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The True Last Alaskan

July 29th, 2017 by Magdalena Tabor

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Those of us familiar with the reality documentary series, The Last Alaskans, are already aware Bob Harte, a particular favorite, succumbed to cancer on Saturday, July 22nd.

For forty years, Bob made the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge his home, living in the tiny log cabin he built for himself and his family. But what set Bob apart from the other six cabin dwellers the government has allowed to remain in this remote corner of Alaska, was his aching loneliness without the company of another human being, mainly his ex-wife Nancy, whose heart was ever bound to hers. This wistfulness remained, as if he lived with the memories still tacked to the cabin wall, the photographs curling at the edges. They were never really gone, his wife and daughter, and when the radio announcer brought any news of them, he was always visibly touched.

But the story of Bob delves deeper than a lonely man living in the Alaskan wilderness with his husky Ruger. To hear Bob speak was to afford a glimpse into the soul of the man; soft spoken, unhurried. The intonations brimming with a kindness and honesty uniquely his. To hear Bob speak was to fall instantly in love with his boyish nature but with a man’s resolve and resiliency to overcome every obstacle he encountered.

Bob was self-reliant. Yet, he invited us in to sit at his table with the oil lamp burning, hugging every syllable in the rounded yellow light. It could have been a hundred years ago, but it was just the other day. We trudged through the crusty snow behind his heavy boots and trapped with him. I don’t even like trapping. I suppose most of us watching don’t and yet we followed him everywhere. Even in Grizzly country. Safe in the confines of our living rooms.

Bob afforded us the opportunity to live vicariously, a life we wouldn’t dare realize beyond our flat screen TV’s. This dangerous and hauntingly beautiful world was ours with the flick of a switch we could turn on and off at will. Bob didn’t own a TV. He wanted for nothing, and took nothing that the earth cannot reclaim but his essence will mingle in the remains of his cabin long after it crumbles into nothingness.

For me, personally, the series has lost its magic. The magic that wasn’t in the Northern Lights, but in Bob Harte, the true last Alaskan.

Once upon a time there was a cabin. And in it lived a kind and gentle man.

 

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Mud

July 24th, 2017 by Magdalena Tabor

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This road has kept its secret.

Posing as some farmer’s sense of purpose

Where neither tractor nor billy goat

Can amble over rock and ruts so coarse

As to run rivers through its hardened veins

When thunder cracks the valley,

And the rains are heard rushing like chariots

Through the birches

Pelting everything in its path

And filling every pothole

Until the earth is glorified

With mud.

 

No rubber boot has lived until it’s tried

The slippery slide of redemption,

To catch oneself with brisk assuredness

Or fall sloppily into the mess

With a self-deprecating grin

And a swear.

 

Mud has served its purpose then,

Putting me in my place,

And with every ounce of dignity mustered

Hoist myself from the trenches

To look beyond the laughing cow.

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Tyler Talks Pet Heaven

July 4th, 2017 by Magdalena Tabor

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Hi, it’s me. Tyler! Let’s get one thing straight, okay? There’s no such thing as “Pet Heaven”. Now, wait a minute, wait a minute….. don’t get all bent out of shape, let me finish! The guy that made up this so called “Pet Heaven” knew nothing about us. There’s only one Heaven, and that’s right there, up in your face, licks and slurps, with humans! They can’t get rid of us that easy (not that they really want to), we’re there romping and frolicking right alongside, and we don’t even have to go to PETCO to get all the goodies. Heaven is Petco, only you don’t have to pay for anything. And you don’t have to work at being cute!

I want to talk about a very special dog. That’s right, a DOG! Any of you cats have trouble with that, you just pay me a visit at about 3:00 after my nap, and if I don’t answer I’m still napping. As I was saying, this DOG’s name was Chip. We used to live right next door from each other, only I didn’t see him that much because they never let me out of the house. But I could HEAR him alright. Humans call it “yapping” but I could clearly make out the words through his accent, had no trouble at all with it. He would say things like……

“Wow! Another cookie??? (and not a silly dog brand either, a real COOKIE, the kind humans reserve for themselves and would never think of sharing with anyone else, let alone a DOG). Thanks, Mom……you’re the BEST! You’re the BEST!”

And then he would say….

“Here comes Randy! Here comes Randy! I think he’s got a treat! I think he’s got a treat!” (Why he oftentimes repeated everything twice, I’ll never understand. It could have been due to his very excitable nature). After three long years, I finally figured out who this mystery cat “Randy” was. The MAILMAN, of all people. He never brought anything for ME! Not a single mouse!

But more often than not, he’d say……

“I’m so happy to see you, happy to see you! Whatcha got, whatcha got? I don’t care, I’m just so happy to see you!”

I think you know by now, this Chip kid was the HAPPIEST dog in the world. He had the BEST human EVER! If I was a dog, which I’m not, and never hope to be, nor do I aspire to be anything of the kind, it would be an honor and a privilege, to be accepted into Susan’s household, with or without all the extra cookies. She would center her WHOLE WORLD around me, not like SOME people, whose names I won’t mention, MICHAEL. (It’s not like you give me anything significant off your plate while I stare into your beautiful blues with my own. But, be that as it may, you’re still an alright guy, even if you do torment me by calling my name a thousand times like an imbecile. Is it any wonder I don’t give you the time of day? Not that I care to know what the stupid clock face says. You only need to know suppertime and nap time, that’s it. And those two happen several times throughout the day and not necessarily in any kind of order.  For instance, you might supper and then supper again, or nap nap, supper, nap, supper nap nap, whichever and whenever you prefer. Sounds confusing but there’s really no great mystery).

Anyhow, this isn’t about me. Susan is heartbroken right now because Chip left suddenly last night. He was in a hurry to see his relatives (whom he had never met) after hearing about them for so many years. What Sue doesn’t know is that, right about now, his grandad is showing him how to fix cars and will let him drive (without so much as taking a single lesson, I dunno, he just knows HOW all of a sudden) . They’re going to see his aunt, who loves to party, and his grandma who has a thousand stories about Susan he’s never heard before. Like the one about Susan looking exactly the same way coming out of the bathroom, to get all spiffed up, as she did going in! But Chip says he wouldn’t have it any other way. Why change perfection?

He says he misses you, but for Pete’s sake (who’s Pete?) stop crying! He’s having too much fun to worry about that now. It’s okay to be sad, but he’ll see you later. He really is a lucky dog. I have to live nine lives before I get to drive! For now, they shove me in the back compartment where I can’t even be near the controls, let alone see where we’re going! How do they expect me to learn anything? How will I find my way to Heaven? Chip says to follow the cookie crumbs. I don’t know. Sounds too Hansel and Gretelish to me. I don’t want to end up at the witch’s house.

Another route is to follow the paw prints. There are two sets , one of them is human with a kind of glow around them. They belong to the “Good Shepherd”. I hear he’s a really nice guy. He must be to be with all those stinky sheep. I think I can convince him to be more of a cat person…….when the time comes.  I’ve got eight more lives to go. God, I hope the next one’s better than this. I can’t even see out the window. The ledge is too skinny and they won’t leave the door open! What’s wrong with them anyway? Even Chip got to go outside. I wish I was a bird. Not the one I ate the other day, though.  Tell him I said, “Hi”. I’m not sorry. It was the most fun I had in a long time and anyway, he got to go to a good place. Is he driving yet?

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