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Heather Lende

I should have been suspicious when one friend said she came down with food poisoning on the ferry on her way home from a winter Outside. But her husband didn't, and no one else on board seemed to either.

Or Sunday night when Dave (of the terrific Dave and Mandy folk duo) needed a stool to sit on, and did not attend the pre-concert potluck because of food poisoning. Or even on Sunday when I felt a little queasy in church, and a long walk did not perk me up enough to rally for Norm's annual Aloha birthday party, which always signals the arrival of spring...

Heather Lende

I have been living on coffee, brown rice and dates, madly typing with two (sore) fingers this week, and have hardly budged from my keyboard. I have not gotten out much at all in the last two months either, except to get a little fresh air, or exercise, or do what I absolutely must in order to meet a book deadline of April 1...

Heather Lende

HAINES -- It's sort of funny that Father Jim Blaney's Sitka funeral Mass was streamed live on the web since he didn't approve of the Internet. He was a face-to-face kind of guy who talked frankly, loudly, and often, to everyone, anywhere. He was 76 when he died Dec. 4 in Sitka of a fast-moving skin cancer diagnosed three weeks earlier.

Father Blaney was a member of the missionary religious order of priests, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which may be why he trusted Mary more than cell phones. He ranked the seriousness of an emergency according the Hail Marys required-- one, two or three. "The Blessed Mother will take care of us,” he'd say, on the Chilkoot Trail with a church hiking group or on his regular 20-mile bike ride to Chilkoot Lake and back...

Heather Lende

HAINES -- I am not up early making stuffing and rolls, washing the napkins, cleaning like crazy. Instead, my bag is packed and I'm ready to go and hoping daylight brings the sound of a small plane flying over the house so we can make it to Juneau for dinner with the family there.

There have been no planes for four days because of bad weather, and the last ferry was Monday. We are kind of stuck, although there is a ferry today. But it leaves at 4 p.m. and arrives in Juneau at about 8:30 tonight, so if we can't make dinner we will at least be there in time for pie and leftovers tomorrow. I prepare for every trip -- even a weekend in Juneau -- as if I may never be back...

Heather Lende

HAINES -- It is always a mistake to check my own books' Amazon reviews, but “Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs” has been having a good run lately, so I stopped in. I should have known better. What a mistake. Here is the "most recent" review:

“I'm still in the first chapter and already questioning if I will continue. Her style of writing is simplistic and frankly, quite boring. I've just finished reading some very well-written books and this doesn't even come close. I'll force myself to give it another chapter or two, but if I were reading this during the long winter nights in Alaska, I'd be fast asleep.” She gave it one star out of five. One...

Heather Lende

HAINES -- At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month since WW I ended 95 years ago, I was babysitting my granddaughters, the great grandchildren of two WW I veterans. At the close of the day I met with the recent widow of a WW II veteran to write his obituary by the wood cookstove in the kitchen of their 100-year-old home on Officer's Row of historic Fort Seward...

Heather Lende

Ever have one of those moments, when for just a second, everything fits, in a kind of Karmic way? That happened to me yesterday. I was already thinking about saints, and all the people I knew who are no longer with us, as Sunday was All Saints Day at church, when we sing my favorite hymns and, as a bonus, have my favorite lesson -- the one where Jesus reminds us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If someone steals your shirt, give him your coat. Love, love, love is the message...

Heather Lende

HAINES -- Mountain Spirits in Haines received its first shipment of Port Chilkoot Distillery’s Icy Strait Vodka this week. Port Chilkoot co-owner, Heather Shade, drove the cases from the first micro-distillery here across the no-stop-light town herself.

“I’m pretty stoked,” Mountain Spirits manager Mike Borcik said as he received them. Though the majority of his store’s sales are Pabst Blue Ribbon and red wine, Borcik is prepared to educate local drinkers on the finer points of the new craft spirit...

Heather Lende
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Mike Borcik thinks customers anywhere who buy mid to higher-end spirits should appreciate the newest Alaska-made vodka....

Heather Lende

HAINES -- We finally put the garden mostly to bed and installed the snow-breaks and stacked the firewood on the porch. I mean it's the end of October and time to be done with it, whether the window boxes are ready or not, right? Sort of.

I kept the front box filled for now. We haven't even had a frost. Also, the kale and chard are still edible, so that bed will stay until they are gone or freeze, whichever comes first. Saturday night at the annual Klukwan heritage and cultural center fundraising dinner, Klukwan resident Tony Strong, who is also a gourmet chef, prepared rich braised moose meat in a port wine and cranberry reduction sauce paired with smashed potatoes. (His sister Kimberley's kippered salmon bellies were to die for, as were sister Lani's desserts.)...

Heather Lende

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