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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

HAINES -- Chip and I did not get a moose, but it wasn't from lack of trying. And as he said, now that the hunt is over, the stories can begin. And that's the fun part that could last all winter.

Until now, everyone was very vague about just what they saw out there, especially as this hunt, with strict restrictions on antler configurations, means that a bull moose is not always, or even usually, hunt-able. It may take a while to determine if he has three brow tines on one side, the minimum amount, and if indeed what you think is a brow tine really is one, and not a mid-bay tine. Or if that's a forked antler for certain -- and just forget about the 50-inch antler spread, as very few of our moose are that big, and close up they all look huge. (Yes, it's tricky, all of it.)...

Heather Lende

Yes, we are still moose-less after 10 days of hard -- and I think smart -- hunting. I figured Chip would be disappointed when we left camp last night without a moose, but he said, "That was another great weekend. We've had some really good hunting, haven't we?"

And the thing is, he meant it. Also, he was right; we have had a very good hunt so far. (And we still have a week left. There have been 18 bulls taken in the area, and the season runs through Oct. 7.)...

Heather Lende

I couldn't take many pictures, as two days of heavy rain fogged my lens, but I did get a few during breaks in the weather. It was even raining in the tent.

It's not that it leaked -- it was actually very dry and warm with Chip's little steel stove (he kept saying, "isn't this great?"). But what happened is that once the fire went out and we fell asleep, the condensation built up on the inside, and the rain beat down so hard on the outside that it knocked the tent walls making big drips every now and then as well as a continuous fine mist. It must be good for my skin, right?

All I could think of were the Klondike stampeders who lived for months like this in the mud and cold and rain with dried food and not nearly as good gear. They were so much tougher than I am...

Heather Lende

The first weekend of the Haines moose hunt is over, and we have survived. So have the moose -- near our sites, anyway. I hear four have been taken so far. We have until the first week of October -- or until 25 or so have been shot.

Chip and I camped out on the river so we could be hunting at first light on opening day. We were up Sunday at 4:30 a.m. When we couldn’t stand to wait another minute, we tiptoed through the woods to our tree stand -- through alder and cottonwood, wild roses and cranberries, Devil’s club, willow. Underfoot it’s rutted, riddled with blow downs, and the way is not clear. We tried not to crack dead branches, or trip, or snag the rifles. We climbed over and crawled under logs...

Heather Lende

My daughter said the birth of her second baby was so much easier than the first, which is proof that something Biblical really does remove our memory when it comes to pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

But in Juneau's Bartlett hospital on Saturday morning I did not want to remind Stoli about that August medevac to Anchorage, the measures taken to slow the early labor down and save little Silvia Rose, and six weeks away from home, because here she was, as perfect as a baby could be, plenty big, at 7 pounds, 8 ounces and with all that dark hair and her mother's nose -- and here was Stoli, in her pink pajamas going for a walk down the hall a few hours after delivering her, all smiles...

Heather Lende

I wish I had my camera yesterday when little Lani and I were on the beach, and saw two kite boarders skipping over the surf, flying between the cove and Pyramid Island in the strong wind. One of them, my neighbor James, who has a South African accent, came zooming right up to us on the shore, dumped the big sail, and stepped onto the beach in his wetsuit and harness, holding the slick board, and said hello.

It was a 007 moment -- I half expected him to peel off the suit and reveal a dinner jacket. After a little chat, he hopped back into the water, hooked up his board and said goodbye, waving to Lani, who blew him a kiss before he sailed off...

Heather Lende

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