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Citizen Voices

An Alaskan Goes to the 2014 Whitney Biennial

Dona Owen, "Okie Dokie", (2008)

About a year ago, I received an email that professor Michelle Grabner would be one of the three curators of the 2014 Whitney Biennial Show. I asked Grabner if I could shadow her on her year long adventure of artist selection.

The Whitney press office dismissed my project.

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March 18, 2014

The Sand Lake Boys

Vintage Enduro photo courtesy of:

It was 1978 and the summer between my 10th and 11th grades. We were living in the Sand Lake area of Anchorage, just off of Raspberry Road.

A bunch of us guys who went to Dimond High School had taken to calling ourselves the “Sand Lake Boys.”

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February 27, 2014

Quick Craft — Lace Curtains to Pillowcases

Natasha Price Pillows 1

Our living room throw pillows needed an upgrade. At $20-30 a pop, I wasn’t about to buy two new ones, so I dug through my fabric stash and found an old lace curtain panel.

Two cuts and four seams later I had a couple of gorgeous throw pillows.

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February 26, 2014

Remembering Ruby Rokeberg

Mike Gordon Ruby Rokeberg Excerpt

Looking out the living room window of our duplex on Iliamna Drive I couldn’t have missed Ruby on her hands and knees furiously yanking from the flower bed my newly transplanted flowers.

We were new to Alaska, having lived our first year on Government Hill and new to the neighborhood, Susitna View Park, just west of Turnagain-By-the-Sea subdivision, where Mel and Ruby lived. Their son, Norman, and I had become friends. The year was 1954.

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February 12, 2014

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Parmesan & Walnuts

heidi drygas sprouts 1

My love for Brussels sprouts extends far and deep, years before they became a fad at hip eateries in Chicago and San Francisco. It all goes back to a time when the idea finding a fresh Brussels sprouts at the grocery store in Fairbanks was unthinkable, and so ours came to the dinner table via frozen baggies from the super market.

It all goes back to a time when Holly and I were obsessed with Barbies.

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February 11, 2014

2013 Aurora Highlights Short

Here’s a highlight reel of my best aurora nights in 2013, including THE best St. Patrick’s Day aurora display. That was an epic night in Alaska with an EPIC FLIGHT to the stars!

2014 has great potential. We are still in the peak phase of the solar cycle and on any given night, predicted or not predicted, there can be a light show that will set you free.

February 6, 2014

In The Dark of Winter Don’t “Kiss It All Goodbye”


Artists love to exchange their wares with fellow craftsmen. I still have chimes my older daughter, Jenn, made in kindergarten almost forty years ago.

So when my friend Lawrence Vescera mailed me his sci-fi tome, Kiss It All Goodbye, I was thrilled to turn off reruns of The Borgias, pour some tea and begin the enchantment while forgetting icy roads outside my cozy nook.

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February 5, 2014

Preemie Football Hat — Free Knitting Pattern


My friend Laura asked me to make her new little one a tiny football hat. I was definitely up to the challenge.

I was surprised how few knitted patterns there were floating around Pinterest. Most of the patterns are crochet, which can be made very quickly, but for a football hat I think knit has more room for detail.

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February 4, 2014

My New Years Resolution: Wine


This year I decided my resolution should be to explore more wine options and expand my wine knowledge base. Hard resolution to follow, right?

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January 27, 2014

Silver Salmon For Lovers


The pleasant tanginess of homemade crème fraîche, lemon and leeks harmonize with the buttery richness of wild caught Alaskan Coho salmon presented on a bed of homemade egg noodles.

Light candles, play soft music, pop a cork and serve.

See the recipe.

January 16, 2014

Dena’Ina Way of Living, at the Anchorage Museum

Arrows for Sea Otter. Fort Kenai (1883).

Hurry, you can still make it to Dena’Ina Way of Living with its preserved artifacts and dioramic recreations. But not to worry, the exhibition catalog will be available after the show closes.

Dena’inaq’ Huch’ulyeshi, the Dena’Ina Way of Living illustrates how a population lived thousands of years ago without electricity, running water and modern medicine; be humbled by those who came before.

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January 9, 2014

My Top 10 Tracks of 2013

I tallied up my 10 favorite albums of 2013 and put a song from each in the mix. From R&B and rap to nu-disco, dance and funk, it’s got a little bit of anything.

See the list.

January 9, 2014

Healthy New Year’s Pumpkin Spice Muffins

heidi drygas muffins 1

For Christmas this year, my adorable nieces in Fairbanks gave me the holiday death plague. Complete with hacking cough, sore throat, congestion…you get the idea. I feel like death warmed over.

In my delirious, sick-y state I decided I needed to bake something. I know, I know. I’m a terrible baker.

See the recipe.

January 8, 2014

The Spoken Word Movement in Alaska

Spoken Word Movement 2

Spoken Word is not a new art form, it is seen throughout history in the form of storytelling, oral history and song.

Now Spoken Word is unraveling into an international movement, looking to promote the voices of the voiceless, focusing specifically on teens.

Read more.

January 7, 2014

December in California: Take Mittens When Searching for Art

Fishermans Wharf (December 2013)

The internet said eighty degree weather in California the first week of December. So, husband Dave and I left our mittens in the car before flying to Los Angeles for a bankruptcy conference and Fall art.

Sitting in our hotel room later, I kept hearing Sinatra singing, “hate California, it’s cold and it’s damp.” Catalina Island looked like a cake submerged in whipped cream.

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December 24, 2013

Kastle’s Kreations Award-Winning Cupcake Recipe

Kastles Creations Cupcakes

Eagle River’s Kastle’s Kreations, purveyor of quality cupcakes, recently won big on TV’s Cupcake Wars with their Lemon Rosemary Smoked Salmon cupcake.

Here is the recipe, direct from Kastle’s Kreations – in case you’re adventurous enough to try it yourself!

See the recipe.

December 20, 2013

How to Make Perfectly Poached Eggs

Sarah Alvarez Poached Eggs 1

I don’t know if a Sunday has ever gone by without my dad eating poached eggs. I’ve never really been one for traditional breakfast meals and much prefer cereal with berries and yogurt.

But, after 30 years, I decided it is time I get on the grown-up breakfast bandwagon.

See the recipe.

December 19, 2013

Point Hope, Alaska School Holiday Program

The annual school Christmas program in Point Hope is a little different than in most communities.

Yes, there are seasonally popular songs and carols, but many of them are sung in Inupiaq, the language of the Tikigaqmuit.

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December 18, 2013

A Look at Moose Run Metals – Fritz Creek, Alaska

Tarri Thurman has been a metalsmith for 10 years. Originally a hairdresser from Ann Arbor, Michigan, she moved to Alaska in 1995, working a variety of jobs from back hoe operator to arborist to pizza maker.

She sold my first piece of artwork as an apprentice, off the bench, before it was completed.

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December 17, 2013

Tumultuous Times in the Coop

Chicken Blog Tumult 1

In the past couple of weeks, my chicken house looks like several chickens have spontaneously combusted… it’s a cloud of feathers. But every chicken is, luckily, accounted for.

It’s just my Easter-egger going through a late-season molt.

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December 12, 2013