The “Greenhouse” project.

We were going to have a little hot box for growing some edibles.  You know, like lettuce and radishes.  Maybe a little box to give broccoli a good start before putting it in the ground.  Someplace to acclimate plants started indoors….

A bit bigger than I envisioned!
A bit bigger than I envisioned!
It just about killed him to have to pay money for some supplemental top soil!!
It just about killed him to have to pay money for some supplemental top soil!!
Devising and putting in the irrigation system.
Devising and putting in the irrigation system.

Aiyiya.  My husband has a way about him, doesn’t he?  We have now planted 24 potato plants, a row of lettuce and are trying to decide on what else. 

Potatos from our beautiful friend Clare.  Fingerlings.
Potatos from our beautiful friend Clare. Fingerlings.

Now, of course, we wait. 

Fingerling potato being planted.
Fingerling potato being planted.
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Fishing for Reds! Aanux^!

It is a busy time of year, so I apologize for slacking on the blog.  The aanux^ (red salmon) are starting to hit, and I have been busy bickering with my husband.  Things are starting to smooth out in the equipment department (trailer, boat, engine, net) and although my body is beat all to h***, I am enjoying myself immensely.

Our net set on the front beach.
Our net set on the front beach.

It is darn hard to get the net straight!  Our engine isn’t strong enought to pull in reverse, so Caleb has had to devise a bridle (not quite refined yet) to pull with it attached to the stern. 

Skiff and engine courtesy of brother-in-law Greg Hawthorne.
Skiff and engine courtesy of brother-in-law Greg Hawthorne.

It is so nice to be able to fish, practically from our front porch.  Plus the whole family gets involved…all four generations!  The reds are HUGE this year. 

We need a bigger container!
We need a bigger container!

Our first concern has been getting enough fish for the smoke house.  Dad said, ” I am not wasting my cottonwood for less than 15 fish!”  Well, it took us two days, but on the morning of the third day, mom was stripping 20 fillets to brine and hang.   SP was so excited to be able to fish.  Any kind of fish made him happy.  Sadgunix^ (Trout), araamusax^ (bull heads), flounder.  And, oh yeah, the aanux^, red salmon.

Gert Svarny, fillet master!
Gert Svarny, fillet master!

Our second day was frought with wind.  The north wind blows in the fish, but it hits us smack dead center and plays havok with the skiff.  I almost had a heart attack when mom waved Caleb and I off when we tried to land the skiff again to pull the net, and I saw my 82 year old father down on the beach pulling away with mom and Laresa! 

Many years of experience go into each step of the process.  Sam and Gert Svarny.
Many years of experience go into each step of the process. Sam and Gert Svarny.

The third day, Caleb had to work so we set the net early, and Laresa and I planned to fish it all day.  Easy……except I couldn’t get the engine to start!  We spent the day pulling ourselves (in the skiff, of course) out the net and back.  Man that is tiring.  The good thing was that Laresa is almost as good as Caleb at picking the fish out of the net.  The bad thing was that I just wasn’t pushing hard enough on the engine starter button and when Caleb got home, he started it right up.  Aaarrgghh! 

Aanux^ - Red Salmon.
Aanux^ - Red Salmon.

Neighbors are a blessing in Unalaska.  Zoya and Bobby Johnson helped Laresa, Caleb, and I pull the net in on Saturday evening.  Then Bobby expertly repaired  the net where a hole had mysteriously appeared.    Two nights of mom’s lovely cooking – fish stew with alaadix^ and boiled salmon with potatos, petrushky, fiddleheads, and seal oil!  Yum.  That’s the life!

Two days of rest and we are hoping for good weather tomorrow.  At any rate, something will get done because we have another project going – the mini greenhouse!

How to set the perfect table for a lustax^ party.

Mom called me up about 9:30 one morning not long ago.  She said, “Guess what?”  What, I said, expecting some juicy gossip.  “Irene is having lustax^ and we’re invited!”  Woo hoo.  How many people are coming, what can I bring…. Mom says Julia says they have everything.  Just come at noon.  I am drooling already.  I volunteer to cut up some dried salmon just to take in case they don’t have any. 

Why so excited you ask?  What the heck  is lustax^?   Lustax^ is one of those true trade item subsistence foods.  Traditionally, lustax^ is made from the flippers of the Northern fur seal.  We get them from St. Paul, even though, yes, we see fur seal coming through the pass in the spring and around November, but hunters are few and far between.  So, no salmon in St. Paul?  No fur seal in Unalaska?  Perfect trade. 

Lustax^ is technically salted, aged flipper.  To those of us who grew up with it – it stinks good.  My father, on the other hand for example, used to leave the  house when we had lustax^, or he would smoke a big, ole cigar. 

Setting the table:

Use card board or thick brown paper bags as plates and placemats.
Use card board or thick brown paper bags as plates and placemats.

You may use a plate for the potatoes and everything else, but you must, must, must cut your lustax^ on the placemat.  That is just the way it is done!!

Sharp knives...an absolute necessity!
Sharp knives...an absolute necessity!
Boiled potatoes.
Boiled potatoes.

We were extra lucky.  There was fur seal meat and fat in the pot, too!!!

Seal oil.
Seal oil.
Lustux^.
Lustax^.

Ready to eat!

The table set for a lustax^ party.
The table set for a lustax^ party.

Several other ingredients are needed.

Irene McGlashan- whose daughter, June, is her St. Paul connection.
Irene McGlashan- whose daughter, June, is her St. Paul connection.
Julia Dushkin, whose hosted the party at her house.
Julia Dushkin, who hosted the party at her house.
Gert Svarny - my mom, one of the lucky invitees.
Gert Svarny - my mom, one of the lucky invitees.

As we sat down to eat, Mom said, and I am quoting her here, “I was so afraid I wasn’t going to get lustax^ again before I died!” 

My plate.
My plate.

Foods indigenous to a culture are part of who we are.  Elders can absolutely feel unhealthy if they are not able to eat the foods they are used to eating.  It is an extremely important tradition to carry with us and to pass down to our younger generations.  June’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Shabolin from St. Paul,  made the lustax^. 

I have to really thank Irene for taking to heart my whining one day about missing sitting and eating native foods with other women, especially lustax^.  Within two weeks, I was full of good stuff and basking in the good company.  And she gave me seal oil to take home!  Qag^aasakung, ladies!

Lucky 13!

Laresa called me today, from the tundra, to tell me that she had just picked 12 morels!  How could she go out without me?  Then she called me after she got off work to tell me that right after she hung up from talking to me, she found another.  So the lucky 13 in all.  On a lunch break!

While our dinner was cooking (curried chicken), I ran out to one of my spots and found 3.  I had just been there yesterday.  Boy, morels have a massive growth rate!  Then after dinner, I tromped all over hell and gone and found nothing.  Caleb was with me, but working on a different project, and as we were driving home…..CALEB SPOTTED ONE WHILE HE WAS DRIVING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Woo Hoo.  Me thinks the curse may be lifted!  As I jumped out of the car to run to the morel, I realized it was a treasure trove.  10 morels just sitting there waiting for us.  It was fun.  So, lucky 13 for us, too.

Many morels.
Many morels.