Spring comes to Gustavus when the dull colors of winter give way to the greens of the forest under-story and grassy lawns.  Then, we know the season has arrived for sure when the first dandelions appear.  Their bright-yellow flowers, like little suns reflecting back from the ground, lift our hearts and bring smiles to our faces.

As spring continues, the dandelions become more and more prolific, until they seem to be trying to take over the world.  Never fear — I have a solution here for you.  When you get tired of looking at that field of yellow, you can make a very fine wine from the blossoms.  You’ll need 15 quarts of them for your first batch, so start picking!

Soon after you start your wine the remaining Continue reading


The dandelion (Taraxicum genus) is a perennial, and a member of the very large composite
family.  “Dandelion” comes from the French name, “dent de lion” (tooth of the lion.)

Roots, crowns (parts between roots and ground surface), and tops, from young leaves to flower buds and full blooms, can be eaten.  They are an excellent source of vitamins B, C, and A.  The plant is especially high in calcium, and also contains potassium, phosphorous and sodium. Here is a summary of ways dandelions can be eaten:

Roots:  Scrape, slice, and boil roots in salted water until tender, then eat as a vegetable.  Being part of the chicory family, the roots may also be dried in the oven, ground, and used as a coffee substitute.  I would recommend Continue reading


  1.  It is illegal to push a live moose out of a moving airplane.  I’d like to know what the moose was doing there in the first place.
  2. You are breaking a law if you tie your pet dog to the roof of your car.
  3. You cannot live in your trailer as it is being hauled across the city.
  4. You can’t slip an alcoholic beverage to the moose in your yard.  Apparently, he does not handle his liquor well.
  5. Though it is legal to shoot a bear with a gun (in season and with the proper permit, of course!) waking a sleeping bear to shoot a photograph is prohibited.
  6. Owners of flamingos are not permitted to take the bird into the barber shop.  If the bird really wants a haircut and shave, you will have to fulfill its wishes yourself. 


Your Russian vocabulary word for the day is “matryoshka.”  The word means “little matron” and is the diminuative form of the Russian woman’s name, Matriona.  For our purposes, the name can be translated as “Russian nesting doll.” These dolls, turned on a lathe, were made in diminishing sizes, cut in half, and placed inside each other, smallest to largest.  The smallest doll was turned from a single piece of wood.

The first “matryoshka” set was made in 1890.  Traditionally, the outer doll was a woman and the figures inside could be either gender.  The innermost doll was typically the baby of the family.  Over the years, many themes have 2 doll sets1been used.  Recently the dolls even included replicas of Russian leaders.  Some other themes include floral designs, holidays, religious figures, politicians, movie stars, athletes, musicians, animals. and peasant families. For a time I had Eskimo family nesting dolls in my shop.

Many of these dolls are quite beautiful, displaying elaborate design or Continue reading


Alaska is a land of magic and mystery. It is very true that “strange things are done ‘neath the midnight sun.” This column will be an ongoing collection of stories from the Alaskan mystique, designed to amuse and amaze you. Visit it each week for a new installment.

WOMAN PUNCHES BEAR TO SAVE DOG:  In Juneau, not far from my home in Gustavus, black bears sometimes roam the streets.  A Continue reading


Photographs for the book "Teach Yourself Visually: Quilting" by Sonja Hakala. (Photo by Geoff Hansen)

People have been creating cloth fabric since prehistoric times, and evidence suggests that even prehistoric people living tens of thousands of years ago may have been dying their fabric using coarse techniques. Over the years, advancements in the textile trade have resulted in the creation of beautiful natural and synthetic materials for use in, and these fabrics may be used for many different purposes. From quilting fabric, upholstering furnishings to making clothes, the right fabric can add considerable style as well as texture to an item.

Continue reading


About Me
   Original article by Fran Kelso

Hunting with Jim
   Warren, Marshall Kim.  Personal Interview

Meet Roger and Mary dba Alaskan Metalsmiths
   Williams, Roger and Mary.  Personal Interview

Mountain Ash: The Tree With an Alias
   Kelso, Fran. Plant Lore of an Alaskan Island. Indiana: Author House, 2011.

The Truth about Alaskan Ivory
   General information researched from several online sources; written by Fran Kelso.  
Information on Schreger lines from an "ivory ethics" page at

 Mammoth Ivory Bear Pendant
   Information from Zealandia Designs, Boise, Idaho

New Twist to Bear-Baiting
   Thiessen, Mark. Associated Press. Toronto Star, August 14,2015.

What are Alaskan Attitudes?
   Kelso, Fran. Alaskan Attitudes. North Carolina:  Create Space, 2015.

Overrun with Dandelions?  Make Wine!
   Kelso, Fran. Plant Lore of an Alaskan Island. Author House, 2011.

How to Eat a Dandelion
   Kelso, Fran. Plant Lore of an Alaskan Island. Author House, 20ll.

A Short History of Cribbage
   Kelso, Fran.  Original article researched from several internet sources.

A Selection of Weird Alaskan Laws
   From the website,

Fine Russian Crafts:  Hand-Made, Hand-Painted Matryoshka dolls.
   Kelso, Fran.  Original article researched from several internet sources.
Bizarre Alaskan Stories
   Grass, Jonathan.  Taken from the article, "Woman Punches Bear to Save Dog."  
Juneau Empire:  August 30, 2011.

The Halibut and the Fisherman
   Kelso, Fran.  An original modification of an old folk tale.

   Article by Accelerated Web Solutions administration.





The day’s greetings, ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to my blog.

I am Fran, known by some as the “itinerant peddler from Alaska.”  I’ve lived in Alaska for 47 years, over half my life, and I have an on-going love affair with this place.  Therefore, I’ll be doing a little “show and tell” on my site.  I’ll show you some of what I sell and tell you a few Alaskan stories.

I lived for 20 years in the small village of Ouzinkie, on Spruce Island, close to Kodiak Island.  While there, I built myself a house and got a job teaching adults in the village.  Besides teaching GED and some business classes, I started a group that we called “Plants Class.”  We studied, ate, and used wild, edible, and medicinal plants from our island.  We eventually published a book called “Plant Lore of an Alaskan Island.” I will be including articles on wild plants from time to time under the category called “Backwoods Botany.”

In 2011 I moved to the community of Gustavus, close to Juneau.  I might as well still be on an island, as the only way to get here is by boat or plane.  It is a fine place and full of interesting people.  I will be interviewing many of these folks for my blog, so stay tuned.

If you have a comment or question about a blog post, please submit it as I’d love to hear from you.  If you would like to buy something shown on this site you can order in one of two ways.  Go to my eBay store, The Peddler’s Pack, to order most items.  If you do not see the item or if you would prefer to order directly from me,  you may contact me at peddlerspackgifts at yahoo dot com, or you can call me at (907) 500-3279.  Please do not send payment information in an email.  Send me your phone number and a good time to call, and I will call you.

I hope you enjoy my blog and come back to visit often.  I’ll be adding new posts each week.

To visit my store, click on the eBay link at the top of this page.

P.S. Many of the pictures in my articles will enlarge if you click on them.