For those of you who can’t read urlspeak, the title of this blog comes from the mashed-together names Martha and Stewart, but are read by my husband, John, as Mart Haste Wart.  Since last summer, when I inherited a stack of Livings from a friend here in the village–or was it last Valentine’s Day when I was cutting them up and creating decorative card muddlings for those I love? No matter–since a while ago, my husband has taken to chopping up the names in Martha Stewart’s moniker to define her as someone more decidedly less bon vivant.

Certainly she has touched even the most remote of villages, and even the magazines are recycled again and again, though their specific Things, whether Good or not, tend to fade as we become engrossed in the living we are doing on our own.

But her topiaries live on.  Or are they luminaries?  I can’t remember.

All I know is that there’s a wave–a spate, if you will, a regular spate–here in the village, of brown paper bags cut all up into every odd shape and decoration and set up with sand and a candle in it to commemorate… some such event or holiday, be it village-related or not.

Since Halloween, Verna has been determined to get each one of us convicted on some sort of scissor homicide charge, thrusting stacks of lunch sacks into our hands or onto our desks and demanding we locate the x-acto knives or the pruners or the kitchen shears and produce some inkling of a pony or a pumpkin or a black cat, each of which will appear in glowy-orange form once properly extracted from the bag itself, much like Michelangelo’s David or Pietas, only the essential removed and only the essential to remain.

Alas, this art of glowing broomstick-witches, Christmas trees, poinsettia bushes or what-have-you has been reduced to mockery, regular ridicule here in the outer bush.  For no one here has much real panache with an x-acto, and those who do are neurotic enough to find a proper home for such tedium.  Additionally, the paper bags that have so sacrificially been offered to the luminary-topiary gods are nothing compared to the enormous bonfire Verna organized and lit just last weekend.

For this is Alaska, folks.  And while Martha Stewart will certainly be delivered once the little prepaid insert-card is mailed in and a check has followed, it is Sir Haste Wart who really finds a home in the rural Alaskan bush.  It’s Mart who rides the four-wheeler across the ice and plays skate-tag around a burning explosion of tree-sized logs; Mart asks for an Native Holiday when the sun finally shines in the middle of winter and Mart also punches holes in the ice to pull up a trout–or a minnow.  And even though Martha bakes cinnamon rolls in the kitchen, decorates a table with beaded ornaments, and makes the wreaths that hang on just about every door in the village, behind those doors live a whole village of Marts.  Mart Haste Warts.  And each one of us is trying to figure out exactly what to do with our inexpertly cut-out, sand-and-candle-filled Paper Bag Luminary.