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. Having the ceremony in the Presbyterian Church downtown was fortunate, too. That way we could all dress up for the vows and change into rain gear and fleece for the party, and the darling flower girls (my granddaughters) could still wear their lace dresses and silver sandals without fear of being chased by a blast of wet wind back to their mother or father's sheltering arms. I couldn't...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.") So much joy is found sitting in a tree in the middle of nowhere, eating cookies and spitting tobacco juice. Even after he has already gotten a bear, a light summer night upriver is all the excuse some men need to watch for more bears. The best part of bear hunting is the...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. I thought all these were isolated incidents until I picked up Caroline yesterday and my daughter said to be sure we all wash our hands. A lot. The kindergartners are all throwing-up, she said. Stomach flu is going around. Another daughter...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. No fooling. My editor and I can finally call it a wrap. For now, anyway. I'm not popping champagne corks yet. For me, each publication, from a column to a book is a miracle. (Speaking of literary miracles, read John Straley's new novel “Cold Storage, Alaska.” It is so good. A comedy, a love story, a true-to-life small-town Alaska tale, plus there's a great dog in it. I loved it. I wish I wrote that book.) I will believe my new book is done when it is in my hand, about...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. James Blaney was born on July 30, 1937...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. Our will is in on the shelf. The chickens have fresh bedding. The grumpy terrier has been groomed and trimmed and is now...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. Well. I should leave now, but I'm curious what this anonymous reviewer praises. Not Jodi Picoult’s “Lone Wolf.” Stephen King says Picoult...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. Both my grandfathers served in the War to End All Wars. One was a Pennsylvania farm boy who lied about his age to join the fight. (He was tall and an eighth-grade troublemaker). The other, my French grandfather, a jeweler, survived the battle of the Somme, married and raised a family and re-enlisted in middle age when WW II broke out. Then he survived a German prison camp. I remember his rose garden, pipe smoke, and a...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. Anyway, I have written a lot of obituaries, so when we prayed for the departed, my list was longer than the silent period following the prayer allows for. I was feeling a little blue about that. Then Monday it snowed, which made me happy -- but the snow quickly changed to rain. I decided to shop for treats, pain...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. “I really, really like it,” Borcik said. “It’s got nice complexity, a slightly creamy smooth feel in your mouth, and no strong alcohol burn, which is impressive, since it’s 90 proof.” He also said that it’s nice to be able to sell a Haines product. Haines Brewery beer is so popular that brewer...Heather Lende