Friday, August 26, 2011

It's Friday!

Today is Friday. If you happen to be one of the millions of people who work five days a week, this could be a great day or a pain in the butt. It could be the end of a long week and you can't wait for it to end, or it might be the start of the weekend and you also can't wait for it to end. For me, Friday is just another day. When the fishing season is open, all  the days are pretty much the same. Most fishermen don't take any particular day off usually. I'm off today, but not by choice. The weather is pretty blustery, so fishing isn't really an option. I hope that it calms down by tomorrow. The season is winding down and I don't want to miss too many days because of weather. For me, Fridays have a different meaning all together. Around here, Friday is garbage day. As you can imagine, getting rid of your accumulated trash is of utmost importance. In fact, one of the last things Jan tells me on Fridays isn't " I love you" or "Have a good day" it's-"Don't forget to take out the trash." I'm a little perplexed by the fact that you can sit down and eat a delicious meal and yet fifteen minutes later,anything left on the plate of that same food that you couldn't wait to devour, is now garbage. When we lived on the farm we had a friend, a charming Southern lady, who was picking up the plates to take in to the dish washing station. She became so engrossed in talking to someone that she unconsciously started picking uneaten food off the various plates and nibbling on it. I'm not sure at what point she realized what she was doing, but I guess it's not really garbage until it's tossed into the trash can. For some unknown reason a garbage collector has been one of those jobs that has been looked down on. When I was a kid and got lousy grades in school my mom would ask me if I wanted to be a garbage man when I grew up. Apparently only ignorant buffoons could be garbage men. If I had thought about it for a minute I might have said yes, I did want to be one. You always have work, the pay and benefits are good and you're outdoors all the time. Of course answering in the affirmative would probably have gotten me a good smack in the mouth, so I always mumbled no. I actually was a garbage man for a day. On one of our many trips to Juneau to the maternity ward, a friend who worked for the local garbage collection service needed a hand. We loaded the garbage truck on a barge and were towed to a cruise ship to collect their goodies. I was amazed at the number of wine bottles, lobster tails and hollowed out melon skins came off that ship. Frankly, rich folks garbage stinks! In any event, the pay was good and it was a learning experience. Somewhere in our vast collection of pictures, we have one of the boys in their pajamas walking out to the garbage truck with plastic bags of trash. It was the highlight of their week to be able to toss the bags into the back of the truck. Walter Jewel has been driving the truck for fifteen years and plans to retire next year. It's a long time to do something that many people wouldn't even consider as a career. So next time you see your local trash collector, give them a thumbs up, or maybe even offer a cup of coffee. The job they do is invaluable and they deserve a word of thanks now and then.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Distractions

  As I was sitting down getting ready to work on this blog post, my wife, Jan, came into the office and started talking to me. With the greatest of effort, I managed to say something like "Pizza". A simple one word answer to the question, thus fulfilling my obligation to respond to her question without totally having to stop what I'm doing and engage in a full blown conversation. It's not that I didn't want to talk to her, but my man brain can only do one thing at a time- especially when I'm on the computer. When I go to Hoonah Trading, up to the office where she works, she has the ability to count money or post invoices or look for a billing address at the same time as she's talking to me. I don't know if all women can do that, but she can. She can talk to me while she reads with the TV on. When I'm watching something on TV, I don't want to answer questions about what's going on or who did what or why so and so killed Joe Blow. It drives me nuts. My daughter Jen does the same thing and it's terribly distracting. Sometimes her and Jan will start carrying on a conversation while the TV is on, which in itself is irritating, but then something happens and they want me to fill them in, which of course I can't do any too well, because I was unable to hear above the din in the living room.
 This past week Jan had to go to Juneau and I was left to fend for myself. Not a big deal normally, but lately I've been working extra hours to finish a project, so she bought me a Di Giorno Pizza to fix for supper. I've made frozen pizza's before, just follow the directions and its a piece of cake. I heated the oven to 400 degrees and set the timer for 28 minutes so that the crust would be softer. I don't like a hard, cruchy crust. I took the plastic cover off and put it on a special pizza plate that a friend had given us. The pizza turns out so great when we use it normally. I popped it in the oven and went to do something while I waited. After the timer went off, I pulled it out and let it cool for a few minutes before I cut it. The cutter went through pretty well, but when I put the server under the pizza to get a slice, it wouldn't come loose. What the... So I cut it again, thinking maybe we needed a new pizza cutter. We don't eat so much pizza that we would need a new cutter every six months, but who knows, maybe it was made in China like everything else. When I still couldn't get a slice to break loose I started getting a little angry. I contemplated  picking the whole thing up and eating it like a sandwhich. I was starting to think maybe the pizza was made in China too. After the third attempt at slicing it, I discovered that I had forgotten to remove the cardboard from the bottom of the pizza and had cooked the whole thing together. Maybe I was made in China. In any event, the part of the crust that actually baked was stuck to the cardboard. Through a great deal of travail, I was finally able to separate most of it from the packaging, though as you can see from what was left, it doesn't really resemble pizza too much. At one point I had thought of rolling it up into a ball and throwing it back in the oven, but I was hungry and I wasn't sure what the end product would taste like. As it was, it was pretty doughy, but the pepperoni was cooked and the cheese was pretty well melted. It's a testimony to the Di Giorno folks that you can cook the cardboard with the pizza and still have a fairly tasty product, however, unless you want to discover new and possibly unpleasant frontiers, take the plastic off before you bake it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Fleet's In

It's been an incredible year for anglers in Northern Southeast Alaska this year. The pinks came in numbers I can't remember seeing before. It will be interesting to hear what the final tally was- well into the millions. It's quite a contrast to last year when it was really difficult to even catch a Humpy ( Pink Salmon). These pictures are primarily of the seine fleet. They've come from all over the state and even from Washington and California to tap into the resource. Usually I wouldn't be so happy to see so many seiners fishing the local waters, but the Humpies were so prolific that it was almost impossible to catch any of the other salmon that trollers target. Humpies have a voracious appetite and it's not unusual to have forty hooks in the water at once with Humpies on thirty of them. They are the smallest of the Pacific salmon and they're totally squirrely. Once they come aboard they flop and thrash and spray blood and scales all over the boat. The buyers pay less for them as well, so unless the processors will purchase them in the round (bled but not gilled or gutted) most trollers shake them off to make room for the money fish. For the seine fleet though, they are the bread and butter. Though they are small, tens of thousands of pounds can be seined up in one set, making for a pretty lucrative payday. My grandson Kristian is working on a seine boat down in Petersburg. Fortunately the boat he's on is considered to be a highliner and it sounds like he chose a good year to go fishing.
  I haven't seen this many seine boats here in Hoonah for many years. Shortly before we moved here some bureaucratic agency, Fish and Game, or the feds or someone decided to close the Inian Islands to seine fishing. I can't complain about that personally, I don't doubt that more fish have made it to the inside where I fish because of that decision. However, the once large seine fleet that made Hoonah it's home gradually shrank until there are only about four local seiners here, so it's kind of cool to see so many docked out front again. I've spoken to some of the old timers who said that prior to the closure of the Inian Islands, there used to be hundreds of seine boats tied up to the floats and anchored in the bay. As you can imagine, the fuel docks, stores, restaurants,the bar and liquor store all did a booming business.  Even now there is a sense of excitement that accompanies the arrival of the fleet and the local shops look forward to the commerce. We all know that winter is on the way, and much like the bears, now is the time to put on the extra padding in preparation for the lean winter months. I don't suppose we'll ever see the heydays of years gone by, but for now it's nice to see some part of the economy doing well. Welcome to Hoonah guys.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Corn Flakes VS Clown Flakes

 As you can see very clearly, I have a picture of a box of Kelloggs Corn Flakes here. For those readers who are too young to remember the days before cereal had names like Sugar Frosted Marshmellow Yum Yums with a hint of REAL WHOLE GRAINS, there was cereal that was rather plain. Things like Cheerios, and Shredded Wheat, Kelloggs Corn Flakes and Wheaties (breakfast of champions). You used to have to add your own sugar- how odd. I don't know what people did in the day before cereal became popular, probably had to suffer through bacon and eggs or sausage, maybe some hash browns and toast with homemade jam, possibly a stack of pancakes or waffles with real maple syrup. Fortunately people like Kellogg and Post came along and fixed it so that you could rush out the door to whatever the day had in store for you without having to wait for the sausage and eggs to cook. Yes sir, those were the days. Anyway, I'm only mentioning breakfast cereal because of what happened to me out trolling yesterday. I had started early and by mid afternoon, I was feeling a little tired, but nothing out of the ordinary. I spotted a sport boat anchored along the drag and made mention to myself of the clown who would anchor there, right in the middle of where people were dragging gear. Then I saw a number of other trollers in the area that until recently I had enjoyed by myself and I relegated them all to the status of clowns. Then, twice, I found myself dragging sixteen and a half fathoms of gear across fourteen fathoms of water, even though the GPS clearly showed me where I was and I should have known better, so I thought-" What kind of clown does this?" It was then it hit me. I went down below and looked in the cupboard where I store my food. There in the dim light I made out the label- instead of the Kelloggs Corn Flakes that I thought I'd eaten that morning, I had mistakenly picked up a box of Kelly's Clown Flakes.  No wonder! I checked the ingredients. Instead of corn, sugar, salt, malt, ascorbic acid and assorted vitamins and minerals, the Clown Flakes label boasted cotton candy, corn dogs, funnel cakes, peanuts and snow cones. Circus food! Well, at least it didn't have assorted clown parts. None-the-less as the day wore on I had an overwhelming desire to apply some grease paint to my face and don a pair of giant shoes. Let this be a lesson to the readers; be aware of what you're eating. Just because something looks like the real deal doesn't mean that it is. Examine the label closely, and for crying out loud, if you find yourself feeling like you're surrounded by imbeciles, dolts, idiots, buffoons and incompetent clowns, by all means go check the label on your breakfast cereal, and if need be stand out in front of a Mac Donalds and give the kids a treat.