Kind, loving, and compassionate is what describes Mrs. Pierce. I have known her since I was in the third grade. She just retired from the Air National Guard after working there for 20 years. She is known for her laugh, and her giggle is contagious. She is also called “Pretty Patty,” because she has beautiful nails and cute clothes. She was the Indian Ed teacher at Kenny Lake for many years, and loved being around all of the staff and students.
Mrs. Pierce has been a part of my life for awhile now. She has seen me through good and bad times. Patty has helped me make good decisions in life, and when I have a problem she is always there to give me advice. She is one of my biggest cheerleaders. She watches my violin performances, posts funny pictures, and gives me a “ Yahoo” when I do something right. I also love when she prays for me and says, “Jesus loves you most!” Patty loves spending time with my mom and me. She goes four-wheeling, fishing, and rafting with us, and I can't imagine my life without her.
“Some people make the world more special just by being in it.” --Kelly Ann Rothaus. That is Patty.
It was an early Tuesday morning when I suddenly awoke to hear my mom screaming, “Why God, why now?” Before hearing a hissing swishing sound coming from our bathroom toilet, I was enjoying my long sleep. At first it seemed like only a bad dream, but then I heard her screaming, “Abbie, Abbie, get up! Help me!” So I crawled out of bed slowly and went to see what was going on. I saw towels everywhere, and mom was bending down crying. I asked her what happened, and she said that the toilet was broken and was overflowing and leaking all night. I asked how I could help, and she then told me that I should go check in my room to see what the damage was like in there. I couldn't believe that this was happening again!
Only a month earlier, our house flooded when a pipe busted in our furnace room because the welding was bad. All of the flooring in our house had to be replaced, and we were out of heat for a week. Without our close friends, I don't know if my mom and I would survive. After the first big flood, this flood seemed minor. We still need fans, dehumidifiers, and big heaters; but we are drying out. I want to thank all of you who have been praying and helping my mom and I out in this time of need. “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer. ”
Not many people have famous (well at least in the state of Alaska) adopted uncles, but I do. Most people know them as Fritz, “Fishman,” and Mr. Baer. I just call them family. They have been coming to Kenny Lake School for the last 14 years. They help with the second and third grade salmon project. Students have enjoyed their sense of humor while they harvest eggs from salmon, tie flies, dissect fish, and even eat fish eye balls. When they walk into the school, former second and third grade students greet them as long time friends.
They first came into my life when I was three years old. I remember when Fritz would play Pretty Pretty Princess, wearing the necklaces, earrings, and rings, to entertain me. I remember sitting on Mr. Baer’s lap learning how to tie flies, or make pixies when I was four, and I will never forget the late nights we all stayed up playing games and laughing our heads off. As I grew older, my mom and I started spending summers down in Kasilof set-net fishing with “my uncles,” and their wives. Over the years, they have become my extended family. Instead of Pretty Pretty Princess, we bond by picking, filleting, and packaging fish. Late night camp fires, telling stories, and laughing have become a summer tradition.
As I think about my “special uncles,” I realize that most people that live in rural Alaska need close “family” friends to survive this wild country. Here in Kenny Lake, my mom and I consider many of our closest friends to be our family. We help each other build our homes, hunt for food, celebrate birthdays and other holidays, and even cry and pray with them about life’s struggles. I guess that is what makes Kenny Lake, Alaska a unique place. It’s not just our beautiful mountains, rivers and wildlife that make this place special, but the relationship we have with each other as well. Riot Grrlie really sums it up when he says, “There are the families that we are born into, and there are the families that we choose as our circle of friends. While their faces may change over the course of our lives, the joy they bring us remains constant.”
Being an only child is sometimes challenging. There are advantages and disadvantages to having no siblings. For instance, one of the biggest bonuses about being an only child is that you don’t have to share. You don’t have to share your mom’s time, your toys, or your bedroom. You don’t have to share the bathroom. Can you tell, I don’t like to share? However, my mom has spent a lot of time teaching me the value of sharing! The discouraging part of being an only child is not having anyone with whom to share the chores. There is no one to play a wii game with, or to distract mom from my naughty acts!
One of the aspects I really like about being an only child is that I get to go on more trips than my friends from big families. My mom has to purchase only two tickets…and we get to see many sights and do, more shopping! But, it gets lonely sometimes. It’s discouraging to have to meet all the expectations.
But back to the positive bits and pieces of being an only child: I like that mom can protect me from evil people, and she says she tries to protect me from myself! I sometimes take for granted the one-on-one time my mom provides me. When it comes to my mom and fashion; well, she knows it all! Not! It would be nice to have a sister who could be the one to tell me about new hairstyles, newest fashion, boys, and first love.
In the end, no matter what others may think, being a singular sensation is really amazing!
We have all heard about the horrible road conditions in Alaska. This past week I experienced them firsthand. As I was on my way down to youth band practice, it was obvious that the visibility was poor. As I tried to drive my way through the blowing snow, a moose jumped right in front of me. It seemed like an electric shock went through my body. I was freaking out thinking of all the soon-to-be results. It was too slick to stop; I had no time to think. As the moose went right, then left, and then right as if it were not able to decide the direction to go, it stopped right in the middle of the road. Looking right at me, he decided that he should move out of the way. I was thinking of how I might die or ruin my mom’s nice “bluebarue”. I swerved the opposite direction of the moose. As the right side of the car skimmed the shoulder of the road, I spun a 360 twice.
I felt as if I were in a snow globe for a brief second. As the moose ran off, the car slid sideways and came to a complete stop in the deep snow of the ditch. Thinking I could get out, I put it in reverse and then in drive, and reverse again. I soon figured out that it was stuck. I got out of the car and started running toward the school. Once I took a deep breath, I saw a car with head lights. It looked big enough to pull a small car like mine out of the ditch. I waved it down and it was someone I knew, Tim Reddington. I asked him if he could help me, and explained to him that I almost hit a moose. He said, “Hop in and let’s take a look.” Thank goodness he had a shovel and chains, and took the time to help me get the car out of the ditch. When I think back to this experience, I am so thankful that I didn’t get hurt or even damage the car. I’m thankful that I live in a community that has people who will help in a time of need. It took a couple of days before I was ready to get behind the wheel again. I learned what it was like to avoid a moose on the road and how quickly you have to react when Alaskan moose get in your way.
Sisters. This book is about her life with her sister and how they survived in the Copper River Valley in the 1920s. I first met Samme when, at the age of 93, she drove all the way from California to Kenny Lake, Alaska. For several summers Sammie would come all the way from Thousand Oaks, California to her beloved Alaska. Here she worked on writing about this great state, road houses in Alaska, and stories about her family’s history. She would stay at our house and take care of our dogs while mom and I were off on our own adventures.
If you had ever met Samme you would never forget her petite body and her white head with no hair out of place, tied up with a cute ribbon. Our dog, Honey, fell in love with her, protected her and never left her side. She loved him as well and spoiled him rotten. It seemed sometimes he was sad when we came back home… no more special privileges. She had a strong faith in God and every morning she would spend time in his Word. She believes she has lived so long because she has a strong faith in God.
Over the few years I’ve known her, she has taught me to love life, be courageous, keep striving forward, and never stop seeking adventures. It’s been an honor to know this centenarian.
Do you know what a centenarian is? The root word is century, so it means a person who is 100 years old. Samme Darnell is a centenarian. Not a lot of people know a lady that lives to be 100 years of age, but I am blessed to know Samme. Her most famous book is called
Unlike my obsession with being organized, my miniature labradoodle Emma is obsessed with anything that can be thrown or bounced. Emma redefines the meaning of obsessive - compulsive disorder or OCD. The dictionary says that OCD is an anxiety disorder that produces repetitive behaviors. This applies to some humans, but in this case it applies to my dog.
Emma has many tendencies that tell you she is OCD. When she first sees her ball, she drools and sticks her tongue out. As you toss and throw the ball, she goes into a completely different world. Holding the ball in her mouth, she won't let go unless you grab it. Emma is very anxious when I come home from school, and is always has a glimmer in the corner of her eye telling me she wants to play. The minute my shoe hits the floor, she brings a ball to me. Sometimes it looks like she is shaking, even quivering, in anticipation of the throw. Who could resist satisfying her urge to play? Not me.
Emma's OCD drives me up the wall at times. Then I think of how she has been waiting for me all day and how she wants my attention. I think it’s crazy that she can play for two hours non-stop, with only 10 second breaks to catch her breath. It wears me out! But what can I say? She is my one and only OCD dog and I love her.
This time of year at Kenny Lake School the hallways are filled with excitement about Christmas. The gigantic tree with presents underneath, fills the entry way. The elementary students are busy practicing for their annual Christmas program. It’s not unusual to see random reindeer, or a short Santa roaming in the halls. But my favorite tradition about this time of year is secret Santas.
The students at Kenny Lake School first started this tradition in the second and third grades. Every year students draw a classmate’s name and become that person’s Secret Santa. Secret Santas leave little gifts for their person every day during the two weeks before Christmas vacation. Secret Santas are revealed the last day before the holiday. At the class party, a larger gift is given and people guess who their secret Santa is.
Keeping a secret is exciting, but also challenging. Some people ask other students to give their secret Santa the gift. People can be really creative in where they hide their gifts. Some students hide their gifts in coat sleeves, lockers, chairs, boots, or even their lunch box. There are many ridiculous gifts that are given; for example my friend Hazel opened her locker and their stood a Ken Barbie doll. We all had a really good laugh. Most gifts that are given are candy and little trinkets. It’s so wonderful to get a gift; it doesn’t really matter what it is.
There are many types of Christmas traditions, but the most popular one at Kenny Lake School is secret Santas. Kenny Lake School is still participating in the tradition today. The spirit of Christmas giving and thinking of others is what secret Santas is all about.
When the video was done and I was awake, we went to Tommie's house to relax. It took around two days for the anesthesia to wear off. So as I was lying down not yet feeling the pain, even though I slept for 4 hours, I went back to sleep. But it was not just hard for me, but also my mom. It was now a new adventure for her. The doctor said that she was going to be my so called “maid.” When the morning came and mom and I were awake we started our journey back to the doctor’s office to change my dressing. You might be wondering what the dressing is and why I had to change it. The dressing is what is under the Ace wrap. As the nurse took off the bandage and replaced it with a new one; there was blood oozing out from the holes spread in a variety of places on my knee.
We wanted to go home that day because we were tired of being in Anchorage. As soon as we left the doctor’s office mom's cell rang. It was Mrs. Pierce; she said that the weather was not safe to drive in and that they were supposed to get three inches of new snow in town. So we went back to Tommie’s house and waited for a couple of hours. We soon decided that we were going to take it slow and go home.
This adventure was a big one for my mom and I hope that I will never have to go through surgery again. My advice to the sports players out there is to be cautious about what you do.
You’re going to do what to my knee? I can’t believe that it actually happened; I had an ACL tear. “How do you fix a torn knee ligament?” I asked. The doctor proceeded to tell me that I was going to have surgery. The knee ligament was going to come from a “donor.” “A donor is a dead person right? Ewww!” After I got over the fact that they were going to drill holes in my knee, I realized that I was going to have needles inserted into my arm to give me anesthesia. I was more petrified of the needles being inserted into my body than the actual surgery. As I later found out, anesthesia is a good thing because I didn’t feel or remember a thing. As the surgery continued the doctor videotaped the whole thing.
The vibration and sound of a motorized vehicle really turns me on! It all started when I was five years old with a bright yellow Mini Ski-doo snow machine. I got it for a Christmas present from my mom. When I came home from our Christmas Eve church service, it was waiting for me on the snowy drive way. I was so shocked that I couldn’t wait to drive it; that night I also got to open one more present. When I opened the box there was a yellow snow suit that matched my new snow machine. Now, not only was I motorized, but I was also stylish!
I had many adventures on the little yellow machine. One of my favorite memories was driving our machines down to the school to watch hockey games. Mom soon got tired of waiting for my machine because it could only go 10 mph. That’s when we decided to get the snow machine “souped up.” Now I could go 15 mph! And I was hot stuff! Many of my friends came over and I would pull them with the machine. When my best friend came over we would sometimes fight because we both wanted to ride it. That’s when my mom gave us both a time limit so that it would be fair. My dog, Honey, would many times run beside me as I drove on the trail. Honey would run ahead and think it was funny because he could go faster than the snow machine. Each spring a large group of us would go to Thompson Pass and we would spend six to seven hours having fun in the sun and snow. This is where I tried to show off by hill climbing. This proved to be harder than I thought since my machine would stall out at the beginning of the hill. My high mark was where the big monstrous machines took off.
This little machine was the beginning of my passion for driving. Later on I advanced to a bigger machine and the four-wheeler soon followed. Now I am driving a car; who knows what will be next, a Semi truck? Airplane? Jet Ski? Dirt bike? Well, watch out motorized vehicles, here I come!