Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Where does the time go?

   Have you ever sat down at the end of the day and asked yourself, "Where does the time go?"  It's something that happens with more frequency as I get older. I used to rush around like a madman doing this and that, looking forward to the next project, but not so much any more. I move a lot slower now, and if I don't have something that needs done right away, I'm pretty much ok with that for awhile. The problem is, I have all kinds of projects that need done, at least right now, but either I don't have the time or the energy. or something of equal or greater importance pops up that takes precedence. Case in point. Today is the last day of the summer troll season. I had planned on possibly going over to Homeshore for one last hurrah, but instead, I had to take the truck up to have a diagnostic test done on it. Par for the course, the mechanic said-" this is the only vehicle I've  ever checked that this tester won't read." Go figure. Last week my daughter borrowed my truck. When she returned it, it didn't work right any more. Now, I don't really believe that what happened is her fault, it was just  her luck, much like my own, that it decided to go belly up while she was using it. I have a friend who listened to the truck and determined that it needed new plugs, wires and a distributor cap and rotor. For less than $100.00 in parts, my truck was supposed to run like new again.... only it doesn't. I'm not too mechanically inclined, so my friend was doing the work at no cost. Well, I can't very well go inside and work on something that I need to do while he's helping me, so I spent about six hours fiddling around in the rain trying to lend moral support. That of course put me behind in other projects.  My wife is off visiting her mother, so I have to take care of the dog- that's another few hours every day just trying to reason with him. He's a tremendous drain on my time and energy, needing to go outside to the potty at least four times a day. I wanted to work on something else yesterday, but it was finally sunny after a week or more of rain, so I had to stop and mow the blasted lawn, but of course I couldn't just do that, I had to go on turd patrol first; so here I am, an old, grey haired, 62 year old man waltzing around in knee high grass with a garden trowel in one hand and plastic grocery bag in the other looking for poop. This is what my life has been reduced to. When I finally got done with the scavenger hunt, it was time to crank up the lawn mower; well, almost. I mow the lawn of the abandoned house next door in an attempt to keep vermin from making a home there and eventually migrating to my yard. Because the lawn is nice, the neighbors behind me use it as a place to play and store stuff that they may want to find in the next week or so. As a result, I have to toss toys, blankets, pallet boards and assorted and sundry other things back into their yard. That all takes time. The mowing itself is a monumental task, especially in tall, wet grass. I have a self-propelled lawn mower, but the belt that makes it self-propelled is broken, so it's like pushing a 200 lb engine on square wheels uphill. So far I've avoided having a heart attack, but it's only God's grace I'm sure. Of course I have to eat, or I think I do anyway. When I'm out fishing I don't mind opening up a can of corned beef hash or popping a Hungry Man dinner in the oven, but when I'm home, I'd prefer real food. With Momma Jan gone, and the dog being totally useless as a chef, I have to cook for myself. With the prep time and the actual cooking, there goes another hour or more. I don't  have any paper plates, so I have to wash the dishes, another time consuming chore. So, as you can see, twenty four hours a day isn't enough to accomplish all that needs done. Between the cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of the dog, paying the bills, shopping, working on the truck, the boat, the lawn, the tool room, attending to my hygiene, tending to my other bodily functions and other unexpected tasks, I feel like I'm always behind. As I've said before and I'll say again, it's no picnic being me. It's a full time job and the pay isn't that great!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My Friend is Dying

    My friend is dying and I'm sad about that. In the past few weeks we've had three people pass away here in Hoonah. Two were pretty well advanced in years, one was my age or perhaps a little younger. All three succumbed to cancer. It's the same thing that is working its way through my friend's body. I believe it started in the pancreas and has moved through the uterus and other internal organs. She is dealing with a colostomy and has shaved her head, I suppose because her hair was falling out in patches because of chemo.She writes a blog and has included all of this factual information in it, as if it were happening to someone else and she were just an observer, recording the facts. Up until now she has been very strong, very stoic, at least outwardly, but her last post revealed  a sorrow that  has been kept private. Frankly, I'm glad that she shared some of her feelings. As human beings we sometimes hurt. We get scared or lonely or sad. We need each other to share our feelings with, to know that someone out there in this cold, indifferent world does care about us. More than the three folks who have passed away, this lady's illness has had quite an impact on me. We're friends, but not real close. Jan and I had dinner with her and her husband once, a meal I still remember. She had cooked clam chowder and I was so afraid I might not be able to choke it down- I hate clams. As it was, I had two bowls, and might have had three if I weren't afraid of appearing to be a horrible glutton. She's an incredible cook, but that's only one of her assets. She's worked in the medical field and in mines. She's a great writer and has the gift of putting you right into the scene of whatever she's writing about. She's fiercely independent and loves solitude. At one point in her life she lived down  Chatham Strait in a little hole in the wall harbor called Warm Springs Bay. She just recently purchased some property in Freshwater Bay and I believe she intended to build a cabin there in the woods. I'm not sure that she would have stayed, she never seemed to light in one place too long, always desiring to be deeper into the woods, to a place more remote. I'm struggling with the fact that she's so young, in her fifties I believe, and that her plans and hopes for the future have been dashed. She's leaving behind three daughters and though they're all adults, I'm sure she'd like to see how their lives will play out, to share in their joys and provide comfort in their times of sorrow. Barring the second coming of Christ, we're all going to die some time. Most of us know that, we just don't have an idea on any given day when that might be. With pancreatic cancer, the time is always short. I'm not sure how I would react if given the same diagnosis. It doesn't seem fair that some folks blessed with an abundance of talent or good will or kindness can pass through this life so quickly, and others whom I would deem less than worthy of long life seem to go on and on. It makes no sense to me, but I have to believe that God knows exactly what He's doing and what we can't begin to understand, He does. If we could peek into the future and see the wisdom of what He is doing, our questioning would seem quite out of place. A few years ago I had another friend who had cancer. It was brain cancer, and when she told me it was terminal, I rather glibly said, "we're all terminal." That's true. From the day we're born we start dying. It's the time in between that matters. Let's live our lives in such a manner that when we go people will mourn our passing and if there is a celebration, it won't be because we're finally gone, but because we lived a life worthy of celebrating, and when we breathe our last our savior will say of us, "well done good and faithful servant" and we'll be welcomed into eternal joy. I have one last thing to say about this. I sent an email to my friend and asked if I could do a post on her condition. For whatever reason, I never heard back. So Rene' if I have done something you would not approve of, please accept my apologies. Let me know how to erase this and I will. God bless you gal.

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.