When squirrels keep calling me

This is sort of a poem that keeps following me. Poetry is an expression of one’s deep weight of thoughts! Sort of like shallow river- almost like the song sung by Lady Gaga! Shallow rivers are the kind you can walk right thru!! The trick is, don’t let slimy rocks make you slip you right into the river!!!! Even if you trip into the river it’s the most refreshing experience!!! Don’t be afraid like I was!

Eee, before they were tanned
After washed and dried
Qaliq

You stand up! Hunker down!! Stay Home!!!!

Home Tanning Squirrels

There is no better squirrels than the Kuskokwim Mountain squirrels- at least so far by my experience.  These are thick and huge!  I can’t wait to sew them together!

Raw squirrels

Any day after my regular 8 hour day – I start by soaking Arctic Ground squirrels, 6 at a time- cut off the hind feet with a scissor then rub the soap on the skin side until soft. Inside out the fur side and squeeze out liquid, dry with a towel and hang to dry.

Drying squirrels

After the fur side is dry, I stretch them with my hands and fingers and slide them carefully to a board for drying the leather part. I use baby powder to help with the drying and also to get rid of the stickiness of the leather. A few times, I accidentally pulled the heads off. I try not to ruin any part of the fur, even the head part that can be used for a hood project some day. The top heads are used for hood in other Inupiaq and Yu’pik traditional parkas – I am still trying to distinguish the styles.

drying leather side squirels

Drying squirrels take time. Wait for the leather side to dry. If they are too drying they will be hard to remove from the board and might tear if you are not careful. Since I have been softening them, I have developed smooth hands but tired fingers. Stretching the leather and your tired and sore hands are important. For the last few weeks – this part has been my therapy and focus. By the end of this process I should have a number of how many there are and how many parkas these individual squirrels will make.

Tuingunrituq piurci!

Remember to protect your families, stay home!

Fur and cold weather

I like the feeling of the warmth around my head and neck in the cold weather. January February and March oh my!!! April has its own adventures with weather. It’s been an absent few months with very little, actually no posts. Here are some pictures.

First one is the size of a bearded seal for hard bottom piluguq – see my shoes? There could be at at least 7 boots more or less;

First pikuguq for the winter

Practice makes it better

comparison to a modern shoes to Yup’ik women’s piluguq;

January 3, first Friday at the Anchorage Museum was so much fun for me. Here are some admired photos with no words to express the beauty of each piece;

It’s very cold everywhere in Alaska – buy handmade fur clothing from local people. Here are items I’ve made to keep your head warm when walking or going somewhere cold;

My cousin Ikam made a hand knit hat with sea otter band, available for purchase;

Stay warm! Happy New Year “Angnimek Alrakukegtaarmek!”

Tuingunrituq, piurci!

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;

img_2801

Low bush cranberries – I love the color;

img_2840

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;

img_2857

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

img_2863

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

img_2865

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

img_2870-effects

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;

img_2902

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;

img_2940

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

img_2972-effects

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;

img_2992

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

img_3003

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!

img_3001

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

img_3018

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

img_3041

Even in the midst of smoke, nature speaks louder;

img_3035

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;

img_3060

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;

img_3271

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?

img_3264

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>

img_2728

img_2747.jpg

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