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.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The End of the Day







  For all intents and purposes, summer has arrived in Hoonah. School is out, the leaves on all the trees have finally shown, the flowers on the salmon berry bushes are blooming, as are the Forget Me Not's. The hummingbirds have made there way  here on their annual migration north, and while the bugs haven't hatched yet, the tourists certainly have. They've arrived en-mass on the cruise ships, crowding the streets, hopping on buses and taking pictures of whatever they find photo worthy, which apparently is almost everything. After a two week stint of rainy, mostly normal weather for Southeast, we've gotten a break and the sun has been out for the past few days. It always amazes me that we can go from needing a jacket to wishing that running around nude was an acceptable practice here, all in the course of a single day. When the sun  comes out this time of year, it can be intense. Of course sunny days mean beautiful sunsets, and as of late we've had some great ones. I went out the other night to get a few pictures. The cruise ship was gone, and it had taken all the tourists with them. The buses and vans were parked at the cannery, the zodiacs and whale watch boats were tied to the dock, the kayaks were pulled up past the high tide line on the beach and all was quiet in Hoonah. Like shy little creatures of the night the local residents started coming out of their homes and going out to Shaman's Point near the cannery to watch the sunset. Cars were parked like they were at a drive-in  movie. There were more than a few cameras present as we all enjoyed the majesty of God's handiwork. As the sun started to drop behind the mountains, the temperature started to cool and the fish ducks that nest in the rocks by the tunnel circled around and found their favorite spot while the herons made their way down to the water to do a little fishing. With the setting of the sun there is a sense of peace that settles on the town and everyone seems to be content. At least for the rest of the night the hustle and bustle of the day is over and quiet can reign again.

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.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Scouting Around









  Jan and I took a little trip down to the lower 48 last week. We were on the lookout for a new place to call home. The trip didn't start off all that great. After checking out the ferry schedule, and coordinating the with doctor's office to see that we could get appointments around the ferry, and making arrangements for a flight on Alaska airlines that would require the least amount of down time, I got a call from one of the attendants at the local Alaska Marine Highway office the day before we were to leave,  informing me that the ferry was broken down (again) and they weren't sure when it would be up and running again. Frankly, I wasn't shocked at the news, but I was really angry. I needed my car in Juneau when we returned from down south so we could run around to the doctors and shop at Costco and Fred Meyers and load up. The potential savings on groceries alone is enough to offset the almost $300.00 it cost to take the truck to Juneau round trip. However, it didn't appear that that was going to happen, so I had to beat feet out to the airport and hope we could get a flight the next day. There is never a guarantee that there will be any flights on any given day in Southeast Alaska. Especially in the winter months. As it was, the weather cooperated and we were able to get one way tickets for the rather hefty price of $170.00. That's with a twenty dollar discount for booking on line. It's about a twenty minute flight, so that's a little over $4.00 a minute each to go over. At least they were running as opposed to the ferry. The ship that broke down, the Leconte, is the same one we came to Hoonah on back in 1976. I hesitate to think of the hundreds of thousands of hours that its logged in its long career. It really should have been replaced at least ten years ago, but unfortunately it wasn't, so breakdowns are the normal now. The only two ways to reach Hoonah from Juneau are by airplane or boat, and since Juneau is landlocked the only way out is the same. I don't know how many trips we've made south in the forty two years we've lived here. A few, and they all involve lots of planning and money and more than a little good luck to carry out. It's things like the difficulty and expense of getting out of here that have kind of cemented the idea that we need to leave. The closest hospital is in Juneau, as is my doctor and dentist and bank and tax accountant. Because everything has to be barged in, the cost of every day items are high. The last time I got gas in town it was over $3.50 a gallon. Milk is over $6.00 a gallon. There are no plumbers or electricians or barbers in town, although there are folks who can perform those duties on a limited basis. For years I've tolerated these things because the fishing has been good and the scenery is hard to beat. Most of the folks I know are friendly, I've felt safe and it was a good place to raise the kids. Now my youngest is in his mid thirties, and the tourism industry has flooded the town every summer with folks gawking and crowding the streets. The harbor gets full of whale watch and charter boats and I have to work harder to find a spot to fish. I've been spoiled by what used to be a fairly isolated existence. All things change with time though, for better or worse- it seems like change is usually for the worse. Anyway, if I have to put up with a lot of people, I'd like to have the option of at least getting in the car and seeing something different. We flew in to Boise and took a trip west to Sequim and Port Angeles Washington. We have friends there. We covered a lot of beautiful country, most of which I couldn't get a picture of because I forgot to take the charger for the camera battery-go figure. Anyway it was a fun trip. We had a good time, ate some good food, saw some awesome scenery, talked to some great folks, slept in some so-so beds and spent a bundle of money. The bottom line is, we're on the lookout for our next home, one where we can drive to the hospital or take a car to see the grandkids or go on a week end road trip. It won't happen right away, but we have to start somewhere. I'll keep you posted as time goes on.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

What The Heck is That?



 I was poking around on the Internet one evening and started looking at space; in particular nebulae. I find them fascinating. I really wish I had paid more attention to my science classes in school, but I was too caught up in daydreams and fantasies to be a good student.My eighth grade science teacher was also a model, so it was hard to pay attention to the science stuff.  If only I could go back and do it again, but I can't. Anyway, I guess I must have signed up for something. I started getting pictures of nebula and other space shots; then telescopes and observatories and all kinds of other things that I wasn't all that interested in. Usually I just delete them and carry on, but today when I turned on the computer, there was this thing. I wasn't really sure if it was an Internet trick or what, but after doing a little research, I found out that it's quite real. This particular picture is compliments of Live Science. The above life form is a tardigrade or waterbear. Apparently a new species of tardigrade was found in a parking lot in Japan on some moss that was growing on a building there. From what I can gather, these things are very small, less than a millimeter in length, and they are quite tough. Much tougher than human beings. They have the ability to develop a cryptobiotic state, which as I understand means they can shed their skin and all of the liquid in their bodies and basically shut down until the conditions are more favorable to life. They have been found in hot springs and under layers of solid ice and can endure temperature extremes from minus 328 degrees F  to 303 degrees F. They aren't indestructible, according to one scientist. They could die if exposed to the water in your shower, but if they had time to get into a cryptobiotic state, they would be much harder to kill. They were even sent to outer space and endured the cold and radiation of that environment. They're quite a fascinating creature, and the one in the picture looks almost cuddly. I really don't know too much more about them. I'm not sure what purpose they serve, if they are good or bad for mankind, but no doubt they have been around for quite some time, and as tough as they sound, they'll be around long after we're gone. When I see things like this, I start to get the smallest glimpse of how fantastic this world is that we live in, and the wisdom of God to create it all is well beyond my comprehension. I hope you'll take a moment to reflect on all that is seen as well as unseen in this universe, and thank God for showing us the wonder of it all.