I live and write on Lingít Aaní, and gratefully acknowledge the past, present and future caretakers of this beautiful place, the Jilkaat Kwaan and Jilkoot Kwaan.

Honestly, the reason I haven’t been better at keeping you posted is not personal. I’m just disorganized. Well, that, and I’ve been spending the week with a baby, and toddlers and computers don’t mix. You have to pay attention to children. There are stories to read, snacks to prepare and share, blocks to take out and to put away. The first week in December is also apparently a big week for book clubs, I suppose they need to meet before all the holiday parties begin. Yesterday, through the magic of what the late Ted Stevens called the “tubes” of the internet, I began my day with one club in Ohio at 7:00 am and ended it with another in Illinois at 5:30 pm.  They loved hearing about life in Haines where there are no Targets or Walmarts or even cozy Panera Bread franchises. (I think I spelled that right– I had never heard of one until I spoke to a club meeting in one.)  Then I ran over to the municipal building to hear the borough manager candidate interview. I liked him very much. The Marine officer transitioning to civilian life after all these years in Iraq made me aware how much these many veterans of foreign conflicts have learned that can be used to strengthen our country’s communities. Still, it seems Haines may not need quite that high level of organization and expertise and military spit and polish. I left the interview feeling a little blue, as the community the assembly told him about doesn’t match the one I live in or speak about to book clubs.  Basically, they told him we are in deep trouble, have no money, no economy and no children in school and that the future looks bleak. I spent the morning in the beautiful new school playing in the gym during “Tikes and Trikes”   time with a at least a dozen young mothers, another grandma, and what seemed like a whole herd of happy little toddlers all playing under the shadow of banners lauding the achievements of Haines High’s champion basketball, cross country, DDF, and cheerleading teams– most all earned in the last twenty years or so.  Then I dropped off a book at the library, with its tree and decorations, bright windows and polished woodwork,  what a welcoming and happy place– and walked up to Main Street past the new sparkling holiday wrapped power poles (so much better than those ratty old tinsel and wire bells and stars that have been recycled for years…) – the new veteran’s home going up, the Catholic Church nativity scene, the sun on snowy Mt. Ripinsky, the view out over the tidy, well maintained and now top rated “clean” harbor– and oh, the wonderful big hammer in front of the Hammer Museum. (Hammer museum! A monument to dreams come true that makes me smile every time I see it.) I walked down by the Sheldon Museum, remembering founder Lib Hakkinen who said people live in Haines because we like it here, and figure out a way to stay. I had a physical therapy appointment at the clinic, which is so impressive– both the staff and facility could not have even been dreamed of twenty years ago. I had been on the board when the old clinic closed and we all feared no medical care at all in town– and now look! It’s our largest employer. In a few minutes I’ll head to the pool– a warm, bright, indoor pool full of people swimming laps– and Jeff running on the treadmill– and then I’ll walk up an old logging road with my dog and a friend, light a fire in a skating cabin to warm it up for a party under the stars this afternoon, come home and make some chowder to share there, with sockeye caught by a young Haines fisherman who is also a photographer (I have bought two prints for gifts from him so far, and a stack of cards at the bazaar) and who has just purchased his father’s boat and bought a little house and I’ll feel so much better. With all due respect– Haines does not need the Marines to come in and save us. We are doing okay, you know?