Our neighborhood stretches along the river.
Our neighborhood has a lake.
What really makes our neighborhood so special, though, are our neighbors. I have fine neighbors. Tom, for example, is a fine neighbor in our fun neighborhood. Tom moved here 'round and 'bout the same time that we did. He is a district attorney. He doesn't eat chicken. Or eggs. He likes to put capers in his quesadillas. I took care of Tom's dog, Kusko, when Tom went to Paris. Kusko and Puck get along really well, though they can get a bit overwhelming. I won't use the word disturbing, this being public and all. Kusko makes really horrible, awful noises when she wants something you won't give her. There were times that I thought that passing persons might hear and shudder at the noise. I was expecting visits from public officials. As a thankyou for taking care of Kusko, Tom gave Puck a wizard costume for Halloween (Kusko was costumed like a devil and yes - it was all so cute) and gave me a gift that quickly became one of my prized possessions: this cutting board sculptured like a cheese with a cheese knife forged into a mouse shape.
In the winter, it is fun to see Tom snow-machine by our house because he always has a different fur hat on. For awhile, his snowmachine didn't have proper runners on his ski's. And so it was also fun (albeit a bit scary) to see him slipping and sliding every time he attempted to make a turn when he snow-machined by our house in his fur hats. Tom made those fur hats that he wears while snow-machining. In fact, Tom specializes in skin-sewing. With the fur scraps from making his own beaver hats and mittens, Tom has sewn a fur wardrobe for Kusko. When Kusko competed against my dog, Puck, at the local dog show last winter for the "Most Adorable" trophy - I will confess, here and now and with approximately 7 months to prepare for the next local dog show - I was nervous that Kusko's hand-sewn beaver collar and/or Kusko's fur cape with a big, cross-stiched-by-hand-through-a-beaver-pelt letter 'K' (competition was fierce enough that he wouldn't tell me which he was going to use) would trump Puck's big eyes and floppy ears. In the end, however, both Kusko's beaver-fur wardrobe and Puck's natural beauty were trumped by an even smaller dog with a blue feather boa. It kind of hurt – for both of us and the neighborhood. But I think we've all moved along nicely.
Back to my neighbor Tom.
Tom first lived in the one room cabin that he rented from Hoppi. Now he lives in the yellow house that he bought from Hoppi. It's known as "the yellow house." When he has parties, he distributes flyers with directions on how to get there. The directions say "the yellow house." As far as I know, no one has gotten lost yet. He once threw a Halloween party, but his plane got held in Anchorage. Dressed to the hilt of my Carharrt work overalls, I went over to the yellow house a few hours before the party, opened it up and turned on all the lights, built the fire to heat it up (too bad he missed all the entertainment of watching me attempt that!), gave-away some of his capers to the tricker-treaters, and ordered a pizza. By the time Tom's plane finally made it to Bethel, he was throwing one of my favorite Halloween parties......if I don't say so myself.
Tom has a wood stove in his yellow house. He gathers and cuts his own firewood. He has a chainsaw. I won't post pictures of it. But others have. Tom has a set of John Deere silverware. I covet that silverware. Tom also has a John-Deere-green-and-white dirt bike and a John-Deere-green-and-orange boat. I was so impressed the first time I walked by and saw all that John Deere green, I took the dogs on two walks…. and I brought my camera along for that second walk.
Here's a snapshot of Tom's yellow house and his green-and-orange boat and dirt bike:
Clearly that picture is less than sufficient. Clearly I need to remember to open the shutter all the way when I take a picture. Suffice it to say, I was pretty disappointed with it. I was even more disappointed when I tried to go back and take a better photo, only to discover that Tom had put his boat into the water for the summer. Resigned, I was ready to wait until the winter to re-stage this picture that I flubbed so badly. So imagine my excitement when, during one of the dogs' daily constitutionals last week, Tom boated by in his John-Deere-green-boat with orange trim. Actually, it was Tom and my Unalaska friends' Anchorage-based brother, Regan, in the boat. It was a great chance to retake the picture!
First, I waved. Then, I grabbed my camera and (after double-checking to make sure the shutter was fully open) I took this picture:
Clearly, it wasn't a sufficient picture. So, I raced up the trail, and took this picture of Tom as he hooked his John-Deere-green-with-orange-trim boat up to the sea wall just down the hill from his yellow house. I tried to take the picture while Clyde was leaning over the sea wall to watch the activity in the boat below. But my camera is rather slow. So, instead, I got a picture of Tom peeking over the sea wall while Clyde went off in pursuit of discarded salmon heads or the other tasty little tidbits that he has a honed (and stinky) talent for discovering along the sea wall.
Then, I snapped two more pictures of Tom and Regan as they showed us the salmon and the firewood that they had caught.
Then, for reasons I don't really know except to say that I would like to someday have a picture of Puck and Clyde traversing through a meadow of tundra cotton, I took this picture of the tundra cotton that is growing in the ditch outside Tom's yellow house.