Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Chipper Fish

Holy Toledo, it's the last day of July! That's hard to fathom. I don't know where the month went. It kind of flew by on the one  hand, and yet on the other hand it seems as if it's been July for ages. Don't know how to explain that. In any event, I wanted to do a blog on our newest eating establishment here in Hoonah- The Chipper Fish. For those who haven't been to Hoonah for awhile, it will be a bit of a surprise to see. The building used to be located down at the harbor, across from Tideland Tackle Co. It was called Libby's then and offered the usual hamburgers and fries and if I remember correctly, Jo Jo's and soft ice cream. It was a nice place to go and very conveniently located, close to the boats,so visitors and fishermen frequented it, as well as many of the locals. It was a real bummer when it shut down. For a number of years the building sat vacant and was moved to an empty lot behind the building that houses the laundromat and thrift store. The stainless cooking equipment was left inside and I was afraid that the building would either be vandalized or fall apart from lack of maintenance. I was pleasantly surprised one day when I saw Gus Skaflestad and his wife Chris looking the building over. They saw the potential for a business for their daughter Kristy, who I believe graduated from a culinary school. The empty lot at one time sported a large warehouse that the US Forest Service rented for storage. Eventually they moved out and the owner of the building dismantled it, leaving behind a pretty big concrete pad. Gus moved the building onto the pad and with the help of family and friends renovated the building and added a covered deck, ramp and stairs. Chris went to work on the landscape and for the first time in over thirty five years, the area that used to be a shortcut from Hill Street to Front Street with waist high grass, was manicured and made to look like a lawn. They added a gravel path to the main street and planted flowers in boxes and totally transformed the entire area. As you can see from the pictures, there is a nice dining area out on the patio, as well as under the covered porch. This has all taken place in a few short months. Frankly, I'm impressed. From what I can gather they've enjoyed a fairly successful venture so far. I would like to point out for those who may not be aware of the difficulty of getting supplies here, it's not like the lower forty-eight, where if you need something, you call the supplier and they send the delivery truck over that afternoon. There is a great deal of planning that goes into running a successful business  here. I believe that most of the perishable supplies have to come from Juneau, which means a weekly shipment on the ferry or an expensive flight on the local airlines- if the weather co-operates. In  any event its a challenge that most visitors most probably aren't aware of. In a supreme effort to support our local businesses, I decided to forgo my usual Sunday breakfast of eggs and sausage at the house and take Jan to breakfast at The Chipper Fish. I opted for the biscuits and gravy (homemade) and Jan got the Breakfast Burrito. The only conversation we had with each other for the duration of the meal was-"This is so good." We both had coffee which was served in paper cups that easily held twelve ounces and was just right. Next time we may opt to try the Bomb Skillet- four eggs scrambled, with sausage, bacon, potatoes, peppers, onions, cheddar and jack cheese and served with salsa and sour cream. All for ten dollars.  She also serves a lunch menu which includes wild Alaskan salmon, caught by her dad, and several dishes with chicken. (To the best of my knowlege they didn't raise the chickens) You get two free sides with each meal (the broccoli salad is delightful) and there is also a soup of the day which changes daily. Oh my! I don't know how she does it. The prices are great, the food is excellent, the atmosphere is pleasant and the establishment is clean. We have a winner here. My hat is off to Kristy and to all the hard working Americans, wherever they may be, who still believe that hard work, integrity and going the extra mile to give people what they pay for can pay dividends both now and in the future. Way to go gal! If you would like to give Kristy a call and wish her well, the number is 907-945-3434.  Just so you know,  I'm not being compensated in any way for this blog post. I do so much complaining when something happens that I don't like, I just figured when I do like something, I should be just as emphatic. As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I have to say about that."

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Silver Fox

I went trolling last Friday and Saturday. I intended to just go to Outer Point and drag around for the day, but the seine boats were working the area, so I ended up closer to Flynn Cove by the end of the day and decided to drop in and spend the night. It's  a great anchorage when the wind is coming from the east, which it was. When I arrived, the Silver Fox was already on anchor. It was just  the two of us in the anchorage that night. I guess everyone else was fishing outside or tied up in town. The Silver Fox- what  a great name for a boat. It lives up to its name too, she's a sharp looking fiberglass job. I imagine it catches fish like crazy also. You'd have to catch a lot of fish with a name like that. It's too classic of a name to be a dud. It runs in my mind that a good looking, popular country singer named Charlie Rich had the nickname, the Silver Fox. Just like the boat, you couldn't look all flabby and wrinkled and be called the Silver Fox. It got me to thinking, I've got silver in my hair, although some would argue that its just gray. How come silver sounds so distinguished and gray sounds like crap? Anyway, I was thinking, I'm a little flabby, dress shabbily and am usually unshaven, maybe I could be the Silver Blob. Which made me think of the horror movie, the Blob, that my dad took myself and my brother and sister to see when I was just a wee lad. For some reason Mom didn't go- she probably had more sense than to go sit in a drive-in theatre and watch a scary movie. For those too young to remember, they used to have outdoor theatres with big screens that you watched from the confines of your car. You had to pull up to a stand with a receiver and roll down the window and hang the receiver on the window so you could hear the movie. It was pretty primitive by todays standards. As  I recall, half the time you'd end up freezing part way through the movie, the windows would fog from the condensation, if you had to leave the car to go take a leak you'd spend the next half hour trying to find your car in the dark, and without fail you'd end up spilling your drink all over the seat, which endears you to your father. Ah, good times, good, good times. Back to the Blob. It came from outer space and if I remember correctly it was just like a piece of meteorite. Somehow though, it managed to creep through the most impenetrateable spaces and eat people. It was red and bloody looking and kept getting bigger with each person it ate. Frankly, it scared the hell out me. I was quite certain it was going to come through the speaker on our car's radio and target me. For some reason it would bypass my dad and siblings and go right after me. It was a great relief when the firemen managed to contain it with firehoses.  I remember being afraid of several things when I was a boy. I was visiting my good friend Mike O' Day one evening when a very popular song called the One Eyed, One Horned ,Flying Purple People Eater came on the radio. We were laughing and singing and having a good time until it came time to go the half block to my house, then I got to thinking about being eaten by the Flying Purple People Eater. Though Mike tried to convince me that I wouldn't be a target because I wasn't purple, what if there was one lurking about in the moonlight who was color blind? He offered to walk me home. Actually we ran down the hill- you can't be too careful. You don't want to be exposed for too long. I think it was my first experience with sacrificial friendship. Mike was willing to risk his life to get me home safely. That's a true friend. Next time I crack the top on a cold, refreshing beverage I'll try to remember to toast him. To friendship,Mike- and the Silver Blob.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Soothing Touch

It's been quite a busy few days. I went out several days ago and made a halibut set with a friend and pulled it yesterday. We caught all I needed to fill my quota and ended up having to shake off about seven hundred pounds of halibut in excess of the quota. It was a real bummer- the shaking, not the catching. Today I sold the catch and got started on cleaning up the mess. I'll continue with the clean up tomorrow. I fell asleep in the chair earlier, and when I finally woke up I figured  I would do a blog post. I know that I'm overdue for one. I made the mistake of looking at my email first. I saw that the credit card company had a charge for Norton Internet Security. I knew that it couldn't be right- I just had about a two hour chat with a fellow named Rohit back in February and he assured me I had 546 days left on the subscription. I was able to get on line and chat with another fellow this time Sonji or some such thing. By the time we got it all figured out, I felt like my hair should be aflame and my face melted into a puddle of Silly Putty with eyes. The technicians are all very nice, but I still have a hard time communicating with them. They want me to remember numbers and dates and contracts, HA! I have trouble remembering the name of the fellow in the next boat stall. Anyway, it got all squared away, until the next time they automatically renew something and I have to go through it again. Now though, it's late- Jimmy Kimmel is on TV and I feel like the Far Side character who raises his hand in class and asks if he can go home because his brain is full. I have the exact opposite problem though; I'm running on empty. At least until I go to bed, then the old brain will kick in full bore. I won't think of anything useful or practical. I'll probably rehearse something in my mind that I should have said or done about a hundred times, then a song that I used to like will play over and over until I can't stand the damn thing anymore, then I'll think about what I have to do tomorrow and try to will myself to sleep so I won't be so tired in the morning, then I'll probably think about catching a bunch of fish and the adrenaline will get going and I won't be able to sleep without a shot of ether. Finally, sometime in the middle of the night, after I've gotten up to pee once or twice (oh I love getting older) I'll finally drop off for a bit- until the stupid ravens decide to wake the neighborhood dogs for a little early morning singalong. Isn't life grand?
  Now on to other things. The top picture is of the Shirley N. He had been out fishing for King Salmon about a week or so ago and came steaming in at twilight one evening. Its always such a great feeling to come home when you've been gone for awhile. Jan took the picture of the moon over Port Frederick. It was very serene. I took the one of the moon over Ears Mountain. It looks almost tropical, like a giraffe should be standing in the foreground or something- damn that global warming! Anyway, I needed to post some pictures that won't get me all excited before I hit the hay. These pictures remind me of that kid's poem about three little kids going to bed. I'd heard it years ago when I was very young, and again by Mrs. Wilson on the Dennis the Menace movie.  Something about Hinkle Winckel and Stinkel, or Hinkle, Winkle and Todd, or Winkle, Finkle and Nod ... anyway, whatever it is, if you know it, would you kindly post it? I have to go to bed. Sweet dreams everyone.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fat Boy Pants

I have a most unusual dilemma today. Because of all the fish being caught, the cold storage is plugged full and are unable to buy the salmon that I caught yesterday and would like to catch today. As a result I have an unexpected, and I might add, unwanted, day off. I'll be getting plenty of time off this winter, so I would rather not have a day off foistered on me, but as one person I knew used to say- " people in hell want ice water too." Oh well. I'm trying to make good use of my time and do another blog post, even though I did one yesterday. Today, I decided to write a little blurb about my clothing, more specifically my pants. Don't worry, I'll try not to get too graphic. Last month I had a birthday, and my daughter Autumn blessed me with a generous gift certificate to my favorite store- Tideland Tackle Co. I decided to buy a pair of pants which I desperately needed. I have several pairs in the closet that have holes in the pocket, so that while I'm walking around, I can all at once feel various objects like my pocket  knife sliding down my pants leg and into my boot. To say the least it's uncomfortable to walk around with large objects in your boots. I was afraid that on one of my trips to the boat I might be stopped by a tourist offering me money, thinking that by my shabby dress I might be  homeless. Actually, the few homeless people I know of in town dress better than me. No doubt the locals would have to come to my defense and explain-"Oh he's not homeless, he's just a fisherman." Anyway, several weeks ago I proudly took my gift certificate in and purchased a pair of Carhartts- premium pants for the working man. They used to advertize that even a Grizzly bear's teeth couldn't penetrate the tough fabric of these pants. I really like these pants... they have a double layer of cloth at the knees and are double stitched and even riveted. You've got to love pants that have rivets in them. If you were working on, say, a bridge or skyscraper and ran out of rivets, you could take off your Carhartts, place a girder into one of the legs to hold it in place, and keep right on working. I was thinking, if the good folks at Carhartts added some heat shrink material to their dungarees , you could use them wherever you wanted to bond two surfaces together in a semi- permanent way. It might come in handy  for an emergency repair on like railroad tracks that have parted. I should probably give the pants people a call with my idea. No doubt I'll be awarded millions, or at least a free pair of pants.
  I bought size 36x30. I used to wear a 34x31, but I think the downward pull of gravity is shrinking me and the extra inch of length got bottlenecked at my waist and compounded.  I don't know how else to explain it. The bad part of wearing a size 36 waist pants, is that the legs are big enough that I could put both of my legs into one hole, which of course would make walking very difficult. I think if they are going to put that much space in the pants leg, they should put pockets on the inside. Then if you don't need the space for your fat legs, it isn't going to waste. I had to buy size 36, even though I think I'm more like a 34 1/2 or 35. Of course they don't make size 34 1/2 or 35, so I end up cinching my belt tight to keep my pants from dropping to dangerous levels and making everyone ill. The end result is that the top of my trousers look like a draw string trash bag that someone has pulled tight. This results in my gut hanging out over the top of the belt like an overstuffed sausage casing. There's no happy medium. Either I'm tugging them up all day, or I'm struggling to breath. Nonetheless, I really love these Fat Boy Pants. I even came up with a slogan... Fat Boys- for men who can face the truth.
 Lest I forget, I should mention that the model in the pictures is Donna Austin, Dave's wife. Together they make a great team and have really made Tideland Tackle the outstanding store that it is. I must say though Donna, if you read this- you really should move those kids shirts away from the Michael Baits hoochies and gaff hooks. They might cover up some really good fishing gear.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Green Thumb

I took some pictures of my daughter, Jen's yard last week. I told her I was going to do a little blog on it, but of course when I tried to upload or download or sideload or whatever, the pictures, they wouldn't do what I wanted them to- go figure. In an effort to keep from having a total meltdown at the end of a long day I just put it off until now. The pictures don't do the yard justice. She has a beautiful front yard and the abilty to grow just about anything. Folks who have plants dying will bring them to Jen to revive. The top picture is of a Rhododendron bush. It's one of the biggest I've ever seen. I was looking it up in the dictionary to see how to spell it and found out it's part of the Heath family, which I guess is part of  the Heather family- for whatever that's worth. Jen has a huge Fir tree growing in the corner of the yard that everyone who goes up and down the street in front of her house has to pass by it. During the spring a family of crows nests in it. From her porch she can look down at the people walking by and hear their conversations, although they often don't realize she's there. One day, one of the cold storage workers came by when the crows swooped down and made a swipe at his head. It was totally unexpected and unprovoked, so he turned around and yelled at the crows "What the hell did you do that for? What did I ever do to you?" Another fellow who's a little unstable was attacked also. When Jen asked him about it he smiled and said-" They make me laugh." Oh well.
  In her small area she grows Lilacs, Rhododendron, Hasta's, Peonies- which for some reason always has ants on the buds. You seldom see ants here, but they always find the Peonies. There is also two apple trees, strawberries and  raspberries. There is an assortment of other flowers like Pansies, Petunias, Geraniums, Shooting Stars, Cone Flowers, Lillies, Marigolds and whole bunch of other things I can't remember. In any event, it's refreshing to gaze at on a summer's day and a continual source of enjoyment to all who pass by. My garden is doing a spendid job of growing Dandelions and Marsh Marigolds, as well as a creeping varigated vine that at one time was planted to fill in a small bare area. Now it invades the entire landscape and it would take a whole herd of goats to tame it. I always start off good in the spring. This year my son Brian came over and we reset a bunch of the slate rocks in the garden and weeded and put new dirt in and transplanted some strawberry plants. It looked really good for about two weeks. Then I started fishing and everything went to hell. The strawberries were being crowded out by the Fiddle Ferns and Nettles are threatening to come creeping down the hill. Last year I left a bunch of brush that I had cut in a pile by the steps. I meant to deal with it in a timely manner, but got busy doing other things and by the time I got around to it, I noticed a steady stream of large bees hanging out in the brush. There was no way I was going near that. I figured I'd wait until the first frost and maybe move the stuff and expose the bee's nest. Let them all freeze to death, or at the very least be too cold to fly after me. I can't remember what happened, but this winter there was a mouse hanging out where the bees nest had been, so maybe he took care of the problem for me. It just goes to show, you leave a problem alone long enough and it will take care of itself.