Monthly Archives: May 2012

Almanac: Sentiment set in stone — Memorial Wall honors pioneers of early Soldotna

By Clark Fair

Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger. Art Frisbie is shown with one of his many guns in his cabin near the mouth of Cottonwood Creek on Skilak Lake, probably in the 1950s.

Redoubt Reporter

Arthur C. “Art” Frisbie liked telling stories, and he occasionally liked to startle his listeners by stretching the facts, but the truth is that he did live a long life full of adventure, such as the time he accidentally shot himself in the hand or the time he accidentally shot himself through the armpit when he set down his hair-trigger rifle butt-first and it went off.

Frisbie was also at one time the only law officer in Seward. He served in the military near the end of World War II. He worked as a watchman on a fish trap in Southeast Alaska. He trapped during one winter on the Sheenjek River south of the Brooks Range. And he helped fight the massive 1947 Kenai Burn.

An early settler on Skilak Lake — after acquiring George Nelson’s cabin at the mouth of Cottonwood Creek — Frisbie also became one of Soldotna’s earliest residents when he bought 10 acres of Howard Binkley’s property and moved into town. As such, he has earned a place on the pioneers’ Memorial Wall planned by the Soldotna Historical Society at the Soldotna Community Memorial Park.

The wall, according to city of Soldotna documents, “was designed as a way to celebrate the lives of past citizens of the Soldotna area who have been interred in other locations. For those whose hearts will always be in Soldotna, their memory can be brought back home to our community.”

So far, the historical society has a list of more than 70 names of individuals, now deceased, who moved to the Soldotna area after homesteading opened in 1947 and prior to 1955. An additional and much shorter list includes the names of some individuals who are still living but meet the other criteria. The historical society decided on the cutoff date of 1954 in order to control the number of names and ensure that space would be available on the Memorial Wall.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Almanac, history, homesteaders, Soldotna

Song for her state — Kasilof’s Shields wins Alaska Song of the Year honors

By Jenny Neyman

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Kelsey Shields performs at Odie’s on Friday.

Redoubt Reporter

The seeds of music have been rooted in Kasilof’s Kelsey Shields her entire life. That they’d sprout into something was as inevitable as a willow tree sending up runners or dandelions turning from viscid yellow tendrils to achromatic airborne fluff.

This is a kid who could plunk out a tune she’d hear by ear on her toy piano, and retained that ability with guitar, banjo and grown-up piano as she also learned the technical aspects of written notation. She learned to read at 3 years old, and as words traveled from her eyes through her brain to her mouth, they picked up a tune along the way, so that whatever popped into, then out of, her head was more often than not delivered via some kind of singsong melody.

“I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t singing,” said Lea Shields, Kelsey’s mom. “From the time she was really little she would sing her books. We made up songs to nursery rhymes, to storybooks, to her favorite books, and she would sing those. We’d sing Bible songs, all kinds of children’s tapes. My husband’s pretty creative and he would tell stories and sing songs and she would mimic those. So she was always singing, sometimes to the annoyance of her brothers.”

She’s loved music as long as she can remember, and even earlier than her unaided memory stretches, as evidenced by family videos showing a toddler Kelsey standing in the dining room singing whatever randomness occurred to her.

“There’s these ridiculous home videos of me making up songs. Those embarrassing things that your parents do — like, ‘Why did you spend so much time taping this?’” Shields said. “I think I just always loved music.”

What was undetermined, however, is what form that musical bloom would take. Were it sprouted somewhere in the Lower 48, it might have turned out something like a rose, with its sweetness and beauty manicured into the cultural cache of mass-produced popularity, arranged with sprays of ferns and baby’s breath and gilded in shiny cellophane to a ribbon-wrapped, $19.95, perfect-to-the-point-of-plastic-looking dozen.

But she was planted in Alaska, and the influence of her environment has had a Mount McKinley-sized stamp on her songwriting. What results is more authentic than manicured, with a little dirt in the delicacy, more fireweed alongside a glacial-fed salmon stream than the easily replicable bouquets of 1-800 Flowers.

“Mud boots on a girl are pretty and the boys smell of oil and spruce trees,” she sings in “Take Me There.” “City lights are bright and pretty but the frost on my window in the morning shines too.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under entertainment, music

Join the Tribe to help teens — Family expands network to aid youth in need

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Shawn and Krista Schooley, founders of The Tribe, a nonprofit group devoted to meeting the needs of youth, ages 13 to 25, facing homelessness, hold a barbecue Saturday to feeds teens at the Soldotna Skate Park.

Redoubt Reporter

For some teenagers, it can be hip to have tight jeans, but there’s nothing cool about having clothes you’ve completely outgrown. Some may like to have purposefully scraggily looking hair, but no one likes having an itchy, dirty scalp. Some teens like staying out late, but not having no place to go home to.

Unfortunately, for some teens right here on the Kenai Peninsula, the latter is their reality — no home and not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

“We don’t have stats for this year, but last year there were 300 teens here that were homeless and going to school, but we don’t know how many might be homeless and not going to school,” said Krista Schooley, of Soldotna, who with her husband, Shawn, began The Tribe, a nonprofit group devoted to meeting the needs of area youth aged 13 to 25 struggling with homelessness.

“Some are teens whose whole families are homeless. Others are teens who were kicked out. Others left home to get out of an unsafe environment, such as where they were being physically abused, sexually abused or where drugs or alcohol were a problem,” she said. “Regardless of the reasons, now they have nowhere to go or they surf from couch to couch.”

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under community, youth

Art Seen: Art comes to (wild)life — Summer show renders Alaska fauna in fine detail

By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter

“Two Curious Bear Cubs” by Carl Brenders.

The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center is gearing up for its big summertime art show that opens Friday with a catered gala bash. “Alaska 2012: A Celebration of Wildlife Art” is the third time wildlife has taken center stage for the summer art show at the center.

Curated once again by Dr. David Wartinbee, who is an avid collector of wildlife art, the participating artist list reads like a who’s who in the wildlife art world. In fact, Carl Brenders has four original pieces in this exhibit — one of which was created expressly for this show and has not even been seen by his own publisher. It is called “Two Curious Bear Cubs” and is truly exquisite.

Carl Brenders is the undisputed master of this particular genre. He goes beyond realism and into a realm where the elements portrayed come alive before your eyes — every rock, every lichen, and the branches of every tree. Representing detail to a maximum, his compositional skills and color sensibilities are beyond mere talent. He uses a combination of acrylic and gouache, and literally paints every hair and twig.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under art, Art Seen, wildlife

Drinking on the Last Frontier: With summer heat comes refreshing wheat beers

By Bill Howell, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell

With the coming of the warmer (dare we hope for hot?) days of summer, it’s traditional to start thinking about drinking lighter beers.

When thinking about light beers, wheat beers often come to mind. Brewed with a greater or lesser amount of malted wheat substituting for malted barley, these beers are often the perfect choice for quenching your thirst on a hot summer’s afternoon.
Brewing beers using wheat is likely almost as old as brewing itself. We know that both the ancient Sumerians and the ancient Egyptians brewed them more than 5,000 years ago.

However, malted wheat is much more difficult to brew with than malted barley, as the qualities that make wheat so perfect for baking into bread — naked kernels and lots of gluten — make it a real challenge to deal with in the brewing process.

Still, over the years three very distinct styles of wheat beers have emerged, each named after its country of origin: Germany, Belgium and the United States. We’ll look at each in turn.
When many people think of wheat beers, the beer they think of is the classic German (or, more accurately, Bavarian) hefeweizen.

Most beer drinkers are probably familiar with this style of beer, traditionally served in oversized glasses and famous for its aroma of cloves and bananas. This aroma is not from the actual addition of spices or fruit, but from phenols and esters produced as a byproduct of fermentation by the specific strain of yeast used.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under beer, Drinking on the Last Frontier

Night Lights: Once in a blue moon? Try once in a Venus transit

By Andy Veh, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Andy Veh. This picture shows the last Venus transit, seen June 7, 2004, in Barrow.

Tuesday, June 5, will herald an unusual event, rare enough to only happen every 120 years — Venus, from our vantage point, will pass in front of the sun.

What is a Venus transit?

Venus moves in front of the sun’s disk. Only the inner planets, Mercury and Venus, both orbiting between Earth and sun, are able to transit.

Why is this Venus transit special?

A Venus transit is extremely rare, as they happen in pairs only every 120 years. The phrase “once in a blue moon” should be replaced by “once in Venus transit.”

Johannes Kepler discovered the laws of planetary motion in the 1610s, allowing astronomers to predict the positions of planets, transits and eclipses very accurately. The invention of the telescope around the same time helped the cause, too. Hence, prior to Kepler, no transits had ever been observed. In contrast, eclipses were somewhat easier to predict, even with the knowledge of accurate planetary motions.

Mercury, on average, transits every seven years. Thirty-six such transits have been observed since 1631 (Kepler’s first prediction). Personally, I’ve observed the 1999, 2003 and 2006 Mercury transits.
There are only six Venus transits that have been observed historically, in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004.

This list excludes 1631, predicted by Kepler but not visible from Europe and no astronomer made the effort to book a flight from Paris to Chicago. Personally, I’ve seen this one from Barrow.

The next Venus transits after 2012 will occur in 2117 and 2125.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under astronomy, Night Lights

Common Ground: On Memorial Day, home can be good, too

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

When I agreed to go on a camping trip on Memorial Day weekend, I made one, if not two, major mistakes. The first could not be helped, as the camping gear was already loaded and I was more than 100 miles from home when my fellow camper uttered the first sounds of dismay.

By sounds of dismay, I mean to allude to a string of expletives that were so mumbled and growled they could not possibly resemble words to be found in Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, which I happened to carry in my fly-fishing vest. The Seaview Campground in Hope looked more like fairgrounds than the historical mountain hideaway by the sea.

“Doesn’t look like there’s a spot,” I said.

More unsanctioned words of the English language followed as the truck and camper wheeled around, tires smoking, before we crushed over smaller vehicles and up and over a man-made barrier at the Social Hall. It appeared that my fellow camper was not interested in wedging in between the two honeymooners in a Pinto or the painted school bus with the “peace, love and music” flag.

“I’d like to stick around and get my face painted,” I said, unwrapping my English setter’s paws from around my head.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under fishing, outdoors