Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lumbago Way




My daughter, Autumn ,is in Hoonah visiting from Wasilla. It's the same town where Sarah Palin was mayor. It's up near Anchorage for those who may not be familiar with Alaska. She had mentioned that she wanted to get some pictures while she was here, so the other day we had a break in the weather and went out. We ventured down to Lumbago Way. It's an upaved alley of sorts that runs along the beach. Garteeni Creek is on the far side of the peninsula in the pictures. In the spring the Dolly Varden trout show up to feed on the salmon smolt that are working their way out to the saltwater. In late summer and fall there is a run of Humpback and Coho salmon. There may be Chums that run up there too, I can't remember. The creek runs right by the breakwater for the harbor and past the boat haulout area. Last year I watched a few folks go out on the flats on a minus tide and take a few buckets of clams or cockles out of there. I wish Iliked clams- I'd go dig some myself. In the years before I came on the scene, there used to be several shops located along the beach where shipwrights worked on boats. Apparently one of the shipwrights also made caskets and just about anything else that a person needed that could be made of wood. Folks here had to be fairly industrious just to survive. I understand that there were a number of small fishermen's cabins down along the beach too. The cabins are gone now, but there are still a few ramshackle buildings left standing as well as several really nice homes. It confounds me that here in Hoonah we can have what would be considered basically shacks right alongside fairly expensive dwellings. On the one hand it's nice to not have someone dictating where you can live or how your home has to look, but on the other it can be somewhat discouraging that the zoning laws aren't a little more stringent.
When I was working at L. Kane's store, there was a man who lived on Lumbago who was a mechanical genius. His name was Alfred Luchinetti. He gave new life to all the old equipment at the Thompson Fish Company, as well as Kane's and the other two stores. There wasn't anything that he couldn't fix, that I know of. The bad part was, he loved to talk. He insisted that I be right there while he worked on some cooler or freezer that needed his expertise, telling me the whole time what the problem was and step by step of what he was doing to fix it. I didn't dare leave to do any of my pressing work for fear that he would get insulted and I wouldn't be able to utilize his services again. Since everything in the store was ancient of days, we were always calling on him to repair something. I remember working at Hoonah Seafoods and one of the freezers broke down. Unbeknownst to me he had been called and was inside working with the door partially closed. When I opened the door to get something my nostrils were assulted with the most pungent odor. " What's that smell Alfred?" I asked. When he replied that he didn't smell anything I was astounded. How could anyone not smell it? It wasn't until much later that I realized it was him. He consumed such quantities of garlic that it was seeping out through his pores. Needless to say, when it comes to characters, per capita, Hoonah is right near the top.
While we were on our walk I noticed a couple of Bald Eagles hanging out in one of the Cottonwood trees. I'm not sure what they're eating right now. I imagine they might swoop down on an unsuspecting Mallard or Bufflehead or perhaps there's a Bullhead in the shallows. They always seem to find something. Some years back I watched one attack a swan. That was distressing. I was working on my boat one spring when an eagle grabbed a Dungeness Crab out of a tidal pool. That crab didn't give up without a fight though. While the eagle had his talons in the crab, the crab had hold of the bird's leg and it was screeching something fierce. Sometimes living here is like being a part of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. As long as no one gets hurt, it's pretty cool.



Monday, December 27, 2010

I hope every one had a nice Christmas. We certainly did. As per usual, we ate too much, or at least I did. When I looked at the amount of food that was purchased prior to the holiday I didn't really believe that we could go through it all. Of course, once again, I was wrong. Thankfully I didn't eat it all myself. My sons Ben and Brian came for a visit, and my daughter Autumn and her husband Aaron were here. Then of course Jen and her tribe. Throw in a few friends and you have a pretty nice showing. On Christmas Eve we all descended on Jennifer's house like ants at a picnic. She has an annual shoebox dinner that she puts on. Fortunately we don't have to eat the shoes. Then the next day we're back again for brunch. For some reason she doesn't seem to get tired of company. She's the most sociable person I know. I'm really kind of glad she's that way. It gives all the guests a place to go when I get crabby, as I'm prone to do. All the kids seem to like to stay up late and play games and talk and eat. I, on the other hand, prefer the quiet of an empty house after about ten PM. I'm always kind of amazed that we made it through all the noise and hustle and bustle of seven kids for all those years. Perhaps that's why silence is so coveted now.
I posted these pictures, partly because I like birds,and partly because it reminds me of chowtime at our house during the holidays. These are Junkos. They show up every year looking for a hand out. I think they become dependent on the seed that gets tossed out to them in the winter. I don't know what would happen if I ran out of seed for an extented period of time- it might be like a scene from that Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds. Hmm... I wonder what would happen if we ran out of food for the guests at our house. I don't think I even want to think about that.
I'm not real sure, but I think all this extra eating that I've been doing may have led to some of the pain I'm experiencing in my back. It's been really hurting for the past couple of days. I think I'm suffering from a syndrome commonly known as Holiday Gut. It's also been called Thanksgiving Tummy and Cookie Dough Stomache.The more severe cases always appear right around Thanksgiving and usually don't subside until well into the new year. As the years pile on it becomes more and more difficult to get rid of HG, but it can be done.
I was sitting in Jan's rocking chair earlier with a special electric massage pad, for lack of a better word. Inside the pad were a pair of rotating balls and every time they came in contact with the sensitive part of my back I would squirm and yell- much to the delight of my wife and daughter. Autumn was enjoying it so much she dragged out her phone and was video taping it-perhaps to put on U tube or some such thing. In any event, I unpugged the blasted thing. I didn't want my pain to be giving the whole world too much entertainment. I don't mind laughter at my expense, but there are limits.






Monday, December 20, 2010

Party Time


Being an ignorant buffoon can be difficult at times. There are a few upsides though. If people realize you aren't the brightest bulb in the box, they have a tendency to not expect too much from you. Plus you can usually get some kind soul to help you out in your time of need. Such was the case today when I couldn't remember how to download my pictures onto a flash drive so I could come up to the library and do this blog. Fortunately, family friend and Stanford grad, or is it Stamford grad, well, whatever she is, Candy is really intelligent and she was kind enough to help me. I really appreciate the fact that she is so patient too. I know that I have a tendency to try even the most docile teacher who ever lived. I just don't pick up on things too quickly. Anyway, I got the help I needed and was successful in getting the pictures I wanted for this blog.
Back on the tenth of this month we had an open house. It's been an annual event for awhile now, though last year we didn't do it for some reason. I'm always surprised at how many people show up. This year we had 49. There would have been more but several folks were sick, and a handful didn't have access to a babysitter. Several years ago we had over 70 visitors. That was a blast!We don't do anything special- buy a bunch of food and open the doors- and here they come. Kind of like Ghengis Khan, only they're welcome here. Everyone seems to have a good time. It gets pretty hot and noisy in the house, and I always secretly hope that the floor joists don't buckle under all the weight, but once again they held up so I was pretty happy. We didn't even have to clean up any coffee or punch off the carpet. An added bonus. We had a handful of new teachers show up. I was hoping to get to know them better, but they moved out of the kitchen area and I didn't want to be too far removed from the food, so I still don't know who they are.
My good friend Jim Carey caught a ride in from Game Creek with someone just so he could come to the party. In a few months he will be 89, so I was really stoked that he chose to endure the trip during a very cold spell just to be there. He used to work as an illustrator for General Dynamics prior to moving to the farm in the eighties. Until recently he gathered Bear Breads, a fungus that grows on the old growth trees, and painted them white. Then after they dried he would paint diffent scenes on them. Everything from eagles and bears to fellows out fishing in the streams. He sold them at Tideland and I think some of the tourist shops in Juneau. They're really beautiful. I love talking to him because he has such a positive attitude. I guess opposites attract. He's so much like a child in the way he views things. He sees the beauty in everything. He's got a great sense of humor too. I was joking with him at the Thanksgiving dinner at Game Creek several years ago. He was drinking a second glass of punch and I asked him if he felt like he could handle it. " I'm an overcomer Tom!" he said. That was a word we heard a lot of out on the farm in the early years.
It's always a scramble at the end of the evening when folks decide to leave. As you can see, there's an abundance of boots and jackets here in the foyer. I ran to the church and grabbed extra hangers, and pulled all of our coats out of the closet to make room. There's still mass confusion when people are looking for their stuff, but I guess everyone left with what they came with. It never fails though, after the smoke cleared, aside from some left over Little Smokies, chips,crackers and broccoli spears, we had two canvas bags and a metal tray with Santa Claus on it. I tried to give away the stuff to who we thought it belonged to, but no such luck, so I guess I have to make some more room in the house. All in all though it was a delightful time and I hope we can do it again next year.
On a different note: I spoke to Gene the technician who is supposed to set up the Hughes Net sattelite for us. I hadn't heard from him for a week or so- I knew he was waiting for a replacement for his direction finder which had been stolen. When I called, he told me that he recieved the equipment, but then he suffered a small stroke. What are the odds? Of course I can't very well start bothering him about setting up my sattelite now. I'd be the hands down jerk of Hoonah if he was climbing on my roof and fell off because I wanted the stupid internet set up. Soooo... I guess I'll just wait and see what happens. There's never a dull moment in Bottsville.




Monday, December 13, 2010

Still Waiting


Well, here I am again- up at the library, trying to do a blog post and read my email. I got a call from Gene, the guy who is supposed to be setting us up with Hughes Net so we can get internet service at home. I was expecting to be all squared away by now, but he called and said someone made off with his direction finder. He needs that to make sure the antenna is pointed at the satellite, so I guess I have to wait until he gets another one. Go figure. To make matters more interesting, I can't tell which picture I'm choosing for the blog right now- it just gives me a number, which I randomly chose, so obviously I got the picture from my book. Oh well. To add to the situation, I only have thirty minutes allotted for this computer before it automatically shuts off and I lose everything. Can you believe it? Actually I can- nothing really surprizes me. " What doctor? I have the only recorded case of malaria in Alaska? No, I'm not shocked at all" "What's that you say? You've been a mechanic for thirty seven years and you've never seen this problem before? Really expensive to fix? Yes I figured as much." " What? Someone stole the direction finder for the satellite and now you won't be able to set up the dish? Oh well."
To compound the misery, I had a friend call the other day. Right after he said hi, he wanted to know when I was going to post to my blog. Well Doug, here ya go buddy. I have to write fast- the computer says I only have ten minutes left. I'll have to give a little backround on Doug when I'm not so pressed for time. I guess I should be really happy that the library is still available for use at all. The way things are going with this economy, I'm pleased that it hasn't been shut down yet.
Sorry this isn't a little more entertaining, but I don't work well under pressure and I'm rapidly running out of minutes. Hopefully the next time I post it will be from my own home. Until then, take care.