Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Day With My Friend Mary

This is Mary Effemka, who is one of the loveliest people it has ever been my pleasure to meet. She is a cook at the school here and when I left last year she gave me a lovely note and gift. I saw her briefly on Thursday as I arrived and she left for an in-service day and I was sad that I wasn't going to get to see her for longer. But she stopped by the B&B on her way home last night and asked me to come and visit her today. I had brought her some gifts from Scotland, which I gave her when I saw her as I wasn't sure when my plane was coming to pick me up, but luckily there were no planes out of Sleetmute on Sunday, so I was pleased to get a chance to spend some time with her.

So I set off for her house this morning. It was gorgeously sunny but the coldest day here yet. It called for scarf, hat, 3 sweaters and 2 pairs of gloves.

When I arrived she was waiting at the window for me to arrive and welcomed me into her home which was as warm as toast and smelled of cinnamon, as she was baking.

She has hundreds of photos all around the walls. These are photos of her parents and sister in the 1940s (the picture on the right) and pictures of her husband's family. She's a widow now - her husband killed himself earlier this year. She was telling me that it is tradition when someone dies that you not sleep alone in the house where they have died for a year after their death. Most of the time she has one of her grand-daughters to stay with her at night, but as they are away in Anchorage at the moment, last night she went over and stayed with a neighbour. On the one year anniversary of his death there will be a big 'Feed' and then she can stay there alone again.

She had made me fry bread - which is like funnel cake/doughnuts, twisted and dipped in icing sugar and we sat and drank tea and chatted. Yup'ik people speak very slowly and thoughtfully and it is really relaxing being in their company. She was telling me all about her family, where she grew up, her childhood, and how things have changed since she was young. I stayed for hours. She gave me a beautiful gift - a little handmade tray made of bark, a candle in a pretty egg-shaped pot, and some fancy soap. She also gave me the most wonderful note that made me cry (yes, Vincent, I KNOW everything makes me cry but this was really special). It says, in part, "...I don't want to be at the airport if Donna go. I have no self control when my tears start falling." Every time I think about it I tear up. And while I was there she said to me "I'm afraid you won't ever come back." I told her that somehow I think I'll be back one day :o)

After I left Mary I had another wander around the village. This is the road up to Blueberry Hill...or Cranberry Hill as Alfreda calls it, since there are no blueberries there :o) There was the wonderful smell of woodsmoke throughout the village today as there was a slight wind.

I then walked right down to the other end of the village and cut through to the shore and walked back along. This time I took a couple of videos with my camera so I hope they come out OK.

I shall be sorry to leave Sleetmute. It is a very special place. Harsh but beautiful - in all sorts of ways. A place of many contradictions.

On the other hand, I've been eating about 5 meals a day, as everyone keeps feeding me, so it's probably a good thing that I am going! This is for Ewan - yesterday I had eggs, bacon and toast, frybread and cookies, moose stir fry, moose steak, mock lobster and sirloin steak...OK, that was SIX meals. They'd better not push me down a hill or I will become a huge snowball.


chrisa2711 said...

Donna, just wanted to let you know that I'm loving your adventures and that you are who I'd like to be when/if I ever grow up. Either you or a little old lady PI.

Seriously, you sound like you're having a great time, AND having a real positive impact on the kids up there.



Peter Rozovsky said...

The snow sets off your hair nicely!
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Julie said...

Glad to hear they're looking after you! ;p And will you please stop making ME tear up!!! I'm supposed to be old and crotchety and a big bah - humbug! *hugs* J x

Paulie Walnuts said...

I thought i'd give it a couple of days to see what you've been up to. I'm just going to have a quick sec....

gawd blimy...luv-a-bleedin-duck....theres a turn up for the books, you've been crying again!...whats up with you woman? everyone on here was seriously hoping the below zero temperatures would freeze your tear ducts, so we wouldn't have to endlessly read waffle after waffle..of little Timi Tonka, aged 5, who gasped like he'd just found Tutankhamuns tomb when presented with one of your biros.......who then painted a picture for you with 'moose shite' and said it was from 'all year 8 students...' (all 2 of them)...and then fashioned you a trinket from the bones of his ancestors who are still buried under 12 feet of snow in the back look far to warm for my liking..i want frozen snow on your lipstick..(the stuff on your lips not on your cheeks) i want ice hanging from your ears..i want to see black finger tips..and toes dropping off...

and that bird..whats her name..the one above..Mary Ikea..or she the one on the left or right in that pic with you..i cant tell..:-)

and that pic of you wearing the dead squirrel hat, with Stevie Wonders glasses on...why are you taking it of yourself? with your arm held out...where are all the eskimos? couldnt they have taken it? or Father Christmas' elves...don't they live up there somewhere......?

im disappointed...i was hoping for plenty of gun fights, bear fights, frost bite, you running through open forest, being chased by a pack of savage know, a bit like Glasgow on a saturday night, but you're enjoying yourself far too much i think...6 meals a day? forced them to make 6 meals a day????!!!!!...with their price of celery?

shame on you!

and Ewan, im glad you agree with me about the elephant. I did try and tell her when she rung me for suggestions as to what to buy you, i said 'guitar lessons? race a Ferarri circuit day? Sony Playstation 3? a nice watch maybe?. but you know Donna...had to be the bluddy elephant...i did try, sorry mate. I pointed out it had no use whatsoever and don't be surprised if he doesn't answer his phone for a few days.

and that OBVIOUSLY Photoshopped!.its even in your own handwriting! Ive got a good mind to write a letter to her and say 'Dear Mary. Why did you give Donna your most prized posessions? afterall, she only gave you a couple of pens that she stole from work and yet you give her your candles and years supply of soap. Its such a shame, because she will eBay them the minute she gets back' yours Paulie Walnuts.
ps. dont cry my dear, you let Donna go to airport..she fleece you of worldly goods and deserve to be deported...


Ewan said...

Well, I must say I like the sex kitten shades. Same style as worn by the minxes that Tom tries to impress in Tom And Jerry. But don't get me started on my stash of cartoon porn - (Pssst - i've got some naked, under-the-counter shots of Penelope Pitstop, if that's your about a Betty Boo full! what are you, some kind of FREAK!? EVERY hot-blooded male likes Betty Boo full frontals! What about a nice Jessica Rabbit....No?....With animals?)

Ahem, well, yes, sorry about that, somebody impersonating Ewan there, we've had him hauled away to the jail though, so you can relax now. Think it must have been Paulie's extended rant/post that brought it on. Don't know by the way, Paul, I like the elephant, really, better than the other presents you suggest actually, apart from the guitar lessons maybe, which I'm seriously thinking about, so I can learn proper guitar.

Well, Donna, thanks for the food update. Mary's house sounds really welcoming, the smell of cinnamon and all that. You'll need to take her back some Cinnamon Balls next time, and you can both blether to one another with inky mouths! Great to hear they are all being so good to you. But then you're being so good to them, too. In fact, I think they might erect a statue to you there one day. Like the one of Cornelius on Planet Of The Apes. DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL! Then again, maybe not. If they do, tell them to model it on you when you arrive next time, not when they're about to send you away after a fortnight of 5 meals a day! What's Mock Lobster by the way? Is that a cover version of The B52's Rock Lobster? Or is where a real lobster shouts abuse at a pretend lobster?

Anyway, time for my medication. Take care.


Ahem, yes, sorry about that

Anonymous said...

6 meals in one day!!! Will you be able to fly out when the time comes?
All that Moose (or Meece, c'mon Ewan , what is the plural for reindeer?)

Ewan said...

Aha, Anoymous Dad,

I hate those meeces to pieces, as Sylvester said about Pixie and Dixie - another cartoon reference for the uninitiated. The plural of reindeer? Hmm. Sadly, i think it's just reindeer, altho it doesn't sound right. Fortunately, I think you don't actually have to know the plural, all you have to be able to do is hold the gun steady. :-)

Peter Rozovsky said...

Our good blog hostess has taught us that the plural of "reindeer" is "second helping of reindeer."
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Bobbie said...

Oh Donna, your post about visiting Mary was terrific. And those photos of hers--historic to us, seeing another world and time and yet it's her people. Thanks for the visit with Mary, sounds lovely.

Now...some of these blokes posting here, have made me laugh so much it's silly...they are silly...we are all having fun. Wish I had the ability to join in with wit and vigor...and I mean join in the posts, you gutterminds. :0) But just sitting and watching and reading the posts, is grand fun, thanks everyone!

And there's nothing wrong with tearing up when necessary...which is often in your case, Donna, as we know. :-) But you know how to laugh well, also. Thanks for the visit with Mary...can almost smell those good baking smells!

And you're on vacation. Eat as many meals as you wish. Enjoy!!

Bobbie and Larry

Donna said...

Chris - maybe I AM a little old lady PI.

Peter - the plural of reindeer is a second helping - hahahahahahahahaha! I love that!

Jools - you're a big softie.

Paulie Walnuts - I've left out the bits that are like Glasgow on a Saturday night - don't want to scare my mother you know. As for the rest of your comment - I am going to treat it with the contempt it deserves so yah boo sucks.

Ewan - you're as bad as he is. I'm thinking that you two should definitely never meet :o) But liked the elephant better than any of those things (see how I always take the good out of a situation and ignore the bad? ie the bit about them having to do a huge statue of me when I leave :o) Cheeky bugger. Funny when they gave me the mock lobster I started singing B52s. And it's a white fish...errr...I think it might have been pike but it tastes like lobster. Glad you are enjoying the food updates. Last night we had burgers around a fire pit (at 20 below freezing, and marshamallows roasted over the fire. And hahahahaha at holding the gun steady.

Bobbie - ah, a voice of sanity in a ouse of madness - thank you!

gary warren niebuhr said...

There is such a sadness to this trip mixed in with all the ambassador work, isn't there. Wow, I guess I can see why you keep crying. On the other hand, how cool is it to know a person like Mary. A lifetime worth of memories in one visit. GWN