Here comes another blog post by me, Molly. You might think that since I write these I AM A Little Alaska. You would be wrong. Yes, I am a part of A Little Alaska, a part that, among other things, writes these blog posts, manages our Facebook posts and website, creates to do lists and takes trainings in marketing. But this is not a one person show! No way, no how! There are others that are instrumental in bringing this to fruition. The main counterpart to me is my partner, husband and father of our beloved son. That person is Eric Manzer.
Eric is editor in chief, engineer, Jack of all trades, IT guy, carpenter, Minecraft gamer, Caveman Daddy and so much more. Suddenly my computer isn’t working correctly and my frustration level quickly escalates. Eric calmly looks at it as a fun problem to solve. And solve it he does, time and time again. I spew words out on paper and he patiently helps me wordsmith and edit them so they are much more articulate. Sometimes I feel like he puts my thoughts, what I am stumbling around trying to say, into words so others understand me.
Not only that, this guy single handedly tore half our house minus the roof to the ground, added an addition and built it all back up again while also flipping the floor plan. With his two hands. By himself. And built a covered porch and a deck. In a town where access to Home Depot is via a 7 hour ferry ride and one hour drive, he sometimes makes his own nails and brackets and you name it. He built a contraption (he says it’s a jig) so he could, by himself, lift and install sheetrock on to our twenty foot ceiling. Have you lifted sheetrock before? Notice the second syllable there, “rock”. It’s heavy! He got it up there, piece after piece, by himself. As I write this, he's building the bunkhouse. A commercial fisherman by trade, he is the epitome of living and learning and self taught skills.
He’s an egalitarian in the truest sense. He’s also a super engaged, supportive dad to our son and many other kids. Local teens come knocking on our door looking for him to see if he will take them out driving so they can hone those skills. Our son, Sullivan, and I were out of town and still they came, “please show us how to parallel park.” So he did, complete with orange cones. I didn’t even know we had orange cones!
There's a group of tweens and teens in town that fondly call Eric Caveman Daddy. Several years ago Eric and I were visiting for a few days with a friend at her beach cabin near town with Sully, her two kids, and a bunch of kid friends. When the six or so kids and Eric came back from their fun romp along the coastline to a cave at the edge of the woods, he had a new name, Caveman Daddy. The next day he and the kids set off to explore a nearby island. The tide wasn’t fully in, the beach was shallow, and there wasn’t quite enough water to float the skiff. While sitting in the boat, the kids spontaneously chanted, “Caveman Daddy, hoo, hoo, hoo, Caveman Daddy, hoo, hoo, hoo...” and moved their bodies in unison, slowly sliding the boat into the water. To the delight of all - those in the boat and my friend and I watching and listening from shore - they were soon afloat and on their way, still chanting ‘Caveman Daddy...’.
One reason Eric loves the idea of A Little Alaska is for the continued opportunity to share our life in Cordova with teens and to explore, interact and engage with them. When he first came to Alaska as a young adult, the place had a big impact on him. The scale of intact nature with little human impact helped him internalize ideas he had only read about. Ideas like the notion that we humans are not one isolated organism. As he spent weeks on the ocean commercial fishing around Kodiak Island he was struck with how interdependent fish such as salmon are with terrestrial life. How, more than an interdependence, it is all intertwined and part of an integrated system. For Eric, Alaska gave him the opportunity to immerse himself in the multitude of species, plants and animals, that surround us, in the ocean, the land, the sky. Being present with all that so up close and raw, he saw the picture of how dependent we humans are upon the organisms and geographies around us. He’s deepened that humbling perspective ever since his first days in this state.
He looks forward to meeting teens where they are, learning from them and sharing some of his skills and perspective. We are so grateful for all he does for us and for A Little Alaska and we think you will be too.
I hope you spot joy in your day. Sparkle on!
Molly Mulvaney is an unschooling mom with a part time law practice. She, her husband and teen son live in Cordova, Alaska. Their venture, a little alaska...BIG FUN is a unique opportunity for small groups of teens to stay, play and grow in an eclectic town on the edge of the Alaskan wilderness. Teens joyfully spread their wings, safely stretch their comfort zone and exercise their independence. You are invited to join us for epic adventures and respectful appreciation of the natural world and our place in it.