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  • Writer's pictureMyron

December 2013

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Another year in the books, and at ALO the books turned out pretty good. While down from our best ever 2012, the past year was still among the top few years in ALO's long history. ALO thanks its clients and helpers for that success. A substantial part of ALO's business now comes from other rural court areas of Alaska, including Naknek, Dillingham, Nome, Kotzebue and Barrow. The increased use of telephonic hearings in all of those courts has made it possible for ALO to take part in hearings from anywhere. This year ALO has phoned in for hearings from the Elk Farm, Europe, Hawaii, Anchorage, Seattle and even from the Angstman cabin in Wood-Tikchik State Park (by satellite phone). Many of these hearings involve dozens of cases and a bunch of lawyers on the phone at the same time. Because of ALO's seniority in rural Alaska, many courts allow ALO to go first, a courtesy that saves hours of waiting on the phone. In return, ALO rarely wastes the court's time with needless motions or requests. It's a system that seems to work.

The recent holiday season allowed a chance to reflect on holiday seasons from the past. A favorite memory includes Uncle Jack Angstman, a widowed farmer who lived about a mile from the original Angstman farm near Princeton. Jack farmed his whole life, and many believed he milked cows almost every day of his life from the time he dropped out of school after sixth grade until he died in a car accident on his way home from Princeton to milk cows in his late 80's. Jack had his simple life figured out. He never held a job away from the farm, he answered to no one, and took his pleasure from what was readily available on the farm. He was an avid sports fan, following his favorite teams by radio in the barn. He liked baseball, first the minor league Minneapolis Millers and then the Twins, and also Minnesota Gopher football. A visitor to the barn could tell how the team was doing by the amount of cussing heard from between the cows. Jack had a wry sense of humor, and was able to spot a phony person from a great distance. He and his son Russell freely entertained their young relative from the adjoining farm for many years when he showed up. Many lessons were passed along, among them appreciation for the outdoors and rural living. Jack loved his property which is now part of the Elk Farm, especially the animals both wild and domestic that lived there. He always had a great dog, and treated all animals with respect. His baby gift to young Myron was a stuffed dog, which is the only baby gift that survived and now sits under the Christmas tree.

It was in the area of social graces that Jack was special. He didn't believe in most social trends, and the few which he embraced were handled differently. He dealt with Christmas by showing up for Christmas dinner in something not much fancier than the bib overalls he wore every other day of the year. A typical gift would be a box of .22 shells, wrapped in newspaper, which he knew were in great demand. He would buy a few cards to send , signed simply "Jack", but his favorite greeting during the holidays was classic. He felt the greeting "Merry Christmas" was overused, and developed his own variation. When encountering folks walking down the street in Princeton, Jack would say "Merry Christmas forever, in case I don't see you again". Folks familiar with ALO might now have a greater appreciation for how childhood experiences can mold lifestyles.

Speaking of Christmas greetings, Jamie Hoffman Herring sent this card featuring her daughter Dottie Moon's first visit to Santa. Jamie also has a wry sense of humor.

Dog race season is underway in Alaska, and Bethel staged its first race just after Christmas. Trail conditions have been tough, but a trail was placed across the tundra which worked out well for the dogs. The Dog Farm took third in the race, with Steve Olive racing. Steve is signed up for the Kuskokwim 300, his first, along with a strong field approaching 30 teams. Recent snow has improved trail conditions, and hopefully the snow will soon look like it did in this shot of Dolly in a race last year.

Katie Baldwin Basile has always been a neighborhood favorite. She was the only girl among a group of rowdy boys growing up, and held her own with them. Of course she still holds a record that might never be broken, which has been noted here before. She attended four different Bethel proms with four different guys, which by itself is noteworthy. What sets the record though is that all four guys attended her wedding, and none of them was the groom. No picture was taken of those six at that event, and the folks in charge wisely kept Myron away from the microphone so it wasn't even noted for the folks in attendance. Now Katie lives in a trailer called the Silver Streak in Oregon, and she writes a blog about her new approach to life. Katie is a good writer, and has good ideas as well.

The winter walking season is underway. Year round walking is one way to keep active, and it is one of the easiest ways. Keeping warm while walking is simple once a person learns how much covering is needed for various temperatures. As with most exercise, getting off the couch is the hardest part. Having two lively dogs like Tanner and Henry who expect a long daily walk makes that part easy. When they see any sign of a walk coming they go nuts. The coldest walk so far this winter was about -28 windchill, but the coldest ever is around -50 windchill. Henry, to his credit, refuses to go along if it is too far below zero.

This month's mandatory moose is a yearling with one antler missing, courtesy of the Anchorage Daily News.

In other wildlife news, the Bethel musk ox are still camped across from town, and the Dog Farm crew bumped into a different herd on the nearby tundra while training dogs. Some research reveals that this might be their first visit to the Bethel area. The delta hasn't been here that long in terms of the earth's history, and there is no evidence that musk ox have been here since the delta was formed. Ancient herds existed in northern Alaska but apparently disappeared during the last ice age.

That wraps up the news for 2013. Merry Christmas forever.


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