Nancy L. Ives, principal cellist for the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Portland, plays with Lila Shavelson at Little Fireweed Academy on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. Ives talked with Fireweed students about cycles, a theme they have been studying this year, and how they fit in music. She also performed for a concert fundraiser at the Pratt Museum that night. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Nancy L. Ives, principal cellist for the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Portland, plays with Lila Shavelson at Little Fireweed Academy on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. Ives talked with Fireweed students about cycles, a theme they have been studying this year, and how they fit in music. She also performed for a concert fundraiser at the Pratt Museum that night. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Best Bets

Now that the fabulous, strange and bizarre year 2019 ends, we’re finally into the 21st Century’s version of the Roaring ’20s. If you remember your history, that was the decade in the last century when booze was outlawed, jazz came into being and women bobbed their hair and wore short skirts. Dudes dressed in double-breasted suits and spats, and everyone rode around in fast cars with running boards.

Also, as you may recall, the 1920s got a little hectic. The world economy crashed and by the 1930s we were heading toward war. So, on the one had, you had great music and amazing fashion, and on the other hand, well, war.

What will 2020 bring? There will be big elections for the Alaska Legislature, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, and, oh yeah, President. President Trump faces an impeachment trial. Things could get tense. Fear not, though, because 100 senators will put aside partisan rancor and consider the facts impartialy and make a judicious decision. Also, the Betster hopes to have received that new Porsche for Christmas.

Here in Alaska, we also face an uncertain future, with another state budget that our wise people in Juneau will no doubt debate, tinker with, and finely tune so that our government keeps running, the roads get plowed, the Permanent Fund Dividend checks get mailed, and we don’t have to dip too much into our savings.

The Betster can dream, right?

The harsh reality but also the hope is that here where it matters, here on the lower Kenai Peninsula where we live among friends and kind neighbors, yes, we endure hardship. Yes some of us go hungry and don’t have secure homes. Some suffer addiction and depression. Some face health challenges only cancer and heart attack survivors can imagine, but would rather forget. The darkness can suck the light out of you and the cold slow you down to zero. We’re getting into the heart of winter, with spring only a fantasy.

Only, we live among friends and kind neighbors. We have built through grit and grace a solid little town. We know how to survive. We know how to thrive. We know how to pull each other through the worse. We seek healing in art, music, sprituality and nature — especially nature.

The other day the Betster took a walk on the Spit. Though the tide lapped at the shore and the wind blew fiercely cold above those beautiful mountains across Kachemak Bay, the sun rose a few degrees higher. The daylight hours got longer, if only by seconds.

Sometimes all you need is the sun and a brisk walk on the beach. It might not be enough, but it’s a good start. As we head into the 2020s, pack your bags with love, kindness and compassion. That’s the baggage you can handle. Head into the new year and make it happy, perhaps with these Best Bets:

BEST SKATE IT OFF BET: For a glorious few days you could skate on local lakes, but alas, fresh snow squashed that. Don’t worry: The ice is still mighty fine at the Kevin Bell Ice Arena on the Homer Spit. Skate away in public skates from 2:30-4 p.m. Thursday , 4:30-1 p.m. Sunday and 3-4:15 p.m. Monday. Admission is $5. Yo, Mariner alums — now’s the time to get back in shape for the big alumni game.

BEST OK BOOMER BET: Those young punks have the speed and endurance, but the older generation have wisdom and experience. Who will win in the big Homer High School Hockey Alumni Game? Check out the action at 8 p.m. Friday at the Kevin Bell Arena. No matter who wins, Mariner Hockey rocks, right? Admission is $5-$20.

BEST NEW YEAR NEW YOU BET: Holly Sanger, owner of Salt/Pine, leads “New Beginnings,” exercises and visualizations to help you clarify what you want in your life in the upcoming year. Her presentation is part of SVT’s Health and Wellness Center’s Thriving Thursday series. It runs 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the center on East End Road.

BEST FUN WITH SCIENCE BET: Get in some end-of-the-year science the fun way with the Alaska Islands & Ocean Visitor Center’s “Creature Feature” talk from 1-3 p.m. Saturday.Discover a new featured creature each week A naturalist shares facts and stories about the amazing animals around us.

BEST RING IN THE NEW BET: Well, yes, Homer has some amazingly cool bars, each one with their own unique character. From the Salty Dawg on the Homer Spit to Wasabi’s Bistro out East End Road, you’ll find plenty of places to celebrate the new year with fine dining and tasteful adult beverages — well, and maybe a raucous band or two.

But hey — imbibe responsibly or not at all, because New Year’s isn’t just about getting slonkered. It’s a time to reflect, renew and refresh. Sober options include the big fireworks at 8 p.m. on the Spit or the Contra Dance at 8 p.m. at the SPARC. If you have a wee bit too much, our local cabbies will get you home safely with free rides from 8 p.m. Dec. 31 to 6 a.m. Jan. 1. Tips are appreciated. See the whole list on page B1.

BEST SKI AWAY BET: Oh, and speaking of snow, there just might be enough by next Wednesday to get out for the annual First Day Hike, Ski and Snowshoe at Eveline State Recreation Area, Mile 13.8 East End Road. Sponsored by the Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park, it runs noon-3 p.m. New Year’s Day. A $5 donation is requested.

Nancy L. Ives, principal cellist for the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Portland, plays for students at Little Fireweed Academy on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. Ives talked with the students about cycles, a theme they have been studying this year, and how they fit in music. She also performed for a concert fundraiser at the Pratt Museum that night. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Nancy L. Ives, principal cellist for the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Portland, plays for students at Little Fireweed Academy on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. Ives talked with the students about cycles, a theme they have been studying this year, and how they fit in music. She also performed for a concert fundraiser at the Pratt Museum that night. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

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