Saturday, June 23, 2007

the youngest researcher

ok, i've got exactly one day between field trips to get this post out before i'm on to new adventures, so forgive anything here that may seemed rushed! we just returned from St. Mary's, a Yup'ik village on the Andreafesky River, a tributary to the Yukon in its lower reaches near the mouth.

"We" is a gang of 4 doing some research on local knowledge of salmon: me, Tori, Catherine, and her daughter, Savonnah, the 4th and youngest member of our crack research team. Savonnah is about 14 months...i'm dying to knit something for her now that i've spent a week with her. cute as a bug and 'full of beans' as her mother says!

that's the little stinker reaching for freshly hung salmon fillets - more on those later...

St. Mary's is a cool little place - about 550 souls - that combine subsistence and commercial fishing (for salmon) to make a living. we got there during the first pulse of salmon to enter the river. so we saw a lot of this:

cutting fish by the river bank

and this:

stretching salmon fillets that have been scored to hang and dry for winter use

and this:

salmon strips hanging in a smokehouse to dry - pictures do not do this sight justice. salmon strips literally drip oil as they dry and are among my favourite foods...

we also saw a lot of net repairing going on. St. Mary's residents catch most of their salmon using gill nets, and specifically drift gill nets, where the nets are set out of a boat in the middle of the river and the net and boat drift downriver with the current for a spell before being hauled back in, hopefully full of fish!

ever wonder where the fish you buy in the grocery store comes from? chances are, if you're buying fresh Yukon River king salmon, this is where! this is the dock of the Boreal Fish Processor in St. Mary's - many of the commercial king salmon pass through this dock.

with dirt roads and a little rain, a village can be a muddy place. we found this sign on an elder's door - i'm thinking of making one for myself! now, if i could only teach Nuchie to read...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

unfinished projects

i've been thinking about unfinished projects - some are easier to deal with than others, so these are my most beloved unfinished works. the baby sweater, now claimed by Kimmie for her most beautiful daughter, Mara Brodie Wuhs Coles de la mancha...

baby pants - for baby Anna Kay. these were a suprise until i was stupid enough to leave them out for her mom to see. all done, 'cept sewing in the elastic at the waist.

a hat - for someone i won't name yet, since i still have a hope of keeping this a secret!

a blog on unfinished projects wouldn't be complete without a picture of Cobbie's unfinished project: the "19 year sweater" - you know, the one he started during the Reagan administration? yep, Cobbie knits, and knits beautifully, if slowly. he's almost there - the body's done, one sleeve is done, and he's nearly there with the second sleeve! Go Cobbie! now he's just looking for someone who it will fit (i had him size the sleeves on my arms just in case...).

then there's mystery #1: close to done...

and mystery #2: not yet started, but destined for great things...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

rock star

last monday, i attended an event that was a knitter's version of a rock concert. when i say rock concert, i mean one of those great big huge venues with cool light shows and smoke and big sounds, or maybe i mean a small, intimate venue where you can see whether or not your rock star is sweating or merely glistening - depending on what you like. the point is that it was big. HUGE. it was the Yarn Harlot.

the Yarn Harlot, aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, is a knitter who also writes books about knitting - very, very funny books about knitting. i've been a fan for a long time, primarily through her blog . which is cool and funny. very, very cool and funny (are you getting the idea that i really love the Yarn Harlot?) she's currently on tour launching her new book and she came north for the FIRST TIME (except that sh'es actually from Canada so she might already know a thing or two about the north). so, without a second thought, i trekked down to Anchorage ('what?' you say? 360 miles just to see a knitter? did i mention that it was the Yarn Harlot???), and Tracie and i went to see our rock star.

now, the Yarn Harlot is not just any old rock star - she's a socially conscious rock star. we were instructed to knit hats if we had time - the hats would be collected and donated to a local Anchorage area charity - a homeless shelter, a domestic violence shelter, etc. Tracie and i both knitted hats:

although Tracie was a little concerned that hers was more of a yarmulke than a hat really. i think it's odd that without even trying Tracie and i both knit hats in shades of purple and yellow. hmmmm.... anyhoo, after a short wait in line and a slightly longer wait in our seats, the Yarn Harlot came out and delighted us with her wit and humour. and let me tell you (i think only another knitter will understand this) how cool it is to sit in a room with about 100 other people who are all KNITTING. we might have even been swaying together as one to the sound of her voice holding up our needles instead of lighters. it was cool.

afterwards, she signed copies of her books and i had my picture taken with her. upon seeing my picture, both Cob and Mia noted just how positively giddy i look standing next to the Yarn Harlot. i was so giddy, i barely remember the experience! to top it all off, as i put my camera back into a running sock which doubles as a high-tech camera case, she jumped up and took a picture, exclaiming that it was the best use of a commercial sock she'd ever seen! the Yarn Harlot took a picture of me! ohmygod - how cool!

the green sock i'm holding is a sock that travels with her around the country and figures prominently in many of her pictures - this sock has a better life that me, i say! anyway, unless you follow the Yarn Harlot, you have no idea what a thrill it is to hold the green sock. giddy doesn't even begin to describe it!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

toy forest

last week-end, we planted trees. oh, did we plant trees! see, when our house was built, the contractor did A LOT of dirtwork - apparently trees get in the way of this endeavor. so this year we thought we might try to re-establish a few of those lovely trees. our effort started in Nenana, about 60 miles south of Fairbanks on the road system, at the Woodland Farms, a really cool tree and reindeer farm (only in Alaska) full of beautiful pines, spruce, birch, etc. we planned to get about 12 trees but the sight of all those baby trees got to me and i selected 15 before Cob cut me off. i tell you, baby trees are almost as cute as baby animals. but less mobile. not really a bad thing, though. we selected our baby trees in early May, and when the farm called to tell us that the ground had thawed and they'd balled up our trees, well, we high-tailed it down there to be reunited with our little forest and bring 'em home! (this required a not-so-bad 14 ft U-Haul rental).

Cob and Stumpy taking a rest after we spent the evening moving around members of our toy forest to figure out their permanent homes. i think Nuchie is after a mosquito...

our friend Dave came over early to help us get the first ones in the ground - that's Cob and Dave consulting over one of two chokecherries that now stand tall (or at least about 5-6 ft tall) in front of kitchen windows. i've been obsessed with having a chokecherry ever since i tasted a friend's chokecherry bounce, a wonderfully purple sipping alcohol. if any of you see that in your future, you're now looking at the very beginning of what i hope will be a long and happy relationship between me and my chokecherries.

then of course, there was beer.

then more trees...

this is Stanley, a lodgepole pine. Stanley is about 5 ft tall - check out his little pine cone beginnings. now, i don't know much about pine reproduction, but i think these are spores - see that little cloud of yellow dust? so cool! you just gently nudge his little pine cones, and poof! yellow pollen or spores or something! i did this about 25 times until Cob suggested that i leave Stanley be. sigh.......................

in case you're wondering, they all have names. other than Stanley, we also are home to Sylvester and Adrienne the chokecherries (Cob calls this our Philly corner); Steve, Julia, and Olga (2 pines and a birch) in the front; Gabriel, Fidel, Ruby, Leo (Cob says short for Leonid), and Josephine (3 pines and 2 spruce on the front slope); Bert and Lucia, the birch and Siberian larch off the deck; Fanny and Bruce (a spruce and a pine along the driveway); and Amythyst, the lilac in the built-in planter. ask me in 6 months if i remember any of these names, but they all have funny stories behind them, i assure you!!

that's a little herb garden at its base!

and then more trees.

Kristin and Jeremy came by to help us plant half of our forest (can you believe they're still talking to us after the Denali debacle?) that's the group planting Lucia and Bert the birch.

all the while, Nuch made sure to keep the dirt pile from walking off. its' a tough job but somebody's got to do it.

ok, i admit it, this doesn't have much to do with tree planting. but, it IS purple and look how pretty! whoever decided that chives should have perky, puffy, purple flowers - genius! total genius.

and how does Nuch sneak into every picture???