Eating and Singing

Those two words pretty much sum up the holiday season Petersburg-style. Julebukking continued, with the largest number of places hosting on Christmas eve. The Rexall drug store had their fabulous pastrami sandwiches, the electronics shop had chili, the gallery had a big spread, the Trading Union had a huge spread, and Hammer’s Hardware had the best… great food and “moose milk”.

Julebukking in the hardware store
Smoked salmon

“Moose milk” is a dreamy concoction of softened vanilla ice cream and White Christmas liqueur put in a 5 gallon paint bucket and mixed in the big paint shaker.

The 5 gallon paint shaker put to good use!

The result is poured into a silver punchbowl and served with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

One of the other businesses hosting Julebukking this year was Synthesis Metal Shop. Josef is not just a welder and fabricator, but he’s also a very talented artist. He served traditional krumkake and lefse, home-made venison jerky and cucumber sandwiches, and he had a gingerbread BOAT (with a welded aluminum frame underneath).

His shop was full of artistic creations and I’ve seen boats that he’s built, but the highlight was this octopus he made (welded, not cast) for his marine scientist girlfriend.

While all this Julebukking was going on, Jim was busy singing with the Oxford Carolers group, spreading holiday cheer up at Long-term Care in the hospital, then moving to some of the different julebukking venues… the bookstore, Cedar Box, hardware store (pausing for a sip of moose milk), pharmacy, Trading Union grocery store, and the art gallery.

Caroling in the Pharmacy
Caroling in the art gallery

And if that wasn’t enough, the Oxford group organized a Community Concert where over a dozen different musicians and groups sang and played to a packed house. Just in case you weren’t feeling the holiday spirit enough, the concert definitely did the trick.

As we’ve walked to and from all these events around town we’ve been seeing river otters playing on the dock more often. They’re cute, but they tend to be party animals and they leave a mess. They’re pretty wary and we’ve only seen them when it’s dark out. We try to walk by and not disturb them too much but they usually snort at us and dive into the water. It’s important to stay alert on the dock in the dark because you never know what’s in the shadows. Sometimes a blue heron suddenly takes off with a loud squawk when we pass by – I’ve been pretty startled walking down the dock half-asleep in the early mornings.

We gathered with dear friends for Christmas eve and Christmas day dinners, and Jim really out-did himself making a jule log dessert.

A few days after Christmas we were invited to the annual White Elephant party, where 26 people gathered to surprise one another with tacky gifts that are then traded around. The rule is that you MUST take whatever you end up with home… if you leave it behind you won’t be invited back next year. We chuckled, we giggled, we howled, and we cried laughing so much. People were really good about embracing awful gifts, wearing ugly hats and wigs with pride.

The pink flowery wig was pretty popular, as awful things go. Never take yourself too seriously.

As I write this I’m listening to our local radio station, KFSK, and Orrin announced that we’ve gained 5 minutes of daylight since the Solstice! Unfortunately it has been hard to tell that the days are getting longer since we’ve had a relatively warm and very rainy winter so far. The rain isn’t so bad, but the gloom from the heavy overcast skies is getting old. On Friday we had thick fog (the street lights never turned off all day), and Alaska Airlines couldn’t land one of the two jets that day. We knew people flying back from Seattle who got as far as Wrangell (the nearest town on another island), and the group of Petersburg-bound passengers had to hire a boat to take them the rest of the way home. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

Tomorrow we’ll check out the annual New Year’s Day Polar Plunge, though we plan to dress warmly (and in rain gear) and just watch. In the meantime it’s peaceful here. We wish you all a Happy, Healthy New Year!

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