Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Choices We Make



Have you ever pondered the direction your life has taken? I suppose all of us would like a second bite at the apple. A chance to go back and correct mistakes we've made. Unfortunately we're not given that opportunity. We can certainly change our behavior and make wise choices from here on out, but we can't erase the past. Yesterday is gone and will never return. I remember a song I heard once, back when the kids were little. I believe it was on Sesame Street. The words were- Yesterday, today and tomorrow, whether they bring pleasure or sorrow, time is something no man can borrow, yesterday, today and tomorrow.- Truer words were never spoken. Anyway, at this juncture of my life, I find myself reflecting on my past, and wondering about my future. I don't want to feel like I wasted the time that God has given me, but that doesn't mean that every day has to be filled with activities either. I truly believe that we need to start every day with the Lord. Spend some time reading your bible and praying. Find out what God has in store for you today. It may be going to the same job you've had for twenty years, but perhaps he'll show you a new way to do it. Perhaps you're retired, and are bored. Maybe He'd like you to volunteer the skills you've developed  helping a disaster victim. It could be that a visit to the local diner is in order, maybe with an old friend you've lost touch with or a neighbor who is down on his luck. I once read a book titled The Blue Bear, by a Juneau author named Lynn Schooler. Lynn had a boat called the Wilderness Swift that he used to take clients out on for trips into the wilds of Southeast Alaska. One client was a famous Japanese photographer who hired Lynn to help him find and photograph a blue bear. Certain black bears have a blue or blue gray coat. Anyway, something happened on the trip that caused a conversation between the two about life and death. The Japanese man stated that when we are born, all of us are given a certain number of calendars. As each year passes, we're left holding one less calendar. We don't know when the stack will run out. As Dr. Stanley has so wisely stated in the above article, it would be disastrous if after we came to the end of our lives we discovered we had been pursuing the wrong things. I hope you'll take some time and reflect on your life. Are you spending time with God? Is He directing you to take a different path? When the last page is turned on your particular calendar, I pray that you will discover that you've chosen wisely and will hear the words, Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Infestation!






 I know that it's been awhile since my last blog post. My apologies, but it's fishing season, and I need to make money, like most of the rest of the world. Couple that with the fact that I'm getting old and tired, and by the time I get home and have supper, it's usually after nine o' clock,  I don't have much energy left to do a blog post. I'm writing one now because it's really foggy this morning and I wanted to do something before I go wet some lines.

In the pictures above you can see that we've been visited by an infestation of hungry caterpillars. These particular ones are called Wooley Bears, at least that's what I've been told. I normally don't have anything against caterpillars. When you see one or two around town, it's kind of a neat thing. However, I guess due to the extended spell of hot, dry weather this summer, we got inundated with the blasted things. I had dozens of them every day on my flowering crab apple tree in the front yard. In the second picture you can see the destruction that they bring. They have an appetite that is unrestricted. They don't stop eating until they've consumed everything, and then they move on to the next green bush.  They only seem to like particular plants, and of course those appear to be the very plants that I have in my yard. Go figure. I've never seen so many caterpillars in my life. Jan and I went out the road last week for a drive and they were crossing the road by the dozens. It was like Wooley Bear New York City. I personally picked probably a hundred or more from my tree and bushes, and yet every day there are more. Where are they all coming from, and why aren't there any birds hanging around feasting on them?  Every winter I spend big bucks making sure my feathered friends don't starve to death. You would think that there would be a little appreciation and they'd come back and start chowing down. What's not to like about a big, juicy, fuzzy caterpillar? Especially if you're a bird. It's like your job to eat them! Ah well, nature out of balance. I need to stop here and get ready to conk some fish so I can make some money so I can sit at the computer all winter and do whatever I do. I hope wherever you are you're pest-free and enjoying the green things that grow around you.  Have a Wooley Bear day!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Scratch and Sniff



 How often have you been somewhere, when out of the blue a scent wafts past your nasal passages and you're instantly transported back to another time, another place. I'm not suggesting that the memory will always be pleasant. Perhaps you'll get a whiff of someone's old gym shoes and you'll be reminded of Phys ed class in ninth grade when a bully made you smell his socks under the threat of a thorough pounding. Maybe it's something more pleasing, like a lady passing by on the street and you catch the slightest scent of her perfume and you're transported through time to a summer romance from your youth. In what is the first of it's kind in the world, the USPS has come out with scratch and sniff stamps. As you can see, they look like frozen treats, and actually, you don't even have to scratch them to get a whiff of the delicate sweet scent. Perhaps receiving a bill from the electric company will be a little less unpleasant with a scratch and sniff stamp, unless of course, somewhere along the way some spoiler scratches it before you get a chance to. I think the IRS should buy a trainload of these stamps for any correspondence that they may have with us taxpayers. It would be even better if they stuck a lottery ticket inside each tax bill. There's always a chance you could be a winner, and then it wouldn't hurt so bad to pay your taxes. I rather like the idea of scratch and sniff stamps, so I was a little surprised to read that the American Lung Association had sent a letter to the postal service asking them not to issue the stamps. I guess they're afraid that folks with asthma would have an unpleasant reaction. I used to have an unpleasant reaction any time I had to change one of my kids diapers, which I admit wasn't often, fortunately. Now if for some reason the post office was to come out with a scratch and sniff dirty diaper stamp, I have to admit, it probably wouldn't make it into my stamp collection. I don't think we have to worry about that though. I was looking through the different posts for scratch and sniff and was surprised at how much is out there. Apparently the scratch and sniff technology utilizes encapsulated micro fragrances where tiny droplets of scented oils are surrounded by a coating to create extremely small capsules. When they are broken (scratched) the scent is unleashed. I read where some natural gas companies were producing scratch and sniff cards as a training tool for children, so they can identify a gas leak in their home. Not a bad idea. Of course when I first saw natural gas scratch and sniff, I immediately thought they were talking about farts. They weren't. HOWEVER.... there was a movie that came out some time back called Polyester that was filmed in odorama . I believe the movie goers were given cards that they could scratch and sniff at the appropriate scenes that would really transform them right into the moment. Scents included sneakers, skunk and flatulence. I don't know why anyone would want to go to see a film like that, but no doubt it had it's takers. Upon further review, I saw that there is a book called the Scratch and Sniff Guide to Beer, A Beer Drinker's Companion. I guess throughout the book you can smell the various ingredients that go into good beer making. The author is Justin Kennedy, and I imagine it's available on Amazon, for those of you who are looking for a gift for your beer drinking friends or family. I see that Captain Morgan, the rum making company has a new rum called Watermelon Smash. The outside bottle is shaped like a watermelon and is made to scratch and sniff so you can decide if it's right for you I guess. Sounds interesting. There is also a Cocomero Rose' wine with a scratch and sniff bottle. I guess Cocomero translates to watermelon in Italian. If you happen to be in Oak Park Illinois, there is a delightful store called - you guessed it- Scratch and Sniff. They have quite a delightful selection of gifts for people and pets. If I'm ever in the area, I'll be sure to stop by. It looks really interesting. Finally, last but not least, a fellow by the name of John Sherman is marketing Scratch and Sniff wall paper. It's called Flavor Paper, and comes in three designs- bananas, cherries and citrus. You apparently can order different colors.  While I don't think I'll be hanging any new wallpaper any time soon, I did purchase several of the new stamps. Of course one is in my stamp collection. It will be interesting to see how long the scent lasts. Maybe I'll buy a few extras so that I can have them put in with my ashes when I die. Then instead of thinking of smelly boots and fishy gloves when folks think of me, they will have visions of creamscicles and summer treats. How pleasant indeed.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Fishing for Fatties or Flatties or Fat Flatties












  Last week I went out with my number one crew hand Adam, and in what turned out to be a very wise decision on my part, a lady friend who owns the F/V Talache. I was having a heck of a time finding a second crew hand, when the idea occurred to me to ask Barbie if she would like to go.She jumped at the chance and I was so glad I asked  her. She was the perfect addition to the crew. The trip, as often is the case, didn't start off so well. I hooked up the long line drum and when I turned on the hydraulics, the motor that I had purchased just three years ago started puking hydraulic fluid like a college kid after an all night bender. What a hassle! The only person in town who works on hydraulics was out of town on vacation-go figure. Soooo..... I had to send the motor over to Juneau and order a new one, for a mere $775.00. We hadn't even set the first hook and I was already in the hole. Anyway, the second day I got the new motor hooked up and we made a set in Adam's hot spot. Two weeks earlier he had set 20 hooks for a subsistence set and caught about 200 pounds, including a hundred pounder. So, of course we thought we'd set ten times the amount of hooks and get the whole quota in one fell swoop. Of course things being what they are, we went out the next day and for the first 75 hooks or so, we didn't catch a thing. Pretty depressing to say the least. We reset in three different places and went home. The next day when we pulled the gear we ended up with almost a thousand pounds total, but still needed about 400 pounds, so we ran up the bay and hoped for the best. I anchored the boat in sixteen fathoms of water and we waited for a few hours while the bait soaked. I entertained myself by killing horse flies by washing them off the deck with a washdown hose. I think I killed about fifty or so. Adam decided to try jigging up a halibut with his pole. After about 30 minutes he got bored and climbed up on top of the hay rack to soak in some rays. About fifteen minutes later he yelled "FISH ON!" I thought he was joking, but he wasn't.  He ended up pulling up a thirty pound flatfish, so it was a good way to start our trip up there. After the baits had soaked for about three hours, we went out to pull the gear. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, the state was prospecting for king crab, so there was about six or eight crab pots with big orange bouys right in the area where I wanted to set. I had to lay a set in an area that I was unfamiliar with.  I was afraid that we wouldn't catch any fish at all, but as it was we ended up shaking three or four fish in an effort to keep from going over the quota limit. If that happens, you lose the extra poundage you caught, you have to pay a fine, and they reduce your quota by that amount next year. Of course when we finally got in to the cold storage and got the final weight, I discovered that I was under weight by about 100 pounds, so the fish we shook would have just about been right. Ah well. There seems to be a fair amount of halibut this year, so there's a chance I can get the rest of my quota while I troll for salmon. All in all it was a pretty good opening. I made a few bucks and enjoyed the company of my friends. We'll see what next year brings. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Fishing for Dogs







Obviously this post isn't about the four legged kind of dog we all know and mostly love. I say mostly because my neighbor has decided to dog sit for a friend of theirs whose dog is unruly and loves to stick his big mouth out the window and bark-for hours on end. I so wish I could live on my own private little estate away from unruly dogs, neighbors and other riff-raff. However, I digress. This post is about fishing for chum, or dog salmon as they're known. It's about the only game in town right now. The king season is closing tonight, and it has been poor, and so far the humpies and cohos haven't shown, even out on the ocean. I'm not sure what to make of it. The upside of such poor fishing is that the price to the fishermen is good. The downside is that there are few fish, and the consumer is going to pay a lot more.The second picture shows the difference between ocean bright chum, and one that is ready for the creek. The closer they get to fresh water, the more pronounced the purple and green stripes on their bodies becomes. They are tremendous fighters, and are a lot of fun to catch, but they can be a challenge. For one, you have to troll R E A L L Y slow for them, like one to one and half knots. They seem to prefer a smaller hoochie since they are primarily plankton eaters, although I've caught them on bait before, and just the other day I caught four or five on a spoon that I was running for kings. I caught some really big ones this year, several over fourteen or fifteen pounds, and my friend Kevin said he caught one that weighed 24 pounds on his hand held scale. I was landing one the other day that I thought was going to tear my arm from the socket. It was like being attached to a paint mixer- holy crow! In the third picture you can see the canine teeth that the males develop as they get near the fresh water. All the better to fight over females I guess. I don't know if that's why they're called dog salmon or if it's because they're  the primary food that the mushers feed their dogs up north. Fortunately the cold storage is buying these fish in the round, which means we don't have to clean them, and of course with the guts and gills intact, they weigh more. Just land them, bleed them and toss them in the slush. The eggs of dog salmon are the largest of all the salmon and are desired by the Japanese, although I don't think that the younger folks have the same desire as their elders. Too much Western influence I guess. Anyway, if you're out fishing, keep your hooks sharp and your lines in the water. If you're not fishing, then I guess I feel sorry for you.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Diversity of Nature














 I took the dog down to the park yesterday so we can both get a little exercise and he gets a chance to try out a different lawn to crap in. Variety is the spice of life or so they say. He's taken to eating the little crab shells that the ravens pick up from the beach and deposit on the walkway or grass down at the park. The tidal flats are right up against the park boundaries, so they are always digging for cockles and small crabs and breaking the shells by dropping them on the pavement. I don't know what the attraction is for my dog. The crab shells are empty; maybe he just likes the crunchiness of them, kind of like pretzels. I hope he doesn't develop a taste for beer- I'm going broke just keeping him in carrots. Anyway, while we were walking, I was struck by the sheer diversity of the plant life in and around the park. Granted, some of the trees like the apple, mountain ash, red maple and  hawthornes  were planted, there is an awful lot that just grows naturally. I wish I knew the names of them all. Between the road and the water there is an abundance of some kind of beach grass, as well as several varieties of clover, a Sitka rose, and what may be a castor plant, I don't know. Down closer to the water there are several varieties of kelp or seaweed. The small yellow flowers in the forth picture grow prolifically in every lawn and garden and spread, unwanted into every nook and cranny. I've heard them called Creeping Myrtle and Marsh Marigolds, but I haven't the slightest idea what they are. I just know that they become weeds when they grow in my garden and it's a constant battle to keep them out. The daisies seem to grow freely along walkways and alleys, and I've never seen another place where the astilibe grows to such heights and in such abundance as we have here. I wish I knew for sure the names of the pine and the drooping yellow flowers that are cascading from the tree, but I don't. Much like music, I love to listen to it, but I couldn't play a note to save my life. I was just overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and kinds of plants that grow in such a small area. I didn't mention the cedars, Sitka spruce, alder, cottonwood, osher and hemlock trees, but they all make a home in the area, and I'm glad they do. My life is so much better for them all and I thank God for the chance to enjoy the beauty of His creation.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

I've Got the Maytag Blues




 To tell you the honest truth, sometimes I feel like my life is like an episode of Seinfeld, and I'm one of the characters- probably George Castanza. Even I can't believe some of the stuff that happens, and it's been going on for sixty six years!  Some time back, Jan and I decided we wanted to go down and look around in Idaho, so we elected to go in March, before the weather got good enough to work on the boat and before fishing started. We got our tickets to go to Juneau a month in advance because we wanted to take the truck over and do some shopping. In the interim, our washing machine that we had owned for over ten years decided to give up the ghost. We got a lot of good use out of it and I had no problem picking one up in Juneau while we were there, that way we'd save the freight of sending it over to Hoonah. For a few weeks we did laundry at my daughter, Jen's house. It was inconvenient, but it worked. Well, the day before we were to take the ferry over to Juneau, one of the local marine highway gals called to let me know that the ferry was broke down, and they didn't know when it would run again. Go figure. So I had to make a mad dash to the airport and hope that there was still seats available to get to Juneau. Fortunately there was- only $170.00 one way for the two of us. Lovely. So, we flew down south, forgot our troubles for a short while, and came back. We picked up a Maytag washer at Sears and made it back home. I'm not overly fond of the washing machine. It's computerized apparently, and is energy efficient, but it's kind of loud and takes a while to do the load. That is, when it worked. At the end of May, the power plant did some tests to see about some additives to make the fuel burn more efficiently. Well, something happened, and the power went off four times in one day. It just so happened that I had thrown in some laundry prior to the power going off. When it came back on, my washing machine was fried. How awesome is that? Well I found out that I have to pay up front for a new washing machine, and the insurance company for the plant will reimburse me. Hmmmmm.... So, as it happened, Sears had gone out of business in Juneau , so I had to get one from a hardware store over there. I was assured that they had the same exact  model and would send it over to me on AML, the local transport company. Only $699.00 for the washer, and another $105.00 minimum charge for freight. What choice did I have? When I went down to the ware house to pick up my washer, I discovered that they had sent the wrong one. It's not even the same brand. So, as of this moment, I'm waiting for that issue to be resolved. Meanwhile, I had to pack three baskets of laundry up the stairs to Jen's house today. Oh the joy! I decided to compose a little song about my washing machine. I don't know how to compose songs, but if ever a situation required a blues song, this is it. Imagine that someone like legendary blues singer Muddy Waters is performing it.

I had a new washer  (da dum da dum da)
But it went on the fritz (da dum da dum da)
The power plant fried it (da dum da dum da)
You know that's the S@#%S (da dum da dum da)

I got the Maytag, the Maytag washing machine blues
Yeah baby I do

I load up the laundry (da dum da dum da)
Into the truck (da dum da dum da)
This ain't no fun baby (da dum da dum da)
It's starting to suck (da dum da dum da)

I got the Maytag, the Maytag washing machine blues
You know Momma I do

I pack all that laundry (da dum da dum da)
Up Jennifer's stairs (da dum da dum da)
There's undies and shirts (da dum da dum da)
And the socks are in pairs (da dum da dum da)

I got the Maytag, the Maytag washing machine blues
Oh yes brother I do

That laundry is heavy (da dum da dum da)
Especially when wet (da dum da dum da)
But when your washer is broken da dum da dum da)
That's what you get (da dum da dum da)

I got the Maytag, the Maytag washing machine blues
Yeah Momma it's true - Oh yeah!!!!!

 So there you go. I rather doubt that it will ever make it to the top of the record charts, but the next time life turns south for you, just sing this little song and know that I fully understand what you're going through. Have a good day.