Serving Sitka, Angoon, Port Alexander, Tenakee Springs, Kake & Pelican!  •  Phone: 747-7595  •  Fax: 888-897-9397  •  Email: shop@sitkasoup.com

Register RSS Feed  | 

Comments Off on Our Town – April 19, 2018

Our Town – April 19, 2018

| Environment, Gardening, Guest Written, Our Town, Rachel Ramsey, Seasons, Spring | April 18, 2018

The Soupster learns what goes around comes around.

Originally published April 19, 2012

“Morning, Sunshine!” I greet the Soupster as he slides into the passenger seat.

“Uh-huh,” he replies groggily. Accepting my offer of liquid incentive, he adds, “Quad shot creamy, dreamy choco-caffeine delight, my favorite. Thanks.”

The Soupster adjusts his sunglasses to the morning sun. At 8am on this Saturday it’s the offer of my gardening genius and willingness at his disposal that helps him brave the hour.

“I know it’s early. Be glad I didn’t try dragging you out earlier! Garage sale-ing is serious business in Our Town – you don’t even know!” I laugh and pull out of the drive.

“First stop – across town. The hunt for garden treasures begins. It’s springtime for the Soupster in Our Town…” I belt out, energized by the sun.

“Springtime in Our Town – herring return, citywide spring cleanup, sunshine….”

“If we’re lucky,” I interject.

“Which apparently we are. Remember the good old days of roadside spring cleanup?” the Soupster asks.

“Afraid not. How’d that work?”

“Folks would toss their junk onto the side of the street. And I mean in a BIG way. Anything and everything you can imagine. Gardening supplies, even! Stuff that people didn’t want to haul off themselves. For one weekend, crews would work like mad hauling all this stuff away. And as they worked their way around town, others did the same, keeping ahead of the crews to salvage what was usable.”

“Wow! Nobody appreciates the value of thriftiness like folks in Our Town. There are so many ways for goods to come and go around here – the White E, radio stations, the newspaper, online venues, the Soup,” My list ends with a swish of the wrist, deferring to my friend.

The Soupster jumps in. “Word of mouth! Friends. Friends of friends. Anyone who learns you need what they’re lookin’ to unload.”

“Once I was walking my baby downtown and an absolute stranger chased us down. She had a fancy Italian stroller she used when she nannied. Not only did she hook me up, she delivered it. Even our strangers can be most generous!” I chuckle.

“How we find what we need in Our Town is pretty remarkable. Hey,” he says, pointing to a green truck at the side of the road. “It’s Tony.”

We pull over to find Tony’s truck almost overflowing – an old canoe, tires, a cracked bird bath, a trellis, a bulky mass of seine net.

“Please tell us you’re heading to the dump this fine morning, Tony,” I jibe, eyeballing the treasure trove of garden possibilities resting in his truck bed.

“Yup. Y’all don’t happen to need any of this, do ya?” Tony asks. The Soupster and I look at each other and smile.

“We sure do! Follow us.”

Hopping back in the car, I pull a U turn with Tony close behind. I have to laugh, “Pretty remarkable, indeed. SCORE!”

Submitted by Rachel Ramsey

43 total views, 2 today

Comments Off on Our Town – April 5, 2018

Our Town – April 5, 2018

| Animals, Cats, Dogs, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships | April 5, 2018

The Soupster meets an interesting couple.

Originally published July 25, 2002

The dog, a dark brown Labrador retriever, looked as dignified as any dog ever has while sitting in the driver’s seat of a car and the Soupster said so out loud.

“Thanks,” the dog called half-absently, resting its paws on the sheepskin covered steering wheel of the blue and grey pickup truck parked outside a key Our Town place for sandwiches and drinks.

The Soupster ambled over to the truck cab’s open window. “You talk?”

“I’m supposed to listen, right?” said the dog. “I hear that all day from your kind.”

“You drive, too?” the Soupster asked.

“You think the truck would have a better chance of parking by itself than I have of handling a 3/4 ton vehicle,” the dog sneered. “Tell me you don’t think that.”

“You probably hear this a lot,” the still-stunned Soupster sputtered, “but I can’t believe I’m talking to a dog.”
“Go ahead,” said the dog. “Ask me.”

“Ask you what?” said the Soupster.

“If a police officer pulled me over, which license would I give him?” the dog said. “That’s what you were going to ask, right?”

The Soupster’s cheeks turned bright red. “Actually, I was thinking about what kinds of music you listen to when you drive.”

“`Bark, the Herald Angels Sing’ and “Oh, Dem Bones’” said the dog, curling its lips to approximate a smile. “And my favorite movies are `Riding In Cars With Dogs” and “10 Things I Smell About You.”

“Do you…?” started the Soupster, but the dog cut him off.

“Yes, I stick my head out the window when I drive, to answer your question,” the dog said. “And, yes, I – like all dogs – will get mad if you blow on my nose. Why do dogs like one and not the other? I don’t know. We just do.”

The Soupster stared at the dog, absolutely speechless.

“I used to run with a sled team out of Skwentna,” the dog continued. “Then I decided I should get behind the wheel, instead of me being the wheels.”

“Regrets?” the Soupster asked.

“For a while, I had this recurring dream of scaring a bunch of cats in the crosswalk. Make ‘em scatter good,” said the dog, again approximating a smile. “If I do that now I’ll lose both my licenses! Oh, here’s my wife.” The dog started the engine.

The dog’s wife, a cat, carried a foot-long sandwich in her mouth.

The dog scrunched up his nose. “Oh, no,” he said. “She got tuna again! Tuna and mayonnaise and no veggies. I like veggies. She really doesn’t know the meaning of `to share.’”

“If you hate cats so much, why did you marry one?” said the Soupster as the cat slipped in the truck cab on the other side with the sandwich.

“I’m a patient creature,” said the dog, dropping the truck into reverse and backing away from the Soupster with a comradely, if unseen, swipe of his tail.

74 total views, 3 today

Comments Off on Our Town – March 22, 2018

Our Town – March 22, 2018

| Our Town, Shopping, Small Town Stuff, Spring | March 22, 2018

Chickens and Eggs?

Originally published April 4, 2002

The Soupster juggled in his arms: a half gallon of milk, some donuts, a box of cereal, bananas and a jar of salty Greek olives. He had come in for the donuts and unconsciously filled his arms with items as he wandered around the store, greeting the large number of people he knew.

Then he got in line.

“Soupster,” said Stevarino, the shipwright, next in line, whose real name was Stefan. “Could you hold my stuff, too, while you got so much in your arms.”

“If I really don’t want to buy anything, I have to take a shopping cart,” chuckled the Soupster. “If my arms are free, I will fill them with groceries.”

“Primordial,” Stevarino said. “Grazing behavior – like cows in the pasture. Fulfilling the Prime Directive, as Captain Kirk used to say.”

“Speaking of philosophical,” said the Soupster, reaching into Stevarino’s cart and picking out a dozen free range eggs. “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Stevarino laughed.

“No, really,” said the Soupster. “I just spent most of Saturday helping this crazy woman put up a whole display of chicken-and-egg items in the big glass cases at the entrance to the library. Every item incorporates both a chicken and an egg. And thus, each item incorporates the question – `Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

“I think it depends on how you approach the answer,” said the always-philosophical Stevarino. “If you’re talking about genes, for instance, the egg came first. Something that was almost a chicken genetically – but not quite – laid an egg which would develop into something that was just barely a chicken in genetic terms. What grew from the egg was technically a chicken, while what laid the egg was not. The egg came first.”

“Or,” Stevarino continued. “A religious person would say the chicken came first. That even if God created the egg first, what He ultimately was creating was a chicken. The egg was just the means to an end. He had in His mind the plan for a chicken and the egg was just where He started the cycle of chicken creation.”

“I see,” said the Soupster. “What the question is really asking is not ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ but ‘which came first, the design or the creation?’”

“The Creation,” said Stevarino, “Don’t get me started.”

“You’re next, Soupster,” said Bess, the checker, a little loudly, since she knew she had to pierce her voice through all of the two philosophers’ ponderous thoughts.

“Gotta go,” said the Soupster.

“Oooh,” said Stevarino. “I’m having a Sitka moment. I can see about 18 people shopping, in line or working here and I know everyone’s first name. Where does that happen?”

“Only in Our Town, that I know of,” said the Soupster.

99 total views, 1 today

Comments Off on Our Town – March 8, 2018

Our Town – March 8, 2018

| Our Town, Shopping, Small Town Stuff | March 7, 2018

The Soupster wonders who was pulling his leg.

Originally published March 13, 2008

The truth is, the Soupster was already in a terrible mood when he stopped at the store on his way home. And when he walked from his car to the front door of the supermarket, the Soupster made the mistake of looking up at the big roadside message board. He froze, muttered to himself and jumped to conclusions.

“Don’t,” the sign read and the Soupster, absurdly, took the message personally.

“Don’t what?” he growled. “Just spewing negativity with complete abandon? Typical. That’s the trouble with the world. Everywhere it’s `Don’t!’”

The Soupster took hold of the door handle, but then let go of it, took a step back and turned to face the sign. Like a person with one of those cell-phone earpieces, he spoke to the air.

“Look at that,” he said, his voice loud enough for passersby to hear, and pointing to the empty ladder up to the road sign. “Nobody is even there! They just put `Don’t!’ in your face and then they walk away – probably on one of their frequent breaks. `Don’t what?’ I’d like to know.”

The Soupster stopped spouting long enough to see a woman carrying a grocery bag give him a pitying stare and a wide berth.

Inside the store, he tried to ignore the “0 trans fat” and “Gluten free” signs. The “fortified with Omega-3” and “Acidophilous added” did not make him feel any more positive. A funk is a funk is a funk.

The Soupster tried to raise his spirits by remembering a pretty little city park he had once come across during travels in the Lower 48. A sign at the entrance had said: “Picnic, fly a kite, rollerblade, sunbathe, jog, dance” and so on. All the things you were supposed to do, instead of the “No dogs!” and “Keep Out!”

And his mood did lighten, buoyed as well by the checker’s friendly interest in what he was buying. But when the Soupster walked out the door, he saw the road sign had changed.

“Don’t Go Home,” it now said.

The Soupster got back into his car, stunned. “Don’t Go Home?” He was going home. Until now, he had been perturbed. But on the road back to his house, the Soupster felt angry.

“What kind of sick joke is that store playing on people?” “Is it even possible the sign was meant specifically for me?” “Why shouldn’t I go home?” The Soupster’s mind raced.

Two doors from his house, the Soupster pulled over to the side of the road. “Even if the sign has nothing to do with me, it is irresponsible to make people wonder if something is wrong at their home,” the Soupster stewed.

“That’s mean,” he decided and turned his car around in the direction of the store. The Soupster wasn’t sure who he was going to talk to or what he was going to say to them, but he was going to say something to somebody to straighten the responsible parties right out!

But as he neared the store, he realized at once that he would do none of that. For the sign had changed again.

Now it read: “Don’t Go Home Until You Try One of Our New Mango Shakes!”

127 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – February 22, 2018

Our Town – February 22, 2018

| Crazy Theories, Guest Written, Our Town, Rose Manning | February 22, 2018

The Soupster talks and listens.

I was cornered! I had to be quick. I grabbed my books and papers and scurried out of my cozy winter spot in the library. The new glass walls made it hard to be invisible.

Talking Joe was heading straight towards me. Joe was long and lanky and words spewed out of him like a manic fountain pen. Like a lot of Our Towners this time of year, he hunted down people to visit with.

An interesting man, Talking Joe. Curious and self-educated, he looked at old things in new ways and gave you ideas to mull over for days. He often sounded like the speculative science talks on the radio.

“Hi, Soupster!” Joe hailed just when I thought I was in the clear. “Soupster, have you ever noticed – Our Town is yellow?”

“Yellow? Do you mean faint of heart? Scared? Cowardly?”

No, no, Soupster. Just yellow. Well, maybe orangey-red, but it looks like a big ‘ole pumpkin patch.”

“How so, Joe?”

“Well, Soupster. It runs the gamut from burnt umber to the palest yellow to rooftop red.”

“Burnt umber? What is that, Joe?”

“Umber, I’ve read, is a natural brown earth pigment with oxides. When heated, the color becomes more intense and is called burnt umber.”

“And then, Soupster, have you noticed we have miles and miles of yellow ‘No Parking’ curbs? How do they pick these colors? Do they discuss them at assembly or is it just the paint on sale that month?”

“I don’t know, Joe, maybe folks are just seeking brightness. In deep winter here, the forests, mountains and oceans are mostly black, topped by dark gray clouds. Maybe people are trying to add an artificial sun to the landscape.”

“Yeah, Soupster, we all need variety – for example, I have to admit St. Michael’s Cathedral is the little non-pumpkin jewel of downtown.”

“Good things to think about, Joe. Anything else on your mind today?” I asked as I strolled toward the silent sanctuary of my truck.

“Oh, all kinds of things. Like why are the streets so quiet at night? I hardly ever hear anyone cussing or yelling anymore. Maybe it’s too cold to make noise.”

Joe seemed more lonesome than usual today. Ever since his wife passed, he’s been trying to reconnect with friends and neighbors. She was definitely the social glue of the pair. Things got even harder for Joe when his card-playing buddy Ralph moved south to be near grandkids. Talking Joe needed a listener now more than ever.

Sometimes, we all just need to shut up and listen better, and maybe the season will seem kinder and warmer.

“Okay, Joe, see you around,” I said as I started my engine.

“Soupster?”

“Yes, Joe?”

“I was wondering – why does our town have so many flat roofs? Just asking,” I heard him say.

I pulled away from the yellow curb, slowed down and called back, “Get in the truck, Joe, and tell me what you think about the flat roofs.”

Submitted by Rose Manning

141 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – December 14, 2017

Our Town – December 14, 2017

| Our Town | December 14, 2017

211 total views, 2 today

Comments Off on Our Town – November 30, 2017

Our Town – November 30, 2017

| Our Town, Seasons, Vampires | November 30, 2017

The Soupster chats up a night owl – well, not really an owl.

Our Town is a tolerant place, the Soupster thought, but it takes time.

He thought about Vladimir, who was standing in front of him in line at the bank. Vladimir had first come to town with not much English, no money and strange nocturnal habits. But the foreign man stayed through a whole winter, the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree in Our Town, and after that people took him seriously, even if they kept their distance.

This afternoon, near closing time, Vladimir looked terrible – always pale, he now had enormous black circles under his eyes. He slumped forward as though his arms were too heavy for his shoulders.

The Soupster caught Vladimir’s eye. “Gee, Vlad, you look awful,” the Soupster said, “like death warmed over.”

Vladimir chuckled, not altogether friendly. “Und you, Zoupster, you zmell like death needs a zhower,” he said, in his strong accent. “But you are accurate. I am zleep deprived. I am too active.”

Vladimir’s nocturnal habits were well known to everyone – the man slept all day and stayed up all night. And on the edge of Solstice in Our Town, night occupied most of the clock.

“I’m sympathetic, Vlad,” said the Soupster. “In the summertime — when the days last nearly till midnight and start again a couple of hours later? — I run myself ragged. It seems like every night at 10 p.m. or so, I think of some new project that needs doing that second.”

“Yes, Zoupster,” Vlad said. “Und you turn Zummer Zolstice upzide down und you get Vinter Zolstice.”

“Or you’re in Australia,” the Soupster joked.

“Yes, you must jest, Zoupster,” said Vladimir. “It is in your nature. As it is in mine to move across nearly the whole world. To come to the New World and leave my Old World ways behind.” Vladimir lifted his arm to cover most of his face, leaving only his dark eyes.

The Soupster remembered that he found Vlad a touch over-dramatic. But he was glad to see the other man looking more alert and awake. Vlad moved to the front of the line.

“So what did you leave behind in the Old World, Vlad?” the Soupster asked.

“Now, my favorite drink is tomato juice,” Vladimir answered with a dark laugh, exposing an impressive set of teeth. “With an egg well beaten into it!”

The teller free, Vladimir took his place at the counter. Although the Soupster’s turn came a moment later, his business was briefer and the two men found themselves standing outside the bank at the same time.

The Soupster zipped his coat tight against his neck in the chill darkness. Vladimir’s deep breaths came out in puffs of icy fog.

“Maybe you should take it easy this evening,” said the Soupster. “Kick back.”

“Oh, don’t conzern yourzelf vith me, Zoupster,” Vlad said with a wicked smile. “I am always groggy ven first I vake.” Then he changed into a bat and flew off.

172 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – November 16, 2017

Our Town – November 16, 2017

| Fall, Neighbors, Our Town, Relationships, Seasons | November 16, 2017

The Soupster sees light being lent.

The knock on the Soupster’s door turned out to be Bob, the Soupster’s new neighbor, who wanted to borrow a flashlight. Bob needed to do some outdoor plumbing and, new to Our Town, he still felt uncomfortable about running electrical cords outside in the rain.

“Cleve,” the Soupster told Bob. “Cleve is your man.”

Cleve was another of the Soupster’s neighbors and known for his lights. Cleve had gasoline-powered pedestal klieg lights as well as key chain lights whose bulbs were guaranteed beyond eternity. Cleve had lights he could strap to his head, his shoulder, the crook of his arm and his shoes. He had old diving lights that ran on massive lantern batteries, one than ran on a fuel cell the size of a dime and one that you could crank to operate.

The passage between the Soupster’s house and Cleve’s ran through some thick brush, and the Soupster could see Bob cringing from the even deeper dark that cloaked the path.

“Light,” said the Soupster. “Can you even remember the middle of the summer, when it never got dark? We’re paying for that now.”

The light-starved Bob took up the conversation; after all isn’t food — or the opposite of it — the favorite subject of famished people? “The desert is dark, notably dark,” he said. “A winter I spent outside Shiprock, Arizona taught me that. But wet dark is somehow worse.”

“Wet dark is like double dark,” the Soupster agreed. “Can be dark on the ocean.”

“On a tour of Alcatraz prison, I volunteered to be locked in solitary confinement,” said Bob. “When they closed the door, that was the darkest I could imagine.”

“Cleve’s yard is equipped with motion-sensor lights all over the place,” said the Soupster. “Don’t be startled. I can show you where you can just wave your hand a little out in front of you and set off the whole array.”

On the edge of Cleve’s lawn, the Soupster waved his arm a little out in front of him and the whole area blazed into daytime. Awash now, the two men staggered, blinking, up the walk. Cleve was already at his front door, tipped off by the lights.

“Can Bob check out one of your flashlights to do some plumbing?” the Soupster asked, indicating the new neighbor.

“Sure,” said Cleve, who disappeared briefly. He came back with a three lights — a carabiner micro-light, a waterproof million-candlepower portable searchlight and about six feet of luminescent piping. “Use the piping for brightening up the area where you are working,” he explained.

As Bob stood examining the lights, the Soupster turned to Cleve. “Poor guy,” whispered the Soupster. “This is his first November.”

“He’ll do okay,” Cleve said. “It’ll soon be Thanksgiving and the city lights will go up on the utility poles and the people in the stores and houses will start decorating.”

“Can I borrow all three lights?” asked Bob.

“Better than cursing the darkness,” said Cleve. “For sure.”

250 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – November 2, 2017

Our Town – November 2, 2017

| Animals, Cats, Dogs, Our Town | November 2, 2017

The Soupster visits the vets office.

Anton’s paws were a mess. The dignified long-haired jet-black Maine Coon cat hid a secret between his tufted foot pads – the sharp nails on his front paws grew in a tight circle and right back into the skin.

The veterinarian had spread Anton’s paw pads up to the light to show the Soupster the uncomfortable stuff his beloved cat walked upon. Traces of blood could be seen around the nails.

“I’m shocked he doesn’t limp or wince or something,” said the Soupster.

“Some cats can be pretty stoic,” the vet said, as he used small nippers on the cat’s claws, “Especially these Maine Coons.”

“Quite a back story, the Maine Coons have,” continued the medico. “They were supposed to have been the long-haired pets of Queen Marie Antoinette of France. She sent the cats to America, expecting to escape the French Revolution and come to America herself later on. Unfortunately, she waited until it was too late and got guillotined.”

“I’ve heard that,” said the Soupster. “The cats were released into the winter wilds of New England, where they mated with raccoons and developed their thick coats.”

“Well, that part isn’t true,” said the vet.

“Colorful, though,” the Soupster said.

“Anyhow, the placid nature and striking looks of these cats make them one of the most favored breeds in the U.S.,” the vet said. He stroked Anton’s head and then went back to nipping at his claws. “Few more minutes,” the vet said. Anton looked unperturbed, so the Soupster walked into clinic’s outer waiting room.

Sam Grace and his wife Judy sat there. A medium-sized black-and-white dog stretched on out the floor with his front feet on Sam’s boots.

“Nice looking dog,” said the Soupster to Sam. “What is he?”

“Miss Pepper is a mixed breed,” Sam said. “A shelter mutt.”

“She’s smart enough that I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she had some border collie in her,” added Judy. “She knows so many words!”

“She knows the difference between the ball and the big ball, and she’ll bring you the big ball if that’s what you’re asking for,” said Sam. “Good girl,” he murmured as he reached down to scratch Pepper’s head. “Miss Pepper is here for her certificate of health. We want to take her traveling with us.”

“Do you have a dog here, too?” Judy asked.

“A cat,” said the Soupster. “Anton. Nice big healthy boy. Except he has front claws that get all ingrown. So I have to bring him in for a pedicure twice a year.”

“That’s very caring of you,” Judy said. “You sound like a good owner.”

“Owner?” said the Soupster, “No, no, no, no, no.”

“Huh?” asked Sam.

“Dogs have owners,” the Soupster said firmly. “Cats have staff.”

221 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – October 19, 2017

Our Town – October 19, 2017

| Children, Money, Our Town | October 19, 2017

The Soupster recounts that there are three ways to skin a Permanent Fund.

“I’m going to become a parent,” Mick said to the Soupster as both met up outside a Lincoln St. bank. “And I’ve been thinking a lot about the problems and responsibilities of raising kids. I don’t think I’ll have any problem with religion, issues of brotherhood or with kids and crime – I know right where I stand and I know what I’m going to say. But how to deal with my kid’s Permanent Fund Dividend? That totally mystifies me.”

“I mean, it’ll be the kid’s money, won’t it?” he continued. “But it’s a lot of money for anyone to manage well, let alone a kid. A parent has to have a plan. What do you think?”

“Well,” said the Soupster, “There was this one family — despite the fact that they’re not rich, they put every PFD dollar for the kid into mutual funds. During the go-go 90’s. The family had some awful expenses, but they never, ever touched the kid’s PFD. When she was 18, the family had a big pile of money saved up for her and she ended up starting a rug business in Wrangell where her favorite Auntie lives. She’s doing very well there.”

“Sounds great,” said Mick. “But what if her family really got in a hole and they were going to lose their house or if somebody got really sick?”

“Well,” said the Soupster. “I know another family. Every PFD the kid’s whole life went into paying for the continuing, everyday expenses of the family. With the PFDs and everything else, the father was able to get his college degree from distance learning. The mother took a year off to volunteer for her church in South America, which was her lifelong dream. When college came around for the kid, there was no money, but everybody pulled together and now both father and son have their degrees.”

“I don’t think I could do that,” said Mick. “I’ll want to make absolutely sure my kid has a leg up. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to take chances with such a valuable resource.”

“Well,” said the Soupster. “Then maybe this family’s story will help. I mean I’m not endorsing this, but this family just handed the cash over to their kid and let her do anything she wanted with it. From when she was about six years old on, anything that got into this kid’s head, she was able to finance. This is when the PFDs were $1,200 and $1,500 a check. One year this kid bought more than 100 stuffed animals, one for everyone in her grade. Another year, she spent her whole thing at Save the Children. She sent her parents on a cruise ship cruise and when her neighbors said they’d love to do the same, the kid sent them on a cruise the following year.”

“Well, I hope you don’t endorse that, Soupster,” said Mick. “What a wasted opportunity and a reckless plan for handling that poor child’s money. A poor investment in the future.”

“Well, I don’t know,” the Soupster. “That kid is now making a fortune designing fantasy-based video games in Seattle. And she just bought her parents a new boat!”

254 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – October 5, 2017

Our Town – October 5, 2017

| Dreams, Our Town | October 5, 2017

The Soupster learns that some dreams have gray linings.

Yet again, the Soupster couldn’t sleep. Every night, he closed his eyes and started snoring, only to find himself transported to the pilot house of a tug boat, hauling an over-stacked cargo barge northbound from Ketchikan to Skagway.

Soupster at the helm, the barge’s bulk sailed slowly through misty Southeastern darkness. The barge and tug were well lit, but droplets of mist hanging in the air absorbed and concentrated the light, rendering the shore invisible.

The result was a sense of moving, yet staying still. Much like driving a car on the endless flatlands of Kansas. The Soupster had been dreaming this dream, off and on, for the past fortnight.

The Soupster rose and padded through his dark house. His bum knee ached. He poured himself a glass of milk and drank it at the fridge, then returned to his bed. He started the mental calculation to decide which to have checked out first – his painful knee or his unrestful sleep. In the morning, he knew to take care of things from the head down.

The Soupster called the assistant of a hypnotist who happened to be visiting Our Town to drum up hypno-business on local call-in radio shows and classified ads

“I’m Dr. Magma’s hypno-sistant,” confessed Lonnie.

The Soupster made an appointment with Lonnie’s boss, Dr. Lorenzo Magma. In the surprisingly professional-looking temporary clinic, the Soupster told Dr. Magma the sad story of his sleeplessness.

“A cargo barge, hour after hour of slow churning,” commiserated Dr. Magma. “Sounds very bad.”

For treatment, Dr. Magma told the Soupster that he would take over piloting the barge every night in Kake.  Then, said the doctor, he would take the barge the rest of the way to Skagway and the Soupster could get some shuteye.

Dr. Magma’s cure worked. Each night, as the barge approached Kake, the Soupster felt a relaxation come over him and he awoke in the morning vastly more refreshed.

About a week later, the Soupster saw on the streets of Our Town a disheveled man who looked like he might keel over any second. With a start, the Soupster realized it was Bruce Willforge, the gunsmith.

“Bruce, you look terrible,” said the Soupster.

“I haven’t slept in two months,” Bruce admitted. “Every might I dream that I go to an elaborate banquet with everything in the world to eat and lots of clever entertainment and I spend all night gorging and partying.”

“I have just the man for you,” the Soupster said and told Bruce to make an appointment with Dr. Magma.

Willforge did make the appointment and did receive treatment, the Soupster found out when he saw the gunsmith the following week. Despite that, Willforge showed no improvement in his pallid mien.

“Bruce,” said the Soupster. “Do you still have to dance and stuff yourself with scrumptious food all night in your dreams?”

“No, Dr. Magma took that off my hands,” Willforge said.

“Then why do you look so terrible?”

“Because now, every night, I have to pilot a cargo barge from Kake to Skagway instead!”

262 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – September 21, 2017

Our Town – September 21, 2017

| Crazy Theories, Our Town, Visitors | September 21, 2017

The Soupster plays the Name Game.

Originally published Oct. 8, 2009

The Soupster plopped onto the bench outside Harrigan Centennial Hall Building to rest his aching dogs (feet), swelling inside his normally spacious clogs. Combating Global Warming by walking more helped his heart and reduced his carbon footprint, the Soupster thought, but it seemed to be increasing his regular footprint.

A man and two women spilled out the door, laughing and poking at each other. They noticed the Soupster and stepped over.

“You from here? We love this town!” one woman erupted and her two friends nodded briskly.

The Soupster remembered that Convention Season had started on the (ahem) heels of the Running of the Boots.

“We’re from the Helen Mull Society,” volunteered the other woman.

“Who’s Helen Mull?” the Soupster asked..

“Not `who’ – `what,’” the man corrected. “It’s an acronym for the Hyphenated Last Names Making Up Luminaries Society. HLN-MUL.”

“Helen Mull, get it?” said the first woman. “Like me. My maiden name was Greta Pierce and I married Lawrence Brosnan. So now I’m Greta Pierce-Brosnan. Get it?”

“Bob Haas-Cartwright,” said the man, leaning forward to shake the Soupster’s hand. “Great little town you’ve got here.”

“Wow,” I can’t believe you have a whole society devoted to this,” said the Soupster.

“Oh, it’s very engrossing,” said the other woman. “For instance, Bob and I were only allowed into the Society two years ago when the rules were relaxed.”

“Oh, yes,” she continued. “Originally, the spelling of the hyphenated last name in question had to match the luminary’s precisely. Like Pierce-Brosnan’s name does. Then, they decided to allow names that only sound the same, using a standard American English pronunciation. Like Bob Haas-Cartwright.”

“And you are?” asked the Soupster.

“Sharon,” she said. “Oh, Sheehan-LaBoofe. Sharon Sheehan-LaBoofe. Sorry. It’s a mouthful, I admit.”

“Well,” said the Soupster. “Sheehan-LaBoofe is not the same as Shia LeBeouf, even in sound.”

“This year,” Pierce-Brosnan said, ignoring the Soupster’s comment, “we’ve been discussing whether plurals should disqualify or not. We’ve had applications from a Johns-Wayne, an Adams-Corolla and a Walters-Hickel. Oh, you should like that one!”

“I envy the founding members like Gerald Winston-Churchill,” Haas-Cartwright said to no one in particular. A young woman came out the door and Pierce-Brosnan shrieked with delight.

“Or even better,” Pierce-Brosnan said, taking the new girl by the arm. “This is Barbara Alexander, who hopes to join Helen Mull next year.”

“Hello,” said the Soupster.

“Next year,” said Pierce-Brosnan, “after she gets married to Lou Baranof. Get it?”

212 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – September 7, 2017

Our Town – September 7, 2017

| Animals, Dogs, Neighbors, Our Town, Relationships, Small Town Stuff | September 7, 2017

The Soupster recounts how a good prop can save the day.

“Wild beard – check, rough clothes – check,” said the Soupster to himself, as he stared at the large form of Granville Brickface standing at the coffee counter.

“Five shot venti Americano,” boomed Granville in a bass impressive enough to literally blow back the barrista’s hair (well, almost literally). Granville collected his potion and parked his bulk on the far side of the crowded coffee shop.

“Giant voice – check,” the Soupster muttered.

Granville Brickface was not the biggest guy in Our Town, but – with his wild beard, rough clothes and giant voice — he definitely took up the most space. Crowds seemed to part when he showed up. Dogs and birds went silent.

The Soupster remembered one time when a delicately-engraved invitation had arrived in Granville’s mail, with multiple pages and tissue papers in between each page. Granville was distantly related to some pretty lofty Our Town residents of the past and was being invited to the wedding of the daughter of one of the loftiest present-day Our Town residents.

The invite had required serious cogitation on Granville’s part. The guy was big, but not mean. He did not want to scandalize the ceremony with his usual “casual” garb, when the rest of the partygoers went formal. He did not want to do anything to rattle the nuptials. He would buy a suit.

“And get a haircut, for goodness sakes,” Granville heard in his mother’s voice inside his
head. He decided he would do that, too.

But successful social engagements are not based solely on appearance, Granville had remembered. People are required to talk with one another. A problem, he thought, that was more enigmatic than a haircut.

The Soupster had suggested a strategy from his long-ago experience with dating. He told Granvillle to anticipate the questions people would ask of him and, like a politician readying for a debate, prepare polite answers and memorize them. So Granville did.

The morning of the wedding, Granville took his newly-shorn and freshly-laundered self to visit the elderly woman who lived next door, as a test run.  Mrs. Cox was delighted with Granville’s transformation.

“It’s remarkable,” she said. “I’m nearly not afraid of you.”

“Do you think I’m ready?” Granville asked, purposely speaking in a low voice because of all the crystal glassware lining the breakfront shelves.

“Well,” said Mrs. Cox, tapping one finger against her chin.  “Maybe we can improve things a bit more.”

“Princess Lorna Doone!” Mrs. Cox called out and her tiny, fluffy, impossibly cute Pomeranian yapped into the room.

“Take Princess with you, Granville,” said Mrs. Cox. “Everybody loves Lorna!”

Granville did and Princess Lorna Doone earned her salt. All afternoon, Granville had a small crowd of people surrounding him, all wanting to pet and hold the dog. The memorized answers allowed Granville to appear almost charming.

And he got the best compliment of all when some cousin, taking in Granville’s fresh haircut, crisp suit and tiny dog, said, “I didn’t know Granville had a brother!”

272 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – August 24, 2017

Our Town – August 24, 2017

| Guest Written, Lois Verbaan DenHerder, Our Town | August 24, 2017

The Soupster encounters and old friend.

Submitted by Lois Verbaan

The Soupster panted as he climbed the stairway up the mountain. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. Apart from a squirrel which scampered up a tree, he was alone. Or so he thought. But, as he climbed the last flight of stairs, a person came into view, leaning on the guard rail and gazing into the distance.

“Rusty?? Is that you??” the Soupster asked, suddenly remembering his missed eye doctor appointment.

“‘Fraid so,” the old fisher replied, as she stared at the islands. “Seen a lot in my day,” she sighed. “Wispy clouds in a blue morning sky, a troller plying a glassy sea, a hazy horizon blurring snow-capped mountains, wind chopping up dark water, a cat streaking across the road to take refuge in shadows.”

“Rusty! What on earth??” the Soupster said. “You okay?”

“Sure,” she said, “just contemplating the passing of time. When you gotta turn back at the lookout, you realize you aren’t a spring Bambi anymore,” she admitted, rubbing her knees. “To tell the truth, summer’s taking its toll. Too much daylight and too much to do.”

“Aah, friend,” Rusty continued. “‘How small the boat for each life, how vast the ocean and its storms; May sunlight touch the waves, may strong wind take your sails…’  Know any ‘a those, Soupster?”

“Can’t say I do,” the Soupster mumbled, munching a handful of trail mix.

“Well, probably ‘cause I made ‘em all up,” Rusty laughed. “Anyway, how’s your summer going?”

“Productive,” the Soupster said. “I’m getting through my ‘Indoor To-Do List.’ Last week I sorted my garage cabinets into cutting things, hitting things and measuring things.”

“Wow, impressive!” Rusty said. “I count myself lucky if I can find anything clean on the boat to put on every morning. Anyhow, we have different priorities. Dry and warm is good enough for me.”

“Soupster, what I really want to know is how far we’ve hiked from the trailhead to here,” she said.

Pulling out his phone, the Soupster declared, “Siri! Pythagorean Theorem!”

“The square root of A-squared plus B-squared equals C-squared, Soupstah,” she replied.

“Australian accent,” the Soupster whispered to Rusty. “But that’s another story.”

“Impressive, Soupster, but you’re hurting my head – too early for this kind of mathematical genius.”

“That’s okay, Rusty, you’re good at other things. Take these, for example,” the Soupster said, examining her well-worn hiking poles, with glints of shiny metal between the mud. “These babies prove you’re a hardcore Alaska outdoorsperson.”

“Dunno,” Rusty said. “Always thought it was the shorts.”

“Got a point there, Rust,” the Soupster admitted. “Pretty hardcore how you wear shorts year-round. How do we know when the temperature has hit 40? When ol’ Rusty emerges from hibernation with shorts on.” Rusty chuckled.

A freezing gust of wind hit the hikers, bringing the first drops of that distant storm, and sending a shiver up Rusty’s legs. The two friends put on an extra layer, cinched up their backpacks and headed down the mountain.

258 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – August 10, 2017

Our Town – August 10, 2017

| Lower 48, Our Town, Relationships, Relatives, Seasons, Summer, Temperature | August 10, 2017

The Soupster talks to someone who can’t see the forest, because of one.

 “No, Uncle Bob, I’m not aware,” said the Soupster into the receiver of his landline phone, “just how hot your weather is right now.”

That was an outright lie. In fact, the Soupster knew. He regularly enjoyed playing a weather game called “Too Hot!.” The game involved reading the list of daily temperatures in the newspaper or watching the highs and lows of major U.S. cities scroll by on television and stopping at each one 80 degrees or higher to think aloud “Too Hot!” Starting in the Spring, various cities would pass into the realm of “Too Hot!” until, by August, most of the country qualified. It seemed as though too many cities were getting “Too Hot!” too early in the year and staying simmering too late into the fall. The Soupster knew from his game that Uncle Bob’s area had been hitting triple digits all week – shattering records set in horse-and-buggy days.

“That sounds terrible, Uncle Bob,” the Soupster said to his mother’s brother’s description of clothing turning sweat-soaked in minutes, engines overheating on gridlocked streets, regional power outages making air conditioners and refrigerators useless.

Of all the things the Soupster loved about Our Town and knew he would miss the most, its mild summertime temperatures ranked tops. Our Town and neighboring villages were maybe the last places in the country where the Soupster could live without ever having taken his air conditioner out of the box – it sat in the back of the Soupster’s closet like a survivalist’s cache of water pouches, freeze-dried Stroganoff and space blankets.

“What’s that, Uncle Bob?” the Soupster asked, registering what his relative had just said. “Your car was stolen when?”

During the heat wave and power outage, Bob explained, making it infinitely more difficult for him and his wife to haul ice back to their house to try and save the food in the chest freezer. The lack of transportation made it impossible for the couple to go the lakefront or other cooler escapes. Their usual last resorts – the movie theaters and the International House of Pancakes — were dark because of the blackout. Police found Bob’s car finally – minus hubcaps and, oddly, head rests.

“Why doesn’t it matter anymore, Uncle Bob?” asked the Soupster. “What do you mean `Eminent Domain’?”

Uncle Bob said that he worried about a developer who wanted to build condos right where his neighborhood stood. Meant jobs and higher taxes for the city. In New Jersey, one city had condemned some people’s houses with exactly the same outcome in mind and the U.S. Supreme Court backed the city and the developer. The city always wanted more people. More people just meant longer lines, Bob complained, at the market, the bank – even to vote. Of course, floods and tornadoes threatened, too. Along with the pesticides in the groundwater.

“Uncle Bob, you really have got to consider moving somewhere you find more pleasant.” said the Soupster.

“Never happen, Nephew,” Bob said. “Where else are real estate prices this low?

266 total views, 0 today

Page 1 of 151 2 3 15
  • Absolute Tree Care

    by on August 14, 2011 - 0 Comments

    27 Years Experience. All Stages of Tree Work. Owned & Operated by Marshall Albertson 907-738-2616 907-747-7342 Sitka, AK 99835

  • Baranof Realty

    by on December 29, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Independently owned and operated Cathy Shaffer, Owner and Broker Tel: 907-747-5636 Toll-Free:  877-747-5635 Fax: 907-747-8128 315 Seward St Sitka, AK 99...

  • Bayview Pub

    by on December 29, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Bayview Pub's downtown location provides breathtaking views of Sitka Sound and offers the best independently brewed beer the NW & Alaska have to offer, ...

  • Channel Club

    by on December 28, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Steaks. Seafood. Large Salad Bar. Desserts. Free Transportation Call for Reservations 5pm-9pm 907-747-7440 907-747-7430 Fax 2906 Halibut Point Road Sit...

  • Davis Realty

    by on December 26, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Local Knowledge, Experience and Dedication! Nancy Davis, Owner/Broker Debbie Daniels, Associate Broker 907-747-1032, 866-747-1032 Toll Free Fax: 907-747-1...

  • First Bank

    by on December 25, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Power of Alaska Banking 907-747-6636, (888) 597-8585 Fax: (907) 747-6635 PO Box 1829 Lake Street 203 Lake Street Sitka, AK 99835 www.FirstBankAK.com

  • Gary’s Outboard

    by on December 24, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Locally owned and operated by Gary Den Herder 30+ years experience 907-747-9399 224-B Smith Street Sitka, AK 99835 www.garysoutboard.com

  • Harry Race & Whites Pharmacy

    by on December 21, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Harry Race Pharmacy, Photo & Soda Shop 907-966-2130 106 Lincoln Street, Sitka, AK 99835 White's Pharmacy 907-966-2150 705 Halibut Point Road (by Lake...

  • Kenny’s Wok & Teriyaki

    by on December 17, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Chinese & Japanese Cuisine Mon-Fri 11:30am-9pm Sat.-Sun. Noon-9pm Delivery Available Noon-9pm, $15 Minimum 907-747-5676 210 Katlian St Sitka, AK 998...

  • Little Tokyo

    by on December 15, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Sushi & Roll. Tempura. Teriyaki. Udon. Mon.-Fri. 11am-9pm, Sat. 12-9pm (Closed Sunday) Free Delivery - $15 Minimum 907-747-5699 907-747-4916 Fax 315 ...

  • Murray Pacific

    by on December 14, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Not Just a Gear Store Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm Sun. 10am-4pm 475 Katlian Street Sitka, AK 99835 907-747- 3171

  • Pizza Express

    by on December 12, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Homemade Pizza & Authentic Mexican Food Dine In, Take Out & Free Delivery Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun Noon - 9pm Free Delivery  Mon-Sat 'til 10pm 907-96...

  • Schmolck Mechanical Contractors

    by on December 9, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Plumbing. Heating. Refrigeration. Sales. Service. Repair. Residential. Commercial. Industrial. 907-747-3142, Fax: 907-747-6897 110 Jarvis Street (Behind t...

  • Sitka Ready Mix & Rental Equipment

    by on December 8, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Equipment Rentals 907-747-8693 907-747-6166 Fax 202 Jarvis Street PO Box 880 Sitka, AK 99835 www.sitkareadymix.com

  • Sitka Realty

    by on December 7, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Serving Sitka...A Family Tradition Candi C. Barger, Broker 907-747-8922, 888-747-8922 Fax: 907-747-8933 228 Harbor Drive Sitka, AK 99835 www.sitkarealty...

  • TMW Custom Auto

    by on December 5, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Auto Sales & Repair 907-747-3144 125 Granite Creek Road Sitka, AK 99835

  • Sitka True Value

    by on December 4, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Behind Every Project is a True Value Mon.-Sat. 8am-6pm, Sun 10-4:30pm 907-747-6292 815 Halibut Point Rd Sitka, AK 99835 http://ww3.truevalue.com/sitkatru...

  • University of Alaska – Sitka Campus

    by on December 3, 2010 - 0 Comments

    "Plug In" to Your Future 907-747-6653 800-478-6653 1332 Seward Avenue Sitka, AK99835 www.uas.alaska.edu/sitka

  • Whole Soup - March 22, 2018

    by on March 22, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Whole Soup is a PDF version of every page of the Soup, just as it appears in the printed edition.

  • Our Town - February 22, 2018

    by on February 22, 2018 - 0 Comments

    The Soupster talks and listens.

  • Whole Soup - March 8, 2018

    by on March 7, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Whole Soup is a PDF version of every page of the Soup, just as it appears in the printed edition.

  • Whole Soup - February 22, 2018

    by on February 22, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Whole Soup is a PDF version of every page of the Soup, just as it appears in the printed edition.

  • Our Town - March 8, 2018

    by on March 7, 2018 - 0 Comments

    The Soupster wonders who was pulling his leg.

What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

Want to submit a piece for Our Town?

Contact us with your idea or completed piece. Our Town’s must be 450-500 words long, take place in or near Sitka and the Soupster must make an appearance, however brief.

Our Town Archives

Our Town Categories

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

* indicates required

We’re on Facebook!