Saturday, November 16 from 6:30-8:30pm @ Library - free screening of the film "Smoke Signals." Please join us for a free film screening in celebration of Nat...
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Saturday, Nov. 30 from 9am-4pm @Harrigan Centennial Hall (if follows past behavior). Tax-free day. This year will be the 38th annual event. To see a short video...
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The Greater Sitka Arts Council is now accepting applications for the Artisan Market 2019, to be held at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Dates of the Market are: ...
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Saturday, November 16 10:30am @ Library - A Program about the sacred Sitka Black-tailed Deer. Storytime & touchable deer-related hands-on artifacts to explo...
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Saturday, November 9 at 8:30am @ See House behind the Episcopal Church - Sitka Climate Lobby's Nov. Meeting. All are welcome. For more info about the Sitka Chap...
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Wrangell Medical Center (part of SEARHC), recently received notice of the successful certification of six new Certified Nursing Assistants from the Wrangell CNA...
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Thursday, November 7 at 6pm @ the library - Are you intrigued? Interested? We welcome you to attend our next Sitka Local Foods Network Board meeting on 11/7. Th...
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Friday, November 15 at 7pm @ the Performing Arts Center - GSAC Sitka Community Theater will present "Radio Adventure Hour - In Space!" Radio Adventure Hour i...
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Friday, Nov. 22 from 6-7pm @ library - Marvel Trivia for Tweens! Free Be-Tween program for youth 10-12. Registration required. For more info, contact Sitka Publ...
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Thursdays at 10:30am @ library - Fall Storytime for children age 5 and under. Nov. 7, 14 & 21. All are welcome.
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Tuesday, Nov. 12 & Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 3:45-4:45pm. MakeDo Workshops for youth ages 8-10. FREE. Registration required. “MakeDo is a cardboard construction...
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Tuesday, November 5 from 6-7:30pm @ Sitka High School Library - Senior students & parents, it’s FAFSA time! Get help with your Free Application for Federal ...
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Nov. is Diabetes Awareness Month & Kate DesRosiers, who has Type 1 diabetes and operates Rainforest Rose Creations at Sitka Farmers Mkt, will teach two diab...
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November 1 through December 31 @ Sitka Public Library - For every non-perishable food item donated, SPL will remove $2 in late fees from your account. Donations...
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Starting Friday, November 1 & continuing every first Friday of the month @ Sitka Studio of Dance - Teen-Adult Hip Hop Dance Class, hosted by Nancy Neel. Hel...
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The Soupster gazes into the future.
Originally published August 28, 2008
“I’m sorry, come again?” the Soupster apologized, his mind having wandered from the casual coffee shop conversation he was having.
“I was telling you about my new house addition, which is nearly done,” said Frank, sipping at the opposite side of the table from the Soupster. “I’ve been at it totally steadily for weeks now.”
“An old story, Frank,” said Donna, from an adjacent table, “You’re always up to something on that old shack.” Frank winced.
“A work in progress,” corrected the Soupster, trying to make peace. “What part of your house are you adding onto, Frank?”
“Well, it’s not exactly an addition, per se,” Frank admitted. “More like a kind of wanigan. And it’s on the garage, not on the actual house.” He stuck his face in his cup.
Donna looked triumphant, so the Soupster turned to her. How’s business for you?” he asked.
“You mean, with unreliable credit card access, unpredictable staff and tax and labor laws that change every five minutes?” Donna said. “Fine.”
“Happy to be coming to the end of the summer?” the Soupster asked.
“Yes and no,” Donna said. “I have some projects – remodeling and stock changes – planned for when I can get to them. Ultimately, it’ll be nice not to be overrun with tourists – sweet and plentiful may they always return in great numbers!” She rapped her knuckles on the wood tabletop for luck and the Soupster laughed.
“That business is a work in progress for you, too,” he said.
“Newspaper?” a boy of about 11 called out from the doorway.
“I’ll take one,” said Frank, rifling his pockets for change as the boy approached.
The Soupster had known the boy since he was a very little kid. A great feature of Our Town, the Soupster mused, was the chance to see kids grow up around you. Kids you aren’t responsible for, that you don’t have to fuss over.
This one the Soupster had seen win the Hoop Shoot, seen him grinning gap-toothed on the cover of the paper in front of a snowman. Had seen him wearing a fluorescent vest and picking up litter along the road. But, mostly, the Soupster had seen the boy fanning out from the mass of kids by the newspaper office with a stack under his arm, heading right for the likely customers loafing in coffee shops in the afternoon, like Frank, Donna and the Soupster.
The kid would be starting school again within days. He’d be in middle school now? Anyway, mused the Soupster, this boy would be graduating high school in the blink of an eye. And then the Soupster would be walking down Lincoln Street and some formidable-looking attorney or non-profit CEO, a guy in a construction helmet or accomplished artist, would accost him to say `Didn’t I used to sell newspapers to you in the coffee shop?’”
“Whatever are you thinking about now?” Donna asked, noting the Soupster’s furrowed brow.
“Works in progress,” the Soupster answered. “Works in progress.”
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The Soupster muses about “silver linings”.
Originally published September 9, 2004
Even a reliable car will die if you don’t put gas in it.
As the Soupster drove toward downtown, the dreaded “check engine” light of his car flicked on. A moment later, all the other little icons on his dashboard lit up — the oil light, the battery light, the low fuel light. These symbols are called “Idiot Lights” because if you neglect a problem until they go on, you’ve waited too long. To keep track of the gas, you get not just a light but a whole gauge. So, if you let your car run out of gas, you’re a super idiot.
The Soupster’s sedan rolled to a stop.
Now, if you run out of gas on this country’s great prairies, you could be forgiven. If you happen to miss the “Next Gas 42 Miles” sign on Route 80, you could be forgiven. But it’s pretty hard to forgive running out of gas in Our Town – on land at least.
So, the Soupster did not forgive himself as he pulled over to the side of the road on a Thursday afternoon, right at quitting time.
He had no sooner shut off the car than someone came by. A jogger. With a baby in a skookum three-wheeled, all-terrain stroller.
For a second, the Soupster thought the jogger would be mad at him for parking too close to the pedestrian path, but she immediately offered the use of her cell phone. So, the Soupster called his friend Don and asked him to bring some gas.
The Soupster thanked the jogger, who jogged happily off. Replaced then by a cloud of dust, as a huge pick-up pulled in, practically dislodging chunks of asphalt with its outsized tires. The Soupster’s friend Moe’s son Larry.
“Need help?” he asked, and the Soupster explained that gas was on the way.
As Larry pulled out, Curly and Jo, who the Soupster had been meaning to call, pulled over. And, seeing the others, Adam and his little son Abel pulled over and joined the group.
“Which of you needs help?” Adam asked, and Jo laughed when they were told, “Neither! But thanks!”
Curly and Jo went back to their car, but the Soupster stood by the roadside, signaling that he was okay to the half dozen acquaintances who passed by.
Then, on the other side of the road, the Soupster’s Absolute Worst Enemy stopped and asked if he needed help. When told the Soupster was out of gas, AWE went round to the back of his car and emerged with gas-can-and-triumphant-smile.
The Soupster felt beads of sweat drip down his neck. Do you accept help from your Absolute Worst Enemy? What is the rule?
Mercifully, the arrival of Don’s Jeep kept the Soupster from having to answer that. He called to AWE, “Thanks, but I’m okay now!” with real relief.
Don handed the Soupster a full gas can. “Boy, wanna see everybody you know?” the Soupster said. “Just run out of gas in Our Town, on the side of the road, at quitting time!”
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The Soupster riffs with a jazzy friend.
Guest Written by Rachel Ramsey
The Soupster was perusing his favorite thrift shop’s assortment of kitchenware when he heard his name from across the shop.
“Soupster! I’ve been thinking of you all week!” He recognized the joyful voice of his pal and fellow jazz fan, Liz, who approached him excitedly through the crowd.
“Oh yeah? What kind of trouble are you cookin’ up, dear?”
“Ain’t Misbehavin’, Soupster.” Liz replied. “Have you seen the recently discovered short video clip of Louis Armstrong as a young teenager?” Liz knew the Soupster liked his jazz early and hot. Nothing later than 1929 was his jazz preference.
“I did catch that! A New Orleans newspaper boy flashes his grin, and experts have agreed it is likely Armstrong. 104 year-old video – very cool, indeed.”
“Well I’ve been on a solid Armstrong kick since seeing that clip, buddy, and ever since I feel I’ve got the world on a string!”
Liz’s laugh was as infectious as her joyous and kind, ear-to-ear smile – freely shared with all she encountered. Not unlike Satchmo himself, the Soupster thought. Determined to replace his shabby compost bucket, he continued to eye the goods.
“Frankly, Soupster, I cannot stop referencing Armstrong song titles, and it’s driving my kids a bit batty. But I’m entertained, and honestly, I can’t help lovin’ dat man!” Their combined robust laughter filled the shop, turning only a few tourists’ heads.
“Good for you, Liz,” the Soupster chuckled. “Since his career spanned 50 years, that should keep you going strong for quite a while, though if you’re not careful, Someday you’ll be sorry. Before you know it, your hubby will be bombarding you with all the Zappa lyrics you’re oblivious to.”
Grateful that her fellow jazz lover grokked her silly joy, Liz giggled, “We’ve a fine romance, Soupster and It takes two to tango!”
“Aha! There it is!” The Soupster triumphantly exclaimed while pulling from the top shelf a 3-gallon bucket. “Have any shows on the horizon, Liz?” he asked. Liz was a volunteer at their community radio station.
“Sure do – I’m on tomorrow afternoon. Though I did miss my last slot,” Liz explained, “I caught a bug.”
“Gut Bucket Blues?” joked the Soupster.
Liz laughed, “Not quite. Speaking of buckets,” she pointed to the Soupster’s score, “What gives?”
“Well, it’s too good to be true, but I need this because my old Bucket’s got a hole in it. No lie.”
Liz couldn’t help herself, “What can you say – You’re just a lucky so and so.”
The Soupster paid for his bucket and began to mosey out of the crowded shop. He spotted the clouds above parting in the north, allowing sunbeams to permeate through the thinning overhead.
He turned around and called out, “I’m beginning to see the light, Liz! It’s on the sunny side of the street!”
Liz’s enormous smile returned as she laughingly shot back, “What a wonderful world!”
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The Soupster shares his learning about eagle feathers.
Originally Published July 24, 2003
The first time the Soupster passed his neighbor Gem, she was standing behind her push mower in the middle of her small lawn. The Soupster waved and Gem cocked an eyebrow and shook her head.
The second time the Soupster passed, Gem was standing in exactly the same spot, with exactly the same quizzical look on her face.
“Gem?” asked the Soupster, strolling over. “You okay?”
“Soupster!” said Gem, as if snapping from a trance. “Look here,” she said, pointing down.
The Soupster did as asked and spied first Gem’s boots, then the head of the push mower and finally – obviously the object of Gem’s attention — two bald eagle feathers, one white and one brown, lying in the grass.
“I can’t mow over them, Soupster, they’re so beautiful,” Gem said. “But if I pick them up I’ll be guilty of a federal crime!”
“Calm down, Gem,” said the Soupster.
“But Soupster, nobody is allowed to possess bald eagle feathers!”
“You’re right, Gem,” the Soupster said. “There are laws against possessing any of the parts, including feathers, of bald and golden eagles. Live or dead. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever touch the feathers.”
The Soupster bent over and picked the feathers up. The white one was fine and delicate, with a bit of down at its base, fluffy and ready to fly away on the merest breeze. The brown feather was more substantial, its firm stalk suggesting the heft of a writing quill.
“Native Americans and scientists are allowed to petition for eagle feathers – or other parts,” said the Soupster. “For ceremonial or scientific reasons. There’s a place in Colorado – the National Eagle Repository – and another one called The National Wildlife Repository, that are run by the federal government. They will hold onto any animal parts people are not legally allowed to possess – from skins from bears unlawfully hunted to lizard skins not allowed in the U.S. and seized by Customs.”
“Wow,” said Gem.
“My friend at Fish and Wildlife says there’s a six-month waiting list of thousands of Native Americans who have applied for eagle feathers,” the Soupster continued. “For other parts, the wait can easily be a couple of years. Maybe these feathers could go to someone on the list.”
Gem stepped away from the mower. She took the feathers from the Soupster’s hand and studied them. “It’s amazing to think,” she said, “the something people all over the country might wait months or years for is fluttering onto my lawn.”
“Americans who come upon eagle feathers are asked to mail them to the repository,” the Soupster explained. “My friend says that in Our Town, we should just turn them over to our state Fish and Game folks and they’ll see they get to the right place.”
“Thanks, Soupster. I can go back to mowing now,” Gem said. “Anything I can do for you?”
“Well, Gem,” the Soupster said. “After you finish your lawn, how about you come over and finish mine?”
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The Soupster has a “bird” sighting.
Originally published May 6, 2010
The Soupster awoke to the sound of birds – early birds. He heard a number of cars pull into the neighborhood. The engines stopped and car doors creaked open. Next came excited squawks and warbling calls, as the early birds recognized each other and descended on their destination.
“Lydia’s Moving Sale!” The Soupster’s eyes popped open and he leaped from his bed.
His beloved long-time neighbor was re-locating to Hawaii to be with her son Hank and his family, who had already remodeled their lanai into an apartment. A couple of years earlier, Lydia’s daughter-in-law Jackie had come into an inheritance, so Hank had closed his not-so-successful Our Town nautical pest extermination business (“Swimming Rats Our Specialty”). Having misjudged their opportunities in the 49th State, Hank and Jackie had decided to give the 50th a whirl.
The Soupster quickly donned his clothes – grateful for the new 21st Century rule that men no longer needed to comb their hair – and hurried over to Lydia’s.
His neighbor’s modest home was overrun with early birds. But of course! For Lydia had had the temerity to put an ad in the previous evening’s newspaper: “Aloha Moving Sale! Everything must go! Items free or you set the price. 9am-1pm. No early birds.”
Nothing inflamed an early bird’s lust for cheap but serviceable household items like those last three words. “No early birds?” he thought. “Really, Lydia?” He looked at his watch. It was just past 8:30.
At the front door, Lydia was negotiating with one of the early birds, who held a DVD player and a lamp. The early bird held cash, but Lydia pushed his hand back. “It’s okay to take them for free,” she insisted.
“I’m sure you could use the money,” said the bird, placing a $50 bill in her hand and hurrying out the door.
“It’s been like this,” said Lydia, acknowledging the Soupster. “I tell them they can have the stuff for free. I must look pitiful or something, because they keep forcing me to take money.”
“Why don’t you want to take money?”
“I feel like I should pay them,” said Lydia. “To take this stuff away. You know how much you accumulate in 30 years? I was going to take everything to the White Elephant, but do you know how many trips that would have made? This way the buyers come right to me. Cuts out the middleman.”
Lydia turned her attention to a bird holding a sewing basket, a coffee maker and two tin buckets. More early birds arrived as the Soupster surveyed the scene. Lydia’s household was being demolished peck by peck, as surely as ravens worrying a dead salmon.
But Lydia seemed happy, the Soupster surmised. “Hey Lydia, what are you going to spend all this unexpected money on?” he asked.
“Oh, it all goes to the White E.,” said Lydia. “Do you know how much trouble this is saving me? By cutting out the middleman??”
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