Friday, August 26, 2016

Ice Cream Anyone?

Ice Cream Sundae, Whipped Cream, Cherry  I woke up this morning after dreaming of soda fountains, the 50's and Happy Days.  Remember seeing that show with Al's Diner?  I realized there are not that many places that offer the escapism to another time.

I don't know if you've ever visited Main Street at Disney land (either Florida or California).  Did you stop by the eatery on Main Street near the entrance?  It served soda's and ice cream goodies.

The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor is built to take you back to a time in the past where a boy might take his lady love to for a date.  They might share a float or an ice cream sundae.  I've eaten there before and remember pigging out on the divine creations they made.

I have wondered where the term Sundae came from.  Apparently back in 1881, a customer of an ice cream shop asked the owner to pour chocolate syrup over ice cream.  Up to this point, the chocolate syrup was only used in ice cream sodas.  It cost a nickle but was only sold on Sunday's thus its name.

There was another restaurant I visited once in a great while when growing up.  It was Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor and it was decorated to look like a place from the late 1890's. Both men and women dressed from the time period to lend authenticity to the concept.

Their desserts were spectacular and sooo rich but soooo good.  They offered other a regular menu of hamburgers and other things but ice cream was what it built its reputation on.  The store opened in 1963 and by the mid 1970's,  there were over  200 restaurants nationwide.  Unfortunately after being sold to Marriott Corporation, the economy slid downwards and the chain went out of business by 1990.  In the mid 2000's after a legal battle concerning ownership, the stores were once more opened in Southern California only.  The chain is fighting to survive in a time of fast foods.

I'm sorry about Farrell's but I'm glad there is at least one place left that provides the wistful look at the past.  On a different note, did you know cones were invented during the World's Fair of 1904?  A Syrian was making waffles next door to an ice cream booth.  When the ice cream person ran out of bowls, the Syrian rolled his waffles into a cone shape and they were filled with ice cream. 

That day the ice cream cone was born and made its impact on history.  Have a good day.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A New Life

Baby, Child, Newborn, Arms  By now, most of you know I live rather far from what most people term civilization.  I don't mind being an hour by air from the closest hospital, nor do I mind being the same distance from a real store.

Due to only having a clinic in town manned only by health aides, women who are expecting do not remain here until they go into labor.  Most head into the closest hospital about one month before they are due.

This is because many times a lady goes into labor early as calculating the due date is at best a good guess.  I do know of one person who had a baby on the due date but generally mothers don't manage it.

Back to my story.  I ran into this lady on my way back to town.  When we chatted, I found out she was due in late September so I expected her to leave or have left last night.  As I came to work this morning, the runway lights were on and a plane was on approach.  This was just before 7:30.

Usually, a plane this early signals something serious and the person is being medivaced.  I checked with one of the other folks and she said the lady had a nice healthy boy at 3:30 this morning.  The plane was only to transport the mother and child into the hospital to check them out.

Fortunately it does not happen very often but it does.  One time, I was living on a remote island with a population of around 100 people.  One of the young ladies was expecting and had gone to the clinic for a checkup. The visiting doctor said she was fine and he left on the last plane of the season.  She had a month before she was due.

That night she went into labor and by morning had a healthy baby.  The clinic called in the helicopter to take her out.  On that island, the weekly helicopter was the normal form of transit but they had air planes for about 6 weeks in the spring when the ice was frozen solid.  Mother and baby were fine.

A few years ago, one of the ladies went into premature labor during a blizzard.  She was extremely lucky because two army nurses were in town so they could help out at the clinic.  Turns out she had several risk factors which made the birth more dangerous.  She survived and the baby was born.  As soon as the weather cleared up enough, a plane came out to get them.

Fortunately, women giving birth early does not happen that often.  In the meantime, everyone is happy for the new lives that join the world.  Thank you for letting me share this piece of joy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Tundra

We left town about 2 PM and headed down river.  The town I live in right now has only been here since about 1950.  There are elders here who remember moving to this location. This trip took us to a camping place about half way between the previous town and the one before it.

In the distance you can see the current town.  It has about 900 to 1000 people. The river zig-zagged across the tundra winding back and forth.  

Old Town

After going down river, across the bay and back up a second river, we passed by the old village.  All that remains of the original village is the old Catholic church.  The fish and wildlife people built  a brand new building because they are always out there but the old church will remain because people still use it.

The village existed there only for 2 years because the ground made it hard to build and it flooded so anything built was damaged. The last time I was there, I saw the remnants of a steam house.

Old Old Town

  This hill you see is actually the village before they moved to the old town.  They say this place is about 2500 years old.  They used to build sod houses that had a wooden frame with sod covering it for protection

You can still see the openings to where the houses used to be but its no longer safe to go inside.

A family is currently building a cabin among the remains where their last cabin was. One of the chaperones found a curved knife handle.

When someone died, they were buried with all their possessions.  If you came by and saw something you wanted like a tea kettle, you could leave something as simple as water in exchange for the item.  Water is considered precious and a good item for trade so the chaperone sprinkled water around the place as payment for the handle.

Older Place
 From here we followed the river a bit further to a place with two small hills.  This is one of the locations of a really old village that has mostly melted into the tundra.

This was wonderful because it had lots of Sour Dock.  Before the teacher spoke on the area, everyone picked raspberries and sour dock.  It was a really hot, hot, day and everyone enjoyed sitting and listening.

Soon after, we headed back to the camping site so we could fix the sour dock for dinner.

I had a blast and came back with racoon eyes due to having my sunglasses on.  As soon as my microSD card reader arrives, I'll download pictures so I can share some dancing pictures with you.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Digging For Clams

One day, we got the kids up fairly early so we'd be ready to go clamming while the tide was out and just coming in.

As you can see, it was low tide and the guys had to push the boats out, into the water so we could head down to the mud flats. You can't dig for clams when the water is in.

It wasn't too far away and so much fun.  

The clam digging area.

Sprinkled along the mud flats, the kids found star fish, jelly fish, and barnacles scattered around.

It was cool watching the jelly fish float around in extremely shallow water.  They were about 6 inches in diameter.  I couldn't believe both star fish and jelly fish existed this far north.

The thing about the mud, it was really really sucky in terms of if you stayed in a spot too long, you sank in and then struggled to get yourself loose.

Digging for clams.
Everyone had rain boots on.  Some folks used shovels to dig down into the muck.  It was interesting the clams were dark and matched the color of the sand/mud they lived in.

If water went into the hole, the clams started going as far down as they could.

They came out all muddy and had to be rinsed by wading a couple feet out into the river and dipping them in.

It was sometimes hard to tell the difference between a clam and a clod of dirt.

Several of the adults grabbed the fresh clams, opened and ate them raw.  No I didn't try one but I helped clean a bucket filled with them.

It wasn't long before the tide came in enough that we had to leave the area.  We couldn't wait any longer for two reasons.  First the boats were parked out a ways and we had to be able to get to them.  Second, we'd hit a part of the beach where clams were no longer found.

So it was back to camp to make lunch and have a nice afternoon.  We never got the clam chowder made because they forgot to pack the dried milk.  Instead, people took the clams home to enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed this information.  It was fun going clamming and enjoying watching the wildlife found in the water.

Have a good day.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Beauty of the Tundra

The River

  As I told you yesterday, we went out by boat to a site near the older locations of this village.  Out here, the rivers function as the roads for these people.  The only "roads" are just dirt in town.  They do not cross the soft marshy land.

We left about 2 PM after loading several boats with kids and gear, including the kitchen so we could set out.  It took about 2 hours to get there due to various stops along the way.

We drove by several fish camps which are where people go in the summer to get enough fish to dry for the winter.  We went past the old village with the old church, a new fish and game building and a building open to anyone.  Due to flooding, this village only lasted 2 years before moving to its current location.

Camping location
 We camped on a lovely flat area, next to the river.  As soon as we landed, we set up tents.  Please note the lack of trees so the boys built a nice little tarp covered area for the girls off to the right.

Believe it or not, the tundra is actually quite comfortable to sleep on because the plants and ground make it rather spongy and soft.

The first priority was to get the camp set up before it got too dark.  Of course the sun didn't set till 11:30, so we had lots of time.

The Cooks Tent
Of course one of the most important tents to get up is the cooks tent.  As soon as it was up and loaded with coleman stoves, pans, and food.  The cooks began dinner.

The first two days of the event were wonderfully warm and clear.  No rain, but when the wind died down, the gnats struck in full force. 

Most people had their heads and faces covered so they didn't have to deal with them.  They really didn't bother me much.

Bucket of Sour Dock
When we went out to visit the two older town sites, we stopped at the oldest place and started collecting some great greens called Sour Dock. 

Some plants had already turned red but there were enough green ones to enjoy.

These greens are cooked in water and added to the Akutuq or Eskimo ice cream made of crisco, sugar, water, potatoes, and greens or berries.

We found a few small raspberries nestled at the base of other plants.  It was great finding them.  We tried to pick some for later but everyone wanted to eat them.

Camp set up.
The lady you see there, is one of the older ladies who came to cook for the students.  What that means is they did some of the cooking but also supervised and taught the girls native ways.

The women teach the girls and the men teach the boys.  The jobs are divided along lines such as men hunt and women take care of the catch.

The ladies also put their bedding outside every day to air it out and be fresh that night.

Star Fish

One morning we went out to dig for clams.  I learned something when we were out.  The area has small little star fish and large 6 inch across jelly fish. 

I did not know they could be found this far north.  The kids had so much fun holding the star fish and the jelly fish in their hands.

Some of the kids discovered the jelly fish stung them.  Not bad stings, just enough to know they'd been stung.

This was where they were digging clams at low tide.  We weren't there long because the tide came in rapidly.

I'll post a few more pictures tomorrow.  As soon as I get my micro SD card reader, I'll post pictures from the dance festival the other weekend.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fish Salad

Salmon, Food, Pumpkin  Again, this entry will be a bit shorter than normal but I wanted to share this recipe with you since it was sooooooo good.  The kids caught a couple Salmon in a net they'd stretched across one of the rivers out there. 

The salmon was perfectly cooked so it fell apart in your mouth and the flavor just oozed through your taste buds.  The left over was put away for later.

The ladies who came along to cook and supervise the girls as they helped just know the recipes. They learned them from their mothers.  You get my visual interpretation of the recipe.

Fish Salad.
Cook up some elbow macaroni till done.
Flake the left over fish into small pieces.
Dice the onions and pickles.
Mix together with just enough mayonnaise so the whole salad is mixed and held together. 

I'm sorry I have not measurements as the ladies just look at it and judge.  The one who added the mayo, scooped it out and dumped it in until it looked right.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Fishing, Fishing Rod, Fishing Lures I just got back from the camping trip late last night.  We had such a good time.  To get to the camping spot, we had to go down river, across the bay and up another river by boat.  The kids fished, picked berries, and gathered greens so many of the meals were supplemented.

The place looked like a small tent city near the river with a pit off to one side surrounded by a tarp.  Over the three days we visited the place where people lived till around 1948 when the city moved and in 1950 it moved again to its current location.  We also saw the place before that.

The other morning we dug clams at low tide while watching the starfish cling to the mud, the jellyfish floating around, and the barnacles who just sat there.  Another day we picked sour dock, an edible green, used in Agutuq aka Eskimo ice cream.  We managed to find enough red berries but they were hard to find because the birds had already stripped the area of blueberries, blackberries and salmon berries and were now eating the red berries.

I plan to publish a couple days worth of pictures next week.  Another couple of days will be devoted to the dance festival held the weekend of the 11th complete with a video or two. 

I wanted to give you a preview of next week so you knew what was coming up.  I had to come into work today so I haven't gotten the pictures downloaded from the camera yet.  Stay posted for some wonderful beauty.