Saturday, October 26 at 8pm @ Harrigan Centennial Hall - DKSP at the Stardust Ball, featuring Danielle Kelly. Hosted by Danielle Kelly Music and KCAW Raven Radi...
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Effective Oct. 1, 2019, the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is ending service to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. AMHS is unable to meet requirements for U....
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The Municipal Election is Tuesday, October 1. Sitka’s two polling locations are located in Harrigan Centennial Hall at 330 Harbor Drive. Polls will be open from...
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Thursday, September 19 from 7-8:30pm @ Beak Restaurant - "Sitka Tells Tales: Wet Feet" - A Night of Live Story Telling & Music. Stories on, in and under the...
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Wednesday 9/18 at 1pm to Friday 9/20 at 1pm @ Harrigan Centennial Hall - 2019 Southeast Conference Annual Meeting. We will also be hosting our 61st Annual SE Co...
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Allen Marine is seeking experienced mechanics to work in the company’s Sitka shipyard. Applicants for the full-time, year-round position should have extensive k...
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Allen Marine, in partnership with Sealaska and the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, is interviewing for a Regional Catalyst for Regenerative Tourism. This new...
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Friday, Sept. 20 from 6-8pm @ Youth Advocates Building downstairs. Agenda Items: 501c3 application, Filing for Incorporation, Establish by-laws, Establish board...
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New Taxi & Tour company in Sitka. If you need a taxi ride, an errand run, or a tour of this beautiful town, please give me a call at (907) 738-0619. Credi...
132 total views, 10 today
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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The Soupster contributes to French Enlightenment.
Originally published June 26, 2003
Before the strolling Soupster even reached the bend in the road, he heard three things: the treble- triples and quads of bald eagles, the more purposeful caws of ravens and the baritone of his neighbor, Jean-Pierre, spouting loud, angry French.
After retiring from a large bicycle manufacturer in Paris, Jean-Pierre had built a sailboat and headed out to sea. Six years later, with a wife he’d met in Phnom Penh and a son born in Christchurch, New Zealand, Jean-Pierre came ashore in Our Town and declared it “Ze Heaven On Zis Earth!” The son was married himself now and living Outside. The wife had moved back to Cambodia to be with her family. But to Jean-Pierre, Our Town was still “Heaven on Zis Earth.”
Well, maybe not today.
Today, Jean-Pierre was in a furious competition with some ravens to return the contents of his trash can to their rightful place before the black birds pulled the items out again. As to who was winning, it was a toss-up.
In the hemlocks surrounding Jean-Pierre’s trash-strewn driveway, bald eagles watched the action from a dignified distance. Not so the ravens, one of which swooped low enough to knock Jean-Pierre’s cap off. Then the bird glided smoothly to the rim of the can, cackled happily and grabbed a piece of melon peel.
“Yo, Jean-Pierre,” the Soupster called. “You can’t win a battle against those odds. Let me help you.”
The Soupster tipped the scales some in Jean-Pierre’s favor. The ravens may have given the Soupster slack because he truly loved ravens. Or because he was not French. Whatever, they flew back up into the hemlocks and started harassing the eagles.
“What got this stuff all over, Jean-Pierre?” the Soupster asked.
“I zink it was ze bear, mon Zoupster,” said Jean-Pierre. “It may have been ze land otter, but I don’t zink zo. I zink it was ze bear.”
“Did you keep your trash in your garage until pick-up day like you were supposed to?” asked the Soupster.
“Oui! Yes!” said Jean-Pierre. “Always!”
“Did you put any fish or meat in the can that might have smelled strong and attracted the bear?”
“Sacre bleu!” Jean-Pierre said. “My freezer needed repair. I thought for just a little while it would be all right. You are right, Zoupster. It was ze smelly fish zat attracted ze bear!”
“Not such a “heaven on zis Earth” if you have to watch your garbage so closely, eh, Jean-Pierre?” the Soupster teased.
“Au contraire, Zoupster!” Jean-Pierre said. “Zis is nature. In nature, zere is always zometing to capitalize on a mistake zat any creature makes. Nature, she is very efficient, no?”
“Yes,” the Soupster said.
“And, Zoupster,” Jean-Pierre concluded, as the two men hoisted upright the now-filled can. “We are zo lucky to live right with nature. With nature right on our doorstep. In our driveway. C’est magnifique, no?”
120 total views, 1 today
The Soupster chats with an heir to Jane Goodall.
Originally published May 24, 2001
The Soupster stretched out his legs in the molded airport seat, prepared to meditate, nibble on TicTacs and wait for the plane to land. But a visitor appeared beside him, a white-haired fellow who carried a Nat Geo with chimps on the cover.
“Is it Dunkirk? I wondered,” said the fellow, interrupting the Soupster’s reverie.
“I beg your pardon?” said the Soupster.
“I was taking my early morning constitutional, and I saw the most curious thing – throngs of boats heading under the bridge. I’ve never seen so many boats heading out at one time!”
“It’s the Salmon Derby,” said the Soupster.
“A pinkish hat?” said the anthropologist incredulously.
“No, no,” said the Soupster. “It’s a big fishing contest that’s held every year. Everybody from the luckiest fisherman to the most accursed, tries his or her luck to catch the biggest king salmon and net the biggest prize, which has been beaucoup cash. Plus, bragging rights.”
“Ah, yes,” said the anthropologist. “A spring fertility festival. The ritual rewarding of the most successful harvester to ensure everyone’s enthusiasm for the long season ahead. I once worked with a group of people whose `prize’ was given for digging up the largest tapioca root.”
“Who are you calling a tapioca root?” said a voice from the wall above the anthropologist, who turned in the direction of the sound.
The voice belonged to a 70+ lb. king salmon mounted on a plaque. His pointed face jutted out and lips moved like any number of audio-animatronic singing fish. The anthropologist, therefore, did not realize he was in the presence of an authentic airport poltergeist.
The Soupster, however, backed up a few steps and watched passively.
“Interactive,” said the anthropologist, indicating the fish. “Very clever.”
“I’m very attractive,” said the salmon, peering down on the anthropologist’s spreading Male Pattern Baldness. “Which is more than I can say for vous.”
“You speak French?” said the anthropologist.
“I speak salmon,” said the king salmon. “You call it what you want.”
“You seem confident, firm in your role,” the anthropologist told the king salmon. “Rooted.”
“Well, I’m mounted to this plaque,” the wisenheimer king salmon said. “But I wasn’t always.
“Once, I roamed the North Pacific with packs of my friends, thousands of miles past undersea wonders too numerous to utter. I’ve seen orcas cresting at sunset in Prince William Sound, great pods of stellar sea lions off Point Hope. I swam strong and free for seven long years,” and here the fish chuckled, “until I met up with a crafty denizen of the surface. A sly fisherman and former school principal who knew just how to lure a seven-year old. We won the Salmon Derby together that year back in the last century. Well, the money is spent, I’m mounted up here and it’s all a stale old fish story now.”
“Any regrets?” asked the anthropologist.
“Well, if I hadn’t been caught, I’d’ve had kids,” said the salmon. “You know us salmon. We like to have 100 million of them each!”
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The Soupster chats with one busy mom.
Originally published May 1, 2003
Connie’s three children scattered to the ice cream section of the store. Lugging an overflowing supermarket basket in the crook of her arm, she stopped at a display of high-priced garlic-stuffed Aegean olives where there happened to stand a Soupster.
“Happy Mother’s Day,” he said, glancing toward the big freezers. “Your kids look happy.”
“They sure seem to be,” Connie nodded. “Strange, since I had them at work all morning painting the garden fence and all the porch railings.”
“Quite the day for it,” said the Soupster, this time doing the nodding.
And indeed, the Soupster’s pupils were just able to dilate again after a day of squinting at the nearly prehistoric sunshine of the morning. In Our Town, the infrequent Sun seems on rare days to have the quality of the Sun of an earlier Earth, before a protective atmospheric ozone layer had even formed. A sharp, almost painful amount of light, without the softening rain and clouds that usually roll their blanket over all.
“There’s such pressure to do things when the sun does come out,” he told Connie. “I mean you never know how long before you’re going to have the chance again.”
“Today was incredibly busy,” Connie said. “Woke up early. Saw the big yellow orb. Woke the kids. Fed them. Put them to work. Painting, painting, painting.”
“What was the rush?” asked the Soupster.
“Piano recital,” said Connie. “So – painted, painted, painted all morning. Then washed, washed, washed all three kids free of paint. Fed them again. Dressed them for the recital. Drove them to the recital. Soothed their stage fright. Listened attentively. Gave them a little critical, but 90 percent supportive feedback after they played.”
“Now you’re getting stuff to make dinner?”
“The ingredients,” Connie said. “The kids tell me `they’re’ going to cook me an `extra special’ Mother’s Day meal.”
“Which will end up twice as much work for you?” said the Soupster.
“You’re learning,” Connie laughed and punched the Soupster lightly on the bicep. He felt an overwhelming fondness for this hard-working Mom.
“Your kids don’t know your real Mother’s Day present was the piano recital?” said the Soupster as he bid his friend goodbye.
“Are you kidding, Soupster?” Connie said, pushing him away. “My Mother’s Day present was getting the fence painted!”
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