My Dad said, according to my husband….

According to my husband, in the highly competitive contest to guess the departure date and time of Kristine and Sharon from Akutan, my Dad said that there is always the Tustemena.  It will arrive in Akutan on April 18!!!  Thanks, Dad.  Kristine and I were happy to hear that, because that would mean that we would be back in time to record Mom’s story before you guys head out for vacation!  Ha!

Zoya Johnson, talking with my Dad, Sam Svarny, at the StoryCorps opening reception.
Zoya Johnson, talking with my Dad, Sam Svarny, at the StoryCorps opening reception.

When Kristine and I started working for StoryCorps, after training, Kristine came home with the equipment and I stayed in Anchorage to record at AFN.  Kristine’s mother was in Unalaska so Kristine and her mother, Carol, were the first Unalaska StoryCorps conversation.

Grandmother and Mom, Carol King with the real Batman.
Grandmother and Mom, Carol King with the real Batman.

Kristine and I feel that it is appropriate that my mother be the last Unalaska StoryCorps conversation.  So Mom, get your stories ready.  We’ve  got our listening ears on!

Gert Svarny at the StoryCorps Unalaska opening reception.
Gert Svarny at the StoryCorps Unalaska opening reception.

Whoops!

Trying to look out at our gorgeous view this morning.
Trying to look out at our gorgeous view this morning.

Oh dear!  Our 11 AM fight is not looking too good right now.  I am letting Kristine sleep….maybe she won’t notice what is going on outside her door!!  We are becoming very good at creating meals out of our weirdly paired supplies.  Kristine learned a new way of fixing salmon spread.  We just added horseradish.  It was delish.  It is funny how we think about food so much over here!  And appreciate it.

The wind is not too strong.  The visibility is the problem.
The wind is not too strong. The visibility is the problem.

We’ll go for a hike today if the snow is not hitting our eyes too hard.  When we were walking Wednesday night we had to turn back because it hurt too much!  We both love walking on the boardwalk.

With my admiration….

My visit to Akutan has been a lot of fun.  The stories we have gotten so far have been great.  There has been a lot of joking about who has a story and who doesn’t.  I swear, everyone we talk to tries to point us in another direction by saying “I know who you should talk to…”

This morning we facilitated the much awaited conversation between April Dawn Pelkey and her husband Demetri Tcheripanoff.  (Thank you April and Demetri, so much for coming in and allowing us to hear your story.)

April and Demetri with me during their StoryCorps conversation.
April and Demetri with me during their StoryCorps conversation.

After laughing (trying not to make any noise) and crying and laughing again, and watching April interact with her husband, and hearing about her life, it really got me in a pensive, thinking mood.    I started recalling the stories from Hugh, Darryl, Joe, and then April, Demetri, and Christopher Tcheripanoff this afternoon, and I was overwhelmed by admiration for the love of place that was revealed in all of the conversations.  As someone who believes, to the depth of my soul, that the best place on earth is the Aleutian Islands, and that I belong no where else, it was humbling to find the same sentiments here on Akutan Island.  It is uplifting to know that everyone has worked so hard to keep Akutan vibrant and growing.  And equally important that there are Unangax of the “young generation” stepping up to the plate to carry on the work and traditions.  Believe me, if I wore a hat (which I can’t because I look really stupid in them) my hat would be off to this community.