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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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Chicken Dinner

August 2nd, 2014 by Magdalena Tabor

Who doesn’t love chicken dinner? Why, it’s made a thousand different ways……..grilled, sauteed, baked, fried, roasted, raw…….Raw??? chicken dinnerThe human animal isn’t the only one fond of this delectable dish. Take for instance our neighbors, the bears…….or was it the coyotes? The little hen house (aka the maternity ward) which housed mama hen and her three adolescent chicks, were all safely ensconced, apart from their rivals in the barn….or so they thought.
One Saturday morning several weeks ago, what awaited was appalling beyond description! The little green hen house was torn asunder with no sign of mama or chicks, only remnants of their sad little lives. Feathers and ( dare I say it for the faint of heart? ) chicken heads were all that was left of them! And the chicken wire fence around the vegetable garden was squashed FLAT. This was a job for our inside investigating team.
A quick jaunt up the mountain behind the house revealed several exposures taken at 10 pm by the automatic camera lens. It was just as we had suspected. Two out of three pictures were of bear cubs and the other was of a deer. Well, one thing was for certain. It wasn’t Bambi licking his chops with the toothpick in his mouth.
However, so as not to jump to any wrong conclusions, what about that pile of coyote crap left on the doorstep last week? (What a thoughtful welcome). Everyone knows they hunt in packs and could have dismantled the hen house quicker than the barn dance going on inside at the dim prospect of being eaten alive. Yeah…but there’s still the garden fence that was stomped on by paws bigger than Charlie Brown’s head.
This clinches it. No court of law could circumvent the evidence. Cousin Lisa was driving up the road just the other day. And what do you think crossed her path from the river side of the road towards the house in broad radiant sunlight? Why, it was little baby bear! On his merry meandering way to the barn to take a sniff around and see if there might not be some leftovers. Oh, never mind the BBQ sauce and baked potato. I’ll take mine as is, he was heard to say in passing.

So……….whadayathink? How do you prefer your chicken dinner? With or without bones? Are you fussy about a few fluffy tail feathers on the side? Would you prefer a wing or a leg? It’s okay. We can always grill it.

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A Morning Rankle Through The Massapequa Preserve

June 23rd, 2014 by Magdalena Tabor

As I’ve oftentimes mentioned, I cannot stress enough the healing powers of nature. It seems that whenever I’m out of sorts, I seek some quiet wooded glen for solace and comfort. It never fails to bring me to myself. Ideally, the best places for this are not always within easy access of suburban Long Island, at least not within walking or biking distance and so we utilize what we have. Trouble is, so does the rest of the populace which defeats the whole purpose.
I set out at 9:40 am on a Monday morning but to my utter dismay, it still wasn’t early enough. Already, there was the usual gamut of characters that should have been at work today but, like me, decided otherwise.
The Massapequa Preserve is a stunningly beautiful natural habitat placed smack dab in the middle of a densely populated neighborhood, but you wouldn’t know it once ensconced inside its wild array of canopied overgrowth, streams, ponds, bogs and wetlands, hidden pockets of abundant wildlife with only a narrow 2 lane bike path separating you from it. There are dirt trails that lace through it as well,massapequa preserve but for the most part, it seems people take to the black top.
My morning began with a sweet little duck family at the fishing bridge. Up a little further, 3 pairs of lovely snow white swans were grooming themselves at the creek’s edge, close enough to reach out and touch. One of them executed a very nice backwards leg stretch. (I must remember to ask the name of his Yoga instructor on my way back when he’s not so busy.) Not long into my trip, a duo of loud mouth New Yawkahs broke the silence with aimless chatter in their brisk walk to tight buns. It was apparent that this was their ultimate goal in life, oblivious to all else with specially devised outfits to heighten the effect. Thankfully, they soon dissolved into a bend in the road and left me to examine the inhabitants of the pond; another stark white swan and a red winged blackbird that darted into the bushes. It might have been at the strange appearance of a man jogging with a baby stroller while yelling “Bam, da Bam, Bam! Bam da Bam Bam!” I had to crane my neck to make sure there was actually a baby in the stroller to assess the mental stability of the one producing this most unusual sound. There was. Poor kid.
I spied a small brown bunny hopping alongside the path and watched as he (she?) darted into the brush. At a certain distance I about-faced for my return trip and opted to walk with the bike for a change of pace. (Actually my butt hurt.) Apparently, this was considered odd behavior for some, as I was asked by a kindly fellow if I didn’t need asistance with the bike. I politely refused and thanked him. I don’t know why this rankled me, but is there no where in this suburban conglomerate one can disappear and not have to interact with anyone and everyone? I just want to be invisible sometimes. God bless them, Long Islanders are extremely friendly, but must one always feel obligated to greet each passer by with “hello. hi. good morning. hey” or a smile? Then if you don’t look at them you get the feeling they may be offended, snubbed, or slighted and spoil the rest of their day. All right, already…… “Hi.”
I glimpsed the same little brown bunny coming back, although I can’t be entirely certain it wasn’t a different one this time. It wasn’t wearing a name tag, but then again, neither was the other one. It did, however, possess the same spirited hop. Of the same grouping of swans I was absolutely sure; they made slow progress up the creek without a paddle. (They didn’t have one last time.) Strangely, there were no chipmunks in sight. I’m convinced they all took to the mountains some 200 miles away as there were thousands of them frolicking during our last visit there. I can’t say that I blame them…….Bam, da Bam, Bam!

So……….whadayathink? Where do you go to seek solace and seclusion when you want to get close to nature without rubbing elbows with the human species?

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Tyler Talks Cats That Kick Butt

May 17th, 2014 by Magdalena Tabor

tyler

Hey! Did you see that awesome news clip about the cat that saved the little boy from the dog attack? Who says CATS can’t be Man’s Best Friend???
This little boy, minding his own business (a rarity in itself), was riding his tricycle in front of his house, when suddenly a nasty little hound comes sneaking up behind him, viciously grabs him off his trike and like a crazed pirana tosses him about like a rag doll.
Here comes the good part…..the kid’s cat charges the dog with all four paws ninja-like, BAM! and the dog goes yelping down the street with the cat in hot pursuit! That cat, Tara’s her name, is one feisty feline. I think I’m in LOVE! (Sorry, Clementine. But you have to admit Tara’s stripes are very appealing). All she needs is the Super Hero cape! I propose they feature her image on band aids alongside Cat Woman.

So…..whadayathink? Everyone needs someone to look up to. Who’s your hero? And don’t say Underdog.

 

 

 

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Tyler

July 8th, 2013 by Magdalena Tabor

tylerThe long awaited TYLER is finally here! Tyler is our new cat flown in from Texas Siamese Rescue located in Corinth, Texas. He’s a two year old Snowshoe Siamese and is, as you can see, just adorable. We picked him up from  Bradley International Airport which is just outside Hartford, Ct, a 3 hour drive from Long Island. Because he had to pass through security and be removed from his cat carrier, he was harnessed and leashed prior to departure to prevent any mishap. Barbara, who personally transported him on flight in cabin, reported his excellent behavior during the hours long trip. In fact, during the drive home he retained his calm demeanor. Not a peep out of him. However, upon arriving home to Tyler’s designated room for his period of isolation from the rest of the house, he immediately sought refuge under a small loveseat, and aside from hiding behind the TV in the corner, he has remained there ever since. That was two days  ago. In short, he is still harnessed but I managed to snip off his leash with a pair of scissors. Shy and distrustful, Tyler will eventually allow said harness to be removed which we’re certain will add to his overall comfort. Here is Tyler’s take on the story. Please forgive his spelling:

My nayme  is Tyler from the Lone Star state and I haf bin kitnapped. I am stil waring my paratroopers gear I was given for the jurney frum the land of snaykes and scorpeons. I reefuse to let my captors remove it as Im serten I will need it to escaype frum the windo. The Human Beans have locked mee in a rume but I do not beeleeve it is jail beecawse its too nise and soft otherwise I wood bee serving “hard” tyme. LOL. Hey, even a cat has to keep his sense of humer in tymes of stress.

I am hunkered down under the bored walk where the Human Beans like to sit sumtimes. Im as kwiet as a mouse so I do not beeleeve they know Im heer. They cut off part of my paratroopers gear so Im not shure it stil werks but thats the chanse you haf to tayke. I must say tho, the food is pritty gud. I even get Fancy Feets but theres nuthing fancy about it. There are no mice feets as one wood expect. The Beans are getting trickee tho, placing my food farther and farther away so that I haf to come out if I want to eat. Thats not fair.

Im afrayd I may be getting to like it here and want this stoopid paratroopers thing off but I am not reddy to give up the ship. I am stil playing at beeing invisibull. When they tawk to mee I just look the other way. If I dont see them they cannot possiblee see mee.

So……………………whadayathink? Tyler will be helping us out with his own blog spot from time to time to give you the inside scoop on what goes on around here…..from his perspective of course. Please check out Texas Siamese Rescue where all the cats are free to roam and maybe pick one for your own. If you can’t adopt, please help by donating. We need your support. Thanks! And thank you, Alisa, for all that you do.

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Bearing Up

June 30th, 2013 by Magdalena Tabor

All right, Lisa. You’ve really surpassed my original opinion regarding your brave and adventurous spirit. Your curiosity, it seems, knows no bounds.

Last week , my sweet younger cousin Lisa called to tell me about her experience at her cabin in the woods which is just up the road from our mountain hide-away in the northwestern Catskills. Lisa often drives the 3 plus hours (4 from where we live) to seek seclusion from city life. Besides us for neighbors (when we’re there) about a quarter mile off, there’s another house in close proximity but he isn’t always there either, these being just vacation homes. Lisa’s on her own and just the way she likes it. Mom and Dad, retired now, are directly over the mountain, but instead of hopping in the car and driving around the mountain, Lisa sometimes chooses to hike through the woods to get there for supper. Oh, it’s still light enough by the time she makes her way back, she consoles me.

This is the kid who used to grab her sleeping bag and head for the woods at dusk for  “privacy”, camping at “the beach” no short distance away. The beach, as we call it, is a tiny area strewn with smooth stones alongside the river accessed by an old logging road through the forest. Like me, Lisa is a huge nature lover but so much braver. I simply wimp in comparison. I’ll never know where she taps into her sense of fearlessness. She’s also a bit of a globe trotter, thinking nothing of taking in a foreign country on her own. This year it’s Peru.

Now for Lisa’s latest adventure. A couple of weeks ago, just outside her cabin, she heard “sticks breaking” off into the woods. While my normal reaction would be to rush inside to the safety of the indoors and peer anxiously from a window, what does Lisa do? She goes to investigate the source of the sound, but (thankfully) finds nothing. Days later, she hears it again, “sticks breaking”. Whatever’s making that sound has to be heavy enough, she says, and we’re both thinking the same thing. But Lisa is undeterred. Once more she resolves to find out, and once more there is nothing. The following week she is obligated to babysit the family dog and brings him to her place. “Foxy”, a large elegant hunting dog, is a breed called Vizsla. No sooner does she let him out of the car, than he begins sniffing around and barks threateningly into the direction of the woods where she has heard the sound of “sticks breaking”. I knew it! she exclaims and heads off into the woods by way of that old logging road.

This time she sees it!

About forty yards away, excitedly reporting “It’s a big one”. Does she run? Not Lisa. They regard one another until she sees a smaller “kid bear” leap across the way in apparent play. Knowing the fierce protective nature of mothers, Lisa retreats, turning away and sprinting towards home.

“It was beautiful!”

is how she sums up the experience. Lisa, oh Lisa. Whatever shall we do with you? Don’t worry, I’m buying some pepper spray, she assures me, and never going outside without a stick. But she suddenly remembers that Grizzlies, while fiercer than the Black Bear, are aggravated by pepper spray, she wonders if it might have the same reaction on the bear with the milder temperament. Well, I sure as hell don’t want to find out! To think I walked all the way down to Lisa’s cabin the last time, only to find no one around and walked all the way back by myself is enough to give me the willies. Armed with only a stick and my cell phone. Hello, nine one one??? I’m at the corner of an Oak tree and a berry bush with prickly thorns! On the other side of that are a huge set of carnivorous teeth!!!! The line suddenly goes dead. Despite what they tell you (don’t run) I AM FLYING UP THE ROAD SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS!

If I only had a thimble full of Lisa’s courage. I could at least sit on my deck without looking over my shoulder. By the way, think they’re only at eye level? Don’t forget to look up!

So…………………whadayathink? What’s your biggest fear? You know mine……bear1

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Amazing Species !!!

June 8th, 2013 by Michael Tabor
Isn’t it just absolutely awe – inspiring to contemplate the diversity and vast array of all of the different species living on land and sea? The intricately complex, fascinating, beautiful, ugly and startlingly strange creatures evolution produces never ceases to amaze to me.
First of all, just take a look at the critter  – look how awesomely colorful and creepily mysterious the creature, it’s a Mantis Shrimp, looks ???  But its unusual appearance is not what makes the Mantis Shrimp such a special species, but it’s rather what it can do. This little guy is the most powerful boxer, pound for pound (or more appropriately ounce for ounce) on the planet by far; Mike Tyson nor Rocky Marciano do not even come remotely close to the vicious knockout power of  the Mantis shrimp. Scientists estimate that it can fire blows at the speed of a .22 caliber bullet – literally capable of cracking open crab shells, knocking out fish and octopuses; This is after all how it kills its prey and survives.

But if you think it’s punching power is amazing, the Mantis Shrimp’s vision is even more spectacular; experts say it can see in both infrared and ultraviolet spectra and uses 16 receptor cones (as compared to a mere 3 as we humans possess) which allows it to see in all directions at all times and not only that, it has the greatest and most profound depth perception of any creature on the planet.

Well, WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? We humans think we’re so remarkable (which we are but …) because we have a large brain and a well – developed cerebral cortex but there are a plethora of creatures, such as the Mantis Shrimp, which have far superior physical capabilities.  Check out this video and enjoy

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Why Reject Sanctions For Polar Bears?

March 11th, 2013 by Magdalena Tabor

I’m sorry I didn’t get to write about this sooner because time is always of the utmost importance on actions that have already been too long delayed. But on Thursday, the US sought to protect the killing and distribution of Polar Bear parts at a world conference but was voted down by Canada, Norway and Greenland. This is a huge blow for those who advocate this magnificent species.
The Unites States argues that shrinking Arctic ice habitat due to climate change, places the Polar Bear at risk for extinction and demands for its protection were argued against. Canada, which holds the largest poplulation of Polar Bears, claims that there is no indication of the bears’ marked decline and is not threatened.
Prices for Polar Bear pelts have increased dramatically and are traded among 70 countries with every indication of its continued escalation. So it all comes down to money. This barbaric practice has to stop! Restrictions on its trade must be met head on. I won’t go into the particulars but did want to make quick mention of it. Please be so interested as to read the editorial on cnn.com and then contact your congressman.
We need to be the spokesmen for those that cannot speak for themselves.
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Howling Mad

September 26th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor


An article appearing on NBCnews.com today rankled me enough to protest the senseless slaughter of an entire wolf pack in Washington State consisting of no less than 8 wolves. And why??? Because rancher Bill McIrvine has not done enough to protect his cattle grazing on public land. His convoluted idea that there are radical environmentalists conspiring to introduce Gray Wolves to the detriment of ranchers who lease grazing land is absurd, when it is he who has done nothing to prevent the wolves from doing what comes naturally. The Gray Wolf, on the endangered list, has only just begun to proliferate over the last ten years, and now sadly, an entire pack must be destroyed because of the stupidity of just one person.
Long a subject of controversy, Ranchers versus Conservationists advocation of wolves, the two can readily co-exist by separating wolves from domestic livestock. It’s a no brainer – open land, open hunting. Wolves don’t understand they’re not supposed to do this. Man with his brain has to delineate the line by making it a visible one. We have McIrvine to thank for not using his and compromising an entire species for his ineptitude.
74% of the public vote NO in the decision to eliminate the pack. They are being destroyed as we speak. Get smart, America. Endangered or not? Extinct or not? It’s up to you. Make McIrvine assume responsibility for his non action. He wants grazing rights without lifting a finger. Then points it at us when the end result is what’s to be expected. Go eat a burger, you foolish excuse for a human being. Get yourself endangered with a huge topping of cheese.
So……….whadayathink? What do you think? Even ranchers have commented on McIrvine’s lack of wit. As ranchers, they expect a certain number of cattle to be lost to wolves but they use preventive measures. Even so, they are not opposed to wolves. If they can understand we’re all part of the chain, why can’t McIrvine?

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Woodswomen

August 7th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
Numerous articles were written on Anne LaBastille since her passing on July 1, 2011 but Anne’s many books best describe who she was and how she lived her idyllic lifestyle. I first became acquainted with this remarkable lady in 1976 upon acquiring her first book entitled Woodswoman. Vicariously living her life through her words as she had lived hers through  Thoreau’s Walden, I connected with this kindred spirit but drew the line at actually living out the dream. It might have been she who spawned my desire to become a Conservationist in the Adirondack region but my intense fear of bears prevented me from embarking on the journey she so freely embraced. Instead, I took a detour, enjoying all the benefits of the family summer home in the mountains while still retaining my ties to civilization. Truth be told, I just didn’t have it in me to live a life of such reclusive isolation. I was in love with the idea of it and so Anne’s books sustained that love without my having to endure all of the hardship and lonliness that went along with it.
The other day I came across her book, Beyond Black Bear Lake. I was in the family cabin, now belonging to me 36 years later. Her books take me back to that time, when our cabin was built  and all my girlhood dreams came flooding back like the river that lies at the base of the mountain. Like the river, they were there all along but lay dormant, and dislodged like a rock in the muddy contours of my mind. The rock that slid out from under me at having learned of her passing, a year and a month too late. A profound personal loss overcame me, as though part of my past, that should be as solid as the book I held in my hand, had suddenly disintegrated. Woodswoman, it dawned, was the essense of what (not who) I was and it hurt me to the core. The unspeakable sadness that this fiercely independent woman had succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease, had spent the last few years of her life in a Plattsburgh nursing home, had had her worst fears realized. Forced to give up her dream life, her cabin, her dog . Herself.
I pick up the book and begin to read. Anne speaks. Reliving the life as if it were just beginnng. Once more, I join her on the journey. On a beautiful moonlit night, canoe slipping softly through the water, German Shepherd in the bow. We are living, and breathing the crisp Adirondack air scented with pine.  Enter the tiny lamp lit log cabin. The night is long and summer is eternal. Write your story, Anne. The one that never ends. I can still see the water lilies floating on the pond.  And nothing breaks the surface.
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