Saturday, July 16, 2011


It’s been fantastic being outdoors these last few days. The temps are in the 70’s and the sun has been shining most of the time (like 22 hours/day) . Al showed me how to carve bark right off the birch tree so I’m planning some new basket making strategies. Yesterday we sat by the lake and had our coffee watching beaver, otter and eagle compete in the latest episode of Nature's Got Talent. Entertainment at it’s finest!

It isn’t all paradise though. My head is full of huge lumps from mosquitoes. Alaska mosquitoes are often mistaken for bush planes and they go for the hair. A phrenologist would have a hay day with me.

I’ve also discovered there is something that grows in Alaska that parallels southern poison ivy. Maybe it’s southern poison ivy. I shouldn’t be surprised. If there are southern Baptists here, I should have suspected southern poison ivy (that is NOT a spiritual commentary).

The scars have only just faded from the unfortunate poison ivy experiment of 2007 (some of you will recall my shame). Now I have a new patch of ugly itchiness on my leg. I know it will be with me for a while, so I’m calling it my Northern Lights tattoo, if anyone asks.

When my two commercial itchy creams (and one is prescription) didn’t phase it, Al just shook his head, made a poultice by boiling some weed growing in my backyard (which has an Indian name that no one knows how to spell) and had me hold it on for a few minutes. The inflammation subsided almost immediately. Wow! I woke up in itchy restlessness at 4AM, reapplied the creams that didn’t work, waited a while, then dug through the garbage for the remnants of my plant poultice. I heated it and reapplied it, and it’s 5PM now and still no itching. Did I mention Wow??!!

I was relating this story to Al’s brother, Thomas, and telling him I was going to gather lots of that plant, when he casually remarked that the medicinal plant and the poison plant look almost identical. Sheesh! That MIGHT be useful information!

Today we spent at the river fishing. Fishing the old fashion way: baiting a hook, casting it out there in just the right spot, reeling her in at just the right speed and Voile! I landed a 30 lb. salmon! It was harder to bring in than I thought. For every turn of my reel, the fish swam farther away. I yelled out, “Is this reel broken or what?” Al and Thomas just laughed and I huffing and puffingly finally pulled it in. It took forever but it sure was beautiful.

I know I’ll be sore tomorrow (but not itchy).


  1. That reminds me of the mixture my granny made for bee stings. She mixed snuff and butter I think it was. Not sure how it would work for poison ivy. I've not been to Alaska but when we were in Yellowstone some years ago we noticed the mosquitoes there were crazy big. The gift stores sold tiny birdhouses for mosquitoes. Intended for a joke but when you saw their size, not so much.

  2. I hope the mosquito net inventor made a lot of money. He or she deserved it.

  3. I'm almost to the point where I'm going to have to stop reading your blog because each story makes me want to live them all the more! :)

  4. Mosquito season is almost over. They'll all be gone in another week or so. That would be great, except it also marks the beginning of Black Biting Fly season, which unbelievably, are much, much worse than the giant mosquitoes. FYI. Your blog is a crack up. At least you didn't go hunting for more of that special plant without Al or Tom. Would like to swing in and say HI. Maybe tomorrow. -Brett

  5. Black Biting Flies?????????? This can't be good!

  6. They are called Black Flies. They are small and they bite, and they don't travel alone (like they travel with millions of their friends at once and are very adept at finding warm blooded things). Anchorage has urbanized them pretty much out, but in the villages they are usually around and hungry...Tyonek may not have them too bad but most villages west of the Alaska Range have them so bad people pretty much try to stay indoors. The saving grace from black flies? Wind. They don't fly good in the wind and over by Dillingham, King Salmon and Bethel there is lots of wind.

    PS: King salmon that are that red in color don't usually taste very good. I'll explain why when we see each other again.