The Gaede-80 Homestead with narrow, rooted trails and backwoods of black spruce, the cold Cook Inlet beach with rocks and shells, and trips into Interior Alaska nurture my soul. At the same time, wide open spaces, prairies, fields of wheat or sunflowers, calves gamboling beside their grazing mamas, and lazy sunsets over the mountains bring a smile to my face. Daily doses of sunshine while walking my dog lift my spirits and generate energy.
I collect word pictures and rocks. I love a good hamburger with yellow mustard. I listen to Tim McGraw, Exile, Diamond Rio, Alison Krause, Ronnie Milsap, the Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama, and Motown. I'd be happy to hike every weekend, and I've climbed two of Colorado's 14ner mountains (mountains over 14,000 feet.) I can't imagine living without a piece of land—see my Alaska Cabin.
I have moved 23 times in my life and still become restless when I live anywhere very long. At the same time, my moving life has made me adaptable.
I find satisfaction in using my natural bents and working alongside people with similar goals. I’m a team player and naturally build relationships, accomplish much, and have fun in the process!
I have small and large projects. I'm the editor of our monthly neighborhood newsletter, the Idyllwilde Intel. If I'd lived in earlier centuries, I'd have been a Town Crier, walking the streets and calling out news!
I'm pleased to be a columnist in The Country Register, Kansas. There are Country Registers in most U.S. states and several Canadian provinces. It's fun to see which other Registers pick up my columns. In my "Prescriptions for Adventures" column you can find mini-stories, recipes, and questions to reflect on.
I also have a blog!
New Book! It's my mother's turn to tell her side of the story. "The Bush Doctor's Wife" focuses on Ruby Leppke Gaede, during our family's two years (1957 – 1959) in Tanana, Alaska, a small Athabascan Indian village, along the Yukon River. The village is accessible only by air, when the weather is suitable, and by boat when the river is not frozen.
My mother was an adventurer, not by choice, but by the roles and environment in which she found herself. The book will immerse the reader in remote village life, show Ruby's daily life (ordering food for a year, keeping a toddler from falling into the river, often cooking without fresh produce, baking several days a week, instigating a satisfying and often amusing social life), as well as bring the reader alongside Ruby to experience her longing for family, farm, and familiarities at her home place in Kansas.
All my previous four non-fiction Alaska books take a pass through Tanana, but don't assume you’ve heard all the stories. This book includes flashbacks of how my parents met in Kansas, their struggle to provide for basic needs through farming, and the incentive for my father to leave his traditional Mennonite farming roots and pursue medicine, which ultimately led to Alaska. I've carefully saved surprises and laughter for my faithful, and new, readers.
My first serious writing efforts were for a church newsletter and then an inner city ministry.
My first published material was a short Christmas reflection published in the December 1981 issue of "The Christian Leader." I was paid $25 — and felt like a real writer.
My first book was Memories & Meals. In 1983, a group of us put together the recipes and history of Deer Creek Christian Camp, Bailey, Colorado. Word processing was just coming into existence. Typing and retyping was the mode of operation. The software "publisher" was unheard of. I placed every perfectly typed page on the floor around my living and dining room to figure out which page would be right and which one left. Today, Memories & Meals is the only history of the camp. I still have requests to purchase the book, of which there are no available copies for sale. If another collaborative effort were to be ignited, I'd be happy to work on that project.
Since that time, I've been published in newspapers, magazines, and books. (full writing credits)
What launched me into bookwriting? My father hand-scribbled some of his flying, hunting, and medical adventures. I chose one and shaped it with a lead, setting, character description, tension, and dialog. Then I submitted it to Alaska Flying magazine. It was accepted. I chose, shaped, and submitted another. It was accepted. Why not branch out? I sent his stories and some of my own articles to Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, The Christian Leader, Christian Medical Society, and other publications. They were accepted. Having accumulated a handful of Alaska stories, I naively thought that writing a book wouldn't be much more difficult. I was inexperienced. I was enthusiastic. I was a hard worker. I was persistent.
Writing a book is far more intense than writing an article. It requires seeing the entire project, conceptualizing how chapters will fit together, working with flashbacks to give the back story and to stall the climax, yet not losing the reader. Too much and too little detail needs to be weighed. The entire book needs to be balanced with the same amount of time allocated to elements in each chapter. Individual chapters have to be thoughtfully crafted within the carefully strategized book.
In 1991, Rx (prescription) for Adventure: Bush Pilot Doctor was born. Since that time, it has been through four revisions and re-publications. It's definitely a fasten-your-seat-belt type book and readers keep buying it.
What are my specific challenges as a writer? There are many:
- To piece together a story from my parents' letters that were written starting in 1943.
- To sort out information that I find intriguing, but is not necessary for the story.
- To not over-repeat information, flashbacks, or stories among the books.
- To develop a strategy for the series.
- To put together a Critique Group that asks suitable clarifying questions, understand good writing technique and style, and offers options on slant or development of the story.
There are many prescriptions for adventure. In the Prescription for Adventure series, there are prescriptions of:
- Rural and wilderness medicine
- Bush flying
- Rural and wilderness teaching
- Living in a remote Alaska village
- Leaving a familiar close-knit culture and venturing to a mysterious destination - away from family and friends
- Relocating frequently
- Using personality gifts, experience, and education for the service of humankind
- Fulfilling the role of mother and wife within adverse situations
- Exhilaration and humor of facing adversities in Alaska
What are your prescriptions?
- Using your natural abilities and individual passions with the result of an adventure?
- Doing something outside your comfort zone?
- Exploring the unknown? Wilderness, mountain top, ocean, third-world country, inner city?
- Living in an environment conducive to adventures?
- Taking on physical feats with unknown outcome?
- Trying something new?
Here are some of my adventures.
Articles Published in the Peninsula Clarion
- 2001, "The Red Baron and the Flying Gator."
- 2001, "What Float Plane Passengers Need to Know."
- 2001, "First Snow: Brother Determines Start of Family Tradition."
- May 13, 2001, "You'll Find Her in the Garden."
- Dec 17, 2000, "Sun Worshippers."
- Click on Archives
- From the Year drop down menu, select the appropriate year
- Under Search Author, type "Naomi Gaede Penner"
- Under Search Keywords, type the name of the article
Other Articles Published
- 2006, "Sourdough Memories: Going Home to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula," Go World Travel
- Mar 2000, "No Ordinary Day" (Excerpted from Prescription for Adventure: Bush Pilot Doctor), Selected for the Third Annual Central Peninsula Writer's Night.
- Apr 1989, "Flight by Faith," Moody Monthly.
- Spring 1989, "Bush-Pilot Doctor in the Last Frontier," Christian Medical Society.
- Nov 1987, "Learning to Fly...Can Open Unusual Doors," Alaska Flying.
- Feb 8, 1987, "Bush Doctor," "We, Alaskans." Fairbanks News-Miner.
- Feb 1987, "The Flying Physician: Rx for Excitement," Alaska Flying.
- Dec 1986, "No Ordinary Day," Alaska Flying.
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center
This large acreage near Girdwood is fun and educational for the entire family - and more so with a guide to tell stories about how the animals found home at the Center. Animals come to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center because they are abandoned at a young age or injured in the wild. With consent from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, animals are cared for and given a permanent home at AWCC. Check their website for feeding schedules and guided tours.
Islands & Oceans Visitor Center
If you’re in the Homer area with your family, be sure and stop at this Center. You might want to check ahead for the short education maritime videos or nature walks. There are interactive exhibits and a gift shop with a large assortment of nature and history books.
Soldotna Homestead Museum
This compact historic log village includes the last territorial school built in 1958, small cabins with homestead artifacts, and a large building with wildlife mounts against a natural habitat background mural. Growing around the Museum's grounds are a variety of local flowers and berries. The dynamic Soldotna Historical Society curator will hold your attention with the details and stories of early homesteading. This is a must-experience for children as well as adults.
Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral
When I got weathered into Kodiak after the Alaska Historical Society and Alaska Museums in 2019, I wasn’t disappointed. A fellow attendee and I walked in the rain and fog to a service at the Russian Orthodox church, which was established in 1794 by a mission of Russian Orthodox monks. Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral is the oldest Orthodox parish in North America. It is also the home of North America's first canonized Saint, Saint Herman of Alaska, the Wonderworker. The service left a lasting impression on me; that of true humility and worship of God, as experienced through the reading of scripture, chanting, and four-part harmony choir responses. The small congregation accepted us warmly, even though we didn’t know the protocol.
Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral
When I got weathered into Kodiak after the Alaska Historical Society and Alaska Museums in 2019, I wasn't disappointed. A fellow attendee and I walked in the rain and fog to a service at the Russian Orthodox church, which was established in 1794 by a mission of Russian Orthodox monks. Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral is the oldest Orthodox parish in North America. It is also the home of North America's first canonized Saint, Saint Herman of Alaska, the Wonderworker. The service left a lasting impression on me; that of true humility and worship of God, as experienced through the reading of scripture, chanting, and four-part harmony choir responses. The small congregation accepted us warmly, even though we didn't know the protocol.
Kasilof Museum and Historic Park
Tucked inside our raincoats, a friend and I explored the Kasilof Museum and historical buildings, which had interpretive displays and artifacts. Each building had been brought to the part and reassembled to provide an authentic viewing. It was well worth the chill and dampness to spend time exploring the indoors and outdoors "museum."
Simon Paneak Memorial Museum
The several times I have visited Anaktuvuk Pass, I have felt as though I'm walking on sacred ground and into a history book. In 1959, my father, Dr. Elmer Gaede, flew into the Pass, located in the Brooks Range, to do a medical assessment of the nomadic group of Nunimuit Eskimos. Our family friend and schoolteacher, Anna Bortel, accompanied him to conduct an educational assessment. It has been my privilege and honor to capture and document some of the indigenous people's voices and experiences in "'A' is for Anaktuvuk: Teacher to the Nunamiut Eskimos, which is carried in the museum's book section.
Small, crowded plane to get to Unalaska. Wind. Remote. A single large Safeway warehouse is the one general store. Canneries. Limited places to eat. Try a B&B rather than the one expensive hotel. Most amazing to me? Tide pools rich in starfish. Hiking on treeless terrain and without the fear of predators. History. Remnants of WWII.