It began and ended with a murder of crows.
Wait -- I don't mean "murder" as in killing crows, but "murder" as in the traditional name for a group of crows. That kind of murder. Last Friday to Monday, from counting tidings of magpies to unkindnesses of ravens, I joined about 18 Homer area birders in the Great Backyard Bird Count, a four-day international citizen-science project to create a real-time snapshot of where birds can be seen toward the end of winter and right before they begin spring migrations in March.
It began and ended with a murder of crows.
Sunshine, slush, ice, rain, snow ... you name it, the 2013 Homer Winter Carnival had a little of everything.
It also had plenty of fun, thanks to the Homer Chamber of Commerce, the sponsorship of Alaska USA Federal Credit Union and a long list of volunteers who did everything from stopping traffic from interrupting Saturday's parade to judging parade entries.
Speaking of the parade, Homer Mayor Beth Wythe was the grand marshal. Judges Alita Mahan, Helen Phipps and Crystal Rogers selected the parade winners.
Nonprofit: Relay for Life
Once asked by an interviewer for the most important piece of advice she had for caregivers, Kate Mulgrew, the actress who played the part of Capt. Kathryn Janeway in the TV series "Star Trek" and is a member of the National Advisory Committee of the Alzheimer's Association, offered the following:
New Orleans has its Mardi Gras, Anchorage has Fur Rendezvous, but here in Homer we do our annual Winter Carnival Kachemak Bay style.
Sure, New Orleans might have a big parade, but does it have ice and snow? Anchorage might have ice and snow, but does it have ice racing on frozen lakes? When it comes to a small town winter carnival during the Mardi Gras season of Epiphany to Lent, you can’t get any more local than here.
Read the headlines and see new stories about murders, shootings and all manner of violence and it’s easy to wonder what the world is coming to. Homer resident Will Files is no different.
Taking that question to the next step, Files is inviting the community to a series of conversations organized under the question, “Thou shalt kill?” The conversations begin at 7 p.m. today.
BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG
All your Facebook buddies might be posting photos of themselves surfing in Maui and you might think you’re the only one left in Homer. You’re not, of course. Lots of us remain in town enduring icy streets and erratic weather. Pity your poor friends not in town next week. They’re going to miss the Telluride MountainFilm on Tour festival.
Homer may not be nestled in the shadow of a cornice lining the ridge of a snow-covered mountain or — in spite of recent evidence to the contrary — in one of Alaska’s areas of highest snowfalls, but where there’s snow, there’s the risk of avalanches.
Between Jan. 16-18, free “Be Snow Smart” avalanche seminars are being offered in Homer, Kenai and Seward with support from the Alaska Department of Public Safety and taught by professionals of the North America Outdoor Institute. A day of field training will be held in Turnagain Pass with all seminar attendees invited to participate.
On a howling New Year’s Eve night with snow and rain flying sideways, someone driving by Renn Tolman’s boat shop on Kachemak Drive might not know that inside his shop a full-on dance party rumbled. If not for a line of cars parked from Northern Enterprises Boat Yard for almost a half-mile to the west, you might not know anything went on.
BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG
Whether during the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, on one of the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve summer guided walks or a sunny stroll in the winter from town to Bishop’s Beach, the Beluga Slough Trail has been a popular hike along one of Homer’s special wild places.
It’s a hike that required a little fancy footwork, though. The old plastic trail, designed to float on the highest high tide, wound up settling on the mud, and over the years turned into a topsy-turvy walk.
By McKibben Jackinsky
Christmas carols mention a Santa Claus Lane: “Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane.” Some cities — Portland, Ore., for example — have a street so beautifully decorated for the holidays that it becomes known as “Christmas Lane.” In Bishop, Calif., there’s a “Street of Lights” celebration on Friday.
Ninilchik isn’t far behind.
For the first time, the Kenai Peninsula State Fairgrounds is being decorated as “Christmas Tree Lane.”
Stressed out? Anxious? Maybe the holiday chaos has gotten to you. Maybe the bills have stacked up and you're trying to figure out how to pay for a new car battery. Or, maybe you're dealing with some big life challenges, like domestic violence and substance abuse.
If you're looking for a calm place to cultivate wisdom, gratitude and serenity, try the weekly Mindfulness Meeting, run every Friday at noon by South Peninsula Haven House.
The sights and sounds of the Christmas holiday will fill the Homer High School commons and gym this weekend with Homer Council on the Arts’ Nutcracker Faire.
“Great food, great arts and crafts, more than 100 vendors” is how coordinator Cindy Nelson describes this year’s annual event.
By McKibben Jackinsky
It’s full-steam ahead into the holiday season with Share the Spirit, a community-wide effort to ensure no one goes without food or gifts for Christmas.
The Thanksgiving weekend ends and Share the Spirit jumps into action, with applications for food and gift requests, applications to adopt a family and a food drive that began Monday. In addition, many area schools also hold food drives to benefit the program. Gift trees, decorated with gift suggestions, will begin appearing around town soon.
For women and children staying at South Peninsula Haven House, the domestic violence shelter has an in-house second-hand clothing supply. Called “My Sister’s Closet,” it’s provided clients with clothing and other supplies to help them get their lives back together. Now, Haven House has expanded that idea with its new second-hand store, Homer Thrift.
A 6 a.m. alarm clock signaled the beginning of Tuesday for Trisha Davis of Nikolaevsk. By 5:30 p.m., she was finally having her first meal of the day. Around 7 p.m., she received word her day was far from over.
That’s not unusual for Davis right now. She is currently in New York, serving as a Red Cross staff wellness nurse supervisor in response to Hurricane Sandy.
“I’m usually in bed about 11 or 11:30 p.m.,” Davis told the Homer News.
The U.S Coast Guard’s motto, “semper paratus,” means always being ready. That means being ready no matter what the role — search and rescue, homeland security, enforcement of maritime laws, protection of the marine environment or maintaining waterways and aids to navigation.
Beginning in 1999, Coast Guard personnel stationed in Homer aboard the CGC Roanoke Island applied the motto through service to the community and have continued that service by chopping firewood, selling it and using the proceeds to help community members in need.
Jumping jack-o-lanterns, it’s that time of year. Whether you call it harvest season, fall or Halloween, it’s time to put on a costume and have a good time. From little tricksters in baby-carriers to excited school students to mask-wearing senior citizens, there is plenty to do to celebrate in the coming week.
Some events are fundraisers. Some are hair-raisers. Some are toned down a wee bit in consideration of varying fear factors. All of them look like fun. The hardest part is picking and choosing what to wear and where to go.
With temperatures dropping and frost on windshields, it’s clear winter is on its way. For some, that means hauling out heavier coats, planning holiday dinners and settling in for the cold, dark months ahead. For others, it means increased worry about staying warm, fed and sheltered.
OK, just to get the historical facts out of the way, the Homer Volunteer Fire Department Inc., the organization that celebrates its 60th anniversary this weekend, was officially incorporated on Feb. 10, 1954. That would make it 58. The anniversary honors not just the organization, but the first fire company started in Homer by Sebastian Gnad in 1952. Chief Bob Painter says the tradition of celebrating HVFD’s anniversary in October came about because it’s National Fire Prevention Month — a way to celebrate and also teach a bit about fire safety.