Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What the heck is this?



  A few weeks back I was coming home from church when I noticed this unusual craft anchored in the bay off of Graveyard Island. I didn't know if it was a submarine, a boat or what. I was surprised a week or so later when I saw the same boat on the Anchorage news. It is named simply, A. According to the Sun Sentinel it is owned by a Russian billionaire  who named it after himself (Andrey Milnechenko, and his super model wife, Aleksandra. It is reported to be 394 feet long and having a price tag of a cool $300 million. I can think of other ways to spend $300,000,000.00. That's just the initial cost. As the owner of a boat that initially cost me a cool $16,000.00 I can promise, that no matter how much you spend on a boat, it will just be the beginning of sorrows. The difference between him and me is that he can afford to make the repairs. Oh, he may be a billionaire now, but by the time he gets done owning the boat, he'll most likely be in debt to some shipyard or another. From what I can gather, the boat interior is lined with, I believe shark hides, dyed white and the chairs are comprised of alligator hides and kudo horns. I think if I were to spend that kind of money on a boat, I'd want it to at least look good. This thing looks kind of goofy to me. He ought to at least have put some trolling poles on it. Then he could write it off on his taxes

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

You'll Get Through This


  Those who know me know that I can take the smallest of life's trials and blow them up into earth shaking, catastrophic events in my mind.  Fortunately I've been blessed with the ability to find humor in most of life's daily struggles. After my initial frustration or anger over an event has passed, I can turn it into a fairly humorous story. Losing six fish in a row to an aggressive sealion is terribly frustrating. The humor comes the next day when it surfaces with one of my flashers stuck to his head. Hopefully it will serve as a warning to any fish in the area. It would be better yet if it attracted other sealions thinking he had a fish and they all attacked him. Poetic justice I would say. In any event, whether it's losing money to predators or medical emergencies or children making choices that you know will not turn out good, we all have something unpleasant to deal with in this life. Jesus said it pretty plainly-" In this life you will have trouble, but fear not, for I have overcome the world." That's hard to remember when you're going through something unpleasant. If you are a believer, you start to wonder- "where is God in all of this? What possible good can come from______________." Fill in the blank. It just doesn't make sense. Last Saturday I went fishing with my daughter Jennifer. We had a good time, even though the morning didn't start out so great. I was angry and frustrated that I was unable to get some ice from the cold storage either Friday evening or Saturday morning. Oh, I could have gotten some if I had been patient and waited an extra thirty minutes or so, but time is money so I left without it. Anyway, though fishing started off slow, it started picking up as the afternoon wore on. We were catching cohos and some of them were pretty good sized. By 6:30 I figured we better get back to town before the cold storage closed so we could unload these fish. We were about two miles off the beach, well on our way into our hour and a half trip across Icy Strait when there was a tremendous loud bang, the boat shuddered and the engine started screaming. I didn't know what had happened. I slid the gear into neutral and looked around to see if we had slammed into a log that may have been partially submerged. No, nothing around. I put the boat in gear but a loud grinding sound was the only response. Not what I wanted, to be stuck in the middle of Icy Strait with darkness not far away and many of my friends already back in Hoonah. I was unable to reach any of the boats that I knew who would be large enough to tow me in. As it was, Bill Williams on the F/V Searcher, a man I didn't know, heard my call and stopped what he was doing to tow me in. It was a move that probably cost him more than a few fish and several hours of his time, to say nothing of the extra fuel. The bottom line is, I wasn't abandoned. God made sure of it. This past weekend my daughter Liz's husband had a bout of kidney stones that required several nights in the hospital and a stint in the emergency room. I'm sure that wasn't part of their plans for the weekend. "hey I've got an idea- why don't you suffer with kidney stones for a few days and take a little vacation in the hospital? It will be great!" Nope, don't think so. Doesn't sound like fun. Stuff like that never is, but life happens. In this book by Max Lucado he asks a rather profound question. Is God always good? When the outcome we're looking for doesn't happen, is He still good? Or is it only when we get what we want that He is? When the promotion or raise comes through. When the cancer is in remission or your son or daughter is accepted into the college they were hoping to go to.  Is he good when the transmission breaks down in the middle of a large body of water? Is he good when your job has dried up and the bills are piling up and you don't know where the next month's mortgage payment is going to come from? It's easy to say yes when everything is going well. Just recently Hoonah lost two of it's long time residents. Both had terminal cancer. If you were to ask their families if God was good, would they answer with a resounding YES!? I don't know. If I were facing that, would I answer yes? I'm not dealing with the death of a loved one right now. I hope I don't have to in the near future. What I do know is that in my life, God has been very good. When we left the farm He provided a place to stay and work so I could support my family. In multiple storms He's always brought me home safe. He plucked me from the icy waters of Lynn Canal after the plane I was in crashed one February day. Did I like listening to the silence of an airplane engine  as we descended down to the cold, pewter colored water below? Nope. When I heard the rescue helicopter coming to pick us up though, had anyone asked, I would have said, "you bet God is good." Right now I'm writing this from the comfort of my home. Liz's husband is on the mend, the part for my transmission is on it's way and He's even provided me a fellow in the harbor who knows his way around engines and transmissions and assorted other mechanical things. Anyway, the bottom line is, through all of our trials and problems, as the book states, with God's help, you'll get through this.












Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Walk With God



   I was perusing my large stack of paperwork today when I came across this picture. It is from the good folks at Radio Bible Class. I wish I had the name of the photographer. He did a delightful job. When I was living out at the farm there was a very different doctrine being preached than one that I could embrace and I was in constant turmoil mentally trying to wrap my head around what was being said and what I felt was reality for me. There was a small library in the tabernacle there. I can't recall ever seeing anything but religious titles there- no Alexander Dumas or Robert Fulgham or William Shakespeare for that matter. However, I happened to find a copy of Our Daily Bread, put out by  Radio Bible Class. When I looked through the devotional it was like someone turned on a light in a dark room. I understood and agreed with what was written in that pamphlet. When we left the farm I started receiving monthly copies of Our Daily Bread and have been supporting them ever since. However, this post isn't an advertisement for RBC, although I think everyone would benefit from their materials. I was looking at the statement in the picture- Walk With God. How profound. It should be incredibly simple, and I'm sure it is, except that so often I find that I don't want to. Well, that's not totally true, I do want to, but it's more like I want God to walk with me. I want to do what I want, and have Him bless it, whatever that may be. Guess what? It doesn't work that way! Even things that we might think are a good thing, like fishing in my case. "Well Lord, if you just bless this season, I'll have more money to give to charities." Seems like a good plan to me, but for what ever reason, it's not His plan right at the moment. It's not that He doesn't want to bless me, but He wants the blessing to come when I'm doing what He's got planned for me. Sometimes that's catching a boatload of fish, sometimes it's something else. Sometimes its something that I wouldn't view as a blessing at the moment, but I'm seeing with a very limited vision. Like He says In Isaiah 55:8 " My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are my ways your ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts and my ways than your ways."
  Walk With God. If we all took that statement seriously, how different would our world be? Would we be dealing with all the social ills that this world is experiencing? There's an awful lot of hate in the world, and unfortunately a lot of it is being generated by those who think they are walking with God, and perhaps they are, but it's not the same God who created this world. He's a creator, not a destroyer. He came to save people, not kill them if they didn't believe what He said. He made beaches and clouds and sunsets and water.... and us. Lets strive to walk with God. He's got the answers we need. It may not be what we want to hear all the time, but it's what we need. I'd like to end this post with my favorite verse. I've used it before in other blog posts, but we need to be encouraged, especially in difficult times. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future." Yes Lord, let your plans for us become reality here and now.




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Family Outing





      Jan and I took a Sunday drive recently.It was a Sunday, just not last Sunday.The weather was nice at the time- or perhaps it was sweltering and I felt the need to go cool off- I really can't recall. Anyway, a friend told us that this sow and her cubs were hanging out at Spasski River, so we thought we'd check it out. Initially I could see the sow in the bushes and I really didn't think that she would come out to where I could get a picture of her. However, she stepped out of the brush and started walking on a well worn path in our direction. In fact, several times she looked up at the bridge. It was a little unnerving. There were a few salmon in the stream, but not very many, and perhaps she was thinking that a much more filling meal was waiting to be harvested from the red truck that was up there idling. I kind of wanted to leave the truck and go take a peek to see what kind of salmon were finning in the river, but after she looked at me a second time, I opted not to leave the relative safety of the truck. Bears are surprisingly fast for their size. I saw a video once of a grizzly chasing down a deer across a mountain. It was eye opening. NEVER try to outrun a bear. It ain't gonna happen. Of course I can say that knowing full well that when I lived on the farm, Doug Courtney and I once ran from a young brown bear, which of course was the wrong thing to do. A lot of good having a twelve gauge shotgun was to me. Fortunately the bear was startled when  it saw me. Initially it was chasing Doug, and when he got to me, probably hoping that the bear would prefer a more tasty, plump meal, it stopped and stood up. That's when we both took off like a couple of scared little rabbits, laughing hysterically from the tension. Oh Lord, never a dull moment.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Human Condition


The Fairweather Mountain Range, outside coast
                                                          
Blue green glacial water in Idaho Inlet
  
The point I anchored behind in Idaho Inlet
















   I ran to the outside coast last week. Fishing on the inside has been almost non-existent. Well, at least the fish have been. What good is going fishing if you can't catch any fish? Granted it can be fun or relaxing or whatever you adverb you want to use to describe it, but when you're a commercial fisherman, you need to catch fish. That's the bottom line. Otherwise the adjective used to describe you is poor or perhaps destitute or penniless. Any of those would work. Anyway, I bit the bullet and ran out to the outside coast last week. I had to wait for a weather window. The week before I went out, the weather was terrible- day after day of westerlies. The ocean swells can really build up, and combined with the big tides and all the kelp and assorted other drift that gets caught in the currents, it can be a real challenge to stay on your feet and keep from running in to something, much less catch fish. Of course the guys who were up to the challenge did quite well. Most of them were pulling over 100 cohos a day-that was the poor fishermen. The guys who were good and had a crew hand were doubling that or more. Needless to say, I was chomping at the bit to get out there, but was too scared of the weather to go. Well, the winds finally died down so I went out. Unfortunately, not only had the winds slacked off, so had the fishing. The first day, which was really long, I only caught thirty one cohos. My back was killing me, so that I could hardly stand up long enough to clean them, and to make matters worse, the pain meds that I was convinced that I had when I left town were about gone. Wonderful! I was too late to get into Elfin Cove to buy any at the Elfin General Store, so I thought I'd just pick some up at the fish buying scow in Ewe Ledge. I pulled up and though the girls were sympathetic, even offering me whatever prescription drugs they had to alleviate the pain, they were out of the over the counter stuff. Of course. The next morning I ran to "the cove" and stocked up on Ibuprofen and Tylenol, butI lost half the day. When I quit that day I only had ten fish, hardly enough to pay for the fuel and the meds. To make matters worse, I noticed that the bilge pump was coming on about every fifteen minutes, something that can be a little unnerving in a wooden boat, far from land. Sooooo... I pulled the gear and ran through the pass, just beating the tide change. I had just made it through when the wind started blowing out of the west about twenty knots. With the tide running east and the wind blowing west, the waves were starting to get impressive. I hadn't planned on it, but I ended up turning into Idaho Inlet, where three of these pictures were taken. You can see in the second picture how green the water is. Usually that means it's being infiltrated with silt and colder water from the glaciers. Glacier Bay is only a few miles from Idaho Inlet, so it's not all that uncommon to have colder water there. However, the water in Icy Strait, all the way out to Cross Sound was about ten degrees colder than the water out  in the ocean. I guess that's why there are no fish on the inside. One of the whale watch boat captains was speculating on whether the earthquake we had a few weeks ago hadn't stirred up the silt and colder water up in Glacier Bay. Even the whales had departed their usual feeding grounds and were relocating down in Chatham Strait. Anyway, I was feeling sorry for myself for not being where the fish are and called a friend who has a bigger boat and a crew hand and almost always catches more fish than me. I assumed  he was going to say how many cohos he'd caught and how much money he'd made, which of course would really get next to me. As it was though, when I called, Fagan said that he was in five foot seas, he hadn't caught a fish yet and yesterday he had lost about sixty dollars worth of gear, plus about ten fish because of sea lions. I hate to say it, but my attitude improved dramatically when I heard about his troubles. As the old saying goes, misery loves company, and I'm here to testify that truer words were never spoken. It's the human condition.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

America's Finest




















   In a typical case of  computer ignorance, I managed to eradicate a number of the comments from a few of my previous posts. My apologies to the folks who took the time to write. I mistakenly had hit the not spam button when I was trying to delete some spam, and anyway, in trying to fix it, I took out the spam and comments that mattered. Regardless of the saying that ignorance is bliss, there are times when it's real pain in the butt to be stupid about certain matters. Oh well. Now on to the primary reason for this post. Needless to say, I'm incredibly proud of my two sons. In an age where so many Americans are only too happy to deliver a mediocre performance on the job, as long as they receive a paycheck, these men have excelled in their chosen fields. It's not because of the pay either. The military is not one of the professions you step in to expecting to make the big bucks. They both have a chest full of medals and honors for excellence. Hell, when I was in the navy I was just hoping to make it through  my four years and getting on with my life. I don't think either of these fellows are planning to make the military a career, which makes the dedication and hard work all the more admirable to me. I find it incredible that in an age when America has more enemies than at any other time since it's founding as a country, we have an administration that fails to see the need for a strong military. Instead, they are cutting back the military to pre-world war two numbers. They have apparently subscribed to the idea that you can reason with terrorists and madmen. Ask the folks on the flight that was shot down over Ukraine how that worked, or perhaps you could reason with ISIS, or the Taliban or Hamas. I have friends who, when they ask about the boys and I mention their military service, kind of disapprove. How nice for them that they can continue on  with their comfortable lives without having to worry about having the bloody hell bombed out of them. It's because of men like those above, who have taken up the mantle of excellence in their willingness to defend this country that we Americans can sleep in safety at night. The men and women of my father's generation went to war, not because they wanted to, but to protect the freedoms that we as Americans hold so dearly. I have a license plate on the front of my truck that states what should be obvious to everyone. It states simply, Freedom isn't Free. It's bought by the blood and sacrifices made by those in our military and their families. It sure as hell isn't paid for by politicians who want to talk their way to peace. I hope that if you meet up with a member of our military, you'll shake their hand and say thanks. It's the least we can do for those who are fighting for our  country.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jen's House of Chickens

















  For reasons unknown to dolts such as I am, there has been an upsurge of  interest in our fair town in the lowly chicken. I'm not quite certain who first started this latest fad, but there is a lady in town who apparently has something like a hundred of the blasted things, and seems to be gaining a few disciples who are like minded. I know the guy down the street had a coop built that would be suitable for living in yourself if there were a source of heat, a bed and perhaps a little entertainment. It's pretty much the deluxe version of chicken coops. Perhaps if these fancy homes for fowl catch on, there will be a special slot for them on H G TV. The guy with the fancy coop wasn't satisfied with just having chickens; in short order he decided to get some turkeys too. Hmmm... so far no problem...yet. Jen isn't so lucky. Her neighbor, Chicken Lady's mother, the big hen, rather liked the idea of having chickens as well, so  she's got a dozen of so running around. The problem is that her lawn is so overgrown that the birds can't move around, so naturally they gravitate to the path of least resistance, which in this case is my daughter Jennifer's yard. So far they've managed to peck out a handful of plants from her garden as well as dig hollows in the dirt so they can nest comfortably.  They also discovered her massive fir tree in the front yard and are using it to roost at night. Lovely. The thing that endears them to her the most though is that, like all mammals, they produce waste. She stepped out into her yard barefooted the other morning right into a half dozen droppings. She spoke to her neighbor once already, but so far to no avail. She did mention it to the local wildlife trooper as well, and while they may not be technically considered wildlife, they are running wild, and he said she should feel free to pop them with a pellet gun. I told her to buy a box of chicken wings from the Chipper Fish and go visit her neighbor while she munches down on the wings. Some people need a little more than a friendly reminder. Fortunately for the chickens she's too kind to do that. I, of course, am not that kind. I brought my fancy chicken hat over to Jen the other day to see if she could lure them back to their own yard, kind of like the Pied Piper of Hamlin. While they did seem to be somewhat entertained by the hat, they stayed firmly planted in her yard. It's so much nicer than theirs. Perhaps we should contact the fellows at Duck Dynasty to see if they make chicken calls. It might be a new lucrative market for them. While writing this post, I noticed that Jen appears to look somewhat like she is wearing a small war bonnet, much like the native Americans used to wear on the war path. No doubt if the natives had been wearing chicken hats such as the one modeled above, the white man would never have had a chance at conquering them. They would have been too busy laughing and would have been easy targets. Another lesson learned too late. Ah well.