Wednesday, May 29, 2013
For a number of years Chris and Terri Budke, the pastors at our church, have thrown a party in May. It's held out behind their house on the tidal flats. Last Sunday in lieu of church we all gathered for a baptism as well as a party. Actually the two go hand in hand very well. When Sunday morning came I was wondering how it was all going to pan out. The weather didn't look very co-operative. There were clouds and it looked like rain was in store, but as afternoon approached the clouds dissipated and the sun came out and it was a gorgeous day. The time for the party was set to coincide with the high tide to allow for the baptism. On low tide the flats are devoid of water. While the air was warm, I'm fairly certain the water was pretty doggone chilly to put it mildly. Nonetheless, four people wanted to proclaim their faith publicly and opted to be baptized on the flats. Tim and Shelly Yandell, Jenny Miller and Jeremy Johnson all took the plunge, and it was just a real blessing to be a part of that experience. Of course because it was a party, there was a lot of food. Budkes supplied the hot dogs and hamburgers and drinks and every one else brought something along. Even though there were about 130 people who came and went, there was food in abundance and everyone chowed down as much as they desired and there was food left over. Holy cow, there was baked beans and potato salad, deviled eggs and coleslaw, chips and cookies and chocolate cake and all the fixings for dressing up a burger or dog. One couple even showed up with a King Salmon for the barbeque that they had caught the previous day. One industrious and artistic fellow brought this fruit bowl that he carved out of a watermelon. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a picture of it, as well as sample the contents. With all the problems confronting folks in these troubling times, it was nice to gather with friends and enjoy some great fellowship and food and support these fine people who aren't ashamed to declare their faith to the world.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Today is May 19, my daughter Jennifer's birthday. I won't bother telling you how old she is- those that know her well already know how old she is and for anyone else it doesn't really matter. In any event, it's mid- May. Even in Alaska the weather usually starts to warm up by now, but not this year. The calendar says it's spring, but nature says its only kinda spring. So far most of the leaves are still being fairly reluctant to make a full appearance, sort of like when you're standing on the side of the swimming pool dipping your foot into the water to see how cold it really is. There are a few herring showing up and the birds are in full swing doing whatever they do- hopefully eating bugs, but it's still pretty cold. Of course that doesn't keep the dandelions from sprouting. Just about every yard is displaying a sea of yellow blossoms. It looks like Dandelionville around here - a gardeners nightmare. We've had several cruise ships already and I've experienced my annual high blood pressure overload brought on by tourists walking in the middle of the street, God love 'em. As you can see from the pictures the sun made a rare appearance today, but don't be fooled by that, there was almost no heat in it. It didn't really stay out long enough to be considered a sunny day. Several times today it hailed, then rained, then the wind blew, a cold, damp, winter-like wind, then when the day is just about done and everyone has finished with all of their outdoor projects the sun made an appearance. I think it's supposed to be sunny tomorrow, which I find really odd. Almost without fail, the bad weather will strike on the weekends when most folks have a day or two off, but as soon as cruise ship day rolls around the sun's out and everything looks rosy. No doubt folks are under the impression that it's always nice here. Little do they know. There are still a large number of boats tied up in the harbor this year. There hasn't been any reports of good fishing anywhere that I've heard of. Years ago May was the premier month to go to Homeshore and catch King Salmon, but it hasn't been like that for a few years. The water has been cold for the past few years and this morning when we got up there was fresh snow on the mountains. I wish Al Gore would make an appearance here so I could pelt him with some snow balls. Mr Global Warming could probably sleep under a blanket of dollar bills that he earned from selling foolish people on his manufactured science and wouldn't feel the real climate that we're experiencing. Oh well, I always like to get a jab in on that pompous buffoon. The bottom two pictures show the mast where it belongs- on the boat. I still don't have the trolling poles put back on yet, but first things first. I had several people come by to admire the mast. Ol' John Murray did a great job. I wouldn't have gotten it on the boat at all though if I hadn't had a lot of help from Chris Budke, Brian Bitz, Arlen Skafelstad and my grandson Kristian Geise. I feel especially blessed to know so many good and caring people. Maybe they just all feel sorry for me, but that's ok, I'll take help wherever I can get it.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
If you follow this blog you'll notice that I haven't been posting quite as often as I'd like to. It's that time of year and I have to spend my time getting the boat ready. My most recent project has been an aluminum mast that I bought three or four years ago from my friend Barbie. She owns the F/V Talache, a nice double -ended troller that she purchased from my friend Buffalo Bob. Buff had the aluminum mast made to replace the wooden one that was originally on the boat. When I bought it I noticed that there were no cleats to tie the lines up and no ladder to access the mast light on top. I asked Buffalo about it when I spoke to him a few weeks ago. He said that he had just signed the papers for the boat over to Barbie and was in the process of putting her check in his billfold when the top three feet of the wooden mast broke off and fell onto the top house while they were talking on the float. He didn't feel like he could take the money with a good conscience, so he ordered a mast with only the cross tree and a place to hook up the antennas. He wasn't about to spend more than he had to on things like a ladder or cleats. Anyway, I didn't have the money to work on the mast until this year, so it sat in my daughter Jen's yard for several years. One of the local fellows here, John Murray, agreed to do the work for me, which I'm most thankful for. Finding qualified help is a real challenge in Hoonah. There are a number of people who say that they can do something and really can't, and then there are those who really can do something, but they won't, so I feel especially blessed that John is both willing and able to do the work I needed. For the past week or so I've spent a fair amount of time talking to him and I've come to find out that he is an especially fascinating man, though he would most likely brush off any such talk. The only reason I have a picture of him at all is that I caught him off guard as he was walking by. He doesn't want anyone to make a fuss over him. I've discovered in our talks that he is fiercely conservative in his political views, something that wouldn't seem to mesh with the fact that he was a college professor at the University of Fairbanks where he taught physics. One of things that I really like about John is that I can ask him a question about anything, physics for instance, which I know almost nothing about, and he will answer the question without any attitude of superiority or whatever. He doesn't look down on my ignorance, and though he claims that he wasn't a good teacher, I wish I could have sat under him in a class. I believe I would have learned a lot. He grew up in Waldport Oregon, along the coast. He was named after his father who I believe he said was named Edward. However he didn't want to be Edward Murray Jr., so when he was five he announced that he was going to change his name to John and so he became. He explained that his parents more or less gave him free reign in his life and though the name change hurt his father, he let it stand. When he graduated high school he and a friend caught a freight train up to Tacoma and then bummed a ride to Montana where he spent the summer working on the railroad, laying track and replacing the ties with the gandy dancers, a tough group of fellows to be sure. When he was twenty he worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a smoke jumper. Those are the fellows who jump out of airplanes to fight fires in remote locations. Somewhere along the line he realized that the options for a young man in Waldport were limited- either work in the woods as a logger, work in the lumber mill or go to college. He opted for college and obviously was good enough to earn a degree in physics and became a college professor. His interests and abilities are diverse. He's owned and flown three different airplanes, he was owner of a concrete company, started a company that built two dozen log homes up in the Fairbanks area in the summers when school was out, and he says when he retired at UAF he became a certified sewer inspector. He claims that all you need to know is that crap flows downhill and is thankful that he got an education that would allow him to learn that. At least one day a week he teaches karate at the school to a diverse group of kids and himself is holder of a third degree black belt. Just this past week he turned seventy five and shows no sign of slowing down. His shop out back is filled with all manner of tools, many of which he's gotten from his grandfather. There are tools I've never seen before in my life and John knows what each one is for and where he acquired it. I've been around guys who love tools, and a good many of them won't even let you touch them. That's not the case with John. He's offered the use of his shop and tools and his talents and to say that he's a darn rare gem in this day and age is an understatement. Needless to say that every time I glance at the mast when I'm out fishing I'm going to think of John Murray and hopefully pray a blessing over him, and I firmly believe that he's going to be blessed because what goes around comes around. It's the old law of sewing and reaping. Thanks a lot John.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Doing a blog post should be a fairly simple thing, and no doubt for most people it is, but keep in mind that it's me we're talking about here, so nothing comes easy. I've tried unsuccessfully for the past hour to get these pictures to download in the proper order. As you can see, they aren't arranged in a way that would make sense. I wanted the last picture to line up at about the same spacing as the previous two, but noooooo... that's not about to happen. Then when I tried to type the text, it automatically started to underline everything and all the words were in blue. I have no idea why. It's become the normal now. I don't know why it does it and I don't know what I do to make it stop, but somehow it magically does. I wish I knew what I did to make it stop so that I could do it next time, but I'm an old guy and things concerning computers don't come easily to me. Oh well. C'est la vie. I think that's French for that's life. Maybe it really means you're a bonehead and whenever someone who doesn't speak French says it, all the folks who do speak it secretly laugh. As you can see by the pictures above that what we have here is a barbeque grill. The one that I bought umpteen years ago has pretty much worn out. It was a two burner model and actually served me quite well until recently. The one pictured has four burners, which probably means that it will go through the propane twice as fast. Perhaps the makers of the grill have stock in the propane company. That would make sense- a little double dipping so to speak. I'll tell you frankly, I'm not a very handy guy. Even in grade school when the teacher would give us a project that was supposed to be fun or neat, I always managed to flub it up. If glue, scissors, pencils and papers were involved, I would somehow manage to cut the paper in the wrong place, jam the pencil through the handle in the scissors and glue the whole mess to the desk. I've never been good at following directions. It was no different trying to put together this grill. Most of the time the manufacturer of a product wants the customer to succeed in their efforts to put the product together. No one ever says, " hey, I've got an idea. Let's try the Botts method, that way never works!" I kind of knew that there was going to be trouble right from the start. I purchased the grill in Juneau and had to have some help loading it on the back of the truck. When I got home, it was snowing a blizzard and I had to get the grill off the truck so the groceries I bought wouldn't get ruined. Of course there was no one in sight to help me, so I had to unload it myself. Let me tell you, that puppy was heavy! It was so blasted big that I couldn't see where I was going with it, so I stumbled in the direction of the front porch and set it down there, knocking off a potted plant in the process. I managed to wrench my back and spent the next day hobbling around like an invalid. Sunday I spent the whole day in my easy chair with a massager that has what feels like large iron balls rotating inside. It's supposed to help, but I think I may have ended up with bruises instead. After I recovered sufficiently a few days later I tackled the grill project. The box just barely fit through the door. Then I had to unload enough parts to assemble a fifty- seven Chevy. I followed the directions as closely as I could and I still had problems. I put together and took apart one piece four times. By the time I assembled it for the last time all the screw heads were pretty well stripped and the paint that is meant to protect them was gone. Now when I set the contraption outside it will thoroughly rust and look like crap in a matter of days. Go figure. As I started to take parts out of the box, which incidentally was the size of a small garage, it quickly became apparent that I would have to separate them so I could find what I needed at the proper juncture. I ended up with parts in three different rooms. I walked over a quarter of a mile, back and forth just assembling that grill. I finally got it all put together, and I think it's done right, but I don't know yet; it's still in the living room. I suppose I should invite the Hoonah volunteer fire department over for a cook out the first time I go to light it off, just in case. I'll suggest they bring the fire trucks and come dressed ready for action. If it really works after I hook up the propane, I may send off for a life sized replica of the space shuttle, ready to assemble. After all, how much harder can it be?