Story last updated at 2:58 p.m. Thursday, October 3, 2002

Vega Pratt once wrote, "There was always something to do to keep ahead of things. Just existing and getting ready for the next season was enough." That's been the story of the Betster's life this past month, if only the Betster could figure out when the next season starts. The first big concert in the fall? First Friday? The big fall tides and the first big storm? When the last RV leaves the Spit? The First Friday after the first hard frost? Hey, maybe the season has changed after all, and it's time to finish off those last-minute chores, then get out and see friends and have a good time.

BEST HANGIN' BY THE SLOUGH BET: We don't just live on the most beautiful bay in the world, but near the rivers that replenish the bay. Come help Kachemak Bay Research Reserve and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies celebrate "where the rivers meet the sea" at National Estuaries Day and the end of Coastwalk weeks from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Bishop's Beach. Highlights include a sand-sculpting contest, Kachemak Bay Quiz Bowl, marine debris art show, estuary food-chain hike, beach-bag bash and litter cleanup and a community potluck picnic.

BEST PLAN AHEAD BET: For the past 20 years, the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic has been in rented space. One year the Betster thinks they even worked out of an old Atco trailer. Now Family Planning has its own place at 3959 Ben Walters Lane. The clinic still offers quality and affordable reproductive health care, and the staff are still the pleasant and professional people they've always been. Help 'em celebrate their new digs Friday from 3-7 p.m.

BEST HANGIN' WITH THE ARTISTES BET: You have to admit, Homer's artists not only create amazing stuff, they're pretty nifty people, too. The Fall First Friday brings them back into town. Along with the usual shows at the usual galleries, pretty much everybody who has ever put brush to canvas or torch to steel has donated a piece to the Pratt Museum Putting on the Ritz art show. See what Homer's artists have done and mingle with them at the openings. Psst: don't do like the Betster did once, though, and be a bit reserved about loudmouth criticism. Ya never know who might be hiding behind a potted plant.

BEST YET ANOTHER AMAZING FOLK MUSICIAN VISITS HOMER BET: This fall and winter we'll be seeing some fantastic musicians come to town, including Iris Dement, John Prine, the Roches, and this week, John McCutcheon. The Betster doesn't know how our promoters and arts groups do it, but they manage to snag some class acts. McCutcheon is said to have a stage presence second to none, and seems to play every instrument invented. Hear him at 7 p.m. tonight at the Mariner Theatre. Tickets are $17 general admission, $15 for Homer Council on the Arts members, and $13 for youths.

BEST DO IT OURSELVES BET: Here's an idea: Instead of begging the Legislature for money every year to run our state parks, why not run them ourselves? Community Rivers Planning Coalition explores this idea with an informational forum on "Community Parks Management" 7-9 p.m. Thursday at the Chapman School. Representatives from Alaska State Parks, local business operators, the Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce, and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Planning Commission and others will attend, so come share your thoughts.

BEST POKE-IN-THE-ARM BET: The one year the Betster forgot to get a flu shot, kabam! We're talking walking pneumonia and a $500 ER visit. From then on, it's been an annual ritual to visit those way-cool nurses at the Public Health Center and get vaccinated. This year the influenza shots have come in early and in good supply. Flu clinics start this week. Whether across the bay, in the outlying villages or in town, you should find a flu clinic for you. See the Town Crier, Page 22, for exact times and places.