Monday, November 29, 2010

Meanwhile, Up at the Library...




Whooee! It's raining buckets outside tonight; blowing sideways, cold, black as pitch. Just a typical late November night in Southeast Alaska. As one gal from the farm used to say, " It's raining like pouring pee out of a boot." Well, I've never poured pee out of a boot before- but if I had to,I can imagine that it would be quite a downpour. Obviously this isn't a picture of anyone pouring anything out of anything else. Because I'm using the library computer and I'm not overly comfortable with it, I'm digging into the archives of my picture file for something to write about. I don't want too much time to elapse without posting something to the blog. I decided to post these pictues of Brian Bitz. He was diving off the airplane float last year when I took these. I think he was looking for some crabs- the yellow bag is to hold his catch. He didn't get anything on this particular day, but he mentioned that he's picked up King Crabs on occasion and of course Dungeness. When they first started building the breakwater I remember coming out of the harbor in my Highlaker and looking down and seeing Dungeness crabs walking along the bottom. At low tide you could scoop them up with a long handled net.
I think it was January or February when I took these pictures. One of the really cold months. I don't even like to be on land when it's that cold, much less the water. You can't really tell from the pictures, but he was pretty chilly when he got out. He mentioned that there were about 100 bicycles laying around down in the harbor area. For some unknown reason there is a certain segment of society here that seem to derive some pleasure from stealing bikes and then riding them off the end of the dock. I don't know what fun that would be, but I've never tried it. I've heard from other divers who have said that it can be dangerous diving around the area. Over the years people have tossed all manner of things off the docks- engine parts, trolling wire, crab pots, cable, just about anything that could sink. Out of sight, out of mind I guess,unless of course you're diving, in which case all the junk can be a dangerous obstacle, capable of snagging your suit and possibly drowning you. All the more reason for me not to take up diving. I wouldn't mind going swimming though. I haven't done it for years. It looks like the pool may be up and running soon so I may have to give it a try again. I'm not a very good swimmer, but if I put on a pair of fins I can lay on my back and paddle around like an otter... a lumpy white otter with a big gut sticking out of the water. The very image is enough to scare anyone. Oh well. Maybe I can talk Brian into lending me his wet suit, it might prevent a panic at the pool.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Setbacks and Learning Experiences


My mind is a mysterious thing to me. Judging by the looks I get from some people, it's a mystery to them too. Out of the blue, some thought will appear and I haven't got the foggiest idea where it came from. Sometimes it will be triggered by something totally unrelated to the subject at hand. For instance, the other day I was walking back from the post office and I noticed this apple tree in Ernie Jack's yard. The apples reminded me of ornaments on a Christmas tree, and I was going to do a blog on it, although I hate talking about Christmas before Thanksgiving has even arrived. Then I started thinking about a pear tree that my neighbors up the street had back in Marion. I distinctly remembering being just a little guy, maybe three or four. It was summer and I was young enough that I was willing to wear a sunsuit without objection. I was barefooted and walked up into their yard. Pears had fallen on the ground and the honeybees were crawling all over them. I was scared of being stung, so I started stepping on the bees. Of course I got stung. That was a learning experience. I don't know why my mother didn't name me Brainiac. Which reminds me of the time I decided in grade school that I would list my whole name on a school paper. I misplaced the i and the a. Somehow Tom Brain Botts just wasn't appropriate, although my teacher and my parents were certainly entertained. For awhile afterwards I signed Tom Joe Botts- I knew how to spell Joe. Eventually I just signed Tom B. Chalk it up to another learning experience. I had a number of them growing up. I found out that you don't have to be in direct contact with a flame in order for a paint brush full of gasoline to catch fire. It happened like this...my dad and I were cleaning out the garage one day and he found a really expensive paint brush hidden under all this junk. He was really happy, and stuck it in a small can of gas to loosen it up. He felt like he didn't have enough gas so he ran up to the gas station and left me behind to watch the bonfire we had going. Let me interject here that my dad was a very intellegent man. He obviously had a temporary lapse in his senses when he left me in charge. Of course as soon as he left I started flipping the brush at the fire, watching it flame up. A pyromaniac in the making. The first two times everything was fine. The third time was the charm though. It burned just like what it was- a paintbrush full of gas. I stomped it out and put it back in the can like nothing happened. Needless to say, my dad was not amused. He came back and poured the gas in the can and started swishing the brush around. When he pulled it out the blond, nylon brush was all black and the bristles were all curly-qued. Who knew? I certainly know now though. I put it on my list of things not to do. Some things are out of our control though. They can present setbacks. Several years back the transmission went out on my boat. Fortunately I was able to get it repaired and back in the boat before the next season. I've mentioned before about hitting the wrong computer key in my ignorance and wiping out an entire chapter in my book. That would qualify as a setback. A couple days ago I contacted the guy who published my book and sent him down a copy of the manuscript for a new book that I'm writing about the local fishermen. When he called later and said, " you know that I'm your biggest fan; you know I love you." I knew that there might be the potential for another setback. There was. He loved part of it, but the part that I thought would be best, he didn't. So, I know what I'll be doing this winter. No more bordom for me. Fortunately I don't need the internet to redo the manuscript, which is really good, because I found out yesterday that tomorrow the internet provider will be shutting down. So, as I mentioned the other day, until we figure something out, it might be awhile before I can post on here again. However, setbacks are just that. They can be overcome; they aren't permanent. As soon as I can, I will be back to writing the blog. In the meantime, it will be another learning experience. See ya soon. Oh, I almost forgot, Wilderness Blues is available now at Amazon in a Kindle edition for $9.99, for any of you folks that don't like paperback. http://www.amazon.com/Wilderness-Blues-T-B-Botts/dp/1934635006/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292539765$sr=1-1 .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Days Gone By







It snowed today for the first time this season. It didn't amount to anything, just a few flakes falling, not even enough to cover the ground, and then it was gone. I don't know why, but up the bay by Neka Mountain the ground is covered all the way to the beach. Maybe it was colder there than in town. Anyway, it probably won't be long now and we'll have to deal with the blasted stuff. Just in case, I climbed under the house and wrestled out a snow shovel. Since there wasn't any snow to take pictures of, and since I don't really want to think about winter yet, I thought I would display a few pictures from a little outing that I took with Jan and Jen and Kaylahni awhile back. We were going to go out to Freshwater Bay, but as Botts luck would have it, they were refurbishing the road, so we went to another spot. It was a beautiful day so we parked the car on the side of the road and ate a sandwich and sat in the sunshine and enjoyed each others company. It had the added benefit of not having to watch out for hungry brown bears so much, which we would most certainly have had to do if we had made it out to Freshwater Bay. Nothing ruins a picnic like being mauled by a bear. All in all it was a nice day. As we move deeper into the year, when the cold winds blow and you swear it's never going to be warm again, it's pleasant to look back and remember the days gone by, when sunshine and shortsleeves were the norm.
Before I forget, I should mention that today when I got on my email, the local internet provider informed me that they will be shutting down soon. The place where the server is located is on private land and it looks like the land is no longer available to the provider. As a result, sometime in the near future I'll go to turn on the internet and it won't come up. Soooo... I guess we'll have to figure out something different. Welcome to Hoonah! Sometimes I feel like I'm living in Hooterville. Not to be mistaken for Hooters restaurants. While it might be amusing, and even delightful to live in Hooters for awhile, I imagine it would have it's down side too. For those who are too young to remember, Hooterville was a fictional little back woods town in a television sitcom called Pettycoat Junction. I think it also may have been a backdrop for the Greenacres TV program. In any event, I can always blog from the library... I think. However, I don't believe I'll be able to display any pictures. All the more reason to expedite getting a new internet provider when necessary. If I have to rely on my razor sharp wit to entertain, then I'm afraid we'll all be sorely dissapointed.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Over The River...







When I was in elementary school, many, many years ago, every year, about a week or so before Thanksgiving,we'd sing this song. I don't know what the name of it was but it went... Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go, the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh- something, something, something. I can't remember the rest of the lyrics. I don't know if they still sing it or not. I was young enough at the time that I hadn't experienced enough life or picked up enough baggage along the way to become self-conscious, so I would sing that song with gusto. I thoroughly enjoyed Thanksgiving, not so much for the food, although the pumpkin pie was always a treat and it was the only time we ever ate turkey. There was something about that day that I knew was special. I don't know if it was because we were out of school for a few extra days or because Mac usually had his shipment of Christmas trees arriving in boxcars about then or if maybe it was that the first snow usually fell about that time. I remember my Dad always wore a suit and tie on that day and we sat at the dining room table instead of the kitchen and Dad would bless the food. I felt warm and secure and happy and though I didn't express it, I think I was thankful.
Today I experienced those feelings from so long ago again. Though it's not Thanksgiving day according to the calendar, today we celebrated a day of thanksgiving at Game Creek in what has become an annual tradition. The folks at the farm welcomed the entire town of Hoonah for a feast and people in record numbers showed up this year. People who've been coming there for years as well as folks who set foot on the property for the first time showed up. We had a whole batch of school teachers and fishermen, loggers and greenies and folks who lived there at one time and don't any longer, and of course those who still do, and everyone in between. I heard that at least 120 guests had shown up and I think folks were still coming in after the counting had been done. The farm provided the turkey and stuffing, potatoes and gravy and I don't know what all else and the guests added to the pot with salads and pies and sidedishes of all kinds. Of course the food was delicious, but more than anything else, I enjoyed the fellowship. I talked with old friends and met new ones and everywhere I looked people were having a good time. For a short while we put aside the lables that we usually assign to others and just enjoyed a delightful meal in the company of friends. It's what good memories are made of.
Speaking of good memories and friends, for anyone reading this who may not know them, the top picture is of my very good friends Bob and Gail Pinard. They lived at the farm during the time that we were there. You can see they are both wearing Xtra-tuff sixteen inch boots to make the treck across the fields. It's standard fare here in Southeast. Someone is actually writing a book about Xtra-tuffs. I'm not sure what all you can say about them to hold the reader's interest, but I guess that's not my problem. Bob is packing a twelve guage shotgun just in case an unwelcome brown bear should want to challenge our presence there. Needless to say there were a number of guns that made an appearance on the trail between the parking area and the tabernacle today. Fortunately they weren't needed, but this time of year when food is getting scarce for them, you can't be too careful. I took a picture of the cabin just because I like the way it looks. It was built sometime before 1976 when we arrived, and as you can see no one has lived there for a good long while. Anyway, that's a short look at another wonderful day of thanksgiving at Game Creek, and like those days when I was just a boy, today once again I felt warm and secure and happy and I'd like to express my gratitude to the folks at Game Creek who opened up their home and welcomed a multitude to a banquet. Thanks so much! God bless.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pumpkin Boy


Well, Halloween has come and gone. I'm kind of glad. I'm sure the dog is. He had to suffer through the embarrassment of wearing this ridiculous pumpkin costume for a while on Halloween night. When he saw it he ran under the table and had to be enticed with food to put it on. Unfortunately the Jack O' Lantern is just the beginning of sorrows. I think there is a Santa costume and something that looks like a clown one hanging in a closet upstairs. How humiliating. Dogs have feelings you know; although a piece of cheese can go a long way in helping to offset any loss of dignity. I don't know how anyone else fared, but here in Hoonah we had such a dreadful wet, cold, blowy evening that we hardly had any kids come by. Wouldn't you know it? I had gone to Walmart several weeks ago so I was all stocked up with stuff and ready for the big onlslaught. Of course it didn't happen. If I had forgotten to get anything for Halloween, there probably would have been a warm front pass through and a bright harvest moon with hundreds of kids swarming the house begging for treats. I just can't win. To make matters worse we have this big bowl of candy sitting on the TV stand just waiting for me to saunter past. It's almost sinister. I never used to like Skittles, but since we have a large number of packs of them, I thought I'd give them a try. Either they've changed the formula for making them or my tastes have changed. Now I can't leave them alone. The receptionist at the forest service where I clean apparently didn't have too many trick-or-treaters come to her house either, so she brought all her left over candy and left it on the counter where I have to pass by six or eight times a night. To my delight/dismay, lounging in the bowl in their bright silver wrappings are multitudes of miniture Three Musketeers bars, or as E P Mac Affee used to call them, Three Musty Steers. He was the fellow that owned Mac's Trading Post and called us fellows, girls when we came in. I didn't have any idea what a musty steer was, but as long as it only cost a nickel and tasted like chocolate, it was fine with me.
In any event, the holiday season is officially upon us I guess. For the next couple of months we'll be inundated with all manner of tasty delights,none of which will be healthy. My already rotund body will expand even further, creating all manner of guilt and frustration and stretching the skin over my gut like a basket ball that's been overfilled. I'll hate the way I look and feel, dragging around these extra pounds like a ball and chain and wish that I'd been blessed with a little more self- discipline. Perhaps if I had to wear a pumpkin outfit after I gained so many pounds I would be less inclined to overindulge. At the very least I would have Rigby to keep me company.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Almost Here!






It's November 2, and although it's election day, and that in itself is pretty scary given the condition of the country, I'm not referring to the political landscape; I'm speaking about the changes happening in the natural one. Winter is on the way and as much as I might like to deny it, I can't avoid it. As you can see the snow on Ears is much lower than it was just several days ago. Most of the plants in the garden have died or are in the process of dying, with the exception of the Rhododendron and the Dusty Miller. It poured buckets last night and most of today and when I took the dog out a little bit ago to do his thing I darn near froze. Of course he doesn't care about how I feel, he's too busy smelling pee and other gifts that the neighborhood dogs have left, to worry about me- the selfish little brat. Sometimes I feel like Rodney Dangerfield, I don't get no respect. Soon I'll be forced to go out and shovel little paths in the snow so the dog won't get his little belly cold when he has to go potty. Little poop paths. It doesn't get much better than that. I can hardly wait.