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Heather Lende

HAINES -- Why shouldn’t my friend Christy be Dr. Phil’s personal songwriter? Because she has lived here her whole life, most of it above the family business, the Pioneer Bar and Bamboo Room Restaurant? (A bamboo curtain once separated the two.) Christy Tengs Fowler is so sure she’s the one for Dr. Phil that she tried to spend her life savings producing a CD of her Dr. Phil Project songs. Except she couldn’t actually save any money thanks to unexpected bills for liquor, then halibut for the fish and chips, and… She forgets what the final one was, but by then her brother had heard enough to front his “little sis” (Christy will be 60 on her next birthday) the cash to chase a dream of writing hit country songs that she’s delayed for decades. It was rekindled watching Dr....

Heather Lende

HAINES -- It was too wet to go out and too cold to play ball. So we sat in the house and did nothing at all. Actually, I had a long walk in the rain with a friend who had been at a family funeral down south while Chip and I were doing the trauma-hospital thing in Seattle after his injury , so it was nice to catch up.

We both agreed that 10 days away in high northern summer feels like 10 weeks, and that a month in winter feels like 10 days, but that's another story. This morning, as Chip and I woke in the living room -- he's on the window seat, I'm on the couch -- the rain pelted the metal porch roof and dripped off the bushes, and we remembered there was a wedding today...

Heather Lende

HAINES -- They say rain at a wedding is good luck, and there is something about rain that makes a wedding more memorable.

Everyone knows that the sunny skies that follow June storms are that much more appreciated because of the weeping clouds that preceded them. Thank goodness for the groom's Haines Packing Company cannery crew, which completed the pavilion on the beach in time, and, thankfully, so big...

Heather Lende

HAINES -- It is the time of year when some folks hunt black bear for meat. Black bears are the pork of rural Alaska. (The butcher will turn ours into sausage and brats.) But there is more to this first hunt of the year than food.

There is something that calls male hunters, especially, to the woods after those long winter evenings at home where they are expected to speak at the dinner table, watch “Masterpiece Theater”, or learn a few yoga stretches. ("Trust me, your back will feel better when you are in that tree stand.")...

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

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