Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Birds















Well, here I am... up at the library again. My new laptop is over at Bricks Electronics in Juneau getting a GPS program installed and my PC is still on the way down from Wasilla. My daughter says that she sent it several days ago. I hope she insured it, or I may never see my beloved computer again.  Anyway, I'm sitting here trying to use a library computer. The librarian says that the computer is Julian- my favorite, but the monitor says Amos. I don't like that idea very well. I'd rather have Julian mated up with the Bertha monitor, but when I tried using Bertha it wouldn't co-operate. Oh well. Like the saying goes, people in hell want ice water too.
  The calendar says it's spring, but yesterday we had a few inches of snow falling in blizzard like conditions. I guess the birds don't know any better because they've been showing up just like it was spring.  I suppose that the desire to procreate outweighs the need for food, at least for awhile. I hear Robins singing, but I don't see them anywhere. There doesn't appear to be any worms out- they have a  tendency to stay in the ground when there is snow on top. Surprisingly the Hummingbirds are here. Fortunately there are a number of folks here in town who have feeders for them or there would be little Hummingbird carcasses all over the ground. As you can see from the upper pictures, the eagles are doing a little scavenging along the beach front. Apparently someone brought in some black cod and the cold storage ground it up. It's a favorite food for the crows and ravens and eagles this time of year.
   When I was a kid I went with my brother to see a movie by Alfred Hitchcock, the premier producer of scary movies when I was young. The movie was called The Birds and it was fairly unsettling. One scene showed a bunch of school kids running from the school building to somewhere safer I guess. They were moving flat out down a hill like a herd of buffalo with terrified looks on their faces and in the background there was all kinds of destruction brought on by the birds, that for whatever reason had gone ballistic and were killing people and tearing up the town. For some unknown reason, perhaps it was a release of pent up fear, I started laughing hysterically at the sight of those kids. My brother looked at me in horror and was poking my side and  whispering for me to be quiet. Everyone else in the theatre was gasping and covering their eyes and I'm laughing my head off. I know I embarrassed him. I don't think he ever took me to a movie again; I'm not sure why. In any event, if the birds of the world ever go rogue again, I'm fairly certain I'll be safe. I've been feeding them all winter.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Wanted Dead or Alive

 
 Advertising is a big business in this country. No matter what you're trying to sell, from books to laxatives, a little advertising can go a long way in helping the bottom line. Unfortunately so much of what is advertised comes with a disclaimer of some sort. You see it a lot in those lawyers ads where they're trying to get you to sue some drug company or in the ads for selling gold or silver or any number of other things. The main message is huge and there at the bottom of the TV screen in print so fine that you have to sit on top of the television to even see it is the disclaimer. Then, unless you're a speed reader of uncommon ability they whisk the message off before you can read it. It seems to be the American way anymore. It didn't used to be this way. America used to lead the world in integrity. The words, Made In America were something that was sought after. It meant you were getting a quality product. Unfortunately, in many instances the bottom line has meant more than having a good name. I've personally experienced several situations where I had work done on my vehicle or boat and paid a bundle for it only to experience the same problem that I had just paid to get fixed. It's terribly frustrating. Commercial air travel is another issue with me. In order to squeeze more dollars out of each flight, the airlines are putting more seats in the same amount of space, thus crowding all the passengers together, making everyone's experience one that they wish they could forget. I'm mentioning all this because just yesterday I finally got around to opening a box that Dennis Rush had sent along with the gurdies that he had repaired. Enclosed was the poster above, as well as an invoice and a detailed description of all the work that he had done to the gurdies. Not only that, but he enclosed two tubes of food grade grease to use to grease the gurdies, as well as some spare nuts and bolts and extra O-rings for the valves. Do you realize how unusual that this kind of service has become? Before sending the gurdies to me he had called and asked if I needed any fishing gear from one of the fishery supply stores because I could save some money. Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty! I gave him a call and thanked him yesterday. I hope that with every fish I land using those gurdies that I remember the care and skill and integrity that went into repairing them and that I treat those fish like the professional I'm supposed to be so that by the time they reach the dinner table, whoever partakes of this Alaskan seafood will be blessed, like I have been by Mr. Rush.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

For the Boys

 














  Last November I had the uncommon foresight to send down my gurdies for a complete overhaul. They had gotten so bad that I was unable to pull in the trolling lines without physically helping the wire wind on to the reels.  The forward gurdy is supposed to haul up a fifty pound cannon ball plus all the other gear and the after gurdy is used to pull in a thirty five pound cannonball as well as a float bag and all the gear.  According to the doctor I have a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder, so man handling this gear on board isn't really an option. In any event, I sent these gurdies down to Oregon to D R Machine. The owner, Dennis Rush has a reputation for doing a good job working on troll gurdies. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I saw them. As you can see, they're like brand new- only better. I'm really pleased with the work he did. The boys have been wanting to see a picture of these since I got them back, so fella's this one's for you. Hope you get a chance to try them out soon.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Better Days



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   Those unfamiliar with this area might look at these three pictures and wonder what they could possibly have in common. Well for one, all three pictures were taken from the playground area down near the harbor, but more than that, all three scenes depict things that have seen better days. If I remember correctly, the boat is named the Miss Andrea. It used to belong to a couple young fellows whom I believe were carpenters. They got the fishing bug back in the late seventies or early eighties and used to troll in some of the same areas I did when I owned my fourteen foot Hi-Laker skiff. I don't believe they were much more successful than I was and eventually had sense enough to get out of the fishing business and do what they knew best, which I'm sure paid considerably more. As you can see, the boat has been parked for quite some time without the benefit of a cover to keep the constant rains off, and the end result is that mold and moss have grown on the surface.  I suppose if I sat out in the rain long enough without sufficient cover I'd start to mold too. Nothing like the passing of time to re-arrange the order of the universe. In the morning when I get up I wonder if I've been re-arranged. I go through a check list to see if everything that I'm suppose to have is still there and I haven't grown anything extra during the night or lost something that I went to bed with. Let's see- age spots? Check. Big gut? Check. Moles? Check. All things I could do without, but they're part of me now so I guess I'm still alive. Some years back I woke up one day and had two moles on my stomach instead of one. I freaked out! My god, it's multiplying. Whatever it was,was with me for a week or two and then I was absent mindedly scratching my gut one day and it fell off. I freaked out again! I found out later that it wasn't really a mole, but some other unwanted appendage. I wish I could get rid of all my unwanted blemishes that easily.
  The float in the second picture hasn't been used for years to the best of my knowledge. I see that there's some piece of equipment on the end, so it's possible that one of the local families used it as a platform to yard trees out of the woods years ago when they were logging. Perhaps it's the same one they built and took to Spasski Bay so that they could tie up to it and work on their boats or clean fish, although I think that one sank right in the bay quite some time ago. I remember coming into Spasski back when I lived on the farm. I had been out fishing on a lumpy day and my main motor had quit, right when I needed it most.  A storm was brewing and I couldn't get the big engine to start. The waves were threatening to shove me onto the reefs, so I managed to start my little kicker and motor into the bay. There was an old hermit of a fisherman named Frank living there who had a float that he tied his boat to. He had a black Lab named Blackie that used to use the float for his personal toilet.  I can't blame the dog, he couldn't very well use the bucket. Anyway, when I pulled up to the float I was afraid to tie up. Almost every inch was covered in dog droppings- and it was a pretty big float. He had been using it for so long that grass was growing on top of the planks. I guess if the dog had lived long enough he would have had his own personal lawn.
   I included the bottom picture because it is the most scenic of the three, but it too has seen better days. Though it's not as evident from this shot, there was extensive logging done on the mountain and the area surrounding it. As I've mentioned before, I don't mind logging. Trees provide lumber and paper, including toilet paper, which I'm quite fond of. I would imagine that corn cobs would be difficult to flush and would have a tendency to clog the plumbing. I wish that a more balanced approach had been used when the powers that be had decided to log the area. Hopefully lessons have been learned and the next go around will be a little more well thought out. Anyway, that's what I've got for today. Hope you all have a great day.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Sick Pack


















     Jen came for a visit the other night. Apparently she had picked up a cold when she went to Juneau last week. Nothing like being crammed into a confined space with hundreds of other folks to test the old immune system. I hadn't seen much of her recently so I kind of wanted to talk to her and show her what I was doing with the new book and get some input. I knew that she was sick, so before she arrived I grabbed out a large bottle of Cran-raspberry juice for her to take home. I guess it's full of vitamin C or some such thing. Then I got to thinking, maybe I should get a mask for her to wear so don't catch her cold. She thought that was funny, but she didn't wear it, maybe because it was a dust mask like you'd use when sanding sheet rock and not one like doctors and nurses wear. I guess if a doctor wanted to do a little construction around his house he'd have a ready store of surgical supplies on hand and wouldn't have to worry about running to the hardware store when he was in the middle of a project. I wonder if surgeons ever take any tools of the trade  home to do a little fancy work on the vegetables. I would think a scalpel would be the ticket if you wanted to make a rose out of radishes.
   In any event, I had a little time to think about the kind of things that would be good to have on hand if you have a cold. Then I thought, wouldn't it be nice if there were ready made baskets that you could give to your sick friends and family members? You could buy the economy basket, with a twelve ounce bottle of orange juice, a two pack of aspirin and a travel size package of Kleenex. That would be for someone that you want to know that you're thinking about them, but you're not going to go broke trying to make them feel better. There would be the medium size basket, with a tin of aspirin or Tylenol, a quart size bottle of OJ, a mid-sized box of Puffs tissues, a can of Campbell's chicken noodle soup and a jar of Vicks Vapo-rub. You might buy this for a boss that you like but don't want to give the appearance of being a brown- noser. Then there's the deluxe basket for someone you really love and want to feel better... like yourself. There would be a quart of OJ, a quart of Cranberry juice, a fifth of Smirnoff vodka ( in case the juice isn't getting the job done) a family size box of extra soft tissues, a bottle of Nyquil, a couple of boxes of Mrs. Grasses  deluxe chicken noodle soup, some Laurel and Hardy movies to help you forget how miserable you are,a Costco sized bottle of Ibuprofen and a hundred count package of fruit flavored cough drops. If you're really feeling strung out and wimpy you could get the basket with all of the above plus the optional box of Depends, just in case it's too much effort to get up and move around. I should probably contact a few of the big pharmacies like CVS or Walgreen's to see if they would be interested in carrying the SICK PACK's. No doubt folks everywhere will soon be wanting one.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mr. Lonely


 
















   Jan and I took the dog out for a walk yesterday. The weather was beautiful, much nicer than some Easter's we've experienced. While we were strolling along the sidewalk we noticed a gathering of bald eagles on the beach. It would have made a perfect picture, but of course I didn't have my camera with me. It never seems to fail. Either I forget to bring it or I bring it and right before I spot an award winning shot, the battery fails. Go figure. We finished our walk and I went home to grab the camera. The battery still had a little juice in it so I figured I'd be in luck. I don't know why I ever feel optimistic. There were six eagles gathered around a fish carcass on the beach when I showed up. It would have been a great picture, however, as soon as my fuzzy head appeared over the horizon, they all scattered like someone had passed gas at a debutante ball. I stood there for a few minutes looking out over the remains of the carcass hoping they might come back to finish it off, but to no avail. I may as well have had on a red and white striped beanie with a strobe light flashing on top warning all winged creatures to avoid the area.
  I was headed back home when I spotted this lone fellow sitting on the pilings down at the fuel dock. Eagles like to sit on these perches looking out over the water waiting for something to ambush. It shouldn't be too much longer before they have plenty to eat. The herring should be coming in to spawn soon, and the commercial halibut season is open now, so there may be something that washes up on the beach for them. I would assume that the black cod season is open also, but I'm not sure. Once black cod starts getting processed at the cold storage there will be a gathering of eagles that will look pretty impressive. The oily offal that gets ground up floats to the surface and all the scavengers have a feast. Of course the seagulls crowd around it like kids at a Chucky Cheese. It gets just about as noisy too. There's food floating all around these birds and they're squawking and carrying on like someone just took the last crescent roll at a Thanksgiving dinner. With all the fighting going on it would seem like they wouldn't get along well enough to mate, but I guess when it comes down to sex, what's a little fish guts between lovers?
  I suppose Mr. Lonely there isn't too worried about anything. He or she looks pretty well fed and with mating season fast approaching he probably needs to rest up. When they mate, eagles fly high up into the air, becoming just little dots to the visible eye. Then they clasp talons and start plummeting to the earth in a circular motion. I'm always a little afraid that they'll get caught up in their passion and forget to look down until it's too late. I've never seen them crash like that, but then I'm not always watching.
  In any event, spring is on the way and with it hopefully lots of fish and new life and romance for all God's creatures. Except sea lions of course.