PART TWO – COMING JUNE 1
Echo Hill Arts Press
Print: 97809995061-9-6 $14.99
eBook: 97809995061-8-9 $ 2.99
• Also available to public libraries through the Self-eBook free distribution program.
The Winter of ’79:
Sleeping Moose Saga, Part Two
A PRE-PUBLICATION REVIEW BY D. DONOVAN, SENIOR REVIEWER,
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
The Winter of ’79 finds Kate alone on an Alaskan mountain in the dead of winter while husband Tim commutes to work on an old snow machine. Kate had come from Hawaii, determined to experience a winter. Tim had migrated from Boston in response to Jack London’s Call of the Wild. After eloping, the pair settled on a remote parcel of wilderness and prepared to live out their dreams. This second volume of the “Sleeping Moose Saga” trilogy describes five particularly severe seasons in a row that the newlyweds experienced together.
It’s important to note that this story is autobiographical in nature and documents isolation, primitive living conditions, and a life made without benefit of communication or even everyday basic amenities such as running water.
Her journal of being a wilderness wife captures the heart of a wild Alaskan experience using a fictional overlay which lends her memoir a dash of dramatic embellishment. The mountain abode’s location is fictional, but their bush adventures are not.
The story of Kate and her small family’s private paradise receives added adornment with black and white photos that beautifully illustrate the events she depicts as Alaska’s heart and soul reflects their daily lives.
One exceptional attribute of her story is its depiction. Alaska’s wilderness beauty is captured in descriptions that impart a “you are there” feel of her surroundings: “‘When we’re finished here,’ Kate said to her little companion, ‘we’ll go out for few rays of sunshine, and maybe collect a bouquet of spring wildflowers. It’s such a beautiful day. I want you to get a gander at all the grandness that surrounds us.’ When the dishes were done, the young mother saddled her little one in a pack tied across her front, and they headed out for an Alpine denizen’s delight.”
Usually a new reader presented with Book 2 in any given series is at a serious disadvantage as far as setting and plot are concerned; but The Winter of ’79 holds the rare ability to stand alone even as it compliments its predecessor. This means that newcomers can dive right in without feeling lost, while those already familiar with Kate’s story will relish its ongoing encounters.
There’s an undercurrent of humor that runs through her observations and adventures: “Kate doubted his whole story. If he’d been raised by the Sioux, then she’d married Prince Rainier . . .”, as well as a style of candidness in communications which reflects a spunky, forthright personality. “‘If you’ll wait outside, I’ll bring you a drink,’ Kate finally offered. ‘But I’m not comfortable with you coming into my house uninvited.'”
There’s also a mighty dose of philosophical reflection as the nature of change and its pros and cons is contemplated: “On the other hand, what would it be like to have people parked right there on the other side of those trees? How would having other people living close by change things, exactly? Would life really get better, or would it simply get more complicated?”
Warm family interactions and relationship-building moments as young Attie contemplates her first walk (which Daddy eagerly awaits) operate against the backdrop of nonstop blizzards and innovations conceived in the struggle for survival as The Winter of ’79 offers a bracing, invigorating portrait of a young family’s encounters with Alaska’s wilderness.
The result is a saga that is hard to put down, reaching out on several different levels to illustrate a frontier lifestyle punctuated by journal entries capturing the sights, sounds, flavors, and peoples of the Alaskan bush. This story is especially highly recommended for memoir readers who like their accounts spiced with the passion of a pioneering spirit of adventure and appreciation of life.
A beta reader’s review
Katie Cronk (Library Associate, Pikes Peak Library, Old Colorado City)
“Frontier diaries are one of my favorite genres. The book reads like every bit of it is true, so that really sparks my interest. I want to know more about all the characters; what happened to them? Where are they now? As I finish reading this, I am sitting in my warm, cozy house watching the beautiful snow outside. Being toasty makes reading this book all the more enjoyable. I should tell you how much I love the format of this writing. The combination of text, letters, diary entries and photos, make a wonderful reading experience. I felt the cold, the sickness, the frustration, and the joy of this adventure. I absolutely cannot wait for installment #3!”
Where the Moose Slept: Part One
• Also available to public libraries through the Self-eBook free distribution program.
Sharyl (Goodreads Reviewer) rated a book
“This is a most charming and engaging retelling of some of the author’s family stories. I was fascinated with the spirit, stamina and bravery (!) Cutting’s parents must have possessed to trek out into such a harsh wilderness and create an independent life of their very own. This was the first of a trilogy–there is more to this story, and I will be getting back to it later!
I’d recommend this to anyone–and you will find out how the author got her name.”
From Kirkus Reviews: Cutting writes with an eye for specificity that evokes the Alaskan bush in all its daunting beauty. “Cutting (Tales from Sleeping Moose Vol. 4, 2015, etc.) recounts the adventures of a young couple settling in a remote part of Alaska in this episodic novel. It’s the summer of 1976, and Kate Peters is a young artist from Hawaii. Inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s notions of self-reliance, she goes to Alaska for her honeymoon with her new husband, Tim, who’s inspired by Jack London’s writings. The two are planning to buy property in Vermont once they get back to the Lower 48, but when they pass a sign advertising land for sale near a tiny Alaskan hamlet, they make the impulsive decision to settle right there. High up on a mountainside, the property possesses “a panoramic view of the Chugach Range, Skilak Lake and the ice capped Kenai Fjords to the south.” Kate takes the presence of a recent moose bed as a sign—after all, the town below them is called Sleeping Moose—and decides to build their house right on that spot. The next three years will be a race against the weather— and impending parenthood—as Kate and Tim attempt to erect a cabin and then a house in the wilderness; meanwhile, they contend with local characters, local fauna, and the effects of isolation on the human spirit. This work of “fact-based fiction” is based on Cutting’s own family members’ experiences, and it includes black-and-white photographs of her parents and moments from her own childhood. She writes with an eye for specificity that evokes the Alaskan bush in all its daunting beauty. The difficulty of life in the area, particularly before the advent of cellphones and the internet, is illustrated in the planning and patience that Kate and Tim put into every action. In one sense, this is a book about a construction project, but in another, it’s the story of the formation of a family—one built not on self-reliance but on learning to rely on one another. Overall, it offers a satisfying mix of nature writing, a survival narrative, and a deliberative account of a task slowly completed.”
“An evocative, vignette-filled story of one family’s experiences up north.”
John Sieracki, Humanities Librarian Milwaukee Public Library
“Cutting knows what details are important to the story and doesn’t bog readers down in unnecessary observations. Every word keeps the story moving – that is not easy to do for most people new to writing. Cutting is a natural talent. It’s a hard book to put down.”
Unbelievably Funny, and Masterfully Written!
July 18, 2017 By Rebecca Sangueza
Where the Moose Slept: An account of two late-20th century pioneers who ‘saw the elephant’ on the Last Frontier (Sleeping Moose Saga Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
“This book is both hilarious and enlightening to the hardships and accomplishments of the pioneers who tried their time in the Alaskan ‘bush’.
Atwood Cutting tells the story in a way that makes you not want to put the book down–not only due to the trials this couple endure; but also because you can’t stop laughing at the analogies and humor! I can’t wait for the next book to come out!”
James J. Cudney (This is my truth now)
Why This Book
I met a wonderful blogger about three months ago who I began exchanging emails with each week, chatting about books, life, and many other topics. After a while, she casually mentioned her book, which of course led me to reading a little more about it and her. I recently started a new segment on my blog called ‘Author Alert,’ where new authors can share a message with my friends and followers – Atwood Cutting, author of the Alaskan saga from Tales From Sleeping Moose, Alaska Vol.1 Mid-Century Pioneers, to today’s Where the Moose Slept is this week’s (Fri 12/15) latest author. But first I had to finish reading her book this week and write this review…
Approach & Style
I read this ~300 page book via Kindle Reader on my iPad in 4 hours over three days. It is a cross between fiction and non-fiction, as it is a true account, almost a journal, of a woman and her family’s experiences; however, a few things were changed around in how the story was told so that it reads more like a story. Atwood tells accounts of her life through letters home to her mother, in episodes focused on their trek around Alaska, and via pictures from the entire time period.
Plot, Characters & Setting
Kate and Tim Peters were recently married, making the trek up to Alaska for the oil boom during the mid-1970s, several years after college. Picture frontier life in a more modern world (still didn’t have electricity in the beginning, tho!) and learning how to adapt to life in the wilderness where animals — and people — attack. Through building a home, getting to know their neighbors, learning how to adapt to married life, finding ways to earn money and survive, they meet some potentially life-long friends (I only read the first book… not sure of the ending even though I know and chat with the author) in this beautiful backdrop where the moose sleep – in search of seeing the elephant (you’ll have to read the book to know what that means).
Atwood’s voice is the best part of the book. Writing an account of your life, understanding what to include about the mundane versus existing parts of your life, is critical. Through the characters, Kate and Tim, she achieves a charismatic and earthy combination of humanity. Life for many of us who live in a city or the suburbs seems difficult, but you don’t know difficult until you truly rough it on land that’s never been lived on before. Seeing (the pictures are fantastic) and reading about their lives gives you a bit of the goosebumps, worried for their safety and mental health. It can be lonely and cold; it can be dangerous and boring. But through trust and a strong relationships, two people can achieve a lot of success — success which is measured differently when you go through a non-traditional path (building your own house in frigid temperatures with practically no neighbors around in a place you’ve never been and no knowledge of how to make it all work!), but in the end, you still experience that wonderful amazement of knowing you did it all with your own two hands.
This is the kind of book you want to read when you are bored with mysteries or general fiction, when you need something inspirational without being pedantic. It’s a light yet heavy account of a really different side of life, one we should all experience for ourselves at some point. But if you’re not the kind of person who will rush off to Siberia or Alaska, then dive into this book for an intense picture of what it might be like. You’ll enjoy some of the sentimental moments and many humorous conversations between Kate and Tim. I won’t spoil them here, so go read it.
I’m normally a fiction reader, who will throw in 5 to 10 non-fiction books each year. When I do, they’re usually based on a famous figure in history or a remarkable informational piece. When I chose Atwood’s book, I knew it would be a different kind of read because it was a personal journey with an incredibly charming voice — that alone makes it worth the read. But once I started it, the story became so much more. I look forward to reading more from this author and will keep on chatting with her to see how everything turns out in her life.
Marsha Ritterband May 29, 2017
“I am a voracious reader of fiction, such as John Grisham, Harlan Cobin, Iris Johansen, etc., who’s stories lead me on a race to excitement, love, murder, etc. But when someone showed me the Cutting book, the cover caught my eye – its shades of reddish, black, with a pink sky and black moose. I thought, ‘Hmmm, it might be interesting; I can just give it a try.’
I completed reading the book in two sessions over the Memorial Day weekend. It totally captivated me even though it did not focus on the mystery, romance, and forced excitement of most of my reading. To think that two young people would take such a life journey to an undisturbed land and be willing to build and live in such an almost unbelievably harsh and risky frontier was amazing to me. My life was the total opposite: born in California, raised in Los Angeles during the 40s, 50s, and 60s; my needs and support were mostly taken care of by my parents and husband. I was amazed as I kept reading.
The author/narrator fully provided me with all that I needed to visualize in my “mind’s eye” what was going on, by her graphic picturesque descriptions of both the characters’ physical and emotional settings. This was enhanced by the selected photographs.
I was very impressed by the letter that the heroine sent to her mother. It was so loving and inviting. And then the mother coming from Hawaii and not complaining about all the hardships that her daughter and son-in-law were living with. She was so accepting and comforting when one would expect her to be more fearful and maybe even angry.
The descriptions of the young couple allowed me to see that they were so well matched and committed to each other and to the challenges they took on together. They trusted each other and did not dwell on the risks that they were perpetually facing. They clearly cared for and supported each other in an old-fashioned way, showing strength, honesty and respect, along with a sense of humor.
Coming to the end of reading Part One makes me hope that there will be more volumes forthcoming soon. The book richly revealed that there is such a thing as successful frontier living during modern (pre-cell phone and Internet) times.”
By Marie Gene Hampton, age 92
“I had read about pioneers in the westward movement and settlers in the land beyond the Mississippi, but never in words and pictures, the way I experienced the actual life of Kate and Tim Peters in our 20th century. These two portrayed the love of each other and their devotion to an achievement (actually building a life against all odds), while getting along with an assortment of humanity.
I could not put the book down. Once Kate and Tim found the sign “Land for Sale,” followed the urge to investigate, they met a true “down to earth couple” (a very fortunate thing), with whom they became utter soulmates. The honeymooners worked together to achieve their dream. Each step of the way was portrayed with confidence, agony, support and abiding love and admiration, while establishing some of the basics in life: food, shelter, warmth and water. Kate finds solace with descriptive letters to her “Mamasan.” These descriptions, plus the narrative of daily activities and the many photographs taken, make this book an easy read. After almost 3 ½ years, chapter after chapter, I felt as though I belonged with them. Finally, a house rose, cement block by block, beam by beam, and log by log. Then there was a highlight with the birth of their daughter, followed by the completion of their house with the addition of a tin roof, walls and windows.
I do hope that the life of these homesteaders continues in a forthcoming book. I’ve been to Alaska and known its rustic beauty, but never as the settlers in a realistic pioneer life.
Thank you for letting me be part of the life of Kate and Tim Peters.”
Tales from Sleeping Moose Customer reviews of earlier Sleeping Moose editions:
By Jerry U. on April 22, 2016
“I contemplated homesteading in Alaska during the 1960’s, After reading the “mostly true” stories I’m both glad and sorry I didn’t. Sorry for the wonderful characters I missed meeting and glad to escape encountering the vile ones. Didn’t experience the snowy virgin landscape nor it’s life-threatening hazards. Took for granted indoor plumbing, central heat, grocery stores and plowed roads, but lacked the satisfaction of building a home with only my hands and determination. Cutting’s tales of daily pioneer surviving are told with humor, drama and delight in the simplest of pleasures. I came away with a feeling of “been there, done that” even though I had not. Now, I want to know how and if ‘I’ ended my Alaskan adventure!”
By Kindle Customer on January 13, 2016 The final chapter to a riveting tale of homesteading in Alaska
“Atwood Cutting is a supreme storyteller! In this, the fourth volume of her series about her mother’s experiences with homesteading in remote Alaska, she has saved the best (and the worst) for last. Troubles plagued her mother and father to the point where they feared for their lives if they stayed in the gorgeous pastoral homestead that they literally carved out of the wilderness. The people who move to the end of the road are people who want to live outside of convention. With only one lawman in over a thousand square miles, people at the “end of the road” tend to follow their own consciences, and some don’t have much if any. This book illuminates the pioneer spirit which built America but often killed people on the process. Eminently readable, it rightly deserves a five-star rating.”
By Kate Mac on December 19, 2016
“It’s amazing to think that someone could actually do all this! Now that we have cell phones and satellites it seems impossible to be completely off the grid, relying on just yourself and your partner to make something out of nothing. I feel like I’m living it with her, but with the comfort of electricity and a hot shower. It just keeps getting better and better. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!”
. . . humor encountered in ‘bush’ life
Ann Wood O’Brien, Fisher and Trapper, Tanana and Manley, Alaska “This book really gets across the situational humor encountered in ‘bush’ life.”
. . . they lived in the small outbuilding that I thought was a tool shed
Brandon Anderson, Alaska State Trooper (Retired) “When I first went to the mountain to visit Tim and Kate, it took some convincing for me to believe that they lived in the small outbuilding that I thought was a tool shed. But it was true.”
For the first time, I understood . . .
Smokey Daytona, Cape Coral, Florida “Cutting’s reference to ‘Seeing the Elephant’ is brilliant. For the first time, I understood what that expression means.”
Get ready . . .
A. Calmelat, Phoenix, Arizona “The reader should get ready for a fast and compelling read in this fascinating Alaska life story. This book illuminates the pioneer spirit which built America but often killed people in the process. What an eye-opener.”
Pointing out some not-so-obvious realities . . .
A. McEachern, Cambridge, Massachusetts “It was delightful and inspiring; pointing out some not-so-obvious realities, in heartfelt and canny ways.”
How do we handle the ending of dreams . . .
Karen Olanna, Artist, Shishmaref and Nome, Alaska
“How do we handle the ending of dreams and the need to refocus dreams no matter how much effort one put into them?”
By Kindle Customer on October 13, 2014
“I just finished reading this wonderful little book. What an eye opener! The book describes life for two newlyweds who move from the security of their lower forty-eight youth to the wilds of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Although written by their daughter, the book rings true in every sense. The two, completely unprepared young people, begin from nothing except a childhood of common sense and a belief that anything is possible. Together they begin their life together on a whim by buying a piece of property on a beautiful hilltop. They are completely unaware of the inherent dangers and arduousness of their undertaking. Ms. Cutting’s book is written in a fast- paced compelling style which catapults the reader from page to page. I cannot wait for the next volume.”
By Urban Nomad Services on February 6, 2015
“When I met the author last year and saw her draft and photos, I knew this would be fun. This memoir of Alaskan homesteading made an engaging escape from rude passengers and weary airline staff on my recent flight. It has just the right balance of sobering reality, inspiring determination, and true neighborliness. Older children might enjoy it, too. Now I’m eager for the next volume. More tales please!”
By 1 Happy Camper on November 26, 2014
“Very enjoyable tale. I felt like I was sitting across the kitchen table listening to an old friend share fond memories. Highly recommended.”
By Troy Lesan on December 17, 2014
“Reading this book made me feel like I was there. A fascinating account of life in our nation’s last frontier.”
By Kindle Customer on July 23, 2015
“The most gripping volume thus far! Atwood (Attie) Cutting continues the tale of her mother’s life as a homesteader in 1979 Alaska. This third volume covers one unusually cold and difficult winter on the mountain where blizzards and chinook winds howled for months only finally to be followed by summer months of continuous rain. The cardboard walls and a stovepipe prone to catching fire were the least of the family’s problems. Tools and vehicles worked only sporadically in the sub-zero temperatures of that winter. Neighbors at the end of the road could be either friend or foe. Guns were always at the ready. The reader should get ready for a fast and compelling read in this latest volume of Kate Peter’s fascinating Alaska life story.”
Alaska pioneering in the 20th century
By Kindle Customer-Verified Purchase, March 18, 2015
This review is from: Tales from Sleeping Moose Vol. 2: Alaska- In this Lifetime (Volume 2) (Paperback)
“An excellent tale of mid-20th century homesteaders in Alaska with emphasis on building their home from the tree on up! I’m looking forward to the next installment in the saga!”
By Captain Ace Zapata on February 22, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
“A wonderful account of young, strong, daring, & some might say nutty, but definitely skillful & optimistic positive thinkers, and their success in the Alaskan wilderness. They built a house starting in the forest cutting down trees for building materials, it took 2 years of rain, snow, ice, mud & beautiful wildflowers, & northern lights nights & oh, yeah, they had a baby before the roof was on. Atwood Cutting is a gifted raconteur, You’ll laugh & cry while reading this tale; I did. I’m primed & ready for vol.3 now. One need not read Vol 1 before Vol 2 but after Vol 2 you’ll surely want more of Atwood Cutting’s writing.”