Posted on February 3, 2017

Many Shades of Alaskan Winter

I am spoiled by all the scenery I see on a regular basis here in Southcentral Alaska. I love winter because of the low angles of sunlight, the snow, and alpenglow.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from this winter. Enjoy!

Winter 1, Lynn LovegreenWinter 2, Lynn LovegreenWinter 3, Lynn LovegreenWinter 4, Lynn LovegreenWinter 5, Lynn LovegreenWinter 6, Lynn Lovegreen

Posted on January 27, 2017

#FellowshipofWords – Freedom of Speech

As you may know, I declared this year the #FellowshipofWords year and I’m encouraging everyone to bring people together through books and the written word. (See the first post at  http://tinyurl.com/jtjpamr.)

I am starting a teen book club at my local library, and am on the planning committee for an upcoming librarians’ conference. Those are the obvious ways I plan to use my volunteer time towards this goal. But I also find myself drawn into the political fray. I promise not to get too preachy here, but I am shocked at recent presidential attempts to curb scientists’ and others’ freedom of speech. This seems like a perfect time to consider how the words we use matter and revisit the concept of freedom of speech. We can’t have democracy or civil discussions without it.

Here are a few classic works that explore the idea of freedom of speech (book links in parentheses):

1984 by George Orwell

(http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/326569/1984-by-george-orwell/)

Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau (nonfiction essay)

(http://store.doverpublications.com/0486275639.html)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

(http://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Fahrenheit-451/Ray-Bradbury/9781451673265)

I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 most recently, so I’ll use that one as an example. I was struck by the idea of life without independent thought and how drab it was. I loved the images at the end, where individuals took responsibility for passing on great worlds of literature to save civilization. (And I hope we never get to that stage. That’s why we need to have conversations about this now.) Ray Bradbury’s book is a great way to imagine a world where the lack of freedom of speech is taken to its logical conclusion. He shows how important this is. And of course there are other reasons why his book is brilliant, but I’m focusing on this theme for now.

What do you think about these books?

What other books would you recommend for this theme?

Any other thoughts on how books and writing can help us through this time?

Thanks, and keep reading and writing! Join the #FellowshipofWords !

Posted on January 20, 2017

Cold Alaska Winters

The last few winters were mild in Southcentral Alaska. But this winter is colder, back to our historical norms. It’s hovering around -10 F (-23 C) here, which is nothing compared to temperatures in Alaska’s Arctic and Interior regions. That got me thinking about anecdotes of winter’s cold in Alaska.

The first one that comes to mind is a classic short story, “To Build a Fire” by Jack London (first published in Century Magazine in 1908). I shared it with hundreds of high school sophomores over the years. Here’s a passage that always got my students’ attention:

As he turned to go on, he spat speculatively. There was a sharp, explosive crackle that startled him. He spat again. And again. in the air, before it could fall to the snow, the spittle crackled. He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air.

(Spit and other liquids really do that in extreme temperatures.) You can read the whole story at Story of the Week by the Library of America at

http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2011/02/to-build-fire.html.

Of course, there are real, nonfiction, anecdotes, too. We have to do things a little differently when it’s really cold. For example, keeping cars and other vehicles running in extreme cold can be tricky. Sometimes block heaters aren’t enough. People put space heaters under their oil pans, to thaw the oil to start the engine. The part of the tires that touches the ground freezes flat at about  -40, so tires go thud, thud, thud, until they warm up and get round again. Smart Alaskans keep survival gear, or at least extra warm clothing, in their cars in case they break down and have to walk to safety.

Also, the severe cold seems to suck all the moisture out of the air. The dry air creates more static electricity, so people touch wood before they touch a person or metal—you don’t want to blow out your TV in cold weather. And a tip for those who use an outhouse in winter: styrofoam is warmer than a wood seat, and it is worth it to store the seat in the cabin and bring it out with you when you need to use it.

I know that other parts of the world have their cold, too. But it’s part of the Alaskan mystique. It makes us feel proud, a little tougher than the average person, to go through it here. So please forgive our bragging when we get a cold winter.

Now I’ll go put on another layer of clothes, and be thankful I have a warm house to live in. Wishing you a warm and comfy day wherever you are!

Posted on January 13, 2017

2017: The Fellowship of Words Year #FellowshipofWords

Last year, I declared it A Good Year for the Arts, and posted about once a month about what I experienced in the arts that moved me and helped me understand other people. While I still think that is valuable (see http://lynnlovegreen.com/2016-a-good-year-for-the-arts-wrap-up/), I didn’t want to repeat myself online this year. So I declare 2017 the Fellowship of Words year.

Like J. R. R. Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, we all come from different places (geographically and ideologically) and look at life through different lenses. But as human beings, we have a lot in common, and reasons to work together. We need to become friends and neighbors again, to solve our problems and face the future as one. In order to do that, we need to remember our commonalities, our compassionate values, and make connections with each other again. We need fellowship.

I define fellowship as a friendly group of people connected by common interest. While many of us have a fellowship in one sense or another, I think we need more fellowships, more ways for people to connect with each other. Love wins over fear when we know our neighbors, when we see others as part of our community. And books are a natural way to create fellowship. Words are powerful. That’s something I can work with to create fellowship in my little corner of the world.

I plan to build fellowship by reaching out to others and bringing people together through books, in my personal and professional lives. For example, as an individual, I’ve committed to leading a teen book club at a local library. We’ll be sharing books with each other, and finding common ground in our discussions of those books. I also plan to participate in the planning committee for a librarians’ conference in my hometown, which will help school and public libraries continue their work to bring people together. As the ALA states, “Libraries are uniquely positioned at the heart of local, campus and school communities, enjoying public trust as repositories of knowledge and offering democratic access.” Libraries, and books in general, build fellowships that can lead to a better world.

In my writing career, I want to build fellowship, too. As James Baldwin said, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” I hope to show readers and fellow writers how much we have in common, across time and space and all the other things that seem to separate us. That is one of the themes in my writing, and will continue to be so. As I write and speak to groups, etc. this year, I will make a conscious effort to create fellowship with my words. It’s my small way of making the world a better place.

What will you do this year to create fellowship or bring people together? Let’s use this opportunity to make a difference, through books and the written word. Feel free to use my graphic (created with Canva.com with book photo by banholio via Morguefile) and the hashtag #FellowshipofWords to continue this conversation online.

Posted on January 6, 2017

Happy Russian Orthodox Christmas!

Note: I am working on a new first draft and pondering what I’ll do to help bring people together this year. (See last week’s blog post at http://lynnlovegreen.com/2016-a-good-year-for-the-arts-wrap-up/.) I confess my brain is a little full right now, so it’s a good time for a “retread” blog post.

Tomorrow (January 7) is Russian Orthodox Christmas, so I send you best wishes and this excerpt from a 2015 blog about the holiday:

Many Orthodox churches celebrate according to the older Julian calendar, so they have a different date than traditionally American churches. But there is a significant number of Russian Orthodox Alaskans, thanks to our history. Alaska was Russian before it was American, and there is a cultural legacy here.

One fun aspect of the holiday is starring, still common in some Alaskan towns and villages. To represent the star that led the wise men to the Chris child, they decorate a huge star and carry it from house to house and sing, much like Christmas carolers. The photo is from the Alaska Dispatch News, via John Hanscom’s My Alaska board on Pinterest, caption: “rmogen Merculief spins the star as Father Pete Chris, of St. Innocent Russian Orthodox Church, leads the church choir in hymns at the Alaska Native Medical Center on Tuesday. Starring or “Slaaviq” is a traditional part of the Russian Orthodox Christmas celebration.”

History author Laurel Bill has a great blog post on the holiday here: http://auntphilstrunk.com/russian-orthodox-christmas-celebrated-january-7/#more-1058

And there is a scene about starring in Alaskan Don Rearden’s book The Raven’s Gift. Learn more about the book at http://www.donrearden.com/index.html (Note: be aware that much of the book is a thriller, not to be read at bedtime unless you like scaring yourself! But it is brilliantly written!)

Best wishes, and we’ll talk more next week!

Posted on December 29, 2016

2016— A Good Year for the Arts: Wrap Up

As you may know, I declared 2016 a good year for the arts. Over a series of blog posts, I documented my journey participating in and enjoying the arts and sharing some of the insights I gained from it. (See my first post at http://www.lynnlovegreen.com/2016-a-good-year-for-the-arts/ for more information.)

The arts made my year more rewarding and thoughtful. Many times a book, movie, song, or visual artwork helped me understand something or someone in greater depth than I did before.

One recent example was the film Moonlight (http://moonlight-movie.com)—wow, what great writing, acting, directing, and production. It’s one of the best movies I have ever seen, and I’ve seen hundreds. As the website says, “At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, MOONLIGHT is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths.” Walking beside that young boy and staying with him as he grew into the man he became showed me so much about that person and community, but also about human nature. Now I understand him, and people like him, better than I did. (I am trying not to be too specific and create a spoiler here, but please go see the movie and you’ll know what I am trying to say!)

When I started this project at the beginning of 2016, I had the feeling we all needed an extra dose of understanding for each other. The year proved that, in ways I won’t go into here. But suffice to say, we still need to understand each other, and to reach out to our neighbors near and far. We need to choose love over fear and remind ourselves of our compassionate values. I encourage each of you to find a way to do that in 2017. And, of course, please continue to pay for and donate to the arts and tell your elected officials to support the arts in the public schools and in your own community.

This is what I plan to do, so far:

I will continue to use the arts as a viewpoint into understanding people here and around the world.

I will write my nonfiction to share my ideas about all of this, and my young adult fiction to show what some people experienced in Alaska during different points in our history, to enlighten readers about those times and how parts are universal or share things with our current time.

I will also volunteer in ways that help me reach out to people; for example, I am going to lead a teen book club at a nearby public library.

Now it’s your turn. What will you do in 2017? And what would you like to see from me over the next year? Please comment on this post to share your ideas, and let me know if you’d like me to do a similar series on my blog in 2017. (If you’d like to share with me privately, please write me at lynnlovegreen(at)gmail.com.)

Posted on December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice

Note: I’m running an encore blog post while I catch up with family and friends over the holidays. Earlier versions of this post appeared in the AKRWA blog and this blog. 

To Alaskans, solstice is a big day. Our lives revolve around the environment, including the changes in weather and daylight. We notice how much sunlight we gain or lose each day. We celebrate the longest day of the year. My daughter even had her wedding on summer solstice.  On the shortest day of the year, we pause, then look forward to the return of sunlight.

People have been observing winter solstice since Neolithic times. You’ve probably read about the history before, so I’ll be brief here. The Saami, the Romans, and the Celts had midwinter festivals that led to many of our winter solstice and Christmas traditions. There are also traditional celebrations on or near winter solstice in Pakistan, East Asia, and Mali, just to name a few. Many of us recognize it as a time of rebirth and renewal, or welcome good luck into our houses at this time.

The short days give Alaskans an excuse to stay inside and cuddle up in front of the fire. Some of us do extra reading or other indoor activities. I tend to write more in the wintertime. Winter solstice is a good time to reflect, think about the past year and make plans about the future. While I’m not thrilled with cold weather, I do like the opportunity to wrap up the year and acknowledge my loved ones.

We often attend or host winter solstice parties on December 21st. We’ll celebrate with family, friends, good food and drink. To all of you: good wishes, wassail, and hoping you have a great winter solstice, however you celebrate this time of year!

Best wishes,

Lynn

Posted on December 16, 2016

Holly Jolly Facebook Page Hop

HOLLY JOLLY HOP

Here’s the info for my stop on the Holly Jolly Hop!

This hop runs from 13 – 20 Dec.*

My prize: a box of Alaska Wild Berry Chocolates. Imagine flavorful Alaska wild berry jellies coated with tasty chocolate—you’ll see why this is my favorite candy!

Note: Open internationally, but if the winner resides outside the USA, and shipping to their country is ridiculously expensive, I may substitute a $10 gift card. Random winner selected from Facebook comments. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Facebook is not responsible for this jolly giveaway!

About my book, GOLD NUGGETS, a sweet YA historical romance:

In the shadow of Denali, she has a home, and he finds adventure. Charlotte Cooper wants to stay near her parents’ home in Alaska. But her dreams of being a writer call her away to college or work, and she has to choose her own path in life.

 

Henry Reeves is a wealthy New Yorker seeking a summer adventure when he travels to Kantishna near the proposed Mt. McKinley National Park. He discovers two passions, one for Charlotte, and the other for keeping Alaska wildlife from being wiped out like the buffalo.

 

Charlotte and Henry find an attraction they can’t deny, but can they build a new life together between the wilderness and high society?

Gold Nuggets Buy Links—available in print and ebook:

Amazon: http://a.co/8AsZ1kb

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gold-nuggets-lynn-lovegreen/1122235221?ean=9781514379806

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/555585

TO ENTER to win my prize:

Go to my Lynn Lovegreen Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LynnLovegreenAuthor/

Like my page <3 (so I can tag you if you win)

Likes, shares, & tags are greatly appreciated but not required 🙂

COMMENT on my FB page with what you would do on a trip to Denali National Park

You can also follow me on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7429330.Lynn_Lovegreen

 

HOP HERE NEXT: https://www.facebook.com/ChristineHughesAuthor

 

Enter to win the GRAND PRIZE Kindle Paperwhite & find a list of all stops & giveaways on the hop here:

http://www.cmmccoy.com/blog/holly-jolly-holiday-giveaway-kindle-paperwhite-or-50-gc/

 

* This giveaway is open until midnight EST, 20 Dec 2016. Open internationally. Random winner selected from Facebook comments on 21 Dec 2016. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Facebook is not responsible for my giveaway!

Posted on December 9, 2016

Dangerous Fires in Alaska

I recently scrolled through the Alaska Historical Society’s “This Month in Alaska History” (http://alaskahistoricalsociety.org/discover-alaska/this-month-in-alaska-history/) for ideas for this week’s blog post. I was struck by the number of structures that burned in December. Here’s a sample:

December 4, 1932 – The public school building at Fairbanks was destroyed by fire.

December 6, 1907 – Fire started in the Model Cafe at Fairbanks, burned it, a drug store, and a men’s clothing store

December 8, 1960 – The Lazy Mountain Children’s Home near Palmer was destroyed by fire.

December 13, 1883 – The Custom House at Sitka, a log building built by the Russians, was gutted by fire.

December 22, 1919 – The trading store of the Sons of Norway at Petersburg was destroyed by fire.

December is a dangerous time for wooden buildings. It kind of makes sense, that the dead of winter is the time most people would be heating their buildings with lots of wood or coal, and that it could get out of hand and set a wooden building on fire. But it is sad that it happened so often.

If a town or village was lucky, it had a good fire department on duty to keep fires from spreading. The Juneau Volunteer Fire Department was founded in 1899.  The photo in this article is of the Nome Fire Department in a 4th of July parade in 1901 (via Wikipedia Commons). Anchorage’s Fire Department was founded in 1915. Now, most communities have either a paid or volunteer fire department. But we still have to be careful, especially in the winter. A cold night is a rotten time to lose your shelter and belongings.

Here’s a link to the American Red Cross, if you’d like to help our neighbors who need help after fires and other disasters:

http://www.redcross.org

Posted on December 2, 2016

Good to Be Home

I spent the last few weeks traveling. While it was good to see new places and visit far-away relatives, I am glad to be home, for several reasons:

 

tea-mug

 

When I’m home, I can drink out of my favorite mug and sleep in my own bed.

When I’m home, I know where everything is and I can drive myself.

When I’m home, I can cook my favorite foods or go to my favorite restaurants.

When I’m home, I can hang out with friends and family without making a big effort.

laptop

 

When I’m home, I have my usual routine and more time to write.

When I’m home, I can see the familiar mountains and ocean views.

When I’m home, my husband and family are close at hand.

It’s good to be home.