Monday, November 28, 2016

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave



















Well, it's Monday morning. That means back to work for the masses after a long Thanksgiving weekend. If you were one of the multitudes who decided to brave the long lines at the airport or the unbearable traffic on the roads, I hope that you've made it home safe and that you found your excursion worth the effort. I, on the other hand, didn't go anywhere. I did leave the house with my daughter Jennifer though, on a walk out to the beach. In celebration of Thanksgiving, when the main dish in many American homes is a turkey, I decided to wear my chicken hat. Had I owned a turkey hat, I would have worn it in honor of all the unselfish birds who gave their lives. As it was, I felt fortunate to have access to a chicken hat. I only wear it on special occasions, like Thanksgiving. Frankly, if I get any bigger, I won't be able to shove my fat head into anymore, and I'll have to give it to one of my kids or grand kids I suppose. I'm fairly certain that they'll all be fighting over the chance to be the owner of such a fine piece of apparel.As you can see from the picture above, I'm quite at home with the hat, but Jennifer looks like she's been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. She has that deer in the headlights look. Unfortunately there were few people around to enjoy that fine hat on Thanksgiving. Everyone was either inside eating or watching a football game I assume. Just as well, I wouldn't want to be mobbed by people clamoring to touch the hat, hoping that the same bravery that it took to wear it would rub off on them. I would like to point out that there are probably few places in the world where a man is free to wonder the streets with such fine head gear. Is America great or what? No doubt you're wondering where I was able to purchase such a unique piece of clothing. Well, I'll tell you, I bought it for the unbelievably low price of ten dollars at a school carnival several years ago. I was helping my daughter set up her booth selling hats. I don't know why hats would be something that would be popular at a school carnival, but apparently they are, and when I spotted it my heart was filled with lust for that hat. I couldn't believe that they just ordered one. Had they purchased dozens, the amount of profit would have been through the roof. Being the crafty fellow that I am though, I convinced Jen to save it for me so I could buy it when the carnival opened. I could see the looks of envy of the other patrons as I walked through the school gym with my fine purchase. There were quite a few people staring as I passed through their midst. I held my tongue, but I really wanted to tell them that it takes a special person to be able to wear a chicken hat. Dream on folks. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Give Thanks


 This Thursday will be Thanksgiving. It's hard to believe that it's that time of year again already. I was listening to several Christian broadcasts on Sunday, and of course the theme was on giving thanks, which is always appropriate, but seems to take center stage during the week of Thanksgiving. I believe it was Dr. Charles Stanley who mentioned that when we thank God in every situation, even when we don't really feel thankful, just the act of thanking God can bring about a change in our attitude, and sometimes even in our circumstances. For the past few weeks I've had gratitude on my mind. I'm a fairly negative person by nature. I can find the worst in just about any situation. If I catch a lot of fish I can start feeling unhappy because I have to clean them all. If I should make a good bit of money on my catch, then I have to pay more in taxes. With that kind of attitude, it's hard to win at all in anything. However, as I mentioned, I've been thinking about gratitude, and asking God to give me a grateful heart. I think it starts when we acknowledge that we have been blessed with multitudes of blessings, especially here in America. Aside from the every day things that I enjoy, the air that I breathe, the ability to walk around, being surrounded by an uncommon amount of beauty, we've been blessed with things. I have money in the bank, our pantry is full, the fuel tank is filled up, our house is paid for as well as my boat and my truck. Granted, we don't own anything fancy, but what we have gets the job done. It's a tremendous blessing. Last weekend Jan had a little sort of yard sale. We went around and gathered up some things that we've had sitting on shelves and in closets and the attic. There was a ton of it. Things we haven't used and didn't need and things we want to get rid of before we decide to make a move. We were just scratching the surface. We aren't wealthy by any means, but we had STUFF! I remember my friend Buffalo Bob speaking about losing everything in a cabin fire up around the Delta area of Alaska. He said that within a year he had as much stuff and more than before the fire. Americans have access to so many things. When you get to my age, you struggle to find something that you need so that friends or family members can get you a gift for Christmas.  What a contrast to the rest of the world. I received a catalog from Samaritan's Purse, the Christian organization that was started by Billy Graham's son Franklin. They go around the world supplying the needs of people who have been left without the necessary things to support life, whether because of war or natural disaster. For several years now we've received their catalog and it's filled with gifts that you can purchase to help out people who have real needs. For example, for $7.00 you can feed a  child a hot meal for a week.  For $25.00 you can provide warm clothes, a coat and shoes for refugees. I don't know what it's like where you are, but it's darn cold here. I can't imagine going outside without the necessary clothing to keep warm, and yet for countless people, that is their reality. $60.00 will buy an emergency shelter for a family who has lost their home due to natural disasters in places like Nepal, Haiti or the Philippines. A mere $8.00 will buy soccer balls and other sports equipment, blankets can be purchased for $6.00 baby chicks to provide eggs and food for a poor family, only $14.00. Right here in America there are a number of military families who are struggling to stay together after our heroes have been wounded in combat and are suffering mentally and physically. Operation Heal Our Patriots brings the husband and wife together for a week for counseling and fishing and building relationships at a lodge run by Samaritans Purse in Alaska. Around the world we can help by purchasing fruit trees and livestock, farm and garden projects, fresh water wells and equipment to clean otherwise undrinkable water. When you look around at the great need that is in the world and then take a look at what we have, not being grateful just isn't an option. One way to express our gratitude to God for all that He's done for us, is to help to meet the needs of those who have so little. I can promise you, you won't out give God. I hope that you have a blessed Thanksgiving, that you are safe if you are traveling and enjoy a wonderful day with family and friends. God bless us all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Old Man and the Baby

Great Grandpa Tom and Evalee

Evalee
Grandma Jen
Ashia



















 


























































I'm not exactly ancient of days, although there are days when I wake up and certainly feel like it, but apparently I'm old enough to be a great grandfather, which is good I guess, because that's exactly what I am now. Yet another title to add to my resume. A few months ago, my oldest granddaughter, Ashia, had a little girl, Evalee and another new member was added to our family. I was  reflecting on how this could be, me being a great grandfather at sixty four. Of course I know how it happens, it just doesn't seem possible. I'm not even retired yet, although people observing me might be surprised to hear that. When I think of being a great grandfather, I think of someone who is wise from all their many years of experience on this earth. I guess I need to put in a few more years and hope wisdom is forthcoming.Having white hair and wrinkles doesn't automatically qualify a person as wise. My mother is still alive which  makes her a great, great grandmother. Because of Alzheimer's I doubt if she really grasps her title, but she did receive some pictures of the baby and she apparently realizes that she's somehow related to the baby in the picture. In many ways the very elderly and the very young have a lot in common. They are both dependent on someone else for so much of the care they receive. They both need to be shown that they are loved and there are times when they both kind of smell funny. No disrespect intended, it's just the facts of life. I'm really hoping that I will be spared the ravages of old age. What  I'm experiencing right now is plenty enough, thanks. I'm in no rush to pass on, there's still a lot of life to be enjoyed, but the bottom line is, while my granddaughter and her daughter still have most of life ahead of them, I'm on a downhill slide. I have to hope that the foundation has been laid in the lives of my granddaughter and her husband that will provide for her children and grandchildren and generations to come. From what I've seen so far, the future looks bright.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Thirty Eight Years and Counting....

Commercial entry commission cards for the various salmon seasons. For awhile the Pacific Halibut Commission was issuing cards as well. There are also a few tide books from years gone by.  A necessary asset for any fisherman, commercial or sport.


 When I first came to Alaska I was astounded by the unparalleled beauty of the place. Here in Hoonah there were mountains that tumbled into a salt water bay,  rivers that abounded with trout and salmon, towering Spruce and Hemlock trees and wildlife in abundance. The town itself was a different matter all together. The world war two vintage houses were in various states of need. The homes that were built alongside the dirt road leading to the ferry terminal were caked with mud from the few vehicles that plied the street. The windows were so streaked that it seemed impossible that any light at all could penetrate. There were several houses on the main drag that had been burned to the point of making them unlivable, and yet they were still standing. A walk through town would reveal that I was in a very different place from what I was used to. The values that I had grown up with, as far as home ownership,for the most part weren't evident  here. Instead of manicured lawns and painted houses, I saw washing machines and refrigerators and even a bus  languishing in the weeds in front of homes where they had been discarded. Many of the homes looked like they hadn't seen a coat of paint in many years, if ever. It was a bit of a culture shock. However, I was most pleasantly surprised that many of the people here were commercial fishermen. The idea that someone would pay me to catch fish was foreign to me. I never really thought about the guy who caught the tuna I shook out of a can or the men on the trawlers who brought me the delightful Mrs. Paul's fish sticks I so enjoyed. Of course they had to be paid, but to be able to catch a salmon on a fishing rod and deliver it to the dock and receive money, what a concept! For the first few years after my arrival, I wasn't afforded the opportunity to make any money to even purchase a boat. However, once I took a job in town and a few disposable bucks came rolling in, I decided to invest in a fourteen foot Hi-Laker fiberglass skiff with a fifteen horse outboard engine on the back. Initially I bought it to give myself some freedom to come and go back and forth from town to the farm where my family and I were living. But since I loved fishing and even more loved the idea that I could make a days wage off of just one good salmon, I decided to invest in a hand troll permit. The year was 1978. It runs in my mind that  a few years later that all troll licenses went limited entry. Prior to that it seems like anyone could decide they wanted to be a troller and could get a license from the state for a reasonable amount of money. Like anything though, if everybody decides they want to be a fisherman, than the amount of money that each fisherman receives gets smaller and smaller with each new entrant. Hence, limited entry came about. I was fortunate enough to qualify for an interim hand troll permit and up until 1995  I was what was known as a hand cranker. I could use up to four rods at one time or two hand gurdies from my boat, whereas the power trollers  could use four gurdies that were connected to hydraulic lines that were used to raise and lower their gear. In terms of efficiency power trolling was the only way to go. A fellow could run much heavier leads and much more fishing gear on each line, thus covering a greater area and gaining access to many more fish than a guy trying to bring up just a few leaders. As long as the hydraulics keep working, you can yard in as many fish as you can catch. With hand trolling, it's a matter of stamina. If you're in good shape you can keep pulling for a long while, but eventually your strength gives out or your elbow starts aching or something.  In "95" I bit the bullet and bought a power troll permit. At the time it cost me $28,000 and was a substantial investment. I took out a state loan to pay for it, but I never looked back on the decision to buy it. I can't say that I've ever made the big bucks fishing. If I weren't so afraid of the the weather out on the ocean I could do considerably better, but at this stage of my life, if I can go out around the local area and catch a few and enjoy some good weather and still be home for supper, that seems to suit me. I'm not sure how much longer I'll keep fishing. My mind says go until the end, but my body has different ideas. We'll see who wins out. In the meantime, it won't be long until the State of Alaska sends me the paperwork for the 2017 fishing season.I expect I'll fill it out and send a check for my salmon and halibut licenses and look forward to year number thirty nine.