Monday, July 27, 2015

Back in the Stall Again

  It runs in my mind that there is an old western song that talks about being back in the saddle again. I'm not sure, but  I assume it's because whoever was singing it was away from their  horse for awhile and had finally returned. I can really relate. Back on March 29th, when I hauled out the boat for some plank work, I had no idea that I wouldn't be returning the Bonnie J back to her assigned stall for almost four months. It's been years since I've missed this much time during the fishing season. I've been chomping at the bit to get out for quite some time. Unfortunately I missed the king salmon season and though historically there is a little mop up for the remaining quota in August, this year there will be no mop up. Part of it is politics and part science I guess. I won't be able to catch another king this year until the winter season starts on October 11. I may be down south then, so chances are I won't catch any kings this year at all. Bummer. If there is any silver lining at all, it's that the season hasn't been very good. The prices are low and there aren't many fish around, with the exception of Humpies. That's fine with me, I need some for halibut bait and to sell to the two stores in town who carry Tom's Halibaits for sport's fishermen. Personally, I think salmon is one of the best baits a person can use for halibut. It stays on the hook well, and has enough scent to attract them. Even with all the work I've done, I'm still dealing with a small leak around the rudder post. I thought I had it fixed, but this morning when I launched, my friend, Vince, said it was leaking. He put an extra strand of packing in the packing nut, but then he couldn't get it to tighten down. Right now I'm not too concerned about it, but I may take a little time and deal with it tomorrow. Little problems have a way of becoming big problems if you don't deal with them, especially on a boat. The time to take care of a problem is when you're tied up at your stall- not when you're battling six foot seas. Having spent the last four months on dry land, the boat really dried out badly. The red bottom paint that is showing is testimony to how dry it got. I need to get some fuel tomorrow, and that will help to bring it down a little, and as the wood swells it will take on some water weight. I'm glad that the wood does swell, it helps to close the seams and make the boat water tight. I like that. I want to keep the water on the outside of the boat- much less stressful that way. Anyway, for those who may be following this blog, I just thought I'd let you know, she's back where she belongs. Hopefully when I go to check on her tomorrow I won't see  just the mast and poles sticking up out of the water.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

You Know You're Getting Old When....

    There are certain things in life that are indicators that perhaps you've entered the "golden years". One is when you have a cupboard specifically designated for holding all of your medicines. I'm not talking about the medicine cabinet in the bathroom where the tweezers, band-aids and Neosporin are located. I'm talking about all the pills you need just to keep life at some semblance of normal. Things like blood pressure meds, prostate pills, thyroid medicine, calcium supplements, Vitamin D tablets and assorted and sundry other things. The container  that separates all of my pills into daily doses is so full that I can hardly close the lid anymore. Between my wife and I, we could probably open a pharmacy. We have pills, ointments and creams for everything from hemorrhoids to shingles; high blood pressure to Padget's disease. Holy cats! When we order our medicine from Juneau it comes in a bag the size of a small suitcase. One of the other more common issues that we of the older generation faces, is the inability to see very well without the aid of glasses. I'm fortunate in that I can still see without them for  things at a distance. The last time I had my eyes checked they were 20/15. Pretty good for an old guy. However, for reading and work that requires a little closer inspection,  I have to have glasses to see. This past Friday my oldest granddaughter got married- a sure sign that you're getting on in years, unless of course you were married when you were seven. Anyway, in all the rush to get ready for the wedding, or perhaps it was because the tie I was wearing was choking off blood to my brain, I forgot to grab a pair of glasses to take with me. I did remember the camera, but without any specs, I couldn't see the settings on the dial. Consequently, some of the pictures I took came out rather blurry. Otherwise I would have included more in this post. As further proof that I'm on the back side of life, my oldest son, Ben and his wife just had a baby. That makes eleven grand kids- I think. It's hard to keep up with them all. We'll have to get one of those reverse mortgages just to send a little cash for all the birthdays. I guess we'll never be able to retire. Oh well.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Surgery Was A Success?

  Well, I just returned from Anchorage this morning. I wasn't sure I was going to make it home today. Last night when the jet was making the final approach to Juneau, it suddenly increased speed and started a rapid accent into the air. It was really foggy and rainy and we couldn't really see much out the windows. It's the kind of thing that makes the heart beat a little faster. Anyway, the captain explained that visibility wasn't good enough to land going that direction so we had to approach from the other end of the runway. Then today, it was still overcast with low hanging clouds and I wondered if I'd make it back or spend the day in Juneau. Fortunately it cleared up and we made it here.  I had gone up to Anchorage to have surgery on my prostate. As you recall, a few weeks ago I had written about not being able to pee after a urinary tract infection. I flew up to see what could be done at the Alaska Urological Institute  and met with Dr. Clark. Anyway, to make a long story short, I had to fly up on Sunday and had surgery yesterday at the clinic. It only took an hour or less. I'm peeing like a Russian race horse right now, although there is some pain associated with it, as one would expect after having a mini camera shoved up an orifice that is only supposed to flow in one direction, to say nothing of the tools necessary to perform the operation. Fortunately I was knocked out for the procedure, which was really good. I didn't want to suffer the humiliation of the remarks that I might have heard from the three females who were assisting Dr. Clark. There's nothing like introducing your genitals to a complete stranger of the opposite sex. However, as the saying goes, desperate times require desperate measures. Prior to the surgery, after the first visit, the doctor was asking what I was taking to relieve the swelling of the prostate. I told him Flo- Max and something else. He was surprised that I wasn't taking Rapa-flow, so he prescribed it, and it really helped, so much so that I almost cancelled the surgery, but thought better of it. The third med that I was taking didn't have a very cool name like Flo-max or Rapa-flow, and it had the unpleasant side effect of making one of my testicles sore. I was telling my friend, John, the shipwright about it while we were working on the boat. He happened to be mixing up a can of Dolphonite, a bedding compound to put on the guards of the boat to seal them. As he shoved the putty knife in the can and pulled it out he said the I should try Dr. John's Testicle Salve, which also happened to be the bedding compound. I guess it's multi- purpose. I declined but thanked him for opportunity to try a new ointment.Though it was tempting if it indeed offered relief of the pain, I opted to just stop taking the less glamorous sounding pills. Of course I can't very well share any pictures of the prostate surgery. Even if I had some, I think enough strangers have seen more than they could stomach, so instead I'm showing some pictures from a bridge up in Anchorage. The potted Begonias were hanging from holders made up to look like fishing rods. I was tempted to lower a few down and reel them back up. It would be the closest thing to fishing that I have done all year so far. I wanted to include a picture of my daughter Autumn who was so generous with her time, running me back and forth for multiple appointments, as well  as feeding and housing me in a grand manner. I don't have a picture of my other daughter, Liz who went out of her way, as always, to pick me up and house me in Juneau. It's at times like these that you realize how blessed it is to  have a loving family. In any event, it appears that everything is free flowing at the moment. One of the (hopefully) temporary side effects of the surgery is that when the urge to go hits, you can't ignore it- there's no putting it off, so if you see me rushing off for the nearest bathroom, please don't stand in my way, otherwise your shoes may get soaked.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Still Waiting

  No doubt 2015 will go down for me as one of the most difficult and unpleasant years that I can remember. Not only have I had to deal with a number of physical ailments requiring multitudes of trips to and from Juneau, as well as Anchorage at a fair amount of expense, but I've been waiting for months to get the boat done so I can go fishing. As you can see from the above pictures, the shipwright finally got the planks all put on. That was accomplished on Sunday. I was able to finish painting it, and got it ready to launch on Monday. Unfortunately, as I had mentioned previously, we had a very hot, dry spring.Almost every day in May was hot, sunny and windy, as well as a good bit of June. Wood, being what it is, has a tendency to dry out when exposed to sunny, hot, dry weather, as evidenced by all the wild fires in Alaska and the north west. Well, the old Bonnie J is made of wood planks, with cotton caulking in between and sealed with cement on the bottom. There was a problem with cement falling out of some of the seams, so I was systematically going around and reefing out the old cement and re-caulking and sealing the seams where I saw the need. Unfortunately, the work that I did wasn't sufficient. When I launched the boat on Monday, water started pouring in like someone had turned on a fire hose. I had three bilge pumps going and still couldn't  keep up. Fortunately I was still in the slings of the hoist, so it was a simple matter of hauling me back out. I don't doubt that the city will of course charge me again for hauling me out, a tidy little five or six hundred dollar expense. Governments seem to think that it's citizens are there to support them instead of the other way around. There is little room for compassion or compromise. As of now, I'm in the process of trying to find all the leaks and plugging them with new caulking. Its a very time consuming and painful process that requires me to lay on my back looking up or kneeling on my arthritic knees and trying to drive in the cotton with a caulking iron and a mallet. So much fun! I'm not sure how anyone is doing out fishing- today is the first day of the summer king salmon season. I used to have night mares that I was missing opening day. Like Job said- what I feared has come upon me. Oh well, there's little that I can do about it. At this point I'm just hoping that I can find all the leaks and fix them in a timely manner so that I can possibly salvage this season. If there is a silver lining in all of this hoo- haw, it's that I have spent so much money on medical bills, and on the boat, that I may not owe any taxes this year! Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

  2015 will be remembered by me as a year of trial and tribulation, a year when my patience has been stretched to the breaking point and seemingly beyond. We're half way through the month of June, and I'm still waiting for the remainder of the planks to be installed. A project that began at the end of March and was supposed to be finished over a month ago and has no finish date in sight. I'm pleased that we finally have some planks put back on the boat. It's progress that can be measured; however, the dog salmon are running and I'm not on the water taking advantage of them. The weather for the past six weeks has been hot dry and sunny, with an almost daily dose of wind. While it is nice to wake to sunny days, the unseasonably warm weather has melted almost all the snow on the surrounding mountains, which is a primary source of water for the streams that the salmon rely on to go up and spawn. Another ill effect of all this hot weather is that the wood on the boat is shrinking, so much so that the cement that covers the seams under the water line has dried out and is cracked and falling out, which means I have to go back through and caulk the seams again. I can't really blame the shipwright, he has a full time job that is taking almost all of his spare time. Nonetheless, I'm frustrated at the slow rate of progress and the money that seems to be flowing in the wrong direction. I can only hope that something is going to happen soon that will turn the tide and I'll be able to get back in the water and start fishing and hopefully start making some bucks. In the interim, all I can do is get the boat as ready as I can and pray that things will work out.

Monday, June 8, 2015

No Small Project

   I know that those of us who write a blog have a lot of competition for readers, and that one sure way to lose readers is to not update the posts regularly. I understand that it's been a while since my last post, but I've been dealing with an uncommon amount of problems this spring, and doing a blog post hasn't been at the top of my priority list. As I write this, I'm in a certain degree of pain, I won't go into the reasons, but suffice it to say, this may not be my most stellar post. As of this moment, the boat is still missing the vast majority of it's planks on the starboard stern. The shipwright was down on Friday and installed some oak frames, and said he couldn't make it back until Sunday. When I went down today to see if he had made any further progress, it appeared that he hadn't come down. Oh Joy! Last week, I needed to get my oil changed, which is usually a fairly minor job, however, because of a back issue, I can't do it myself, so I hired a neighbor who fancies himself a mechanic. He got the drain plug out ok, but couldn't get the filter off. After trying for over an hour, he declared that he would have to return the next day. I can't recall if he came back the next day or not, but the bottom line is, it took five days to change the oil. In the interim, I had to call a friend to drive me up to the clinic, twice in one day to deal with a medical issue. Not having a vehicle was not working out too good. In order to get the filter changed, the guy had to take off the skid plate under the engine, undo the oil cooler lines, and dis- assemble the filter housing. Now it appears that the engine is leaking some oil. Lovely! Last week was exceptionally busy and especially frustrating. I played telephone tag with my doctor in Juneau over the course of a few days, and it wasn't until I took matters into my own hand and made an appointment with a specialist that he called me and informed me that the guy I was going to see had multiple complaints. I cancelled the appointment and now I'm going to go to Anchorage instead. God knows how long I'll have to be there. First, of course, I have to consult with the doctors. Then, hopefully, they can schedule a surgery within a week. I'll be staying with my daughter and her husband while I'm there, for which I'm eternally grateful, but, I don't have the slightest idea what I'll do with my time while I'm waiting for an operation. When you don't feel good, you really just want to be home. However, I can guarantee with 100% certainty, that the specialist isn't going to come to my house to do an exam, and I most definitely don't have the right environment for any kind of surgery, although there is room in my living room to set up a massage table in case I ever want Alexis the Russian neighbor to come back and humiliate me in my own house. I can only hope and pray that the situation will be squared away quickly and completely, and that when I return, the boat will be ready to paint and launch, in time for the Chum salmon run. Now of course none of this history has anything to do with the pictures above, so let me explain. With all that was going on, my son Brian came for a visit. He really is a hands on kind of guy and loves to keep busy. Over a year ago I had been to Home Depot and picked up the necessary supplies to install a french drain in the back yard. With the removal of more and more trees on the hillside, runoff has been a real problem. As we all know, water flows to the point of least resistance, in this case, down hill, into MY yard. I had hoped to get the project done last year, but it just didn't work out. This year all the stars lined up. I had a friend who lent me his John Deere tractor, a son who knows how to use it and has a seemingly unending supply of energy, and I was able to get five yards of what was described as railroad rock dumped close by.  With Brian at the controls of the tractor we got the trench dug in one day and the rest of the project done the next, with help from my daughter Jen. I still have a mess to clean up, but it's not a priority at this point. I hate to lose my lawn for a season, but it's the price you have to pay for progress. Even with the yard in a state of disarray, we still had a tourist come by and take pictures of the house. That baffles me. What is so different about this house that they feel the need to remember it?  I just wish I could capitalize on it somehow, maybe sit out on the front porch with a coon skin cap like Daniel Boone and a rifle across my knees and offer pictures for five bucks a pop. I may not get rich, but at least they wouldn't be getting away scott free.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

System Malfunction

 For most of April of this year, we had rain. Now, I understand that we live in a rain forest, and that's what it does there-rain. Frankly, I'm glad it does. The Eco-system is set up for that kind of climate. I think we came within a fraction of an inch of setting a record in April for rainfall, so a few weeks  ago when the sun started shining, my spirit was uplifted and I was a happy camper. The boat dried out enough that I could paint it and not fear moisture in the wood underneath. That was great. Like all good things though, after awhile it's nice for a little change. I was starting to wish the rain was back. The snow on the mountain tops is melting at a rapid pace and the hull of the boat is starting to check from being out of the water for so long and the days on end of hot sunshine. I was outside painting or some blasted thing last week in the uncommon heat and even though I was hot, I didn't realize that I was getting dehydrated. Well, I was. That night when I got up in the middle of night to relieve myself I felt like I had been drinking battery acid. Holy Toledo! Talk about that burning sensation, man I was in pain. I spoke to my friend Chris Budke, who is an EMT here in Hoonah and he said I was probably dehydrated and needed to replenish my fluids, which I did. Unfortunately, even though I wasn't under watered anymore, a urinary tract infection had set in. Let me tell you, it doesn't get any better than this! Hell, I didn't even know men could get them. Sounds more like a female disease. Anyway, for the next  three days I vacillated between shuddering under a blanket, even though the temp outside was about 70, and sweltering like I was on a jungle safari. My body ached something fierce and I was dreadfully thirsty. Through it all, Momma Jan, aka Florence Nightingale, kept me going. Fortunately for me, she was off work on day two and did her best to make me comfortable. I remember talking non stop like I was the host on my own radio talk show and her calmly answering all of my questions and making little comments at appropriate times. Frankly, I seem to recall some pretty good ideas that were spawned from one of my fever induced blab sessions. I wish she would have written them down. At one point I felt like my hands were hot enough to cook tortilla shells on. It's probably something that could be invented and advertised on a late night infomercial. NEW FROM RONCO, it's the Thermo- Mitt. No need to go to microwave, just don a of Thermo -Mitt and you can toast your bread, roast your hot dog, heat up your taco shell- even bake a potato! ONLY $19.95, but wait, call now and we'll send you a second Thermo- Mitt free!  Anyway, a couple of days into the infection I was able to get some pretty strong anti- biotic, and almost immediately I started feeling better, except that my ability to pee was severely altered.Some of my man parts were suffering a malfunction! For the past few days sleep has been almost non- existent. Every fifteen or twenty minutes I've felt the need to get up and go pee. The bad part is that I've had relatively little success. I've never experienced anything like this. I stand over the john feeling like the  great flood of Noah is about to spring forth from my loins and after what seems like an eternity I finally get the thimbleful of Tom Thumb. Frankly, it's outright painful. I was breaking into a sweat and having bladder spasms and the whole nine yards. It got so bad that I ended up going into the doctors. Of course he wanted to do the dreaded prostate exam, and even though I've refused entry for the past few years, I relented, hoping that he could discover some reason for my troubles. He put on his miners cap and what looked like a pair of cheap Nitrile gloves. Actually, I think they're special prostate gloves. The minute you turn your back they inflate to the size of Mickey Mouse hands. After a few seconds of probing around in the nether region I had to tell him to leave. It was getting pretty uncomfortable and I thought I heard him speaking over a microphone to a group of tourists. I asked him about it afterwards and he said he'd just been taking a selfie while half his arm was buried up my backside. Yesterday I had to go for an ultra sound of my bladder. The technician sent the results to my doctor, but I never did hear the prognosis. When I came back home yesterday I had a message from both the doctor and the nurse, but the office was closed by the time I returned home. Go figure. They're probably both telling me I need to return to Juneau. Perhaps they have some more tours lined up. One thing is for sure, if I don't start peeing like I should soon, I'm going to install an automatic bilge pump on my bladder with an over ride switch. Then if it's not convenient to take a leak at the time, you just shut if off  and wait until it is. Now that I think I could sell.