Saturday, October 31, 2020 from 10am-2:15pm - Join us for a scavenger hunt! Participants may pick up a form for the Mystery Walk scavenger hunt at the Brave ...
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Registration is open for the 2020 Alaska Food Festival and Conference, to be held virtually on Friday, Nov. 6 & Saturday, Nov. 7. Themes are Food Entreprene...
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UAS Sitka, working under a new five-year Title III grant that started this month, is looking to hire three full-time positions that will involve a strong focus ...
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Saturday, 10/31 from 10:30-11:30am at Sitka Public Library - Trick or READ! A Sitka Babies & Books Walk-and-Read Activity & Grab 'N Go bag event. Find ...
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Are you experiencing grief or anticipatory grief over the loss or pending loss of an ill loved one? You are invited to Free Restorative Yoga sponsored by SEARHC...
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The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) will offer a Mariner's First Aid & CPR/AED class in Sitka, Alaska on November 21, 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM ...
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The Maritime Grind will be online at the Virtual Sitka WhaleFest. To watch the show, sign up at sitkawhalefest.org before Nov. 4. The pre-recorded 1 hour show w...
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Nov. 12th - Rob Kapilow plays Cole Porter, presented by Sitka Music Festival Virtual Autumn & Winter Classics With the onset of cooler temperatures and lon...
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Read about the artist who created the New City Seal. Check out the October 22nd (purple) edition of the Sitka Soup. Go to page 14 to read the Soup's interview w...
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You can still Vote in Advance in Person in Sitka by going to Harrigan Centennial Hall Monday-Friday 10am-4pm, through Monday, Nov. 2nd. FYI to Sitkans: It i...
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Next Meeting is Wed., Nov. 4th at 7pm, with Sarah Lewis speaking about Infused Vinegars (as in, infused with herbs) Fall Garden Happy Hour Zoom is a series h...
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Wednesday 10/21/20 from 12noon to 1pm FREE via Zoom: An Update from the Emergency Operations Center, presented by Sitka Chamber of Commerce Fall Speaker Series....
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Please Inform yourself about - and remember to Vote on - the two Ballot Measures on your ballot. Also, please NOTE: Ballot Measure #2 is on BACK of Ballot. B...
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Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, BUT there are options if you wish to Vote Early. Beginning Oct. 19, you can go to an "Early and In-Person Absentee Voting...
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Join the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce and Sitka's local businesses for Downtown Trick-or-Treating! When: Saturday, October 31st from 3pm - 6pm. Where: Linc...
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A friend raises the Soupster’s consciousness about “the worst thing”.
“Hi, Soupster,” called a voice from behind the mask.
The Soupster squinted in concentration, struggling to recognize the pleasantly crinkled eyes above the mask. He almost had it… wait, wait…
“Anastasia Anarchy! It’s you!” he finally said triumphantly. “So good to run into you, Stace,” he continued, striving to use his best, Ethel-Merman-projecting abdominal voice, and to enunciate carefully from behind his mask. The last time he’d spoken with Anastasia, she’d shown some signs of a hearing deficit.
“Yes, wonderful serendipity, chancing upon each other in front of this grocery store pop-up cello concert. Though maybe not total chance, eh, Soupster. There are patterns everywhere.”
“Is that your truck over there, Stace? Let’s go chat a bit over the hood while we listen to the music.” They got to the truck and the Soupster glanced down through the open window at the passenger seat.
“What’s that, Stace,” he said. “It looks like a DVD of Wagon Train???”
“Yeah, that it is, Soupster. I used to watch that on T.V. all the time when I was a kid. I was,” she said with twinkling eyes, “especially enamored of the scout, Flint McCullough.”
“Oh, I remember him,” said the Soupster. “Wasn’t he played by a guy named Robert something?”
“Yup. Robert Horton. That’s him. One time, when I was about eight, I even had a dream about him,” said Anastasia. “He was out doing his advance scouting thing and he was fording a river. He was walking through the water towards me, and I walked in to meet him…But maybe I’d better leave it there.”
“I get it, Stace. Sometimes you don’t know what something means until years later.”
“I was fascinated by cowboy movies, Soupster. Sometimes I wanted to be a cowboy and have those special skills – you know, like swinging a lariat and yodeling. Not much to do with guns except maybe twirling them round your finger. Later on, in high school, I learned some basic bow-and-arrow skills, like not hyper-extending my bow arm and receiving a terrible burn.”
“All that cowboys and Indians stuff, Soupster – it was really a thoughtless world I grew up in.”
The Soupster looked steadily at Anastasia and said nothing.
“One time, years ago, when I was working as a young lab tech at the hospital, one day I went in to draw some blood in one of those four-person rooms. I’m pretty sure it was a Saturday afternoon. This must have been, like, back in ’82.
“There were these three older guys sitting around watching T.V. I was getting my tourniquet and stuff ready and I saw they were watching a western. They seemed really quite absorbed in it. A couple of them were older Tlingit guys. They were just, patiently, sitting there and watching the show, and I asked them, ‘Does it ever bother you? Watching westerns like that?’
“And one of the old guys said, ‘Well, some of them are pretty bad, but at least we’re up there on the screen. We’re not invisible. That’s the worst thing, you know. Being invisible.’”
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The Soupster shares a valuable lesson learned from a cartoon.
Originally Published October 5, 2000
“I hate October! It rains all the time with big wet drops!” wailed the pre-schooler, balanced on the Soupster’s knee. “I WISH THERE WAS NO OCTOBER EVER AND EVER MORE!”
“Don’t say that,” hushed the Soupster. “If October went away, you would be very sad.”
“No, I wouldn’t!” protested the child.
“But if there were no October, do you know what else there would be no?”
“Alaska Day! There would be no Alaska Day!” said the Soupster. “And no Halloween!
“No Halloween!” he went on. “Sometimes, no Yom Kippur for Jewish folks! No Thanksgiving for your cousin who lives in Toronto! And your e-mail pen pal in Christchurch, New Zealand would have to go to school on Labor Day, because the Kiwi’s celebrate their Labor Day in October!”
“Are you a genius?” the clever kid asked, instantly seizing the Soupster’s point and moving on to the next step. “Where did you learn all that?”
“From a Little Audrey cartoon when I was just about your age,” said the Soupster, glazing over in a Boomer froth of remembrance.
“Little Audrey was tired of the rain — in the cartoon I mean — and she cried out for it never to rain again!” explained the Soupster.
“Did it rain again?” the child asked.
“Not for a long time,” the Soupster answered. “At first, that was just fine with Little Audrey. She went out on a million picnics, hung her clothes right on the line to dry and was never told by her parents that she had to wear a hat.
“But as the rainlessness went on, Little Audrey’s fish started to look a little pale and drawn. And Little Audrey’s potted plant looked droopy and dry.
“Then everything around Little Audrey started to dry up. Little Audrey’s plant was curled and brown. Little Audrey’s fish gasped to breathe in only a thimbleful of water.
“Little Audrey had saved a glass of water. She ran over the parched ground toward her fish and her potted plant, holding the glass in front of her and saying `Here, here!’ But then she tripped and dropped the glass, and the water ran out just out of reach of her friends.
“So Little Audrey went to the Rainmaker and begged for the rain to start again. But the Rainmaker refused. `You said for it not to rain again, ever and ever!’ He crossed his arms over his chest.”
“What did Little Audrey do?”
“She sang,” said the Soupster. “She sang so sweetly and with so much of her heart that she made the Rainmaker cry. She sang `April Showers.’ And the Rainmaker’s tears grew greater and greater till they cascaded past his beard and down his chest and fell to the earth as wonderful, cooling rain.”
“Wow,” said the child. “I’ll never ask for it to not be October or for the rain to stop. But is it okay to ask to make the raindrops just a little smaller?”
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The Soupster hears about some post-Covid magic.
The words “Oblong Rookery” appeared on the Soupster’s phone, accompanied by a chime.
“Hi, Oblong!” said the Soupster. “It’s really good to hear your voice. How long has it been?”
“Almost a year, Soupster. I think the last time was when you were visiting down here and dragged me to that Korean horror flick on Hollywood Boulevard. I know I grumbled a bunch at the time but looking back I do appreciate it.”
“Are you well, Oblong? How are you doing?”
“Oh, yeah, Soupster, I’m well, and I’m doing okaaay… I’ve been thinking a lot about Joan Didion lately.”
“Yeah, her. She was the one who wrote that book, The Year of Magical Thinking. She wrote it about the death of her husband – who was also a famous writer – from a heart attack, just days after their daughter – Quintana Roo – lapsed into a coma. This all happened – oh, I don’t know – back in the early aughts.”
“Yeah, I kinda remember. What got your mind on Joan Didion?”
“Well – I am just thinking this through out loud – but I believe I’ve been doing a lot of magical thinking myself in the past year. Like, I have been going to call you for months, and then, even though I was obsessing about you, I didn’t call. On some level, I kept thinking, ‘I have to call Soupster and find out how he’s doing. If I don’t call soon, something bad might happen.’
“So, that is why I am really, really glad that you’re okay. And I’m okay. And my cats are okay, and even my plants are okay. All those things get involved in my magical thinking, too.”
“Cats and plants are pretty important, Oblong. Especially now. What’s so magical about how you think of them?”
“Well, Rubber Tree – that’s my black cat (she’s named after that Sinatra song, ‘High Hopes’ – remember, ‘Ooops, there goes another rubber tree plant’) – anyway, Rubber Tree only likes these certain kinds of food. So, I tell myself whenever I find these kinds – just flaked or minced and containing the right kinds of fish – that if I feed them to her, she will be happy, and everything will be all right. Get it? Magical, hmmnnn?”
“What about your actual plants, Oblong?”
“Oh, they’re fine, too, although they do need more water with this heat. Sometimes it’s hard to get myself out to water the outdoor ones, what with the 120-degrees and the smoke from the fires. Fortunately, a lot of my plants are cacti and succulents. I have to be careful with the tomatoes, though. They don’t like to dry out, but they also don’t like wet feet.”
“Sounds like you’re talking anthropomorphism, Oblong – you know, like where you give the non-humans around you human personalities?”
“I might as well, Soupster. I have precious little face-to-face (or even mask-to-mask) interaction with humans these days. I don’t know what I would have done these past months if it weren’t for Rubber Tree and the tomatoes.
“Oblong, that sounds like it could become the title for your own book of magic.”
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The Soupster tells a story…
Originally published September 7, 2000
“Cross your fingers!” yelled the man on the tall ladder to his Soupster neighbor below.
The man furiously sloshed white paint from a bucket onto the wall high up near his roof, as the first clouds passed their ominous shadows over the eaves.
“Not now!” he yelled at the clouds. He made, with his paint brush, even quicker jerking motions that covered him, the ladder, the ground below – everything but the wall – with paint.
The ladder swayed precariously.
“Calm down,” the Soupster yelled back. “Even if it does rain today, you’ll surely have another day to paint.”
“I won’t,” the neighbor said and scurried down the ladder to approach the Soupster.
“I went fishing so many days I could have been painting,” he wailed. “I took a hike on the new Mosquito Cove trail when I could have been painting. My whole family offered to help me on several occasions. ‘That’s okay,’ I told them. Oh, I’m a fool, a fool!”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” said the Soupster.
The neighbor turned suddenly cold and serious. “How long have you lived in Our Town?” he asked the Soupster.
“Long enough,” the Soupster answered cautiously.
“Then you should know,” said the neighbor, “that putting off your painting till September is madness. Madness!”
The Soupster knew. He knew that professional painters in Our Town sometimes have a waiting list years long. Not for lack of ambition, but because there are so few painting days. And the Soupster also knew that some folks in Our Town have gone to incredible lengths to deal with paint and rain.
“Let me tell you a story,” said the Soupster, gently lifting his neighbor’s spattered paws off his shoulders.
“A nice couple I knew was buying a house and the bank would not close the loan until the weathered western wall was repainted. The couple was paying rent until the loan closed and the monthly payments were wreaking havoc on their savings.
“But the bank insisted on the painting. This was in October, mind you. The couple begged the bank to let the job hold off until spring. They even offered to let the bank hold the painting money until then. The bank wouldn’t budge.”
“What did they do?” asked the neighbor.
“Well, the husband and wife painted the wall together. The wife had a bunch of towels and she would wipe off an area a second before he would slap oil paint onto it. They waited for a day when the wind wasn’t blowing right on the wall and painted it in the middle of a good downpour.”
“I get it,” said the neighbor. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Just do it.” He shook the Soupster’s hand. “Thanks.”
But before the Soupster could say “Pshaw,” rain drops started falling. The neighbor was already running off. “Honey!” he yelled into his front door. “Get some towels!”
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