Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chow Time

I was down at the harbor the other day to get a picture of Floyd Peterson. I wanted to get out of the house for awhile because it was sunny outside and I wanted to get the stink blown off. As I was driving around I happened to notice Floyd's boat drifting close to Graveyard Island with a pretty good sized flock of seagulls hanging around the stern. I had heard that there were a few kings around, so I figured he got his share. I went down to wait for him to come in and tie up. While I was there I noticed a lot of activity in the area around the floats. The gulls were agitated and there were a few eagles perched on the trolling poles of some of the boats. There was quite a large flock of Mergansers swimming in the harbor also. They are fish eating ducks, so in all my brilliance, I deduced that there must be some reason for the interest. As I was walking down the ramp I could see the dark line in the water that separated empty water from that which was teeming with life. For whatever reason there was a tremendous shoal of fish inside the basin and it had caught the attention of the birds. I'm not sure how much success any of them had reaching the herring. They were several feet down but because the water was so clear, they stood out like a sore thumb. I can understand the frustration of the gulls- how often have I been surrounded by fish jumping, swimming so close to the boat I can see them just under the surface, and yet not a strike. I think the only bird to have any luck at all was a kingfisher that was perched on an electrical line. I wanted to get a picture of him, but when I got close he just screeched and took off. Probably too busy eating to take time with me. I can't blame him. It seems awful early to have herring hanging around, but if they're here, you can bet that everything that eats them will show up. This is just a smattering of the innumerable herring that I saw that day. The contrast didn't show up at all when I tried to get a picture of them until I passed by the Don A where they stood out against the green backround of the bottom. I think I should name the gull in the bottom picture Tom. He just stood there looking at all the fish right below him with no way to get them. He looks kind of sad doesn't he? I know the feeling buddy. Don't feel too bad for him though. I'm sure he gets plenty to eat. I've watched the gulls in the winter pull small starfish off the pilings and swallow them. It looks pretty painful. You can see it as it slowly works its way down his throat. They just keep swallowing and swallowing until it finally reaches their gut. I would imagine that a starfish wouldn't be any too tasty. I don't know of anything else that eats them. Not much meat on 'em. It would seem like they'd be pretty hard too, but when times are tough, the tough eat starfish.



Monday, January 18, 2010

Rigby

The other day my daughter Camille called and was unhappy with me because she was tired of looking at the picture of Jack, on the previous post. I guess I'm going to get a call every few days now because I haven't met my quota of blog posts. Apparently she is sadly lacking for entertainment. So, Camille, this one's for you! This is a picture of our dog, Rigby. He's a black and tan daschund. I had to look up the spelling in my dictionary. Contrary to popular belief, Paris Hilton's dog isn't the most spoiled one in the universe. Oh sure, it may have a diamond necklace and get packed around in an overgrown purse, but I would be willing to bet that Paris has never once bent down and picked up even one pile of poop after her little precious relieved itself. I, on the other hand, have picked up mountains of the stuff. Not because I want to, it's just the right thing to do. Plus, if I don't, come spring, when it's time to mow the lawn, it will be lying in wait for me, tucked under mounds of grass, motionless. It's not even good fertilizer. Oh well. Just one of the joys of having a dog. When he was just a puppy, we were trying to get him trained to go potty outside, so every time he took a crap, he would get a little Milkbone dog treat. Well, once he found out that he would be rewarded for doing what comes natural, I think he started rationing it out. He comes in several times a day to bother me because he has to go. He usually goes three times a day- sometimes four. He's breaking the bank!We should have named this one Your Highness or Prince Rigby or some name befitting his lifestyle. What a life it is. All day long he stays in the comfort of our home, either lying on the couch, or on my recliner. Frequently he burrows his way under the blankets so he can maintain the optimum temperature, to which he has become accustomed. When the stove comes on he plops down in front of it, taking up the whole space. If for some reason I should want to stand there for a moment and enjoy a little heat, he looks at me as if I was an intruder and the moment I leave he immediately stretches full length across the front, blocking access to any warmth until after the fan shuts off. He's really very stingy. I have a recliner that the kids bought for me. The thing is huge- it takes up a third of the living room and you could easily seat two full sized adults in it. Unfortunately, the dog has taken a liking to it. If I'm already sitting in it, he takes six or eight practice jumps before he finally launches up into the seat. Then he digs at the blanket until he's covered up and then pushes me to side of the chair until he has taken every possible inch of room. I'm crammed way over against the arm, while he languishes on the cushion.He doesn't understand the concept of sharing at all. If he is in it before I am, I have to physically move him over to the side so I can sit down- he has no intention of getting out of the way. He has an incredible sense of smell, for whatever good that does me. When there is snow on the ground and another dog or cat has walked through the yard, if he's outside leaving me a gift, he has to stop at every single track and bury his nose in it, all the way up to his eyeballs. Every track! It's the same animal, but he doesn't seem to understand that. He'll be outside, see the track, stick his nose in-hmmm- smells like Sparky. Sees the next track- does it again-hmm Sparky again- he'll do this for fifteen minutes. It doesn't matter if I'm freezing to death or if I have to be somewhere. It's the same with pee. What is it with dogs and pee? Mmmm.. I smell pee! Yum! I better go check this stump out! I've heard that they identify other dogs by the smell of their pee, but why bother. Any other dog he sees from his perch on the back of the couch, he'll go balistic. Barking like he's going to tear their heads off and even the hairs on his neck and back will stand up. I don't know what all the commotion is about.He's a world class wimp. Behind the glass though, he sounds pretty intimidating. I think the only other dog he's ever really scared was one like Paris'. The little short haired Mexican one's like on the Taco Bell commercial. Oh well. He has quite an excellent sense of hearing too. He will be sound asleep under the blanket on the couch, snoring like a fat man. I decide to get up and get a snack- the minute the sound of the a cracker package being opened reaches his ears, he's immediately headed for the kitchen. If I should happen to get out the cheese, he hounds me relentlessly until I give him some. We have to spell certain food words like he was some little kid.It doesn't seem to matter what we're eating- he wants some. Tomatoes, bannanas, cereal, tuna,eggs. If we eat it, he wants it. The only thing that I'm aware of that he doesn't like is green olives. Too much salt for his tastes I guess. The final insult is bed time. He has a very rigid schedule. By 8:30 every night, he wants to lay down either on the couch or in my chair. He prefers that one of us sit down with him. He has to be covered with his "blang" while he produces enough BTU's to heat a small room. He has a perfectly delightful dog bed awaiting him, but he won't go there voluntarily. When I decide to go to bed, I have to pick him up, cradle him in my arms and carry him into his bed, where I gently lay him down, cover him with a very soft,warm, fuzzy blanket and then pull his sleeping bag on top of that. I think it's rated down to about 40 degrees below zero. So I guess Paris can pack her dog around in a Gucci bag all day long, I don't think Rigby really cares. When it comes to spoiled dogs, we know who the winner is.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Grey Hair and Other Fun Stuff


This is my friend Jack Annis. I'm not sure he would approve of my writing about him- he's a fairly private person, but then again, he might not mind. He's incredibly generous with his time and talents and even his possessions. When he moved away last year he went out of his way to make sure that everything in our house was up to par- the electrical, hot water heater and plumbing. He had worked as the maintenence supervisor at the school and there wasn't a whole lot that he couldn't do. Actually this blog isn't about Jack, he's just the only person I have a picture of who is getting grey, so he fits the bill for what I wanted to write about. I do have a rather funny story involving Jack, two Sitka Blacktail bucks and a rubber life raft that I would like to share some day, but that will probably wait until another time.
I was in Juneau awhile back to take care of some overdue maintenence on my body. I went to the dentist and had two teeth filled and one root canal. I probably could have spent the whole day there getting things fixed up, but the human body can only stand so much. I managed to open my mouth wide enough for the dentist to shove some lighted, vinyl, contraption inside, a hose for water, another to suck it out, some metal clips, a drill, a pick of some sort and the Baja Marimba band. All that and he still managed to manuver around in there. I probably should have sold him a road map so he didn't get lost in the maze. To complicate matters I was just getting over a cold so my nose wasn't all that clear. I don't know that it would have made much difference one way or another, it seemed like it was being used as an armrest at least part of the time, so I had to breath whenever the opportunity presented itself. He's really a great dentist though and I like his staff. His assistant is really nice looking too. If you have to be in the chair it's nice to look at something pleasant through your tears.
Trips to Juneau usually require a fair amount of planning. It costs too much to go over for just one thing like shopping or a doctors appointment so you want to try to combine things and get the most bang for your buck. That's what I did. After I left the dentist office I ran over to the Village Barber shop for a long over due haircut. A friend of mine, Pete Whitehead works there. He used to fish the Janie C years ago when Buffalo Bob had the Talatche. I'm not sure why he quit fishing- he probably actually wanted to make a living at something that paid. I waltzed in and said hi out of the side of my mouth that wasn't numb. My appearance probably terrified some of the other patrons there. My hair, which hadn't been cut for four months or so was curling out from under my hat giving me a kind of Bozo-like appearance, which wouldn't have been so bad, but I kept having to drag out my hankerchief and alternately blow my nose and wipe the drool that was sneaking out the side of my mouth. When I finally got a chance at the barber chair I was amazed at the mound of hair that was collecting on the floor underneath. There must have been a half a pound, and that was just from my ears and eyebrows. While I was sitting there, I had a rather pleasant conversation with another grey haired patron about the unwanted hair that seems to sprout everywhere but your head. He told me a story about his granddaughter being able to identify him when he went to pick her up at school because of the massive amounts of nose hair he had. We both agreed that ear hair on men should serve some good purpose like collecting sound waves and directing them into the inner canals. Barber shops are great places to fellowship with other aging guys. If you still have enough hair to warrant a full priced hair cut, it can be good for your self-esteem too.
I left there and went to my doctor's office for my annual physical. They wisely threaten to withold my medicine if I don't come in yearly for an exam. Doctors know men well enough to know that the vast majority of us would rather sit through a rendition of the Nut Cracker Suite than subject ourselves to a prostate exam. There is something rather alarming when your doctor don's a miner's cap complete with a headlamp and tells you to bend over. Just kidding. I have one of the coolest doctors in Southeast Alaska. We have an understanding about probing around in unchartered territory. I do have to say though, it was somewhat uncomfortable sitting around on the bench in my underwear while he listenened to blood flow and heart beats and whatnot. The last time I was that uncomfortable (aside from my last physical) was when my next door neighbor, a big Russian guy named Alexis brought over a massage table that he had built and wanted to give me a massage. He had borrowed my tools to make the table and wanted to pay me back somehow. I tried my hardest to convey to him that I didn't want a massage, but Russian guys are hard to convince, so against my will, I was getting one. It wouldn't have been so awful except for the fact that he wanted me to take off my pants. Here I was in my own living room disrobing for a massage that I didn't want while Jan was in the bedroom trying unsuccessfully to stifle her laughter. It wasn't fun. In fact I hurt for three days afterwards. Why anyone would willingly subject themselves to the pain and humiliation I have no idea.
Let it suffice to say that it's not easy being me. It's a full time job and the pay isn't that great.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Corn Chowder

Today is the second day of the new year, and to start it off right, I decided to make a pot of soup. It just so happened that I had a pint of heavy cream left over from the potato soup I made on Christmas Eve. I don't want to toot my own horn, but that was some awsome soup. It's hard to taste bad when the ingredients include a pound of bacon, a whole white onion and a pint of heavy cream amongst other things. I used a recipe called the utimate potato soup recipe. I guess you could call it heart-attack soup too- it's full of all kinds of things that aren't good for you.
Some people don't like cream soups. I have a friend who gags at the sight of any milk product. My daughter Jen was thinking of wrapping up a quart of milk for him at Christmas as a kind of gag gift, which in this case it would be- literally. It's kind of ironic- his wife is nursing their baby. The very sight could be a best case/ worst case scenario. It might be fun to watch, but the thought of what the kid was eating could make you sick. Anyway, I guess I won't be inviting them down to dinner tonight.
I realized after I started putting this blog together that I must have a thing for milk products. I never really thought about it before, but so much of what I could cook has some form of milk in it; Mexican quiche, potato soup, corn chowder, custard pie. There is probably some clinical name for this particular obsession. It probably started way back when I was a kid. I liked Milk Duds and Milky Ways and and milk chocolate, but then again I liked black licorice also and I never developed a desire for Ouzo. ( A licorice flavored alcohol that I ran across in Greece). Ah well. I guess some things are beyond explanation.
The dog was watching me while I cooked. We have a black dachshund named Rigby who loves to eat. He's been fixed, so I guess the only thing he has left to look forward to is eating. The moment the refrigerator door is opened he's charging into the kitchen looking for a snack. Today while I was preparing the ingredients, he scarfed up some potato peelings and a few chuncks of red pepper. So far his menu hasn't been a problem, but if gas becomes an issue, it will be back to the Iams and Pedigree dog food. How boring.
Don't worry, I'm not going to be turning this blog into a cooking thing. Julia Child I am not. However, I don't mind cooking on occasion and I've had a relatively good bit of success with some of the soups I've made. Winter is a good time for soup. Its fairly economical to make and usually doesn't take too much time. For some reason though, I seem to use almost every utinsel at my disposal. For this particular concoction I needed a frying pan for the bacon, a sauce pan for the potatoes, a Dutch oven for the soup itself, two bowls, a two quart measuring cup, a 1/4 cup measure, a knife, a cutting board, two spoons- one to stir and one for tasting, a grater for the mozzarella cheese, a plate to drain the bacon on and a cup for my coffee. Of course I can't just leave a big fat mess for Jan to clean up- I'd be booted out of the kitchen; so I have to wash all the dishes. I should hire an assistant.
One of the odd things about this whole cooking thing, is that in 72, when I joined the navy, I took an aptitude test to see where I would fit in. They came back and told me that I could be a commissary man. That was the navy word for cook. Well, I went along with it until I got into boot camp and saw that the cooks were up at four o' clock every morning sweating over a hot stove, stirring enormous stainless steel pots and listening to people complain about the food. They dressed in Tshirts and white pants and almost all of them were sweating profusely. I guess the sight must have scared me enough to try a little harder, because when I tested again the scores were much higher and I was offered a position as a radioman, radarman, sonarman or torpedoman. I opted for radarman- it sounded cool. Anyway, I spent my entire four year navy career without once having to stir a pot or flip an egg. That's good. Had I done it for a living those many years ago, I probably wouldn't be wanting to do it now, and then who would spell my wife?
Besides, I don't look good in white pants.