Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mushrooms and Flowers














It's almost the end of November- thank God. This one was brutal, weather-wise. I can't remember having this much snow in November before, but then again,I can't remember the names of people I've known for years either. When I see them at a distance on the street I go through the agonizing process of sorting through all the names in the English language trying to figure out if one of them sounds familiar, then hope it's the right one before I meet up with the person.
 I decided to do a blog on something other than the snow that we've been surrounded with. Here we have a picture of snow on the mountain, and here's some snow on the trees, next is snow on the street. Here I am shoveling more snow out of the driveway... I find flowers much more colorful than snow.
 Back in October we had rain by the bucket full. Every day-rain, rain, rain. Of course I complained about it so it got cold and then it was snow, snow, snow. Tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor! Anyway, these past several days it's back to rain and you wouldn't believe how glad I am to see it.
 When my daughter Autumn was visiting last time she showed me about the macro button on my camera. I'd seen it there, but never bothered to learn what it did. I guess it allows you to get really close pictures. This camera can play music with a slide show, do close ups, landscapes at twilight and any number of other things that I haven't familiarized myself with. There may even be an espresso machine inside, I don't know. By the time you read all the instructions on these digital contraptions your brain has swelled to three times it's normal size and the camera is obsolete. Even if I took the time to read it all, I would have forgotten what I've read. Techno Tom I am not. I'm almost totally dependent on young people to help me do anything involving electronics.I don't even have a cell phone. I guess I'm lost in the dark ages. In any event, I used the Macro button on the camera to take these close up pictures. I rather like them.
 I'm not certain, but I think the mushrooms pictured here are Shaggy Manes. I guess they're good to eat if you like mushrooms. Usually I see them growing down at the harbor in the area where people let their dogs relieve themselves.  I think I would have to decline if offered one.There are a few folks in town whom I wouldn't mind offering some to- "here, I was just down in the harbor and picked these for you." Sometimes I look kind of like a Shaggy Mane- especially in the morning when I just wake up- and particularly if it's been awhile since my last haircut. There is one teacher here who has a shaggy mane; in fact he looks kind of like a lion the way his hair frames his whole face when he lets it grow. I don't doubt that he could get a leading part in the Lion King if he painted his nose black. He's fairly athletic and talented, he'd probably do a good job. Once again I've covered a whole range of topics that have nothing at all in common. I think it's the sign of a confused mind. If I was working in school I'd probably be told I was -off task. I'll try to stay more focused and on task for my next blog post, but no promises.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Praying for Strangers

Today is Black Friday, as it's known; the official beginning of the Christmas shopping season. I believe the name is supposed to imply the day that retailers go from being in the red to crossing over to the black-making a profit. As I watch some of the madness unfold on TV of people camping out for a week on a sidewalk so they can be the first person inside to buy a $200.00 flat screen television, or folks getting trampled as they all try to squeeze inside the store at once, or as I saw this morning some lady spraying pepper spray on her fellow shoppers,  I wonder if Black Friday wouldn't describe the condition of some of the hearts of the folks who are rushing to celebrate a season that is supposed to be about good will towards men. How ironic.
   Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm terribly cynical, a real pessimist; the male version of a Debbie Downer if you will. I almost always seem to see the glass half empty. No matter how good the situation I'm facing, I have a tendency to spot the possible down side. " Hello Mr. Botts, this is Publisher's Clearing House. You've just won $5,000,000."   "Well, gee, that's great, but how much tax is this going to cost me?" No doubt I would be worried about all the scam artists and new found and unwanted friends I would suddenly encounter and would worry myself sick about it. That's kind of the way I am. I wish I wasn't, but I am.I claim to be a Christian and yet at times I seem to be anything but. How ironic.Because that's my nature, I need to surround myself with uplifting, positive things on a regular basis.Soooo... I was happy to find this book at the library a few weeks or maybe a month ago; ok maybe even longer, I know it's overdue. Anyway, I liked the cover art, and when I looked at the title I liked it too. Then I looked at the name of the author- River Jordan. What a great name. How could I not read this book?In a nutshell, it's about a gal whose two son's were in the military in 2008. One was going to be sent to Iraq and one to Afganistan. As a Christian woman she was, of course, going to pray for her boys, but then she got the thought  for a New Years resolution. She was going to pray for a different person every day, a stranger. The book documents many of the encounters she had with the various people. In almost every case the folks she came across were grateful for her prayers. Most of them had something in particular that they wanted prayer for, family members, illness, finances. The needs are endless in all of our lives. Her book was enlightening and encouraging. If all of us were to just say a prayer for the stranger we pass on the street or instead of cursing at the TV when a politian we don't like comes on,we asked that God would grant that person wisdom and integrity, I sincerely believe we could change the direction that the world is going. I probably have mentioned Pastor Jeff Schreve of From His Heart Ministry on this blog before. On his web site you can scroll down to a link called Prayer Works. There you have an opportunity to say a prayer for the different needs of folks who have asked for divine intervention. Though we can't all volunteer for the many worthwhile projects the world over, or send money to the countless poor across the earth, we can all say a prayer for someone in need. As the book pointed out, because we're human, we can all use a prayer or two. All that being said, please don't expect that overnight I'll become this grateful,happy, extroverted optimist. I kind of doubt that's going to happen, but I could certainly be a little less cynical and a little more hopeful about the future and my fellow man. Maybe you can pray about it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Remote Control

 It's been snowing and cold for the past several weeks ; in fact it's been setting records for both snow and cold all around Alaska. It's kind of  scary to think that it's not even winter yet. I didn't really want to post any pictures of snow blowing and trees bent with the force of the wind.  Instead I decided to post pictures of Rigby. He's got the right idea- hide under the sleeping bag or if you have to leave the warm comfort of bed, find a place in the sun to relax. While I was talking to my daughter Camille the other day, he hopped up on the back of the couch to look out the window. Apparently he saw something that didn't meet with his approval and started barking to beat the band. He's got a really shrill bark, about what you would expect from a small dog. It's really irritating to listen to and especially so if you happen to be talking on the phone or listening to something on TV. I happened to glance down at the remote control on my chair and had another great idea. What if I could get a remote that would control my dog's bark?You know, you're watching your favorite show and the dog goes ballistic because someone he doesn't like is walking down the street. Just hit the mute button on the remote and he can bark all he wants, but no sound comes out. I know that they make shock collars that are supposed to keep them from barking, but what about those rare occasions when you want them to sound off? Like if someone was sneaking in at night while you're sleeping or not at home, instead of a wimpy,little,squeeky bark that would alert the intruder that the dog he was dealing with was just a punk with a loud voice, what if, before you left the house or went to bed, you turned the dial  on the dog remote so that the bark sounded like a vicious German Shepard or Doberman Pincer? The intruder would think twice before entering your domain. Especially if he happened to spot huge piles in the front yard.Since I have so many other dogs leaving me gifts on my lawn,  I wouldn't have any problem  making people believe I had a large dog with the DOG MOTE. Just set it and go to bed.  If you happen to live in a gated community where all the dogs aren't much bigger than chipmunks, the DOG-MOTE would come with optional droppings in assorted big dog sizes. They would be plastic or rubber, thus weather resistant and you could move them around the yard to lend an air of authenticity. You could order either the Great Dane or St. Bernard size. No doubt burglars everywhere would think twice before attempting a break in. Just set the DOG MOTE before you tuck Fido into his down comforter and sleep in peace. I guess I'll be contacting the patent office soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Part Two

As promised, here is the second half of my blog post on the latest Thanksgiving get together at Game Creek. The top two pictures show the kitchen; its located in the tabernacle. I remember working in there on the new cabinets with Uncle Bill. I was sanding one of the cabinets when I drove a huge splinter right through my index finger. In one side and out the other. Bill didn't flinch, he just got out his pocket knife and pulled it through. He was always kind of a hero to me. Back when the farm was at it's peak there used to be a number of women in the kitchen cutting vegetables, baking bread  and cooking meals It was a pretty busy place. There was a trap door in the floor and underneath there were cases of jarred fish and maybe even some dried vegetables. For some reason there was a number ten can of Hershey's chocolate syrup too. I remember David Carver telling me about sneaking in there one night and opening it up and drinking it out of the can. In the early days we were desperate for anything sweet. Living on a Christian farm didn't mean you automatically acted like a saint. My own sweet daughters told me about sneaking in the back door of the Dietrich cabin where Allen  had a small store. He sold popcorn and coffee and a number of healthy snacks, one of which was a Wha Guru Chew. The girls grabbed out a handful of carob chips- a kind of healthy substitute for chocolate. My, if these walls could talk. We lived in an apartment overhead of the dining hall. When the girls were small they used to drop crayons down on the tables through a knot hole in the floor. They got in trouble when one of the elders was holding a bible study downstairs. At the time if I had known that they were doing it I might have filled water balloons for them to drop. Not that I had anything against bible studies, I just didn't like the elders. The eldership and I seldom seemed to see eye to eye. The third picture shows my good friends the Pinards. We still get together for cards on Saturday nights in the winter. There are other couples who lived on the farm with us who moved to Hoonah whom we almost never see. They became almost anti- social and I don't know why hardship brings some folks closer and others it repels.  Most of these pictures are taken from inside the tabernacle. I don't know how it is now, but we used to have to all eat together in the dining hall. For some reason when we came together for a meal, we had to have announcements before we ate and had a prayer. Sometimes the announcements lasted for like fifteen minutes so the food would be cold by the time you got to it. It was frustrating. Fortunately we didn't have to wait for this meal this time. At one time everyone was assigned to a particular table and then once a month you rotated so that you were sitting with different people, so you could get to know them better. We had an English gal assigned to sit with us once, but it wasn't a good fit. She was very much into proper etiquette, while we had seven kids, all under the age of twelve. It was mayhem at our table and she wasn't very happy. I used to greet  her during the day by saying "Wheaties" instead of "Cheerio". I never knew if she got the joke or not. When the boys were still in high chairs and mimicking everyone, the mistake was made of assigning a family who had an older teen-age son who, when he was young, had been given a dose of some drug by accident that left him with an inability to swallow. He had to push the food down his throat with his fingers. It was kind of unpleasant to watch, but it couldn't be helped. The bad part was that the boys would sit in their high chairs and do the same thing. Jan would slam the table with her hand and try to get them to stop. To say the least it was embarrassing.  The fourth picture shows my daughter Jen with her black eye. Beside her is Tim Banaszak and Jim Carey is on the end. I remember watching Tim when he was just a boy of about twelve. He would pack 100 pound bags of potatoes on his back from the root cellar to the tabernacle. Any job that was assigned to him he would do, and with a lot better attitude than I ever had. He was a real work horse, able to do a mans work. He's still got a great attitude and it's always a delight to see him  when we meet once or twice a year. Jim Carey is ninety now I believe. I think he's still doing what he can around the farm. At one time he was painting bear breads for sale at Tideland. He was a professional illustrator for General Dynamics prior to moving to the farm. If I ever make it to ninety, I hope I look half as good. Jim has always had the most upbeat attitude, so different from me. He also had a great voice-an Irish Tenor that I used to love to hear. Again, totally unlike me.  Unfortunately the next picture is kind of blurry. ( I think Jan took it). The closest gal is Sally Courtney. She was my neighbor in Charleston. I don't know how many gallons of iced tea I drank at her house. She is forever a proper southern lady, with hardly a bad word to say about anyone. Her mother, Rosa Robertson, we all called her Granny, was a sweet gal too. She taught Sally well.  I wish I had a picture of her. She was a saint.
Next to Sally is Sonia Bere. Her mother was from the Ukraine. When I found out that the Russian word for Grandma was BABBA, I quickly dubbed her that and seldom referred to her by any other name. She used to work at Tideland Tackle in town and I sorely miss seeing her there. Sonia had a son named Jeff who was one of the three men who died in a boating accident years ago when I was still living at the farm. Next to Sonia is  her daughter Debbie Banaszak. She's married to Tim. It was one of a number of farm romances. Good natured and friendly, its always a delight to see her, which usually only happens when they come for the Game Creek Thanksgiving dinner. The next picture shows Bob Clark on the guitar, Ben Mc Luckie with the violin, Dave Austin on the cello (his face is hidden by the post and two young gals whom I don't know. They sang a delightful song called  For the Beauty of the Earth. It was beautiful. Bob has been with the farm since the beginning. He's one of those guys who is good at almost everything he does. He's able to figure out most anything. He's a good hunter, fisherman, carpenter, mechanic, welder, musician- you name it. In other words, he's been a tremendous asset to the farm and I'm pleased to be able to call him a friend. Ben is a computer guru and a teacher at the school. I think he recently won an award for work in a statewide science project. When I would see him at the school I'd call him Uncle Ben and ask how the rice sales were, or we'd pass in the hallway and I'd call him O Ben One Kenobi. He was always pretty good natured.  Dave runs Tideland Tackle and is a jack of all trades. He's a world class musician and teaches different musical instruments once a week at the school. He also makes bows for musical instruments and I believe he makes his own bi-focals. I don't know how some people end up with so much talent, but they do. The next picture shows the stairs that lead to the path that leads to the road where the cars are parked. When I was on the farm the only way in and out was via boat. Now you can drive to within a mile or so of the buildings. There's a trip through the woods, across a slough, through the fields (watch out for the animal droppings) and down a corduroy road to the center of the camp. There is usually a festive air about the place when we arrive and everyone seems to have a good time.
 The last picture is of Libby Clark. That's her maiden name. I can't spell her married name. She's quite a good cook and for awhile she ran a little restaurant in town called, appropriately enough, Libby's. The building now houses Chipper Fish. Next to her is Donna Austin. She's petite, but what  a powerhouse! She works at Tideland with her husband Dave and is also a musician. Her and Dave get together and play for different functions around town. Lastly, we have Gary and Rosemary Lebowitz. Theirs was a farm romance also. Ol Brother Gary and I had a few heated discussions from time to time. He was always so zealous in everything that he did; an admirable trait normally. We weren't of the same mind for the majority of the time that I lived at Game Creek though and I was equally stubborn in my ways so there were a few clashes. I'm pleased to say that we've both mellowed out and now when I see  him I'm genuinely glad. One of the more interesting things I discovered about Gary was that he worked for a while in New York City with Allen Funt- the guy from Candid Camera. It was a popular show back when I was a kid. His wife Rosemary was an architect prior to moving to the farm. She was very good too. She designed a remodeling job for me at the house. She's always been a very gracious, well spoken woman. So, there you have it. For those who've lived there and couldn't make it, this post might be a time of catching up. For those whom have never visited, perhaps this will be enlightening. Anyway, until the next post, take care- God bless!


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thanksgiving at Game Creek 2011

Hi folks- Muffin Man here with my sincere apologies to the masses who follow this blog. I know that I've let down the people who come here looking for free entertainment and expect more regular blog posts, but I  have an excuse- I really do. I had to go to Juneau for my annual doctor's visit, which actually went very well. As I've mentioned before, I love this doctor. When he asked about the ol' finger up the bung routine to check the prostate I mentioned that my feelings about the procedure haven't changed and it's not going to happen- at least not while I'm conscious. So then he says  "well how about my fist then?"  That's what I like about this guy. He can look at you in your birthday suit and not burst out laughing and yet we can joke around about serious matters and have a good time. If I wasn't so self conscious and scared of speaking in public, I think we could go on the road and do a comedy routine. Anyway, I was gone from Monday to Thursday night, so I couldn't very well update the blog, so there you have it.
 Last Sunday we went out to the annual Thanksgiving feast that the farm at Game Creek puts on. This blog is going to be a two part one because I don't want to have so many pictures on here that it won't download to the Internet. Part one shows some of the scenes from around the farm. Next year I'll strive to get some pictures from the fields and some of the animals. The day itself was nasty- rainy and gloomy like it is usually this time of year. We'd had snow several days before so the road out to the farm was slippery and muddy and the ruts were huge. Even with a 3/4 ton truck hitting some of those pot holes was bone jarring. I should also point out that the snow and rain and gloom make everything look worse. Most of the original  buildings are in a state of disrepair, but that's no surprise, when they were built we were told the world was going to be ending in five years so it wasn't like they had to last forever. I have mixed feelings when I look around there. I hate to see the place getting run down, but the good news is there are several young families moving in who are experienced builders and who have the energy and the expertise to turn things around. I'm looking forward to seeing them in action and perhaps even lending a hand. While the buildings are less than stellar, the spirit of the people was encouraging. The difference between what it was like when we lived there and now is like night and day. With time, attitudes have changed, and while the buildings may be getting run down, the spirits of the residents are shining bright. I'm looking forward to the day when the buildings are a reflection of the people within them. Part two of this post will show some of the people from the Thanksgiving feast. Now I have to get ready to clean up the mess I've made in the kitchen. The other day when I was at Costco I happened to see a lovely gal from Hoonah named Daphne. She goes by the name Duffy. Anyway,she asked if I would bake something for the school carnival tonight, so I made a batch of blueberry and sour cream muffins. I'm saving one out for her to try- a Duffy Muffin; a Duffy muffy; a Duff muff. I better quit while I'm ahead- if its not too late already. See ya!



Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spasski River

There's something about water that seems to attract human beings to it like moths to a flame. Perhaps it's because Earth is the only planet in the known universe that has water. At least that's what I think I read or heard somewhere. I'm not sure where I picked that up. I once read the back of a Bazooka Joe bubble gum comic that stated that all white cats are deaf too. I don't know if that's true or not, but if you can't believe Bazooka Joe, who can you believe? There are a lot of songs and movies and I would assume books that mention water in their title. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, A River Runs Through it, On Golden Pond, Yellow River ( I think there have been a few jokes about that)  Over the River and Through the Woods, and Bridge on the River Kwai to mention just a few. The top picture is the bridge on the river Spasski. I doubt that there will ever be a movie about it, it doesn't have the same catchy wording, but what do I know about anything? Maybe someone will write a book about it and a movie producer will scarfe it up and low and behold it will be an oscar winner. I kind of doubt it though. This picture was taken about a month ago, when there were still green leaves to be found. Whenever we go over the bridge we end up stopping to look down below and see if there are any fish in it.  At this particular time there were still a number of Humpies finning and I believe a few Cohos. The Humpies were looking pretty tough. Once they hit the fresh water they start to deteriorate. Those that we saw looked like they had already spawned and were just waiting for the grim reaper to come and collect his dues. They are probably what inspired Alaskan artist Ray Troll to draw the ever popular Humpies From Hell poster. He's an incredibly talented artist who lives in Ketchikan and has a studio there. He primarily paints pictures depicting fish in strange and wonderful situations- haunting the dreams of a fisherman, riding a bike and so on. I saw one poster advertizing Creek Street, where both men and fish go to spawn. I guess it was a red light district that bordered a freshwater stream. Hmmm...sex and fishing- what's not to like? Oh well, back to safer subjects. I would kind of like to take my canoe on a little trip down the Spasski River. I think it kind of leaks, although probably not that bad. As you can see, the river is pretty shallow too, so I suppose I could always get out and walk the spots where the canoe wouldn't float. The bad part is that there are logs that go across the river. If I should happen to get into a strong current and tip over the canoe and get jammed up against the logs I'd be just like one of those Humpies- bear food. I guess I'll probably be content just looking at the river from the top of the bridge and let the fish figure out how to get around the bears.