Remembering Robert “Bobby” Vonda

Bobby Vonda's bass guitar graced with bouquets

Probably the last time we spoke to one another was about 45 years ago when we were in Mrs. Berlin’s 5th grade class.  Every school day, we’d run home during lunch hour.  He lived off of Gastineau Avenue and I lived off of Carrol Way at the very end of Gastineau Avenue.  After eating a quick lunch, on my run back to school Bobby would wave me down and yell out my name to wait up for him.  We’d walk back talking, talking, talking.  He sat in the row to my right.  During art classes, I’d show him my latest drawing tips from my father.  During music class, he sang best, always with that big smile.  Funny how he grew up being a musician, I grew up being an artist.  Funny how we really hadn’t changed much.

I remember a loving, spirit freely flashing a quiet kind smile, a young gentleman and always helpful at the drop of a hat.  A few years ago, when I was thinking of childhood friends, I thought of Bobby; suddenly it hit me that the 10-year-old was sweet on me – a sweet innocence!  I didn’t even realize this until I was almost 50!–Goodness!

It wasn’t until attending Bobby’s memorial service last night that I was reminded he was a bass player with his brothers’ band and had played music all his life.  I forgot he could play pool.  I forgot his father was Filipino.  I forgot he was married and had a family.  I didn’t know he was a Grandfather.   Reading his obituary, I was reminded of that 10-year-old running with that free compassionate spirit.  It was sad for me to realize we did not grow up as lifelong friends – we had a lot in common:  I’ve played music, I was once a pool shark, my father was also Filipino and I was also married with a family and am now a Grandparent too.

The following is his obituary taken from the memorial service’s program:

“Robert Joseph Vonda was Raven/Beaver; Deisheetaawn, Dei shu hit.  He was a member of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Sealaska Corporation and Goldbelt Corporation.

Bob completed his GED.  He worked with the Forestry Service, then with a local restaurant as a dishwasher and as a Musician which became his top job.  He learned how to play his guitar with his brothers and they formed their own band called “The Vonda Brothers.”  He also played in a number of other bands with his friends Stan Brown and John Peterson and then with his beloved brother Nicholas Vonda where he enjoyed traveling to Sitka and being with him for weeks at a time; they became “Nick at Night.”

Bob enjoyed all the different seasons especially fishing from the beaches and walking along the shores collecting any interesting item he could find.  He fell in love with Hoonah and was truck by the beauty and its surroundings feeling very comfortable in their regular visits back and forth.  He received one the of his highest honors during his last trip to Hoonah and was invited up with the tribes to hold the Bear Hat over his loving spouse Myrna’s head during their recent loss of Tony.

Bob was known to family as Bobby too.  He had and loved three other special women in his life; his momma Ella, his daughter Becka and his granddaughter Hailey who is portrayed in their room.  An important quality Bob had was that he was not ashamed to show emotions and would cry and share tears during happy and sad times.  He would hold photos to his chest and talk with them.  He shared many times that one day he would be with his dad, his children and with his brothers.  I am sure that he is probably playing his bass guitar with his brothers and making his dad and children smile.

Bobby loved all his family; his sisters Jo and Jan.  He remembers and still played and sang “All I Have To Do Is Dream” remembering his sisters so his grand kids learned many older songs listening to him.  He loved his nephews and nieces always making them feel special; making them laugh or just enjoying a game of pool with them.  He really loved Nick, Donna, Bev, Ramon and Jason’s company.  He even has catch phrases that all the older grandchildren can recite like “Girls, girls I told you time after time but noooo…”  Whenever they did this it made him laugh.

Bob was a well-loved man; a remarkable person and someone we will miss and treasure as he left an imprint on our hearts.  He had a genuine spirit and loved life to its fullest.”

Pallbearers:  Bruce Nelson, Jordon Sharclane, Robert Sharclane, Jason Vonda, Nick Vonda, Jr., Clifford Brown, Franky Brown     Honorary pallbearers:  Beatrice Brown, Alfred McKinley,Sr., Marjorie Buckner, Pat Owen, Ben Coronell, Cyril George, Sr., Andy Gamble, Paul marks     Guest Receptionists:  Ellen Sharclane, Jenny Sharclane, Audrey Brown

Reflecting Upon An Empty Nest

Grandpa Bill and Grand-daughter Ursala share a moment of laughter and dance - May 2005

In 2005, I experienced the “empty nest syndrome” –  Something that most Americans experience.  Indigenous cultures around the world do not experience this unnatural thing because of several factors, one being economics, another being cultural values and the other being that there really is no where else to truly be except where your parents or relatives live.   (Yes, you can sure see that I am opinionated as I use the word “unnatural” in this context.)   But who am I to talk?  I left  my hometown of Juneau 17 years ago.  I yearned for a drier climate; I wanted a break from the hustle-bustle of our crazy lifestyle.  I wanted out of Juneau since I graduated from high school but never made it out until 1993.  And although I returned every year to be with my parents, I moved away until recently.  I had no idea I would be away for so long.

Ursala at 5 years old....

When my last child left home, even though I had always established my art business career and I had a “separate” identity, I still felt the empty nest; on the outside I seemed normal and okay – on the inside, there was a silent struggle groping in the darkness of aloneness.  I always had the purpose of care-taking as one of my job descriptions.  I was one of those mothers that really didn’t want her kids to leave home.  I knew there was a wide, blue world out there and they were ready to experience it,  and I wasn’t about to keep them from it.  Yet, I had hoped they would someday return home (especially once they had children of their own).  The following is an essay my youngest, Ursala, had written for her Senior year’s English class…on the eve of her flying the coop.   Most every detail is ever true.  Her essay is titled:  “Solid Blonde Oak”

“The mother smiles to herself as she wipes the crumbs from her antique oak table.  She thinks back to the night she brought the table home as her family gift, finally paying the $1200 layaway charge.  Of course, she hardly expected a spectacular dinner that night, long ago; the food stamps barely awarded them with brown rice and beans, and her husband annoyingly ranted about the cost of the table the entire meal.  Nonetheless satisfaction at her extravagant acquisition had overwhelmed her.  She sensed, even then, that the table would bring her happiness.

Four years later Seya demanded the table be put into her ’65 Ford truck, to be taken down to the Land of Enchantment with her other possessions.  A new baby would sit with a bare bottom on the smooth, varnished wood, and feel the coolness radiating into her chubby fingers.  She would smear her drool into the cracks with her palms, innocently inconsiderate of the others who would eat there later that night.  This baby felt the power of the blonde, wooden life beneath her.  Seya marveled at her daughter silently from across the room; a sense of fulfillment overwhelmed her in knowing that her baby, too, understood the importance of this treasure.  This new baby gave her the answer to complete the mystery.  Every night from then on, Seya would force her husband and three children to eat together, around her table, to keep her family strong and wise.

In the earliest days of her completed family the eldest children would sit politely as they downed their vegetarian food and listened to their parents converse, correcting false accusations when needed.  The youngest would sneer at her vegetables, then escape under the table to slightly drown out the conversations she didn’t understand.  Seya demanded her husband and children’s presence at every dinner, no matter how whiney and obnoxious they became.  The dinner table provided a nightly unity.

Friends would come frequently to enjoy the connections provided by a dinner with the Hudson’s, in the dim light of candles.  Extra leaves were needed to lengthen the table, to fit the numerous plates and utensils, or perhaps the musical instruments.  The nights’ inspiration brought songs of the strong friendship the family could offer, and a pre-meal “yum hum” soon became a tradition brought from a traveling friend.  Soon every guest knew to “yum” the food for the Hudson blessing.  Yelling and laughter would shake the wood beneath their plates as many acquaintances were gained and lost.  Friends brought other friends, and other friends brought more friends, making it rare for a night of a pure family time.  Even so, the family met together each night no matter how many guests, and their bond continued to strengthen day by day.

The table bound them together, a kiva, a place of gathering.  No outside source would interrupt—no phone, no reading during the meal, no background music—dinner meant a time to enjoy one another around the table.  The five of them talked of life and of death, of science and of fiction, of love and of hate.  Learning became a part of eating; the sharing of each other’s individual lives helped one another grow independently.  Seya didn’t know that self-sufficiency grew inside each family member from the tight connection she demanded of them.

The eldest child grew into a teenager.  Against his mother’s authority, he began to give up dinner with his family to spend late nights out with friends.  Seya began to feel his absence with an ache in her heart, and on the nights when he chose to ditch out, she’d make her husband and the remaining two daughters feel the void too, with silence and empty eyes. Although she began to face the facts that her son would soon leave the household, many harsh words escaped from her mouth towards him in attempt to keep him home during the family meal.  He refused to give in to her guilt trips and bribes.  Soon he left home to gain an education, away from his family and their nightly tradition.

Before long, the distressed mother felt it an endless battle to force perfect attendance upon the remaining family members.  The middle child grew up too, and rarely joined them for dinner.  Her husband often skipped out to work late at the office, and soon she began to fear that even the youngest child would find excuses to eat elsewhere.  She felt the family tradition crumble beneath her, and cried as she worked by herself in her cold, quiet studio.  In the dark of the kitchen the wood of her treasure aged alone in the night, abandoned by a family tradition.

Wrinkles now highlight her smiling eyes, the bun in her hair now limp and dense with grey hairs.  She places a clean, yellow cloth onto the old, creaky table, and rubs it smooth with fingers which now seem to endlessly ache.  Her family of five will unite again tonight for the first time in four years, and she knows that each of them, too, often feel the yearning to gather once more.  Many nights they spend dinners with quiet families, in lonely homes, and it is time to be home.  Again they will share laughter and sighs, teaching and learning, friendship and family.  The worn wood will rattle and the legs will creak from the weight of five, and it will give all it can to this reunited family, merely to make Mamma happy.”

Copyright  – Ursala Hudson – August 2005

Piece of Poetry: “To Her Grandmother”

My Mamma's Mother: Mary Wilson Sarabia, T'akDeinTaan (black-legged Kittywake) Clan from Hoonah, Alaska (circa 1920's)

In 1988, while living in Santa Fe, I attended the Institute of American Indian Arts and took a Creative Writing class from professor/poet Arthur Zhe.  After submitting a few short poems, he asked if I could write a longer one – of course, I replied.  When I got home, I set the stage.  It was a stormy night with thunder and lightning blasting about the wind.  The kids and man were asleep.  Between 10pm and 3am was my usual time all to myself, and I was enjoying the storm.  I lit candles and curled up on the couch wrapped in woolens and a spiral-bound notebook.  The curtains were open and I could hear the bushes slap against the window glistening with wet, shocks of light in this exciting night.  I’m not sure why the image  of my Grandmother Mary came to mind, but I began to write without much thought – like the pen led the way into a page of timelessness.

This poem was written as if my grandmother were to come back to a life-long dream of a home and lifestyle I have wanted since my first child was born (now almost 34 years ago);; the dream was to build a hand-built, custom-designed home, with a flourishing flower and vegetable garden, including fruit trees, living a subsistence life-style embellished with the making of traditional and contemporary art.  (Cannot say I’ve lived that life – just yet!).    My grandmother passed away 12 years prior to the writing of this poem.  I wondered what  she would see if this dream were an actual reality.   Also, while writing this poem, I imagined another clan relative narrating this perspective, telling my Grandmother about me as her elderly footsteps walked silently about my home and life:

“Say you were to come back knocking at her Painted Door, a clan design you know as T’akDeinTaan

She would welcome you in to her large, dark one-room lodge  lit by a couple of kerosene wall lamps from L.L. Bean

where at first you did not notice the smoke from the fire in the center of the room trailing up to the smoke hole above

where White Raven tried to fly out but became blackened forever

And you did not notice the carved alder wood mask smiling with one gold tooth  flickering by candlelight propped next to the cedar bark basket

on that driftwood shelf to your right and in its shadow below, the carved bentwood boxes that held our clan’s button dance blankets,

each made of wool bought from House of Fabrics with 2,115 mother-of-pearl buttons from Winona’s and 649 turquoise beads

bargained from the stateside Indians who sat in the sun she hardly ever got

and what about the sealskin boots parked near your feet and the sealskin coat embellished with brass beads, feathers and leather fringe

and the sealskin and wolf-fur hat and matching mittens hanging right up next to you on brass hooks screwed in to the cedar-planked wall –

Mind you, did yid you smell cedar when you walked in, for how could you miss it with every plank and beam she’s made of

And did you not see the soapstone puffin bird carved by your great-grandson when he was nine,

and the small bentwood box that used to be yours stuffed with glass beads for the beading loom projects of your great-granddaughter?

How about the Chilkat dance blanket hanging on the loom over there in the corner, away from the mud, ashes and crumbs;

the only weaving in the where you can weave the perfect circle, therefore perfect for our style of design,

and she learned it from Jennie, last of the traditional weavers two months before she died, and they say it takes a year to weave a robe,

but how would you know; you didn’t know how to weave, or did you?

Through clan inheritance only a select few knew then when you were alive, and it was almost a dying art they say,

except the ones outside of tribal boundaries who quickly learned what they could, weaving together bits of the dangling knowledge

and she was one to help weave pieces of the heritage back so she could earn prestige, recognition and thirty thousand dollars a robe,

so she can buy pretty clothes, new shoes, new dishes, towels, computer, stereo, sewing machine, lawn mower, food processor, pasta machine;

so she could buy a piece of land where her ancestors once fished, to build her cedar home, and buy a brand new Toyota truck

to haul all of her new possessions and firewood in, and bury a septic tank for a flushing commode and install a generator for the color T.V.

and CD player sitting on the oak cabinet beside the stack of American Indian art books and magazines surrounded by masks, looms, boxes,

skins, beads and stones; surrounded by what she strives to make as art, what the art can sell for, what the money she makes from selling

the art can buy, what the buying of anything she desires she has discovered has eventually sold pieces of her soul, where the selling of her soul

has left but a faint light in her life.

Say you were to come back

Knocking at her painted door

You would not even notice the dim world behind her

Full of smokey objects casting shadows

Drifting upwards through a blackened hole;

you would look into her eyes only

and know that the faint light had held on

For you

And the next time you were ready

You would take her with you

When you went.”

Thoughts from Eating Caribou

the first cut into the shoulder of the caribou

Maintaining our subsistence rights in Alaska has always been a struggle since the conflict of interest and values between the Indigenous and Western peoples.  The struggle to maintain our subsistence hunting/fishing right is always a big topic during the AFN (Alaska Federation of Natives) Convention, held annually the third weekend in October.  Every year, somewhere in Alaska, we lose a right, or the rules have become tighter or a new rule has been created by the State of Alaska Fish and Game.  Every year there is less and less of gathering and rights; more and more restrictions and laws.  And there are always vague excuses as to why the indigenous peoples are the ones who must be controlled when we are the ones who take the least numbers of whatever the food is that the State of Alaska (or the Federal government) is trying to control.  So we must work within the confinements of the laws, lest we be judged and thrown in jail with a big fine; yet somehow we continue to survive with the bare minimum of the foods we love, that we grew up with, and the various kinds of nourishment we receive.

"filleting" the shoulder blade of the caribou

I have been allergic to red meat all my life, however on occasion, when I have never tasted an indigenous meat, I will make an exception, foregoing the known repercussions that shall follow within a few hours later after consumption.  I want to experience what I do not know.  Today, I had the opportunity to have my first taste of caribou up here in Anchorage.  Friend John went caribou hunting with his sister and husband; they brought home three.   John proceeded with an all-day process of cutting up the parts of the big animals and hanging the various sections in the smokehouse and in his tool shed.  In the process, he of course saved all of the organs, including the stomach and it’s protective layer.

The caribou heart valves (this does not show the heart)

I remember my grandmother and grandfather bringing home seal, skinning it, stretching the hide, and then cutting up the meat.  When my father went deer hunting, he would have all of the skinning and cutting of the meat completed before he brought it home, so I never got to see the entire process of preparing the meat for storage and immediate consumption.  This evening, I had an excellent educational experience regarding the caribou.  One by one, Steven carefully cleaned each organ and asked me to guess each part.  I guessed most of the parts except the stomach lining, and this other thing that I cannot remember the name of but it resembled a stomach full of what looked like mud with flexible strands stretched from one side of the organ to the other; each strand had rows of tiny “teeth” – Steven figured it was the organ that could grind up twigs and branches, digesting them to a fine mud.

Caribou stomach stretched out shows an intricate texture

Margaret fried the thinly-sliced cuts of caribou in olive oil.  I agree with John and Margaret, caribou tastes better than chicken, although it contains no protein, which is why the indigenous people add another protein like bacon to the meal.  After eating a part of this animal, I began to think about our indigenous lives being whittled down to almost nothing.  Most of us have become quite American.   It made me think about the various kinds of diseases that have come about us especially since the restrictions on our lifestyle and life ways, and with the introduction of another kind of lifestyle with once-foreign and now everyday “life-taking” foods, values and certain levels of greed, fear and jealousy.

Let’s talk about one of the big fearful words:  Cancer.  It had not become a household word until the past couple of decades; many relatives, friends and community members have been diagnosed with cancer and diabetes, leading us to what I call “pre-mature” deaths.  Most of these folk were healthy and strong.  What happened?  Our exclusion of indigenoous foods in our diet and the lack of “natural” exercise?

Caribou stomach

I remember my grandparents talking about the “3 staples” to purchase at the general store:  white flour, sugar and coffee.  Research has shown these three things have contributed to many of our physical, mental and emotional diseases; Obesity, schizophrenia, high-blood pressure, heart disease are included.  The prevalence of all these diseases in our Native communities has risen drastically in the past 40 years; were these disease terms even present in our Native vocabulary?  Did we have a word for cancer?  I know we did not have one for Diabetes because I know we did not have sugar in our traditional diet.  What can we do to eliminate the diseases that have become prevalent in our society?

I suggest two approaches:  !) “natural” exercise and 2) the elimination, or at least the minimal use of flour, sugar and coffee, would lessen the level of, or even be ridden of these diseases.  What is my definition of “natural” exercise?

three caribou tongues

In our modern world, we define exercise to include running, power walking, yoga, aerobics, and weight-lifting to name a few.   These are activities we do before or after our 9-to-5 jobs.  However, in our Native way of life, there is no separation between our physical exercise, our psychological well-being, spirituality, livelihood, and how we gather our food sources, maintain shelter, fetch water and create clothing.   We exercise while gathering and harvesting food and supplies from the land and sea.  We naturally exercise while stepping through the thick underbrush and uneven terrain while berry-picking.  We naturally lift weights while fishing and hunting.  We naturally climb as we gather cedar bark for our weavings.  We naturally do aerobics during any of our subsistence ways; all the while we are in touch with Nature, who is our best healer for heart, mind, body and spirit.  And because we lack physical connection to our Mother and to our food sources and supplies, we have become naturally unhealthy; like what did we expect!?  During our conversation about this topic, Steven reminds us:  “Why are we crossing this street?”

Most of the washed inner organs of three caribou lay side-by-side

Why eliminate the coffee, sugar and white flour?  Figure it out.  Research the negative effects these foreign foods have had in our lives.

For most of us, our natural Native ways of being healthy have gone by the wayside.   We have indulged in the seductive, tasty and comfortable ways of living in the Western methods of daily existence; we have chosen to live within the Western monetary system; we chose to buy things creating weights and clutter up our lives in many more ways than one.   Over the years, these unnatural patterns have become engrained in us creating dis-ease.   However, we know our soul yearns to be in touch with our innate, wild selves; that part of us who enjoys the beauty and bounty the wilderness provides, the part of us who becomes challenged to maintain a state of balance and wellness in all ways.

We can learn to balance and integrate the best of both the Western and Native ways of being and doing by returning to our food source and eliminating the three harmful foods of the Western mainstream; this is large part of our definition of being a “modern” Alaska Native while maintaining traditions.  As individuals and members of clans, how do  we learn to “accentuate” our traditions and customs while moving into this 21st Century?  How do we continue our subsistence harvest living within a government who restricts and/or eliminates our rights to our indigenuity?

John, his sister and her husband went caribou hunting.  They brought back three caribou.  They cut it up, had a meal where we savored  each bite, and the next couple of days, all the caribou were hand-delivered to friends and relatives from as far north as Talkeetna, Wasilla, Palmer and Anchorage, to the Kenai Penninsula’s Soldotna, Ninilchik and Homer.  Sharing the catch and sharing the bountifulness of our great land is a value still continued amongst many families and relatives in Alaska; it’s a staple of our wellness of being; it’s how we survive.  As in the words of my father, the late William Lampe:  “…you share food, you share everything… – you don’t share you food, you share nothing!”

Dear Penny Schrader Passed On

Penny Schrader and Agnes Bellinger at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego in November 2005

This evening I discovered a dear friend, Penny Schrader passed away in August; she was 57.   I thought I was going to continue weaving on this Chilkat robe this evening, but I cannot.  I’m distracted; I’m distraught.  I had to find anything and everything that I had on my laptop regarding Penny.  I re-read every email between Penny and I over the past 5 years.  The last time we saw one another was last year, just briefly at Rainbow Foods where she was working – we promised one another we would get together for tea before we each headed back to the Southwest.  It never happened; we just continued to email one another.  Last year she looked as she did in these old photos I am including in this blog entry.  However, I discovered that her health failed drastically the past year.  She is another person in my life who has been claimed by cancer in the colon.  I am @#$%^&*! pissed off at this colon cancer crap.  Can you tell I am angry?  And  I have been so caught up in my own dramatics, I didn’t even know there was a memorial service held for her here in Juneau on September 4th – like where the heck have I been?  Obviously, with my head up my own ass!

Meredith, Penny and I in the garden at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego, November 2005

In November 2005, Penny was a lifesaver during the 3 weeks where Agnes Bellinger and I were going through the raw foods ordeal cleaning ourselves out of toxins and old crap at the Optimum Health Institute.   It was not an easy “vacation.”  Far from it.  Ridding one’s self of 50 years (me) and 75 years (Agnes) of eating habits and old patterns of thinking and doing was a huge challenge.   It takes a lot out of you when you are detoxing.  (Have you ever done it?)  We did it for three weeks!   There were a couple of days where Agnes and I did not have the energy, nor the will to even lift up our heads.  Penny was doing a residency there at OHI; she came to us like a wilderness angel full of spunk and fed us food she had created from scratch.   Her roommate, Meredith, was trying to overcome Lyme’s Disease, which is what I also had at the time yet not discovered until a few months later.  I lost track of Meredith.  I do not know if she survived Lyme’s Disease.  Both Agnes and Penny did not survive their colon cancer.

Meredith, Penny and I - Optimum Health Institute, San Diego

I recall one day when a friend of Agnes’ and a Chilkat weaving student and fellow clan member, Elaine Etukeok came to visit Agnes while we were at OHI.  I have not found the photograph of Agnes, Elaine and I, taken by Penny.  But if I do, I’ll post it here.   It is odd, now that I think of it. All three of these women, Penny, Agnes and Elaine have all passed away in the past 4 years. First Agnes in February 2006, then Elaine in August 2008, and now Penny in August 2010.  It looks like I am next?  Of course, I’m the last one left of these 4 women of that particular day; and like everybody else, we’re gonna die, get used to it.   Life is short, folks.  I have been stepping on the gas most of my entire life.  I’ve got lots done with a few more things to do.  However, if I go tomorrow, just know I’ve lived a very full life.  And I am very sorry to hear a lovely love has passed away; she enjoyed life like a flower, soaking up all the rain and sun there ever was!

I’ve included the following obituary posted from the Juneau Empire:

Former Juneau resident Penny Lynn Schrader passed from this world surrounded by family on Aug. 16, 2010, after an extended illness.

Penny was born on Aug. 1, 1953 in Bakersfield, Calif. and blossomed into a gentle spirit in love with nature. She first came to Alaska to work in a cannery, then returned south. But the lure of the wild drew her back, and when she found the fjords and islands of Juneau in 1985, she put down roots and made it her home. There she birthed a lovely girl into the hands of a midwife. Two years later, a boy completed her family and she immersed herself in the ever-learning and growing experience of parenting.

She shared her connectedness with the natural world with her young ones through camping, gardening, berry picking, mountain climbs and endless beach walks. She always prioritized making herself available to them in their formative years, working selected hours at the Silverbow and Fiddlehead Restaurants, where she made many close friends who widened her web of caring. Later, she shared her love of children by working in the schools, then joined Catholic Community Services, helping young families with their many challenges.

As her own family matured and her daughter moved into the wider world to explore and get her education, Penny began to look for how to take care of herself and her changing health needs. She received extensive training about raw foods, and returned to the land of sunshine, settling into the cozy community of Patagonia, Ariz. This was an excellent move for both her health and her son’s education. They thrived there for many peaceful years until her illness’ discomfort became more than all of everyone’s efforts could relieve.

Penny was a creative spirit. She performed in the Perseverance Theatre production of “The Birds,” sang in the folk festival and made paper from natural materials. She sewed for the theater and had a small seamstress business.

One of her most exquisite pieces she displayed herself in the 2005 Wearable Arts Show, entitled “Turning 50, Shedding the ‘if onlys’ and Heading Towards the Light.” She was carried on stage attached to a sculpture of driftwood, wrapped in a cocoon made from grandad’s drapes, and emerged dramatically, spreading wide wings of recycled wedding dress lace, embellished with giant fall ferns and delicate seaweed and swept toward a firechild friend, in love with life and full of hope.

Her quote, read as she danced down the runway was, “If only there weren’t any ‘if onlys.’ You are invited to participate in the shedding of your ‘if onlys.’ If only I could get out of this tight spot, and spread my wings and fly.” Penny has finally flown free. Those who loved her will miss her dearly.

Penny is preceded in death by her parents and sister and is survived by her beloved children, Shalom Schrader of Juneau and Philip Cahill of Tuscon, her husband Brian Cahill of Juneau, and numerous friends and relations who will long remember her loving soul and sweet spirit. A gathering of Juneau friends will be held from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Sept. 4 at the home of Frances Still (364-3406) with a beach fire, weather permitting.