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.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Slim Pickin's

  As I had mentioned earlier in the season, I have to actually do something (fishing) that in theory will make me a few bucks. As a result, I haven't had too much time or energy to donate to this blog. So sorry, but as I age I find myself with less and less stamina. At the end of the day, and especially if I've been out on the water all day, I'm really drained, so I don't have much to give to writing. However, it's been a few days since I last fished, so I thought I would take a few minutes and try to put something out for the faithful few who have been reading this. The summer king opening started on July 1, which meant that the outside coast was  open for fishing. The difference is like night and day between fishing out on the ocean and fishing on the inside in the bays and inlets of the Inside Passage. On June 30th, I started on my way out to the coast. I was fighting the tide all the way out, figuring I would make it to South Pass right about the time the tide started going out, thus avoiding all the current and tide rips that typically occur on the ebb tide at the Pass. The wind was supposed to be blowing out of the East at ten knots, which normally would be almost flat calm. Frankly, I don't know if the folks at the National Weather Service just throw dice at a board and announce whatever they happen to land on and call it a forecast or what, but it was NOT blowing ten easterly. I was watching the charter and whale watch boats trying to get back into the dock to pick up the next unlucky batch of landlubbers and most of them were burying their bows in the steep waves and whitecaps. I had the wind pushing me along, so it wasn't quite so bad, until I reached Point Adolphus. Then it was a white knuckle ride for the next thirty minutes of so. If my hair wasn't already white for the most part, it would have been by the time I was through that washing machine ride. Once I got on the back side of the point where the wind wasn't so much of a factor, the fog started in. Oh Joy! Fortunately the radar was working, as well as the GPS, which makes all the difference in the world when traveling in the fog. It can still be disorienting though. I made it to the Pass at just about the right time and was congratulating myself, figuring I deserved a hot cup of coffee. I poured a cup and went to fill up the coffee pot, but no water came out of the faucet. Damn! The ice that I picked up for ballast was actually colder than the usual slush that I get and it froze the water line leading to the sink. Of course the moment you can't have something, that's all you can think of. I wanted a drink of water desperately bad. I was starting to panic. What if I started choking on a cookie or something and I didn't have any water to charge the drain? I might choke to death! Fortunately Elfin Cove was right around the corner, so I pulled in and bought a case of bottled water. There were 35 bottles in the case, but it took two just to get enough water for a decent cup of coffee. Of course because I didn't have any other water to tap in to, my mind kept telling me I needed a drink of water every few minutes.At that rate I'd have to come back to the cove for another case before the night was over. After supper that first night I realized that I didn't have any water to do dishes with. Rats! I had to resort to using the salt water wash down hose to clean my dishes and then put the plug in the sink and sparingly pour a little fresh stuff to rinse them. What a pain. Then of course I needed some to brush my teeth. I thought about using some Powerade to brush with, but the idea kind of nauseated me. Vitamin Water wouldn't work either, even though there was a bottle of it in the cooler that was clear. I can't recall what the flavor was, but I doubt if the American Academy of dental hygienists would approve of using it as a rinse. Go figure.I did have a couple of refreshing Miller Lights in the cooler, but beer and Pepsodent probably wouldn't work either. I'd look like I was foaming at the mouth, and actually if I had resorted to such a thing, I would probably deserve to be put away. Anyway, I caught a fair number of King Salmon over the course of the four days I was out there and made it home safe and sound. Once I got in to port I decided to try the faucet one last time, even though all previous attempts had yielded not a drop. I may as well have been in the Sahara. Of course once I got tied up in port, the line had thawed and copious amounts of that liquid delight gushed forth like a Texas oil well. Was I surprised? Of course not! I wouldn't have expected anything different.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fish, Fish Everywhere and Not a One to Catch

  Remember that saying, water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink? Well it's been kind of like that in the fishing realm here this past few weeks. The troll fleet from Sitka, Wrangell, Ketchikan, Yakutat and other spots around Southeast Alaska have amassed here in anticipation of the June run of Chum Salmon that normally makes there way through Icy Strait on their way to the hatchery from which they came some years back, but so far it's been a dry run. I keep hoping that they'll get discouraged and leave and then the run will show and I and my fellow Hoonah fishermen will clean house, smiling all the way to the bank. So far though, no one is smiling, well, except maybe the eagles. It's really kind of hard to tell if they are or not. They're pretty intent birds. They should be happy though. As you can see, the herring have moved in to the harbor en mass. Every stall has multitudes hanging around, as well as under the ramps that  lead to the floats. They aren't spawning, just hanging out. It was probably a necessary move in order to preserve their lives. For the past few years the Humpback Whales have been congregating in the bay chowing down on them. One whale can engulf hundreds of the little tykes in one fell swoop, and they never stop at one mouthful. When there is a whole pod of whales present Lord knows how much herring is consumed, but it's a lot! I know that a lot of folks really get into watching the whales and sea lions and sea otters, but things are out of balance now. The animal rights groups have raised so much havoc with lawmakers that now all these predators are protected and running amok. Similar to the same types of groups who oppose any logging, they are short sighted, not realizing that what they think is a good thing is to the detriment of the resource. Out west where large swaths of government lands were off limits to logging, there have been terrible wild fires, causing much more damage than if logging had been permitted. I'm not advocating the large scale removal of entire hillsides of trees, but a balanced approach where areas are logged. It's good for the economy and good for the forests. If a fire breaks out it will run out of fuel if it runs into a clear cut area and only part of the forest will suffer instead of losing tens of thousands of acres at once. It's the same with the whales and sea lions and otters. They're nice to see if you're a tourist, but left to their own devices, they'll eat themselves out of house and home.  People who come for a visit don't realize that it can happen, but it can. It wasn't all that long ago, just a few years ago, that when I passed by Point Adolphus on my way to the outside coast, the color video sounder would show feed, probably krill, from the bottom all the way to the top, solid. I would be in thirty fathoms of water, one hundred and eighty feet deep, and it would be hard to tell the bottom from the top because they were so thick. The whales have congregated there for years, but now when I go by, no sign of feed. The whale watch boats are having to go much further to sight any groups of them even though there are more whales now than ever. Eventually nature will thin out the herd. If there's no food, there will be no animals. Personally, I'd like to see hunting of some of these marine mammals so that the herd stays healthy. Of course that will be an uphill battle. Hopefully those in control will come to some degree of common sense and find a balanced approach in dealing with the predator population before it's too late.