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Being held by his favorite hooman.
Just out for my morning walk.

Yesterday was our “end of year” field trip. We’ve still got a few weeks left but a little early celebration never hurt anyone.

Before we boarded we spent some time exploring around the docks.

Major Marine Tours out of Seward took us out for a 4 hour tour. (Glad it wasn’t three and the weather wasn’t rough.)

Captain Marcelle navigated the “Kenai Fjords 360” throughout Resurrection Bay like a boss.

First thing we see after leaving port are Dall’s Porpoises swimming with our boat. They look like little baby Orcas. They were quite amusing swimming and jumping out of the water, crisscrossing in front of the bow.

Once we were underway the Capt put this nav map up for us to reference. It helped keep our bearings for sure.

Then we saw a bald eagle perched on an enormous rock. We spotted a sea otter in Thumb Cove.

After traveling past Fox Island we saw some Stellar Sea Lions sunning themselves on Mary’s Rock. Captain Marcelle was terrific for getting us excellent views of the wildlife. We had a beautiful day, sunshine, 41-45° air temp and no sea swell! Simply gorgeous spring day!

We cruised past Barwell Island on the east side of Resurrection Bay, which has some WW II era bunkers. Then the best thing happened, another vessel alerted us to a pod of three Orcas just two hours into our tour! What an awesome inspiring moment!

We also experienced a mirage, called fata morgana, of Montague Island. It made the island look like a plateau instead of the peaked mountain tops it has. Once we changed position and could look back at the Island you could once again see it’s peaks and valleys. So weird!

Besides the abundance of wildlife that we saw and learned a few facts about (did you know there were 10 types of Orcas worldwide and three types that frequent our Alaskan waters?) we also learned about history (WW II, Russian exploration, President Harding and the Good Friday Quake) and geology when we passed some unusual rock formations of pillow basalt. It was quite the learning experience!

Our route was the red one. It would be nice to take the blue one some day!

We peeked into Carol’s Cove to observe 6 Harbour Seals on our way back towards the west side of Resurrection Bay where we had a great view of Bear Glacier. Lil Bit was excited for this one, she really wanted to see the seals. It’s nice to see them elsewhere, than in our nets stealing our fish! Then we spotted two coastal mountain goats on the sheer face of the mountain side! And another Harbor Seal in the water along the Callisto Cliffs.

Nearly 4 pm and our tour is about over, what a wonderful experience! I love seeing the rugged beauty and bounty of Alaska. And seeing landmarks like Cain’s Head which we’ve explored a couple of times on foot. I think Lil Bit counted 8 species in total that we spotted today. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves! Little Mister was most comfortable on the bow feeling the wind rush through his hair. Thing 2 wasn’t in too many pics as he enjoyed the freedom of roaming about the boat at will.

I’m very grateful for the homeschooling resources we have with IDEA and the rich experiences we get to have thanks to their efforts. Trips like these would be out of reach for us without them.

My outhouse heater, in the evenings when the Genny is running it's warm in here.
Vintage wallpaper in a bathroom. Late 1970s estimated installation.

It all started with getting that moose, losing our freezer drawer and needing to restock our lunch soup supplies.

But once I got started I couldn’t stop processing like a mad woman.

We had some pumpkins from fall decorations that kept well plus an extra one a friend gave us. I loaded a full canner, two cases worth, of plain pumpkin and then made a batch of pumpkin butter. Which is like eating pumpkin pie on your toast!

I had three turkeys 🤷🏼‍♀️ and some miscellaneous fruits from wildcrafting the last time Niki was here. Which I turned into Crabapple, rosehip & cranberry chutney. It’s so delicious!

With the turkeys I made 2 gallons of turkey broth, a few quarts of turkey bone-in meat and two cases of turkey veggie soups. And I even had a little bit left over to cook and eat for dinner. Along with the aforementioned moose stew, we have some great tasting lunch options now!

Since we’ve been trying to get better organized and had all our canning jars stored in one place the kids have been saying that we have too many jars. Ha. No such thing as too many jars! Now there are empty places on the jar shelves but no empty places in the pantry! What a great feeling!

(I canned a total of 13 cases plus a few singles over the course of the last 4 weeks. Time to restock lids and maybe buy some more jars!)

Shopping last weekend I scored a box of tomatoes at IGA so I made salsa and canned some raw pack tomatoes!

Recap of what’s in the pantry now:

Moose broth, moose stew meat, turkey broth, bone-in turkey, turkey soup, dog food, pumpkin, pumpkin butter, fiesta salsa, jalapeno salsa, cranberry-rosehip-crabapple chutney & tomatoes.

It was noticable but not enough to get me out of bed. 😴

Last year I made an attempt at OAMC. Here’s my kick-off post for that journey. In review, I made a few different recipes that have made life easier over the past several months. The canned soups have been wonderful for lunches and quick meals when I just don’t feel like slaving in the kitchen!

I’m happy to report that the stock of soups I made last year have lasted this long! I still have a few jars each of chicken soup, beef stew and bean soup in the pantry. But they are dwindling fast! There’s nothing better on a cold Alaska work day to have a cup of hot soup & a sandwich!

Admittedly I did not actually make it canning something every month but I’m not going to let that keep me from trying it again!

I also learned that I prefer to can in “spurts”. It takes a lot of work to get prepped and drag out all of our equipment to do this task. So I tried to set aside the last and first week of a pair of months to do a larger batch of canning. Then I’m only doing all the prep work 6 or so times a year. *note to self, design new kitchen around ease of moose butchering and pressure canning.

Our family started this new year off with the gift of a salvage moose. We are extremely grateful ❤️! One of my favorite foods is canned moose meat. My Dad, of blessed memory, used to send me jars of it! The flavor is so rich and delicious and it’s so tender. Plus there’s nothing better than shelf stable, ready to eat meats. So I set aside about 14# of stew meat to process into canned meat and moose stew, & we have a wonderful assortment of healthy, hot lunch choices for the next year.

I also took some of the shorter leg bones (I need a bone saw) and made bone broth that I pressure canned. I ended up with 4 quarts and a case of pints. We use a lot of broth for soups and noodle bowls so these won’t last long! I have two leg bones reserved in the freezer for making an additional 2 gallons of broth.

Jars cleaned, labeled and ready for the pantry shelves.

During the winter months it is not unusual to have some downtime from construction work. That’s when I can dedicate more time to food preparation. I got the kiddos in on the action too. Teaching the oldest boy child how to bring the canner up to temp and maintain it. The youngest girl helped me fill jars, clean and seal them. And the Lil Guy did a lot of grinding to get that meat processed for canning recipes. They all helped prep the carrots, potatoes, celery and onions for the stews.

We used it as a learning opportunity, weighing in ounces and pounds. Measuring volume in pints and quarts. Converting recipes to maintain safe percentages of ingredients. Food preserving uses a lot of math and science skills ya know.

Since I had some time to wait for stew meat to thaw, Lil Bit and I started on the pumpkins we had to can. She cut and prepped the squash while I parboiled it and loaded the jars. I ended up with 24 pints of canned pumpkin. That will last long s a while.

It's been raining for two days. All of the snow on the roof is slowly inching it's way down. Everything is icy. I'm not venturing out today on these slick roads. #hibernationmode #notaniceroadtrucker

Today is the day that we as a Nation give lip service to those serving in our armed forces.

Is that too harsh? 🤷🏼‍♀️

Veteran Stats:

Increased suicide rates in Post 9/11 war personnel. More vets have died by suicide than we’ve lost in the War on Terror. Was it worth it?

An estimated 30,177 active duty service members and war veterans of the
post 9/11 wars have died by suicide, significantly more than the 7,057 killed in
“Global War on Terror” military operations. This marks a failure by the military and
U.S. society to manage the mental health cost of our current conflicts.

U.S. Department of Defense. (2021). Casualty Status as of 10 a.m. EDT May 10, 2021.

Homelessness Current numbers for homeless veterans hover around 37,000 individuals.

…because of veterans’ military service, this population is at higher risk of experiencing traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), both of which have been found to be among the most substantial risk factors for homelessness.

National Alliance to End Homelessness

Unemployment. Veterans have seen a slight improvement in unemployment rates recently but keep in mind this factor is often influenced by those whose benefits are expired and not necessarily employed.

Unemployment Rates by Gender
Annual Unemployment Rates
November 2021 – October 2022 Averaged
Women Veterans 3.1%, Women Nonveterans 3.7%, Male Veterans 2.9%, Male Nonveterans 3.7%

Veteran’s Employment and Training Service

Difficulty in returning to Civilian Life Military life is rigid and ordered, and ordered for you. Returning to taking charge of your own purpose and existence can be daunting for some.

,,,while a series of studies conducted by USC’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families (CIR) at the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work show that the majority of veterans look favorably on their military experience, the majority also report having difficulty adjusting to civilian life, which can lead to larger problems such as joblessness, homelessness and untreated mental health conditions.


Personnel go to a rigorous Basic Training to learn what’s expected of them in Military life. Perhaps we should do something similar when they are returning to civilian life. As a Nation, we can do better and we have a responsibility to do better.

As an individual, other than saying thank you to service members (which is a nice gesture) what do you do to facilitate a culture of honoring those who’ve made the sacrifice to serve? There are so many options. So many ways to make a difference.

Do you support veteran focused service groups or charities? Do you vote for pro-veteran public servants? Do you employ veterans? Maybe give them a discount at your business? Perhaps you live in a pro-veteran state, as I do, where the policies benefiting Vets are more visible. If you don’t, are you contacting your representatives to affect change?

We could even be more personable and talk about relationships with vets. Do you help out an aging neighbor who served? What about the significant number of unhoused or homeless vets? Do you take action when and where you can?

If you do, and I know many who do and are doing so regularly, my heartfelt thanks to you. If you’re not, let me challenge you to step up your game. You never know what your small gesture of kindness can do for an individual. We owe our Vets more than a day of celebration. Keep up the good work!