It's a privilege to meet so many good people from all parts of the Globe when you travel the Internet. I have many such acquaintances. One special person is the lady you are about to hear from. She takes photos, she makes beautiful glass crafts, she loves hiking....I'm just going to let her tell you about it herself....
Q. Hi, Jackie. I am very pleased to have you in our Spotlight today. I've known you for a long time through Dave's Garden and Red Bubble and Andy's Daily Pics. But I'd like to dig a little deeper today so our readers can learn more about you. Maybe you can start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
Jackie: Sure. I was the eldest of 4 children. My siblings and I enjoyed growing up in the rural areas of California. Living “in town” was something I never wanted. The joy of roaming and being outdoors to explore was a wonderful experience. When my father first saw me, I was 2 years old and he had just returned from WWII and Europe. It was 1943. I was married in 1963, and in 1978, my husband’s job transferred us to Palmer, Alaska. So we moved from California at that time. We have raised our 3 children here and love living in Alaska.
Q. I am wondering if you feel at all isolated living there. Do you have all the stores and conveniences that are found in the rest of the country?
Jackie: At the time of our move, it was very difficult to be in such different surroundings, with no friends or family to turn to. Over the 31 years we’ve been here though, shopping now includes businesses and stores of all types. There are few roads in Alaska, so flying is routine and the only way to get to many places. Palmer is at lattitude 61.60N in South Central Alaska. It is a small town (population 8,201 in July 2008) and is only 45 miles from Anchorage. Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska. ( Nancy's note: In 2008, Anchorage, with an estimated 279,243 Municipal residents, and 359,180 in the Metropolitan area, constituted more than 40 percent of the state's total population. )
Q. It does sound pretty isolated. Do you get to see your families often?
Jackie: One advantage to being in Alaska, is that over the years, many family and friends have come up to visit and it’s been my joy to be “tour guide” to many. We travel to see our families about once every two years. Flying is the only practical way to get in and out of Alaska. The highway route, just to reach the nearest of the 48 states, is over 2,000 miles, through Canada, which now means a passport is necessary just to drive to one of the “Lower 48" states.
Q. I'd love to hear more about your life in Alaska. I've always wanted to visit. Can you tell me what it is you love about it?
Jackie: There are many wonderful books to be read, of Alaska. My experiences here have been of “everyday” life, of being wife and mom, and now gramma to nine.
The first year was an experience like none other. We learned of winter...... long, dark winter with very few days of above freezing......that goes on for months. Winter also brings it’s own delight, with the sky providing the only natural colors to be seen, for relief from the black and white world of winter. From the Aurora (Northern Lights), to awesome sunrises and sunsets that paint the snow covered mountains in a gorgeous alpen glow of pink, to the stars that seem unusually bright. I don’t mind the dark/gray days of winter.
In the summer, a very brief summer, the never-ending daylight brings rapid growth to the plants. Vegetables grow to large, but delicious size. Cool weather crops grow well. The average summer temperature is in the 60s Fahrenheit. We learned the hard way that moose love the cool weather crops, too. From cabbage to brussel sprouts, it seems they love to wait till just before harvest to reap the rewards of our work. The growing season is about 100-118 days.
Without a “natural” days end, we tend to forget to come indoors during the summer. Families and children will be outdoors playing, hiking or fishing till very late at night, with no lights needed. It’s an odd sensation to come indoors and find out it’s 10 pm or later, and there’s dinner yet to be cooked.
Over the years I’ve enjoyed hiking, and photographing this wonderful land. It’s like no other I’ve seen. Season after season, I am thankful for having been able to be here.
Q. You've convinced me. Someday you'll find me on your doorstep.
Jackie: Nancy, I would be so happy to meet you here. It's nearly 9 pm right now and the sun is shining ~ I love seeing the nights fade into the long days. If you come in June, there are wildflowers, never-ending daylight, and generally good weather and all the tours are available. The average temp is mid-60's, and very little of the cold rains of July. I’d recommend to anyone planning to visit Alaska, plan to spend several weeks. There’s so much to see and so little time. :)
This time of year (April), temps in the 40’s are the norm. Once the nights remain above freezing is when spring really begins. So far, we have had one or two nights above freezing. We can expect the first leaves to open in mid-May. With nearly a foot of snow yet to melt, it’s an average year. We’ve yet to reach 50 degrees.
There were two moose in the backyard earlier. They are two year old twins that have been coming since birth. What joy it brings us to watch them browse and meander.
Q I just can't even imagine a sight like that. Jackie, your photos are so beautiful. Alaska must be a photographer's dream. Have you other hobbies besides photography?
Jackie: Although I find it difficult to go anywhere without the camera, learning a new hobby has been fun. I had taken a glass-fusing class in 2007, and now, a couple of kilns later and few dozen molds on hand, I make fused glass objects. From jewelry to plates, bowls and candle holders, always a thrill to open the kiln to see what the results of a few hours of heat will have done to the glass.
Q. Is there a website where we can see and purchase your craft? And your photographs?
Jackie: I sell mostly by word of mouth, but I do have a site for my glass crafts at Etsy.com. And I have photos on some other sites. There's Red Bubble and our friend Andy's site, Daily Pics. Andy is Sarahskeeper on Dave's Garden.
Q. I've always been curious about your names, Kiska and Kaglic.
Jackie: Kiska was one of the sweetest pets we’ve had. She was named for the far distant Island on the Aleutian Chain on the Bering Sea. Another name I've used is that of our tortoise shell kitten, Kaglic. From what I’ve read, Kaglic is the Native term for “colorful fur”. Kaglic certainly did have colorful fur.
Q. Do you have any other interests to share with us, Jackie?
Jackie: Yes. In 1993, my interest turned to researching the period of time that my father was in WWII. When he passed away in 1993, I found in his wallet a photo of me when I was a year old, and a membership card for the Army Group he belonged to while in Europe. It was the 354th Pioneer Mustang Fighter Group. I had never known about that. I knew he had been a Captain in the Signal Corps, but not that he had been transferred to the 354th Army Air Corps Group. Thanks to the internet and much correspondence, through his military records my husband and I found many of the men my father served with. Many were pilots of the P-51 Mustang that the group was named for. We have since attended a few of these men's reunions and were overwhelmed with emotion when first meeting them. It was an extremely satisfying search.
Jackie, thank you for sharing your life with us, and for so vividly describing the beauties of Alaska. I've learned a lot from you today, and I'll bet our readers have too. I have definitely learned that I want to see your State first hand one day. I'll call you when I get there!
( Nancy's Note: If you're as interested in Aurora Borealis as I am, follow the link to a time lapse National Geographic videa shot in Norway. )
Dear readers, I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Jackie Muncy. If you have questions or comments for her, please feel free to leave them in the area below. This space will be available indefinitely, and you can always reach Jackie here."
In addition, the thread titled "Additions To The Interview" may have some interesting reading.