Tag Archives: AK

Fun, fishing and food!

all my fun little smelts

What a fan-frickin’-tastic weekend! Started out with the Alaska Women’s Run, a 5K fun run/walk. Three-fold treats: 1) a pretty blue tee shirt with forget me nots on it; 2) Harpo was tired afterwards; and 3) I found out about smelt fishing!
We walked by the river on the fun run/walk and there were a few people fishing with small dipnets, so I stopped-hey, what was the hurry? I was walking!-and asked what they were fishing for. Smelt! the first fish of the summer. Well, I had to try it and I knew there was a net at the house, left behind by a previous tenant. For a reason, I later discovered.

my biggest one, about 10 inches long
We finished the walk and I put a tired Harpo into her kennel, tied the net and a bucket to my bike (wish I had a picture of that-musta looked pretty funny!), and was off to the river. I soon learned why the net got left behind-it was way too short. I need an extension for it. But luckily for me, the folks I set up next to were done fishing and let me borrow their net. So after about 5 minutes of swinging the net along the bottom (or close to it anyway) of the river, I caught 20 smelt! I whisked them home, cleaned them, and packed most of them up to freeze. I cooked 4; just pan-fried in a little butter, and kinda mushed them up for a dip recipe I found in one of my Alaska cookbooks.

all clean and ready to cook or put in the freezer
By this time it was just about 6 p.m. and I was slated for dinner at a friend’s, so I finished packing up the fish, whipped on over to the grocery store for some cream cheese, brie and crackers, dumped all that on the counter and whizzed through a shower. Made it just in time for the steaks to come off the barby. Lovely dinner of corn, salad, the steaks, and a nice Cabernet, with a movie afterwards.

Sunday I spent the morning baking, and I finished up the smelt dip I’d started the night before. I’ll bring the dip and some crackers into school tomorrow. It’s not very exciting; there’s no strong flavor to the smelt so I think it’ll go over well.

Harpo is very food-motivated. This means I do a lot of her training and positive reinforcement with dog treats. Dog treats are expensive in Bethel-and in Fairbanks. Vaccuuming requires LOTS of dog treats, because we all thought it was soooo funny to tease Harpo with the vaccuum cleaner when she was a puppy and now she’s a rabid vaccuum cleaner killer. I use treats to moderate this behaviour (and eventually end it-I hope). The last time I vaccuumed it took an entire bag of dog treats to clean the rug. And it’s not a very big rug.

ready-to-bake dog treats
So, long story short, what with the price of dog treats and the volume that I need, I was kinda motivated to start baking my own. I’d cooked a sweet potato a couple days before in anticipation of this baking project, and it was all mashed up and ready to go. I followed a recipe I found on Pinterest, with some pretty major modifications-white flour instead of whole wheat, sweet potato instead of canned pumpkin-and mixed up a double batch. No cookie sheets anymore, so I baked them in the little toaster oven. Took me gawd-knows how many hours! to end up with two baggies of cookies for Harpo. She loves them!

smelt and cream cheese dip, puppy treats and homemade bread! Yum!!
I also baked two loaves of bread. I’ve been baking my own bread since I got to Bethel. I like to bake and I was thinking bread might be kinda pricey in B-town. So I packed up a 25 pound bag of flour and added that to a load of freight I shipped to Bethel in April. I still haven’t checked on the price of bread, mostly because I’ve been enjoying my own so much that I didn’t really care whether it was expensive or not. I’ve been pretty good about using it for sandwiches and toast, rather than just eating a hunk of it covered in butter, jam or peanut butter. I’ve been making Irish soda bread, but finally decided I was burning out on it and went back to making yeast bread. Soda bread is quicker, but denser; the yeast bread takes longer but it’s a lighter, fluffier bread. Both taste yummy!

So all-in-all, it was a pretty darned productive weekend! Lots of fun, tired puppy, good food!

Cozy toes!

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I finally bought a pair of slippers; I’ve been wanting a pair since forever and never felt like I needed them badly enough. Now that I’m renting, I’m more careful about wearing shoes in the house, and run around in my socks instead of tracking mud and silt all over the place. But the floor is so cold!

Saturday Market is a monthly craft affair at the cultural center, next to the college. I went to my first market this past Saturday, to “see what I could see”. Not as much Native art as I expected, but still a good selection of jewelry and skin sewing. Only one booth with bone and antler carving. The market was probably half Native sellers. Some people were selling homemade breads and sweet rolls, and there was one booth selling fry bread. Another booth was selling chili. There was also a massage chair, which I took advantage of. My very first massage!

I almost didn’t buy my slippers, until I realized that if I didn’t buy them now, it was going to be a whole month before they would be available again. So I went around and around, trying to decide between blue flowers, the butterflies, and an abstract design. I finally decided on the butterflies, and after trying them on, it was an instant sale. I love them! They’re super warm and cozy, and now I go to bed with warm feet!

Saturday was a busy day for me. I rode up to the post office to check the mailbox, and the package Christine shipped to me has arrived. But, I didn’t have any bungee cords to hook it to my bike, so I’ll pick it up on Monday when I can catch a ride in a vehicle. After Saturday Market, Harpo and I went on a fun run/walk for suicide prevention. I got a tee shirt out of the deal, but all Harpo got was some exercise and quite a bit of attention.

Lucky for us it was a bright sunny day and not too cold. Windy of course, but not too bad. That kept us from getting too hot (yeah, I wish!). Harpo is so anxious to be outside; lots of times when we come home from walking she wants to stay outside. The previous tenant left a dog tether, so I’ll hook her up to that and leave her out. She usually wants to come in within 5-10 minutes, as it’s too chilly to lounge around in the sun. Poor little girl! She misses our big yard in Fairbanks! When we find a place to buy, it will have a yard for her!

Bethel – the first week

Well, here we are, in beautiful downtown Bethel! Um, not sure I’m living downtown… don’t really think there is a “downtown” to Bethel. Stores and restaurants are scattered in between houses, mostly in the oldest part of Bethel, and all along Chief Eddy Hoffman Highway, the main road. I am ridiculously close to KuC (Kuskokwim Campus); about a 5 minute walk or bike ride. By the time I unlock/lock the bike, it’s the same amount of time to walk.

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Select photo to see more of Bethel.
Harpo and I are living in a small two bedroom house that’s probably twice the size of my cabin. She is loving the room for tossing toys to chase! I am enjoying the freedom from hauling water, or at least I’ll enjoy it until I get the water bill! Harpo loves jumping in and out of the bathtub, filled with water or not. I had thought I’d get a roommate, until I got here and saw the mound of boxes that I’d shipped. Somehow it looked like a lot less stuff when it was in the cabin!
I haven’t gotten the sewing room organized, but the kitchen, bedroom, living room, and bath are all set. It’s wonderful to have so much space! Even though I’ve already crammed the house with what I brought from Fairbanks.
I’m listening to public radio as I write this; KYUK 640 AM. Pretty much like KUAC, from what I’ve heard so far. There are two FM stations, but they only play music and I quickly got bored with them. There’s a public tv station too, but since I have no tv, I can’t tell you much about that.

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Select photo to see more of Bethel.
I got a ride up to Meyer’s Farm on Saturday, to go vegie shopping. I didn’t get to see the farm, just the store. It’s a really small little place, jammed with people and vegetables. The big draw is the freshness and the fact that everything is organic. I didn’t feel like prices were too out of line compared to what I’d pay in Fairbanks; higher but of course there’s shipping to account for too. The grocery store-AC Value Center-is much more expensive! I don’t plan on doing much shopping there. There is also Sammy’s, another grocery store that carries more exotic foods according to one of the women at school. I haven’t had a chance to go in yet.
Harpo and I have been doing lots of walking. She has to be on the leash all the time; there are too many cars and too much cool yucky stuff to get into. People drive surprisingly slow; mostly because of the gravel roads. The highway and one or two other streets are paved, and parking lots are rarely paved as well. The occasional taxi speeds down a street, and four wheelers are almost always going too fast, but other than that I don’t feel like I’m taking mmy life in my hands to ride or walk in Bethel.
Pinky’s Park isn’t far from my house; we go up there almost every day. There’s a baseball field, a hockey rink (well, I think there is; the ice is mostly melted and just the goal cages are there), and a small building that seems to be some sort of rec center. There’s also a whole system of boardwalks that Harpo loves. If there’s no one around I’ll turn her loose to run. The first day we did that she was so happy to be loose! She’s been a really good girl on the leash, but she loves running loose and she missed it more than I realized.
It’s been pretty chilly this past week, so Harpo wears her snowsuit when we go out. We get a lot of looks and “Isn’t she cute” from people who pass by us. Most people have been super friendly, although on today’s walk a woman asked if Harpo would attack her. Harpo? she might lick you to death!
My first week at work has been pretty easy. Graduation was on Friday, May 3, so everyone else has been finishing up the semester and getting ready for the ceremony. I reviewed my notes from iTeach and explored some of the tools we learned about. I also helped with decorating the stage for graduation. The ceremony on Friday was lovely; so small and intimate. It was the nicest graduation I’ve ever attended! Afterwards there was a party for faculty and staff, hosted by one of the retiring staff at her bed and breakfast. Vicky does it every year, and Mary (Pete, the director of KuC) wouldn’t accept her resignation until Vicky agreed to keep doing the party.
So I think you can tell I’m enjoying Bethel! I like the small town atmosphere, the friendliness, and how relaxed everyone seems to be. I like everyone at school; they’ve all been very helpful while I settled in.