Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Fat Boy Company


I usually don't post extra large pictures on this blog, but I wanted you, the readers, to get some idea of how large this chair actually is. Some years back I came home from a fishing trip and here was this chair on the front porch, with my son-in-law sitting in it. It was so large I assumed that he couldn't get it in the front door, which wasn't the case. It fit, but just barely. The kids had gotten together and bought it for my birthday, which was a very nice surprise, but I was almost embarrassed when I sat down in it. I was unaccustomed to such luxury. It was so big my legs dangled out over the front and I sank into the cushion almost up to my neck. I alternately felt either like a little kid or a king. It's as close as I'll ever come to sitting on a throne that's for sure.  As you can see, this chair is huge. If the fabric were to be stripped off of it, it there would probably be enough to fashion a small circus tent. At  the very least it could house the fat lady and her family. Speaking of which, it wasn't until today that it dawned on me that this was indeed a member of the Fat Boy Company. It was a genuine Fat Boy Chair. If you remember from other posts, I already have a pair of Fat Boy shoes and a Fat Boy pillow. If you recall, the pillow was so plump it ripped out the seams of the pillow case when I tried to stuff it in- I'm not kidding. Now when I use that set of sheets, I have one pillow with a pillow case and one that's bare naked. It's not a good scene. Can you even buy one pillow case anywhere? Maybe someone out there knows the answer. Anyway, back to the chair. When I first put it in the living room I was constantly banging in to the wall going into the hallway. The chair stuck out into the living room so far that it radically reduced the floor space available for walking. I measured the chair prior to this post- it's 48inches from the outside of one arm to the outside of the other. It's large enough that we've had two full grown adults sit in it side by side comfortably, or our tubby dachsund and myself  stuffed into it uncomfortably. He used to lay down and then jam  his feet against the arm, shoving me against the other side, that pushy little... When I was in Juneau last time I bought a new recliner. Jan was encouraging me to get one. The Fat Boy had been repaired a couple of times and was starting to look a little dumpy- kind of like me. I ended up buying a Lazy Boy recliner that rocks. It's pretty comfortable, and I like being able to rock, but frankly I feel like I'm sitting in doll furniture now. The dog is none too happy about the new chair either- there's only room for me and maybe not even me if I get any bigger. I have to say, I like having more space in the living room, but I kind of miss my Fat Boy. Fortunately we didn't throw it out. It's upstairs in the office where, if I'm having an extra tough day, I can retire to the softness of the those big cushions and recline in the lap of luxury. I'll even make room for the dog. I'm reminded of a Far Side cartoon. This old lady has lifted the cushion on a fluffy chair and spots the hairbrush she had lost and right beside it is her husband, with only his head sticking out, who had also gotten stuck between the cushions. So, if you hear that I'm missing, perhaps you could have the cops check the Fat Boy. Lord knows there's room enough to get lost in there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mr. Twinkies


   I suppose that at this moment Twinkie lovers throughout the world are having heart palpitations at the very thought that their beloved baked delight might have made it's last appearance on store shelves. Thanks to a combination of incredible mis-management at the highest levels and greed on the part of the baker's union, a whopping 18,500 jobs are on the line at the Hostess Baking Co. I guess a judge has ordered the two sides to try to come to some kind of an agreement and thus keep the company out of bankruptcy. No doubt the magistrate lusts after Twinkies, Ho Ho's and perhaps even the chocolate cupcakes with the squiggly line on top and the luscious cream filling. I understand the panic that some folks might be feeling. How often I've passed the Hostess display and been lured in by the seductive packaging. Many a coffee break has seen me happily munching a fruit pie or a package of Snowballs. I had almost no self-discipline when confronted with the multi-pack of Ding Dongs. I bought them fully intending to spread out the consumption over the course of a week, but magically, at the end of the day, the package was reduced to a mound of empty wrappers and I was left with a ring of chocolate around my mouth; my entire body buzzing with an incredible sugar high and an intense desire to eat something healthy- as soon as there was room in my gut.
   Pictured above is my first attempt at baking bread. One night when Jan and I were playing cards with the Pinards, the subject of baking came up. I make a wicked good pie crust, and Wacky cake is pretty simple, not to mention those delectable blueberry and cream muffins that I've turned out in the kitchen, but I had never baked bread before, so Gail offered to show me how. I could see right away that it was going to be a messy process. I probably should have worn an apron. Bread baking was a little spendy and time consuming too, but I was willing to give it a shot anyway. When we had gotten all the ingredients mixed together and the dough was rising in the bowls, Bob showed up. All cooks like to do things their own way, and many just view recipes as suggestions I guess. Anyway, while the bread was doing its thing, there was a disagreement between the two mentors about whether the bread should be punched down or left to rise after is was in the pan. Both were adamant that they were correct and I was left in the middle bouncing between the two opinions like a ping-pong ball at a Chinese tournament. Not wanting to offend either of my friends, we opted to punch one batch and leave the other unmolested. They both left before I pulled my masterpieces out of the oven. To the naked eye, they both looked like they had risen at the same rate. I cut into one while it was hot and slathered butter on it. Wonder bread it was not. Let me just say that it was very filling- kind of chewy and a little sticky...and heavy. Being the generous fellow I am, I gave the other loaf to my daughter Jen. She claimed her loaf was delightful.... go figure. In any event, I thought that would be my last attempt at baking bread until yesterday, when I heard about Hostess, and I got an idea. Perhaps I could add a little sugar to the recipe, hollow out the middle and fill it with cream filling and market the product as Twinkles. Of course each Twinkle would cost about twelve bucks, but look at how long they would last! Oh Botts, you're a genius. If Marie Antoinette, upon being told that the people had no bread had only remarked,"Let them eat Ding Dong's", perhaps she would have kept her head for another few years. Such is the power and the desire for our baked goodies.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Frustration!




I had to go to Juneau earlier this week for a little annual maintenance on my bod. The doctors have you at a distinct disadvantage. They won't authorize any refills for your meds if you don't go for a physical at least once a year, so I had to go in. I needed to go see the dentist too- I'm starting to look like a Jack-o-lantern when I smile so I needed some upkeep there as well. While we were there we stayed at a hotel for a few nights. The gal at the front desk said they had wi-fi. That's nice. I don't know wi-fi from hi-fi, although one has to do with computers and the other a stereo system I guess. Anyway, since it had been a few days since I had checked my emails, I thought I would avail myself of the hotel computers and check it out. I couldn't believe how fast their Internet was. As soon as I put in my password my email account came up. I didn't even have time to go get a cup of their free coffee. When I turn on my computer here at the house I have to wait for ten minutes just so I can put in my password so I can start to do anything else. If I'm lucky enough to have the icon for the Internet to come up, I can go in, take a shower, get breakfast and make a few phone calls while I'm waiting. It's incredibly frustrating.I think my computer has a personality of it's own. I think I'll call it Ralph cause  it makes me want to puke sometimes.For the life of me I don't know how anything that is still working could possibly be this slow. I've got an anti-virus program installed and several times a day I run a program called C-cleaner- the C stands for crap. I'm not making that up; but even so, this thing is so slow I think it's setting records.  I could probably do a commercial for something like PC Matic. All the stuff I've tried has failed, so I'm thinking it's about time someone came up with a Homer Simpson button for the computer. It could be right on your keyboard and when you hit it a voice would announce, "whhhyyy youuuu!" just like Homer does when he's throttling Bart. Then an electrical shock could pulse through whatever component was giving you trouble and hopefully rectify the situation. When I go to use my keyboard, a message comes up on the screen and says  "keep your hands off of me!" I'm like Rodney Dangerfield, I don't get no respect. For those who would like to bypass the keyboard altogether, perhaps a squeeze ball like folks use to relieve stress or strengthen their grip could be installed. When your computer (in my case, Ralph) decides not to cooperate, you squeeze the ball repeatedly until it decides to work as it was intended to. It would be a win-win situation. Either the computer speed would improve dramatically or you would end up with much less stress, and forearms like Popeye with a grip that could crush bone. In the interim, while I'm waiting for these grand ideas to become a reality, I'll practice cursing at the damn thing.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bear Dens






  My wife's co-worker was showing Jan these photos and when Jan mentioned them I thought it would be great to do a blog on something different. These are some of the neatest photos I've ever seen. They were taken by Johan Hinchman when he and a family friend, Bill Veeler, were out on a hunting excursion three or four weeks ago. They hiked up to Elephant Mountain and somewhere near the top ran across these caves. Obviously it was before the snow started to fall. Johan said it was readily apparent that the bears had been utilizing these caves in years gone by. The snow hadn't started falling yet or they might have been occupied. That's a scary thought. I wouldn't want to walk up on a sleeping bear in it's den. Some  years back one of the local fellows, I think it was Karl Greenewald, was doing some cleaning up on Graveyard Island, right across from town, when he came across a bear that had denned up on the island. I can't recall if the bear had taken over an old grave site or what, but it runs in my mind it had. Fortunately for Karl, it ran away. Johan was saying that when he came upon these caves, the hair on the back of  his neck stood up. It's possible that the occupant was observing the intrusion into his space from a distance. As you  can  see, there are a lot of sticks piled around the entrance to the dens. I guess that serves as a mattress for the bears. Not exactly a Sealy Posture-pedic, but if you're content to sleep in a cave all winter, I guess sticks are comfortable enough.
  The man holding the rifle in front of the cave is Bill Veeler. He's the owner/captain of the F/V Donna Ann, a steel seiner. Apparently he's in good enough shape to be able to climb mountains still. I'm a little jealous. I'm afraid I'll never make it to the  top of Elephant to get a first hand view.
  I wanted to thank Johan for sharing these photos. A little background here-Johan is a Tlingit native and hunting has been a part of his culture, I guess since time began. Though we have stores and access to groceries, hunting and fishing are an important part of life here. Both natives and non-natives alike supplement their incomes with what we can catch or shoot. Though there is a certain amount of enjoyment derived from a successful hunt, there is an immense satisfaction in knowing that you've been able to provide for your family from nature's bounty.  Anyway, thanks again for sharing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thanksgiving at Game Creek 2012

My wife Jan speaking with our friend Bob Pinard

Ninety one year old Jim Carey

Not quite ninety one year old, Tim Banaszak
Heading back home
Animals and farm equipment

  This past Sunday Jan and I grabbed up our daughter Jen, our  granddaughter Kaylahni and our friend Bob Pinard and we joined the exodus from town. We were going out to what has become an annual event, the Thanksgiving day celebration at Game Creek.  For a few hours our "family" expanded as we joined members and ex-members of the community at Mt.Bether Bible Center, as well as various and assorted Hoonah residents and visitors to Hoonah. If you were in town on that day, you were welcome to come join in the celebration. I'm not sure how long the farm  has been doing this- seven or eight or ten years. However long it's been, it's fun. Along with a lot of really good food you get a chance to visit people that you don't normally see. Several folks came in from Juneau- Tim and Victor Banaszak and some of their family members and Jane Steiner and her son. When we lived at the farm, so many years ago, they were just kids themselves and now they have families of their own. A cold rain had been falling for several days and had turned the roads to solid mud and the swollen streams were moving at a pretty good clip. I was a little afraid that maybe there wouldn't be a very good turn out, but when we got to the parking area we saw that most of the spaces were filled with cars and trucks. Usually I bring along a rifle for bear protection; the area is close to a salmon stream and is surrounded by muskegs and woods and every year it seems that one or two bears find their way into the farm, but this time I left it behind. I figured with all the noise of multiple travelers, bears wouldn't be a problem. It's a bit of a challenge to get out to the farm. You have to drive six or eight miles over some gravel logging roads, some of which are littered with pot holes, across a couple wooden bridges which are starting to show signs of pretty serious wear, and then walk a trail through the muskegs which are getting overgrown with spruce and hemlock trees on either side, which really limits your visibility. Then down through a small patch of woods,across a couple small streams, through the fields and into the camp. Back when I was living on the farm there was no road to travel. We had to walk the mud flats out to the point, pack a canoe down to the water's edge, paddle out to our skiffs, which were anchored in deep enough water that they wouldn't go dry on low tide, and run into town across four miles of water in all kinds of weather- wind, snow, rain, whatever. I'm not sure which was easier. In any event, the fact that so many people are willing to go the distance is a testimony of how enjoyable the celebration at Game Creek is. The pictures that show the inside of the tabernacle were taken before everyone arrived. By the time dinner was served every table was full and the place was buzzing with the conversation of multitudes of people having a good time. It's good to remember that in an era when our differences seem so profound, we can come together over a good meal and some great conversation and just enjoy each others company. My sincere thanks to the folks at Game Creek who provide us with the opportunity to be neighbors to each other.