Friday, October 29, 2010

The Deer Hunt




Several days ago my friend, Bob Pinard, asked if I wanted to go hunting. The weather was supposed to be good, and since I didn't have anything pressing, I agreed to go, although I had to think about it for a little bit. In years past when I've hunted with Bob it required my being up well before daylight, packing a ten thousand calorie lunch and taking enough ibuprofen to pre-empt the pain that I knew I would suffer after traipsing through the thicket, up mountains and down ravines. He always seemed to choose the very places that I would never even consider hunting. He's one tough fellow. At sixty-nine years old, he's got eleven years on me, but you would never know it. He seems to have the ability to shrug off pain and most challenges don't seem to bother him. Though he wouldn't approve of my saying anything, it's my blog, so I'll mention that he's one of the most generous people I've ever met. On the day we went out hunting we took his truck and he insisted on hunting an area that I'm familiar with. One, of course, that isn't too terribly difficult to get around in. He wanted to follow me, thus giving me the first chance at any deer that appeared. It just so happened that after a relatively short walk I spotted this buck following a small doe at the edge of a muskeg. He was completely enamored with her to the point that he let down his guard. It cost him his life- kind of like Samson in the bible. Let that be a lesson to ya fellows- sex is great, but don't lose your head over it. Before I could even get out my knife, Bob bent down and started gutting it, the whole time telling me what a great deer it was. Afterward, he reached in his pack and drew out a drag strap and together we dragged it back to his truck. There was no snow on the ground and the deer was heavy and most of the way was uphill, but Bob didn't hesitate. We had to stop frequently to rest, but we got it delivered to the truck. Since I don't have a place to hang a deer, he stopped at his shed where he helped me get it hung up. Then he helped me skin it. This Sunday I'm going to his house and we're going to butcher it- in his shop of course. I may not be a wise man, but I sure know how to pick friends.
On a different note, I noticed several things after I posted these pictures. The deer looks better than I do. It certainly looks much neater. I look like I've been in a fight with a grizzly bear- and Bob did most of the work! It looks kind of like the buck is wearing mascara or eye liner, while I look like an animal that got caught in the headlights of a car. How can I explain that? I really should work on my appearance I guess. Not only do I look slovenly, but I look older that I am too. One of the gals here in town thought I was old enough to be her grandfather, and she's twenty four. I guess I need to lose thirty pounds, get some false teeth and dye my hair. Oh well.
One final thing, though it has nothing to do with deer hunting, friends or false teeth. I have in front of me a quote from a book from Robert Fulghum. He's one of my favorite authors. The book is Word's I Wish I Wrote. It's full of quotes. In this season of political ads this particular quote seems appropriate- at least to me. "If you're not involved in the sweaty work of the world, you shouldn't be in charge of the deodorant concession." I totally agree.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October Splendor










I was going to post something here several days ago, well, actually it's been longer than that, but I didn't want to just be putting anything on here. I guess that's what Twitter or tweeter or twiddle dee, twiddle dum, or tweetie bird or whatever that site is, is for. I didn't think anyone would be overly interested in, say, my shopping experience at Costco. "Well, I'm pushing a huge cart right now. It's really getting heavy. I just picked up four cans of Folgers and I'm heading for the green olives. Maybe I'll buy a jar of pickles while I'm there."


Maybe I'm fooling myself. Perhaps what I write about is less interesting than stale bread, but I do have some nice pictures now and then. If nothing else, it's fun to share the beauty of this place with those who can't be here. This past Sunday was one of those days when I can't imagine being anywhere else. It was so beautiful -sunny and warm too. I sat out on the front porch and enjoyed the sunshine and talked with one of the local fishermen for awhile. Later in the afternoon I got on the bike and rode out to the airport to get some pictures. The two top pictures are from there. In years past I shot many a duck out there. Or at least I shot at many ducks. I imagine if I had to figure it out, each duck I got was worth about forty dollars a pound if you took into consideration the number of shells I expended. It used to be a lot of fun: walking through the waist high grass with enough ammo swinging from my jacket pockets to arm a small militia, filling my waders with icy cold water, straining my eyes in the dark trying to find the road, and on those rare occasions when I actually shot something, sitting out on the front porch trying to keep from retching while I take out the entrails. Good times. I don't know why I don't do it anymore. Oh well, there's a season for everything I guess.

While I was out and around I took another picture of Ear Mountain. I don't know how many pictures I have of it. I never get tired of looking at it though. The snow has been up there off and on for about two weeks. I suspect it's here to stay now. It's always exciting when the first snow shows on top. I don't know why. It's a reminder that winter is coming and I'm not a big fan of winter in Alaska. At least we don't have to worry about gnats and misquitos right now, and it shouldn't be long before the bears start hibernating. I wonder how long I could sleep without having to eat. That would be kind of cool - nap for a few weeks, wake up, you've lost twenty pounds, have a snack and go hit the sack again for a few more weeks. Before you knew it, winter would be over and you'd be back to a healthy weight again; plus you'd save a bundle on food. Except for a few things like having a job, brushing your teeth and having to use the bathroom, it would probably work. Until I can get those minor setbacks worked out I guess I'll stick with the way things are.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cups Are Us


With fishing season over for the year, at least for me, I'm left with my annual inner conflict of what to do with my time. I absolutely hate wasting time, but I'm so undisciplined that unless I go to bed with some idea of what I'm going to do the next day, I drift about like a man without a country and then suffer with a guilty conscience for not accomplishing anything productive. As long as I'm not doing anything else, I don't mind cooking and cleaning the house. I'm not going to run out and buy an apron or anything, but it gives me something to do and it gives Jan a break. Yesterday I was making supper- shrimp salad. I don't know why it takes so many utensils to cook a couple pounds of shrimp and cut up some veggies, but it does. I wonder if Martha Stewart makes a big mess when she cooks. I guess it doesn't matter if she does, someone else will clean up after her. I don't have that option. While the shrimp was boiling I did some dishes and dried them and started putting them away. We have a cupboard that has two slide out shelves for the pots and pans. It's located down low next to the stove. I don't know how Jan manages to get all the skillets, lids, loaf pans, dutch ovens, sauce pans and pie plates in there, but she does. I don't have that much patience so I usually stuff it all together and shut the doors real quick. It seems to work. I do the same thing with the tupper-ware stuff that's in the cupboard above the microwave. For some reason we have about twelve different sizes and shapes and none of them are compatable with each other. If you kind of balance them for a few seconds you can slam the door and they'll stay put. The problem comes when you open the door to get one. It's not a bad idea to be standing under an umbrella before you open the door. That way the avalanche won't hurt you. There's a good reason why the heavy stuff is located down lower. Anyway, I was drying the dishes and while I was putting away the cups, I started running out of room to put them, so I thought I would line them up and see what all we had. Let's see- Jan has a cup that say's Hoonah on it. On the bottom it says "get mugged". I guess that's the manufacturer. I have a cup from China that Candy, a family friend,gave me when she got back from her semester at sea, an unsolicited cup from some veterans place that says Freedom isn't Free, a colorful scenery one that says Albuquerque- boy that would be a good word for a spelling bee, a Cabela's cup from my daughter Camille, another Alaska cup, a Statue of Liberty one from Jen, one that Jan bought for herself that says Crabby till I get my Coffee, some girlie cup, a large two tone brown hand made cup that could probably hold a quart of liquid easily, a nautical theme cup with ropes and portholes, a blue cup that's shaped kind of like an hourglass. It used to have felt on the bottom. I think it came from my boat. We have a plastic cup with a picture of Scooby Doo that says "Grandma you're more fun than anyone." I should get one with my picture on it that says "Grandpa you're a jerk!" I wonder if those would sell. I do have one from my grandkids that says Big Dog Dad, My House, My Rules. It's also huge. I should use it more often. I'm sure that after lifting it to my mouth every morning I would see a noticable increase in my bicepts. We also have a pink one with a moose whom I guess is the Caffine Queen, one that shows a bear drinking coffee- advertizing Grizzly Blend beans, the cup says The coffee is a bruin, a large blue tea cup with matching saucer and last but not least, a one quart, green Alladin cup. I wish I could say that was all of them, but we have even more in the other cupboard. A dozen or more from a Correlle dish set and some antique ones, to say nothing of the cups in Jan's bras, but we don't drink coffee from those. Needless to say, we have plenty to choose from when the urge to drink arises, so kids, if you're reading this, I love you, and I love the cups you've given us down through the years, but we're probably set for awhile.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tideland Tackle and Marine







My favorite place to shop in Hoonah is here at the Tideland Tackle and Marine store. If they would expand their inventory a little to include perhaps milk and bread and of course cheese and Pace chunky salsa, there might be little reason for me to shop anywhere else. No doubt I'd probably get in trouble if Jan sent me down for a loaf of bread and some lunch meat and I came back with a box of 8/0 stainless steel hooks and a pack of OG55R glow in the dark hoochies, but it would still be nice to have a little larger inventory. Unfortunately, I don't know where they would put anymore stuff. The store is painfully small as it is. As you can see, they carry a pretty good supply of guns and ammo, reels, trout lures, spoons, hooks, flashers and my favorite, hoochies. For anyone who doesn't know, hoochies are little vinyl octopus lures that come in a variety of colors that you tow behind a flasher to catch salmon. Those wicked employees at Tideland intentionally order all manner of delightful hoochies in order to entice innocent fishermen like myself into buying a few packs, knowing full well that we suffer from an anglers syndrome known as Hoochie Lust. I have two tackle boxes on my boat filled so full of hoochies that I can scarcely close the lids, and yet they have the audacity to stock new varieties every year, placing them right near the front of the store where you have no choice but to see them. Of course, once you've glanced in their direction, you're irrevocably drawn to the display and it's only a matter of time before you've added another pack to your swelling collection. Off to the right of the store the walls are painted a rather striking cerise color. I didn't take a picture of that. That corner houses the wooden puzzles, jewelry case, sweatshirts for grandkids and other more touristy items. I don't know what that has to do with a tackle shop, but since there are busloads of tourists offloading down at the harbor, it's probably a good thing to carry.
The store has come a long way since Tom Leblanc first built it over twenty some years ago. He started a small store in his house, devoting one room to all manner of commercial fishing gear- groundline, hooks, knives, gangions and whatnot. I guess when he saw the need for a larger space he built the building down in the harbor. It was Tom's Commercial Marine at the time. Then he left and sold it to Loren and Marylyn Lawson. They worked at the logging camp at Whitestone and owned a little place out there called the Tackle Shop. So Tom's became L&M Marine until Mt. Bether bought it some years ago. It's really an asset to the town. Dave Austin, the guy in the top picture, manages the store. He expanded into hydraulics, which was a good move in a fishing village, and as far as I know is the only local place to get any work done on your hydraulic system. They are the only place in Hoonah that carries hunting and fishing licenses and only one of two that carrry sport fishing bait, including Tom's Halibaits, premium halibut bait- I of course being the Tom from the Tom's Halibaits. Obviously Dave has impeccable taste when it comes to halibut fishing bait.
Like everyone else on the planet, Dave is an intersting character. Prior to moving to the farm some years back, he was a professional musician. He still is for that matter, and aside from running the store, he teaches music lessons at the school. However back in his younger years, he worked for the Hartford (Conneticut) symphony playing the cello. He said that on some pieces of music the trombone and tuba players sat in the back and had magazines on their music stands that they would read until their part came up. Apparently the guy who played the triangle only had one or two notes, so he would go behind the curtain and play pinoccle until his time came. Ahh, the secrets are being revealed.
I believe Dave said his father was a professor of philosophy at Wheaton college in Massachussettes. Dave attended a prep school where the dress code required the boys to wear a tie. Apparently several of the boys rebelled in their own small way, fulfilling the letter of the law, if not the spirit. He said one young man wore the same tie every day and had a habit of letting it dip into the soup at lunch time. I guess by the end of the school year it was pretty stiff and no doubt somewhat aromatic. Another boy started the week with a bow tie. On Tuesday he wore a wide tie, Wednsday a thinner tie, Thursday an even thinner tie and by Friday he was wearing a string bolo. He just kept adding a new tie every day. I guess by Friday his ties stuck way out off his chest. I would think that it would become hard to breathe, but I don't know. He mentioned that as long as the boys were wearing a tie, they didn't get much grief, so I guess some of the fellows knotted their ties way down by their stomaches. Boys will be boys.
I find it fascinating that a person who grew up in a well to do family with a backround in music would find his way to a Christian community in Southeast Alaska and end up managing a tackle shop. When it comes to characters, we have them in abundance right here in little ol' Hoonah Alaska. I'm so glad.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Zip Line




Before summer becomes too much of a distant memory, ( and before I lose the fact sheet that my grandson Kristian gave me) I wanted to do a post on the zip line, one of the popular attractions at Icy Strait Point. This isn't the best picture ever- I was shooting into the sun, but it was the only one I could get at the time. I was coming back from a days fishing earlier in the summer and I had a chance to get the most breathtaking, clear shot of the zipline- the wires were visible right unil they disappeared into the mist at the top of the mountain. It would have been a world class shot. I turned the boat around so I could get the best advantage, I turned on the camera and got just the right placement, and right when I pressed the shutter button, the battery died. Go figure. It was a classic Botts situation. After I got done swearing and a little time passed,I could see the humor in it. I still wish I could have gotten that shot though.
Just looking at this picture is enough to make my stomach queasy. I'm not too fond of heights. It didn't used to bother me. When I was a kid I used to climb on the roof of my neighbor's barn, I don't know why there was a barn in a residential neighborhood, but there was, and I would jump across to Mrs. Jones's cherry tree and steal cherries. I remember repeatedly jumping off a garage roof too just for fun. Now if I have to climb on a step stool to change an overhead light I get vertigo. What a whimp! Anyway, back to the zip line. It runs in my mind that they had to have a helicopter ferry the concrete and other building materials to the site at the top of the mountain. I believe that's how they strung the lines too. It was opened in 2007 and is over a mile long, with a 1300 foot vertical drop at the beginning of the ride. Ooh, just saying sounds scary. The riders have to catch a bus and take a forty five minute trip to the top. Then it's another five minute walk to the top tower. There is a maximum weight restriction of 275 pounds and a minimum of 90 pounds. Five people can go at one time, and go they do at a speed of 60MPH. The ride lasts for one and a half minutes and judging from the screams that I've heard, it must be thrilling. Jan says she'd like to try it next year. We'll see. Maybe if I take a tranquilizer and have a box of Depends handy, I'll give it a shot.