Friday, March 10, 2017

Good Friends Are Hard to Come By







  For the past several months, I was blessed to be able to work with a young man named Whitney. His father was out of  town and needed someone to stay with him for part of the day while his mom was at work. I had worked with Whitney a number of years ago when I was his aid at school. Frankly, working at the school was one of the hardest jobs I ever had, but my time with Whitney made it all worth while. Like Forrest Gump said,"Life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get"; every day was like that for me. One of the things I liked best about him is that he is so brutally honest. There is no political correctness or worrying about offending you when he speaks. He just says what's on his mind. You always know what's on his mind, and that's refreshing.  When I worked with him at the school, we ran a school store. Most school stores carry pencils, paper, pens, rulers and other odds and ends that are almost a guarantee that the store won't make any money. OUR school store carried Capri Sun drinks, ice cream, chips, Fruit By the Foot, Fruit Snacks, Smoke-a-Roni pepperoni sticks and all manner of other things that kids wanted. We also had pencils and paper and other school supplies, but we seldom sold much of those items. There was only about 200 kids in the whole school, grades K-12, but that first year we grossed over $30,000. It was fun. Anyway, one day Whitney came in and was hungry. He wanted me to buy him a snack. I offered to buy him an ice cream, but he wanted pepperoni sticks, the most expensive thing. I finally broke down and bought them and asked him if he would like one, and I offered the package to him. Without a second thought he said-"I want two." and grabbed them out. Another time his father, who was my boss, told me to take a can of Swiss Miss cocoa down to the home-ec room and make him a cup of hot chocolate. He wanted Whitney to follow the directions on the can. After he made it, he started walking with the Styrofoam cup and it started to spill. He said, "I'm going to take a little drink." So I said OK. He did and then his eyes lit up, he said "MMMMMM... I'm going to take another drink!" I said OK. So he did, and then he said "I'm going to drink it all!" Which he did. I said "Whitney! That was your dad's hot chocolate! So he says, "He's not that thirsty" It took me fifteen minutes to stop laughing. It was good to see that he hadn't changed in any of the important ways since I last worked with him. He goes out for a walk every day when the weather is good. When we went walking, he would either get way ahead of me or wait until I was quite a ways ahead of him before he would start. I don't know the reason why, but he doesn't like to have anyone walk along side him.He likes to talk to himself and doesn't want to be bothered I guess. One day the weather was foul, so he opted to walk on the treadmill upstairs. I was sitting in a chair in the bedroom, and he looked over at me and said-"Tom, that bed is a mess." I asked if he wanted me to make it. He said "yes please." So I did. Unlike me, he makes his bed every morning before he leaves the house.  Part of my job was to practice emergency drills with him. I asked what he would do if the house was on fire. He said he'd jump out the window. OK. Any port in a storm I guess. We took frequent drives around town, which he enjoyed immensely. He checks the mail every day and going to the post office is an important part of his routine. The new post master and Whitney have really bonded, and he makes a point of ringing the buzzer in the post office to speak to him and give him a hug. On the days when there is no mail in his box, Whitney takes it personally and is sure that the postmaster is holding out on him intentionally. He never fails to ring the buzzer and give him hell on those days. Fortunately it's all taken in stride, and once in awhile there are a few catalogs laying around that have been discarded so that Whitney doesn't have to go home empty handed. This past Wednesday was my last day working with him. His father came home so I wasn't needed anymore.  As we were sitting in the car he looked at me with a certain degree of disgust. I couldn't figure out what was wrong so I asked, "what's the matter, have I got a mouse on my head or what?" He says, "Tom, I'm very disappointed in you" It all revolved around the fact that we were done working together. As it is though, he's come by for a visit the last two days. You know, in the present environment that we have in this country, where no one can seem to get along, I so wish we could all be a little more like Whitney; speaking the truth, chowing down on pepperoni sticks and hot chocolate, and giving out hugs to our friends on a regular basis. I think the world would be a better place.

Friday, February 24, 2017

I've Got A Cold!!!


  I've got a cold, and let me tell you, it's a doozey. When it comes to getting ill, I don't like to mess around. I like to go all out and feel really miserable. Of course that comes with lots of moans, groans and general overall complaining. That way those around me can share in my suffering. I felt it coming on a few days ago. I was pretty much expecting it- Jan came home a few weeks ago with all the symptoms, and as time progressed she just got worse. Finally she got so bad she had to stay home from work for a few days. That's when I accepted the fact that I'd be the unhappy recipient of some of her germs and it was only a matter of time before it became a full blown cold. I tried to stave it off by popping some Zicam. It's supposed to prevent or at least lessen any cold you might get. I guess it worked for awhile. Who knows, maybe I wasn't diligent in my regimen and skipped a few tablets, I don't know. Anyway, I've got it now and I am NOT a happy camper.  You know the drill- the sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery eyes. I also have joints that ache and of course I'm tired because I spent most of my night either trying to entice some air up my nostrils or coughing. This morning my stomach feels like I've done a thousand sit-ups. Of course my nose is getting raw from blowing it so much. If I didn't know better, I would suspect that someone had substituted my tissues with Brillo Pads. As you can see from the above picture,  I have all the makings of a cold rescue kit. Some Powerade, Halls cough drops, Puff's tissues, water, a packet of EmergenC and a couple of bibles so I can pray for strength to make it through this misery. If nothing else I can compare my troubles with that of Job and they don't seem quite so bad. One thing about being sick, you have a lot of time to think. Of course depending on whether or not you have  a fever, the thoughts can be productive or really off the wall. I like to think that my thoughts are productive. For instance, to solve the problem of a stuffed up nose, which always seems to get worse at bed time, I thought, why not invent a pair of nose funnels? Like all funnels, they would start large at one end and taper down at the other.The difference would be that there would be two  tapered ends. Perhaps a small fan could be installed in the large end of the funnel to help force air into your nasal cavities. You could get different sizes to fit whatever size nostrils you have. If you had a nose like,say, Jimmy Durante, who used to call himself the schnoz, you would purchase the magnum size. If you were like some ladies I've seen, whose nostrils seem to be almost pinched together to the point where you wonder if any air gets up there ever, or if perhaps their noses are just on their faces for decoration, you could buy the petite size.If you're like me, another common problem when you have a cold is the incessant flow from your nasal passages. With as much as my nose runs, I half expect to see that my head has shrank a few sizes by morning. Lord knows how many boxes of tissues I go through while waiting for a cold to run it's course. I think I have an answer to that problem. Nasal Sponges. Of course they would have to be soft and pliable right from the package. You wouldn't want to try shoving something as stiff as cardboard up your already inflamed nostrils. In order to ease the process of inserting them, and of course taking them out later, the sponges would have to be attached to a soft paper stick, much like the ones you find on Tootsie Roll Pops. This product is one that you should probably only use at home. It probably wouldn't go over very well if you were on a date and the sticks from the Nasal Sponges were protruding from your nose. Now, some people may find that attractive, maybe even sexy, but I don't know anyone like that, and I hope you don't either. Of course, needless to say, that would also apply if you were about to give a presentation to a group of clients or were in a boardroom or classroom. While a bunch of third graders might consider you the coolest teacher ever, management might not approve. OK. There you have it. I'm hoping that someone will take these great ideas and run with them. If you do, and they're a raging success, please remember where the ideas came from and drop a few dollars off for me.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Special Blends



  Flavored coffees are all the rage  nowadays. Even here in Hoonah you can buy all manner of exotic blends of coffee.  For Christmas Jan and I received some Heritage Coffee that had coconut flavor added to the beans. I usually shy away from fancy things like that. I'm pretty much a dyed in the wool Folgers guy- nothing fancy for me. However, I really enjoyed that coconut flavor, so much so that I recently purchased another bag of beans for an exorbitant price. Last week I was at my daughter Jen's house for dinner. After the meal she offered me a cup of coffee- nothing unusual there. My biggest complaint with her coffee is that she usually makes it stronger than I care for. By the time I get done drinking it, I have another mustache growing on the inside of my mouth. Jan and Jennifer were playing cards after dinner, and I was trying to enjoy a show on TV. It's not all that unusual for me to have to get up during a commercial to take a leak. I might go several times in the course of a few hours, depending on what I've had to drink; but that particular night, I think I had to run to the bathroom about four or five times. It started me thinking about what brand of coffee she had served. Though to the best of my knowledge, there is no such brand yet, I wondered about marketing a blend of coffee that would encourage even more urination than normal. Perhaps it would come in handy if you were trying to lose a few pounds before a weekend date, or if you were a wrestler and needed to cut weight, or you were heading in to face the doctor for a physical and wanted him to believe that you had actually been following his advise about dieting. I think an appropriate name for such a blend of coffee would be BLADDER TICKLER. I kind of doubt if Starbucks would carry it, although they would probably try to market their own brand, something like Starbucks Wee Wee or some such thing. If you happened to have an obnoxious guest who didn't know when to leave, just serve them a big cup of Tickler and make funny faces every time they got up to go to the bathroom. It wouldn't be long before they felt compelled to leave. It's not the kind of beverage that you would want to imbibe on a long road trip, unless of course you were on a quest to check out all the road side rest stops on I-95.For those folks who may suffer with constipation on a regular basis, perhaps a cup of BOWEL TICKLER would be in order. A few cups of this and before you knew it, the pipes would be as clean as a whistle.Again, you might want to give it some thought before you drank a few cups. It's the kind of thing that you might want to wait to try until you were home for  a weekend- just to play it safe.  Lets just say you had the opposite problem, maybe something like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. That could really ruin a date. If that's your problem, brew up a pot of CLOG. A cup or two of that and you won't need to worry if you're stuck in an L A traffic jam for the whole day. You'd be good to go- or not go as the case may be. With the frequent incidents of planes being stuck on the tarmac in these modern times, it might be something that the airlines would want to consider as a complimentary drink when the passengers first board, just in case. Rather than subject all your paying customers with overflowing airplane toilets, a cup or two of Clog could prevent an already irritating problem from turning into an all out rebellion on board. Frankly, with all the great ideas that I have, I don't know why I'm not a millionaire.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Bald is Beautiful? Perhaps Not!



  Perhaps you've heard the saying that bald is beautiful. Well, that may well be. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so I've heard. I've got nothing against baldness. I have several family members, including a grandson who are losing hair at an alarming rate. Somehow I've been spared, at least until recently.  Awhile back my granddaughter was standing behind me while I was sitting in a chair and declared that I was getting bald. Maybe I am, I can't see where she was talking about,so I'm going to believe that everything is still OK for the most part. In any event, there isn't a lot that I can do about it if I am going bald. However, as you might guess from the above pictures, I'm not speaking about hair, but rather tires. I have a beloved daughter who I won't mention by name, but those who know me know who I'm talking about. She has a fine vehicle, made by the folks at Subaru. Apparently she's under the impression that if she has gas in it and the engine cranks over when she turns the key, then everything is fine. I would beg to differ with her, but I'm afraid that I've made an issue of past problems so frequently, that whenever I venture to offer an opinion about a problem that is apparent, even to her, I get a frustrated- Dad!! I guess that's my cue to shut up. I was in her car catching a ride  home back during the holidays. Hoonah has a twenty mile per hour speed limit, which she didn't even come close to approaching, but in the passenger seat I I felt like I was riding in the drum of a spinning cement mixer. I was chewing gum without even having to move my jaws.Honestly, the car was shaking so bad I was surprised we weren't driving in our lane and the opposing one simultaneously.  Anyone observing her pass by would wonder if a mad scientist had somehow managed to cross a hula-hoop with a vehicle. She had a CD playing but the vibration was so bad that the CD was skipping tracks.  Have you ever had a cranky baby on your hands, and almost at your wit's end when you get the idea to strap the child into the car seat and go for a drive? Lots of time the gentle rocking motion will put the child sound to sleep.My great granddaughter was a little crabby one evening so we all decided to go for a drive thinking it would help. NOT! When I exited the vehicle, the baby was still crying, and I was on the verge of a little melt down myself. It was like driving over a corduroy road with solid steel tires. I would imagine the pre-historic vehicle with the stone wheels that Fred Flintstone drove was probably a smoother ride. My head was bouncing around like it was a paddle ball. I felt like I was a skirt on a hula dancer on steroids.Perhaps I should have driven with her a little bit further, I might have hit the window so hard I would have knocked myself out for awhile. By the time I got out, I had an overwhelming desire to see a chiropractor.In any event, you get the picture. The bottom line is, I'm not a mechanic, so I don't know if the bald tires are the only reason for the extreme shaking, but it's a pretty good bet they are. They're the original tires that came with the car when it was new, Lord knows how many thousands of miles ago. I'm hoping that she'll take the time to replace them soon, before they cause an even larger problem, or heaven forbid, cause an accident.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Few Words About Sox- Not Sex- Sox



  
Today I would like to say a few words about socks or sox if you prefer.  While speaking of sex might be a little more amusing, nonetheless socks have their own bit of wonder and amazement. To say that socks aren't sexy would be mis-characterization.  While technically not socks, I've seen some ladies stockings that for want of a better phrase, really knocked my socks off. However, if you were to mention fifty shades of grey around me, I'd probably think you had been peeking in my sock drawer. I may have one or two pairs of black or white socks, but they're mainly left overs from a different era. Back when I was in junior high the fashion trends had changed and wearing white socks became a fashion taboo. The only time they were acceptable was during gym class, and there you got dinged if you didn't have on a pair of white athletic socks. During those years I discovered that J C Penny carried a line of black dress socks that were thick and comfortable and reasonably priced at $1.00 a pair. Every time I passed by the Penny's store I would drop in and buy a few. The nice thing about having all your socks in one color is that if you lose one, or it gets a hole in it, there was no problem finding a mate for it. The biggest downfall with black socks for me was that I was a nervous kid and my anxiety chose to express itself via the sweat glands in my feet. My shoes were like Easy Bake ovens, but instead of tasty little cakes, all they ever produced were the most foul smelling stench to ever grace the earth. If I'd had a little more experience in marketing, I might have been able to come up with a brand new type of carp bait, boil a little corn meal and anise oil and wrap in a black sock that his been worn for a week and you wouldn't be able to keep those carp away with a stick.  Before I started with this post, I thought I'd do a little research. It seems that socks in one form or another have been around for centuries. According to a web site titled- A Brief History of Socks, the earliest ones were worn by cave men, most likely  animal skins tied around their feet and legs. Apparently during the 8th century BC, the ancient Greeks were wearing matted animal skins called piloi. I  hate to even entertain the idea. By the 2nd century AD, the Romans were wearing  socks called udoms, made of woven fabric and pulled over the foot. Udoms. Sounds almost obscene. The earliest known knit socks were found in Coptic Egyptian tombs  in the 3rd to 6th century AD. By 1000 AD woven knit socks or leggings were worn by nobility in Europe, though feet weren't added until the 12th century. It was love that stirred the creative juices that provided the first knitting machine. It was invented by an English clergy because the woman he loved would seldom look up at him from her knitting needles. Either she really loved knitting or he was uglier than an old sock. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth I  refused to give the inventor, Mr. Lee a patent, because the wool socks his machine produced were too coarse for her royal ankles. She was used to silk stockings from Spain. I checked out another web site in my pursuit of the story and found The Lonely Sock. I really wish I had more time to elaborate here, but I don't. According to the author of this site, The Bureau of Missing Socks was formed by the Union Army during the Civil War. The man in charge was one Major Smithson, a haberdasher by trade before joining the army. According to this site, he was a lousy soldier, but a great businessman and took his position very seriously. His idea was to replace any damaged socks that a soldier brought in with a new sock. Unbelievably the owners of the mills who supplied the socks to the army got all up in arms fearing that they would lose business if only one sock was being replaced. Long story short, the bureau was still going strong at the end of the war  and perhaps still is. It is reported that there were enough socks purchased by the army to outfit the soldiers of both World War I and II. Unfortunately men had gotten bigger since the time of the civil war, so they only fit men who wore a size seven or smaller. After WWII, as part of the Marshall Plan, socks were passed out all over Europe as the result of the excess from the Bureau of Missing Socks.There was such an excess that everyone was allotted twelve pair.  I do hope that you'll take some time to check out  the web sites mentioned. It sure beats watching TV. This past Christmas I was the lucky recipient of several pairs of very good quality socks, one of which I'm wearing now.  I have to say, that one of life's greatest small pleasures is putting on a new pair of socks. If you're having a bad day, don't go home and take it out on your spouse; go buy a new pair of socks and see how much better the world seems.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Old Salmon Can Labels


  At one time there were canneries scattered up  and down the West Coast as well as British Columbia and Alaska. They were established to take advantage of the huge salmon runs, and I assume for the purpose of canning tuna as well, though I don't know for sure. Prior to Alaska becoming a state it was legal for the canneries to have fish traps on many of the points were salmon would congregate, and often canneries would spring up close by. When I spoke to some of the old timers, they mentioned that there fish traps all up and down Icy Strait, and I believe Chatham Strait as well. Each cannery had it's own label, and some were really beautiful. A few weeks before Christmas we had an open house, and I invited my friend John Kveum  and asked if he would bring his book of cannery labels. Of course I couldn't include all of them, so I chose a few that I found especially striking. I like old time artwork, like that found on these labels and posters advertising the circus or encouraging folks to buy war bonds back during WWII. Of the five species of Pacific salmon, the most common to make it into cans were the Pink or Humpback, Red or Sockeye, and Chum or Dog salmon. John mentioned that King salmon don't can particularly well, nor apparently do Silver salmon, although there have been some attempts made at both. There isn't a whole lot more that I can comment on here, as I have limited knowledge of the subject- imagine that. In any event, I hope that you can enjoy the artwork of days gone by. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Eve and Shoe Box Dinners



 For a number of years now, I can't really say how many because they tend to all run together, my daughter Jennifer has been hosting family and friends at her house on Christmas Eve for shoe box dinners. Jen is an elementary teacher and all elementary teachers worth their weight in salt have all manner of fun projects up their sleeves to make learning interesting to their students. I'm not sure where she learned about the shoe box dinners, but it's one of my favorite traditions during the holidays. She wraps shoe boxes with colorful Christmas paper, including the lids, and fills each one with some chips, a soda, a couple of mandarin oranges, some candy and a small gift for each person who is attending. While the gifts may be small, they aren't inexpensive, especially when she is getting something for a number of different people. This year I had several packs of hoochies in my shoe box. Our friend Mark received a flashlight, complete with a laser pointer. I can't remember what everyone else got, I was too caught up in eating my crab melt sandwiches and thinking of what fish I might catch with the hoochies. Our latest addition to the family was present this year, the gal who made us great grandparents, Evalee. She was passed around more than a joint at an Eagles concert. Babies really have to develop a toughness if they are going to survive in this world. They get man handled, kissed, hugged, squeezed, patted, rocked, jiggled and spoken to like they're some alien beings who have to be cooed at  more than any other species on earth. Can you imagine if adults had to put up with that behavior? All the bad breath you would have to tolerate, the ridiculous baby talk, the rocking and having toys and fingers shoved into your face and mouth. The only time anyone wants to put you down is when you start to stink. As soon as you're clean again, folks ( especially the ladies) want to scarf you up and start the whole process all over again. It's a testament to how well God made babies. They take a lickin' and keep on tickin'- just like Timex watches. This year we were blessed to have my daughter Autumn and her husband Aaron visit for Christmas. Autumn has inherited my sense of humor, for better or for worse. Since she lives in close proximity to Anchorage, she has access to various items that I would never have. Things like the book on bowel movements that I mentioned in a previous post. In case you can't read the cup  shown above, it states,
Dear Mom:
Thanks for putting up with a spoiled, ungrateful, messy, bratty child like my sibling.

Love, Your Favorite.

She is definitely a chip off the old block. Her and her husband left today, so needless to say, it will be a lot more quiet around here. Not a totally bad thing. As I age I find myself needing more quiet time. However, much like the See's candies, Christmas cookies, and re-runs of It's a Wonderful Life, it will be nice to see them again when the time comes. It is because my son-in-law was gracious enough to look at my computer and do whatever wiz-bang stuff he does that I'm able to do this blog post tonight, so I'm most grateful. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. If was anything like mine, you've been blessed indeed. If you're one of the millions who are traveling still, I hope you make it home to your loved ones safely, with pleasant memories to keep you company on your travels. Stay safe. God bless you and God bless America. Good night.