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.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Second Amendment


In light of the most recent tragedy involving the slaughter of so many innocent children down in Florida, I decided to address this issue. There is probably little that I can add to the many conversations revolving around this, and what I've got to say most likely will do little to change anyone's mind. Depending on what side of the aisle you're on, you're either for or against stricter gun laws. For the extremists on the left, such as the New York Times reporter, Bret Stephens, the second amendment should be banned all together. What would that entail? Would congress pass a law requiring all gun owners to turn in their weapons?The second amendment states, A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. If congress could pass a law that would fundamentally change the constitution, why stop at the second amendment? Why not pass a law forbidding free speech? Something that apparently some liberal college campuses think would be just fine. They feel the need to protect their students from hearing anything that doesn't fit their agenda. If ideas are expressed that could inflame an individual or group and incite them to commit violent acts, let's not let them speak! How would that work? Why stop there? Any of the rights that are guaranteed by the constitution that we find offensive or outdated maybe we should do away with.  I'm not without feelings of sorrow for the family members and friends of the kids who were gunned down in Parkland. They were murdered in an act of senseless violence, and I hate that it happened. Their young lives were snuffed out before they ever got a chance to reach their potential. The fact is, we can't regulate evil. We can try. We can put more rules on the books regarding gun ownership or back round checks or bump stocks or automatic weapons, but unfortunately that won't stop those who have an agenda. They'll make a bomb or drive a truck into a crowd or swing a machete or something. Some years back I saw a bumper sticker, probably endorsed or even created by the NRA. It happens to be a slogan that I agree with. It said- When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Guns. I believe that's true. Criminals don't care about the law. I've mentioned on more than few occasions on this blog about the law of sewing and reaping. Sometimes it takes a tragedy to bring home an idea- we're a hard headed people. I don't believe we have a gun problem in this country, we have a morals problem. We have a problem with a righteous God.I think if we would return to the foundation that was established with the passing down of the  ten commandments, we wouldn't be dealing with gun violence or terrorism, or spousal abuse, or poverty or corrupt politicians. The fact is, we can change the direction of this country if we want to, but it won't be through passing another gun law.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Power of Music



 It's once again time for the Winter Olympics. Personally, they don't do much for me. I'm not much of a sports fan, although I did enjoy watching the Super Bowl this time. Usually I just tune in for the commercials, but this time the game was more interesting than the advertisements. For me, the best part of the Olympics is the theme song. I like it so well that I downloaded it last night. I was kind of hoping that it would be a little longer than it is. Unfortunately, the whole song only last 59 seconds- not even a full minute- what a bummer. It is quite stirring though. I think that businesses should adapt if for their employees. Can you imagine how it would make you feel to step through the door of your workplace and have the Olympic Theme play? It would convey the fact that the company you worked for felt like you were a super star, and it would make no difference  if you were the CEO or the janitor, all the employees would be given that same rock star treatment. It would be even better if when you punched in at the time clock, your arrival would be announced throughout the building, and then the song would start. Of course, if you're in the habit of being late, you probably wouldn't care to have your name blasted through the public address system, but at the same time, it could perhaps serve as a deterrent to tardiness. Music is really handy for all sorts of situations. Do you remember the music from the World War II movie, Bridge on the River Kwai? Perhaps not, unless you're from my generation. Anyway, it's called the Colonel Bogey March. Regardless of the name, the movie didn't star Humphrey Bogart. It's also a pretty stirring song. I was brushing my teeth this morning listening to it and discovered that my arm was moving like a drive piston on a steam locomotive at high speed. Needless to say, my teeth were highly polished after a few minutes of Colonel Bogey. I was listening to it while I was walking on the treadmill also, and almost walked the tread right off. I listened while I was out shoveling this morning and got done in record time; however, I did  discover that some situations are better handled at a slower pace. It's really not a good idea to go out and clean up after your dog while the adrenaline is flowing. I was flinging poop through the air like an acrobat at the Circ Du Soleil. I might add that listening to stimulating music shortly before you hit the sack probably isn't conducive to a good nights sleep. If you're anything like me, the song will play in a continuous loop in your mind for half the night, thus robbing you of the rest you may desperately desire. Not to worry though, no problemo. I have volumes  of Celtic music songs that are totally relaxing, as well as other soft sounds to lull a person to sleep. The problem with playing them when I'm in bed though is that I want to hear the songs and will force myself to stay awake so that I can, thus defeating the purpose. I suppose there is music to cover almost any situation that you find yourself in, from falling in love to digging ditches; from praising God to the end of life. Speaking of which, I'm somewhat undecided what kind of music I'd like at my memorial service, assuming I have one. I kind of like the sound of Amazing Grace done by bagpipes, but there's also the country song Amazing Grace (used to be her favorite song) by the Amazing Rythm Aces which is pretty bouncy and kind of funny. I think I'd like my memorial service to be both sad and happy. I don't think I'd like people to be crying through the whole thing, but I wouldn't mind a few tears, so I might include Yanni's song to his mother- Felitza. On the other hand I don't think I want them two-stepping through the funeral parlor, so there probably wouldn't be anything like Rodney Carrington's Dancing With A Man. Frankly, I do rather like the idea of everyone lining up at the end of the service and exiting smartly out of the building to the sound of Colonel Bogey's March. I think it would be a fitting end to a fine life. I guess I'll have to see what I can do to make that happen. Meanwhile, whether you're sitting at the bar and drowning your sorrows in a glass of beer or driving down the road with your sweetheart, I hope you turn on some music and enjoy.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Those Were the Days


  I was planning on doing a blog post about taxes. I have a picture of all the papers and files and envelopes scattered all over the table, with a calculator and yellow legal pad, but I thought- how entertaining would that be? No doubt it would be a nice challenge to see how I could make it interesting, and maybe before the month is out, I'll do a post on that, just not today. I was looking through some photographs the other day, and ran across this one. It's a picture of my wife Jan. She's standing on the White Street Pier down in Key West, back around 1973 or so. It looks like she's using a fiberglass rod with a Zebco 33 reel. Not exactly made for saltwater, which is what we were surrounded by. Even the golf course pond was saltwater. I caught a twelve pound tarpon in it on a live shrimp. I was fishing with my division petty officer, who was considered a golf pro, so they let us fish in it. Jan and I spent many an evening fishing off the pier. I don't believe we ever caught too much, a few small Grunts or the occasional Needlefish. There was a hole in the corner of the pier that a Morray Eel had decided to make his home. I spent more than a few hours trying to catch him. Lord knows what I would have done if I did. He probably would have latched on to me and I'd be missing some limb or another. We had a green Ford Pinto back then, the only new car we've ever owned. Actually,Jan bought it before we were married. Gas was about 29 cents a gallon at the time which was good, because we couldn't have afforded to buy any otherwise. Our entertainment was to go fishing almost every night. If it was payday we might splurge and buy ourselves a soft serve ice cream cone. We were living in an old Conch house that was divided into four apartments. An old lady by the name of Mrs. Segal owned it, and we rented it for $82.50 a month. It had a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living room, which was painted brilliant chartreuse with tan trim. When Jan first saw the apartment she started crying. I felt  terrible, but what could I do? I think part of it was because she was so far away from her family and part of it was moving into an old house that hippies had occupied previously. I guess there must have been a couch in there, though I don't recall. What I do remember is that there was an old wooden desk that had been painted white, and green I believe, and it was full of termites. Every morning when we came into the living room there was a neat little pile of sawdust by one of the legs. We'd sweep it up and by morning there would be a fresh pile. At night we'd watch shows on cable that the last tenants had installed. We never paid for it, and when a cable guy came down from Miami and asked Jan if it was hooked up she lied and said no, and he left. We used to lay in bed and  shut off the lights and could see the termites from the head board flying in front of the TV. We could hear them munching too. It was bothersome, but it wasn't our furniture, and there weren't too many other places to rent that we could afford so we put up with it. We ended up painting the kitchen yellow, and the living room a mint green, and added some sheet rock to the bathroom walls to keep the breeze from passing through the cracks. It could feel chilly when we were wet from the bath. The bathroom itself was an add on. Originally it had been part of a porch that ran the entire perimeter of the upstairs. The floor was slanted so that rain wouldn't settle on it.When you were in the tub, one side had eight or ten inches of water, and the other had two. We had a resident gecko that hung around the kitchen; a cute little green thing, kind of like the one from the Geico commercial.  Sometimes I'd see him climbing the screen or walking down the wall. I was always afraid our Siamese cat, Fred, would get it, but to the best of my knowledge, that never happened. Across the street was the Kleen Wash Laundry. It runs in my mind it was all open with just a roof covering everything, no walls that I recall. There was a pay phone under the awning and every Sunday night Jan would call her mom. One night some creep was walking around trying to expose himself to Jan while she was on the phone. She just kept walking in a circle and he followed her hoping she'd get a peek. I must have been on watch down at the ship, or out to sea, I don't recall. Isn't it funny the memories that a picture can stir up? I guess that's why we take pictures, so that some day forty some years later you can run across it and remember the way it used to be. I hope that the memories you have of days gone by are pleasant, and that the memories you're making now will be as well.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Spaghetti Mask


    You know, we have all been blessed with different talents. Some folks are really good at mechanics, some folks are excellent seamstresses, or they have a flair for writing or building things or they're mathematicians, or whatever. The fact is, I'm not very good at any of the above. I'm here to confess that I'm not even good at the simple art of eating spaghetti. We happened to have some earlier in the week. Nothing fancy, but it sure hit the spot. Fortunately I wasn't sitting in front of a mirror while I consumed my meal, or supper might have been brought to a sudden standstill. I could tell as I was enjoying this fine cuisine that I was slopping it all over my face. It didn't matter that I tried to wind it around the fork or eat slowly, or only put a few strands of spaghetti on the fork at one time, kind of like stringing those silver icicles on a Christmas tree, I could feel the sauce splashing on the side of my face and clogging my mustache with every forkful that I took. My fears were confirmed when I ran a napkin across my mug and it came back wet with sauce. It didn't help any that when I looked at Jan there wasn't a sliver of evidence that a drop of sauce had been any where near her. It was somewhat embarrassing to acknowledge that at the ripe old age of 65, I still hadn't mastered the art of eating spaghetti. It was while I was in the process of borrowing Jan's napkin, since mine had been rendered utterly useless, that I got the brilliant idea of inventing the Botts Spaghetti Mask. Perhaps I could jiggle the name a little and call it the Bottelli Spaghetti Mask, kind of make it sound Italian. Anyway, I was thinking that the mask would be a simple affair, made out of the same material as a good quality paper towel. It would have pre-cut holes for the eyes and a reinforced cut out for the mouth with a cheap rubber band strap like the kind that hold on a Halloween mask. When its time to sit down to a nice Italian dinner, don your disposable mask and have at it. No more fear of showing up at a PTA meeting with orange stripes or smudges splashed across your face because you rushed out of the house before you did a quick check in the mirror. I suppose the spaghetti mask would work for sloppy joes, some Chinese foods and for those folks who had been to the dentist and were still feeling the effects of Novocaine, but were too hungry to wait for it to wear off. They would come packaged like a box of Kleenex, with fifty or so to a box. Of course they couldn't be one size fits all. There would probably have to be a Kids size, a normal Adult size, and for those folks who really enjoy their food, the Rotund size. I think I may have stumbled on to something here. We were having dinner tonight at our friends, the Budkes, and I mentioned my idea. He was astonished that I wasn't rich already with ideas like the Spaghetti Mask. It just so happened that we were eating tacos, which for me, and I'm sure others around the world, are also a rather challenging food. Inevitably, whether utilizing the soft flour tortilla or the hard corn shell, the contents spill out of the taco and on to your clothes, or if you're lucky, the plate. It was while I was wrestling with my soft taco that I had the brilliant idea of the edible taco pin. It would be like a clothespin for tacos. You fill your shell full of your favorite delights, fold the taco together, clamp on the pin and eat to your heart's content. No more embarrassing spills all over your hosts linen tablecloth.I need to give it a little more thought though. I haven't come up with an edible material that would be springy enough to hold the taco together yet, but I will. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Who Mentioned You?





  It seems that there is never a lack of material to draw on here in the Botts household.  We've been blessed with a grand sense of humor and we make use of it often. Of course that same humor means that on occasion we have to make fun of each other when the situation warrants it. I believe I've covered this topic before, but I will refresh your memory. One night while visiting his older sister Jen, my son Ben looked up and saw her slouched in  a kitchen chair wearing a shirt that said "Who mentioned you?" He was somewhat perplexed by such a rude remark and thought it was out of character for Jen so  he confronted her. She had no idea what he was speaking of until she looked down at her shirt and realized it was something that she had received from the Big Brother's /Big Sister's organization. Not exactly the kind of  welcoming message you want to portray to needy children. With that mindset, why not have a shirt that says " Who invited you?" or "Who cares what you say?" Fortunately, what the shirt actually said was "Who mentored you?" That makes a lot more sense, but it's not nearly as funny. It became a kind of family joke, and to say the least, I was pleasantly surprised when one of the gifts I received this year was a "Who mentioned you?" t-shirt from my daughter Autumn. That's her in the bottom picture with the sweatshirt that says "Cold air,don't care". She was modeling a pair of leggings, showing me how stretchy they are.I don't understand the whole leggings thing. Aren't they just extra stretchy pajama bottoms? Is it just an excuse to wear your PJ"s out in public? I guess people don't really need an excuse to do that now, because in today's society, apparently it's acceptable to wear the same duds you went to bed with to the store or the post office. It doesn't set well with me, but I guess I'm old fashioned.I suppose that there could be an upside to wearing leggings.I'm not sure what it would be, but what do I know? They don't make leggings for men do they? Lordy, I hope not. I don't want to see a set of those things balled up in my Christmas stocking. For now I'm content to wear Carhartts or blue jeans and an extra large t-shirt that insults the viewer.