Tuesday April 13 through Saturday April 24 - SHI presents: Intermediate Formline Design with Robert Mills. Online sessions: 6–8 pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, &...
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Sitka Monthly Grind presents... the 2021 Original Artist Grind! - Full of outstanding performances of original songs, dance, aerial silks, wearable art, and a v...
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Please join the Assembly on March 16 and March 30 for a discussion on the sale of the former Sitka Community Hospital building and surrounding property. Both to...
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Ocean Wave Quilters meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 6, via Zoom. Monthly meetings, September through June, are open to all, members or not. Those wishing to p...
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Yee gu.aa yáx x’wán Saturday April 17 from 11am-2pm at Crescent Harbor Shelter - Brave Heart Volunteers will be hosting a Wear Your Heart donation drive. It...
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COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments - Harry Race Pharmacy, in collaboration with the State of Alaska, is distributing vaccines based on CDC and State guidelines Wedne...
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I recently spoke with Jeff Budd and Kari Sagel about the long and distinguished history – and 2021 reincarnation – of the Sitka Spelling Bee. The 2021 Bee will take place on Thursday, Feb. 24th, and Bee organizers are actively looking for contestants. New news: the first 16 teams to Register will have their registration fee paid by one of the 2021 Sponsors!
“The Bee started in 2009. Davey Lubin came to us with a desire to raise money to help another library in need, and Sarah (Bell, who was the library director at that time) came had the idea for the spelling bee.” says Kari. “Us” is The Friends of the Library, which, together with the library itself, sponsors the Bee.
So, the 2009 Sitka Bee became a fundraiser for a library down in Guatemala through an organization called Probigua (“Proyecto Bibliotecas Guatemala” – a nonprofit that brings educational opportunities to rural children in Guatemala). You can read about their work at probigua.com/projects.html.
Another year, the Bee was in aid of Haitian libraries affected by the 2010 earthquake.
But where do the words come from? I asked Kari. “I and some other folks pick them out,” she admitted. “It started with words I just liked or found intriguing. Then, over the years I came up with funny sentences for the words. Scripps (the national school spelling bee organization) is now doing this, which I find amusing,” says Kari.
One year, Kari became fascinated with the word “talisman” and her sample sentence was, “He placed his lucky talisman so that it touched both of his bingo cards.”
Sitkan Paul Norwood has also come up with words. Kari describes Paul as “a naturalist, nurse, and National Guardsman. French by birth. He is a great speller, no matter the language. Funny part to me is that the French language accounts for at least 30% of English words.” Kari says one of the most memorable “Paul” anecdotes was “The French Debacle,” in which many words were either French, or English derived from French. Needless to say, Paul won that one.
Kari’s chart of past spelling words is a delight to behold, with word/pronunciation/sentence combos such as: Bungalow/buhng-guh-loh/She wanted to be the kind of girl who lived in a bungalow and had friends who wore berets. AND Piracy/pahy-ruh-see/Tom contemplated a life of piracy on the Bering Sea.
In more recent years, says Kari, Bee funds have been used for whatever the library needs, and to support “Babies and Books” and the “Imagination Library.” The event, to her knowledge, has never before been broadcast and has actually not been done in the few past years, not since the library remodel.
The original Bee was at least partly the brainchild of one Jeff Budd, who – along with the eponymous Don Muller (as in one who mulls it over) – constituted “Team Zero.” Says Jeff, “Don and I competed in all of the subsequent Bees, maybe six or so.”
The 2021 Sitka Spelling Bee, says Jeff, will take place on Wed., Feb 24th from 7-8:30pm. The Bee – or at least the contestants – will be arranged in an enticingly masked, safe and socially distanced fashion – at the Centennial Building. Then, the event will be broadcast on Zoom for the edification of Sitkans (and others) who would like to view it.
The Rules for this year’s Bee are shaping up to look something like this:
- A “team” consists of one or two people. The entry fee is $20.00 per person* (*The first 16 contestants/teams to register will be underwritten by one of the Bee sponsors.)
- Robert Woolsey will be the host and give the words.
- Lifelines may be purchased to assist your team in spelling. Each team may use two lifelines during the bee. No lifelines will be used in the last two rounds.
- $5 – Allows the team to Ask a Zoom Audience Member for help. They spell it once and then the team spells it correctly.
- $10 – Allows 30 seconds to Call a Friend for help. The 30 seconds starts at the end of the question or when the call is placed to the friend (??) Contestant(s) must get the spelling, hang up, and spell the word within the time.
- $20 – Allows 30 seconds to Find the word in the Dictionary, close the book, and spell the word correctly. You may write on your hand with your finger, but not with a pen or other device.
- You may restart spelling but must repeat the letters already given exactly in the order they were first given.
- If no one in a round spells a word correctly, then everyone in that round comes back for the next round. To win the Bee, the last speller has to spell his/her own word and a championship word. If a speller misses the championship word, all the remaining spellers from the previous round will be reinstated.
- Contestants must wear a mask and practice social distancing as required by the Centennial Building.
People who wish to be in the Bee must contact Jeff Budd to Register. People may call Jeff at 747-4821 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When, I ask, can people start contacting Jeff? Immediately! Forthwith! ASAP! Pronto!
2021 Sitka Spelling Bee Sponsors: The DUCKfather & Sitka Rotary Club, Sitka Checkered Tours, Christine Harrington CPA Services, Venneberg Insurance, Precision Boat Works, Old Harbor Books, Cindy Westergaard/Neurobehavioral Consultants LLC, Hames Corporation, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Foreign Auto, Sitka Soup, First National Bank of Anchorage
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The Soupster longs for a merry little Christmas
By Rachel Ramsey
“BAGH!” Liz exclaimed, tossing her hands up. Frazzled, she didn’t notice her friend at the other end of the long, fluorescent-lit aisle of Our Town’s hardware store.
“Liz?” the Soupster turned his head, recognizing her voice. “Friend, is that you!?” he asked in surprise. It was! Though they hadn’t crossed paths in many, many months, they recognized one another’s mask-muffled voices.
“Soupster! Gosh,” she laughed, “How in tarnation are you?” The two friends smiled large beneath their masks, approached nearer, stopping short at 8’ apart (yet feeling as near as ever). They didn’t share a bubble, so they were both giddy at the chance to briefly share an aisle.
Liz’s big eyes brightened, tired though they were. Soupster saw the exhaustion, the strain of months and months of life disrupted.
“Not too shabby, honestly.” he replied, as overhead, the holiday shopping music bellowed out a surreal Kenny-G-meets-Black-Sabbath hybrid version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Feeling Liz’s tender energy and wishing he could give her a hug, the Soupster gently motioned his head upward, “Say, what do you think of this version?” he asked.
“You know, Soupster, this song has always been a holiday favorite of mine, though this one’s a bit much.” she admitted.
“Mine too.” The Soupster agreed. Some-times we ‘hang a shining star upon the highest bough’. Other times we ‘muddle through somehow’ and, occasionally, we do both.” He sighed.
“So true. How many holiday tunes do you know that both acknowledge the melancholy – missing loved ones during the holidays – yet remain hopeful and optimistic?”
The Soupster began to mentally shuffle through the hundreds of holiday tunes residing in his memory.
Liz continued, “Judy Garland’s version is the best – my heart cracks when I hear it. She was the queen muddler. Though Sinatra found the lyric depressing and had it re-written, which is why we can ‘have it both ways’ but we rarely do. Seems artists pick one and stick with it.”
“Let’s see…,” mused the Soupster, “Mel Torme, Bing Crosby, even Bob Dylan sings it both ways – muddling through the first verse and reaching the highest bough on the second.”
“Ella Fitzgerald, too!” Liz added. “Though when she belts it, even the muddling through is somehow upbeat, swinging and hopeful.” The sides of Liz’s eyes were lifted in smile.
“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was birthed during WWII, dark times to be sure.” The Soupster said.
“It’s really something that after 80 years this song still has the power to move us so,” said Liz.
Glad to feel Liz’s spirits lifting, the Soupster asked, “Worst version?”
“This one!” Liz shot back without hesitation and rolling her eyes with a chuckle.
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What would the holidays be without Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
That’s the question Tyler Eddy asked himself early in this unusual year. His answer was to create Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in miniature in Legos for the front window of Harry Race.
Eddy and his companions-in-Lego -architecture, Aiden Kennedy and Greg George, have been doing the holiday season window in the Sitka pharmacy for five years now, as a labor of love and obsession.
“Every year has a theme,” explained Eddy on the phone in mid-November. “Last year was Harry Potter, and another year it was Carnival. The theme is important because that’s what gives direction to the project.”
Eddy, who is married and has three kids, was born and raised in Sitka and has been a Lego enthusiast since childhood. He started collecting in 1984 at age 10. “I actually got started because of my older brother Tim, who went to Legoland.”
When Tyler met & married his wife Sarah, “Our first decision was where to go on our honeymoon – it would have to be either Legoland or Egypt” (they ended up doing both). The couple honeymooned at the original Legoland in Denmark. Tyler has also done what he calls “field research” at California Legoland and Legoland in Windsor, England.
“There are Legos in every room of the house. When we had kids, one of the first rules they learned was ‘Don’t Mess with Dad’s Legos,’” Tyler chuckled. “I sort my Legos by piece, I have tubs in the attic and a desk that I use for building.” The Sitkan likes building with Legos “because it’s about remembering your childhood and building whatever you want to in your imagination.”
Tyler & Sarah’s kids are Calysta, 8, Scott, 13, and Isabella, 16. “Scott’s probably the biggest Lego fan,” says Tyler. “He especially likes to add lights. Calysta likes to have Lego people doing things like a woman painting a cat with a roller at City Hall.” Every house or structure in the holiday window “has lights on the inside. When we first started you had to hand-solder the lighting. And this year’s windows contain a total of 600+ mini-figures.”
Tyler got his start building Lego storefront villages with his brother Dan Elstad at the REACH building in Juneau. “Then, one year I asked Trish and Dirk if we could put a Lego scene in their window.”
Eddy eventually met “other people who do Legos, like Aiden Kennedy & Greg George. Aiden also collects; he might have a larger collection than me. I get together with them–or used to before Covid–a couple of times a week. This year we were able to build (the display) in an unused room at UAS. We then take it apart and move it all into the window – it takes anywhere from two to five hours to re-build it in the window.”
Typically, the three Lego architects start planning months in advance and start building by June.
How has Covid-19 affected their process? “Well, there’s not as much getting together and what there is, is with masks. But I have to say, Covid did cement this year’s themes of ‘Parade’ and ‘First Responders.’
Eddy’s current day job is with the Ferry System at the Sitka Terminal. He’s also done photography for 20 years, “mostly for fun and as a hobby” and does the “365 Alaska” Facebook page. “Sitka Volunteer Dive Captain Greg George did the smaller window this year, on First Responders. And Aiden Kennedy was all over, helping out on both windows.”
Eddy adds (and one can picture the twinkle in his eyes), “There’s an acronym–AFOL– Adult Fans of Lego, and that’s a thing.” In addition to enjoying the creation itself, he says, “I’ve also had a lot of fun with the Lego friendships I’ve made. That’s actually more than half the fun!”
Anyone interested in the building process can see a slide show of this year’s on Tyler Eddy’s Facebook page. For the “I Spy” Contest, pick up an “I Spy” checklist from the front desk at Harry Race. Be sure to write your name, age & phone number for the prize drawing. Go see how many different things you can find in the window.
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Happy Birthday, Maria, says the Soupster.
Originally published November 8, 2001
Hail pelted horizontally against the snug house that a fisherman friend of the Soupster’s had built for his family. Wind howled with gusts of 60 knots.
“Tell me the story about the pumpkins and the tuba, Poppa,” said Gwendolyne, the fisherman’s daughter, right then the snuggest person in the whole house. She was tucked in the bed her fisherman father had fashioned out of aromatic yellow cedar and her quilter mother had covered with colorful blankets.
The fisherman smiled: he had told her the pumpkin and tuba story many, many times, yet Gwendolyne kept asking for it.
“This young girl,” he began, “grew up on the roof of a house in a fancy city of hills and fog. And when the fog blew away, she could see many stars from the roof.”
As he told the story, the fisherman thought about being on the deck of his father’s boat as a youngster, watching those same stars over calm Northern waters. Him on deck, his father snoring below. “This girl went to a special school,” continued the fisherman, “where they taught you only two things. One was how to make food and share it with other children. The second was how to play a musical instrument.
“This particular girl loved to cut carrots. Although she was small, the teacher let her use an enormous knife. She made Julienne carrots, carrot salad and baked carrots stuffed with avocado and walnuts. Her classmates loved her.”
“Why did she play the tuba?” asked Gwendolyne, jumping ahead in the story.
“This particular girl thought the tuba was lonely because nobody else had picked it,” the fisherman said. “And she was also spirited and wanted to show how she could blow a big instrument even though she was small.”
“The same as she could use a big knife!”
“That’s right,” said the fisherman. “Every year, the whole class would get on a bus and travel to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin for Halloween and to make pies and roast the seeds.
“This particular girl loved going to the pumpkin patch. Even more than cutting carrots. The huge, round, shiny pumpkins with their dramatic green vines were new and exciting.
“Then, the girl went to a bigger school, where she learned to play the tuba better than anyone. And after years and years at the school, they let her teach other children how to cut things and how to share them.”
“And how to play musical instruments,” Gwendolyne reminded him dreamily.
“One day, when she was much older, this particular girl found a job as a teacher. What she didn’t know was that the job was in the very town with the pumpkin patch. Her very first day on the job, they had her take her tuba and play for the great-great-great grandchild of a pumpkin she’d met years before.”
Gwendolyne was asleep.
“After the fish is and iced in the hold,” the fisherman’s father had told him while they lolled on deck, under the starlight, “there’s always time to take a minute out of the rush. To think about who you are and what you’re doing. And who and what you love.”
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