Category Archives: Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce: Calculations on giving more in getting less

By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt reporter

When we were first married, I announced to my husband, “I have an idea!”

That idea led us to living in a very remote cabin in Southeast Alaska with four children under 5 and no running water (unless it rained and filled the cistern). Wahooo! It was hard and awful and truly the best of times.

A few years ago I made a similar announcement, “I have an idea!” We agreed on this “idea.” We sold our suburban mansion of 1,500 square feet and traded up for 325 square feet of log loveliness and an amazing upgrade on outdoor elbowroom. No, we’re not a boat ride away from civilization and we have running water so we don’t qualify for own reality show. (Darn. There goes my chance to be a millionaire.)

The other day I did some rough calculations. Once I subtracted the stove, cabinetry, beds and so on we had approximately 125 square feet of actual unoccupied space, divided by three persons and three fur creatures, that leaves about 20.83 feet per being, give or take boot driers, fishing/hunting/musical gear or other seasonal trappings.

In our spare time (Ha ha! Like we actually have spare time) we are building a slightly larger log cabin. The first cabin will be a weaning pen for our youngest and a storage facility for company. We have never built a log cabin before, but we once had company for a month. That’s THIRTY days!

And we are still married. (Applause.)

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Family ties that bind, remind us

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, by Jacki Michels

Turnabout is fair-haired play when grandkids start to arrive

Like most families, things run in ours. Not only are we frequently found running here and there, running in circles, running late, but certain traits also generationally run in our family.

My ancestors gifted me with a Finnish temper and a special brand of stubbornness known as Sisu. I also inherited that special nose we can’t seem to outrun. My auntie got that genetic hand-me-down in spades — pretty sure we could land a plane on that honker. I can say that without fear of reprisal, as we also are hardwired for humor.

My hub came from a long line of red hair, freckles and melanin deprivation. He brings his own brand of stubbornness. When blended with mine, our combined DNA produced mutant offspring that are hysterically funny and as stubborn as mules.

On both sides we have Ph.D.s, BSNs, CNPs, RNs, CNAs and enough BS, PMS and natural gas to be considered a renewable source of alternative power.

Farming, fishing, a love of food and lactose intolerance are strong mutual traits. And like most families, there are the weird anomalies over which we scratch our heads and try to find an ancestor to credit — or blame, as the case may be.

Rh negative? Well, I guess my grandma’s sisters had it.

Thirty-four inch inseam and a 12 wide women’s shoe for one of our girls? Don’t ya know there are a few tall Swedes on Grandpa Carl’s side, and suspected Amazon warrior princesses somewhere in the woodpile?

Juvenile diabetes? Where’d that come from?

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Making a Halloween start to Thanksgiving dinner —  Confessions of a seasoned seasonal killer

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, by Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

I can’t help it, killing is simply something I do. Some people golf or enjoy a few rounds of Balderdash now and then.

I kill.

I get a certain primal satisfaction out of it. Sometimes my hubby joins me in creating carnage. Surely there’s some saying about “The couple who slays together, stays together?” If not, there should be a saying about matrimonial odds of the couple who raises livestock together without slaying each other.

The dispatching part is only a small facet of the entire experience. It’s the most dramatic part, but not really the part that keeps me keeping birds around the house. My carnal pursuit requires a delightful amount of ritual, and there is a stark beauty to the process.

First, there’s the gathering of the proper tools. The axe my hubby scored on eBay is indispensable. It’s a handsome antique implement of gore whose gently curved blade sharpens strong and silvery. The sheath is genuine leather with cedar-colored sinew laces that crisscross the handle, hinting at a dark, ancient, Viking past.

The belly and back of the handle are perfectly balanced at the grip point. As I contemplate the deed I’m compelled to commit, I study the rise and fall of my swing, noting that it feels sturdy and natural in my hand. When the time is right, I know it will land swift and sure.

The toolbox of carnage also includes a several knives, a practical steel sharpener, a scraper and a well-crafted slip noose. Any truly gruesome job requires tidiness, so a sturdy spade shovel, bleach and old towels are always on hand.

We might be killers, but even killing has a certain code of ethics. After our tools are properly assembled, we thoughtfully evaluate our potential victims, generally the old and slow, but sometimes we target juicier fare. Anonymity is vital. We deliberately don’t assign anyone a pet name. It’s much easier that way.

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Anniversary party pooper — Going for the gold can trip up on the runs

Photo courtesy of Jacki Michels. Spoiled or soiled? Jacki Michels’ pup took the stuffing out of a pillow, feathering her outdoor nest with the mess. But that was nothing compared to the anniversary present left by her brother.

Photo courtesy of Jacki Michels. Spoiled or soiled? Jacki Michels’ pup took the stuffing out of a pillow, feathering her outdoor nest with the mess. But that was nothing compared to the anniversary present left by her brother.

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, by Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

One of my most prized possessions is a fine China plate embellished with genuine 24-karat gold paint and the number 50 displayed proudly in the center. It’s not really my style, but I cherish it like no other thing. It was my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary gift — their golden anniversary.

For me, it’s rock-solid proof that love endures. Theirs was a true love story. It also serves as a perpetual reminder that love is an intensively fragile thing, something to be carefully cherished and protected. To make sure the plate isn’t accidentally broken, it is tightly clasped to a sturdy wire plate hanger that embraces it tightly. That hanger is secured to one of the thick logs that make up our home with a three-inch metal screw.

This year was our silver anniversary. With all my heart, I aimed to celebrate the anniversary with all the appropriate pomp and circumstance such an event deserves. The thing is, who celebrates anniversaries anymore? Back in the day when we had cable, there were plenty of shows about weddings. Entire magazines are devoted to weddings. Cards, gifts, parties and showers are dedicated to weddings. Sure, there are a few cards for the anniversarial occasion, but I can’t remember the last time I bought one for someone else. And as far as I know, there is no prime-time programming such as, “Yay, Rah, You Endured Another Year.”

Yet I have noticed a few Hallmark cards dedicated to divorce. It made me wonder what happened between the two big events.

I let my mind ponder that when last week’s memories resurfaced like a bad case of food poisoning. Hubs was at work until the next week. How am I? (Insert crazy-woman rant here.)

The proper answer: Like everyone else at end of a whirlwind Alaska summer — busy. Exhausted. One stuffed pillow short of a matching set. That is because the dog ate the other pillow. Ate it. As in she completely obliterated the outer shell that contained what was at one time an entire heard of feathered friends.


When I opened the door to let her in I shrieked (insert soprano scream here). “Something died in the driveway!”

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Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce: Foul play

By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

I have a few friends who suffer from ornithophobia. I’m not sure why. Maybe they watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” at a crucial point in their development.

Other people may have had unfortunate experiences and never fully recovered. I get it. Having a winged creature attack you can be traumatic. When I was about 5 I was bit by a goose, and once I had a bat get tangled in my then-very-long hair. I got over it. Not only did I get over it, I really am a big a fan of all creatures that fly. There’s something innately cool about any creature that can soar in the heavens, no matter if it squawks, sings or screeches. I especially like chickens.

That is until until I met The Beast.

Technically, The Beast was merely a Rhode Island red rooster. As a youngster he’d get an ornery glint in his little beady yellow eyes, but I thought it was all show for the chicks. As he got older he got ornerier. He started stalking me. My hubby suggested roosters are too stupid to stalk. He said I should just be brave. “Act like you’re the boss,” he said.


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Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce: Rehoming a home sweet home

By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

To the Other Woman,

I am jealous of you. Thinking of you lying in my bedroom, waking to walk across the hardwood floor that I picked out and helped install. Part of me chameleons into shades of cold, jade-green jealousy as I imagine you looking through the French doors into the greenhouse addition that I designed and nurtured.

A small part of me hopes you can’t make the geraniums grow the way I did. But that is the small me. The bigger me wishes good things for you, and as hard as is it for me to let go of all I cherished so deeply, I do wish you well.

This house was like our first child. We planned and hoped, and when it looked like it was going to happen we were sure we couldn’t afford it. We had NO idea what we were doing and most anything we figured out, we did so by doing it wrong — at least our kids thought so at times.

Speaking of kids, this house grew five of them, saw my grandmother through her elderly years and sheltered many who had need. This house welcomed friends, relatives and strangers. This house was where people were fed, entertained, disciplined, taught, consoled, wronged and forgiven. Because of these things, this house became a proper home.

To save you time and tears I have humbly put together a packet in the hall closet. It is chock full of owner’s manuals, instructions for appliances great and small, as well as paint cards with the rooms listed on the back should you decide to touch up rather than repaint a particular room. Consider this your Dr. Spock book of your home.

Also in the closet is a notebook full of things you need to know, like, what to do when there is sand in the water in the spring, what to do in case of spider mites, where things are planted in the garden, how to propagate geraniums and other such homey discussions. Consider this your unsolicited crazy garden lady advice.

We strove to have every last detail finished, but like a novel, a garden, the kids and ourselves, the job is never quite finished. It’s a work in progress and not without flaws and scars.

Some scars show faintly, like the thin line across the kitchen floor where our neighbor, Kyra, showed off her Rollerblading skills. (Yes, I yelled at her — and love her to this day.) The ketchup stain on the living room ceiling and the growing handprints in the bathroom are long painted over. Where the puppy ate the Linoleum in the laundry room is only covered by a rug.

As I walk through my home for the last time I realize you will not be walking into the same home you choose to buy. Gone are the warm fall colors, the scones and scented candles, the music.

It is once again only a house.

You will make it a home.

Funny how an empty house echoes. I am sure that we left behind a little laughter.

  • Grounds for Divorce No. 3,478: Finally finishing those honeydos — for the “Other woman.”

Jacki Michels is a freelance writer who lives (and loves) in Soldotna.

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Hunting Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce: Diary of a procrastinator

By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

Dear Diary,

I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve been foolish in the past but I know I will have the same summer paperwork project due this year as I did last year. It’s only April, but I’m going to start collecting notes next month. I will keep it ALL in one notebook and then transfer all my data on to nice, crispy, neat forms in the fall.

Dear Diary,

To go along with my good intentions I’ve purchased a sleek notebook with a sturdy plastic cover and a nice erasable pen. I will keep it on-site and diligently collect my data. How hard is that? This is a piece of cake.

Dear Diary,

Is it June already? Ohmygosh! So stinking busy! Where’s that notebook? I looked for it for days while keeping data on odd scraps of paper. Finally bought another notebook, recorded vital data in it and *poof* the first notebook materializes. Now I’ve got data in three places. Mental note, keep it all in one spot! P.S.: I’ve got to work on my handwriting or I’ll never decipher this disaster.

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