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.