Alaska outdoor adventures with a purpose

Summer is outdoor every day event in Alaska! The other day, my lunch consisted of wild rhubarb right out of the interior forest, peel and eat! Picking Labrador Tea is a must!! Tea is especially great after a good home cooked food. After a busy day of work; in office or any outdoorsy event – look out the window with a cup of tea is peaceful.

I have been extremely busy not sewing-I feel disconnected from my tasks of sewing but the call of the wild outdoors Alaska is tempting and can’t be ignored. Thanks to my Ilung, Letha- she insisted my mom and I pose for a picture of our hand made Yup’ik traditional parka;

Maryann Lomack and Merna Wharton

I am on my way to my extended family on the Kuskokwim River. I am looking forward to seeing friends and family – cut fish with them and go out to the tundra to harvest berries and greens. I am bringing with me some ingredients for home made soap to mix with healing plants. I am also bring organic zucchini to make akutaq with black berries with non organic crisco and sugar – 🤣!

Every year I plant zucchini in my front yard. This year I won’t wait til they are humongous to harvest them.

Labrador Tea

Just yesterday, my mom picked tea and left them in my Tacoma truck. We stepped out for little bit and entered the truck. I tell you, it was an amazing aroma! I would say better than any store bought deodorizer!

Wild Rhubarb is another eatable plant that is a must pick green!! I saw one right in the city limits of Anchorage!

I am looking forward to rain, sunshine, tundra, the smell of delicacy Yup’ik food and seeing family!! Summer means a whole lot more then outdoors-it’s means subsistence til the sun goes down and maqiq til wee morning. Piurci! 🌸

Smoky Fairbanks = sewing

The sewing is calling again with the forest fire in the air. I am aiming with a needle to sew this weekend; qaspeq or atkucuaq (little fur parka). I plan to cut out a pattern with materials and measure out my fur parka.

Before the heavy smoke was blown this way from the southwest of here, I had the opportunity to get out into the wild 😜.

Before stores or ships with western goods arrived to AK, we already had a chewing gum, spruce sap. While on the trail or out and about – vegetables were a hand pick away, fireweed. Soup was never far with a hand made wooden bowl – burl.

With this smoky air, I will imagine as a snow storm and I shall do my sewing!!

The center is the back of an Arctic Ground Squirrel and sides are the belly part of the squirrels.

Piurci ❤️🌸

Furs in mind, pollens and the greens plenty

The fur fashion purse is no where to be found. The lost fur craft item has stolen my creativity to sew – actually summer is here a short time and its time to harvest fish and eatable plants. Spring hunting was a success for my extended family on the Kuskokwim River. We are grateful for opportunities to gather and pass on the traditional subsistence lifestyle to our children.

Eatable greens have come out of the frozen ground and are defrosted into our body in need of vitamins and fiber. First the fiddle heads are happily gathered. The smelts and hooligans are dipped out of the rivers. The salmon are swimming their way into the rivers to be hung on racks and smoked to preserve. The migratory birds have layed their eggs. On the coast of Alaska, herrings are harvested and halibut are fished out of the sea. The small and big mammals have gained their offspring. The Arctic ground squirrels are running around like no tomorrow; my thought have been trapping for them. These are a glimpse of what Alaska is!

I have been attacked by the pollens – making no fun under the Fairbanks hot sun.   We are happy when rain comes down!

Yesterday evening my mom, sister, niece, nephew and I went out to pick the first of our summer harvest: wild rubarhb!

In Yup’ik we call them “Angukat” plural. I make them for dessert, mix in yogurt and hand full of tundra blueberries and sugar to your taste.

We pick them when they are a foot or so tall before the stems harden. Every part of the plant is eatable, unlike the domestic rhubarb.

We separate the leaves and stems. We boil the leaves and you can add the chopped stems to the boiling pot.

I store a half quart ziplock bags and freeze for winter food. For lunch we had fresh greens for dessert;

I have not furgotten the toddler parka: and updated progress will be posted soon.

We are enjoying the summer and there are more day and night lights to enjoy! Piurci!

Another fur fashion in a belly…but looking at the bright side

I was just about to sew my latest fur fashion purse but no sight of it in the place I left it last 😢😡😢 – emojis sad and mad and sad again!

I hope it’s only lost in my corner pile. I will have to re-search the area I thought I had it last. I won’t give up until it’s either found half eaten, in tack or a pile of poop – you guest it, a husky dog poop 💩!!!

If I was in Alaska Native Art class I won’t be fooling my teacher. There are Alaska Native art classes available within the University of Alaska and many local schools in Alaska. I might take a class in something art this fall. I think it’s always good to do something you enjoy doing and learn new techniques of art. Here is a piece of lost art that may or may not be found again;

If it’s not found there is an opportunity to improve the second fur fashion purse.

Piurci 🌸

Food and life in Alaska

It’s been a while since I posted – spring is finally here – the start of a busy summer of harvesting food – on land and water. One of my favorite things to drink that come from the tundra;

There are always some eatable food all around but it requires walk in deep or shallow waters;

Sometimes we are lucky or bust. Even if what you’re looking for is not found it’s an adventure to roam and look far and wide.

On the tundra going back generations on both my parents side – the tundra is mapped out by memory. Spring calls the migration of the birds and tundra mammals hear the song birds. When snow melts and rivers finally floe freely, its the best time of the year to harvest fresh soul food on the Alaskan land and water.

To my surprise the winter sunlight has bleached the moose hide legs from the fall hunt;

I will make these into kameksak/piluguq. Shorter version like the one my grandma gave to me. I’ll find them somewhere in my craft corner pile;

Not to mention spring and summer, Fairbanks is the capital garage sale in the north. I’ll be searching for a cozy closet for the corner pile. In the meantime – I’ve been in and out of sewing fur. Here are the latest creative ideas;

Left over shaved caribou, caribou fall legs and squirrel purse idea with red thread. I am also working on the toddler squirrel parka;

Sewing on fur side makes it smooth on the other side.

Patching some furs. Measuring and cutting with sharp blade;

The parka will be simple as possible – but ideas are always welcome. I told my mom to bring her simple parka in which it will help me gain ideas.

Springs brings fresh pike dried and roe made into protein dessert, for reals!!!!! My brother and sister in law sent me dried pike and authentic Yupik dessert early spring – quyana;

Thanks to family and friends-past fews days I’ve been energized by neqpiaq (real food) – great company and laughter, quyana for sharing your celebration with me. Cheers to all the graduates with this big pot of tea;

More posts to come. Quyana tailuci, piurci!

The Qaliq is officially complete

Today is a special day in many ways. Many years ago, seems like long ago I was in labor, early induced labor to have our first born child. We didn’t know the sex of the child. We wanted a surprise baby girl or boy. My husband and I enjoyed an Italian lunch in down town Fairbanks Alaska. My regular appointment was in the afternoon. When we went in – they checked my blood pressure and they wheeled me to FMH immediately! I was in a day dream state and surprised with the ride over because they told me to sit down and no walking. My blood pressure was high and they were concerned. We didn’t call family or friends. My child whom I named after my aunt was born half passed midnight over 1 minute. Happy early birthday day. You are loved more than the length of the universe! 🌸

The beads were picked and sewn to the hood. The last tassels were sewn that completes my main project: qaliq.

Quyana Rasmuson Foundation!!! You made my dream come true and touched our lives beyond these threads can measure!

I will post a full picture of the parka soon. Quyana tailuci!

What was munched is repaired

I thought it was ruined but it’s repaired;

The repair is on the left side. It looks like it’s all one calfskin;

I remember wearing kameksak/piluguq as a child. My mom and dad would put my piluguq on me, rap my leg pants tight around my ankles and slide those warm piluguq on to keep my feet warm. They have done the same for my siblings. In fact, pilugut are hand me down items that can be over 40+ years old. These kameksat/pilugut are used for special occasions or worn everyday. I knew when my great grandma was walking into the house by the sound of her piluguq. Children used them to go sliding down hill – trying to go farther or faster.

The way to use them right is gather golden long wild grass. Wrap the grass around your feet and place grass inside the pikuguq and put them on. Golden grass is warmth for survival when you are wet and far from home.

This specific pikuguq is called ciuqalek. They are size 10.5, narrow calf but roomy around the feet for comfy golden grass. They are comfy for any special occasion;

This ciuqalek are for sale. Contact me if interested.

Here is a picture of my dad and I at great uncle (uppa) Uyaquq’s, late Joseph Lomack’s house, I was wearing piluguq- baby booty;

We all miss you dad every day.