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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

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

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