Happy Memorial Day from Sitka . . .

May 27, 2017 – Happy Memorial Day

This week has been a cool, cloudy, and rainy week but today has made it all worthwhile. The sun is out, the temperature is in the mid 60’s, there is very minimal winds, and the peace and serenity of the island is in full force today. The snow, still abundant on high, is melting and soon will be gone.

Beautiful Sunny Day!

 

 

But back to earlier in the week . . .sun was not a part of this past week’s attire.  Rain and clouds were everyday occurrences. Not offensive rains, but mild and steady rains. The winds, when they get above 5mph, can make it colder than the temperature. Visitors off the cruises were a little damp and chilly but they kept cherry attitudes for the most part and enjoyed their time here.  Rains brought them inside the Russian Bishop House and our tours were normally full to capacity.  I met many interesting visitors and spent several hours serving tea and visiting with them.

The cruise ship arrives in Centennial Harbor.
Rangers Erin and Kyle serving Russian Tea in front of the Russian Bishop House and trying to keep their hands warm!

 

Here are the Tenders taking folks back to the ship for their afternoon departure.

Home life has been relaxing with lots (and I repeat LOTS) of continuing embroidery. I think I have now completed 8 sets of pillowcases, 12 drying towels, and multiple handkerchiefs. It makes for quiet and very relaxing evenings. My house mate Amanda  just finished the book The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah. She enjoyed it immensely and her recommendation was a good one. I just purchased on Kindle and will start it tonight!  We are also working a puzzle (thanks to Aunt Jane) that is only 500 pieces but a real doozy to complete.  The pieces are all cut the same and not, I repeat NOT, interlocking.  I think she is trying to get even with me for something!

Love Normal Rockwell
I’ve put together 2000 piece puzzles that were much easier.

 

Thought you might like to know that Lawn Art lives in Sitka as well. I see this every day on my way to work and marvel.

There must be a story behind this.

May 22 was my twin grandsons 10th birthday. It’s so hard to believe that my youngest ones are now in double digits. They had a great birthday. Here they are dressed up for a Make-a-Wish gala evening and another enjoying their birthday gift from Grammy.

Happy Birthday Luke & Jack. Handsome boys for sure.
Birthday Play.

Daughter Jennifer and Grandson Reid arrive this coming Friday. I am SO excited to see them and show them Sitka. I have scheduled a 4 hour ocean tour to see (hopefully) puffins and whales and sea otters and sea lions. We also have a kayak trip planned and time to visit the Raptor Center and Fortress of the Bears. Mixed in between will be many walks and talks.

Rangers Cindy and Parker. We are Friday evening dinner and drinking buddies. I have really enjoyed getting to know them.

Happy Memorial Day. Enjoy your weekend and take a moment to remember our service men and women.  Thank you to each and every one for your service and for allowing me the opportunity to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Blessings to all,

Mara

 

Busy Days . . .

We’ve been busy this week with the largest visitor day of the year on Thursday.  . Over 5,500 visitors were on the island from 3 cruise ships. Our tours were constant and packed to maximum capacity at both park locations.  Two of the ships anchored in the harbor where we could easily see them.  The 3rd ship anchored at the Ferry Dock about 6 miles outside of town and bussed in to town.  Here’s a picture of one of the ships parked at Centennial Harbor in town.

Amazing how close the ship was to shore. Tells you just how deep the water is! The small boat is one of the tinders that take passengers from ship to shore for their excursions.

Last week the garden was tilled and made ready for the local kindergarteners to come and plant.  Each year they plant the garden in May, Rangers and staff weed and water it throughout the summer, and they return as first graders to harvest it in late September.  The vegetables they harvest are taken back to school where they prepare a stew for feasting.  They plant the things that would have been planted in the 1800s such as peas, carrots, onions, potatoes, beets, kale, and rhubarb continues to grow as well.

A view of the garden.
Another view of the Russian Bishop House garden just before it was tilled for planting.

After they planted on Monday, I came in to work Tuesday morning to find the ravens had pulled the onions and a few potato plants.  Those ornery guys didn’t hurt them, they just pulled them out and left them!  Ravens are so smart.

The ravens pulled the onions.
And some potato plants too.

I now have a house mate!  Yes.  I was beginning to feel a bit lonely.  Amanda Kemp arrived on Wednesday evening.  She will be a senior at Eureka College, Eureka, IL and will serve the park here as an education resource for the story time program.  Watch for more news about her and a picture or two next week.

Thanks to my Aunt Jane and others as well I’ve managed to not lose one pound while here.  Take a look at this box of goodies that arrived this week.

Goodies – and more Goodies!

I only have one video this week that I captured while walking the totem park trail.  Hope you enjoy the birds and, of course, the view.

Listen to the birds

I did get a chance to stop and tour the local Lutheran church that was established in the 1800’s as well.  A lot of the builders and craftsman that were brought here by the Russians were Finnish and so they built a Lutheran church here as well.  It is a very pretty church and you can clearly see the clean sleek simple lines of their design.  I love the altar pieces.

Lutheran church alter
Doesn’t this look just like it came off the bow of a ship?

Well, that’s the end of my news for the week.  I hope you have had a good one as well.  Be safe.

Blessings,

Mara

 

 

Spending a day with me in Sitka

May 13, 2017–

This week has been a busy one with two cruise ships arriving on Wednesday and Thursday. That means we had about 4,000 extra folks around town over those two days.   Smaller ships are coming in and out at various times as well as those coming to visit on their own.  Lots of visitors make the days go by very fast.  It does feel a bit strange at times.  I walk to work about 7:00 a.m., before the visitors arrive.  Then I look out at 8:30 and they are everywhere!  Then around 2:30 – 3:00 they disappear.  It’s a bit like an episode of the old tv show Twilight Zone.  Now you see them, then you don’t!

The big white boat arrived this week. She is “GLORIA”. Nice one.

 

Tours, Tours and more Tours!!! Everyone wants to see the Russian Bishop House.

Entrance to the Russian Bishop House

For those folks who love Gardening and Plants . . . here are pictures of the Sitka Rose and a local plant named Devils Club.

Devils Club

Devils Club (aka Oplopanax horridus) is an important medicinal and spiritual plant in this area.  Be careful of it as it’s stem is full of tiny thorns.  When the Russian Bishop House was restored by the National Park Service, they found several dried sticks of it that had been placed in the crawl space underneath.  It is believed to have a spiritual importance in protecting loved ones.

The Sitka Rose

The Sitka Rose are Rugosa roses.  They grow as tall, shrubby, sprawling, multi-branched, plants that need room to spread out. They really smell nice.

 

 

This is St. Peter’s by the sea, the local Episcopal Church.  Thought you might find the story of the front stained glass window informative.  The church was built in 1899 and the windows were ordered from a company in New York.  It seems a Jewish synagogue ordered their special stained glass at the same time from the same company.  After a long and arduous journey to Sitka, the window arrived, and it was the wrong one.  It seems our window went to the Jewish Synagogue and theirs came to us.  Because of the long journey and the time and expense of making these changes, it was agreed that they would each keep and display the windows they received.  Hence, we have the Star of David in the beautiful stained glass window of St. Peters.

 

Well, enough educating.  Now let’s talk about me!  I have continued to embroider this past week and am making great progress on my Christmas present list.  I’ve also continued my daily reading schedule.  One of my morning reads is a Christian daily booklet entitled “Forward Day by Day” which seems to always give me something to ponder about life and faith. Some days the message hits close to home and provides me with a deeper look inside myself.  Sometimes too they are messages which I probably would have liked to ignore a little longer.  But, I suppose a higher plan was in place for me.  That happened this past Friday morning. The reading was as follows:

Friday, May 12 –Wisdom 6:17. The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction, and concern for instruction is love of her.

Every family has a shorthand language – phrases and words that give deeper meaning to the stories and jokes that make up family lore. As soon as she could talk, my baby sister Judea was adding her own phrases into our family lexicon, including my personal favorites: “I hold my own hand” and “Mybyself.”

“I hold my own hand!” everytime we crossed a street, exited a car, cimbed stairs, or took a walk downtown. She would tug her hand away from whichever sibling or parent had reached for her, actually attempting to hold her own hand as we proceeded forward, as we tried to grab an elbow or jacket hood or whatever part we could snag to keep her from running into danger. “Mybyself” was her first rallying cry against control, her first declaration that she was going to go her own way, to earn the hard way.

To grow in wisdom requires us all to humbly offer ourselves up to the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit and our communities fo faith and family. It requires us to honestly confess that we need help.  

 

What a great story we can all relate to in some fashion or another.  I must  admit that I am stubborn.  I also admit that I am determined to do all that I can by myself.  In my head I hear those words “I hold my own hand” or “I can do this by myself” ALL the time.  Finding the will and grace and trust to ask and allow help has been the most challenging steps for me in this life.  Maybe, at 68 years old, I am finally getting some grains of wisdom.

Today is Mother’s Day Eve. So many people in my life to remember on this very special day as I am sure there are in yours too. Our birth mothers, adoptive mothers, sisters and aunts who were like mothers, people of no relation who took us under their wings and nurtured us in some motherly way . . . just so many different ways of mothering someone.

Then, there are those of us who are mothers. We mother our children (regardless of their age), we mother our 4-legged children, we mother our mothers if we are fortunate to have them still with us here on earth, and we are the surrogate mothers to those we meet and pull under our wings.

Tomorrow will be a very special day. I’m happy to say that while my mother has passed on, I miss her so much. And while they were many days she was here with us that I failed to appreciate her kindnesses and wisdom, I know them now and thank her every day for being MY mom. I would not be who I am today without her.

And to my very own daughters, I say thank you for giving me your unconditional love;  your grace when I am not graceful;  your gratitude when I deserve it and, more importantly, when I haven’t earned it, and your support when I need to lean on someone without anyone else noticing. You have grown into two beautiful people who are generous and kind and incredible mothers to my grandchildren. I could not ask for more.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all. May your day be blessed with “moments” to last a lifetime.

Love & Blessings,

Mara

 

 

P.S.  Here’s a group of videos for you to watch if you are interested.  No promises on their worth.  I’m learning!

 

 

A quiet and reflective week in Sitka.

May 6, 2017

A quiet and reflective week in Sitka this past week.  The first cruise ship was scheduled to stop here on Wednesday but weather hindered its arrival. With 20 mph winds and lots of rain, the cruise ship cancelled their stop here. It was a cold and blustery day. Thursday came and it was a beautiful day with sunshine galore. The cruise ship scheduled for Thursday arrived on time and visitors descended on the island.

Tours of the Russian Bishop House are ranger led talks that occur every 30 minutes.  I made it through my first tour with flying colors. I must admit, I was frightened to death! But, the first one went well, the second one even better and by the 4th one I was feeling great!

A cloudy, windy, rainy and cold Wednesday.

The remainder of the week here was busy. I did take a couple videos and hope you enjoy.

 

Am hoping this video playlist will work for you.  All you need to is click on the video name and it should play.

Coming up this week is Grant’s birthday.  The loss of him has been a difficult and painful journey and I miss him terribly.  I know there will come a day when I can more easily share stories of him and the wonderful memories he left for me.  For now though, it is difficult to share much.  I’m hanging on to every tiny memory I have.  Time will bring relief and sharing these memories will bring some type of peace I am certain.  I think of him daily and I thank God for the time here in Sitka to relish in the enormous beauty of mountains and water.  It helps so much to be here and feel the power of God’s creations.  Happy Birthday Grant!

Have a great week and don’t forget to take time to tell those close to you the difference having them in your life makes.

Be blessed!

Mara

 

 

Be Blessed,

Mara