Heather Lende

Editor's Note: Heather Lende, a writer from Haines, recently attended the 2012 Olympic Games in London, where her sister-in-law Karen O'Connor was competing in equestrian events. O'Connor, at 54 years old, is the oldest American competing in this year's games, and placed ninth overall and first among American competitors in equestrian. Here, Lende recounts a day at the games. It may take a village to rear a child, but it takes a Kingdom to raise an Olympic event horse. Which is why if you are just part of a rider’s family like I am, it is a challenge to get one of Karen’s packet of complimentary Olympic tickets. Of course I would have just bought one if I’d known this six months ago, but now I can’t, as they there are all sold out. Gill didn’t rank one either, since she just owns the...Heather Lende
Everyone in town was talking about the accident yesterday , an avalanche that killed a 35-year-old Colorado heli-ski guide and a client. It was such a lovely day, and there was so much spring sunshine that it was a little hard to imagine anything bad happening. And yet, just walking puppy Pearl to town, she was frightened by the rumble of a distant snow slide. For the first time in many years, the avalanches across the inlet from our house have been plowing right to tidewater. A huge avalanche earlier this winter at Pyramid Harbor reminded me that the old cannery warehouse there was leveled by one back in the 1880s or so. On the radio Tuesday morning, the history talk was from Skagway, and all about the Palm Sunday avalanche that killed over 60 prospectors at a camp on the Chilkoot Trail...Heather Lende
I was waffling. I wanted the consultation and an exam. Afterward, I asked for a night to think about it. My patient husband sighed. He said we had to do what's best for the dog. The vet's assistant, her eyes red, said, "I know it shouldn't be a consideration, but you'll have to think about burying him before the ground is too frozen." We knew that. The visiting vet, who is leaving Friday morning and won't back until mid-December said that we could do "this" anytime and it would be the right decision. The cancer in my poor dog's shoulder is big, hot and uncomfortable. So is he. His temperature is 104. He can't stand for more than a minute. He pants and cries. He's lived with this for nearly two years. Cheerfully. Without complaint. But winter is bearing down and he can hardly walk, which,...Heather Lende
The first annual Hospice of Haines "Light the Night" gathering was Friday, with luminarias set all along the dark school track on a breezy and cold October evening, when the souls of the departed felt very close. It was harder on my heart than I expected. The luminarias were basically fancy white paper bags with a kind of window pane cardboard grid inside to hold their shape, a bag of sand to keep them from blowing away, and an L.E.D. electric candle with Nancy's beautiful handwriting inscribing the name of a loved one who had passed away on it. Some had just first names, some had first and last and a middle initial. I got mine labeled Mom, and then marched off down the crunchy dirt track following the lights from the few other luminarias already there -- a dozen flickering patio torches...Heather Lende
I want to go back to my cozy tent at moose camp. No phones, no email, no nothin' -- just a lot of walking and sitting and listening to the river, the rain, the low hum of distant waterfalls, the thunder of the calving glaciers, the patter of the wind in the cottonwoods. There is nothing quite like just sitting still, looking, and listening in such a beautiful place. We'd sit for hours, silently watching and waiting. We saw -- and heard -- swans trumpeting, hawks catching mice, ravens swishing overhead. There were eagles too, and a screech owl. Branches cracked, the cranberries smelled rich and earthy, the moose beds rank. I'm not allowed to tell you if we saw any moose (we didn't get one and the season continues for a little longer). Chip says, “what happens in moose camp stays in moose...Heather Lende
Everyone agreed that it was a very good graduation. The valedictorian, Abby Jones -- who will be playing basketball at a community college in Washington next year and who plans to major in education, communication and psychology -- spoke sincerely, sweetly and succinctly about the best qualities of each of her 24 classmates. Every time she named one you could see them sit up straight and smile. The dads nodded proudly or held up the camera and the moms reached for the Kleenex or fanned themselves with the program, or perhaps fumbled a bit with both and the emotion of it all. The salutatorian, Blake Hamilton -- who will be attending the Naval Academy and majoring in ocean engineering or naval architecture -- thanked each of the nine Haines High School teachers. He also said that while...Heather Lende
I was on my into the grocery store when I saw Doug Olerud come out of the sports shop next door with a hummingbird feeder, and then prop the door wide open. I had just been thinking about Doug, and what a good advocate he was for the library when he was on the borough assembly. (We could use him in the current budget talks.) Anyway, I went in to tell him so, but there was a crowd -- four is a crowd, right? -- trying to shoo a panicked hummingbird out the front door. The little bird was zipping back and forth and up and down among the stuffed bears, moose heads, ducks, fish, and caribou and deer antlers. There are also stuffed mountain goats, sheep, a sea lion even, I think, and a small mink or marten standing lifelike on a shelf over by the backpacks. It's like a natural history museum in...Heather Lende
Don't even ask. It was an awful day. Thank God it was sunny so the dog could stay outside all day. I'm still scratching phantom itches. Forte, my large, hairy old and limping flat-coated retriever, loves to roll in sweet smelling (to him) dead things. Like for instance the remains of that Pacific Sleeper shark that washed up in the back yard a while ago. Which is where we suspect he got the lice. (Things were hopping all over the skin the last time we saw it.) I thought Forte had some sort of seeds or burrs that he had stuck his nose into, until they moved. (He is not an outdoor dog. He lives with us, in the house.) Well, you can imagine the response to this yesterday morning. While I was shrieking, "they're moving, they're moving, help, oh help!" and hollering about the grandbaby who was...Heather Lende
This morning I got an email that a royalty check had been returned to my publisher. It was addressed to me, at 936 Mud Bay Road, Haines, AK 99827. Right up front I'll admit that is not my legal address, as there is no home mail delivery in Haines, but I have been using it for years, as I suspect many of my neighbors use similar ones. My post office box number is 936 and I live on Mud Bay Road so I use the combination to receive important mail that I can't get otherwise. (It's not that it gets hand-delivered to my door. Envelopes addressed with the faux street number are still delivered to the PO box, as all mail here is.) The reason for this little game is that big city outfits like publishers and some mail order places, UPS, or even government agencies, won't mail anything to a post...Heather Lende
This morning something jammed in the KHNS radio automation system, so we heard last Friday's April Fool's Day stories. The one about a new Alaska reality show called "Green Necks" really had me going, all over again. The joke was that logger Scott Rossman and clean water activist Gershon Cohen would trade places for the show. Scott would eat tofu and Gershon would eat meat. It seemed more believable than the new program "Mounted in Alaska" about a taxidermist. (Honest, that is a real TV show .) In other news, the intrepid Haines Venturer scouts are back from a mountain climbing trip in Ecuador and have begun fund raising for their next trip. (They've been to Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, too.) Leader Greg Podsiki is confident that the kids can raise the airfare to the moon on the new...Heather Lende