Friday, December 27, 2013

Unexpected Gifts






  Ahhhh... Christmas. It's come and gone for this year. I hope yours was a delight, as mine was. It was fairly quiet this year. All of my children are grown up and gone. I'm left with the memories of Christmas's past when they were all growing up. Prior to moving to Hoonah the kids had never really experienced Christmas with a tree and the presents and a special dinner. The holiday wasn't celebrated at the time on the farm, so for ten years they had little idea that it was any different than any other day. Once we moved to town though, Christmas was celebrated in the Botts home with the tree, the dinner, the gifts and lots of love and laughter and noise. It was a lot of fun, and still is, just on a smaller scale. We had our annual Shoe Box Dinner at my daughter, Jennifer's house. She takes shoe boxes and decorates them with gift wrap and puts in a drink, some fruit, candy, chips and a small gift and then we enjoy a tuna melt sandwich. For me she put in a package of Chumbug hoochies and a generous gift card to I tunes. What fun! I'm anxious to try out these new Chumbugs. Dog, or chum salmon, are primarily plankton eaters, so we use a smaller hoochie than what would normally be used for other salmon. One other tradition that has been in effect for a number of years is the adult Christmas party at the church. There is always a nice dinner with prime rib, baked potatoes,salad and a dessert. Afterwards the tables are put away and chairs are set in a circle and everyone draws a number. The number is to determine the order of who will draw a gift from under the tree. We all bring a wrapped gift when we arrive. This year there were around 42 folks who participated, so there were a lot of gifts to choose from. The way it works, the person who draws number one is of course the first to choose. After everyone else has chosen a gift, the first person can choose a gift belonging to someone else if they don't like what they got. With each new person who draws, they have a choice to choose a gift from under the tree or they can choose something that a previous person has chosen. Some gifts are more coveted than others. Because it's random, you never know what you're getting if you choose one of the presents from under the tree, so for instance one fellow ended up with a make up bag.At seventy five, I don't think he's all that interested in how he looks, but I could be wrong. Perhaps he's applying some foundation or lipstick as I write this, who knows? There were a handful of gifts that sparked a good deal of interest. An LED flashlight passed hands a number of times, as well as a beautiful wine kit and bottle of wine and a blanket throw. One gift came from under the tree looking for all the world like a giant dog bone, like something you might give to a Great Dane. We all watched in anticipation as it was unwrapped and I for one was delighted to see a yellow cedar gaff hook made by one of the local fellows here. They are the best gaff hooks I've ever owned. I have one on the boat that I used all last year and I love it. Because I was like number 37, I had a chance to see what other people had chosen. There were some good gifts, but my eyes were on that gaff hook, so when my turn came, I went straight to it and in a most un-Christian way, took it from the owner. I really wanted to leave right then before anyone else could take it from me, but it doesn't work that way. It didn't take long before someone came and got it. It changed hands between the original recipient, a charter boat owner, a sport fisherman, and my friend Bob Pinard and one or two others. After much trading back and forth and making agreements with other players, I finally had possession of that fine gaff hook again. However, the gal who drew first still had a chance to take a gift. She looked at the wine, the flashlight, the makeup bag and a few other great gifts and then settled in front of me and apologized and made off with MY gaff hook! I couldn't believe it. What in heavens name did she want with that? Was she going to give it to her husband? I didn't think he even fished, and I was certain they didn't own a boat. They have a little four or five year old son, but surely they wouldn't let him have it. I was both hurt and a little angry. Why, out of all the more appropriate gifts to take,did she grab the gaff hook? I thought about it all the rest of the night and even the next day. I'm not sure, but I made have had nightmares of losing my gaff. Anyway, the night after the party I was sitting in the living room watching TV when we heard a noise on the front porch. Jan opened the door thinking it was a dog on the porch and there, hanging on the door was the gaff hook! It had been decorated to look like a candy cane by Edna and Keith Skafelstad who had apparently collaborated with Tina Fuller, the gal who took it from me. To say I was pleased and excited would be an understatement. Christmas suddenly got better.My only problem now is that it looks so nice I almost hate to use it. I'm sure I'll get over it though. One last thing I wanted to mention. The top picture is of a quilt that my daughter Jen made for one of the local men,  Walter Lindoff, or Wanzai as he's more commonly known. She has developed a friendship with him over the years and he's often blessed her with a fresh salmon during the season. His life has been incredibly interesting, and though I don't feel free to share too much of the little I know about him at this time, I can mention that back in September he was attacked by a sow bear at the top of Hill Street as he was walking down the hill. It's just one more thing in a most unusual life. Jen used her position as an elementary teacher to have her students make get well cards for him as he was recovering and it was a real blessing. She felt like she wanted to do something for him this Christmas so with the help from one of the local seamstresses, she made the quilt. Like most unexpected gifts, it was greatly appreciated. The one exception would be the unexpected gifts I get on my lawn from the neighborhood dogs. Frankly, even if they were wrapped in sparkly paper and tied with a bow, I'm afraid I would be hard pressed to be happy to receive them. So dogs around my neighborhood, thanks for thinking of me, but keep your gifts to yourselves. Better yet, leave them on your master's beds. See how well that goes over.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Spoiled Family Members

With one paw up waiting for his cereal

Cereal is always better with a little milk on it



    I'm sorry to say that I've allowed things to get completely out of hand around our house. We ( actually I) have stooped to new lows in coddling our dog Rigby. He was already pretty well spoiled, demanding that we share our food with him. From the red and green peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots that we put into our salad, to slices from our mandarin oranges that Jan receives from work at Christmas. Of course he's always insisted on having a sliver of cheese whenever I imbibe and on those occasions when we barbeque shish-ka-bobs he's unrelenting in his begging. Its enough to want to make you go out for dinner so you can enjoy your meal in peace. In the morning when we have bananas he insists on having a few slices, and if we aren't johnny on the spot in getting it for him, he fairly well squeals with the most intense, shrill bark that I've ever heard. I do believe he's insulted that we would even consider leaving him out of the loop in the food department. At lunch time when I'm sitting in my chair trying to enjoy a Cup O Noodles, he hops right into my lap and begs until he gets a few. It's terrible. As soon as the last noodle is gone, he hops down. I guess I no longer serve his purpose. The last straw though happened a few months ago when we were on vacation. My mother in law was here watching the dog. I used to drop a few morsels of whatever kind of cereal that I was eating on the floor for him. He usually scarfed them up greedily. Then I noticed that he wasn't eating the Cheerios that I dropped and I would end up stepping on them later and dragging the crumbs around the house. I got the bright idea of putting a little milk on them in his bowl. Well, he liked that idea just fine. In fact it only took ONE time of doing that and he didn't want it any other way. While we were gone, she put a little cereal in the bowl for him and put it down for him to eat. He looked in the bowl, and then up at her like " What gives? Where's the milk Grandma?  She looked down and saw that he wasn't eating and said " Are you kidding me?" She had to pick up the bowl, put milk in it and put it back in front of him and he happily ate his cereal. Is that pathetic or what?
  We aren't the only ones who've spoiled him. Almost every day  "Grandma" would ask him if he wanted to go outside. He'd dance and bark and go nuts until she could get the leash on him. I'd watch through the front window as he ran her up and down the street with the leash stretched as far as it would go, pulling like he was the lead sled dog in the Iditarod and her hanging on for dear life trying to keep up. I was quite certain that we would witness her taking a header in the street at any time, but it never happened. She would faithfully grab a plastic grocery bag before each excursion outside and after he'd done his business she'd pick up after him. If that's not love than what is?
  Last winter Jan and I got a new couch. We had decided the dog wouldn't be allowed on it, but in the back of our minds I believe we both knew we were lying to ourselves. When we ordered the fabric we got a type that was extra resistant to abrasion from animal claws. As I write this he's in laying on the couch under a blanket throw- a fairly expensive one I might add- the brat. The kids would all tell you they never had it this good. Thank God! They would have grown up into the most obnoxious people in the world.





Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Billy Graham's Prayer For Our Nation


   I was at church a few weeks ago and ran across a paper that said-Billy Graham's Prayer for our nation.
This was a prayer that Graham made at the age of 95. He had a birthday this past November. In 95 years of living a person sees a lot of changes. The changes he's seen, and indeed all of us have seen if we've lived any time at all, should cause us to sit up and take notice. You don't have to be a news junkie to know that there is a lot of trouble brewing in this old world. Whether you want to be impacted or not, you will be. There's no hiding from the down hill slide that we seem to be on. Reverend Graham addresses that in this prayer for America that I would like to share with you.

  "Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know your word says, " Woe to those who call evil good," but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have killed abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from sin and set us free. Amen!

  That's a pretty powerful prayer. Personally, I happen to agree with him in his observations. I think that we're going to have to take a stand. I feel like America is sinking rapidly, just like the sun in this picture. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but that's ok. I liked the way America was when I grew up. We weren't perfect; there was room for improvement, but given the state of the country today I'd say we were miles ahead of where we are now. I look at this country and wonder what my children and grandchildren will be facing, and frankly, from what I can see, it doesn't look too rosy. They're the ones who are going to have to take a stand. It's not going to be easy, but doing the right thing never is. There will always be opposition to doing what is right and good. If my father's generation hadn't taken a stand, the America I grew up in would have been a very different place. In any event, I've had on my mind to share this, and so I have. What you do with it is up to you. In the bible there is a scripture that says -God's word will not return to him void, but will accomplish that which He pleases and it shall prosper in the thing where He sent it. So be it Lord.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

There's Something About Muffins


Before
After

It's wintertime. We established that in the last post, just in case there is anyone living in a climate like Miami where they aren't really sure if it's winter or not, at least not by looking outside. I guess one way to be sure down there is by the influx of pasty white bodies that show up on their shores like beached whales. Anyway, one of the fun things about winter here- ha,ha, ha, I'm just kidding there really isn't anything fun about winter here, at least not in my eyes. But, if there is anything good to be said about winter here in Alaska, it's that all the time spent inside can result in effort in the kitchen. After Thanksgiving I was feeling pretty well bloated on turkey and pie and jello salad. After a few days, it doesn't have the same appeal. Well, it's been a week since Thanksgiving, and I haven't had any pie or jello salad or cake or other sweet and tasty treats for the better part of a week, and today while I was drinking my coffee I got to thinking about how nice it would be to have a tasty muffin to go with my cup of jo. Last year one of the teachers gave me a gallon zip-lock bag of blueberries, all cleaned and everything, so I decided to whip up another batch of berry and cream muffins. Oh my. Oh these things are good. I really do wish you could try some. I mean, you can, just make your own. These are mine- and they are tasty. The last time I did a blog on these muffins, the title of the post was Do You Know The Muffin Man? For the life of me, I don't know what started the flurry of interest that baking some muffins caused, but when I check the stats on the blog, that particular post always has more hits than anything else. Granted, a lot of the interest is from spammers, but it makes me wonder- what gives?  Is muffin a code name for something else in a foreign language? Is it actually a term for something vulgar? I don't know. Maybe I'm so behind the times or out of the loop that I've opened Pandora's Box and didn't know it. Oh well. As you can see from the above pictures, the batter is a lovely purple color. That's because I used fresh/frozen blueberries instead of store bought dried ones. After the muffins have cooked, the inside becomes a beautiful true blue.  I probably should have gotten a picture of one after I'd cut it open, but the minute it's in my hand, my hand goes to my mouth, and it's gone. Guess you'll just have to take my word for it on the color. When I went to download the muffin pictures into the computer, another picture that I hadn't downloaded yet showed up. I stared at it for a moment before I realized what it was. I had taken a picture of a bra that was laying on the bathroom counter for a future blog post. I didn't really want to make it part of this post, although while I was looking at the picture I realized that a bra would probably be a good muffin carrier. You could fill it with a muffin in each cup and  put it on backwards like a backpack. The heat from your body would probably keep the muffins warm, and you wouldn't have to worry about having them crumble like you would if they were just stuffed in a plastic bag. I guess the only real issue would be to make sure you used a clean bra and to brush out any residue that might be left behind. I really should be getting a patent on some of these great ideas. No doubt I'm losing big bucks because of this blog.



Monday, December 2, 2013

And Winter Came


  

















































      I don't know if I'm allowed to use this title for this post or not. It's the title of an album by one of my favorite musical artists, Enya. I happen to love the name  and I just happen to love the music as well.  The statement pretty well sums it up. Although we had a pretty mild fall overall, and I guess according to the calendar it's still considered fall, by the time November arrives I usually consider it winter. It really wasn't all that bad until recently. As you can see, we've got a little snow and ice, and believe me, the water is cold enough to steal your breath away should you happen to fall in. As unpleasant as it is, this is the kind of weather that these salmon need. Today it actually got fairly warm- into the mid thirties, but tonight under clear skies it's pretty doggone chilly. My brother used to say that it was as cold as a nun's buns. I don't know how he would know. To the best of my knowledge, he never even knew any nuns, although we had several friends who were Catholic. I think he just needed something that rhymed with buns and nuns fit the bill. He used to mention certain parts of  a witches anatomy and their lingerie as well, but again, I don't believe he was speaking from any practical experience.
  I was supposed to be going to Juneau today on the ferry for a doctor's appointment, but the ferry is broken down- again. It happens with alarming frequency, although amazingly, it never seems to happen during the tourist season. I don't understand that at all. I contemplated flying over, but when I got on the NOAA website, it looked like they were calling for gale force winds with gusts to sixty knots. I hate flying in the winter. On days when it's cloudy, there's always the chance of getting caught in a snow storm or fog, and on sunny days the wind blows something fierce so you get bounced around like a bead in a baby rattle. It's a no win situation.
  I was kind of hoping that the snow would stop right at the bottom of the mountain and not continue on to the valleys and flat lands. The roads out of town are pretty much impassable now for all practical purposes. I guess if a person has four wheel drive and chains he might be able to get a little way out of town. Several weeks ago a hunting party from Juneau or Anchorage or some such place got caught on the wrong side of the pass that leads out to Freshwater Bay and the trooper had to go rescue them. They were lucky they had cell service. I spoke to one fellow who ventured out of town in an effort to do some hunting, but there are ruts in the road that are frozen in and it's almost impossible to steer outside of them, so if you have a car coming from the opposite direction, it's darn hard to get out of each others way. I'm not sure how you get turned around when you want to go back the way you came from. I guess you could just put your vehicle in reverse and let the ruts guide you home.One nice thing about the roads being pretty well impassable, it cuts down on the boneheads who like to go out spotlighting for deer. I don't know why anyone would do that. Our deer season lasts from August until December 31, with a special federal January hunt that they consider subsitence.  That sticks in my craw. For one thing the deer aren't that good by then, and for another the does are all bred, so hunting them wipes out future generations of deer. In any event, I'm happy to report that the troopers recently caught two local fellows who were spotlighting. I'm quite certain that they aren't the only two doing it, but maybe it will send a message to some of these idiots. Personally, I'd like to see some more robo deer set up to catch those fools. I'd like to take the ol' Crocodile Dundee approach and arm the robo deer with perhaps laser sighted automatic weapons so that when spotlighters shoot at the phony deer, they shoot back. Talk about poetic justice!









































































Wednesday, November 27, 2013

MR.Brows



 I went into the bathroom today to do something, probably the usual things that you would do in the bathroom, and as I was looking in the mirror I became aware of my eyebrows. If I could have gotten a closeup picture of just my eyebrows I would have. They're so big that I had to grow a mustache just to distract people. I notice that I seem to squint a lot, like I'm looking into the sun. Of course there isn't much sun here normally to look at, so obviously that's not the problem. The reason I seem to squint is that my eyebrows have a tendency to poke me in the eyes- the very thing they're supposed to be protecting! What gives? Periodically I trim them, but it doesn't really seem to help, I think it just causes them to grow at odd angles, mainly all in a downward direction towards my eyeballs. My dad had bushy eyebrows. They were pretty intimidating. It's probably a good thing that men have pretty bushy ones. It would be hard to be a person in authority if you had to paint your eyebrows on as is the case with some ladies I know. Who would take a judge seriously if he was sitting on the bench in a gown and eyebrows that were the result of Maybellene? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are plenty of female judges that can be pretty intimidating. Lord knows I've met some gals who I wouldn't want to cross, and they don't sit on the bench. Anyway, as I was saying, my dad's were pretty bushy. He was a contractor and used to come home after a day at work, running the saw or planer or some other wood working tool and I'm fairly sure each eyebrow probably held a good half pound of sawdust. I should dip mine in some sawdust so that it looks like I've been working hard. It would be my luck that someone would see that and want me to build them a set of cabinets or some such thing, then what would I do? The jig would be up and I'd half to admit that I came by my rugged appearance falsely. Some years ago, when I worked at the school, there was a young lady who seemed to be in constant need of attention. You never knew what she would do next so we were always on guard around her. One day she came waltzing down the hallway and I noticed something didn't look right, but what was it? I was staring at her face when one of the more observant students yelled, " Amanda shaved her eyebrows!"  That's what it was! Holy smokes! I don't recommend doing that, no matter how starved for attention you are. It looks a little odd to put it mildly. I don't know if they itch when they grow back in or not. Fortunately it's not a fad that ever caught on that I know of. Obviously shaving my brows isn't an option; however, perhaps I could create some special barrettes just to hold them back. I could be stylish and still keep those pesky hairs from poking me. Maybe I could design special ones that look like sawdust so that you wouldn't really have to dip your face in the dust pile, you just clip on a pair. Guess I better get to work. They probably won't be ready in time for Christmas this year, but keep your eyes pealed next year. No doubt they'll be in all the high end catalogues.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

For the love of music


















   There is something about music that touches all of us-at least everyone who can hear. I wonder if songs play in the minds of the deaf but they don't know how to express the melody. I believe Beethoven was deaf, but I'm not sure if he was born that way or if it came upon him later on in life. I guess I should research that. Whether you're riding in an elevator and having Musak piped in or shopping in your favorite department store during the Christmas season and listening to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the four hundredth time, we're surrounded by music. If I may, I would like to give a word of advice to retailers all over the country. Stop trying to sell Christmas before Halloween is even here. Remember that your customers have already heard the country rendition, the rap rendition, the new age rendition and the original rendition of Hark the Herald Angels Sing more times than they care to ever hear again in their natural lives, long before they ever step foot in your store.If you want to play music during the holidays, try playing something that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. You might find your sales exploding.  We're all well versed in knowing that Santa Claus is Coming to Town, someone has Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire and Bing Crosby is dreaming of a White Christmas. By December 25th, Santa runs the risk of being shot out of the air by angry duck hunters, the chestnuts are burned to crispy carbon marbles and hopefully Bing, who has been dead for a number of years, isn't residing where snow would bring some small relief from the eternal fires. Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.  So, as you can see, music has the ability to be a blessing or a curse. The folks in Hollywood discovered some years ago that it could be used to produce the desired effects during a movie. If the hero of the ninety minute movie dies, the sad music cues and you can see folks wiping their eyes. When the scene is one of danger or suspense the scary music builds to a crescendo and the hair on your neck starts to stand on end before the final act of terror ever occurs. I don't think having Enya play in the back round would have the desired affect in, say, the scene from jaws right before the shark attacks. How often have you heard a melody and your mind goes back to a pleasant time in your life when that particular song was playing? We want to recapture whatever the good feeling was and somehow music helps us do that. The good folks at Apple computers know this and have done quite a booming business making countless downloads available of almost every song imaginable. Jan bought me an I pod last year for Christmas and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.  I can download stuff that I listened to when I was a teen, like the Moody Blues, theme songs from favorite movies like The English Patient and even stuff from a skit from Saturday Night Live when Michael Bolton was a guest and portrayed himself as Captain Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. I have to admit, I even loved the song from the Geico commercial when the little gecko was down in Texas dancing on top of the bar. I liked it so much that I tracked it down and found out it was called Central Daylight Time by a group named The Wrinkle Neck Mules. I wasn't alone in my search for that song. There were a lot of folks who inquired about it. Frankly, I think if the folks who produce the commercials think they have a winner, they need to put the name of the artist at the bottom of the screen so that interested customers don't have to work so hard to track them down. Do you remember the commercial with the dog who had a bone who couldn't rest for fear that something would happen to it until he ended up insuring it with Travelers Insurance and was able to find peace with it buried in his back yard? The song, Trouble was playing during the whole commercial. The singer was Ray Lamontaigne and I don't doubt that his popularity soared after that commercial debuted. I know I ended up with a couple of his CD's. Obviously the executives at the insurance companies know good music when they hear it. Music most certainly affects how we drive. No doubt if you're on a long stretch of empty highway you could probably get away with some loud, head banging music. For some reason the foot hovering over the gas pedal automatically gets heavier. However, if you're stuck in traffic in someplace like L. A. it's probably not a good idea. I also am not a big fan of really bouncy music when I'm in the car and have to pee and the closest bathroom is miles away. Even with the radio off at such a time, the loud suspense music in my head starts to rise and the apprehension builds- will he make it? Is there a rest stop around the corner? Oh, I can't bear to look.  At times like that a little Bach might be appreciated. Music to calm the savage beast or the savage bladder. One thing is certain, as the holiday season approaches, you won't hear any rendition of Up on the Rooftop, Click Click Click, down through the chimney comes Ol' St. Nick playing on my car radio.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Oops I did it again!



      I'd like to borrow a line from Brittany Spears and say "Oops I did it again." Now,I don't know what Brittany did again. For awhile there she was doing some pretty bizarre things, but I don't think the song is about any of those; of course I could be wrong. The thing I did again, so stupidly I might add, is I managed to cook the Di Giorno pizza without first removing the cardboard. Twice! How can anyone  cook the cardboard with the pizza twice?Somehow I managed to set the timer for the required amount of time for  a soft crust, and I did turn on the oven and took the plastic off. I don't know why I didn't notice the cardboard. I just laid it right on top of the stone wear pizza plate and shoved that puppy in the oven and slammed the door shut. I was actually feeling pretty proud of myself. It was Saturday evening and we were hosting our friends, the Pinards, for a friendly game of rummy. The game usually starts at 7:00 and Jan doesn't get off work until 5:30, so in order to avoid the last minute rushing around of trying to cook, and eat and clean up before they arrived, I thought I would expedite things. Just trying to be helpful. That's my motto. Set my dad's paint brush on fire when he went to get more gas to clean it? Just trying to be helpful Dad- no need to thank me. Rear back with a claw hammer and smack Fred O'Dowd in the head with the claw while tearing apart a pallet board? Hey Fred, just trying to be helpful. Gotta watch where you stand buddy. Can't be too careful ya know. Put a big scrape in my folks 67 Buick Le sabre at the hospital parking lot? Just trying to be helpful. I was. I truly was. Jan had a  medical emergency and she needed to get to the hospital fast. I was only sixteen and had just gotten my driver's license a few months before. My mom insisted that I drive her so of course I did. Every thing went well as far as my driving, at least at first. I pulled in to the parking lot next to a salmon colored Ford or Oldsmobile or something, I don't remember. Anyway, I was pretty flustered by the experience and worried about her and when I pulled out I cut the wheel a little too sharp and scraped the car next to me. It didn't have any damage at all that I could see, but our car was left with a major scrape. I couldn't very well say 'Oops I did  it again' because it never happened before. There's a first time for everything I guess.  I certainly couldn't run the risk of not being able to drive the car again, so I did the only thing cowardly buffoons normally do. I parked the damned car in front of the house and hoped dad wouldn't see the damage. Actually he didn't for about three days. In the interim, my older brother had borrowed the car to go to Columbus. In an uncommon stroke of good luck, something that even then I wasn't accustomed to, Dad didn't notice the scrape until after my brother had returned the car. Of course Dad naturally assumed that my brother had done the damage, which of course  he denied. In that instance I wasn't trying to be helpful to anyone but myself. Anyway, back to the pizza. If you look closely, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you will be able to plainly see that the edge of the pizza clearly covers the cardboard, thus making it almost impossible to ascertain it's presence to anyone but superman or some other super hero with x-ray vision. I really think that frozen pizza makers all over the world should put a warning on the plastic covering the pizza reminding their patrons to remove the cardboard before cooking. If they refuse to do that, then at the very least I think that they should offer the pizza consuming public special glasses with step by step instructions on the lenses. Pizza goggles if you will. No doubt such a fine gesture would endear their customers to them and would result in a blossoming bottom line. I can promise you one thing- if I'd been wearing a pair of pizza goggles, I sure wouldn't be writing this post.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Foggy Morning

















      There is something about the fog that appeals to writers- artists- philosophers. I'm not sure what it is. For certain it changes the scene before you. If it's not too thick, as is the case in the above pictures, it can add a bit of mystique to the ordinary. I see the Presbyterian church almost every day. There's nothing outstanding about it that I can see. Perhaps because I'm so familiar with it I don't really pay too much attention when I pass by, but throw in some fog and all of a sudden I see it in a whole new light. The bell in the cupola stands out as well as the cross and trees beside the church. The same with the giant Spruce in the middle picture. It's an impressive tree in any kind of weather, but in the fog it fairly well shouts. "I alone am left of the old growth forest that once grew in the center of town. From my towering heights bald eagles see far out into the bay. On my broad branches the raven and the crow perch, seeking shelter from the storm." Look at the reflection of the sun upon the water; still diffused but probably much more to scale than what we see in the sky. As the day wears on and the weather warms a little or the wind comes up the fog will dissipate, but at least I was able to capture the images before they disappear like an early morning dream. As I've mentioned in previous posts, when I'm on the water I hate to see the fog. Perhaps for the same reason that I love it on the land- nothing looks the same. I can pass by a point or landmark a hundred times but if the fog sets in I feel almost lost. Even with a good radar and GPS it's not the same as being able to look out the window and know where you are. I need that certainty of visual confirmation, and the fog robs me of that. It has seldom been my friend out fishing. One July 4th I was on the outside coast fishing off of Surge Bay for king salmon when the fog set in. I was fishing without a crew hand and was surrounded by boats. I watched in desperation as numerous kings struck my gear, stretching the springs on the tattletales, but I was unable to leave the cabin to go pull the gear because I didn't want to run into anyone; or be run into for that matter. By the time the fog lifted the bite was off.What a surprise!  Another time I was almost cut in two by a huge, white cruise ship right in front of Cannery Point. If I hadn't seen it bearing down on me on the radar and thrown the boat into reverse, the Bonnie J would have been reduced to splinters and my lifeless body would have become a tourist attraction. "Oh look Harold, those seagulls are really going to town on that garbage in the water. I thought there was a law against throwing your trash overboard." It's no picnic to be driving a car in either. I recall one time in Ohio driving to work with my head stuck out the window of my "62" VW Bug. That was a real trip. I probably should have had my head examined for owning a "62" Bug to begin with. I must have had fog on the brain when I bought it. I was on a first name basis with the repair shop manager at the dealership. Oh well. Speaking of driving in the fog, I found a quote by well known author
E. L. Doctorow. I like that name, Doctorow. If he was a physician he would be Dr. Doctorow. E. L. is kind of neat too. Anyway, the quote, by E.L. Doctorow.  "Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights but you can make the whole trip that way." Thanks for the insight E.L. I'll keep that in mind.


Monday, November 4, 2013

This Is a Man's World



     I imagine that those looking at this particular post are probably wondering-"what the heck is Botts showing me a picture of a stinking mop for?" Well, I'll tell you why. I have a contract to clean a government building here in town, which of course involves mopping. I needed a mop awhile back when the one I had finally started showing signs of old age. The strings were falling out, I couldn't tighten the hardware any more so the head started flopping back and forth and the handle was developing splinters. My wife happened to be going to Juneau so she picked  me up a new one. Now, I don't mean to be ungrateful. As you know, beggars can't be choosers. That being said, let me just mention that buying a mop is like buying underwear- one size doesn't fit all. It would be nice if it did- then as you got fatter, or in the unlikely event that you lost weight, you wouldn't have to go through your underwear drawer  and start tossing your boxers and briefs in the trash. It seems like a terrible waste, but people kind of balk at the idea of receiving hand-me-down clothes that have been in intimate contact with your private parts. Go figure. Anyway, I was well pleased when I first saw the mop, thinking it would fit the bill. For reasons unknown though, the manufacturer sewed the bottom of the strings. I guess it must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but in my opinion it wasn't. When I was mopping the stick would sway in my hands  like we were dancing. Maybe the handle was made from a rubber tree, I don't know.The mop seemed kind of wimpy to me, and it didn't get into the corners like I felt it should. If I'm going to clean something I don't want it to look just as bad when I'm finished as it did when I started. That being said, when we returned from our trip we had a day's layover in Juneau so I stopped in to Home Depot to pick up some cleaning supplies; you know, Mr. Clean and some window spray. I was passing by the stick goods when I noticed the mop in the picture. Now that was a man's mop- good solid wooden stick, steel hardware and enough strings to make a wig for Dolly Parton. The thing weighed about six pounds before it ever saw a drop of water.  I should have considered that before I bought it, but I didn't. As per usual, I found out after the fact that I should have given the matter a little more consideration. When I first broke it in, I filled the mop bucket and inserted Big Bob.It was so hefty I felt like it needed a manly name. As soon as I lifted it to the wringer, half the water in the bucket was gone. Thunderation! This was one thirsty mop! I somehow managed to shove the whole mop head into the wringer and pushed down on the handle with all my might hoping to remove some of the three gallons of water that had been sucked up. When I tried to lift the handle it didn't want to release and I had to practically stand on the bucket to keep it from tipping while I wrestled with the wringer. When I finally got it loose and started mopping I was amazed at the swath that it covered. With a few passes I managed to mop  half the room. It was like I had a sheet of plywood on the end of the handle. I have to say though that it was quite a workout. To get some idea of what it was like, strap a ten pound bag of potatoes to a five foot dowel and swing it back and forth across the floor. By the time I finished I was sweating a river and had a sore back and bulging biceps, to say nothing of the bulge in my gut that I think was a hernia from trying to lift that mop from the bucket. While I was working I kept hearing that classic song by James Brown- This is a Man's World.  One thing is for certain, this is a man's mop. I just hope I'm man enough to keep swinging it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crazy Horse Monument

The Crazy Horse Monument
The scale model of the monument- 1/300th the size
The seventh and eighth generation grandsons of Crazy Horse
Artifacts from the Crazy
 This will be the last post about the trip we took. As I mentioned previously, it means more to us than to anyone else reading this. I did want to share one of the more memorable parts of the trip though. While we were still on the Lincoln Highway in Wyoming we stopped at one of the rest areas and spoke to a rather interesting fellow. He was sporting a long white beard and carried a Diamond Willow walking stick. Unlike the generic travelers that you see most everywhere, you could tell he was a character and he had an air of knowledge about him. I was drawn to his t-shirt. It showed Mt. Rushmore, which was on our list of places we wanted to visit on this excursion down south. Unfortunately, the buffoons running the government couldn't get their act together and the government was shut down, which of course meant that the national parks were all closed. I mentioned to the fellow that at least he got to see Rushmore and he said that it wasn't nearly as impressive as the Crazy Horse Memorial, right outside of Custer South Dakota. Well, that sealed it. We decided to go there instead. I have to say, it was well worth the trip. The Black Hills are beautiful, and I really liked the town of Custer. I was glad we were there after the peak tourist season. There is a museum on the outskirts of the monument with the largest display of native artifacts I'v ever seen. We were encouraged to watch a video about how the idea for the monument came about and the progress that's been made over the years. The sculptor was a Polish-American man by the name of Korczak Ziokowski. He met with the chiefs of the Sioux tribes back in the 1950's  who commissioned him to do the work. It became his passion and his life's work and he died without ever finishing it. He married and had ten children, seven of whom are still working on the project, using the detailed calculations that he left for them. Before he could begin he had to build steps to the top of the mountain-741 in all. He did the initial work with just a single jack and a ten foot steel bar to manually drill into the granite mountain. Eventually he was able to afford some equipment, a  pnuematic drill powered by an old Buda generator. He said one day he had to go back down the mountain nine times to restart the generator. Several times he was approached by the federal government with offers of money. It runs in my mind that ten million dollars was offered each time, but he had the foresight to decline, fearing that they wouldn't finish the project. No doubt he was correct. The project continues with money collected at the front gate and with donations of equipment and expertise from a number of commercial companies. If you would like to see more, google The Crazy Horse Monument, and for a really up close and personal look, you  can't go wrong visiting the monument and surrounding area. It's steeped in history and all manner of natural beauty. It took us sixty one years to make it there, I hope you don't have to wait so long.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Trip

The Payette River, Idaho

Shoshone Falls, Idaho Falls Idaho

Shoshone Falls/ Snake River
Momma  Jan at Shoshone Falls













   I thought I would spend a little time in the next few posts speaking about our trip. Obviously it means much more to me and Jan than to anyone else, so I won't go on and on, but we don't make it out of Alaska too often so when we do get a chance to go it's a kind of big deal. We left Juneau and flew to Seattle and on to Boise Idaho where we rented a car. I wasn't about to rent a car in Seattle- way too busy for me. When we got to Boise we waited for our luggage which never came. Hey... I just remembered that Alaska airlines has a policy that if you have to wait more than twenty minutes for your luggage they'll give you a twenty dollar credit or refund or some such thing. What the hell? Where's my refund? Those sapsuckers owe me forty dollars- twenty for Jan and twenty for me. It's not the first time they've lost my luggage. The last time we traveled to Wisconsin and Ohio, the airlines lost our luggage on both stops.What are the odds of that happening? Does the ticket counter put special tags on our bags that lets the baggage handlers know that they should send our stuff to San Francisco when we're on our way to Columbus or what? After a few times of having it happen, you kind of expect that they're going to lose it. I should carry a few decoy bags filled with confetti or dog crap that they can lose if they want to while I carry my bags on board and fight with the buffoons who want to try to stuff their seventy pound bags (also known as portable closets) into the overhead bin, taking up the space that is supposed to accommodate at least three passenger's luggage.  We spent the first night of our voyage in Mountain Home Idaho. A friend of ours lived there for awhile and it sounded like a nice place to visit; and it was. Kind of high desert. The folks there were friendly and the hotel was nice except for the fact that we got there on a weekend and the German Air force was visiting the air force base at Mountain Home and they all kind of converged on the hotel we were at so it was a little noisy until midnight or so. We traveled north and west on our way up to Cour'd laine, past some beautiful scenery in the mountains. Unfortunately it started raining buckets and I started thinking about mudslides since the road was right against the mountain on one side and bordered by the Payette River on the other, so we stopped short of our goal and ended up in Eastern Idaho at Idaho Falls. That was a nice place and we may opt to check it out for a winter get away some time in the future. We visited Shoshone Falls, about six miles outside of town and spent a few hours there. The sights were breathtaking and we could easily have spent the whole day there, but we needed to get underway and visit our daughter Camille in Cheyenne. We passed through a corner of Utah and saw some incredible rock formations. I asked Jan to get a picture of them at one point but she mainly got a silhouette of my nose, which I guess does somewhat resemble a rock formation, but I rather doubt if anyone would like to frame it and hang it in their living room.
We drove like mad for quite a few hours and decided to spend the night in Rawlins Wyoming. I don't think  I would ever do that again. It was by far the most expensive hotel that we stayed in and the restaurant is no more than a small tavern in the back of the the hotel. We had to listen to some drunken truckers go on about something or other. At one point some gal mentioned catching a King Salmon in Alaska and I almost ordered a beer and joined the conversation, but I was too tired and didn't want to take a chance of getting into a fight with a drunk and having my picturesque nose smashed.  The room was nothing fancy, but it kept the weather out so I guess that's what counts.  In an effort to keep this from being as long as the King James Bible, I'll go ahead and stop here and continue on in a future post. Hope you all have a great day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

What's that you say?


















  We began our trip several weeks ago by boarding the Alaska Marine Highway ferry, Aurora.   I dropped back to the cafeteria to grab a cup of coffee and watched with amusement as one of the officers posted the menu. I've had clam chowder before, and I've certainly eaten Rock fish, though not grilled. I have to admit though, I've never tried Beef Strokenoff. Sounds like something you might find on the menu of a brothel in Las Vegas or some such thing. When I saw that I had to do a double take. Then I started doubting myself, thinking that perhaps using a "g" instead of a "k" was wrong. I know that I've forgotten a lot of things as I've aged, but this is definitely the wrong spelling. Perhaps the officer was Russian and was spelling it the way she pronounced it, who knows. In any event I agree with a friend who, after she saw the menu, said, "I think I'll stay with  the cheeseburger.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Respect and Balance


















     I'm painfully aware that I haven't done a post here for several weeks. The fact of the matter is, I was on a vacation. I needed to go south to visit my mom and see how she was doing, so we turned it into a road trip of sorts. We flew into Boise and drove around Idaho for a few days, then across Utah and Wyoming to visit my daughter Camille. From there we went to Custer, South Dakota. Unfortunately, the elected officials whom we voted on to run this country are so incompetent and partisan that we were unable to visit one of the places that I had my heart set on visiting- Mt. Rushmore. It wasn't a total loss though. I thoroughly loved the Black Hills of South Dakota and we visited the Crazy Horse Monument and museum. We watched the seventh and eighth generation of Crazy Horse perform several native dances and it was a pretty impressive display. If you ever wonder about a great place to visit I would highly recommend Custer. The area is beautiful, the people are friendly and there's a lot to see and do. I wanted to go see the Custer State Park, which was open because it wasn't run by the feds, however, there were winter storm warnings with the possibility of one to two feet of snow, so we only spent the one day in Custer and beat feet trying to outrun the snow storm. I saw on the news last night that an enormous number of cattle were lost in South Dakota because of that storm. Anyway, we spent a night in Mitchell, South Dakota where we ate a real meal at a Perkins Family Restaurant.Up until then we had been eating barbequed this or that or things other than just a burger. It all kind of runs together. I do however remember that I ate meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy at Perkins and we topped it off with a piece of apple pie, which I had to take with me for future consumption since I was filled to the gills with meat loaf. While we were there I couldn't help but notice that there was a huge Cabela's store right next to the hotel, and since I'd never been to one, I felt the need to peruse it. Frankly, it was pretty darned impressive. There wasn't a whole lot that they didn't carry in terms of things that outdoor enthusiasts would need, particularly in the hunting and fishing line. I would have loved to have stocked up on some ammo, maybe a gun or two, some brilliant new composite arrows and a bow to shoot them, a tree stand, some clay pigeons, perhaps some bass or walleye fishing lures, in case I'm ever in the area again for more than a few hours, a couple rods and a four wheeler. As it was I settled for eight pairs of wool blend socks and some jeans. I wouldn't have bought them except for the fact that my socks, and my jeans for that matter, were developing holes. Of course I could have gone to any Wal- Mart to replenish my stock of clothes, but these items were made in America, something that I'm increasingly interested in supporting. I'd much rather spend a little more and be assured that I'm getting a quality product and that Americans are benefiting from my purchases. We went on to Iowa to visit my daughter Amber, being followed by severe weather all the way. When we arrived at her house we were greeted with tornado warnings. On the one hand it was a bit exciting and beautiful. The dark clouds were rushing under huge, white, billowy clouds, and there was non- stop lightning. It was a pretty impressive display of the power of nature. Unfortunately there were seventeen tornadoes that touched down in the area and there was some damage to some of the towns surrounding us. From there we passed through Illinois, Indiana and on to Ohio where my mom lives. All in all it was a pretty fun trip. I'll post a few pictures of the trip on my next post. The pictures above sum up the attitude that I believe we should all have when traveling. Respect and balance. As the posters state, it's more than just a place to visit, it's where we live. Whether you're visiting the Tongass or passing through Le Roy Illinois, please remember that you're a guest for however long you're there. Treat the folks you come in contact with with respect. It will make your stay more pleasant, they'll be glad you dropped by, and you may make a new friend or business contact.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Season's Over
















  It's hard to believe but for all intents and purposes the 2013 fishing season is over, at least for me.  In my last three trips out fishing I've only caught a total of ten cohos- hardly enough to make it worth the while. With fuel costing upwards of $5.00 a gallon and the boat burning about eight gallons a day on a short day, it doesn't make sense to go out. Last year, or maybe it was the year before, I started heading out on the last day of the season. I saw that even the hard-nosed trollers were tied up and even though I made it out of the harbor, I got discouraged and turned around and came back in without even dropping a line. On my way back in I saw one of the guys who fishes only sporadically anymore, and then usually doesn't do much, leaving the harbor. I wished him luck but frankly didn't believe he would catch anything. As it was,  he went just to Point Sophia and caught sixty cohos for the short time he was there- about six hundred bucks worth of fish. So, I'm not totally discounting getting out one more time, but if I go, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for a big smash either. For the past few days it's been raining buckets, which is actually good. This summer was the nicest one that I can ever remember in terms of sunshine. However, as I've mentioned before, we live in a rain forest and in order for all the wildlife and plants to thrive, we need rain. As per usual for this time of year, we're finally getting copious amounts. That's good. It washes out some of the dead fish from the streams and makes room for the later runs, like cohos. I went on a drive with Jan and my mother-in-law last Sunday, which as you can see was a sunny fall day. The river in the middle picture is Game Creek. When I looked down I couldn't see any fish, although it was obvious by the smell that quite a few had been there recently and had done their duty and died, as salmon are prone to do. I guess some of the carcasses must break down and remain in the river somehow- under rocks or in the embankment or something, because the fry that hatch in the spring are nourished by their parents who have passed on. It's a very efficient system. Even so, I don't want the kids to be planting a garden on top of my grave- "Wow! Look at the size of those tomatoes! Dad must have composted really well!" Sorry guys, if I have my way I'll be cremated.  Anyway, back to the fishing season. The troll opening has been extended to the end of the month instead of ending on the 20th as per usual. I guess the powers that be decided that there were so many fish that it warranted an extension. This is only the second time that I can remember them extending the season. So, if perchance a few more fish do show up I can take advantage of them. Usually though, as they near their natal streams they start to turn dark and sometimes pinkish or red and are declared Blush by the cold storage and are worth less. It's almost worth it to let more of them spawn in hopes of a larger run in a few years. Plus, as they get closer to the streams I always feel guilty for depriving them of their one opportunity for sex. I'm not totally calloused you know. The real heartless guys are those jerks who yard them out of the streams. Let's just hope that none of them are your neighbors. Big meanies!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Brush With Fire


















   Hi- thanks for joining me here. Tonight I would like to share with you a tale. Unlike the tales of the Grimm brothers, this tale is true and involves yours truly. This tale is from a long time ago, relatively speaking, and while it could have been sad for me, fortunately it wasn't. So, sit back, grab a refreshing beverage, cold or hot and join me as I travel back in time with a story from my past. Years ago, in a simpler, happier time, there was no EPA or other government sanctioned terrorist groups. In those days, when Autumn came and the leaves began to fall, folks used to rake them up and pile them in huge stacks out on the curb. Kids used to ride their bikes through them and scatter leaves over the same areas they had just been raked away from.  Eventually, I guess in an effort to keep from having to rake the same leaves again, it was a common practice to set the leaves on fire right there on the street. Now, I have no idea how the asphalt kept from being melted into a tarry, soft mess, but perhaps the coals were unable to reach temps that would create a problem. The smell of burning leaves was just a part of the fall, at least until the late sixties or early seventies.At some point the Cuyahoga River up near Cleveland Ohio was so polluted that it actually caught fire. I think that was probably the point when the environmental movement started catching on with more than a few hippie types. That spelled the end of curbside fires, bonfires and other smoke producing pollutants.  I'm mentioning all this to say that at one point and time in America it was acceptable to have a bonfire on one's own property without even needing a permit.  Here is where the paintbrush comes in. My father was a contractor by trade. He built and remodeled houses back in Ohio. Periodically he would find himself without a job to do, so he would set his sights on something around the house. One fall day I was minding my own business, perhaps I was even taking the trash out to the burn barrel behind the garage. Had I known that dad was there, I might have waited for awhile. In any event, I drifted out back in time to see our old garage door lifted high and a hunk of building material flying out of said door and onto a pile of short lumber pieces, assorted shingles, broken, wooden ladders and assorted and sundry other flammable material. Dad spotted me and sent me inside to grab some kitchen matches. He was going to torch that pile. Being an average American boy, the thought of a fire got my blood flowing and I gladly did what I could to assist, not that I had any choice in the matter. Once the blaze was going Dad retreated to the garage and sorted through a massive pile of lumber, paint cans, hard cement bags and all manner of other tools of the  trade.At one point he exclaimed, "Hey, there that is! I wondering what happened to that!" He came out into the sunlight with a rather large paintbrush and a smile on  his face. He found a five gallon gas can and poured what was left  into a coffee can and started to swish the brush around. Apparently there wasn't enough gas to do what he wanted with the brush so he told me to watch the fire while he went up to get some more gasoline. What a mistake! He should have known that a pre-teen boy left with a can of gas and a fire would be a volatile situation to put it mildly. His truck had no sooner left the alley than I was poking around in the can with the brush. At first I was just trying to help loosen it up  a little, kind of working it like Dad did. Then somehow I got the brilliant idea of flicking it at the fire. Of course gasoline being what it is, and fire being what it is, every time I flicked it, the flames would shoot high and I would chuckle to myself. I got away with it about three or four times. The last time I sloshed the brush at the bonfire, it bit back and set the brush I was holding on fire. Holy Toledo, how did that happen? I threw it to the ground and stomped on it a number of times until the flames were extinguished and then put the brush back in the can.  Oh sure, Dad won't notice it. Dad came back a few minutes later whistling and pulled the gas can out of the bed of the truck. He pulled the can with the paint brush a fair distance from the fire and poured in some gas. He started sloshing the brush around in the gasoline and got a confused look on his face. When he pulled  the brush out the bristles were burnt and curly and there was still some gravel in the base of the brush. He let out his favorite expletive and turned to me. "What the hell happened Tom"? Of course I lied through my teeth, and gave my favorite explanation whenever I knew that trouble was brewing. " Gee, I don't know Dad. I guess it just happened." Yeah, right. He picked up the brush and proceeded to flick it at the fire. Of course the flames shot skyward just like when I did it. "Are you sure you weren't doing this?" he asked as he flicked it again. I'm sure my eyes were as big as saucers as I once again feigned having any knowledge of how such a terrible thing could have happened to his very expensive paint brush. I was fully expecting to get a well deserved spanking, but he just turned away and said, "Get the hell out of here!" I didn't need to be told twice. I fairly well ran to the house and thanked my lucky stars. As I was leaving I heard him muttering something about a twelve dollar paint brush being ruined. While I was exceeding grateful that I escaped any punishment that day, I can't help but wonder how dad was able to so quickly discern exactly what happened to the brush that day. Is it possible that at some time in his past he too might have had an encounter with a gasoline soaked paint brush and a bonfire? I'll never know.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shark Attack!


   When most folks think about Alaska, sharks never even come to mind. I'd never heard that there were sharks here until I started commercial fishing some years back. One year I leased the troller Acadia from one of my friend from the farm. It was June and I went up in Port Fredrick to a place just known as the waterfalls, oddly enough because there is a waterfall right there. Anyway, one of the local highliners, Joar Savland, was fishing his boat, the Standy up there. I was still learning the fishing business at the time, so I thought it would be wise to follow behind him a few boat lengths and spy on him with the binoculars, you know, see what he was using, how fast he was trolling and so on. Well, I got distracted somehow, maybe I even had a bite, I don't remember, but anyhow I lost track of him for a bit. When I located him again I noticed a fin circling a ways behind his boat. I thought he had knocked a big King Salmon off his line and it was stunned. I figured that it wasn't worth his while to circle back around and try to gaff it, seeing as how he catches so many fish that one king wouldn't make him or break him. I, on the other hand, needed every fish I could get just to pay for the fuel, much less the boat lease. Being the opportunist that I am, I thought I'd go over and scarf it up.  I approached the fish with gaff in hand, fully anticipating a freebee and chuckling to myself at my uncommon good fortune. My joy was quickly turned to terror when the fin that I thought belonged to a monster King Salmon turned out to be attached to a monster Salmon Shark. The Acadia was about thirty feet long, and I swear, when I looked down at that shark, it seemed to take up half the boat length. I don't know what I thought would happen, if it would attack the boat or what, but in a panic I grabbed a pistol and proceeded to pump six shots into the water directly at it. It didn't budge, so I reloaded and shot six more times. I don't think it ever got hit. It eventually just drifted out of sight and I didn't see it again. The next time I had anything to do with a Salmon Shark was years later when I was on the Bonnie J. The boys and I were out fishing for halibut down near Point Sophia. We were pulling in the line when it started coming in very easily. That's usually a sign that the line has parted. As I reeled it onto the drum I looked back and could see what looked like fins in the distance. I assumed that somehow some stupid sealion had gotten caught up in the gear while trying to steal some fish from my line. Part of me was delighted at the prospect and part of me was worried. If I brought it to the dock there would be all kinds of paper work and endless hours of answering questions. I think murder suspects get less scrutiny than people who have encounters with marine mammals. In any event, when we brought it close enough I could see that it was a large Salmon Shark. It was too big to get on the boat so we put some shark hooks in it and towed it to the cold storage dock. They lifted it with the hoist and weighed and measured it. It was seven feet long and weighed 441 pounds. The next day the elementary school came down to look at it, then the cold storage hauled it to the dump where no doubt the local bear population had a feast.Before they took it away, one of the boys cut the jaw out. It was pretty impressive, I have to admit. Rows of needle sharp teeth. The jaw ended up under my house where eventually the teeth came out and it ceased to be impressive at all and was discarded. My most recent shark encounter was yesterday at Homeshore. I was fishing along, happy as a clam at high tide, catching a few salmon when I had a tremendous hit on the line. I pulled up the gear, and there on the last leader was a huge Coho, or the front half of one at least. As you can see, a shark had a feast with the after portion. Why it took the largest fish that bit all day, I have no idea. I'd caught plenty of smaller Cohos, as well as three Chums, but nooooo... it wanted the big money fish. Go figure. So my friends, let that  be a reminder. Even when you can entice a fish to bite, there's no guarantee that you'll land it. We share this planet with all manner of denizens of the deep, and they're all hungry.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The End of Summer

















  Today is Labor Day- September 2. It's hard for me to believe that it's upon us already. Back in May, at the beginning of the fishing season, this day seemed so far away. The days of summer were almost twenty four hours long, with some semblance of darkness occurring in the wee hours of the morning. Now I have to rush home to beat the dark, lest I be caught in the middle of Icy Strait in the pitch blackness. I guess Labor Day is considered the official end of summer, although ours ended several weeks ago. That old familiar chill in the air followed by the first brown leaves falling from the alders were a sure sign; that and the white, shriveled tops of the Fireweed. Oh we still had some gorgeous days, warm, even hot, but they are coming to end. In the thirty six years that I've been here I can't remember a finer summer though. I hope we don't have to pay for our unexpected pleasure this winter. Well, I have a houseful of family visiting and I'm terribly tired right now, so I will put an end to this post with my apologies. Winter is most definitely coming and I'll have time to spend on these posts. Until then, I'll do my best to keep something coming forth.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Coffee Break


    Coffee breaks- we all take them. They are an important part of every work day. At some work places they are spelled out- there will be two breaks a day from this time to that time. At other places the time is optional depending on the situation. It's not a good idea to go on a break at a place like, say, the bank, and leave all the money unattended. I have to admit that there have been times when I pulled up to the cold storage to sell fish or get ice and be told that the crew was on a break and I would have to wait until they returned. God forbid that the foreman would have to operate the winch or press the button to start the ice auger. I don't think that's very good business to make your customer wait. However, the options for selling elsewhere or getting ice are pretty limited, so I guess they have the upper hand in that situation.
    I'm self-employed so I can take a break whenever I want... and I do. Sometimes multiple breaks. Frankly when I'm out fishing and there isn't anything biting I stay on a break. God knows how many countless gallons of coffee I've drank. No doubt the inside of my stomach resembles creosote. If I have an autopsy when I die the medical examiner may check my innards and nick name me Tar Baby. I'm surprised I haven't worn my bladder and all the connected parts out by now. Thank God our bodies are made much better than most machinery. Not many washing machines are still working after sixty or so years.  Last Saturday morning I was working at the Forest Service. For reason's I can't recall, I didn't even get to work until ten o'clock. It's not really a big deal what time I get there since I'm doing contract labor, but it's still kind of late to start the work day. Anyway, I called Jen about something and she mentioned that she was making cinnamon rolls. Hey, I like cinnamon rolls; and what better to wash down a cinnamon roll than a hot cup of coffee?  Jen was good enough to bring me out a couple of those tasty pastries and a mason jar of coffee. What a gal. The problem was, it was 10:45 and I hadn't done a damn thing yet and I was on coffee break already!  What a buffoon. If I could have fired myself on the spot I would have, but then who would I have to do the work? The flip side is, who would want to work for a grumpy old troll who won't even let you go on a coffee break? I can see that management and labor are going to have to come to some kind of an agreement concerning the all important coffee break; however, since they are one and the same, I suspect that labor will come out on top with this discussion.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Dundas Bay

















 I received phone calls from two different friends last week letting me know that the weather was great and the fishing was good out in Cross Sound. It was the incentive I needed to bite the bullet and get my behind out there. I've been dealing with some health issues this year and haven't felt up to spending the night on the boat, which a trip to the sound entails. It takes me six hours to get there, so it's not like you can just turn around and leave if you don't like it, at least not very easily. Anyway, on Tuesday I made the trip. I always have heart palpitations when I get close to South Inian Pass. Years ago when I was on my way through the pass with one of the boys, the placid water built up a wall of tidal disturbance that seemed to be about ten feet high. It's one of those places that you can't very well turn around and go back because the current is really smoking through there. We went through and buried the boat a couple times and came out on the other side grateful to have made it, but I get nervous whenever I have to go through there now. Anyway, I made it through and could see out into the sound and there weren't any boats fishing, which, while a little odd wasn't totally uncommon since it was near supper time and lots of boats start early so they end the day early. The next day there still weren't too many boats around, and little sign of fish or feed on the video sounder. I was starting to feel like maybe I made a mistake coming out. Then I talked to one of the guys who had called and he said the fish and the fleet had moved on... go figure. Well, I was already there so I dropped in the gear and fished- for all of two hours. I could feel my blood pressure starting to rise and made the wise decision to bag it and go back through the pass and head towards home and take my chances where I had been fishing. Fortunately the weather was good and I decided to check out North Inian Pass where Dundas Bay is located. It turned out to be a good decision for once. Just one other boat was there and pretty soon I started catching some nice coho salmon. It wasn't record breaking, but I caught enough to make it worth the while. I anchored that night in Earl Cove anticipating a great day tomorrow. When I awoke in the morning the fog was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I managed to work my way over to Dundas Point, but I couldn't even see the shoreline fifty yards away. There is a lot of current there and I was afraid that I would get washed up on the beach while I was distracted out back so I left after a few hours. As you can see I got some nice pictures though. The top two are of Dundas Bay. The third is looking at Middle Pass. I believe that the seiners used to call it the laundry because of all the tidal action there. On the left hand side of the pass is Inian Cove. I anchored there last year and sold my fish to a packer there. What a blow hole! It blew all night long with the wind screaming in the rigging and the boat swinging on the anchor. It sounded like we were experiencing hurricane Elmo in there. Has there ever been a hurricane Elmo? If not, there should be. I think they should give hurricanes last names as well. Elmo Zumwalt was the admiral  in charge of the navy when I was in. I think they should name a hurricane after him. Anyway, when you go around the corner from  the cove it can be flat calm. What is that about? Middle Pass has a sea lion rookery. Oh joy! With sea lions eating a steady diet of fish all day and not caring too much about hygiene you can imagine the stench of that place. I think they should let the boneheads that put them on the endangered species list spend a few nights camping out on the rookery and see if they still love them so much. The last picture is looking out into Cross Sound towards Cape Spencer. It seldom is so calm. I doubt that I'll be making the trip out that way again this year, but at least I have the pictures to remind me that I made the trip.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Dum Dum's



 On my desk in the office I have a sticky note with the words- expanding toilet seats. It was an idea that Jen and I were talking about several days ago; I can't remember why. It had something to do with people who had large behinds and how a standard size seat wouldn't seem to fill the bill. I don't want to get too graphic here, but I would imagine that an exceptionally large person would have a good bit hanging off the seat- thus the need for an expanding seat. It's probably the next million dollar idea. However, the above picture doesn't look anything like a toilet seat- and for good reason. What we have here is a basket of Dum Dum pops. I don't know why they're called pops.  I always referred to them as suckers. I do, however, know why they're called Dum Dums. Back in 1924, I C Bahr, an early sales manager for the Akron Candy Company coined the name Dum Dums figuring it was a word that any child could say. I don't know how well it would go over if a new parent, waiting for his child's first words heard Dum Dum instead of the familiar DaDa. Perhaps the child has been born with an incredible degree of insight concerning his parents though, and it was no mistake. Anyway, some more facts about Dum Dums. The Akron Candy Company was purchased by the Spangler Candy Company and moved to Bryon Ohio.  There are sixteen flavors at present including a mystery flavor. I don't doubt that I've tried most of them, including some that they didn't use to have when I was a kid. The other night I put a cotton candy flavored Dum Dum in my mouth mistakenly thinking it was a root beer flavored one. Can't say I really cared for it. Fortunately Jan was with me and took it off my hands - or out of my mouth as the case may be. Then I grabbed one with a green wrapper thinking it must be lime, but it wasn't. It was cream soda instead. I happened to like that one. I think the Spangler company should make the lettering showing the flavor larger for us old fogeys who can't see worth a hoot without our glasses. I checked out the website for Dum Dums and found that they have a shelf life of thirty six months. That's longer than Kim Kardashian's relationships. I also discovered that Spangler is the maker of those round flat suckers with the cellophane wrapping and the fiber loop handle called Safe T Pops. I love those things! Amongst the other fascinating facts I discovered was that there are ten million Dum Dums produced each day. At that rate, our idea for the expanding toilet seat had better get into production soon. They will probably work well with my idea for concrete re-inforced toilets.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Hollywood















   A few days ago I went down to the harbor to do something on the boat and I saw a lot of unusual activity on the transit dock. Upon closer examination I saw that the old wooden seiner the Hollywood sank at the dock. Several months ago I had mentioned to the harbormaster that it looked like it was setting down a little bit. I can't remember what the response was. A week or so ago it was really starting to look  like it was taking on water, but I didn't give it much thought. It was docked right where everyone who came to the harbor would see it, so it wasn't a surprise that it was looking a little shaky. I think there was ample opportunity for the powers that be, either the owner or the harbormaster to deal with it, but obviously that didn't happen. You know that old saying- there's never enough time to do it right but there's always enough time to do it over." ? Well, this was kind of like that. The owner was out getting ready for a seine opening and had to come charging in to deal with the boat. I know that he lost out on several days of fishing time and I don't know what the expense is going to be as far as hiring equipment to try and right it. It took the better part of a week as I recall to finally get it to where it could be towed to the haul out and put on solid ground. I passed by the boat the other day and surprisingly it doesn't look bad from the bottom to the deck. Of course I didn't get out and examine it or anything so there could be severe damage on the side I couldn't see, although I don't think so or it wouldn't have floated long enough to be towed to it's resting place. I'm not sure what's going to happen to it now. I don't wish something like this on anyone, but if it's going to happen, it's better to have it happen tied to the dock than out in the middle of the ocean. If you happen to own a boat, keep in mind that boats are a lot of expense. They're like having a little kid, they have to be taken care of. Zincs should be checked every year and replaced if need be, thru hulls need to be looked at, rubber boots on out drives need to be checked,  seams need caulked on wooden boats and bilge pumps should be tested. I know it's a pain, but if you want to keep the water on the outside, you need to do the maintenance.