Saturday, December 8, 2018

I'm Your Right Hand Man



When I was a kid, winter was always a challenge for me. I didn't like cold weather, and Ohio in the winter was quite cold and frequently snowy. Like any kid, I wanted to be out with my friends though, throwing snow balls, sledding, building snow forts and whatnot. There was one closet downstairs for the whole family to share, and into that closet was crammed as many coats, hats, snow suits, gloves and mittens as possible. Every year for Christmas I was given a pair of gloves. By December 26th I had usually managed to lose at least one. No matter how diligently I searched the closet floor or shelf, I could never come up with a glove to match it's mate. On more than a few occasions I went out with mis-matched gloves. I don't recall now, but I may have had to settle for a glove on one hand and a sock on the other. Socks were notorious for getting lost too. Gloves and socks are probably part of the same genus- Clothingus Disappearus. Well, obviously I'm not a little kid anymore, and surprisingly I'm able to wear the same pair of gloves from one season to the next. However, I'm still having a problem with mis-matched gloves. More accurately, I'm sorely lacking in left handed gloves. All of the gloves pictured above are for my right hand. I didn't lose their mates, I cut them on the teeth of the fish that I clean. If I were ambidextrous I could switch hands and hold the fish in my right hand, thus giving me an equal number of both right and left gloves that were cut and I could throw away both. For some reason there is a flaw in my thinking that I can't seem to overcome. I have no problem throwing out the left  hand gloves that are cut- they're useless for keeping my hands dry. But the right hand ones are still fine, so I hang on to them. It doesn't seem to matter that there is no mate for them, they're still good. Why throw out something that is still useful? Years ago when my friend Buffalo Bob was fishing, we were able to help each other out. He's a southpaw and was always cutting his right glove. When we came to town we would get together and exchange gloves. It was a great system for both of us. I guess I'm going to have to break down and put a note on the bulletin board in the harbor this spring and see if I can find a lefty that wants to do a trade. My odds aren't good though. According to some research I saw, only about ten percent of the population is left handed. It also stated that lefties have a higher rate of psychosis. For those with mood disorders like depression or bi-polar disease, they were about average, at 11%, but in people with psychosis like schizophrenia, the number was closer to 40%. Holy cats! Maybe I could just walk the docks and casually strike up a conversation with my fellow fishermen and slowly bring up the subject of gloves and whether or not they're more inclined to clean their fish with their right or left hands. I wouldn't want to get on the bad side of some schizophrenic southpaw.Maybe I should write to the good folks at the Vinylove Glove Company and see if they can't start selling just left handed gloves for all us right handed fishermen. It might open up a whole new market. Perhaps I could recycle them as antennae devices for your car. Fill them full of Styrofoam, seal the bottom and stamp friendly sayings on them like Have a Nice Day!, or Pleased to Meet You. I could market them under the name Howdy's! On the other hand, I could just fill the middle finger with Styrofoam and have less cordial remarks like Get Lost! or Out of My Way! They might be big sellers in high traffic areas like L.A.  Either way the gloves wouldn't be going to waste. It's a win- win situation. I'm open to any other constructive ideas- just don't expect me to pay for them.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

No Earthquakes Here








   



   It's hard to imagine when looking at these tranquil pictures, that a very different scenario was playing out some 546 miles away. Anchorage of course was hit with a pretty strong earthquake several days ago- a 7.0 . My daughter, Autumn called that morning shortly after it happened, around 8;30 in the morning. She was working in a cafe in Palmer when it started and mentioned that things were falling off the walls and something fell down and hit a glass table top which shattered. Everyone rushed out into the streets and hoped for the best. Back in 1964 a magnitude 9.2 quake hit Anchorage with the loss of over 130 lives. I heard that the ground dropped over eight feet in places during that one.  When I spoke to Autumn, she was still pretty shaken up, and rightfully so. You never know if that's the worst of it or if there is more to come. Unfortunately there are aftershocks that can go on for some time. The USGS mentioned that in the next week or so you can reasonably expect anywhere from 84 to 610 aftershocks of magnitude 3 or above. Needless to say, sleep can be hard to come by when you're not sure if the ceiling is going to collapse on top of you or your bed will end up on the ground floor during the night. Fortunately, there were no deaths related to the quake, and I haven't even heard of anyone injured, although I'm not up  there so I'm not on top of it all. I found it somewhat interesting that the Anchorage Daily News ran an article about who to really thank that there weren't any deaths compared to earthquakes around the world. While I acknowledge that building practices in Anchorage have greatly improved since the 1964 quake, I suspect that God in all His mercy played an even bigger part in the fact that the loss of life was non-existent. Autumn's home sustained mild damage,mainly broken glass wear and a heavy dresser that had been turned over. No gas or water leaks though, and the electricity was back on in a matter of hours, which was really fortunate, as the temps were in the twenties and without heat, the water lines would eventually freeze and burst. I mentioned to her to video tape the damage or at least get pictures for insurance purposes. Her friend Molly didn't fare as well. There was damage to the sheet rock and extensive damage inside the house with broken mirrors, dishes, glasses, pictures, plants knocked over and more. I saw a notice from the city of Anchorage asking that people put off taking their broken items to the dump for a day or two to keep from overwhelming the business. I watched the news on Friday night and saw a lot of cars on the highway trying to return home from work in Anchorage, which required a lot of patience as the roads in some places were severely damaged. I saw long lines of people in the supermarkets trying to buy bread, water, milk and other items. It was a reminder to keep a supply of non perishable food on hand in case of emergencies, as well as bottled water. We never know when an emergency might happen, whether fire, flood,earthquake or some other disaster, and having the necessary means to deal with the every day needs can alleviate a lot of stress. It certainly doesn't hurt to make sure your car is at least half full of gas, that you have an adequate supply of any meds you might take and plenty of working flashlights or candles. I'm just so thankful that there was no loss of life. God knows it could have turned out different.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Inspector





  Well, Thanksgiving 2018 has come and gone. I hope yours was pleasant. If you were one of the tens of millions of Americans who took to the roads and skies this year, I pray that you made it home safe and that the trip was worth the expense and hassle. I, for one, have no desire to travel more than two or three blocks for a holiday dinner, and for as long as I can remember, haven't gone much more than ten feet; from my easy chair to my spot at the table for a Thanksgiving meal. I do miss having all the kids sitting around the table during the holidays, spilling their milk, hiding the stuffing under their plates and arguing about whose turn it was to do the dishes. Ahh, the good ol' days. This year we only had my oldest daughter Jen for dinner, but we were blessed to have five friends share our meal. I like to have a table full of folks for the holidays. For reasons I can't fathom, Jen finds the word pickle to be rather hilarious, so at the appearance of the relish tray there was a round of laughter and a discussion ensued about different words and their origins. As for pickles, I don't find them all that funny, but I do find them tasty.  I believe it was last year, or perhaps two years ago when I went on a walk to the cannery with a chicken hat on my head. It's a classic. More than a few people honked the horn and waved. Some folks just stared, probably wondering what kind of buffoon would openly waltz around in public looking so ridiculous. This year, someone, I don't know who but I have my suspicions, managed to find a turkey hat. I'm sure some mad hatter in China is laughing all the way to the bank. Oh well. I like Thanksgiving, in part because I really like good food. However, after raising seven children, we can't seem to get the part about cooking less under our belts. I believe we had an eighteen pound turkey this year, which meant we had about fourteen pounds left after the meal.I was really counting on my friend Mark to make more of a dent in the ample supply of food that had been prepared, but I think we were either the third or fourth dinner that he and his girlfriend  attended and at his last dinner, there were nine different pies, which he sampled from.Fortunately they came by the next day and we were able to pawn some of our excess off,  but  I've still had four or five meals of turkey sandwiches, and I believe tomorrow the fare will be the same. We finally managed to wipe out the green bean casserole and the last of the pumpkin pie last night. For breakfast I finished off the final piece of apple pie. Today at lunch the cranberry sauce, jello salad, sweet potatoes, gravy and broccoli salad made their last appearance. Our dog, Rigby checked out the fridge to make sure we weren't hiding any fugitive foods that he would have to take possession of. He was a total nuisance on Thursday, barking and whining and making demands. Jan finally had enough and he was banished to his cage upstairs for the remainder of the meal. He still managed to get more than his fair share of turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy though, so I didn't feel too bad for him. I kept hoping that the tryptophan  in the turkey he managed to wrangle from me would put him to sleep, but I found out later that that is just a myth. However, had I given him more stuffing or yams, it would have helped send him to bed early. Oh well, maybe next year.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Goblin FIngers





 Halloween has come and gone, and we're just a few days away from the next major holiday- Thanksgiving, yet somehow, the local store is a holiday behind. I went to the produce section the other day to pick up something for salad and came across these gems. They're called Buddha's Hand, or Goblin Fingers, for a very good reason. For the life of me, I've never seen anything like it before. The scientific name for this fruit is Citrus Medica Var Sarcodactylis.  Kind of sounds like a disease. As you can see, it's easier to ask for Goblin Fingers if that's what you want. Apparently they're only available for a short time of the year; fortunately that time corresponds with Halloween. I read up on them little bit because I wanted to know what the heck they could be used for, aside from scaring the masks off of little kids when they knock on your door wanting candy. This fruit is also known sometimes as Fingered Citron. It's a member of the Citron family and is used in place of lemon rind for candy and cakes. It can also be ground up and mixed with oils for a type of aromatic scent in your home. Apparently there is little to no juice or pulp, it's almost all rind. It's believed to have been transported to China from India hundreds of years ago. In China it's known as Fo-Shou, in Japan, Bushukan, and of course here it's Goblin Fingers. Not without good reason I might add. It is offered in temples in the Far East  because it is believed to symbolize happiness, good fortune and longevity. Whatever turns your crank. Folks believe a lot of different things. According to the web site Organic Facts, there are health benefits to Buddha's Hand, including pain relief, treatment of respiratory issues, reduces gastrointestinal issues, eliminates menstrual  discomfort, boosts immunity and lowers blood pressure. All that and you can grind it up and put on your cheese cake -- Woo Hoo! Anyway, I found it intriguing that such an exotic fruit would find it's way to our little produce section in remote Hoonah Alaska, and felt like I had to write about it. It's a big world out there. I'm sure that there are things that would boggle the mind and terrify the bold if we knew what was living in someones back yard. In any event, next year I may have to try some of this Fo Shou on a cheese cake and see if it cures what ails me. At the very least it's a conversation piece.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Thanks to All Our Vets!




I would like to extend a hearty THANK YOU to all of our vets across the country and around the world, wherever they may be. Unfortunately there are still wars and hot spots across the globe that require sending our troops into harms way. In other cases, the various branches of the military are stationed where they need to be to be able to respond to conflicts if they should arise. In some instances, military equipment, as well as men and women are utilized to respond to natural disasters. These men and women don't have a say in where and when they'll serve. Once they sign on the dotted line they become government property and serve at the pleasure of those in charge, regardless of their political affiliation. All too often, the spouses and children of these service men and women are forgotten, and yet they bear the brunt of keeping the household running smoothly. I can only imagine how hard it is for a wife to have to keep up a brave face for the kids while she worries about her husband's well being. They have to deal with the loneliness and stress. So I would like to also thank all the spouses who wait for the return of their loved ones, who endure the long days and nights alone. I hope that as a nation we can lift up all the military families in prayer and ask for God Almighty's hand of protection, peace and prosperity on them all. I looked on History.com  and printed out a few facts on veterans today.

16.1 million living veterans served during at least one war
2 million veterans are women
7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War
5.5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War
Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, 558,000 are still alive
As of 2014, three states have more than one million veterans- California (1.8 million) Florida (1.6 million) and Texas (1.7 million). Though I don't have the statistics, it runs in my mind that here in Alaska we have the largest vet population per capita of all the states.

I know that there are a number of businesses that are honoring vets with a free meal today, and I greatly appreciate the offer. We're free to conduct business and carry on with our lives because others have paid or are paying the price for our freedom. I hope that the citizens of this country will check out ways to help our vets. There are several organizations whose purpose is to work for the well being of vets. Several come to mind right away - the DAV, Disabled American Vets works to help those who have suffered a loss as the result of combat. Samaritan's Purse, founded by Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham runs a program called Operation Heal Our Patriots, where vets who have suffered an injury as a result of combat are flown with their spouses to a remote lodge in Alaska where they can spend a week healing physically, emotionally and spiritually and and can renew their commitment to their spouses. I hope you check them out. Two of my favorite vets are pictured above, my sons Ben and Brian. Thanks boys for your service, and a hearty thank you to my daughter-in-law Candace who also served. Well done folks!

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Straight and Narrow Way




 Have you ever watched a little kid when they first get the training wheels taken off their bikes? They keep looking behind to make sure that the parent is still hanging on to the bike; they don't want to fall. When they're finally on their own, there is usually a bit of time where the front wheels wobble as they try to maintain control. I'm not sure what happened  here in these pictures. I can't imagine anything like this happening in Juneau or Anchorage, but I can understand it happening in Hoonah. I mean, after all, that's where I live, and a good bit of my life is made up of the never before seen or experienced. Far be it from me to criticize the operator of the line painting machine. Lord knows that I could never paint a straight line, even if I had a thousand yard straight edge, somehow I'd manage to veer off the mark and end up with something that looks like this. Really though, what are the odds that the state of Alaska would hire someone like me to paint the lines on a state highway? I wish I could ask the guy (or gal)- what happened? Were you looking at your phone when you should have been looking at the road? Did a really attractive person of the opposite sex distract you- all up and down the road? Did a dog charge at you repeatedly and you were trying to keep from painting them into the pavement? What? What was it? Were your glasses foggy, did you forget to take your meds that morning, were there problems at home that kept you from keeping your mind on your job? Did you suffer from a bout of uncontrollable sneezing? When I look at this, I'm reminded of a story that my friend Bud Burnett told me years ago. He was living on one of the communal farms that were scattered around in Alaska and Canada. I believe they were going up north to pick up some horses or some such thing. There were two cars hauling horse trailers in the little caravan. Bud was in the front vehicle and a group of young men was in the back one. Periodically Bud would look in the rear view mirror to check on the boys and make sure there weren't any problems. While he was checking the progress, he noticed a car pull up beside the car the boys were in, and then all of a sudden the boys car started to swerve violently, almost running off the road. They got control and Bud watched as the same car came charging up behind him and pulled along side as if to pass. It was a car full of young ladies, and when they honked, Bud looked over and they raised their tops and flashed him. Of course it's hard to look at the scenery and still keep your eyes on the road, so he was all over the place. The girls laughed, honked again and took off down the road. Needless to say, such pleasant distractions , while memorable, could have turned out poorly.  Now I'm not suggesting that anything of the kind happened to paint guy. I guess we'll never really know what happened, but I would have thought that maybe the state would send him back with a can of black paint to correct the mistake. So far it hasn't happened. Maybe they assume that after the winter is over, it won't be so noticeable, but frankly, it's always been my experience that some things you just can't wish away.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Retirement





Last month my wife, Jan, retired from the job that she's worked at for the past twenty three years. She worked at Hoonah Trading Company for half of our married life. When she first started working there, it was Hoonah Seafoods, one of three stores in town. Since then, L. Kane Store has closed, as well as Harbor Lights, and the only other store in town opened- Colette's Cupboard. She first started working in the hardware department. I can't recall if it was Ace  Hardware then or not. I think it was. Since then they've been involved with several other hardware companies. After a few years down there in hardware, the store's general manager asked her to come up to the office and work. That's where she spent the majority of her time, as a bookkeeper. She was also given the assignment of collecting delinquent accounts, and they couldn't have chosen a better person for the job. She was like a bulldog with a rag doll. I've no idea how much money she recovered for the store, but she knew all the tricks for chasing down the bums who thought they could get away without paying and she pursued them relentlessly. I was glad that I always paid up on time; I don't think she would have made any exceptions for me. Twenty three years is a long time to do anything. She worked her eight hour day, sometimes six days a week, and still came home and cooked, cleaned and took care of the kids. I know it wasn't easy, and it wasn't always fun going to work. Even the best of jobs can be difficult to go to at times. She had a habit of showing up early for work  and staying late, and set a good example for those around her. I believe she worked under four different managers- five if you include the hardware manager. If you needed to cash a check or make a payment or order fuel, Jan was usually who you spoke to. Of course she did much more than that, I'm not even certain of what all things she did do. I remember her coming home and speaking about this or that and it would go over my head, but she was good at what she did, and I'm certain she'll be missed. Right now she's in Wisconsin visiting her mom, and I'm certainly missing her. I don't really know what her plans are when she gets home. It will be nice to have someone to share the chores with again, but two people only make so much mess. I do worry that we'll get on each other's nerves if we are both home all day. That won't be a problem in the summer, but we've got months of winter staring us in the face. It's not like we can hop in the truck and drive somewhere for the day to get out of town. I may have to take up checkers or open a barber shop so us old guys can have a place to sit around and reminisce. We wouldn't dare cut any hair, it would just be a hang out to keep us out of trouble.I'm sure it will work out somehow though. In any event, she's earned a rest, and I sincerely hope she enjoys her retirement.