Best Bets

“No drama.” In emails, text messages or even old-fashioned face-to-face conversations, that’s what people have been saying to the Betster. “Let’s not have any drama this week,” they add, as if we need further explanation.

It’s been a rough week here at Latitude 59 degrees and some change. We lost our good friend, Gary Thomas. The weather has varied from blustery to abysmal. Heck, the ice has piled up so high on the beach you can hardly take a good walk — always a cure for the blues.

No wonder people just want a nice, boring week. Fortunately, that’s usually how January rolls. A lot of galleries and shops shut down as owners take trips Outside to trade shows or spiff up the place. Now’s the time when people head to sunnier shores like Hawaii, California or Florida. Yep, even scenic Twin Snakes, Florida, is looking mighty attractive these days.

And then, of course, there are the snow birds, those brave sourdoughs who have endured dozens of Alaska winters and reward themselves with a winter retreat long enough to rediscover shorts but not long enough to be disqualified for a Permanent Fund Dividend.

Oh yeah, it’s also PFD filing season. The IRS must find this amusing: Alaskans lickety-split go online and file for their dividends, but how many have filed their tax returns yet? Anyway, before March rolls around and you lose out on those big bucks, don’t forget to apply for your PFD.

While you’re at it, check out all those local nonprofits and “Pick. Click. Give.” a portion of your PFD. There’s probably some tax strategy to doing that, but the Betster never makes enough money to work that angle.

Still, though some Homerites have chosen to escape, hats off to those of you persistent enough to stay. Sure, some of you toil away in school as student, teacher or coach. Others might not have built up enough vacation time to get out of Dodge. And then there are those masochists who actually like the winter, perhaps because of the joy that comes with the annual controversy.

If you’re stuck in town willingly or grudgingly, don’t despair. The secret wonder of January is that despite a bit of boredom, our local fun wizards still manage to whip up some good times like these Best Bets:

BEST BREAK BREAD BET: Want a good meal shared with friends new and old on a cold Alaska night? Swing by from 5 to 7 p.m. today for the montly Free Community Meal at Homer United Methodist Church on East End Road where they always have a seat at the table.

BEST GET WILD BET: Adventurer Bjørn Olson has biked and paddled around Alaska in places that might not have ever seen a tire. He’ll be holding the world premiere of his award winning short film, “Alaska Thaw,” for the 16th annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival starting at 6 p.m. tonight at the Homer Theatre. Sponsored by the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society and Citizens Climate Lobby (Homer Chapter), the festival showcases the best and brightest in environmental and adventure films from around the world. Olson’s film took first prize in the national film competition, “Witnessing Change” from the Climate Cost Project. Tickets are $15 in advance at the Homer Bookstore and online at or $20 at the door. There will be a raffle for door prizes provided by sponsors.

BEST ON PORPOISE BET: If you’re lucky, you might have seen porpoises slipping into Halibut Cove Lagoon, but they’re often sneaky. Learn more about them with a lunch lecture at noon Friday at the Kachemak Bay Campus with “The Secret Life of Harbor Porpoises: New Insights into this Common but Elusive Species.” Learn about a new upcoming Kachemak Bay Campus Marine Mammals of Alaska course and a new community driven, citizen science based research project logging the marine mammals in Kachemak Bay and Lower Cook Inlet. Presenters Marc Webber, Deputy Manager of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge and Research Associate with The Marine Mammal Center, and Dr. Debbie Tobin, biology professor at the UAA-KPC-Kachemak Bay Campus and Research Associate with the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, will present the lecture. This event is free and open to the public.

BEST PAINT AWAY BET: Sure, the weather might be crummy these days, but that’s all the more reason to expand your mind even if you can’t get out and exercise. Artist David Pettibone holds his Fourth Saturday Oil Painting class from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Homer Art & Frame. This is the first in a series of classes, each progressively focusing on different aspects of oil painting and skill development. Learn the basics of oil techniques while developing paintings from start to finish using simple still-life and references. The class will explore alla prima painting, grisaille, glazing and more through various projects. Pettibone will lecture, demonstrate and teach one-on-one, taking the students through the different steps towards the development of a finished painting. The fee is $65 for the small class of three to eight students.

BEST READ ON BET: With so many writers in Alaska, it might be easier to just ask, “Who has not written a book?” Add Mia Heavener to the list. From 6 to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Homer Public Library, she reads from her new novel, “Under Nushagak Bluff.” Of Norwegian, Polish, and Yup’ik heritage, she has a degree in civil engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master of fine arts from Colorado State University. After graduating, Heavener returned home to design water and wastewater systems in Alaska Native villages. During the summers, she commercial fishes with her family in Bristol Bay. She believes that everyone should have a good whiff of the tundra at least once in their life, if not twice. Her fiction has appeared in Cortland Review and Willow Springs.

BEST GET EDGY BET: OK, that’s “edgy” as in Edge of the West, performing at 9 p.m. Saturday at Alice’s Champagne Palace. Edge of the West is a Rockin’ Roots Honky Tonk Jamband. Their catchy, quirky originals and outlaw hippie sound strikes a chord with lovers of alt-country, Americana and the Grateful Dead. The band features members who also play with Great American Taxi, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Todd Snider, Jefferson Starship and more. Tickets are $10 advance and $15 at the door.

BEST IN THE PINK BET: Go pink with the Pink Ink Party from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Que’ana Bar & Sleeping Lady Gifts, Mile 122.5 Sterling Highway near Clam Gulch. Learn about this ink on glass stencil technique and make a fun Valentine’s Day gift. The Alaska Chalking Family will have an assortment of jars, vases and picture frames available for purchase, or bring your own item with a surface that can be heated, such as a cup, plate, candle holder, etc. The fee is $10.

BEST BIRD ON BET: The Betster got so excited about the monthly Kachemak Bay Birders meeting that yours truly jumped the gun and listed it early. Anyway, the meeting is from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27, at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. This month Michelle Michaud will share her recent birding trip and adventures to South Africa and Namibia. For more information call Lani Raymond at 399-9477 or email

BEST OLD TIMER BET: Good ol’ Jim Hadley used to come by the Homer News and hand deliver letters to the editor. We always appreciated his insight and experience, particularly when he’d tell us of life growing up as a boy in Alaska. Alas, we learned on deadline that he died last Friday, Jan. 17. If you knew Jim, honor a life well lived with a Celebration of Life and potluck gathering at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Que’ana Bar & Sleeping Lady Gifts, Mile 122.5 Sterling Highway near Clam Gulch. Bring food, stories and pictures to share

Light snow falls over Eldred Passage on the south side of Kachemak Bay on Monday afternoon, Jan. 20, 2020, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armtrong/Homer News)

Light snow falls over Eldred Passage on the south side of Kachemak Bay on Monday afternoon, Jan. 20, 2020, near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armtrong/Homer News)