Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Lilly Pond



I decided to take off a few hours early on Monday so Jan and I could take a drive out the road . After all, it was Mother's Day and we hadn't done anything else to celebrate and since she likes to go on drives, I thought, why not? First I stopped at the gas pump to make sure we weren't stranded miles from civilization. I see on the news that gas is dropping like a rock down south. Hmmmm... $5.052 a gallon here. It actually went up six cents from the last time I bought it. Lovely. Anyway, we went out to the Y in the road. If you turn right you can go out to Freshwater Bay or stop at the old Whitestone logging camp or go to Long Island. The only problem is the road will jar your teeth out, so we opted to go left. The road is graded and not so lumpy- at least until you get to the bear viewing area. The tour buses don't go beyond there. I guess the powers that be figure us tough Alaskans don't need no smooth road to drive on- that's for sissies and tourists. Its the same with the outhouses. They're only open on ship days- otherwise they are locked. Us tough Alaskan's don't need no outhouses; why we can  hold it till our bladders expand like dirigibles, and if we can't, well, wet pants don't bother us at all! It's all the same to me- I'd rather pee in the woods anyway. When I lived on the farm I would just step out the back door and let fly.  We were located on the last lot, deep in the woods with our closest neighbor about 200 yards away, so it was easier to get away with there. Anyway, back to the drive. Fortunately we were going pretty slow. About two miles down the road we had to stop for a bus that was coming our way. These roads are pretty much one lane with turn outs. The guy driving was great and backed up just a bit and we went on our way. About five minutes later we had to deal with another bus. This time there was kind of like a Mexican standoff. I opted to back up a few hundred yards and pull over so the bus could go forward. When I got to where he had been I saw that there was a turn off right behind him, so I was a little peeved. I know the bus driver and the kind of person he is so it didn't do much to endear him to me. I mentioned to John Kveum about the incident and he said that the second driver was doing what he was told. If the bus came off the road just a little bit it would be a major pain to get back on to the road- plus all the passengers would be stranded. Once it was explained to me about the proper etiquette, I felt better about the whole issue. I still don't care for the one driver, but at least I feel better about the fact that he wasn't just being obnoxious. Obviously, if anyone has an opinion that differs from mine, he must be wrong. God forbid that they should somehow offend me in any way; I might be forced to call down fire from heaven and have them confined to outer darkness. Frankly, I wonder about my spiritual condition at times. In any event, we made it out the road about ten or twelve miles without seeing any wild life at all- no bears,deer, possums, skunks or rabbits. Of course there are no possums, skunks or rabbits here, but it would have been nice to see something besides tour busses. On the way back we stopped at the lilly pond that's located off the side of the road. I figured that if I was going to see any bears at all, they would probably wait until I stopped to get a few pictures. It would have been poetic justice for my attitude. As it was though, I got the pictures and made it back to the truck unscathed. I'm starting to wonder though if I shouldn't have taken a closer look at the tourists inside the bus. It did say wildlife tour after all...

Friday, May 25, 2012

What's for dinner?



 I'm waiting on a roast to cook before I can go down to the boat today. When my mother-in-law was here she cleaned out the freezer for us, so we could actually find something. Between the freezer burned bags of salmon and some Ziplock containers of what appears to be mainly frost crystals, she found another deer roast that my son Brian left for us when he was here for a visit last winter. I'm so glad. I've been in the mood for one last pot of vegetable soup before the fishing season really kicks in. Once I'm on the boat it will be canned chili and TV dinners. If I'm really industrious I might remember to stick a potato in to bake in the morning. If it stays in the oven all day it might be cooked enough to eat about half of it by 9:00 PM. Obviously, my boat oven isn't very hot. I should probably wrap the spud in foil and set it on the engine to cook. It would probably be done by the time I had my second cup of coffee in the morning.
  Jan and I were sitting in the living room a couple nights ago and she asked me what I wanted for supper the next night. Hell, I don't know. How am I supposed to know that? I want something that tastes good and hopefully has a little nutritional value- and will make me feel full when I'm done eating. I hate trying to think up a menu. I guess Jan does too because we  have the "what's for dinner?" conversation frequently. We have a cupboard with about thirty cookbooks crammed into it, plus two recipe boxes stuffed to capacity and access to an unlimited number of other recipes thanks to the Internet, but either nothing sounds good, it takes too long to cook or we don't have some of the necessary ingredients, so we just go with the old standbys. If I was out fishing we could supplement our table fare with a fresh salmon or some sweet and sour halibut, but noooo.... I'm still waiting to launch the boat. Oh well.
  I have to ask here- which is proper to describe the evening meal- dinner or supper? Growing up we always called it supper, but then some of my friends always referred to it as dinner. It seems like on TV shows like Leave it to Beaver it was called dinner. Of course June Cleaver always came to the table wearing a flowing dress and a pearl necklace like she was dining out at a fancy restaurant instead of her own home. I was under the impression that folks with a little more money might refer to it as dinner while to us average Joes, it was supper. No one ever got invited to a supper party. For the upper crust it was always a dinner party. "Jeeves, we'll be having the Rothchilds for dinner tonight. Place two more settings out, and Jeeves, lets use the good crystal. Thank you."
  I'm kind of glad I didn't grow up in that environment on the one  hand, but the flip side is- on those few occasions where the meal and company is kind of fancy, I don't know how to act. I'm always afraid to say too much for fear of saying the wrong thing and offending everyone. It would be really helpful if they taught etiquette lessons in public school so that you're prepared for every situation. I think home- ec should be mandatory too. Then if you're left with a situation where you're the one that has to cook dinner, supper, lunch, breakfast or a midnight snack, you can present something other than a peanut butter sandwich or a can of corned beef hash.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Golden Goggles

I hope I don't bore everyone with another shot of the boat, but as you can clearly see, the last plank has been inserted, which is a major milestone, and I was certain the boys would want to see how much progress was being made. On Saturday I was at a bit of a standstill, uncertain what to do next, so even though I hadn't planned on sanding the bottom of the boat, I figured it wouldn't be a bad thing to do- just make sure the old paint wasn't hiding a loose seam or some such thing. I bought a respirator and donned my gloves, but I'll be blamed if I could find my consarned safety glasses. Well, being the impatient, ignorant buffoon that I can sometimes be, I jumped right to the project without the safety glasses. After about a half hour of laying on the ground with the random orbital sander spewing toxic paint dust everywhere, including my orbital sockets (eyes- I heard this word on a detective show the other night and thought it sounded cool) I finally broke down and spent ten bucks on a pair of safety glasses. This particular brand was called Z-lens and unlike the clunky clear ones I usually buy because they're cheap, I decided to splurge and get the golden goggles pictured above. Years ago a country singer by the name of John Connely sang a song called Rose Colored Glasses- I really like that song- anyway the song is how he sees his lost love through rose colored glasses which allows him to believe she'll come back. For the past several weeks we've had the most rainy, cold, unpleasant spring weather you can imagine, so that, coupled with anxiety about the boat and upcoming fishing season, has made me a little crabby and depressed. Well, I have to tell you, I put on the Golden Goggles and immediately the world looked better. Everything was bright- the dark grey clouds looked pleasant, it was like the sun dropped in for a visit. I instantly started feeling better.I highly recommend a pair to folks who are subject to depression in the winter months.  However, golden goggles and a respirator, while certainly necessary don't keep all the copper bottom paint dust out. The rest of  my face, my ears, neck and exposed hair were all thoroughly covered in red dust, so for the second time in a day I had to take a shower. That's not such a bad thing, I like taking showers. In fact while I was in the shower enjoying all that wonderful hot water cascading down over my bod I was thinking how nice it would be to just spend the day there; maybe get a thousand gallon hot water tank and just make a day of it. Then I got to thinking about how water makes your skin wrinkle after a while. If if spent the whole day there, instead of the fictional character Rumpelstiltskin, I could be real life character, Wrinkled Rump Skin. I kind of doubt that Jan would like to be known as Mrs. Rump Skin. Oh well, it was just a thought. Today I had to get under the boat and sand the other side. I got home in time to watch Jeopardy before I took the shower I so desperately needed. I guess I had an uncommon amount of dust plugging my ear canals, because a commercial came on advertising Barzilla spaghetti, but I thought it said something about gorilla spaghetti. Who the heck wants to eat gorilla spaghetti? I wouldn't mind trying alligator or even rattle snake possibly, but I think I'd have to give a pass to gorilla spaghetti. It was bad enough being served bear liver mush all those many years ago. All this talk of food is making me hungry. I better go in and eat my supper- hopefully there won't be any monkey macaroni or chimpanzee noodles.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Port-a Potty Anxiety

I was working on the boat several days ago when it was mentioned to me that the port-a- potties were located in a spot that might make one think twice before using them. I saw on the news today that casinos were making a comeback after the downturn in the economy. Perhaps these johns are located here for folks who like to gamble. "So what do you think Marge- will I be able to run in, take a leak and charge back out before a rock bounces off the roof?" "I don't know Harvey... I'll bet you ten bucks you get beaned on the way out."
  I wonder if we are sending a mixed message to the tourists. On the way into town there's a huge concrete retaining wall that says Welcome To Hoonah, but then we have the potties, which are used almost exclusively by the tourists, located where rocks are periodically dislodged from the towering heights. If half the town were running around wearing t-shirts that said " Who mentioned you?" folks might get the impression they aren't welcome. That was kind of how I felt when I first came here almost thirty six years ago. There were only about a dozen cars here at the time and only about half of them ran, but on several I noticed bumper stickers that said "Custer had it coming." Not quite the same as having a gift basket from the local Welcome Wagon. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to tourism. I know that it's a necessary business and I understand why so many people want to come and view this beautiful area. I am opposed to the behaviour of some of the folks who come off the ships and I definitely don't care for the attitude of the cruise lines themselves who seem to forget that without the cooperation of the local communities they wouldn't succeed at all. While I was writing this I had an idea- perhaps I should go get some large rocks and  scatter around the base of the potties. Maybe I could even get ahold of one of those molds of a large Brown bear track and place a few of them leading up to the potties. If you were a gambler you'd have to guess what the odds are that you'd make it to the next set of johns before you peed your pants. Welcome to Hoonah! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

T-shirt Tommy

Periodically I find myself procrastinating over some task. We got back from our trip last Wednsday, but I'm just now getting around to unloading my suitcase. Well, I got started on it anyway. I needed some socks this morning and I didn't see any in my drawer, so I checked the suitcase and sure enough there were some in there; however, I had to wade through a mountain of t-shirts to get to them. I got to thinking about all the T's I have in my drawer and decided to check them out. Thunderation! I have T-shirts to burn! I could wear a different T-shirt every day for at least three weeks, maybe longer. I didn't bother to lay out any of the white ones- they're sort of boring. Kind of like going to Baskin-Robbins and ordering vanilla. The ones shown here are just the ones from my drawer, I have a plastic tub full of fishing clothes with probably another six or eight at least. A few months ago Jan bought me some black ones which I thought was nice, even though I didn't need them. She probably thought I would get rid of some of my ratty looking ones, but I'm always thinking I could use them for fishing. Last week my mother-in-law came in from the thrift store with another load of black T-shirts. I guess black is the in color now. In any event, I'll be set for awhile. Looking through my stash I see an L. Kane Store 100 year anniversary one, 1893-1993. It's probably a medium. If I tried that on now my boobs would bunch up like I was wearing  a Victorias Secret push-up bra and my gut would be jammed between the bottom of the shirt and the top of my pants like a flesh colored basketball. I have a shirt from Kauai that I don't remember buying, there's my Spongebob Squarepants T, a freebie from Tideland Tackle that says Just Fish Alaska, a Hoonah fishing derby one that says Catch a Winner, there's the Arizona Cardinals, a kind of putrid yellow one advertizing Icy Strait Point- they may want to reconsider that color, a Hoonah Braves shirt, a nice grey one from my brother advertizing his business in Florida, one from the military that says An army of One ( it was white but after repeated wearings it's starting to look like the Icy Straits shirt)and one from Hog's Breath Saloon advertizing the Key West King Mackeral Fishing Derby. On the front by the pocket it says "Hog's breath is better than no breath at all." I suppose truer words were never spoken. There are others that I could mention, but I would like to go to bed sometime tonight. I would like to say, you need to be careful what you put on your T shirt if you're advertizing.  My daughter Jen was wearing a T-shirt advertizing Big Brothers and Big Sisters that said "Who mentored you?" She was sitting in a chair and it was a little bunched up, so when my son Ben looked at it he thought it said "Who mentioned you?" He thought that was a little odd to have on a shirt advertizing Big Brothers/ Big Sisters. Nothing like making the kids feel wanted. Personally I think I should have a thousand of them printed up and see if I could sell them to the locals. It would do wonders for the tourist industry if we all wore a shirt that said " Welcome to Alaska- Who Mentioned You?"

Thursday, May 3, 2012

St. Louis


We made it back yesterday- all in one piece and unscathed; refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to go back to work. All my fears of getting mugged or sleeping in bed bug infested hotel beds were  totally unfounded, I'm very happy to report. The trip didn't start off so well. I had an appointment with the dentist the day  before we were to leave and made arrangements to fly on Wings of Alaska. When we got to the airport the agent came to meet us and said the flight would be delayed for over an hour because of maintenance issues, so we had to scramble to get a flight on a different airlines for an additional $60.00 one way. Needless to say, the clouds of pessimism were circling around my head and gaining strength. To add to my distress, I realized that I had left my camera behind once we departed Hoonah. While it would seem like a total bummer, it wasn't so much. If I had lost it somewhere I would have been devastated. Going through airport security is such a hassle that not having to worry about the camera was a blessing in disguise. One of the things I should have left behind was my pocket knife, but being the forgetful buffoon that I am, I didn't. Of course I didn't realize I had it with me until I was standing in the line waiting to be screened. Fortunately I was able to leave it at the Wings counter in Juneau to be picked up on our return. I won't go into all the details of what we did in St. Louis right now, I'm kind of pressed for time with the fishing season cranking up and my boat still out of the water. I will mention that if you are ever in St. Louis and need a hotel, I highly recommend the Parkway. I've never been treated so good. The hotel was clean and comfortable, there were snacks available twenty four hours a day and the staff went out of their way to be helpful. It was such a delight to be there. The only down side is that now that I know how great a stay can be, I will be using them as the standard. It will be difficult for the other hotels to meet that standard I'm afraid to say.It's amazing how quickly you can become accustomed to luxury.  Of course the primary reason we went down was because my family came together and purchased tickets to the Yanni concert as well as covering the hotel bills and a friend and his wife, knowing that I love Yanni, donated their airline miles so we could go. Its all pretty overwhelming to be the recipient of so much love and kindness. Anyway, the concert was held last Sunday night at the Fox theater. I wasn't sure what to expect- I've never been to a live concert before. Inside the theater, which is a beautiful, ornately decorated, older affair, with the rich, red carpeting and heavy drapes and marble, there were a couple fellows selling Yanni souvenirs; DVD's, CD's,  T-shirts, cups, programs, all the things you would expect. Folks were lined up four deep trying to buy stuff, so I joined the melee and ended up getting  three videos and five CD's. I needed to let the kids know what the concert was about. When they let us in and showed us to our seats I was like a kid in a candy store. The seats were located right in the center and just the right distance from the stage. I watched the stage  hands setting up and was surprised when one of them brought out a tape measure and measured the distance that the piano bench was from the the piano. I don't know if that's standard or not. It seems like you would just move the bench if it's too far away or close. In any event, promptly at 7:30 PM, the concert started. I wish I could describe how exciting, how exhilarating, how uplifting that music was. There is just no comparison to watching a video of a performance and being right there in the midst of it. The music was loud and beautiful and you wished it wouldn't end. The crowd was enthusiastic and a bond between us and Yanni was established as people would shout out to him and he answered back. I can honestly say it was one of the most enjoyable evenings I've ever had. Sooo...kids, Bob, Glenda, thank you all for your generosity. It was wonderful.