Friday, November 28, 2014

Give Thanks!



















 I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving Day with family and friends. For those who had to be away from home or without family members, I hope that you can find some comfort in your memories and pray that your future memories will be pleasant. My son Brian is visiting right now, for which I am most grateful. I miss having all the kids sitting around the table like it used to be. I'm very fortunate that my daughter and granddaughter live here in Hoonah and we're able to see them fairly often, but I do wish that I could afford once a year to pay for everyone to come together for a Thanksgiving feast.  Since that isn't possible, we have to settle for phone calls and Face book I guess.
  A few weeks ago my good friend, Buffalo Bob Holden called. We first became friends when we were both living on the farm at Game Creek. Periodically one of us will call the other to catch up on our lives and compare books we've read. I'm reading a book right now that he had suggested. It's called Breakfast at Sally's, about a man who had been a very successful businessman who was in the publishing business, but when the Internet started and e-books and what not he lost it all and ended up homeless and sleeping in the back of a van with his little dog. He spent his days wandering about, speaking with other homeless people, eating at the Salvation Army (Sally's) and parking his van in a church parking lot. I've never given a lot of thought to the homeless. I suppose, like many, I just assumed that they were all lazy or druggies or drunks. I'm coming to find out that it's not the case. Some folks have suffered a loss of a job and as a result their home; some young people are escaping an abusive home life, some have mental issues. There are indeed some of them who seem to be consumed with getting the next drug fix or bottle of booze, but sometimes, that's more of a result of desperation. Without a home address, many businesses won't hire someone. They can't receive their social security benefits and things like hygiene are a constant struggle. No business wants a person who stinks to come in and use their restrooms. I don't really know what the answer is. It's a complex problem, but I've come to realize that, but for the  grace of God there go I. Many people are just one pay check away from losing their home. I hadn't really meant to write about this, but I guess I did anyway. The thing is, if you're in a place where you can read this, hopefully you're warm and well fed and your health is good, let's give God thanks. It's not a once a year thing to do. It's multiple times a day as we enjoy the sunshine or family or a good book or a warm piece of Apple pie. There's a hundred million things to be thankful for. The last time I spoke to Buffalo, he told me he had seen a plaque somewhere and it had made such an impression on him that he wrote down the saying. I'm going to pass it on to you now.
 What if you awoke today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?
 Food for thought. I sincerely hope you all have a blessed holiday season. God bless!





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Two Bathrooms- Twice the Trouble



















  When Jan and I bought this house years ago, we were a family of nine. Including Jan, there were six females trying to live in harmony in a home that had only one bathroom. For the life of me I don't know how we did it. Mornings were especially hectic as everyone had to try to get ready for school or work. Fortunately, if things got desperate the boys could step outside to the woods in back for some immediate relief if the bathroom was tied up. Our home was one of the original "war houses" that were diverted to Hoonah after the fire of 1944 burned down most of the town. I believe they were originally bound for Hawaii or some warmer climate. It runs in my mind that there wasn't any insulation in them when they were first installed. Of course it wouldn't be such a big deal if the average year round temperature was 75 or so, but it didn't work too well for Alaska. When we purchased the house, it had been remodeled recently with new plumbing and electrical and a new roof, but it still only had one bathroom, and for reasons that I can't fathom, there was only one closet and it was located in our bedroom. Maybe the previous owners didn't have very many clothes or they just put everything in a chest of drawers or perhaps just threw their things on the floor, who knows? Anyway, thanks to the foresight of Governor Jay Hammond and the legislature at the time, the newly found oil wealth from the Alaska pipeline was used in part to establish a dividend program to share with the Alaska residents that is in effect to this day. We combined the dividends of the entire family to remodel the upstairs, expanding the bedrooms, complete with closets and adding another bathroom, which was sorely needed. Of course with two bathrooms comes twice the headaches. Two times the toilets, sinks and tubs to be cleaned and of course maintenance. This past weekend we had some dear friends come for a visit for a few days, and Jan had decided some weeks ago to repaint the upstairs bathroom, I guess in preparation for their arrival. Of course human nature being what it is, she was busy until two days before they got here trying to finish up the border and get the last of the painting done. Because she was at work and I wasn't, and also I might add, because I'm a gem of a husband, I ended up putting the final touches on it. For the past several months I had been noticing that whenever I took a shower in the downstairs bathroom, water would end up pooled on the floor. Not a lot, but enough. About the same time I had noticed that over the course of the day, water would also creep out from around the base of the toilet. Enough that if a person was standing in the area, your socks would wick up the moisture to where you could ring them out. It was uncomfortable and unsightly as well, especially given the fact that the toilet bolts were rusty and would discolor the water from the base, giving it a fairly suspicious tint. In fact several times Jan accused me of peeing on the floor.Though I adamantly denied her claim, I don't think she really believed me. In any event, knowing that we were due to have company, and not wanting them to soak their socks and wonder  about the source of the discomfort, I thought I would go ahead and correct the problems. Thank God for company- otherwise things might never get done. It's like leaving the lawnmower and rake laying around the yard until the first snowfall- it's the incentive you need to act on the problem.Anyway, I took apart the shower frames so I could caulk under them, and noticed that the tub surround was pulling away a little from the wall. Much like a kid with a scab, I had to pick at it until I had the whole surround off the wall. I can never leave well enough alone. Actually that was good. I found a little mold on the sheet rock that I was able to replace. Of course the adhesive that had held the surround on was hard as a rock and had to be sanded off and replaced. It smelled like a chemical plant in the bathroom,which I guess isn't the most offensive odor it's ever harbored, and I had dust on every available surface. Once that project was finished, I decided to tackle that toilet. It needed a new wax ring, so I shut off the water supply and unbolted the blasted thing. Even though I had flushed several times and taken a towel to the inside bowl to remove all the water,when I lifted the commode from the floor, there was a regular gulleywasher flowing all over the floor and leaving my slippers saturated. Lovely. After I was already neck deep into the project I started wondering if I had gotten everything I needed to complete the job. It was a moot point, since the hardware store had been closed for several hours by the time I got the bright idea to work on it. As it was, even though the main and secondary water valves were closed, I still had a pretty good drip going on. I had visions of spending the next twelve hours sleeping on the bathroom floor and waking every fifteen minutes to empty the Cool Whip container I had under the valve to catch the drips. Sticking the wax ring on wasn't exactly a picnic either. It's supposed to be a fairly simple thing, but nnnooooooo..... not for Botts. I couldn't get it to stick to the bottom of the toilet like it was supposed to, and when it did kind of attach more or less, I couldn't line the blasted thing up with the hole in the floor. It's at times like that when the appeal of the outhouse comes in to play. The bottom line is, the shower doesn't leak and neither does the toilet, so if your feet get wet when you come in to the bathroom now, it probably is pee on the floor.








Saturday, November 8, 2014

300



















  Today's post will be number 300. Who knew that I could be so long winded? Well, maybe everyone but myself. It's why I accomplish so little in the course of a day. I should be a DJ or something so I could at least be paid for being a windbag. In any event, I suppose I should celebrate somehow- maybe bake a cake and stick on three hundred candles. I could probably shut off the heat for awhile. More likely I'd set the house on fire, so I guess I won't attempt the cake.
  I went out yesterday to document something that I never thought I would see- utility poles stretching out beyond the town. I couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw the crews from Chatham Electric erecting them. I knew that Shorty Tonsgard had started a subdivision out past the runway, but the power lines go well beyond that, all the way out to the O3 road where our water supply for the city is. I asked a former city administrator about it, and she said we were going to tap into Garteeni Creek and start getting hydro power. I kind of like that idea. The cost of diesel is through the roof here, and since the generators that supply the power are diesel, our electrical costs are high as well- something like 61 cents a kilowatt hour. Compare that to Juneau which pays somewhere between 5 and 8 cents I believe. Unfortunately, because of the cost of the project, we won't see any savings on our electric bill in my lifetime I don't believe, but hopefully future generations will see some degree of savings.
  Jan and I have lived in the area for over thirty eight years. A lot of things change in thirty eight years. Of course there's the obvious, thirty eight... or more pounds added, grey hair, wrinkles, aches and pains- those can all be expected, but who would have thought when we came here back in 76 that there would be such profound changes to Hoonah. When we drove off the ferry that late June day, cars were an anomaly. Pavement was non existent. The woods surrounding Port Frederick were mostly virgin forest. There were three stores, two restaurants and one hotel or motel or lodge or whatever it is. It runs in my mind that about once or twice a year, usually in the winter, a house would catch fire, either because of a chimney fire or a faulty oil stove. Since then whole area has seen large scale logging, the cannery has ceased to exist as a fishing facility and has been turned into a tourist destination, we have paved roads, and on those roads we have cars. Lots and lots of cars. I have to wait at the intersection now for a chance to dash out into traffic and hope I don't get broadsided. We have a new ferry terminal, new fuel tanks, a longer runway, sidewalks, a harbor that many boats from out of town utilize, a travel lift for hauling out boats, a new power plant, and we're in the process of getting a new clinic. We have three restaurants, not including the ones at the cannery during the tourist season, two or three coffee shops and a handful of bed and breakfasts, as well as the lodge. The last house fire that I know of was about three years ago, possibly because so many people have turned to using Toyostoves for their primary heat. When I walk around town now I'm shocked at how many people I don't know. At one time I knew almost everyone in town- at least the adults. Now I don't know if the folks I see are transients,cannery workers, fishermen or if they own a home in town. I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. The Discovery Channel is filming up the bay for some phony Alaskan show about a family supposedly toughing it out in the wilderness. I think its called Alaskan Bush People or some such thing. There's a pretty mixed reaction to having them here. We've already experienced a bunch of white people trying to make it on the land in Alaska- it was called Mt. Bether at Game Creek- the farm. I lived there for ten years. We didn't get outside help to protect us from the bears or erect the cabins or provide the game to survive on, and we certainly didn't have camera crews filming our every move. I'm afraid what is going to happen is those who watch the show will become enamored with the lifestyle and the area and there will be a mass influx of unprepared city dwellers who want to "get back to nature" and "live off the land" and I'll have to tolerate a bunch of bearded buffoons who want to kayak up and down the bay, live in tents, crap in the woods and leave a trail of toilet paper in all my favorite hunting areas. Sometimes change is hard to take.