Blog Archive

Thursday, December 27, 2018

A Night at The Beach

Digging on the mud flats for crabs

Success- five Dungenss Crabs ready to cook


Star fish

A Sun Star

Star fish on the beach
Sea Cucumber

A Horse Clam
 When most people talk of going to the beach, there are visions of warm water, bikini clad beauties, sand, surf, wading in the water and swimming. I decided to join my family members the other night and we didn't experience any of the above. Instead we faced snow, wet boots, mud flats and exercise with clam rakes. On December 23 and 24 of this year, we were blessed with unusually high tides. As I've mentioned on this blog before, really high tides create really low tides about six hours later. It seems that the lowest tides are usually in the evening, as was the case the other day. Both nights experienced a minus 4 foot tide. When that happens, all the areas that would usually be covered by water are exposed, and it's the prime time for going beach combing, looking for clams, cockles, or Dungeness crabs. I have never picked up crabs off the beach before, so it was a new experience for me. On the 23rd, several members of my family and myself donned some head lamps and grabbed a flashlight and braved the elements in search of the elusive Dungeness crab. Most people just use crab pots to catch them, and there are an abundance of them on the flats behind Pitt Island. However,since I don't have a crab pot, and I didn't want to borrow one, and I had heard that you could pull them from the shallow mud on the flats behind the breakwater, and I like to scavenge anyway, we decided to give it a try. A wet, miserable, slushy snow was blowing sideways as we waded our way across a shallow but very swift running creek, trying to see where to place our next step so as to not let the water top our boots. Fortunately, once we crossed the creek, the mud flats were semi- solid so we didn't sink down too far with each step. There were several other folks out on the flats wearing head lamps or using Coleman lanterns to shed some light in the area where they were digging cockles. Personally I don't care for either cockles or clams, although I do like digging for them. I love to find things.  Anyway, a friend of ours showed us how to spot the areas where the crabs were hiding just under the surface of the mud. We searched a lot, and did a fair amount of digging, but we finally managed to find five legal crabs- just enough for Christmas Eve crab melts at my daughter Jen's annual Shoe Box Dinner. We took our catch home and cleaned it, then my daughters Jen and Autumn shucked it and put it in the fridge until Christmas Eve. On the 24th, after a delightful dinner, we headed down to the cannery to look for lead. Years ago there was a storage building for the seine nets down on the beach that burned down, so all the lead weights ended up on the beach. Over the years, the wind and waves buried some of it, where it's easy to find with a metal detector. It's lots of fun, and you never know what else you might dig up. That particular night, I guess because the tide was out so far, there were a number of sea cucumbers down at the water's edge, as well as countless star fish and sea stars. My son-in-law also managed to dig up several horse clams. They're pretty impressive. I suppose one or two could feed a family. Of course you wouldn't want to eat them off of that particular beach. After an hour or so, the headlamps started dimming and the tide turned and started to flood back in. We picked up about 1/2 a coffee can full of lead, as well as finding a brass ring, and what looks like a brass handle for a small shovel. All in all, it was a fun, productive two nights that set the tone for a delightful Christmas day. I hope that all of you enjoyed time with your family and friends and that you'll stay safe during the upcoming New Years Eve. God bless!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Blang







    Years ago, after I had grown up and gone, my parents moved to Florida. Dad loved the warmer weather, and unlike Ohio at the time, there was a building boom going on. In addition, my brother and his family lived there. It was a win-win situation. For reasons I'm not sure of, my folks ended up taking over the care of my brother's dachshund. Perhaps my brother felt that they needed a dog in their lives, so he gave up ownership of his dog Oscar. Oscar Meyer, which was a fitting name since he was a wiener dog. Like many animals, dogs like a routine. At a given time every night, Oscar wanted to go to bed. I"m not sure why, but my folks kept his bed in a coat closet. What was even more bizarre was the Oscar insisted on being wrapped up tight in his blanket. When it was time to go to bed, my Mom would say "OK Oscar- go get your "blang". So he dutifully grabbed his blanket, and they wrapped him up tight and laid  him in his bed and there he would stay until morning, when he would fight his way out of his "blang." It was quite entertaining to watch. Frankly, I would have had a panic attack if I had been wrapped up like that. I can't even stand to have my sheets tucked in under the mattress.  A few weeks back, I did a post on my Luster Loft blanket, from the American Blanket Company. It's by far the softest,  most comfortable blanket I've ever had the pleasure of sleeping under. I had told my friend Mark Smith, the postmaster,about it and as I had mentioned in the previous post, when my "blang" arrived, we opened up the box and both of us had our arms shoved in between the folds of the blanket up to our elbows. He talked about buying one, but never did, at least not until he acquired a girlfriend. We had spoken to her about my blanket in glowing terms, so when they came to Thanksgiving dinner, I let them come in and fondle my Luster Loft . Actually I had some reservations about letting Mark in to run his hands over my blanket again. I didn't want him developing an unhealthy attachment to it. However, after he'd experienced the luxury of that fleece delight, he decided he had to have one of his own. He ordered the evergreen and for an extra ten bucks had -The Blang, hash tag-Be Somebody-embroidered on it. He waited with baited breath for it come and when it did, he called me so that I could witness the revealing of his own blanket. As the pictures above depict, there was great anticipation and excitement when it was finally released from the box. As I've mentioned before, it's so soft and luxurious, it's almost sensual. Mark initially was going to use it as a throw blanket on the back of his love seat, but upon further consideration decided that the couch wasn't worthy of such a fine blanket and ended up ordering a new love seat so as not to taint his wonderful new cover. While he's waiting for the couch to arrive, he's using the "blang" as a throw blanket to ward off the cold while he and his girlfriend sit outside on the porch sipping hot chocolate and watch the sun setting over the mountains. Like myself, he's delighted with his purchase and I know that he's purchased several other items. His girlfriend, Sarah was also impressed with the quality and ordered a throw blanket for her mom from American Blanket Company. They both had an opportunity to speak to the Blanket Lady - Ari, and like me were delighted with her. The bottom line is, if you want to give a great gift, or if you just want to spoil yourself a little, give the Blanket Lady a call. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

I'm Your Right Hand Man



When I was a kid, winter was always a challenge for me. I didn't like cold weather, and Ohio in the winter was quite cold and frequently snowy. Like any kid, I wanted to be out with my friends though, throwing snow balls, sledding, building snow forts and whatnot. There was one closet downstairs for the whole family to share, and into that closet was crammed as many coats, hats, snow suits, gloves and mittens as possible. Every year for Christmas I was given a pair of gloves. By December 26th I had usually managed to lose at least one. No matter how diligently I searched the closet floor or shelf, I could never come up with a glove to match it's mate. On more than a few occasions I went out with mis-matched gloves. I don't recall now, but I may have had to settle for a glove on one hand and a sock on the other. Socks were notorious for getting lost too. Gloves and socks are probably part of the same genus- Clothingus Disappearus. Well, obviously I'm not a little kid anymore, and surprisingly I'm able to wear the same pair of gloves from one season to the next. However, I'm still having a problem with mis-matched gloves. More accurately, I'm sorely lacking in left handed gloves. All of the gloves pictured above are for my right hand. I didn't lose their mates, I cut them on the teeth of the fish that I clean. If I were ambidextrous I could switch hands and hold the fish in my right hand, thus giving me an equal number of both right and left gloves that were cut and I could throw away both. For some reason there is a flaw in my thinking that I can't seem to overcome. I have no problem throwing out the left  hand gloves that are cut- they're useless for keeping my hands dry. But the right hand ones are still fine, so I hang on to them. It doesn't seem to matter that there is no mate for them, they're still good. Why throw out something that is still useful? Years ago when my friend Buffalo Bob was fishing, we were able to help each other out. He's a southpaw and was always cutting his right glove. When we came to town we would get together and exchange gloves. It was a great system for both of us. I guess I'm going to have to break down and put a note on the bulletin board in the harbor this spring and see if I can find a lefty that wants to do a trade. My odds aren't good though. According to some research I saw, only about ten percent of the population is left handed. It also stated that lefties have a higher rate of psychosis. For those with mood disorders like depression or bi-polar disease, they were about average, at 11%, but in people with psychosis like schizophrenia, the number was closer to 40%. Holy cats! Maybe I could just walk the docks and casually strike up a conversation with my fellow fishermen and slowly bring up the subject of gloves and whether or not they're more inclined to clean their fish with their right or left hands. I wouldn't want to get on the bad side of some schizophrenic southpaw.Maybe I should write to the good folks at the Vinylove Glove Company and see if they can't start selling just left handed gloves for all us right handed fishermen. It might open up a whole new market. Perhaps I could recycle them as antennae devices for your car. Fill them full of Styrofoam, seal the bottom and stamp friendly sayings on them like Have a Nice Day!, or Pleased to Meet You. I could market them under the name Howdy's! On the other hand, I could just fill the middle finger with Styrofoam and have less cordial remarks like Get Lost! or Out of My Way! They might be big sellers in high traffic areas like L.A.  Either way the gloves wouldn't be going to waste. It's a win- win situation. I'm open to any other constructive ideas- just don't expect me to pay for them.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

No Earthquakes Here








   



   It's hard to imagine when looking at these tranquil pictures, that a very different scenario was playing out some 546 miles away. Anchorage of course was hit with a pretty strong earthquake several days ago- a 7.0 . My daughter, Autumn called that morning shortly after it happened, around 8;30 in the morning. She was working in a cafe in Palmer when it started and mentioned that things were falling off the walls and something fell down and hit a glass table top which shattered. Everyone rushed out into the streets and hoped for the best. Back in 1964 a magnitude 9.2 quake hit Anchorage with the loss of over 130 lives. I heard that the ground dropped over eight feet in places during that one.  When I spoke to Autumn, she was still pretty shaken up, and rightfully so. You never know if that's the worst of it or if there is more to come. Unfortunately there are aftershocks that can go on for some time. The USGS mentioned that in the next week or so you can reasonably expect anywhere from 84 to 610 aftershocks of magnitude 3 or above. Needless to say, sleep can be hard to come by when you're not sure if the ceiling is going to collapse on top of you or your bed will end up on the ground floor during the night. Fortunately, there were no deaths related to the quake, and I haven't even heard of anyone injured, although I'm not up  there so I'm not on top of it all. I found it somewhat interesting that the Anchorage Daily News ran an article about who to really thank that there weren't any deaths compared to earthquakes around the world. While I acknowledge that building practices in Anchorage have greatly improved since the 1964 quake, I suspect that God in all His mercy played an even bigger part in the fact that the loss of life was non-existent. Autumn's home sustained mild damage,mainly broken glass wear and a heavy dresser that had been turned over. No gas or water leaks though, and the electricity was back on in a matter of hours, which was really fortunate, as the temps were in the twenties and without heat, the water lines would eventually freeze and burst. I mentioned to her to video tape the damage or at least get pictures for insurance purposes. Her friend Molly didn't fare as well. There was damage to the sheet rock and extensive damage inside the house with broken mirrors, dishes, glasses, pictures, plants knocked over and more. I saw a notice from the city of Anchorage asking that people put off taking their broken items to the dump for a day or two to keep from overwhelming the business. I watched the news on Friday night and saw a lot of cars on the highway trying to return home from work in Anchorage, which required a lot of patience as the roads in some places were severely damaged. I saw long lines of people in the supermarkets trying to buy bread, water, milk and other items. It was a reminder to keep a supply of non perishable food on hand in case of emergencies, as well as bottled water. We never know when an emergency might happen, whether fire, flood,earthquake or some other disaster, and having the necessary means to deal with the every day needs can alleviate a lot of stress. It certainly doesn't hurt to make sure your car is at least half full of gas, that you have an adequate supply of any meds you might take and plenty of working flashlights or candles. I'm just so thankful that there was no loss of life. God knows it could have turned out different.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Inspector





  Well, Thanksgiving 2018 has come and gone. I hope yours was pleasant. If you were one of the tens of millions of Americans who took to the roads and skies this year, I pray that you made it home safe and that the trip was worth the expense and hassle. I, for one, have no desire to travel more than two or three blocks for a holiday dinner, and for as long as I can remember, haven't gone much more than ten feet; from my easy chair to my spot at the table for a Thanksgiving meal. I do miss having all the kids sitting around the table during the holidays, spilling their milk, hiding the stuffing under their plates and arguing about whose turn it was to do the dishes. Ahh, the good ol' days. This year we only had my oldest daughter Jen for dinner, but we were blessed to have five friends share our meal. I like to have a table full of folks for the holidays. For reasons I can't fathom, Jen finds the word pickle to be rather hilarious, so at the appearance of the relish tray there was a round of laughter and a discussion ensued about different words and their origins. As for pickles, I don't find them all that funny, but I do find them tasty.  I believe it was last year, or perhaps two years ago when I went on a walk to the cannery with a chicken hat on my head. It's a classic. More than a few people honked the horn and waved. Some folks just stared, probably wondering what kind of buffoon would openly waltz around in public looking so ridiculous. This year, someone, I don't know who but I have my suspicions, managed to find a turkey hat. I'm sure some mad hatter in China is laughing all the way to the bank. Oh well. I like Thanksgiving, in part because I really like good food. However, after raising seven children, we can't seem to get the part about cooking less under our belts. I believe we had an eighteen pound turkey this year, which meant we had about fourteen pounds left after the meal.I was really counting on my friend Mark to make more of a dent in the ample supply of food that had been prepared, but I think we were either the third or fourth dinner that he and his girlfriend  attended and at his last dinner, there were nine different pies, which he sampled from.Fortunately they came by the next day and we were able to pawn some of our excess off,  but  I've still had four or five meals of turkey sandwiches, and I believe tomorrow the fare will be the same. We finally managed to wipe out the green bean casserole and the last of the pumpkin pie last night. For breakfast I finished off the final piece of apple pie. Today at lunch the cranberry sauce, jello salad, sweet potatoes, gravy and broccoli salad made their last appearance. Our dog, Rigby checked out the fridge to make sure we weren't hiding any fugitive foods that he would have to take possession of. He was a total nuisance on Thursday, barking and whining and making demands. Jan finally had enough and he was banished to his cage upstairs for the remainder of the meal. He still managed to get more than his fair share of turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy though, so I didn't feel too bad for him. I kept hoping that the tryptophan  in the turkey he managed to wrangle from me would put him to sleep, but I found out later that that is just a myth. However, had I given him more stuffing or yams, it would have helped send him to bed early. Oh well, maybe next year.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Goblin FIngers





 Halloween has come and gone, and we're just a few days away from the next major holiday- Thanksgiving, yet somehow, the local store is a holiday behind. I went to the produce section the other day to pick up something for salad and came across these gems. They're called Buddha's Hand, or Goblin Fingers, for a very good reason. For the life of me, I've never seen anything like it before. The scientific name for this fruit is Citrus Medica Var Sarcodactylis.  Kind of sounds like a disease. As you can see, it's easier to ask for Goblin Fingers if that's what you want. Apparently they're only available for a short time of the year; fortunately that time corresponds with Halloween. I read up on them little bit because I wanted to know what the heck they could be used for, aside from scaring the masks off of little kids when they knock on your door wanting candy. This fruit is also known sometimes as Fingered Citron. It's a member of the Citron family and is used in place of lemon rind for candy and cakes. It can also be ground up and mixed with oils for a type of aromatic scent in your home. Apparently there is little to no juice or pulp, it's almost all rind. It's believed to have been transported to China from India hundreds of years ago. In China it's known as Fo-Shou, in Japan, Bushukan, and of course here it's Goblin Fingers. Not without good reason I might add. It is offered in temples in the Far East  because it is believed to symbolize happiness, good fortune and longevity. Whatever turns your crank. Folks believe a lot of different things. According to the web site Organic Facts, there are health benefits to Buddha's Hand, including pain relief, treatment of respiratory issues, reduces gastrointestinal issues, eliminates menstrual  discomfort, boosts immunity and lowers blood pressure. All that and you can grind it up and put on your cheese cake -- Woo Hoo! Anyway, I found it intriguing that such an exotic fruit would find it's way to our little produce section in remote Hoonah Alaska, and felt like I had to write about it. It's a big world out there. I'm sure that there are things that would boggle the mind and terrify the bold if we knew what was living in someones back yard. In any event, next year I may have to try some of this Fo Shou on a cheese cake and see if it cures what ails me. At the very least it's a conversation piece.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Thanks to All Our Vets!




I would like to extend a hearty THANK YOU to all of our vets across the country and around the world, wherever they may be. Unfortunately there are still wars and hot spots across the globe that require sending our troops into harms way. In other cases, the various branches of the military are stationed where they need to be to be able to respond to conflicts if they should arise. In some instances, military equipment, as well as men and women are utilized to respond to natural disasters. These men and women don't have a say in where and when they'll serve. Once they sign on the dotted line they become government property and serve at the pleasure of those in charge, regardless of their political affiliation. All too often, the spouses and children of these service men and women are forgotten, and yet they bear the brunt of keeping the household running smoothly. I can only imagine how hard it is for a wife to have to keep up a brave face for the kids while she worries about her husband's well being. They have to deal with the loneliness and stress. So I would like to also thank all the spouses who wait for the return of their loved ones, who endure the long days and nights alone. I hope that as a nation we can lift up all the military families in prayer and ask for God Almighty's hand of protection, peace and prosperity on them all. I looked on History.com  and printed out a few facts on veterans today.

16.1 million living veterans served during at least one war
2 million veterans are women
7 million veterans served during the Vietnam War
5.5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War
Of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, 558,000 are still alive
As of 2014, three states have more than one million veterans- California (1.8 million) Florida (1.6 million) and Texas (1.7 million). Though I don't have the statistics, it runs in my mind that here in Alaska we have the largest vet population per capita of all the states.

I know that there are a number of businesses that are honoring vets with a free meal today, and I greatly appreciate the offer. We're free to conduct business and carry on with our lives because others have paid or are paying the price for our freedom. I hope that the citizens of this country will check out ways to help our vets. There are several organizations whose purpose is to work for the well being of vets. Several come to mind right away - the DAV, Disabled American Vets works to help those who have suffered a loss as the result of combat. Samaritan's Purse, founded by Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham runs a program called Operation Heal Our Patriots, where vets who have suffered an injury as a result of combat are flown with their spouses to a remote lodge in Alaska where they can spend a week healing physically, emotionally and spiritually and and can renew their commitment to their spouses. I hope you check them out. Two of my favorite vets are pictured above, my sons Ben and Brian. Thanks boys for your service, and a hearty thank you to my daughter-in-law Candace who also served. Well done folks!

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Straight and Narrow Way




 Have you ever watched a little kid when they first get the training wheels taken off their bikes? They keep looking behind to make sure that the parent is still hanging on to the bike; they don't want to fall. When they're finally on their own, there is usually a bit of time where the front wheels wobble as they try to maintain control. I'm not sure what happened  here in these pictures. I can't imagine anything like this happening in Juneau or Anchorage, but I can understand it happening in Hoonah. I mean, after all, that's where I live, and a good bit of my life is made up of the never before seen or experienced. Far be it from me to criticize the operator of the line painting machine. Lord knows that I could never paint a straight line, even if I had a thousand yard straight edge, somehow I'd manage to veer off the mark and end up with something that looks like this. Really though, what are the odds that the state of Alaska would hire someone like me to paint the lines on a state highway? I wish I could ask the guy (or gal)- what happened? Were you looking at your phone when you should have been looking at the road? Did a really attractive person of the opposite sex distract you- all up and down the road? Did a dog charge at you repeatedly and you were trying to keep from painting them into the pavement? What? What was it? Were your glasses foggy, did you forget to take your meds that morning, were there problems at home that kept you from keeping your mind on your job? Did you suffer from a bout of uncontrollable sneezing? When I look at this, I'm reminded of a story that my friend Bud Burnett told me years ago. He was living on one of the communal farms that were scattered around in Alaska and Canada. I believe they were going up north to pick up some horses or some such thing. There were two cars hauling horse trailers in the little caravan. Bud was in the front vehicle and a group of young men was in the back one. Periodically Bud would look in the rear view mirror to check on the boys and make sure there weren't any problems. While he was checking the progress, he noticed a car pull up beside the car the boys were in, and then all of a sudden the boys car started to swerve violently, almost running off the road. They got control and Bud watched as the same car came charging up behind him and pulled along side as if to pass. It was a car full of young ladies, and when they honked, Bud looked over and they raised their tops and flashed him. Of course it's hard to look at the scenery and still keep your eyes on the road, so he was all over the place. The girls laughed, honked again and took off down the road. Needless to say, such pleasant distractions , while memorable, could have turned out poorly.  Now I'm not suggesting that anything of the kind happened to paint guy. I guess we'll never really know what happened, but I would have thought that maybe the state would send him back with a can of black paint to correct the mistake. So far it hasn't happened. Maybe they assume that after the winter is over, it won't be so noticeable, but frankly, it's always been my experience that some things you just can't wish away.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Retirement





Last month my wife, Jan, retired from the job that she's worked at for the past twenty three years. She worked at Hoonah Trading Company for half of our married life. When she first started working there, it was Hoonah Seafoods, one of three stores in town. Since then, L. Kane Store has closed, as well as Harbor Lights, and the only other store in town opened- Colette's Cupboard. She first started working in the hardware department. I can't recall if it was Ace  Hardware then or not. I think it was. Since then they've been involved with several other hardware companies. After a few years down there in hardware, the store's general manager asked her to come up to the office and work. That's where she spent the majority of her time, as a bookkeeper. She was also given the assignment of collecting delinquent accounts, and they couldn't have chosen a better person for the job. She was like a bulldog with a rag doll. I've no idea how much money she recovered for the store, but she knew all the tricks for chasing down the bums who thought they could get away without paying and she pursued them relentlessly. I was glad that I always paid up on time; I don't think she would have made any exceptions for me. Twenty three years is a long time to do anything. She worked her eight hour day, sometimes six days a week, and still came home and cooked, cleaned and took care of the kids. I know it wasn't easy, and it wasn't always fun going to work. Even the best of jobs can be difficult to go to at times. She had a habit of showing up early for work  and staying late, and set a good example for those around her. I believe she worked under four different managers- five if you include the hardware manager. If you needed to cash a check or make a payment or order fuel, Jan was usually who you spoke to. Of course she did much more than that, I'm not even certain of what all things she did do. I remember her coming home and speaking about this or that and it would go over my head, but she was good at what she did, and I'm certain she'll be missed. Right now she's in Wisconsin visiting her mom, and I'm certainly missing her. I don't really know what her plans are when she gets home. It will be nice to have someone to share the chores with again, but two people only make so much mess. I do worry that we'll get on each other's nerves if we are both home all day. That won't be a problem in the summer, but we've got months of winter staring us in the face. It's not like we can hop in the truck and drive somewhere for the day to get out of town. I may have to take up checkers or open a barber shop so us old guys can have a place to sit around and reminisce. We wouldn't dare cut any hair, it would just be a hang out to keep us out of trouble.I'm sure it will work out somehow though. In any event, she's earned a rest, and I sincerely hope she enjoys her retirement.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Replenished







It's that time of year again. The time when farmers harvest their corn or at least I think they do. Where else would the corn stalks come from that show up in the supermarkets before  Halloween? I'm sure that the pumpkin harvest must be going on, as well as other fruits or vegetables or grains. I know that here in Hoonah, I once again took part in ravaging the crab apple tree in front of the Abundant Life church. Last year my daughter Jen and I picked a whole slug of crab apples and made jelly. It turned out wonderful, so I thought I'd try it again this year. I was down to the nubs in my jelly supply, and even though Jen couldn't help, her sister Autumn came down from up north and lent a hand. She really gets in to the whole growing, harvesting, processing thing. She would have made a good farm wife fifty years ago. Last year was our first attempt at harvesting the tree, so I took the lessons I learned and tried a different approach this year. We still used ladders, but this time I brought a garden rake and a leaf rake to really work that tree over, and we had a tarp on the ground to catch the little rollers. It worked out really slick. I don't know why, but when I see Autumn with that rake in hand, looking at the tree, I'm reminded of the Wicked Witch of the West- not that she resembles her in any way, but the rake makes me think of when the witch was addressing Dorothy,  with her broom in hand saying - I'll get you my little pretty! Well, I can tell you, she really got those crab apples. We ended up with four or five grocery bags full, and after we made over two dozen jars of jelly, we still had several gallon bags full of crab apples in the freezer. It was quite the abundant harvest. Of course I can't live on jelly, regardless of how good it tastes, I'm not like Pooh bear and his honey. It had been some months since our last Costco order, and the larder was getting pretty skimpy, so I decided to take a favorable ferry in to Juneau and do some shopping. I also dropped in at the Village barber shop for a haircut, and down to the Friends of the Library to get my winter's supply of reading material.  They have an overwhelming number of books there, all reasonably priced. I walked out of there with twelve hard cover books for $10.50. What fun.  I believe it was Henry Ford who mentioned that if you want to be rich, you must watch how much money you spend. My friend Buffalo Bob's father put it in a true New Englander fashion- It's not what you make, it's what you spend. I'm not sure that either of them would have approved of my recent shopping splurge, I won't mention how much I spent, but it was substantial. The fact is though, I was buying enough to carry us through the winter, so I had cases of canned corn and green beans, pineapple and applesauce, paper towels and toilet paper, laundry soap and dish soap and body wash. We needed juice and cup 'o noodles and baking supplies for the upcoming holidays. We had to have razors and bleach and peanut butter and coffee, to say nothing of two new pairs of jeans and a mattress topper. Oh, and don't forget the Trident Original gum. I bought five cartons, not packs, cartons. It all cost a pretty penny, but when the winter winds blow and we're snug in our home eating some toast and jelly and planning what to have for dinner, it won't take a trip to the local store. We just go around the corner to the pantry. What a blessing!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Made in America





When I find something I like, I usually stick with it. I'm fairly loyal. When I drink a soda, it's usually Pepsi. When I want salsa, I settle for nothing less than Pace Picante Sauce. The cupboards in my kitchen are Kraft made. I'll never get any other brand. I know what I like, and I support it with my money. Recently the blanket that I've had on my bed for over twenty years started to show signs of it's age. The edges were getting frayed, and there were spots that were looking kind of sparse in the fabric. The original blanket maker was Vellux. It was a velour blanket, and I loved it. Of course I wanted to replace it with another one. Well, I looked around on line, and all I could find were velour blankets made in China. There were assorted complaints about them, everything from smelling like formaldehyde to having them slide off the bed during the night and ending up in a pile on the floor beside the bed. Hmmm.... not good. I decided to check out blankets made in the good ol' USA, and ran across the American Blanket Company, out of Fall River Mass. I checked out the reviews and they seemed favorable. Frankly, the price was a little spendy. I'm normally a $30.00 blanket kind of guy, and the one that interested me the most, the Luster Loft, was ringing in at a whopping $99.00 plus shipping. Now, they do offer $10.00 flat rate shipping in the lower 48. I inquired about getting the $10.00 rate and it was explained to me that Alaska didn't qualify for that rate. It was going to be $55.00 to get it here via the USPS in three days. That alone was enough to make me really wonder if I wanted a good quality blanket that badly. I started thinking about the cost, and then figured what the cost would be if the blanket lasted twenty years. It worked out to less than $8.00 a year. If you spend about a third of your life in bed, $8.00 a year sounds pretty economical. I was still wavering back and forth when I called back and happened to speak to the most delightful young lady on the other end of the phone. She seemed genuinely  happy to speak to me, and when she found out I was from Alaska she convinced me that this was the blanket for this harsh climate. It was apparent that she believed in the products that they sell. Of course the added bonus is that the blankets are made in America, providing Americans with jobs. They're guaranteed for life,so maybe I'll be buried in it.  I ordered it, and three days later it arrived at the Hoonah post office. I had been telling me friend Mark, the post master, about the blanket, so when it arrived, I opened the box, peeled back the plastic covering, and stuck my hand deep in the folds of that wonderful blanket. I invited Mark to do the same, and no doubt we looked like a couple of freaks fondling that incredible softness right in the Hoonah post office. I had ordered the Patriot Blue, a dark, rich, blue color that looks almost snobby it's so luxurious. To say the fabric is soft, is like saying Alaska is big. It doesn't begin to describe the degree of comfort I experience every night now. When I told Mark I wanted to take my blanket home, he reluctantly removed his hands, but had the audacity to ask if he could come feel my blanket when he visits. I told him no, but to offset any hurt feelings, I asked Ari, The Blanket Lady, if she could send some swatches, which she did. Mark now has his own swatch of Luster Loft to comfort him in his quiet times. He wants to order a throw blanket, and he's discussed ordering the chocolate brown in Luster Loft, and already has visions of sitting on his front porch on a winter's evening wrapped in  his wonderfully warm, soft throw blanket drinking a cup of hot chocolate and looking out over Port Frederick. Can a blanket be so good it's sinful? I don't know, but perhaps it's just the opposite. Perhaps its a blessing from above. In any event, I'm delighted that I bit the bullet and purchased this wonderful blanket from a delightful young lady, who works for a great American company. If you're in need of a new blanket, I hope you'll give Ari, the Blanket Lady a call.
The number is 877-750-5331 or email them at www.americanblanketcompany.com
Tell her Tom sent you. And ask about their free blanket give away. I believe it's every Wednesday. Just to be clear, I'm not being compensated in any way for this testimony. I just really, really like my blanket. Sweet dreams!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Choices We Make



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


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Infestation!






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

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

Friday, August 3, 2018

Scratch and Sniff



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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Fishing for Fatties or Flatties or Fat Flatties












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