Gugeelee Lake

Growing up in a village we had to use our imagination a lot or find things to do for fun. When I was a very young girl, everyone had access to gugeelee Lake, which is by the airport landing strip next to the bridge that is now in Unalakleet. I would use an old coffee can and catch gugeelees and watch them, then let them go into the river. I thought they were being set free but I was actually disrupting their natural cycle. A fish will always return to where they were born, to lay eggs and start the cycle of life again. It is amazing. If I had known better I would not have captured them. There is a lake near the village that is by the first hill going up the river. This lake is at a higher level than the river and each year the fish that return to where they were spawned have to make a jump from the slough to the lake via a small water fall. It is awesome to watch fish! I get captivated by so many intricate details of so many things found in nature and it really makes life more enjoyable to truly appreciate the beauty in everything.

Happy Transition

Duke and I are becoming adjusted to living in an apartment. He has so much more room to play and run, but has had to learn to run quietly as we now have neighbors. We live not too far from town in a nice neighborhood. I am actively looking for a job in town until my book does well enough to support me and pursue publishing more great children’s books! I entered into a publishing agreement with Christian Faith Publishing and the book I wrote for kids is about hope! I was so happy to go to church tomorrow, then I found out it was only Friday. That is ok because I can be excited again tomorrow! Prayers are so powerful and everything is working out thanks to God for paving a way and for everything to fall into place at the same time. I am still struggling with breaking a bad habit of cigarettes but I am hopeful this is the beginning of the end for such an addictive bad habit. I tell myself everyday I do not have the desire to smoke and the desire is going away day by day. I like that I can admit my faults and work on becoming the woman I was created to be. 🌷

A simple bouquet.

The first thing in the spring that I was sure to pick for my mom growing up is what we call pussy willows, they are a white fluffy bloom on willow branches that are one of the first bloomage of spring. They are not a flower but they were pretty to me so I made sure to pick a bouquet for my mom and often times my grandmothers as well.

When summer came I loved picking blue bells and purple iris for my aunts, grandmothers and mom. They would smile and say thank you and it made me happy to make them happy. I still feel that way today when I make someone smile, it makes my heart happy. I have been struggling as of late to be my usual happy self. It is a inner battle of self esteem and wondering if “what if.” Then I surely snap out of it thanks to my sister who has been here for me when I needed her the most.

I am confident things will only get better as long as I continue to stay faithful to God and trust and rely on Him. I will teach Duke to admire flowers and pussy willows where they grow instead of picking them. I use a camera to take pictures of the flowers I love and come across because they do the world justice where they grow so beautifully.

Cabbie talk Alaska.

I had an interesting conversation with a wonderful cab driver a week ago. It was a lot about spreading hope. Duke and I took a cab from the cabin where we lived alone, with the exception of a week here or there every other month, to Palmer where we would be safe. It was $130 dollar cab but I didn’t have any options at the time. The shelter paid for $30 and that helped a lot. I didn’t know what was going on in this world with all the gun violence. I wrote last month about changing ammunition from lethal to tranquil, but the driver brought up very good points that allowed me to change my perspective. He said if a person wants to kill, it doesn’t matter the method, he will find a way to kill. From fertilizer to a bullet, he will find a way. It isn’t changing the dynamics of the situation, it is changing the hearts of the people of this world. When our hearts change, the mind changes. There is only hope through Jesus, that we both agreed. Where there is a will, there is a way. There will always be hope. Hope will endure the ages because Jesus will endure forever and ever amen.

Remember when.

I was a very young girl when I saw the first and only RV in Unalakleet. It was next to one of my favorite aunts house. I went inside it once, it was run down, but I imagined what it would have looked like in its prime. It was more of a play RV we made mud pies near.

There was an old garage next to the old house I grew up in. I would watch a robin every summer make her nest in there, the very spot the only hotel is now located. Our neighbor Patricia was so very nice to me. I got to be the baby in the wheel barrel and be pushed around. She had a clubhouse we would play Mickey Mouse clubhouse in. There was a time we made a cardboard with a hole in the middle and sang the same song on the show and popped our heads through the hole and said our names. We tried some of the bizarre snacks they invented on the show as well. She let me play with her amazing Barbi house a few times in her bedroom, this one had the elevator and it was spectacular.

Our parents bought the sugar cubes for their coffee once, I would eat them like they were candy and convinced my neighbor that they were candy and shared sugar cubes.

I made up a game at the playground called Devils Ditch, you had to swing past a person in the ditch and not get pulled down. It was meant to teach kids how to try to avoid traps and that no matter how bad things may seem they will always get better. It’s so fun to remember all the cherished memories I have, there are so many it would take a lifetime.

Some of my favorite memories are of visiting my Papa Johns. He had saved so many beautiful knick knacks from my Great Grandma Gertie. I loved to simply look at them and the picture of the praying man on his wall. I would imagine another picture of an elderly woman praying as well and in college I had the same print and it came with the woman praying too. I loved looking at his doves and listening to them coo. His telephone was a rotary brown phone and I was sure to use it to call home because I loved how it spun back and thought it was amazing. When I graduated at my eighth grade promotion he gave me a JR Bible, I passed that on to my boys and soon Duke will be able to call it his own as well.

I remember when my dad was building our boat in his brothers shop. I got in trouble for watching him weld because the arc is dangerous for the eyes. I ended up being the best fire watch on the boat I worked on during shipyard. I stopped the boat from burning down. They were cutting lines in the factory and Hung Lee cut the wrong pipe, it blew a flame out of it and was going to start a boat fire. I heard “liar, liar” but they were saying fire fire! I was swift and on my feet running to the area of the screams and during my sprint already had the extinguisher pin pulled and ready to go, I was on the wrong side of the machine so I threw the extinguisher to hung lee who was standing there and he extinguished the blaze.

Point of my memories? They are cool and fun to share! Have a nice day!

Emotional Abuse is abuse.. get out!

I decided for myself to no longer be with an emotionally abusive person. I was made to believe that I was the one doing the abuse when, in fact, my behavior is a cry for help. I was told if I broke up with my boyfriend that “he would kill himself.” That statement alone is an abusers way of keeping a vulnerable person at bay. I have been seeking self help regiments to better my quality of life, for myself. This could only do so much. I have money saved up to leave, but no running vehicle to do so. He did hit me once this past year, he said it was unintentional and that he woke up from a sleep and it was instinct. When someone uses their financial advantage against say, a stay at home Mom, such as myself, that is abuse. I was willing to leave the first time he hit me. He was the first man in my life to lay hands on me. I don’t stand for any type of abuse, I never have. Granted I did make my own mistakes in this relationship I should not be forced to live in shame for the rest of my life, that is why I admitted to my mistakes, so I would no longer be ashamed. Living in my own shame almost led Ash to suicide, something I’ve been against my whole life. I only ask for prayers for this endeavor of leaving an abusive partner. I believe in the power of prayer and the first step is leaving the situation. I have until the next week to leave, where there is a will there is a way and I pray for God to provide a way. Amen.

Axel Constantine Johnson

My brother was a poet. He was more than just that, he was saved through Jesus Christ. There was an understanding between my brother and I, we shared the same goofy humor, we both understood love. That understanding is easy to comprehend. It is that Jesus, above all, is love. It is understanding grace and mercy, gifts from Jesus Christ Himself. It is repenting, changing your mindset when your mind is set on its own ways. Discernment, choosing right over wrong. When flesh is at play the evil one tries to make you succumb to the desires of this world, when we let go of the desires of the world then you are truly set free. These are only two poems of my deceased brother, he took his own life while under the influence of alcohol, he has many other writings my father has yet to share with us, but it will happen. Only God Himself will judge him. As He will judge every single soul. Fear not.IMG_7636IMG_7637

 

Inupiaq

IMG_1637IMG_1695IMG_1909IMG_2272IMG_2273IMG_3380I grew up being called an Eskimo and guess what? It has never bothered me not once. This is not a derogatory term, it simply means “eater of raw meat.” I eat muktuk, which is the part of the whale skin and blubber, raw. We also eat quaq, which is thinly sliced frozen fish. We dip that in seal oil, which is seal blubber rendered into a clear oil. I am Eskimo, but I prefer Inupiaq as it is more identifiable to where I am from, Unalakleet. The sod houses on our beach date between 200 B.C. And 300 A.D. A lot of people move to Unalakleet but my mother’s side is originally from the area, unlike  a lot of families who do not originate from there. I loved growing up at fish camp, my mom would tell us oral legends and all these were passed down through the generations. One of my favorite is of the link between Orcas and Wolves. Long ago they would say when a wolf was near death they went into to ocean to transform to the killer whale, and vice versa. Mainly the point of that legend from my understanding is that a pack of wolves are so similar to a pod of orcas. We do not hunt killer whales. Our area hunts beluga whale and our family trades other Native food for bowhead whale from more up north villages. When I was growing up a fresh gallon of milk was five to seven dollars and I’m sure the price went up. It is too expensive to only rely on modern grocery stores, so we live a subsistence lifestyle. Most of my vivid nightmares, starting from a very young age, are of catastrophic events happening in the village I grew up in. I still live in Alaska but not in Unalakleet. I am Inupiaq, but we are all people and when people come together for a common cause, it’s pretty awesome. Love and be love.

 

Fish Seining Alaska Style

There were seven members in our family growing up in Unalakleet. Every summer we spent up river at our cabin. This was essential because we could not afford groceries most of the time, so we had to work very hard for our food in the summer and save most for the winter.

Our sein net was black and the holes were very close together so that the fish wouldn’t get caught by the fins or gills. My dad and one brother would work in the boat while my mom and myself along with my three other siblings would work the shore. This was the hard part because we did not have the horsepower of the boat motor to help us. My dad maneuvered the boat in reverse to let out the net slowly while we on the shore held the rope that was able to let the net out just enough to stay in the middle of the river. We had two favorite sand beaches we used. They had to be long, once the net was let out we worked with the current, not against it. We kept the pace of the boat and it didn’t take very long for the net to become heavy with live fish. My dad would bring the net in downstream of us and we were tasked to pull in the net just enough so that no fish escaped. Then the fun part began, all five kids and my parents used our hands to grab only the biggest fish and beached them. We did not keep the small fish, they needed to grow more and when we catched tubs full we let all the rest of the fish loose. It was amazing to be a part of and we got a lot of fish seining. Then the work began cutting the fish so they were able to be hung by the tail. My mom cut them perfectly and my dad was very good at washing them in the river and hanging them on a makeshift drying rack. Once all the fish were tended to we transported them to our cabin to be hung under cottonwood smoke and dried properly. Each day we had to check all the fish to make sure no bugs had laid eggs on them during the night while the smoke let down. We worked very hard during the summer but when the hard work was done we got to be free and wild in nature. It was the good life. I cut and dry the fish we catch the same way my mom has so many summers over and over again. I’ve lived a fish rich diet my whole life, except while I went through my deep depressions. I am very thankful for the unique life we grew up living, it is truly a one of a kind and I enjoy sharing stories, more so in person than writing. Never loose your uniqueness that is what makes you beautiful, to me each person is beautiful in their own way. To find beauty in all you come across, is a beautiful life, to look for fault in all you come across, is a faulty life. Stay beautiful!

Bumblebee, please don’t sting me.

When my older sister was very young, we were at Egavik, which was a reindeer herding establishment in the days of old, a bumblebee landed on her leg. She did not know what to do and did not like this big bug on her so she covered it with a towel. As soon as she covered it the bumblebee stung her. I never wanted to get stung by a bee so my mom told us to be very still and wait for them to fly away. I lost a lot of berries growing up running away from bumblebees, I would run run run until I was able to be near my mom or my dad and take comfort in their cover. My brother would play a trick on me growing up, he would grab a bee shaking it in his hands and throw them at me. It was horrific and only added to my fear of bugs. There are two bugs I was never afraid of that is the butterfly and the dragonfly. I want to overcome my fear of bumblebees so I may do a starter hive this summer. To this day I have never been stung by a bumblebee. Two summers ago I was picking raspberries and I stepped on a wasp hive, I ran swatting and yelling and screaming. My second eldest son drove myself and Duke back to the cabin, I cried all the way home. My worst fear had come in the worst of ways. I counted over 20 stings and used meat tenderizer made into a paste to help reduce the swelling. I love to plant wildflowers in the spring for the bees, although I am afraid of them I understand their importance as pollinators. I don’t mind dandelions because I find them beautiful and they are the first flowers of the spring that the bees rely on. They can also be used as salves and jelly and the roots are medicinal. Who is man to say what plant is a weed, when the government puts that label on a plant and when you do research on that plant, more often than not that plant serves an important role in remedy that is natural, God given. I hope to never be stung by a bumblebee and hope to one day not be afraid and each year that fear subsides because I do not want Duke to be afraid of bugs. It’s kind of silly because one of my nicknames growing up was bug. Love bug.