October rain and unusual warm weather

Trying to get the creative rhythm hasn’t been easy this fall – but the ideas are collecting but no action. Maybe this short excerpt will boost the creative motivation to flow again. It should take a few hours after a day at my regular work to gather up my materials.

Items have been waiting; The seal skin for the hard bottom kameksak have been in the freezer. The bear hide is hanging out in the garage to be softened. The threads and needles are safe in my gifted craft box. The spruce roots have been exposed to the weather at my front door. The salmon berry seeds are in my freezer for possibly paint project. The duck feathers from a place near “piss me off lake” are waiting to be weaved with hemp to be entangled with the beads – so I can carry on with my art work and crafts in my Isran, weaved bag. I have materials waiting to be sewn. Oh my gosh! I don’t want to forget the dried fish skins I’ve kept in the fridge and collected for something (dogs have been treated well with some of them). Beads aging in their containers. Sea otter fur hanging out with the seal skin, calf skin and the caribou skin with some yarns. So many materials collecting dust.

Here is my grandma in the middle in her traditional Yupik parka with her friend and sister-in-law (I’ve met them long ago and they were wonderful women);

I need calls from interested persons to sew baby kameksaks (booties), in Fairbanks only. There will be a fee for the materials- at least $40. This event will be posted soon after I receive interested people. So far, I have two interested. Contact me if you’re interested. This fee will support my daughter to play basketball 🏀.

The title is the current condition of the weather – it is not normal weather pattern!

Tuingunrituq🌸

Chutney

There is no excuse for my post absence. The truth is, I have misplaced my creativity but it usually comes back when chills from the cold weather kicks in. This summer and fall – I did get to pick berries though; cranberries and crowberries 😋.

I made chutney with cranberries, crabapples, cloudberries, raisins, onions, sage, garlic, cinnamon, and sugar. I nearly ruined my chutney by being busy watching Facebook 🙄.

It turned out great!!! Eat as a bread or cracker spread or as a side. It’s excellent! Try it!

June and July – busy times

Its been a busy time this summer – I haven’t had time for arts and crafts- except for two qaspeqs.  I want to share some pictures of my outdoor adventures in Fairbanks and the Kuskokwim Delta to make up for the times I haven’t posted.  I start with a flower that is a must have berry, cloud/salmon berry.  I rarely see these flowers bloom;

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Low bush cranberries – I love the color;

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If you have cold you just can’t get rid of – the whole plant helps get rid of coughing cold.  The Cotton trees got chomped on by an engineering beaver on the Tanana River;

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I found a fat Stink Weed/Worm Wood that is medicinal;

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And when you are out and about – there are frightened birds that fly off when you get too close to their nests;

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Trees that make you feel small and trees that can make a sauna hotter than your oven;

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I just remembered that I had nature do its course in removing the hair from a spotted seal for some kind of art work in the winter;

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The skin required a lot of rinsing with water.  When I went out for an adventure and found a neat creek that washed the silt to the side;

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I am puzzled by nature’s beauty.  Nature can take its course in all directions;

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Rotting from the inside and the wind cracked it to the ground.  The week that I adventured was great and just before the fires broke out;

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The fish have already begun their treacherous journey to spawn for new generations of fish and some were caught for winter food;

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I like to make fish soup like my mom.  We have something fish almost everyday.  Something like this: half dried, smoked, fermented, baked, grilled, caviar, salted, pickled, and in soup!

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Then the fire season arrived in the midst of fireweeds blooming;

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The smoke was bad so we stayed home most evenings.  So I decided to try out a different modern qaspeq;

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Even in the midst of smoke, nature speaks louder;

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When subsistence regulation hinder the time for harvest – those that wait will eventually catch up with the rest.  Patience is hard.  My mom reminded us the advice from grandfather William Lomack and it stayed with my father and then to my brother, Quyana;

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Fish camp was extremely hot during the day and we were cautious not to cook out smoked salmon.  July 9 was way too hot.  We drove 3-4 hours down the Kuskokwin River with t-shirts and life vest the whole way.  Along the way, we saw dead floating pike and salmon.  On our return to Akiachak/fishcamp – we came across a salmon with bulging eyes trying to stay alive.  My great-niece thought it was a frog and then realized that it was a fish.  When I was her age, we had never heard or seen anything like that;

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My heart was pounding at the sight of this dying salmon.  On the shores of Akiachak and all over the river, we saw salmon that died from the heat wave.

Before we found out about dying salmon, we had a blast of berry picking for cloud/salmon berries on the tundra.  The water and land gave us nourishment for us.  Why should we ignore the climate change?

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I end this portion of the blog with these two pictures.  Old and new salmon berry plant and young boy reaching out to a plant;

Piurci, tui-ingunrituq.  

 

 

May melt and sprout of greens

Just a quick hello, “WAQAA!”

I have decided to take a break from sewing until that urgency to make things tugs at me.  Its been good weather; rain and shine for greens to come up out of the cold and into summer.  I had a good taste of fireweed, beach greens, unknown greens that seemed eatable (still learning and breathing).  The other day, during my field work, I had seen blue berries blooming and some cranberry flowers just about to come out.  Growing up, we didn’t go to the tundra until the berries were ready.  Just a few years ago I have seen with my owns eyes the berry flowers except for the bush berries that grew in our area.  We were busy living at fish camp – cutting, drying and smoking the salmon.  My first awareness of fish camp was when I was just crawling out our canvas tent and I hear hammering of nails to a new house.  Fish camp is a memoriable place for me – its a time to be with family and prepare for winter food – its a beat of my heart that doesn’t go away!  I picked some wild rhubarbs with my mom – they are great for dessert – go pick some!

img_2758I picked some willow green leaves for the first time – thanks to friends who share their wisdom>

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I pray for you to have a safe and blessed salmon fishing.  Remember, bugs are small and you can smash them 🙂  Piurci!

April has been fabulous

It’s been a whirlwind of events this April, with weather’s teasing early spring and winter snow that doesn’t want to give up.  Berry pickers understand the need for snow and rain on the ground.  “It’s still April and it will snow when it wants!” is what I have been saying.  April has its ups and down with spring expectations for good weather but its Alaska!  We will see unexpected weather changes that will not make everyone happy.  I have learned from growing up in the Yup’ik world view to see tomorrow as a time that might happen, pisqutekumteggu (plural).

Recent art events gave me confidence with Alaska traditional garments especially the traditional Yup’ik parkas, Qaliq.  Little words of encouragement can go a long way.  At the end of March I submitted the parka I made for the Adaptation – Fairbanks Arts 2019 Spring Juried Exhibition. The Juror was Alvin Amason . See fairbanksart.com. Mr. Amason was my Native Arts instructor back in the 1990s where I carved my first Yup’ik bowl.  At the last minute I made a cloth material parka with left over materials from qaspet and some fur.  It was a one week after work project!  I got it done and rushed over to the Bear Gallery to submit it for the art event.  I thought, I’ll just bring the actual fur parka in case they need it for comparison.  Once I got there, I decided to submit it.  I called the picture here, Iluungaqelriik (teasing girl to girl cousins):

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I basically measured each shape same excepted added 1/4 inch for sewing machine space.  The hard parts were the small piece that required angle sewing.  The fun parts were the fast pace sewing that didn’t take me four months.  I had my heart set on the material parka to be picked.  I had no idea, like a fish out of water that the fur parka would be selected:

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Having never done this kind of fun event, I was surprised, “what does this mean?!”  The night before the open house, I went to the Bear Gallery to hear Mr. Amason speak about his arts and adventures.  It was absolutely encouraging to hear a passionate Alaska Native artist talk about his work.  I want to share his words about the arts that were submitted;

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Leaves are plenty and they are growing indeed!  Never give up what creativity comes from the heart and mind. Another mind blowing event happened to three of my poems, they got published!  Yes, it was another last minute submission, this time to Alaska Women Speak.    The theme was Trajectories.  I sent three poems with the main title, “Letters to the Tundra” – Take me to the Tundra, Magnetic Snow and Duck Soup in Spring.   Over fifteen years ago I had one published with Ice Floe, called “Tuberculosis.”  So far, four have been published.  There is room for growing and the leaves are plenty, even storm clouds seem overwhelming, don’t forget there is sunshine and Alaska has plenty of it.

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I have another style I want to make that my mom started for my younger sister, just need to gather all the materials and study the style, Quliitaq.  Quliitaq will have a drum design and made similar to Qaliq but slightly different.  One of the reasons I have been happy about winter not completely being over, I had a fur project that needed to be done.  It was done once snow really started to melt;

Pisqutekumteggu! Piurci!

Elumarraq Qaliq

Experimenting with material. I used mostly scraps from bunch of qaspet (plural) I made and left over fur. I measured the traditional fur parka qaliq. I went from measuring to cutting back and forth like the wind we’ve been having lately.

I wanted to make sure the measurements were right.

This was going to be easy- zooming with the sewing machine.

Small squares made it complicated. I think I’ll look for an easier way.

The shapes were true to their form.

It was a puzzle and like a quilt.

Using exact measurements were important.

I decided to add some fur for fun.

The hood is exact shape.

I almost messed up but I paused and thought for a bit- I didn’t want to redo the sewing.

The side are adjustable to anyone’s size. The trimmings are same size as the fur trimming.

this was before the tassels were placed.

This was fast and easy part. I’ve seen similar designs as these.

Before it was brought over to the Alaska Bear Gallery I frantically searched for a manikin.

Frantic no more- I found these 😆

These two became buddies.

Happy spring everyone. Piurci!