Tuesday, March 31, 2015


Last night was the final night… DSC_0090_01

Thursday, March 26, 2015


The Gray fox family that lives in my woods must be expecting… she is visiting my compost area a little before dark every night. Isn’t she beautiful?

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And then there were these 2 love birds…

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Normally possums are solitary animals… Obviously they get together every once in a while… The romance is short, but I understand it is intense. I hope the mama brings her little ones around in a couple of months.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


The Annual Heritage Celebration

ESCC, March 2015

SPOTS was invited to the Annual Heritage Celebration at the Eastern Shore Community College this year. We did not have much display space, so we took the little N scale I built a couple years ago out of the show case, and our banner for the Train Station, some newsletters and some envelopes that will hopefully come back to us with a little $$ in them and some names and contact info from folks who are interested in model trains, making scenery, or just designing their own personal little landscape in 3D. We met a lot of interesting people and bunches of delightful kids. They were so much fun to watch as they interacted with the train or lost themselves in the little farm and village scene.

One little fellow was just the right height to be able to see the train going round and round, but so short, it disappeared behind the little buildings and trees when it went to the back of the layout. At that point, he put his hands out, palms up and said, “Where’d it go?” Then he screamed in delight when it came back again around the corner behind the church. He jumped and laughed… then it disappeared again. This went on for several minutes. It was so much fun to watch.

Hopefully some of the visitors felt inspired to come to visit us at the Station, maybe even to come and work with us… maybe even to start their own layouts for home.

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I am in the process of making a new layout to take out for demonstrations… maybe someone will be inspired to help build one.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Opossums: Where Lyme disease goes to die

John Ferro, Poughkeepsie Journal 11:32 a.m. EDT March 16, 2015

American marsupial consumes a large percentage of ticks


Because opossums consume ticks in great numbers, they are among the best natural defenses against Lyme disease. (Photo: Gannett News Service file)

They come out at night.

They have scary teeth.

They have a weird name with an extra vowel most people don't pronounce.

And they are where Lyme disease goes to die.

Say hello to the opossum, the American marsupial with a pointy nose and prehensile tail that dines on ticks like a vacuum dines on dust.

(Most people drop the first vowel when speaking of 'possums, but possums actually belong to a different species native to Australia.)

With the weather warming — and recent news of trails coming to Dover, Highland and New Paltz whetting the wanderlust — folks are fixing to plant their feet in something other than a snow bank.

And that means being aware of the threat of Lyme disease.

The tiny adolescent ticks that carry Lyme disease bacteria are most active during the late spring months, typically May and even as early as April during warmer years.

But whereas these ticks can be found in large numbers on mice, shrews and chipmunks, they are eaten in large numbers by opossum.


Opossum are among the most voracious consumers of ticks, according to research conducted by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. (Photo: Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Research led by scientists based at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook placed different species into cages, covered them with ticks and waited for the biting arachnids to jump off.

The scientists then counted how many survived.

Opossums can eat or remove as much as 96 percent of the ticks that land on them.

Research also suggests the immune system of opossums is fairly effective at fighting off the disease.

So even the ticks that do survive a visit to an opossum are less likely to acquire the disease.

Cary scientists are continuing to examine the correlation between the frequency of different types of mammals, and the infection rates of ticks found in the same area.

The initial thought? Where foxes thrive, Lyme doesn't.

That's because foxes are good hunters of the small mammals that serve as the most effective reservoirs of the Lyme pathogen.

I'm told the data are still being analyzed and that findings may be presented later this year.

The ongoing research is also looking at the role opossums play.

All of this points to why Lyme is a particularly inscrutable disease.

There are so many complex interactions that govern its prevalence — from human land-use development, to shifting climate patterns, to the abundance (or lack) of certain mammals.

And that doesn't even address how the disease behaves once it is in the body. (The Lyme bacterium is apparently one of the only things on earth that doesn't need iron to survive.)

One thing is certain, however.

Opossums are your friend and mine in the fight against Lyme.

"Out There" appears every other week in My Valley. Reach John Ferro at 845-437-4816; jferro@poughkeepsiejournal.com; Twitter: @PoJoEnviro


Possums are excellent friends! If you have one hanging around, please don’t chase him (or her) away.

They love to eat copperheads – tell me that’s not a good thing… and they DO NOT GET RABIES! They will not fight with your pets. My cats just watch them, but do not fight them… even when one comes up and finishes his food, or warms his little toes on the heated cat bed outside. Spook just sits and waits or moseys off to another bed.

DSC_1042 Our wet possum coming in for a snack  and toe warming in Spook’s heated box during the last snow. Be kind to these babies, they will repay you 10 fold!

Sunday, March 15, 2015



Just picked this year’s first 3 daffodils… they are slowly unfolding in the kitchen window sunshine, and 2 purple crocus were smiling at me when I took the trash out today.

The birds have been fussing and nesting… courtship is going on strong as they feed each other at the feeders.

Over an inch or rain yesterday. So glad it wasn’t snow.

Pictures later in the week when I have more time!

But just had to celebrate!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Evie Stevenson’s Obituary

Evelyn 'Evie' Stevenson



From Alcatraz to Halls of Congress, CSKT's Evelyn Stevenson left her mark

PABLO – Attorney Evelyn Stevenson died Thursday. Read more

RONAN – Evelyn “Evie” Stevenson passed away peacefully at St. Luke Hospital in Ronan, with family by her side, on Thursday, March 12, 2015, after dealing with various health problems over the years. She was born March 24, 1939, to Bill and Eva Matt Case in Blue Bay, where her folks were living at the time. Evie grew up hiking, fishing and picking huckleberries in the mountains.

At age 4, Evie experienced an unusual illness that kept her in and out of the Spokane hospital for more than a year. She fully recovered and her family moved to a farm that she loved. She attended a one-room schoolhouse with eight students. When she was 12, her father became ill for several months, and she had to run the farm while her mother cooked. She had to drive the big truck to the grain elevator after obtaining an emergency license, and organized the threshing crews and farm hands.

In 1960, she married Dan Stevenson while working at Boeing in Seattle, and they traveled extensively with the aircraft industry. She still managed to go home to the reservation almost every summer. They had two children, Tisa and Craig, whom they adored. Although they divorced after 17 years, they remained great friends always.

While raising a young family in San Francisco, Evelyn was very active in the civil rights movement and American Indian causes. She was involved in the Alcatraz occupation in the early 1970s and went to the island in a rowboat for six months. She decided to become an attorney, finished her undergraduate degree and attended Golden Gate University Law School in San Francisco. She began working with the Salish and Kootenai Tribal Court System in the summer of 1974 after tribal sovereignty became more of a goal upon enactment of the Indian Education and Self-Determination Act. Together with Judges Donny Dupuis and Louise Burke – and other pioneering warriors of that time – they began building a modern, sophisticated Tribal Court system. They provided the first prosecutor, the first tribal advocate program and court adviser. Everyone wore many hats and the system worked on integrity.

Evelyn and her dear friend, Kathleen Fleury, were the first Indian women to pass the Montana Bar, and Evelyn became the first in-house legal counsel. During her first year with the tribes, she spent the winter in Washington, D.C., learning of the past litigation and Court of Claim cases that large firms had previously handled. The tribes were becoming prepared to stand on their own, supporting their ancestors’ wishes in becoming a sovereign nation. She flew back and forth. People joked that she could have lunch with the president, have afternoon pie and coffee with a homeless person, and then tuck her kids into bed late that night across the country.

Evelyn, along with several other very dedicated individuals, was instrumental in the effort to help win the eight-year legal battle to prevent a hydroelectric project at Kootenai Falls. This was a sacred site for the Kootenai people, off the reservation. Evelyn always said, “This was a great victory." In fact, it was unprecedented. At no other time in U.S. history had a large-scale construction project been halted through litigation. She was always humble about things, and this was probably the first time that her children realized that their mom was pretty amazing, as they watched her on TV refusing to back down to her adversaries.

Evelyn worked with other attorneys back East in developing the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.  She fiercely defended the law with an unrivaled devotion and dedication. She rarely lost in court. One day, she stated her advantage. “My opponents were fighting for a paycheck, and I was fighting for my family.” That federal law became her lifelong passion, designed to hopefully avoid further destruction of the American Indian family. She became a nationally recognized expert on the subject.

In 1979, she was severely burned in a gasoline explosion while burning brush for her small log home on Finley Point. Although they tried to airlift her to a burn center, she refused to leave the reservation. She wanted to be close to traditional healers and her friends and family. They set up a makeshift burn unit in the Polson hospital and she recovered beautifully. The traditional healers visited her daily. She had extensive superficial and inhalation burns, but did not have much scarring, which surprised all of the specialists. She conducted business from her hospital bed, covered in bandages.

One of Evelyn’s greatest experiences was a sabbatical in New Zealand, where Evelyn was invited to speak at seminars with the Maori people in order to assist them in developing something similar to the Indian Child Welfare Act as they, too, faced the destruction of their families. She said the cultural exchanges were invaluable. She later went back with her attorney-friend, Virginia, to visit the many wonderful people she had met.

Her second sabbatical was a trip around the country visiting with other tribal nations. She toured the U.S. in her “one-woman-and-a-dog camper.” Everything in life was another adventure for Evie.

Evelyn was active in several organizations and received more awards than we can even name. For years, she has been involved with the Native American Rights Fund on the board of directors, Tribal Law and Policy board of directors, the Montana ACLU and the Mission Valley Animal Shelter board. She also served on the advisory board for the CASA program, as well as the National Indian Justice Center. She was appointed by two governors for the Montana Human Rights Commission for 12 years. She also helped with the local stock car race track for many years.

Before she died, Evelyn’s family asked her about the messages she wished to convey upon her death. She wrote much of this obituary, although she left out the compliments to herself. It was very important to her that others know how much she truly enjoyed working with so many wonderful people over the years. She seemed to see the best in everyone. Evie has kept track of the children and families long after the cases she handled were completed. She has driven or flown across the country to check on families, and still conducted unofficial business at the kitchen table until recently.

Whenever she was asked about her greatest accomplishment, she always said, “No accomplishment in life could ever be as meaningful as raising my two children.” She was a mother to many others as well. She loved her extended family dearly, and had the kinds of friendships in life that many only dream of having. She will be greatly missed.

She was preceded in death by her parents and her infant daughter, Renee, as well as many dear relatives and friends.

She is survived by her daughter, Tisa Newton (Patrick) and grandsons Thomas Pablo and Braiden Newton; son, Craig Stevenson (Kara Sharai) and grandson Finley Stevenson; her brother, George Case (Jean) and their daughters Rebecca Woodbury (Brian) and baby Levi and Rachelle Case; former husband, Dan Stevenson (Pam) and their son Tyler; along with many other relatives and wonderful friends. Special thanks to the entire Hardy family, especially her cousin and Scrabble buddy Linda Hardy; cousin, Rene Dubay; and the St. Luke Hospital in Ronan with Lake County Hospice.

Traditional wake services will begin Sunday, March 15, at noon at the Elmo Community Center with Rosary there at 8 p.m. Funeral Mass will be Monday, March 16, at 11 a.m. in Elmo. Burial to follow at the Ronan Cemetery. Memories of condolences may be sent to thelakefuneralhomeandcrematory.com.

Rest well, my friend… see you on the next go-round!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Most of you know, I am not much into sports, especially gladiator sports where idiots smash into each other’s bodies and spectators swill beer and scream obscenities at the players and think they are having a wonderful time. Or those idiots who honor the rum runners and outlaws from prohibition days by racing their cars around a dumb circle, mile after mindless mile, while the crowd sits there screaming waiting for the inevitable crash. these sports do not take brains and in fact might take the opposite to be dumb enough to do these things and sacrifice their bodies for the glory of running a ball down a field or smashing up a car that costs more than the average American’s annual salary. I mean, really.

There is one sport, however, that I do pay attention to – the Iditarod. First, a little history:

In 1925, part of the Iditarod Trail became a life saving highway for Nome, Alaska. The city was stricken with diphtheria and serum had to be brought in.  Dog mushers and their faithful hard-driving dogs were the ones to get the medicine through to Nome.

  • In 1925 a diptheria epidemic threatened Nome, and the only antitoxin was in Anchorage.
  • The only two planes available at that time had been disassembled, and had never been flown in the winter.
  • A twenty pound cylinder of diptheria serum was sent by train from Seward to Nenana.
  • It was passed to the first of twenty mushers and more than 100 dogs, who relayed the package from Nenana to Nome.
  • The dogs ran in relays, with no dog running more than 100 miles. (Time was of the essence – no time to rest and start out again.)
  • A Norwegian man named Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog Balto arrived in Nome on February 2, 1925, just five days after leaving Nenana.
  • The first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race began on March 3, 1973 with 34 teams. Twenty-two teams finished 32 days later.  The oldest musher to compete was Col. Norman D. Vaughan, who last competed in 1992 at age 84. He died in 2005 at age 100. This race honors those heroes, the mushers and their dogs that saved many lives by getting that serum to Nome the only way possible back then. Compare that to car racing which is based on the illegal outrunning the law carrying booze from the bootleggers to the gangsters who sold it, where the “heroes” were the crooks who could outrun the law to the dog teams who ran to save laws. (I often question our use of the word hero in today’s vocabulary where so many of today’s heroes are those who kill or hurt others. Funny how language works, isn’t it?)

    Anyway, the Iditarod has morphed a bit since the 70s… the rules now have to include things never thought of back then. Take this from this mornings Iditarod Update:

    The first news is out this morning... Brent Sass has been disqualified for having a 2 way communication device (read iPod-touch) with him on the trail. This is a NO NO and is covered in the pre-race orientation, rules and regs, blah, blah, blah session. Maybe he just wasn't paying attention during that part? Maybe he thought no one would catch him? Maybe he thought the race officials would really believe it was solely for listening to music? (Your grandma’s old iPod for playing music from the 50s and 60’s???)  Maybe it was an honest mistake like when he said, Gee, I didn't know I could use it for that... REALLY? He SAID THAT? Yep. So maybe he is an idiot?  Or maybe he just thought he could cheat and not get caught. After all, he used the same thing while running the Yukon Quest.
    Remember back about 10 or 12 years ago, a musher restructured the standard musher's sled to include a seat. Yep. And he started winning more races that way. Well, duh. If you have a good team and they know the way, you can sit down and take a little rest, some have even dozed off, while the team is trotting along happily flapping their tongues in the breeze, wagging their happy tails, and hopefully staying on the trail. They stop when they get hungry, OK?'This is the contraption that 16 dogs from KMA Kennel are going to pull to Nome hauling their mother, @[750881657:2048:Heidi Sutter], along for the ride of a lifetime.  The Gang Line is hooked to the front of the sled, a pile of Harnesses lay in wait to the right of the bright pink bag laying on the ground.  The bag on the ground will be strapped on top of the Sled Bag acting like a car top carrier.  The cooler also acts a seat and the purple material is configured as a seat cushion and also unfolds and stretches out to make a sleeping pad/insulation under her sleeping bag when needed.  Some items carried in or on the sled have 2 or more functions, thus saving weight and space.'
    This, BTW, is Heidi Sutter's sled and gear. Love those colors!
    Musher Jeff King likes to invent. Several years ago, he added a comfortable seat to his sled. After falling asleep and falling off the sled, King added a seat belt: "Musher Jeff King has developed a new, sit-down sled that some have labeled the Iditarod Barcalounger. King said it helps him get more rest, although he almost lost his team this year when he got to resting so well he went to sleep and fell off. He's since added a seat belt." In 2006, King added a heated handlebar to warm his hands and his food, which heats up to 200 degrees.
    But he can't phone home on it!
    So now, sleds with seats are common. Shame DeeDee (Jonrowe) didn't have one back when she fit training for the Iditarod in-between her chemo treatments. Remember the year she ran the Iditarod bald? So what if she didn't come in first... she finished the damned race. That makes her a winner in my book. Actually, that was when I really began to pay attention to this race. (In July 2002, Jonrowe was diagnosed with breast cancer. Three weeks after completing chemotherapy, she competed in the Iditarod, placing 18th. The story was widely publicized, and in 2003 she won the Most Inspirational Musher Award, and was named the honorary chair of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.)

    As many of you probably remember, years ago we used the Iditarod as a reading tool in the school where I taught… there is an entire program called the Idita-Read program, and it became my job to coordinate Iditarod activities throughout the school. This included marking out a trail around the school, roughly to scale, 1 foot = 1 mile, seeing to it that each class room sponsored at least 2 mushers (in case one dropped out), learned about them, and moved their “dog” down the halls along the trail as they kept up with their team on the internet. We concluded with our own award ceremony which included awarding the Red Lantern to the class with the last musher to cross the line in Nome.

    The kids learned a lot about the geography of Alaska, mountains and snowy terrain so different from the shore, as well as a little about dogs, their care, and moose, especially how big they really are, by making a lifesize moose (out of heavy craft paper) and putting it in the hall. The moose had to have its head down because its shoulders hit the ceiling. That impressed the kids sometimes more than anything else.

    What impressed me the most as I ran off the biographies of over a hundred mushers, were the ages of some of them – this is not just for the young athletes – but also the educational backgrounds of most of them. OK, I confess… this list is not complete… I left off the mushers who did not go to college or just started out as kids in the mushing families. It is almost expected they would follow in the footsteps of their families… but I found from the first year I did this, a large number of physicians, vets, and other PhDs, shrinks, dentists, and even a funeral director up in Alaska running their dogs! In this race, the women compete equally with the men, and age be damned. So, out of the 25 females running, here are 20 of the more interesting brief bios.

    · Cindy Abbott, 56, was born and raised in Nebraska. After graduation from California State University, Fullerton, with a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology in 1996, she became an instructor there.

    · Jodi Bailey, 46, grew up on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, MA, a world away from mushing and arctic winters. She earned her BA in Theater Studies and Anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

    · Gwenn Bogart, 57, was born and raised in Vermont. She has B.S. and B.A. degrees from Colorado Technical University. Gwenn has had professional careers in horsemanship and fly fishing. She co-founded Casting for Recovery (CFR), www.castingforrecovery.org, an international breast cancer support group headquartered in Manchester, VT, that uses fly fishing for mental and physical healing.

    · Yvonne Dåbakk, 32, was born and raised in Mainz, Germany. She moved to Oslo, Norway, in 2001 to study physics. She received her PhD in Plasma and Space Physics at the University of Oslo, Norway, in 2010.

    · Zoya DeNure, 38, was born and raised in Wisconsin. As a young girl, she traveled the world as a fashion model, walking the runways in Milan, Italy and Shanghai, China. After 12 years in the field, Zoya was ready for a change. Soon after returning home from Italy, she bought a Siberian Husky named Ethan and from there, new dreams realized.

    · Paige Drobny, 40, born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, says she moved all over growing up. She graduated from Virginia Tech in 1997 with her B.S. in Biology and from UAF in 2008 with her M.S. in Fisheries Oceanography. Before moving to Fairbanks in 2005 for graduate school, she lived in Vermont and was a fisheries biologist.

    · Marcelle Fressineau, 60, was born in Switzerland. She attended college in Switzerland, where she received a degree in math and science, and worked there as an adventure outfitter for 12 years.

    · Cindy Gallea, 63, grew up on a farm in Minnesota where she experienced the pleasure of the outdoors and the good feeling of interacting with animals. She graduated from the University of Washington in 1990 with a Master’s degree in nursing. She has worked as a nurse practitioner for the last 24 years.

    · Ellen Halverson, 54, was born and raised in North Dakota. She received her degree in Biology and Music Education at Concordia College in Minnesota and then went to medical school in North Dakota. She has been a psychiatrist since 1991. She moved to Alaska in 1998 for a job at the Alaska Guidance Clinic, which is now Providence Behavioral Medicine.

    · Yuka Honda, 42, was born and raised in Niigata, Japan. She attended the university in Japan, studying Agriculture Physics.

    · DeeDee Jonrowe, 61, was born in Frankfort, Germany, while her father was in the military. The family moved to Alaska in 1971 where her dad was stationed at Ft. Richardson. DeeDee has a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences and Renewable Resources.

    · Katherine Keith, 36, was born in Minnesota and lived there until completing high school at which point Katherine decided that it was time to pursue her dream of going to Alaska. She graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 2008 with a degree in Renewable Energy Engineering.

    · Becca Moore, 43, was born in Heidelberg, Germany and raised in Berlin. She went to Colorado State University where she earned a B.S. in Natural Resource Management in 1997.

    · “I grew up in Willow, AK, surrounded by dogs and loving winter,” says 27 year old Lisbet Norris. “After high school, I moved to Fairbanks to attend university. At UAF, I cultivated a love for the North. I studied in Norway and Baffin Island and worked as a musher and expedition guide. I received my BA in Northern Studies and History from UAF in 2011.

    · Christine Roalofs, 46, was born in Ohio and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She received her DMD from the University of Louisville and a certificate in Pediatric Dentistry from Children’s Hospital in Buffalo. In 1999, following completion of her residency, she moved to Wasilla, where she worked as a pediatric dentist for two years.

    · Jan Steves, 58, was born and raised in Edmonds, Washington. In 2009, she moved to Alaska to run dogs and train for the Iditarod. A 1974 graduate of Edmonds High School, she attended the University of Washington.

    · Heidi Sutter, 39, began mushing in 1999. “I am a special education and regular teacher at Slana School. I specialize in working with children diagnosed with autism and severe behavioral issues.

    · Isabelle Travadon, 53, was born and raised near Paris, France. For the last 30 years, she has been a dog and cat breeder.

    · Monica Zappa, 31, was born and raised in northern Wisconsin where her family lived off the land and off the grid. She holds a B.S. in Meteorology and a M.S. in Geography from Northern Illinois University. She also completed one year of a Ph.D. program at the University of Oklahoma where she also worked at the National Weather Center.

    · Aliy Zirkle, 45, was born in New Hampshire. She spent her childhood in New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Missouri. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Biology and Anthropology and came to Alaska in 1990, where she lived in a wall tent on the Alaskan Peninsula and worked for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

    And now the more interesting men: Out of 53 men, I have listed 24 of them, including the youngest,18 and the oldest this year, 74. 23 of the 53 men have a degree or some college education including vet med, people med, education, engineering

    · Seth Barnes was raised in a small Gulf Coast town in Alabama. He went to school at Mississippi State University, where he earned a degree in Chemical Engineering.

    · Bryan Bearss, 38, was born and raised in Michigan. He received his B.S. in Outdoor Education from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, in 2000. He continued his schooling in Alaska, attending Alaska Pacific University and getting K-8 teaching certification, and then he went on to University of Alaska Anchorage to receive an M.E. in Educational Leadership.

    · Jason Campeau, 40, was born and raised in Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA. He graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a BA under an athletic scholarship playing hockey.

    · Lachlan Clarke, 58, was born and raised in Derby, New York. He graduated from Principia College in Illinois in 1979 with a B.A. in History and Business Administration.

    · Rob Cooke, 48, was born and raised in Worcester, England. He received his BA and MA in Humanities in the United Kingdom. He was an aircraft engineer in the British Royal Navy.

    · Richie Diehl, 29, was born and raised in Aniak, Alaska. He graduated from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Technology.

    · Matthew Failor, 32, was born and raised in Ohio. He says, “My family taught me a love of the outdoors; camping, fishing, canoeing, backpacking, hunting, were all things we did on family vacations. My mom and dad and brothers and sister all enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle. My three brothers and I are Eagle Scouts.” Failor moved to Alaska in 2006 for a summer college job as a dog handler at Gold Rush Sled Dog Tours. He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Photography in 2007.

    · Linwood Fiedler, 61, was born in Vermont. He received his BSW at Carroll College and his MSW at University of Montana.

    · Ben Harper, 18, was born in Texas, raised in Washington, and moved with his family to Alaska in 2011. He has just graduated from high school in Wasilla.

    · Trent Herbst, 44, was born and raised in Wisconsin. He completed his education at University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse with a major in elementary education and has been a teacher ever since.

    · Tim Hunt, 49, was born and raised in the Detroit, Michigan area. He graduated from Michigan State University in 1989 with a degree in Veterinary Medicine and has served as a veterinarian on the Iditarod Race.

    · Scott Janssen, the “Mushing Mortician,” 53, was born and raised in Crookston, Minnesota. He married his high school sweetheart, Debbie, in 1980. He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1985 with a B.S. degree with a major in Mortuary Science. Scott and Debbie moved to Alaska in June of that year for Scott to work as a funeral director at Evergreen Memorial Chapel. He has been a mortician and funeral home owner for the last 29 years. They now, along with their friend, Jordan Eastman, own five funeral homes in Anchorage, Eagle River and Wasilla, including, Evergreen, as well as Alaska Cremation Center and Eagle River Funeral Home under the name of Janssen Funeral Homes.

    · Jim Lanier, 74, was born in Washington, DC and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, where his family moved when he was six years old. After receiving his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis, he moved to Alaska in 1967 to serve at the Native Hospital with the US Public Health Service. A pathologist at Providence Hospital for thirty-some years, Jim is now retired from medicine, but not mushing.

    · Kelly Maixner, 39, was born and raised in North Dakota. After graduating from Montana State University he went to dental school at Nova Southeastern in Ft. Lauderdale, where he received his dental degree. Kelly moved to Alaska in 2007 for a pediatric dental residency.

    · Allen Moore, 57, was born and raised in Northeast Arkansas where he received a degree in Biology from Arkansas State University.

    · Hugh Neff, 47, was born in Tennessee. He grew up in Evanston, Illinois and attended Loyola Academy and the University of Illinois. Before moving to Alaska in 1995, Hugh worked as a professional golf caddy in Evanston, Illinois.

    · Curt Perano, 42, was born in New Zealand and raised in Singapore, Europe, the United States and New Zealand.

    · Brent Sass, 35, owner and founder of Wild and Free Mushing, has been racing and training huskies for 12 years. Originally from Excelsior, Minnesota, Sass moved to Alaska in 1998 to “fulfill a lifelong dream of living in Alaska.” He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1998-2002) where he graduated with a major in Geography. Disqualified first day out.

    · Mark Selland, 57, was born and raised in Minot, North Dakota. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of North Dakota, he went to medical school, graduating from Washington University in St. Louis in 1983. He moved to Seattle, where he did his residency in internal medicine and while there, developed an interest in mountaineering and high altitude medicine. In 1988, he came to Alaska to work in a high altitude research lab at 14,000 ft. on Mt. McKinley. Over subsequent years, he participated in many climbing expeditions in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and the Himalaya. In 1993 he had the good fortune to summit Mt. Everest. After doing cardiology training in Denver, he moved to Alaska in 1996 where he has worked for the Alaska Heart Institute since.

    · Lev Shvarts, 35, says, “I was born in Kiev, Ukraine, back when it was part of the Evil Empire. My parents took my brother and me and moved to the Boston area in 1989. I went to school there, and bounced off to college in Pittsburgh.” Lev received an engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 2001.

    · Scott Smith, 45, was born in Maine. He attended Unity College and the University of Maine studying fisheries and biology.

    · Alan Stevens, 25, was born and raised in Sugarland, Texas. He moved to Colorado in 2008, where he attended college and worked as a bike mechanic. He received a B.S. in Engineering in 2012, and worked at the Colorado School of Mines doing research in waste water bioremediation.

    · Philip Walters, 32, was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Lanham, Maryland. He attended the University of Georgia as a Music Education major and was a member of the UGA Redcoat Marching Band, graduating in December 2004. He moved to Alaska immediately after graduation, having fallen in love with the State on a visit in 2002. Philip began working in the Anchorage School District in 2005, teaching for eight years at Bartlett High School; he currently teaches at Nicholas J Begich Middle School. He earned his master’s degree in music from the American Band College of Sam Houston State University in 2010.

    · Steve Watkins Jr., 38, enjoys adventure, adrenaline and historic challenges. He has worked on the front lines of war zones since 9/11 as both a tabbed US Army Airborne Ranger and a civilian in the areas of engineering, real estate, training and security. He was stationed in Alaska in 2000 after graduating Commandant’s List from West Point Military Academy, where he excelled in football, combatives, theater and student government. Steve is a decorated veteran of Afghanistan, a contractor in Iraq, a retired Army Captain, and a 90% disabled veteran. He holds a B.Sc. in Engineering from West Point, a M.Sc. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and he has a Top-Secret Security Clearance. Steve is well published and highly regarded in the area of post-conflict environment nation building. He developed real estate in South Africa and the Philippines. He started an Arabic online fashion merchandise company (GoMarket.com).

    What an interesting bunch! I mean, you expect folks who have been raised in a dog racing family to follow in the sled tracks of the family, but these folks just somehow found their way to this sport.

    And for you Iditarod haters… I used to be friends with one of the vets that worked this race. He LOVED dogs and if he thought there was any cruelty involved would have been the first one to speak up In fact, that is why he got involved in the first place – to shut the race down. Yep. He headed up to Alaska with that sole purpose believing that the race was cruel to the animals. He discovered it is a lot harder on the humans than it is the dogs. He became a vet working for the race, sure that he would be able to close it down. Instead, he found these were really very pampered pooches, probably cared for far better than you with your dogs tied out in your yards ignored all day while you are at work, ignored while you sit and drink your beer watching TV, ignored while you are off fishing on the week-end… His plan was to start a sled dog rescue group and rescue all these pooped pups. instead, he started a retirement kennel for the pups that grow old or get injured and can’t race (never argue with a moose!) and he finds loving homes for them where they can still run if they want, to the best of their ability, even pull small loads around – it seems to be in their blood. He would NEVER sell a dog to someone in a city or an apartment, and his sales contract is about 8 pages long making sure the animal is truly care for. The fines are enormous for violating the contract. Anyway, this is all past history, tho his daughter and her family have carried on the mush-puppy retirement tradition.

    So for those of you who post those long anti-iditarod rants, it will be instantly deleted. Save your energy. This post is about the people, not the true champions.

    Sunday, March 08, 2015

    van Gogh


    I saw this on Facebook this morning… and I was totally impressed.


    Science is now understanding the swirls in the sky that van Gogh painted all those years ago. A very interesting article! Do give it a quick read. Then, for those of you who have seen any of van Gogh’s work or were lucky enough to have some art history in school… this is for you.

    Don McLean - Vincent ( Starry, Starry Night) With Lyrics

    <="" to="" go="">Play video

    Don McLean's Vincent (Starry,Starry Night) Almost all images created by Vincent Van- Gogh. Song by Don McLean I in no way assume any credit for song or images.

    A beautiful tribute to Van Gogh in words and his paintings.
    I LOVED teaching the Unit on van Gogh. True, I had to make a few modifications... but the kids actually got into his story when they found out he was considered nuts and struggled so with life.
    Best of all, every once in a while I hear from some "kid" from long ago who got dragged into a museum by a wife or girlfriend and suddenly, there was a van Gogh in front of them. Every one said the same thing - how the colors and shapes just jumped off the canvas and pulled them closer... how they LONGED to reach out and touch the canvas - and a few succeeded! Funny thing is, they did not remember anything else from that day. Most of them bought a print of van Gogh's to take home or to the office.
    One of my  boys told how they were driving to Florida... his wife was surfing the radio... it tuned in on McLean's Starry, Starry Night... as she started to move on, he said he asked her to go back to it... and how moved he was by hearing and UNDERSTANDING the words to the song. (I made them listen to it in school – both before and after the Unit on van Gogh.) When it was over, he told (what he remembered) of van Gogh's life and works. He said she was totally impressed. He said it was the only "thing" (as a unit) he remembered from elementary school. He then realized his kids were quiet. They had been listening to him. They asked to go to a museum (REALLY!) to see a van Gogh. Eventually they found one and again, the paintings drew them in. "It is like his actual life is still in that paint." he said. “You can FEEL him there! He was once this far away from the canvas as I was at that moment. It gave me chills.”
    I hope he sees this on the internet.
    I hope you had a teacher who brought his work to you, too. If you did... thank them. You might make their week!

    Or, if it was another subject (for me it was my music teacher) who brought a new understand of something to you – find them and thank them. Go ahead, make their day.

    Friday, March 06, 2015

    Praying for Snow?????

    This was on a local church a couple miles from my house. Not THIS actual church sign, but the same words. Cracked me up! And we have not even had a foot total this year. BUT we have lost 9 days of school to snow – or ice.

    OK, I made my OWN church sign!

    churchsign HowaLooYa

    Now how do I add snow?????? Hmmm.


    'Friday purr ....

(  )~ prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr'

    Sunday, March 01, 2015

    Life after Delivery?

    'In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” - Útmutató a Léleknek'

    Davaun T Kurcz

    In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something ...after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
    “Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

    The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

    The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

    The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

    The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

    “Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

    The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

    The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

    Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

    To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” - Útmutató a Léleknek