Saturday, October 31, 2015

And Yet Another Grand Idea...



 I was down at Hoonah Trading shopping the other day. I'm usually there at least daily, sometimes multiple times per day. They have the only hardware store in town as well as groceries and fuel, plus Jan works there, and I often drop in when I'm picking her up for lunch.  I frequently end up buying something and of course automatically get a receipt, which I usually just put in my pocket.  It's not all that uncommon for me to have six or eight of the blasted things cluttering up  my pockets or the seat of the truck. Often they're scattered around the house, on the kitchen counter or the dining room table. When I received my mandatory receipt the other day, I happened to mention, wouldn't it be great if they made the receipts out of toilet paper? Then you would have something useful. If you went out hunting and the call of nature struck while  you were in the woods, you just reach right into your pocket and pull out a handful of receipts and you're good to go. No searching around for leaves or cutting the bottom of your favorite hunting shirt off. You might feel better about going shopping if after ending up with a cart full of groceries you realized that at least you didn't need to buy TP this time around, because the receipt was so long you'd have the family covered for a week. Even though you wouldn't have to purchase so much toilet paper at the store, the folks at Kimberly Clark or Kirkland wouldn't be too upset, they'll be increasing their bottom line by making the paper for the cash registers. It would be a win-win situation. If you happened to be walking down the street and your nose started to run, and you had forgotten you hanky, don't use your sleeve. Drop in to the local 7/11 and buy a slushy or a pack of gum. Wipe your nose with the receipt and you're on your way. It seems like the environmentalists would like it- you'd be using less paper. I mean, lets face it, aside from proof of purchase, what good is a receipt? I would venture to say, most of them go into the trash. The only time you might run into a problem would be during an audit by the IRS. When the accountant asks where's the receipt for this or that, it probably wouldn't go over too well if you mentioned that you flushed it down the toilet.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Onward to Marcellus






































    It was with a sense of sadness that I departed Vermont and my long time friend Buffalo Bob. It had been thirteen years since we had last spoken face to face. I doubt that we can allow another thirteen years to pass if we are to be together again on this earth. Not that he couldn't be around. That would put him at ninety and me at seventy six. He's in surprisingly good shape for a man his age, still chopping firewood and mowing his two acres of land. He's got a fairly stress free life so chances are he could outlive me. In any event, I hope that sometime in the next few years the opportunity will arise again for a visit. He's made it plain that it would fall on me to do the traveling, but a road trip sounds good to me, so maybe it will happen again soon. Though I was sorry to be leaving Buffalo, I was quite excited to see my good friend Renee again. The first time I saw her she was sitting in front of me in church. I could see that she was young and attractive, and for whatever reason I feared that she would be the target of some of the less than honorable young men around town. She was alone in a strange town in a new job with no friends, and I felt protective of her. Renee was the school counselor for several years and became a family friend of both Jan and I and our daughter Jen. We invited her for dinner periodically and even hosted her for Thanksgiving two years- once with her sister who was visiting over the holiday. We used to play Gin Rummy after dinner and always had a good time. Several times in the few years she was here in Hoonah, well meaning people tried to pair her up with someone, but Renee was very particular about what she wanted in a husband, so much so that I feared that she would grow to be an old maid. However, this past March she married her husband Mike, a man whom she met at a swing dance event. It was on this trip that I met Mike for the first time, and it was as if we had known each other for years. I liked him immediately. He's a city planner for the city of Syracuse. He's also a World War Two buff, and this past spring he made the trip to Normandy France for what I believe was the seventieth anniversary of the the Normandy invasion. Apparently he's quite good at swing dancing and he certainly chose wisely in his search for a wife. I don't know if he was really looking for one, but considering the engagement period was only a year, I guess he knew a good thing when he saw it.  Though my time with Mike and Renee was brief, I spent an afternoon, the night and a few hours the next day, I have seldom felt more welcome anywhere. They went out of their way to make me feel at home. Unfortunately I had contacted a cold on the trip to Vermont and I had called questioning whether I should even visit. They assured me it would be fine and upon my arrival made cough drops, throat lozenges and a powdered drink filled with Vitamin C available to me. We went to lunch at a lovely restaurant in a town twenty or so miles from their home. I can't remember how to spell it, but it was pronounced, Skinny Atlas. I thought at first they were kidding me, but that was really the name. Nice little town, right on one of the finger lakes. After lunch I was shown around  the area a bit. When we returned to their home we took a walk in the park, which borders their property. It's a big, beautiful park with a trout stream running through it. It would have been nice to watch Mike fish for a bit, but there wasn't time. We talked well into the night, way past Renee's normal bedtime. I remember when she was here that she retired early. The next morning Renee got up early and sent me off with a breakfast of French toast and sausages. Before I left they presented me with two sweatshirts, one for Jan and one for me. They are bright orange- the color of the Syracuse Orange Men. I guess that's the college basketball team. I was assured that it was fine for me to wear my sweatshirt out fishing on the boat. Then if I fall overboard, someone can at least find my bloated body more easily. They also wanted to make sure I had an ample supply of cough drops and Mike yarded out a half dozen cans of lemon lime soda for the road. I guess he wanted to make sure I stopped plenty. While I was sorry to leave, I nonetheless went off with such a good feeling of well being and a feeling of being loved that I couldn't help but be happy.I'm hoping that the next time I see Mike and Renee it will be here in Hoonah, and Jan and I will be able to somewhat repay the kindness I was shown at their home. I drove off for the New York Parkway a very nice road, but one which you will pay for the privilege of driving on. My next stop was to see my Mom in an Ohio assisted living facility.










Sunday, October 18, 2015

Road Trip- Vermont

Welcome Center in Vermont
Buffalo Bob Holden
The grave markers of Buffalo's Great Grandparents
The Holden Homestead
One of the lovely old homes in small town Vermont
Inside the Country Girl diner
A popular cooling off  spot for the youth

































































































































  When Jan and I first came to Alaska, some 39 years ago, we had to take a ferry from Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Juneau, and another ferry to Hoonah. There are no roads to Hoonah, it's on an island. The few roads in town were basically mud, with a smattering of gravel and had craters in them that could float a boat. After traveling across the country  from South Carolina, there was really no place left to drive. In order to get to the farm where we would reside for ten years, we had to take a boat. The only road there was from the tabernacle to the fields, a rocky ox cart pathway that was only suitable for running a tractor or horse drawn wagon, and even then it could jar your teeth out with all the ruts, bumps, roots and boulders. It definitely wasn't fit for automobile travel. I didn't realize until it was no longer an option, that I really missed the freedom of driving. I had withdrawals, much like when I quit smoking. I used to dream of going south and driving a car.
  Well, at the beginning of the month, because of the generosity of a friend, I was able to fly to the East coast and drive west, all the way to Colorado Springs.  I flew in to Hartford Connecticut and rented a car from the good folks at Budget Car Rental. I had gone through the Costco Travel site and got a discount, something I'll be sure to do again. The folks at Budget set me up with a Volvo four door vehicle complete with built in GPS, something I highly recommend if you're going to be traveling in areas that you are unfamiliar with. It relieved me of so much stress, wondering where to turn or how much further I had to go. The Volvo was such a fine car too, very comfortable.
   I met up with my good friend Buffalo Bob in Brattleboro  Vermont and followed him to his home about twenty miles away. Buff lives  on a couple of acres of land in a hunting cabin that his father had built back in the 1950's at the end of a dead end road. There are a few other cabins scattered up and down the road and the entire area is surrounded by woods. I was surprised to see just how much of Vermont is wooded. I didn't run across any really large towns, but about every five miles or so there would be a village or small town. Most of the buildings are fairly old, dressed in white with dark green shutters and trim. Very neat, very rustic. In the three and a half days I spent with Buffalo, we covered probably a fifty mile radius. We stopped in at an antique store where he had purchased a new wood cook stove which he used to fix breakfast one day. We often took one of the many gravel side roads to go view some sight or another.I was surprised at the number of apple orchards in the area. I was also somewhat surprised that I never saw any deer the whole time I was there, although Buffalo assured me they were around, just wary. I did spot several flocks of wild turkeys though, something that we don't have here in Southeast Alaska.He wanted me to see the grave markers of his great,great grandparents. The grandfather's name was Squire and his wife's name was Lucy. On Lucy's marker it reads, Lucy, wife of Square Holden. For whatever reason  the name was never corrected and I guess she will forever be remembered as the wife of Square Holden. I guess that's not all bad. Sounds like an upright kind of guy.
   We got out on several occasions to walk around the woods and check out various sites. I noticed that no matter where we went there were stone walls. Years ago, when the first white settlers arrived, the ground was so rocky they couldn't use it for farming unless they first removed the rocks, which were plenteous. Rather than pile them up, they made fences, I guess to mark their property or separate fields. Bob says that you could walk for miles in the woods and find endless stone walls. One other thing I noticed, which was much less attractive, was thousands of yards of blue plastic tubing that is being used to transport the sap of the maple trees to the place where they make maple syrup. Gone are the days when they would tap a tree and hang a sap bucket. Now the trees all sport a tube that connects to an even larger tube that runs down hill into the collection point. It was rather unsightly and I was disappointed to see it, but I guess that's considered progress.
  In our travels we stopped at several diners. We dropped in at the Country Girl cafe in one of the little towns and had a delightful meal. The place was really hopping and it was obvious that the locals enjoyed patronizing the diner. The outside looked like a really large Airstream trailer and inside it reminded me of a fifties diner. It was quite fun, and the food was good.
  Buffalo took me to a spot where a small, swift running creek cuts through the limestone rock and forms several deep pools and chutes, much like a water park. There is a stationary ladder set up at the main pool with a sign stating that the ladder is just there so people can get back out of the pool instead of trying to slide down the chute to the next pool, which is probably a good thirty foot drop. The sign also states that over twelve people have died there and they discourage people from swimming there.
  For three and a half days we drove around and talked and looked at various  places of interest. Buffalo was my tour guide and I got to see things that I normally would have missed had I been on my own. I ate fresh tomatoes from  his garden that actually tasted like a tomato should taste. I listened to his stories and enjoyed his hospitality and then it was time to move on to my next  spot on the map, Marcellus New York. I'll do a post about my short visit there, hopefully in the not too distant future.