Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Demanding Mistress








   Anyone who has ever had a boat can understand the title of this post. I've spent the last week with the boat in dry dock, sanding, patching, painting and caulking it, plus replacing zincs. Aside from the usual yearly items like those mentioned above, I had to order spruce 1x6's to replace some of the bin boards down in the hold that had started to rot. They hold the ice into separate bins and you can't afford to be out on the water in a storm and have the load shift because some bin boards broke. That's not all that needed done though, oh no,no, no. That was just the least expensive project. Last year my engine started over heating whenever I pushed it above trolling speed. I tried all the simpler things to do, hoping I wouldn't have to replace the water pump, but all to no avail, so I had to replace my thirty some year old water pump, for about $650.00, plus labor. I noticed last year that a guard near the stern of the boat had developed a gap between the guard and the plank that it was protecting. The cannon balls frequently come up and hit the boat in the area of the guard, so it's really necessary to have. Well, some time during the end of the season, the troll wire got caught in the space and pulled the guard off. Fortunately I'm good friends with the local shipwright who happened to have a three foot piece of iron bark that he fashioned a guard out of. Earlier in the year I replaced the electrical fuse panel that has been on the boat since I bought it in 1990. I guess I can count myself lucky that I haven't had even more expensive projects to do this year. Every year I wonder what will happen next. In the time that I've owned the Bonnie J I've had the forward and a after decks replaced, put in new fuel tanks, had the gurdies re-built, an unknown number of planks replaced, a new bow stem put in, the transmission re-built, new aluminum bulwarks and hatch cover, a new aluminum mast,replaced the steel hay rack with aluminum,replaced the stove with another used stove which needs replaced again, put in a new bunk and cupboards down in the focs'le, replaced all the hydraulic lines and the electric clutch on the hydraulic pump, I've put in two new hydraulic motors for the long line drum,installed sound proofing in the deck over the engine, replaced the muffler, replaced the three blade prop with a four blade and done an oil and filter change every 200 hours. That's about 102 oil changes. I always wonder where all the money goes, but in retrospect, I can now see. I understand that I bought an old wooden boat, and so replacing planks and whatnot can be expected, but I had no idea that I would be replacing every other thing on the boat. The thing is, I'm not alone. Every boat owner, if he's going to maintain his vessel goes through similar things.  The guys on the Deep Sea are re-placing at least one plank and re-fastening a bunch of others. Of course there will be painting and zincs to do, and God knows what else. The big catamaran has got a crew on board cutting out big chunks of aluminum from the sides and welding in new. I'm sure they're missing out on some big bucks hauling tourists around, but the Coast Guard won't let them go out until they meet all the safety requirements for a boat that takes passengers for hire. Good idea. You don't want to be out looking at whales and all of a sudden be right in the water with them. It would be like the Jonah experience, if you were lucky. The boat on the other side of the Zaba is hauled out putting a different engine in. Last year he was on his way outside during one of the best coho years ever, and the engine that he'd had rebuilt broke down and he needed towed back to town. The boat's name is the Lucky Star. Not sure that's a very good name for that boat. The bottom line is, boats are expensive to own. Between the moorage, the fuel, the maintenance, and the frustration involved in keeping them running, you have to wonder if it's worth it. I guess it must be, I still own one. Like the saying goes, the two best days of a boat owners life is the day he buys his new boat, and the day he sells it. So be it.



Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Morning Prayer



  What do you do when you want to talk to a friend or place an order or make a complaint to a company? For many in this country, it's as simple as picking up our cell phones and talking or texting. There are a lot of phone plans available with a variety of services and prices. When you need to place an order you call or text and it's done. Chances are you aren't going to talk to the president of the company, unless of course you yourself are someone very important who has some clout.When I receive a bill from the credit card or electric company or phone company, they may send it in the mail to me, but they recognize me by a number that I've been assigned. I may not get credit for paying the bill if I forget to put my account number on the check. It's not like that with God. Just so we're sure, I'm not talking about some unknown spiritual concept floating around out in the universe somewhere, I'm speaking of God the father, God the son and God the holy spirit. The trinity. You can't pick up your phone and call Him.There's no texting Jesus. The holy spirit doesn't have an 800 number, but that's good. There's no charge to speak to God. You can speak  as often as you want, as long as you want and about anything that's on your mind. Are you lonely, afraid that you'll never find the right person to marry? Tell the lord. Maybe you're married and having a rough time of it. Your spouse isn't who you thought they were, you're fighting all the time, you're unhappy. You can tell Him. He already knows, and what's more, He really cares. Perhaps you've lost your job, your health, your loved one or feel like you're on the verge of losing your sanity. You don't have to be in church to pray. Kneeling isn't a requirement. Long, flowing spiritual sounding phrases won't get you any bonus points. Have you ever been in a jet that's experiencing turbulence? I guarantee that there's a lot of praying going on by the folks buckled in those seats, and it might be as simple as " Lord save me!" Perhaps you've prayed sincerely for something in the past and it seems like your prayers weren't answered. Your loved one died, your spouse left you for someone else, your kid is making poor life choices- you felt like your prayers were ignored, so why bother any more? I wish I had answers for you. I honestly don't know why some prayers are answered and others aren't. Or at least it appears that they aren't being answered. Even Jesus, in the hours before he was taken to Pilate and beaten, humiliated, and hung on the cross asked God to spare him that fate, but he wasn't spared. Sometimes the answer to our prayers is no. We can't see what tomorrow will bring, but God knows, and isn't it good to be in touch with the one who does have all the answers? I like to watch Dr. Charles Stanley on Sunday mornings. His many years of walking with God has given him wisdom and insight, and in a few words he can cover a lot. I'd like to share a simple morning prayer that he sent me.

                                                           Father,
 Thank you for this new morning and the privilege of beginning this day with You. As today unfolds, give me wisdom to handle every situation I encounter. Let my speech be seasoned with grace and my thoughts pleasing to You. I'm grateful to know that regardless of where this day takes me, You will be right there with me. There is no shortage of good things in Your presence.

Help me to live with my mind set on things above so that Your light would shine in my life and Your name would be glorified.

Amen

I like it. Short; to the point; no flowery speech;  no thees and thous. When it's prayed sincerely, I think it's a prayer God can answer. I hope that if your prayer life is lacking, you'll reestablish your talks with God. He'll be delighted to hear from you. God bless!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Back yard visitor






  A few weeks ago as I was eating my breakfast I happened to look out the dining room window and spotted a Sitka Blacktail deer walking through the side yard. I had a mouth full of cereal or toast or some such thing, so all I could do was point and  make sounds like a cave man while I danced around on the floor. Eventually Jan figured out that I wanted her to look out the window before the deer disappeared. As it was, it made a bee line for the garden out back and proceeded to chow down on some dandelions that had just sprouted. Why is it that weeds are among the first plants to show their fuzzy little green heads? One way or the other, the deer didn't mind a bit. He spent the better part of twenty minutes nibbling the leaves down to the nubs and then making his way slowly up the hill. I had my own personal weed- eater. I do wish he'd been a little more aggressive and pulled the dandelions out by the root. He (or she) I couldn't really tell which, was really delicate though in his eating habits. It very deliberately avoided some variegated ground cover that was growing along side the weeds and took only the dandelions. It kept looking back at the street with every little noise and I was expecting it to bolt at any minute. However, it didn't get too alarmed and continued to work it's way up the hill and into the woods out back. It's not uncommon to see deer in town, there is plenty of area with cover and food for them, but I usually don't see them in my back yard. I do recall hearing a noise on the side of the house a few years ago though that woke me up. We have our fuel tank on that side of the house and unfortunately, on occasion there have been some less than honorable folks who have been known to steal the fuel out of people's tanks. I got up and looked out the window in time to see a nice deer standing in my neighbor's yard. It passed through mine and brushed against the back of the house- clumsy oaf. I'm not sure where the deer are going to be going soon. The bears are out of hibernation and are starting to roam around. Spring is kind of late getting here, as it is in some parts of the rest of the country. I haven't seen any skunk cabbage yet, something they eat to get the digestive track back in sync. I imagine they will find any winter kill deer out in the woods and whatever else they can dig up. They're omnivores and will eat just about anything- even diapers at the dump. One of Jan's co-workers had her dog attacked last week, so everything is fair game. I just hope these little guys can stay out of their way, and that the bears don't take a liking to the weeds at my house.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Trivia Night

Ryan, Dennis and Jen

World's best waitress-  Bev

Sandy, Anna Faye, Buddy and Donia and her husband

Paul, Mary and Terri



Barbie- one of the owners



      Last night, as almost every Wednesday night has been for the past year or two, was Trivia night at the Icy Strait Lodge. It's  a good opportunity to get out of the house, especially in the long, cold, dark winter months and mingle with some of our fellow Hoonah citizens. Sometimes there will be a team made up of fishermen who are here for the King or Tanner crab season, and often there are folks from out of town who are associated with the clinic who help to swell the ranks of the local clinic staff and add to the cerebral well being of their team. We have folks from all walks of life playing- forest service personnel, a former school superintendent, teachers, fishermen, tour guides and whale watch captains, and some everyday folks who just want to come out and mingle and have a good time. Our local post master, Mark Smith is usually the one who asks the questions. I'm not always sure where he gets his questions from. There is usually something about geography, science, history, possibly politics, general knowledge, books or literature, including children's books, movies and sometimes something from the bible. I happen to sit at a table that usually does pretty well. Dennis has a lot of general knowledge, and is quite familiar with geography, Ryan knows movies really well, Terri has a handle on a variety of subjects, Jen is familiar with children's literature, and Jan and I are the two oldest folks at the table. Chances are at one time we knew the answer to a number of the questions, but we just can't remember what the answer is. It's probably a really good thing to be testing the old brain cells now and then, part of the use it or lose it philosophy. All the teams have names. We've been a number of different names down through the weeks, The Soggy Pants, No Depends, Trivia Knights, Muddy Socks, Hoonah Hookers and last night we were the No Ruben Gang. Dennis, the city manager has a fondness for Rubens, something that I have trouble wrapping my  head around. How can a sandwich with corned beef, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing all on rye bread possibly taste good? It's beyond me.Paul and Mary K. are usually the Cerebellums, but last night Paul wasn't there. However, Mary was joined by Candy,  a Stanford graduate, so they took on the name- Half a Brain. The clinic group were the Hoonah Honey's last week, but I can't recall who they called themselves last night. Howard, Dwight and one other retired fellow were I believe calling themselves The Mentally Challenged. They usually do pretty good, but sometimes I wonder if it isn't because they can hear our table discussing the answers. Frankly, I wish I could read lips for those times when we're stumped and I'm certain that the Cerebellums have the answer. There is one fellow who usually shows up by himself. His last name is Murphy, and he always goes by the team name Murphy's Law. I don't believe he's ever won, but he's always a good sport and seems to enjoy himself. There is always a first, second and third place winner's circle, and the lodge hands out gift certificates with various percentages off of meals and drinks to the winners. It's good business all the way around. Last night the competition was fierce, and we came in fourth place out of seven or eight teams. The Half  a Brain team won. It's hard to imagine how many points they would have racked up if the other half of the Cerebellums was there.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

90% Wimpy




  I stepped on the scale today and saw the numbers flying by like a one armed bandit in a Las Vegas casino. I won't tell you where they finally stopped, but I can assure you, there wasn't any jackpot when they finally did. In all honesty, I don't believe the scale. No, I'm serious. I think I need to put in a new battery or something. The day before yesterday when I stood on the scale, it said that I was two pounds heavier than the day before. Then when I hopped on yesterday, low and behold, I had miraculously lost four pounds. Today it claimed I had gained five pounds and a few ounces. That's malarkey! This winter I've been on an exercise routine that involves walking on the treadmill for twenty minutes, doing some stretches with a three foot dowel to keep my arms from seizing up, and doing three sets of lifts with some ten pound dumbbells. Dummies. I seldom have soda anymore, preferring instead to drink unsweetened ice tea. I use 1% milk on my cereal and in my coffee. I don't use sugar on my cereal, with the exception of brown sugar on my oatmeal. Of course cereals like Frosted Flakes, Count Chocula, and Lucky Charms are sweet enough without sugar, but I don't care because I haven't eaten any of that stuff for years. I did drink a half a beer last night at my daughters house, but it was a Miller Lite. Almost every afternoon lately, I've been taking the dog on a walk out around the airport. I'm not sure how far that is, maybe a half mile trek and granted, by the time he stops fifty times to sniff and spray, we aren't moving too fast, but it is exercise. I've heard that muscle weighs more than fat, which is great, but when I look down at my gut, it's obvious that it's not muscle that I'm seeing. I spoke to my doctor at my last physical about any procedure that could redistribute the fat that was encompassing my stomach perhaps south a few inches. He just laughed. I guess that's every senior man's pipe dream. I'd kind of like to go swimming some time, but I'm too embarrassed to be seen in public without a shirt on. To say nothing of the swim trunks. I don't expect to look like I did when I was thirty. It would be nice, but not realistic, but I would like to see a little more tangible results from the routine that I'm following now. What I don't want to have happen is to go somewhere warmer and then not have the energy to go outside and do anything. I can stay here and be a couch potato. In any event, welcome to the world of aging. It's quite a trip. Do what you can now to make the transition into old age as painless as possible. Eat your veggies, get some exercise and make good friends who will tell you the truth, because you sure can't believe that stupid scale.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Village Idiot

The Village Idiot

This Bald Eagle is enjoying his perch atop the Village Idiot's trolling poles




     While the above named post might lead the reader into thinking that this post is about myself, I can soundly reject that notion and would encourage you to look closely at the stern of the boat in the top picture. As you can see, plainly or not so much so, the boat in question is none other than The Village Idiot, home ported in what used to be a lovely little fishing village on the outer coast of Chichagof Island, at the very entrance to Cross Sound. Unfortunately, like so many fine places in Alaska, the area has been taken over by the tourist industry and it's changed the whole character of the the village.I believe that there are nine lodges crammed into the harbor now, puking out an ungodly number of charter fishermen several times a day from spring to the fall every year.  I would much rather see the moniker Village Idiot on one of those boats, along with Buffoon, Knucklehead, Bumbling Oaf, Greedy Jerks, Simpleton, Lawless and any number of other uncomplimentary names. However, in the years when Elfin Cove was still primarily a fishing village, the owner of the boat, Bob Bell  and his wife Deb along with their two sons, took up fishing for a living. Bob, or Bobbo as he's known, used to be a plumber as I understand. I'm not sure why he opted out of that, I'm sure the money is good, but I guess they like a little more adventure in their lives, and fishing afforded them a chance to make a living during the more pleasant summer months and then go elsewhere in the winter.  Debbie has a boat named The Madame Ching. Both boats are converted gill net boats I believe. To the best of my knowledge they fish almost exclusively in the area around Cross Sound and down the coast to Deer Harbor. When I first bought my GPS, I followed Bob as he trolled in a large circle from Hocktaheen to Surge Bay. I set the tracking function on so that I could get an accurate picture of where to fish and where to avoid. The area out there is peppered with pinnacles. You can be trolling along at 24 fathoms and all at once the water is only 20 fathoms deep or even less. I've lost more than a little bit of gear out there, and at $3.00 a pound for lead, you don't want to be losing a couple of fifty pound cannonballs, to say nothing of the flashers and spoons and other gear. The nice part is that fish are attracted to the area, so if you can keep your gear off the bottom, you can make a paycheck every day. Following the track that was laid down has proven to be a most profitable venture. I noticed that if I stray off of it just a little bit, the results can be disastrous. Both of Bob and Deb's boys are grown up and have their own boats, and to the best of my knowledge are both very good fishermen, maybe even better than their parents, since they enjoy the enthusiasm of youth and are a little more aggressive in their fishing. The Bell's enjoy a very adventurous life style, skiing in Colorado kayaking somewhere down south and this winter heading to Tibet or Mongolia, I can't recall why, maybe to ride horses in the desert. I look forward to their return this spring, but like many commercial fishermen this year, I'm afraid they'll be coming home to a rather dismal fishing season. There won't be any spring king salmon season due to a terrible reduction in the numbers of fish returning to spawn, and I just heard today that the price of halibut is down about $2.00 a pound from what it has been for the past three or four years; and that's on top of a fifteen percent reduction in the commercial quota. It's going to be a tough year to be a fisherman. Maybe Bobbo had it right when he named his boat.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Dragon Fruit



    On our recent trip down south, we spent a few days in Lewiston, Idaho. We thought we would try to save a few bucks on food by dropping in to the local supermarket and picking up some items to snack on. Because the price of fruit was so much more reasonable than what we are used to, we bought a bag of mandarin oranges, some green grapes and strawberries. I would like to say that we stayed on the healthy side of the food chain, but I'd be lying through my teeth. Just beyond the produce section of the store was the bakery, and wouldn't you know it, there were stacks of tasty fruit filled turnovers at a very reasonable price so of course we had to have a pack of those- twice. I should mention we returned to the store before we left the town with the honorable intention of maybe buying some more healthy snacks, but we fell prey to temptation and bought the second package of turnovers- cherry this time. While we were there, I noticed in the produce section, right next to the papayas and above the star fruit, a most unusual and beautiful pod that the sign said was dragon fruit. I'd never heard of it before, but I found it so attractive that I wanted to at least take a picture of it. I wasn't about to buy it at $7.99 each without knowing how it tasted. Today I did a little research on line and found that dragon fruit is not only tasty, but is very good for you in so many ways. Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, or pitahaya, grows in Central America in fairly dry, semi-tropical climates, but is cultivated in several places in Southeast Asia as well.It is the fruit of a particular type of cactus and is beautiful to look at in it's natural state. Because it needs a precise amount of water, it's hard to cultivate. Cross pollination is also difficult because dragon fruit relies primarily on night time pollinators like bats. One thing that sets it aside is that it only blooms for one night. I guess for this reason it's sometimes referred to as the moonflower. It's also known as the queen of the night because it blooms at night time. The plant still produces fruit six times a year though. The fruit can be used in fruit salads, smoothies, parfaits or just eaten by itself. The taste, according to the YouTube article I saw mentioned it as a "heavenly blend between kiwi, watermelon and pear." It sounds very tasty. Aside from just tasting good it seems to have many health benefits. It contains fiber and aids in digestion and can be used as a mild laxative. It's good for skin, teeth and bones, has both omega 3 and 6, is good for eyesight, helps lower blood sugar levels,is full of anti-oxidants  and aids in healing bruises and wounds. I suppose I would have called it Wonder fruit, but it gets it's name from the color and the scale like protrusions on the outside. The inside is white to pink to purple, depending on the type of fruit, and it is full of black seeds, much like a kiwi. When it is cut into cubes, it resembles dice.  When combined with other fruit, it adds a totally different and beautiful appearance to any fruit salad. I hope that you will go online and look up dragon fruit; this blog can't begin to do it justice. It's just another marvel of God's imagination and creativity and the way he's blessed mankind with every good thing. One thing is for certain, the next time I run across some dragon fruit, $7.99 or not, I'm darn sure going to buy it. I'll let you know what I think.