celebrated 90 years himself earlier this year.) He looked well and was very happy to be there. A little while later, over salads and hamburgers, his daughter Debra told me that her father had seen another old friend (and one of his pioneer contemporaries) among the hundreds of folks at the party on the lawn of the old school on Main Street and said, "Harriet, I've known you since you were 17 and I've always wanted to kiss you, and now that I'm 90 I think I will." And she beamed, and he did.

The Power of Kindness

 Yesterday I was reading Roger Rosenblatt's Making Toast, a family story about when his 38 year old daughter died suddenly of a weird undetected heart defect, and how he and his wife moved in with her husband to help care for her three young children. It's spare and unsentimental, but a beautiful little book. In one scene, he visits his granddaughter's second grade class, where he volunteers to teach writing, and while talking about his non-fiction book Children of War, he observes that it is too bad children have no power.

"Uncle Ted" Stevens and Grandma Jo

 Chip's mother, Grandma Jo, is here, and she has been watching Fox News. (We have all been following the story of Ted Stevens' fatal crash. ) Grandma Jo and I love each other, so don't talk politics much. Okay, not at all. But she was happy that I wrote this piece in the Washington Post about Ted Stevens two years ago. Today, am too. ( My Democrat friends were kind of ticked.) 

Firecracker Season

 I love August. I love the lushness of it, and knowing that it is the last hurrah before winter makes it even sweeter.  I love the overgrown bushes, the fish and the berries, and the flowers spilling out of the crowded window boxes. I love the bolting chard in the garden, the tangle of sweet peas and nasturtiums, the seed-headed fireweed, and bright raspberries and cherries bursting on canes and trees.  I even  love the thigh-high weeds and beach grasses. The abundance of it is astounding. I feel rich just looking at the counter lined with jars of salmon.

Cans and Canning

 Yesterday morning I looked out the window and saw water spurting and my son and husband shoveling frantically. "What's that?" I hollered. "Turn off the washing machine," my husband said, "now!." A few minutes later when I got outside and checked the damage for myself and asked how long the little sewer creek had spilled across the lawn, my husband said, "it was just gray water." My son said, "Mom, sometimes the planet has to suffer." Seriously, it was only  a minute, not enough to make mud, and it went toward to the driveway not the beach.

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