Homer Alaska - Announcements

Story last updated at 9:53 PM on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homer's Best Bets

If ever we needed a reminder of the wrath of nature and the smallness of our planet, we got that last Thursday night when the tsunami sirens went off. For a tense half hour, neighbors by the beach wondered if devastation roared toward them across the Pacific Ocean at 500 mph. As we tried to comprehend the horror — and still try to comprehend — of one of the five worst earthquakes since 1905, Kachemak Bay worried we would be next.

Then, after scientists puzzled out how big a wave would wash up on our beaches on a rising tide, we got the good news. A 1-foot tsunami on a rising tide was all we felt. A tsunami warning became an advisory and we could all go back to sleep. As if.

Sweet schaudenfreude, what brief joy we felt became tempered by daily reports of suffering in the land of our sister city Teshio, Japan. Certain classes of disasters cannot be comprehended. Entire towns not bigger than ours got washed away. Mud coats everything. Families huddle in the cold. Stories of hope cheer us — a man found alive clinging to his roof miles out to sea, a dog waiting for its human companion — but they barely dent the despair.


Photo by Lindsay Johnson, Homer News

Sunset stroll Two women walk on the beach beyond Land's End as the sun sets last Sunday. The sun will set 17 minutes later this Sunday from last week, with a gain of 38 minutes of daylight over the week. The spring equinox is at 4:21 p.m. Sunday, the official start of spring.

What can you do? You stuff Red Cross jars with $1 bills, light a candle and pray for friends. We know that there but the grace of God go we. We do what we always do: Repack the survival box, put new batteries in the radio, update our evacuation plan and hug our families. And hug them again.

An elder once said the curse of old age is getting used to watching your friends die. That's the curse of history, too. Some of us have lived through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, assassinations of Kennedys and King, and Sept. 11. The only thing greater than history's horrors is our ability to persevere beyond them. Many will die but our cultures endure.

It's hard to crack wise in a week that has seen so much sadness, but maybe the Betster can be wise. Joy abounds even in sadness, and the brightest light is the sunbeam that pierces the clouds. Seize what joy you can in simple things: walks on the beach, the companionship of loved ones, and maybe these Best Bets:

BEST SMILIN' EYES BET: In our nation of immigrants, everybody's Irish on Saint Patty's Day. The saint be praised, he probably made a side trip to Alaska, since like Ireland we don't have snakes, either. Celebrate the day with a traditional Irish buffet all day today at Duggan's Waterfront Pub — that would be the one with a shamrock — and the Holy Santos Gang playing at 8 p.m. Continue the pub crawl to the Down East Saloon, when the Irish Lords play, also at 8 p.m. And hey — if you've swilled a bit too much green beer, have a friend take you home or take a cab.

BEST GET WILD BET: Kids driving you nuts? Get them out of the house and over to the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. Today, make a tissue paper bird image in a stained-glass effect to hang in a window and brighten up your home. On Friday, make a sand-cast sea creature using shells and other natural objects you collect. Saturday, make musical instruments out of found objects. The Art Gone Wild events are 2-3 p.m. today, 2-3:30 p.m. Friday and 2-4:30 p.m. It's best for kids age 3 and over.

BEST SPEAK OUT BET: Fishermen and others with thoughts to share on the confirmation of Cora Campbell as Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioner can speak out in teleconference hearings starting at 1 p.m. Friday. Drop by the Legislative Information Office or call 235-7878 to find out how to phone in from home. Three-minute testimonies will be taken.

BEST TRIPLE-S BET: All over Homer little bands burn off stress with weekly practices. It's our own little cultural secret. We're not afraid to make a little music, even if we're not exactly Carnegie Hall material. What do you know — eventually our homegrown musicians get pretty dang good. Hear how Jenny Martin, part of Work In Progress, has evolved as a musician when she plays with her friends in "Sad Songs, Slow Songs and Silly Songs" at 7 p.m. Friday at the Homer Council on the Arts. See story, page 12.

BEST TIGHT LINES BET: Fishermen, if your lines get so tight they're about to snap, don't assume you've got a tournament winning winter king salmon on the hook. Your fishing line just might have frozen solid. That's part of the fun with the annual harbinger of spring, the 18th Annual Winter King Salmon Derby. The derby runs 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, weather permitting.

BEST BIG DOO BET: Nowhere else in America — no where — does anyone have a contest like this. Really. The Betster did a quick check of Google. It's the one, the only, the original Alpaca Dung Pile Challenge Broomball Fundraiser, held at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Down East Saloon. Test your psychic skills and place a bet on a square on a grid. If the alpaca poos on it, you've won. Proceeds benefit Homer Broomball. There's a silent auction and music by Holy Santos Gang and 150 Grit.

BEST HIDE YOUR YARD GNOMES BET: If you see people wanting to wander off with yard treasures, don't be alarmed and get a receipt. They're probably in the annual Community Scavenger Hunt. The charity fundraiser starts at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, with registration at 11 a.m. at the Down East Saloon. It ends at 4:30 p.m. at the Alibi.