Monthly Archives: September 2013

Cannery to coffee — Wards Cove warehouse gets new life in restaurant

File photo. The warehouse at Kenai Wards Cove was dismantled in summer 2012. Much of the lumber is being recycled into a new Kaladi Brothers restaurant opening around Thanksgiving in Anchorage.

File photo. The warehouse at Kenai Wards Cove was dismantled in summer 2012. Much of the lumber is being recycled into a new Kaladi Brothers restaurant opening around Thanksgiving in Anchorage.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

When the old Kenai Wards Cove cannery warehouse at the mouth of the Kenai River was torn down in the summer of 2012, fishermen like Pat Dixon bid it a sad farewell, figuring it was like something lost overboard — never to be seen again and only existing in memories.

And he has a lot of them, as the building figured prominently in his, and many others’, fishing history. Kenai Wards Cove was the last of the early 20th-century salmon canneries on the Southcentral road system, starting operation in 1912 as a Libby, McNeil and Libby cannery. It was rebuilt after a fire in 1921, became Columbia Wards in the 1950s and Wards Cove Packing in 1988, continuing operations canning, and later freezing, salmon until 1998.

For all of Dixon’s 20-year career commercial fishing in Cook Inlet, the cannery was his summertime home base. As he writes in his blog, Gillnet Dreams, “Far more so than Indiana, where I spent my childhood, (the cannery) was really where I grew up, and it had always been a second home to me.”

The 40,000-square-foot wood warehouse, in particular, was a regular haunt.

“Where my locker was, where I stored supplies, used the crane to haul shackles of web up and down from the loft, where I’d driven my truck to grab gear, driven forklifts to haul it, where fishermen for decades hung their nets, where I’d walked hundreds of times with my camera,” he wrote.

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Filed under Almanac, commercial fishing, history

Haze beware — Pellet gunshot thought to cause moose death

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

Moose are best viewed from a distance but they don’t always observe that rule, sometimes showing up on roads, in parking lots and around homes. But even if they’re the ones getting too close for human comfort, people are still the ones held responsible for managing those interactions.

“A moose that is attacking you — or your family, or your dog — you can defend yourself and kill that moose, but you have to be willing to defend your actions for a DLP (defense of life or property kill),” said Larry Lewis, wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “But, a moose just being in the yard isn’t a justifiable reason to kill it.”

Jimmy Dean Rice, of Soldotna, found this out the hard way after being charged by Alaska Wildlife Troopers for a Class A Misdemeanor for illegally taking a moose during a closed season, after he allegedly shot at a moose with a pellet gun this summer.

With a court case pending, Dean Rice declined to comment on the situation. According to a report filed with the Kenai District Court, at about 11:30 p.m. July 16, Rice used a Beeman Model R9 pellet gun — a .177-caliber firearm that shoots at approximately 1,700 feet per second — to shoot a moose that was acting “weird.”

According to court documents, Rice said he planned to shoot the moose in its “ass” to just scare it away, but after shooting the moose it ran a few yards, fell down and died. Large amounts of blood were reported coming from the moose’s nostril and mouth.

Trooper investigation found the dead moose to be approximately 20 yards from Rice’s residence in the tree line, and according to Rice’s own statement the moose did not pose a threat to life or property at the time of the shooting. Troopers noted that Rice’s yard was well manicured with flowers and bushes, which might have drawn in the animal.

Rice stated to troopers that a number of things could have happened to the moose prior to him shooting at it, but added that, while he had “no intention of killing the moose,” he was likely the “culprit,” and added that killing a moose with one shot from a pellet gun qualified him as either the luckiest or unluckiest person in the world.

Lewis said that this is not the first time he has heard of someone killing a moose with a firearm they thought would only haze the animal.

“I remember taking a pellet out of a moose a few years ago that had bled out on a driveway off of Poppy Lane after it had been hit in the femoral artery,” Lewis said. “People need to understand, anything that comes out of the barrel of a firearm has lethal potential.”

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Eat locally for sustainability globally — Family lives a year off only local foods

By Joseph Robertia

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Saskia Esslinger, of Anchorage, her husband and infant son took part in the Alaska Food Challenge to eat local for an entire year, and shared her experiences during the Harvest Moon Local Foods Week.

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Saskia Esslinger, of Anchorage, her husband and infant son took part in the Alaska Food Challenge to eat local for an entire year, and shared her experiences during the Harvest Moon Local Foods Week.

Redoubt Reporter

Eating a banana for breakfast is a relatively new phenomenon, at least in Alaska. For thousands of years Native Americans, followed by explorers and traders, followed by homesteaders, made up the bulk of their diet from what they could grow, catch, hunt and trade.

In more modern times, the types of foods consumed are not so limited, but eating a tropically grown banana in Alaska means a lot of resources were used to get the fruit this far north. But not everyone believes this type of eating is environmentally friendly or ecologically sustainable.

“There is a misconception that Alaska can’t support its own food needs,” said Saskia Esslinger, of Anchorage, who, along with her husband and infant son, took part in the Alaska Food Challenge to eat local for an entire year. She presented her experiences last week at several venues on the central Kenai Peninsula as part of the Harvest Moon Local Foods Week.

Esslinger is not entirely new to the concept of being “green.” She has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s in regenerative entrepreneurship from Gaia University. She was certified in permaculture design in 2004 and as a permaculture teacher in 2010. Most recently she founded the Williams Street Farmhouse in Anchorage, where much of the food for her challenge was grown.

“People think you need 5 acres to grow enough to sustain yourself and your family, but that’s not the case,” she said.

Esslinger and her family transformed a few hundred square feet of lawn in an urban neighborhood into their garden. She said that this was a great way to start saving money, since lawns — with a need of water, fertilizers and mowing — use a lot of resources and give little back, while a garden could be used to grow food, rather than grass.

Esslinger and her family grew a variety of crops, including rhubarb, cabbage, cucumbers, kale and other greens, zucchini and other gourds, and carrots, potatoes and other root crops. They also grew a variety of herbs to use in the dishes they would be eating for the next year.

“The total harvest was 1,622 pounds,” Esslinger said.

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Filed under Food, subsistence

Hooked on poetry — Festival celebrates fishing life

Fisher Poets flyer.inddBy Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Poetry, the art of Maya Angelou, Robert Frost and William Shakespeare, can be an intimidating thing, especially for a novice presenting one’s compositions aloud to others.

But intimidation is a relative thing. Powering through 30-foot seas, banking on unpredictable seasonal income and working in a world of sharp hooks, slippery metal, tangling nets, constantly swaying footing and a cold, deep, unforgiving ocean isn’t exactly comforting.

It’s dramatic, inspiring, exhilarating, beautiful and idealized, but can just as easily be dull, discouraging, heartbreaking, harsh and vilified. And all of that makes commercial fishing fertile grounds for poetic creativity.

“When you start thinking about commercial fishing — whether you’re a set-netter or you’re a drift-netter or a seiner — whatever type of commercial fishing you do, you’re associated with the water. That presents its own set of challenges but it also presents its own unique beauty. So whether you’re trying to catch fish on a calm sea with an orca surfacing near you or you’re riding up 30-foot breaking waves trying to survive the day, there’s a lot of inspiration to write about there from the struggles that you go through,” said Pat Dixon, keynote presenter at this weekend’s Kenai Fisher Poets gathering.

Fisher Poets began in Astoria, Ore., as a way for fishermen to gather, catch up and share the stories, songs and poems the season inspired, along with, perhaps, a beer or a few. Since the first in February 1998, it’s been an annual tradition in Astoria, and other Fisher Poets gatherings have sprouted up in fishing communities along the West and East coasts, as well as in Alaska. These regional, on-the-road events are a great way to introduce newcomers to the Fisher Poets scene, and even to each other.

It’s this social aspect that Dixon particularly enjoys about the events, as that’s what drew him in the first place. After commercial fishing for 20 years in Cook Inlet in the summers and teaching photography in Kenai in the winters, Dixon took a teaching job at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., in 1997, sold out of his commercial fishing operation and relocated south with his family.

“It didn’t take me very long to realize that I really, really missed being in Alaska and I very much missed commercial fishing,” he said.

A friend introduced him to the second ever Fisher Poets Gathering in Astoria, and he was immediately hooked.

“It felt like going home,” he said, since Astoria was a commercial fishing town. He walked into the bar hosting the Fisher Poets events, “And all of a sudden there’s these folks that have had fishing history who look a lot like fishermen I’ve known, even though I didn’t know many of them. And they’re reading their poems and singing their songs and telling their stories.”

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Filed under commercial fishing, entertainment, music, writing

Singing celebration — Concert offers tribute to Verdi, Wagner

Photo provided. Kate Egan, soprano.By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

In their day, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner would not have shared a birthday party. Their differences — in politics, philosophy and musical style — were far more divisive than their commonalities of sharing 1813 as a birth year and both being masters of operatic composition, as celebrated in the 19th century as they still are today.

So celebrated as to warrant birthday tributes worldwide, including one to be performed this weekend in Soldotna, as the Performing Arts Society’s first classical music concert of its 2013-14 season. Soprano Kate Egan, mezzo-soprano Nancy Caudill and pianist Juliana Osinchuk, all of Anchorage, will celebrate the 200th birthdays of Verdi and Wagner in a concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna.

“There’s been a lot of focus this year throughout the musical world because of their birthdays, and what’s very interesting is that both of these composers were giants in the 19th century, they were giants in the opera literature, they’re very different musically and also extremely different as people — totally, totally different characters. But I guess that’s what makes the world go around — variety,” said Osinchuk.

Through his operas, often skewering rulers’ abuses of power, Verdi was an important voice in the 19th century movement to unify the feuding regions of then-disparate Italy. His music was a soundtrack of revolution. As such he faced censorship by the powers that be, but also received such wide acclaim and respect that his career flourished. His operatic style was grand, producing spectacles for the eyes as well as ears. He wrote his rich, soaring melodies in the “bel canto” style — meaning “beautiful singing.”

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Filed under entertainment, music, Performing Arts Society

Night Lights: Summer triangle lights way to winter

By Andy Veh, for the Redoubt Reporter

Compared to September, the scene in the night sky has shifted somewhat toward the east, with Bootes setting in the northeast. Its brightest star, Arcturus, can be seen in the early evening on the northeastern horizon.

Prominent constellations and stars this month are the Big Dipper low in the sky, and the Little Dipper (part of Ursa Major) high in the north, Cygnus with Deneb, Lyra with Vega, and Aquila with Altair still high in the west. These three stars form the summer triangle. It’s perhaps comforting in Alaska that we can see this summer triangle all winter along, albeit on the horizon.

Cassiopeia appears overhead, near the zenith, and Pegasus’ square/diamond is high in the south. Very late in the evening Orion rises with Betelgeuse and Rigel in the east, following Taurus with Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster.

Mercury, Venus and Saturn are not visible this month because they are setting and rising at about the same time as the sun.

Jupiter rises in the east between 10 and 11 p.m. Due to its glaring brightness, you can’t miss it. Jupiter will be visible during the late evening and into dawn all month and all evening during the entire winter. The third quarter moon joins the giant planet Oct. 24 and 25.

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Filed under astronomy, Night Lights, Uncategorized

Plugged In: Smaller is better, but some more than others

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

In our prior article, we discussed some of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a new camera as a Christmas present, buying a higher-end system to supplement an easily pocketed Canon S90.

The most important major factors are, I believe, that it be compact, light and easily portable, cost not more than $700 and provide very high-quality images. Balancing these factors tends to rule out very large, full-frame cameras and the larger digital SLR cameras using APS-C sensors. That leaves small d-SLR cameras, compact-system cameras incorporating large sensors, and some higher-end compact cameras.

The illustrations in this week’s article make a series of progressive comparisons that depict the quite large variation in size and weight from the smallest suitable camera, the S120, through Nikon’s D600, one of the smallest full-frame, interchangeable-lens dSLR cameras. All illustrations are courtesy of Remember that larger cameras require larger lenses, as well, which magnifies the comparative bulk.

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Filed under photography, Plugged in