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Life after the injury: Jesus Sanchez and his little sister, Geminez of Barrow: football players; love and continuance

To commemorate Super Bowl Sunday, I post this picture I took in Barrow on the evening of November 20. I had originally planned to post it soon afterward, but I was working a busy schedule, and had to get on a flight to Nuiqsut the next morning. Life kept moving at a fast and pressed pace and circumstance led me to bring this blog to a close, but I promised one last post, which I originally planned to put up during the holiday bowl season. That was a crazy time, too, so I rescheduled the last post for today, Super Bowl Sunday:

This is Jesus "Jesse" Sanchez, his sister Geminez to the left and fiance Frances Wade. Jesse, a member of the Barrow Eskimo Dancers, had first come into focus in my mind and camera many years before when he did dances for his late grandfather Eddie Edwardson and also for local soldiers and veterans fighting in and coming home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The skill, beauty and honor he put into those moved me greatly - as it did the audience, who by their applause demanded encore performances.

In 2010 and 11, I did a little coverage of the Barrow Whalers football team for Uiñiq. Jesse was a freshman and sophomore then, but already a star. 

By his junior year, some college scouts checking him out, from small school up to big ones like my alma mater, BYU. By his senior year, he had some scholarship offers and was poised to do great things for the Barrow Whalers - perhaps as quarterback even lead them to the state championship.

Unfortunately, a bad shoulder and neck injury early in the season put an end to his high school football career. Injury or not, he loves the game and treasures the experience. He loved the camaraderie with his teammates, treasured the sense of loyalty he felt to them, his coaches, school and his community. And he loved to hit. The sound of helmets smacking helmets, pads and bodies was lovely to him.

The girl on the left - that's Geminez, one of his youngers sisters. Geminez loves to hit, too. In fact, she has put on the pads and is following her brother to the field. Fate removed all chance of Jesse and the Barrow Whalers winning the title they so badly want. Geminez hopes to be part of a Barrow championship football team in the future.

And the young woman to the right...?

...that's Frances Ward, his fiance. She carries his baby and they plan to soon marry. Some have told them this is going to destroy their future. Both strongly disagree. On her Facebook page, Frances wrote, "There is such a special sweetness in being able to participate in creation... People say our life will end when we have our child, but the truth is, our life will just begin. Our baby will not take away our future, she will give us a new one."

Jesse often hunts caribou and shares them with Frances and her family. Not so long ago, he spotted a caribou when he was on foot and ran it down. He brought it home to the table.

The Sanchez parents are Mia and Jay. Jay played football in Fairbanks. Football was not a game Mia grew up with, but she loved watching her son play... and hated seeing him get hurt. She did look forward to the prospect of him playing in college... with both excitement and fear. As for the baby and the upcoming wedding, she wrote this on Facebook:

Right after she first learned: "YES it's shocking but I see this as a blessing from above BUT they are going to finish school and they have our support 100%... We love u both very much.."

Not long after that: "I'm just realizing my oldest son Jesus Estrada Sanchez has grown into a handsome young man and Frances Wade a young beautiful woman who captured his heart and a lucky woman to have won his heart... Sniff sniff. I'm going to miss going to his elementary Christmas programs, bring home his arts and crafts he makes and especially going to all of his football games it's amazing how times fly BUT he will always be a mommas boy... Son, ur going to make a wonderful father to ur child I am very proud of u I love u very much u and Frances have family and friends that will help and support u both I WILL ALWAYS LOVE U MY BABY BOY... Love always and forever ur Mom."


Now... as for me and this blog. I had written that once I got this up, it would be the final post for logbookwasilla - although someday I would find a way to reestablish myself with some kind of online picture/story telling site. I am on Instagram now (@billhess), but Instagram is insufficient for what I still want to do. On Tuesday of next week, I go into the hospital to get a surgery that should have been done over six months ago, but I couldn't do it then. The only reason I am able to get it done now is because of the Affordable Health Care Act. Had this act been in place five years ago, I would not need this surgery at all, because I would not have needed the surgery I got in June, 2012, the one that led to the complications that inflicted this burden upon me.

I have a few thoughts I want to express about all of this and it seems I can best make my point as I am going into and recovering from surgery. Instagram will not be up to what I want to do. So I may revisit this blog then. 


Date of the promised final post moved to Super Bowl Sunday; Carrizo the cat

First, I must apologize. When, due to endless frustrations with my blog host, Squarespace, I ceased my regular blogging and placed this blog in basic archive status, I did promise a final post during the holiday season. When this did not happen, Wendy asked me about it in a comment. I said I would try to put that post up today.

But, the fact is, I am not ready. It is not that it is all that complicated, but there are certain pieces of information I need before I can put that post up and I have just been scattered about in too many different directions to acquire this information. I am not a well-organized person.

I still want to make the post. It is about dreams and aspirations, those held by others much younger than I, and those held by myself. The post will really have nothing to do with the Super Bowl, but the Super Bowl is where dreams long held and long struggled for come both to glorious fruition and crushing end. So it seems the appropriate day.

Also, maybe the words, "final post," are not the best to use. I do expect it to be the final post using Squarespace as a bloghost, but once I complete some major projects now before me, I intend to explore new venues to post my work online. I could wind up using this same address - if I can find a good way to import the content of this blog into it without making a total mess of it. This likely will not happen for quite some time - probably a year or more.

In the meantime, here is a glimpse of Carrizo. I know that at least a few of my readers followed me to Instagram and so know the story about how Carrizo, who just three weeks ago was living the lifestyle of a feral cat in Arizona, came to live with here with us in Wasilla. It is a story I am making into a book. If I succeed in getting it published, then you can read it in a more refined and filled out form than Instagram.

He is an excellent cat. 


At Abby's with Matu and Eileen, I watch young Connor Boskofsky Eskimo dance his way across a living room floor in Atqasuk. I bring logbookwasilla to a close. There will be no Squarespace 6 blog. I will make one additional post during the holiday football season.

This morning,  I did breakfast at Abby's so I could say farewell to my friends there until after Christmas. I arrived shortly after Abby's Saturday opening time of 9:00 AM to find the restaurant nearly full. Matu and Eileen sat at the usual table and I joined them. Soon, Eileen pulled up a video from Atqasuk of her grandson, Connor, Eskimo dancing to the drumbeat of young Arlene Kanayurak, taken and posted on Facebook  by mother Patti Kanayurak.

One will usually enjoy seeing the video of the son and grandson of friends, but this video rose beyond that. Once Arlene began to beat the drum, young Connor burst into his motions with energy, spirit and skill beyond his age - three years when I pictured him holding a drum at Kivgiq in my last Uiñiq, but maybe he has had another birthday by now.

I could not help but to smile, even to laugh with joy and pride as he energetically danced his way across the floor. It was absolutely wonderful.

I am pleased to have had this image present itself to me at this time. If I must shut down this Squarespace blog altogether - and I must - it is as perfect an image to bring it to a close as is likely to appear before me.

Consider the theme on my masthead: One photographer's search for community, home, and family. After I began to blog, I realized that my entire career as a photojournalist had been a search for the community that had eluded me as I grew up. My Dad was a most talented and brilliant man who loved his family and sacrificed much for us, but also a most restless man - I believe because of his combat experience in the air over Europe and North Africa in World War II. We never lived in any one community long before he gathered us up and moved us to another. The ground beneath my feet continually shifting, the people in my life flowed like a river right past me, just when I thought I might be getting to know someone, perhaps one who had greeted me as an enemy when I arrived, but in the battles that followed became my friend.

This is still the case, despite the fact that once we reached Wasilla, I planted roots here and gave my children the thing I had longed for - a community to establish friends and grow up in - albeit a very odd, strange and different kind of community into which I really did not fit - but then no one who lives here really fits here and that is kind of how we all wind up fitting here.

Yet, I had inherited my father's restlessness, magnified. I also had a strong desire to know the real Alaska. I cannot say the real Alaska is not in Wasilla, because Wasilla is in Alaska and anything that is in Alaska is part of the real Alaska, be it a hunter's tent pitched on the Arctic sea ice, a fish camp on the Yukon River, an oil well at Kuparuk, a fishing boat pulling out of Cordova, a dog team racing through Fairbanks, a dancer gyrating on a pole in Anchorage or wherever in Alaska such a pole might be standing, or a governor leading the state astray in Juneau.

It is all the real Alaska, but the real Alaska that called out most strongly to me is the one that is out there, off the road, occupied primarily by the original people of this land, whose ancestor's have lived off the abundance it gave to them for untold thousands of years. The only way I could experience that Alaska was with them. But a taniq does not just walk into Barrow, Wainwright, Nuiqsut, or any such place and go out with a whaling crew or to camp out with a living legend at the fish camp at Batzulnetaa. But I had a camera and, after a certain period of trial, a heart deemed to be in the right place to gain me entrance into these environments, so different from where I come.

Special. Treasure beyond the value of gold and material wealth.

And so I got out into this land - never getting to experience and know it as deeply and purely as I wanted - as deeply and purely as Matu here had known since birth - but getting to experience it and know it much better than I otherwise would have.

Out there, I found an Alaska home of a different kind than Wasilla, a home in which I felt community, where I came to feel warm and welcome wherever I would go, be the temperature 90 above or 60 below.

After more than 31 years of living in Wasilla, I still feel like a stranger as I wander through most of Wasilla's many familiar places. There are exceptions to this. My house, where we - mostly Margie - raised our children, where grandchildren now frequently grace our rooms with their energy, delights, love of trains and plains and yes, their sibling quarrels and rivalries - this is a very warm and comfy place to me; Metro Cafe, built by the late Scot Starheim as a stage for his wife, Carmen - and what a stage she has made of it; Abby's Home Cooking. Home is the right word, and by now a rather disparate group of regulars of various political persuasion, ethnicity, occupation and lack of occupation have come to make it a regular gathering place, one that feels like community, even family, to me.

So, this picture, taken of my friend from Barrow as a young boy dances in Atqasuk, seen at Abby's Home Cooking is an appropriate one to bring this blog to an end.

I had intended to explain the factors that led to my decision, even after I had already prepared my first post for my Squarespace 6 blog, but the text here is already getting too long. I have explained my reasons to Squarespace, and that is enough. I doubt they get it, but even so, I must go. Suffice it to say that, just as I thought the Squarespace nightmare was coming to an end and all would go smoothly there after this, the nightmare flared up to what I see as unjustifiable levels.

That said, from what I have seen, their Squarespace 6 platform is very good, but I my patience is drained. I have had it. Others coming into Squarespace new may have a better time.

Margie and I are about to leave on vacation to Arizona, with a trip into Utah. I was greatly looking forward to blogging all this by iPhone on the apparently greatly improve app and to take my readers on a tour of not only my heritage, but that of my wife, children and grandchildren - The White Mountain Apache Reservation, the Navajo Nation, the Wasatch front my polygamist Mormon ancestors settled upon.

I really want to blog this, but I cannot deal with Squarespace anymore. I have struggled with Squarespace for over five years now, always believing that the ultimate fix was just around the corner but every time I reach the corner and make the turn, I find only more hassles, problems and aggravations just beyond. I do not want to fight this battle anymore - especially on this vacation.

I do not want the first post I made for the Squarespace 6 logbook blog to just go to waste, so I have transfered it to this one. It immediately precedes this one. It does include some hints about the events that finally drove me to leave Squarespace behind, other than for archival purposes.

Right now, I am not prepared to speculate about what I might do online in the future. The bigger future of publishing is online, so I will surely do something. For the moment, while I will not go at it so seriously as I would have were I blogging it, as I travel, I will try to post one or two pictures a day on Instagram, where you can find me @billhess. It won't be the same as making a blog, but it will be something.

To all of you who have shared your lives with me and therefore with my readers,  I thank you. For all the readers who have encouraged and supported me I thank you.

When I was last in Barrow, I photographed a brother and a sister of good heart, big ambition a love of Eskimo dance and football and promised to put their picture and story on this blog. Given my schedule up there and the weak internet connection that slowed my blogging down I could not put it up while I was still on the Slope. I will still put it up - sometime between Christmas and New Year's - the holiday football bowl season. A most appropriate time, I think. Other than that, I am done with this blog. Permantly. There is no chance I will bring it back. I will keep it on permanent archive at the same address until I find a way to preserve it elsewhere.

The Iñupiat have a word I believe is most appropriate to this moment in my blogging history:


This is all I have to say.

For now.




On the day that Nelson Mandela died I drove to Anchorage on icy roads through freezing rain to bring home my beloved

Note: I originally prepared this as the first post in new Squarespace 6 blog I had planned to launch at this same address, to include all the work I have done in this Squarespace 5 blog. But things went wrong. I have asked Squarespace to refund the money I spent on the new blog and am bringing my Squarespace blogging to a permanent end, save for the upcoming holiday post referenced above. I do not want this post to go to waste and so have transferred it from the new Squarespace 6 blog that now never will be to being an archive, at this same address. While much of what it says no longer applies, I leave it just as I prepared it for the new, canceled, blog"

This is the first post I am putting up in the new Squarespace 6 blog. At least, I hope I am putting it up. As regular readers know, I have been running a

Click to read more ...


This blog is about to drive off into unknown territory - could charge off a cliff and disappear for awhile

A bit earlier, I put together what will be my first Squarespace 6 blog post. Before I publish it it, I need to import this blog into that blog so that they become the same blog. I also need to switch my blog address, logbookwasilla.com, from this blog to the new Squarespace 6 blog - once this blog is imported to it. Before doing this, I had a number of questions I had posed as long as 34 hours ago to the Squarespace tech assigned to help me . Finally, after 33 hours, he answered the questions. He knows his stuff and the appearance problem that had so baffled me all this time was solved instantly.

The big questions and fears I had regarding the import of this blog to the new blog were answered. Once that import is complete and I switch the domain from here to there, this blog will disappear for a time before the new one comes up - perhaps as long as 72 hours, but likely and hopefully for a much shorter period of time.

I now have a new problem. I have tried five times to begin the import process and five times it has failed within a few seconds. I have been very deliberate to enter my information correctly. Once again, everything is stalled for the moment.

I have sent a request to Squarespace for help. Hopefully, I will hear back from them soon. Hopefully, it will not take 33 hours to get a response this time.