Sunday, May 12, 2013
If you follow this blog you'll notice that I haven't been posting quite as often as I'd like to. It's that time of year and I have to spend my time getting the boat ready. My most recent project has been an aluminum mast that I bought three or four years ago from my friend Barbie. She owns the F/V Talache, a nice double -ended troller that she purchased from my friend Buffalo Bob. Buff had the aluminum mast made to replace the wooden one that was originally on the boat. When I bought it I noticed that there were no cleats to tie the lines up and no ladder to access the mast light on top. I asked Buffalo about it when I spoke to him a few weeks ago. He said that he had just signed the papers for the boat over to Barbie and was in the process of putting her check in his billfold when the top three feet of the wooden mast broke off and fell onto the top house while they were talking on the float. He didn't feel like he could take the money with a good conscience, so he ordered a mast with only the cross tree and a place to hook up the antennas. He wasn't about to spend more than he had to on things like a ladder or cleats. Anyway, I didn't have the money to work on the mast until this year, so it sat in my daughter Jen's yard for several years. One of the local fellows here, John Murray, agreed to do the work for me, which I'm most thankful for. Finding qualified help is a real challenge in Hoonah. There are a number of people who say that they can do something and really can't, and then there are those who really can do something, but they won't, so I feel especially blessed that John is both willing and able to do the work I needed. For the past week or so I've spent a fair amount of time talking to him and I've come to find out that he is an especially fascinating man, though he would most likely brush off any such talk. The only reason I have a picture of him at all is that I caught him off guard as he was walking by. He doesn't want anyone to make a fuss over him. I've discovered in our talks that he is fiercely conservative in his political views, something that wouldn't seem to mesh with the fact that he was a college professor at the University of Fairbanks where he taught physics. One of things that I really like about John is that I can ask him a question about anything, physics for instance, which I know almost nothing about, and he will answer the question without any attitude of superiority or whatever. He doesn't look down on my ignorance, and though he claims that he wasn't a good teacher, I wish I could have sat under him in a class. I believe I would have learned a lot. He grew up in Waldport Oregon, along the coast. He was named after his father who I believe he said was named Edward. However he didn't want to be Edward Murray Jr., so when he was five he announced that he was going to change his name to John and so he became. He explained that his parents more or less gave him free reign in his life and though the name change hurt his father, he let it stand. When he graduated high school he and a friend caught a freight train up to Tacoma and then bummed a ride to Montana where he spent the summer working on the railroad, laying track and replacing the ties with the gandy dancers, a tough group of fellows to be sure. When he was twenty he worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a smoke jumper. Those are the fellows who jump out of airplanes to fight fires in remote locations. Somewhere along the line he realized that the options for a young man in Waldport were limited- either work in the woods as a logger, work in the lumber mill or go to college. He opted for college and obviously was good enough to earn a degree in physics and became a college professor. His interests and abilities are diverse. He's owned and flown three different airplanes, he was owner of a concrete company, started a company that built two dozen log homes up in the Fairbanks area in the summers when school was out, and he says when he retired at UAF he became a certified sewer inspector. He claims that all you need to know is that crap flows downhill and is thankful that he got an education that would allow him to learn that. At least one day a week he teaches karate at the school to a diverse group of kids and himself is holder of a third degree black belt. Just this past week he turned seventy five and shows no sign of slowing down. His shop out back is filled with all manner of tools, many of which he's gotten from his grandfather. There are tools I've never seen before in my life and John knows what each one is for and where he acquired it. I've been around guys who love tools, and a good many of them won't even let you touch them. That's not the case with John. He's offered the use of his shop and tools and his talents and to say that he's a darn rare gem in this day and age is an understatement. Needless to say that every time I glance at the mast when I'm out fishing I'm going to think of John Murray and hopefully pray a blessing over him, and I firmly believe that he's going to be blessed because what goes around comes around. It's the old law of sewing and reaping. Thanks a lot John.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Doing a blog post should be a fairly simple thing, and no doubt for most people it is, but keep in mind that it's me we're talking about here, so nothing comes easy. I've tried unsuccessfully for the past hour to get these pictures to download in the proper order. As you can see, they aren't arranged in a way that would make sense. I wanted the last picture to line up at about the same spacing as the previous two, but noooooo... that's not about to happen. Then when I tried to type the text, it automatically started to underline everything and all the words were in blue. I have no idea why. It's become the normal now. I don't know why it does it and I don't know what I do to make it stop, but somehow it magically does. I wish I knew what I did to make it stop so that I could do it next time, but I'm an old guy and things concerning computers don't come easily to me. Oh well. C'est la vie. I think that's French for that's life. Maybe it really means you're a bonehead and whenever someone who doesn't speak French says it, all the folks who do speak it secretly laugh. As you can see by the pictures above that what we have here is a barbeque grill. The one that I bought umpteen years ago has pretty much worn out. It was a two burner model and actually served me quite well until recently. The one pictured has four burners, which probably means that it will go through the propane twice as fast. Perhaps the makers of the grill have stock in the propane company. That would make sense- a little double dipping so to speak. I'll tell you frankly, I'm not a very handy guy. Even in grade school when the teacher would give us a project that was supposed to be fun or neat, I always managed to flub it up. If glue, scissors, pencils and papers were involved, I would somehow manage to cut the paper in the wrong place, jam the pencil through the handle in the scissors and glue the whole mess to the desk. I've never been good at following directions. It was no different trying to put together this grill. Most of the time the manufacturer of a product wants the customer to succeed in their efforts to put the product together. No one ever says, " hey, I've got an idea. Let's try the Botts method, that way never works!" I kind of knew that there was going to be trouble right from the start. I purchased the grill in Juneau and had to have some help loading it on the back of the truck. When I got home, it was snowing a blizzard and I had to get the grill off the truck so the groceries I bought wouldn't get ruined. Of course there was no one in sight to help me, so I had to unload it myself. Let me tell you, that puppy was heavy! It was so blasted big that I couldn't see where I was going with it, so I stumbled in the direction of the front porch and set it down there, knocking off a potted plant in the process. I managed to wrench my back and spent the next day hobbling around like an invalid. Sunday I spent the whole day in my easy chair with a massager that has what feels like large iron balls rotating inside. It's supposed to help, but I think I may have ended up with bruises instead. After I recovered sufficiently a few days later I tackled the grill project. The box just barely fit through the door. Then I had to unload enough parts to assemble a fifty- seven Chevy. I followed the directions as closely as I could and I still had problems. I put together and took apart one piece four times. By the time I assembled it for the last time all the screw heads were pretty well stripped and the paint that is meant to protect them was gone. Now when I set the contraption outside it will thoroughly rust and look like crap in a matter of days. Go figure. As I started to take parts out of the box, which incidentally was the size of a small garage, it quickly became apparent that I would have to separate them so I could find what I needed at the proper juncture. I ended up with parts in three different rooms. I walked over a quarter of a mile, back and forth just assembling that grill. I finally got it all put together, and I think it's done right, but I don't know yet; it's still in the living room. I suppose I should invite the Hoonah volunteer fire department over for a cook out the first time I go to light it off, just in case. I'll suggest they bring the fire trucks and come dressed ready for action. If it really works after I hook up the propane, I may send off for a life sized replica of the space shuttle, ready to assemble. After all, how much harder can it be?
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Well, here I am... up at the library again. My new laptop is over at Bricks Electronics in Juneau getting a GPS program installed and my PC is still on the way down from Wasilla. My daughter says that she sent it several days ago. I hope she insured it, or I may never see my beloved computer again. Anyway, I'm sitting here trying to use a library computer. The librarian says that the computer is Julian- my favorite, but the monitor says Amos. I don't like that idea very well. I'd rather have Julian mated up with the Bertha monitor, but when I tried using Bertha it wouldn't co-operate. Oh well. Like the saying goes, people in hell want ice water too.
The calendar says it's spring, but yesterday we had a few inches of snow falling in blizzard like conditions. I guess the birds don't know any better because they've been showing up just like it was spring. I suppose that the desire to procreate outweighs the need for food, at least for awhile. I hear Robins singing, but I don't see them anywhere. There doesn't appear to be any worms out- they have a tendency to stay in the ground when there is snow on top. Surprisingly the Hummingbirds are here. Fortunately there are a number of folks here in town who have feeders for them or there would be little Hummingbird carcasses all over the ground. As you can see from the upper pictures, the eagles are doing a little scavenging along the beach front. Apparently someone brought in some black cod and the cold storage ground it up. It's a favorite food for the crows and ravens and eagles this time of year.
When I was a kid I went with my brother to see a movie by Alfred Hitchcock, the premier producer of scary movies when I was young. The movie was called The Birds and it was fairly unsettling. One scene showed a bunch of school kids running from the school building to somewhere safer I guess. They were moving flat out down a hill like a herd of buffalo with terrified looks on their faces and in the background there was all kinds of destruction brought on by the birds, that for whatever reason had gone ballistic and were killing people and tearing up the town. For some unknown reason, perhaps it was a release of pent up fear, I started laughing hysterically at the sight of those kids. My brother looked at me in horror and was poking my side and whispering for me to be quiet. Everyone else in the theatre was gasping and covering their eyes and I'm laughing my head off. I know I embarrassed him. I don't think he ever took me to a movie again; I'm not sure why. In any event, if the birds of the world ever go rogue again, I'm fairly certain I'll be safe. I've been feeding them all winter.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Advertising is a big business in this country. No matter what you're trying to sell, from books to laxatives, a little advertising can go a long way in helping the bottom line. Unfortunately so much of what is advertised comes with a disclaimer of some sort. You see it a lot in those lawyers ads where they're trying to get you to sue some drug company or in the ads for selling gold or silver or any number of other things. The main message is huge and there at the bottom of the TV screen in print so fine that you have to sit on top of the television to even see it is the disclaimer. Then, unless you're a speed reader of uncommon ability they whisk the message off before you can read it. It seems to be the American way anymore. It didn't used to be this way. America used to lead the world in integrity. The words, Made In America were something that was sought after. It meant you were getting a quality product. Unfortunately, in many instances the bottom line has meant more than having a good name. I've personally experienced several situations where I had work done on my vehicle or boat and paid a bundle for it only to experience the same problem that I had just paid to get fixed. It's terribly frustrating. Commercial air travel is another issue with me. In order to squeeze more dollars out of each flight, the airlines are putting more seats in the same amount of space, thus crowding all the passengers together, making everyone's experience one that they wish they could forget. I'm mentioning all this because just yesterday I finally got around to opening a box that Dennis Rush had sent along with the gurdies that he had repaired. Enclosed was the poster above, as well as an invoice and a detailed description of all the work that he had done to the gurdies. Not only that, but he enclosed two tubes of food grade grease to use to grease the gurdies, as well as some spare nuts and bolts and extra O-rings for the valves. Do you realize how unusual that this kind of service has become? Before sending the gurdies to me he had called and asked if I needed any fishing gear from one of the fishery supply stores because I could save some money. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty! I gave him a call and thanked him yesterday. I hope that with every fish I land using those gurdies that I remember the care and skill and integrity that went into repairing them and that I treat those fish like the professional I'm supposed to be so that by the time they reach the dinner table, whoever partakes of this Alaskan seafood will be blessed, like I have been by Mr. Rush.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Last November I had the uncommon foresight to send down my gurdies for a complete overhaul. They had gotten so bad that I was unable to pull in the trolling lines without physically helping the wire wind on to the reels. The forward gurdy is supposed to haul up a fifty pound cannon ball plus all the other gear and the after gurdy is used to pull in a thirty five pound cannonball as well as a float bag and all the gear. According to the doctor I have a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder, so man handling this gear on board isn't really an option. In any event, I sent these gurdies down to Oregon to D R Machine. The owner, Dennis Rush has a reputation for doing a good job working on troll gurdies. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw them. As you can see, they're like brand new- only better. I'm really pleased with the work he did. The boys have been wanting to see a picture of these since I got them back, so fella's this one's for you. Hope you get a chance to try them out soon.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Those unfamiliar with this area might look at these three pictures and wonder what they could possibly have in common. Well for one, all three pictures were taken from the playground area down near the harbor, but more than that, all three scenes depict things that have seen better days. If I remember correctly, the boat is named the Miss Andrea. It used to belong to a couple young fellows whom I believe were carpenters. They got the fishing bug back in the late seventies or early eighties and used to troll in some of the same areas I did when I owned my fourteen foot Hi-Laker skiff. I don't believe they were much more successful than I was and eventually had sense enough to get out of the fishing business and do what they knew best, which I'm sure paid considerably more. As you can see, the boat has been parked for quite some time without the benefit of a cover to keep the constant rains off, and the end result is that mold and moss have grown on the surface. I suppose if I sat out in the rain long enough without sufficient cover I'd start to mold too. Nothing like the passing of time to re-arrange the order of the universe. In the morning when I get up I wonder if I've been re-arranged. I go through a check list to see if everything that I'm suppose to have is still there and I haven't grown anything extra during the night or lost something that I went to bed with. Let's see- age spots? Check. Big gut? Check. Moles? Check. All things I could do without, but they're part of me now so I guess I'm still alive. Some years back I woke up one day and had two moles on my stomach instead of one. I freaked out! My god, it's multiplying. Whatever it was,was with me for a week or two and then I was absent mindedly scratching my gut one day and it fell off. I freaked out again! I found out later that it wasn't really a mole, but some other unwanted appendage. I wish I could get rid of all my unwanted blemishes that easily.
The float in the second picture hasn't been used for years to the best of my knowledge. I see that there's some piece of equipment on the end, so it's possible that one of the local families used it as a platform to yard trees out of the woods years ago when they were logging. Perhaps it's the same one they built and took to Spasski Bay so that they could tie up to it and work on their boats or clean fish, although I think that one sank right in the bay quite some time ago. I remember coming into Spasski back when I lived on the farm. I had been out fishing on a lumpy day and my main motor had quit, right when I needed it most. A storm was brewing and I couldn't get the big engine to start. The waves were threatening to shove me onto the reefs, so I managed to start my little kicker and motor into the bay. There was an old hermit of a fisherman named Frank living there who had a float that he tied his boat to. He had a black Lab named Blackie that used to use the float for his personal toilet. I can't blame the dog, he couldn't very well use the bucket. Anyway, when I pulled up to the float I was afraid to tie up. Almost every inch was covered in dog droppings- and it was a pretty big float. He had been using it for so long that grass was growing on top of the planks. I guess if the dog had lived long enough he would have had his own personal lawn.
I included the bottom picture because it is the most scenic of the three, but it too has seen better days. Though it's not as evident from this shot, there was extensive logging done on the mountain and the area surrounding it. As I've mentioned before, I don't mind logging. Trees provide lumber and paper, including toilet paper, which I'm quite fond of. I would imagine that corn cobs would be difficult to flush and would have a tendency to clog the plumbing. I wish that a more balanced approach had been used when the powers that be had decided to log the area. Hopefully lessons have been learned and the next go around will be a little more well thought out. Anyway, that's what I've got for today. Hope you all have a great day.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Jen came for a visit the other night. Apparently she had picked up a cold when she went to Juneau last week. Nothing like being crammed into a confined space with hundreds of other folks to test the old immune system. I hadn't seen much of her recently so I kind of wanted to talk to her and show her what I was doing with the new book and get some input. I knew that she was sick, so before she arrived I grabbed out a large bottle of Cran-raspberry juice for her to take home. I guess it's full of vitamin C or some such thing. Then I got to thinking, maybe I should get a mask for her to wear so I don't catch her cold. She thought that was funny, but she didn't wear it, maybe because it was a dust mask like you'd use when sanding sheet rock and not one like doctors and nurses wear. I guess if a doctor wanted to do a little construction around his house he'd have a ready store of surgical supplies on hand and wouldn't have to worry about running to the hardware store when he was in the middle of a project. I wonder if surgeons ever take any tools of the trade home to do a little fancy work on the vegetables. I would think a scalpel would be the ticket if you wanted to make a rose out of radishes.
In any event, I had a little time to think about the kind of things that would be good to have on hand if you have a cold. Then I thought, wouldn't it be nice if there were ready made baskets that you could give to your sick friends and family members? You could buy the economy basket, with a twelve ounce bottle of orange juice, a two pack of aspirin and a travel size package of Kleenex. That would be for someone that you want to know that you're thinking about them, but you're not going to go broke trying to make them feel better. There would be the medium size basket, with a tin of aspirin or Tylenol, a quart size bottle of OJ, a mid-sized box of Puffs tissues, a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup and a jar of Vicks Vapo-rub. You might buy this for a boss that you like but don't want to give the appearance of being a brown- noser. Then there's the deluxe basket for someone you really love and want to feel better... like yourself. There would be a quart of OJ, a quart of Cranberry juice, a fifth of Smirnoff vodka ( in case the juice isn't getting the job done) a family size box of extra soft tissues, a bottle of Nyquil, a couple of boxes of Mrs. Grasses deluxe chicken noodle soup, some Laurel and Hardy movies to help you forget how miserable you are,a Costco sized bottle of Ibuprofen and a hundred count package of fruit flavored cough drops. If you're really feeling strung out and wimpy you could get the basket with all of the above plus the optional box of Depends, just in case it's too much effort to get up and move around. I should probably contact a few of the big pharmacies like CVS or Walgreen's to see if they would be interested in carrying the SICK PACK's. No doubt folks everywhere will soon be wanting one.