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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 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?”
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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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Why not? – the Soupster enjoys a good cartoon.
By Kara Kesanooksisk
Would you like to create an Our Town?
The Sitka Soup would welcome an infusion of “new blood.” You may tell your story in words (450-500 of them), or as a graphic “cartoon” strip (probably four panels the size of those above). We would even consider a short, original photo essay with B&W photos. Your Our Town must be closely connected with the life of Sitkans, and the Soupster must make an appearance, even if it’s a brief one. If we run your Our Town, we’ll pay you $50.
Email your creation to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Our Town” in the Subject line. Or call 747-7595.
463 total views, 1 today
The Soupster Lives!
Guest Written by Rose Manning (with input from Mike Helmrich)
“How ya doin’?” said Max-the-Dog to his human friend Irish Lil, as they stood chatting by the post office.
“Well, Max,” said Lil, “I’m getting back to Our Town after being in ‘America’ for eight weeks. Seven weeks in Michigan and one in California. Both were 100 degrees in the shade, with a daunting amount of mugginess. I tell you, when I walked off that plane into the grand, fine mist of Our Town I even considered kissing the damp ground. But, even with all that joy, when I heard about the writer dying it made me want to cry. That’ll teach me to go roamin’!”
“I hardly knew him, Max. I only met him twice in person. How could it have hit me so hard? The writer was kind. He was witty and nice. You know, I’m a bit of a writer, too,” said Lil.
“That so, Lil?”
“The writer laughed at my writing and even published some of it. That really tickled me.”
“I know what you mean,” said Max. “I liked him, too. And my wife, Kitty, really liked his writing. One time, he wrote a story about the two of us, when we met the Soupster – I was sitting in my truck, waiting for Kitty to come out of the sandwich shop.”
“Well,” said Lil, “I remember the first time I met both the writer and the Soupster. It was in the grocery store parking lot. There I was, in the front seat of a kindly Our Townsperson who’d agreed to give me, carless newbie, a ride. While I was waiting, I pulled a Soup from between the seats and read ‘Our Town.’ First, he made me smile, then chuckle and, finally, laugh right out loud. And I thought, ‘Yep, this town is going to be just fine for me, with people like you in it.’
Max replied, “You know, the writer had respect for everyone – he met them right where they were. He saw no problem with me and my wife, even though we are different breeds. Dogs, cats. Even telemarketers. And his sense of humor – quirky, for sure, but with lots of underlying truth. My wife Kitty loved the one about, ‘Cats have staff.’ That’s true – I’m her staff. She also loves the mystical stuff, like the time he talked about the ‘Wise Old Man’ – cats do like the mystical.
“What about the Soupster, Max? Did he pass away, too?”
“The Soupster? Oh, no! Soupster’s still around. Why, I saw him the other day, talking to Sam Grace out in front of our-doctor-the-vet’s office. That’s what I mean – the writer understood everyone. Soupster is a cat man through-and-through, and Sam – well, he’s definitely a dog man. And there they were, jabberin’ away like old friends.”
Lil agreed. “The writer gave me perspective, made me see Our Town in a new light and raised my spirits, too. I still imagine him slipping around corners, taking mental notes of humorous human habits, just to entertain, and maybe now, I guess, cause the occasional angel to raise the occasional eyebrow.”
496 total views, 1 today
The Soupster copes with unpleasant memories.
Originally published May 8, 2014
“You hate my dog!” Laura overheard through the library stack. “You revile my pooch.”
Laura the Librarian, with an armful of books, turned the corner, “Soupster?” she said “Is that you?”
“Uh, oh,” the Soupster said. “Was I talking out loud?”
“Something about dogs?” said Laura. “Something about hating dogs?”
The Soupster reddened. “I am a confirmed animal lover,” he said guiltily. “I actually like dogs third best, right after cats and Australians.”
“Then why did you say you hated your dog?” said Laura.
“It’s just an expression I use to control my bad thoughts,” the Soupster answered.
“Stay there,” said Laura, as she tipped the books in her arms onto a nearby empty shelf. She smoothed her blouse and gave her shoulders and head a little shake. “Now,” she said to the Soupster, “Tell me what on Earth you are talking about.”
The Soupster looked around to see if anyone else was listening. “Well,” he said, lowering his voice, “When I say, `You hate my dog,’ it really has nothing to do with dogs, or hatred, or even you, for that matter.”
“You know, when a person has a memory of something that didn’t turn out so well?” the Soupster went on. “And when they figure out what they should have done that would have worked out fifty times better? Or when they remember something somebody once said and only now can they think of the perfect thing they should have said back then?
“I don’t have these problems,” said Laura,
“Consider yourself lucky, then,” said the Soupster. “But my mind sometimes gets locked in kind of negative territory. My saying, `You hate my dog’ breaks me loose.”
“Tell me Soupster,” said Laura. “how did you come up with saying you hate your dog… er… my dog? Oh, you know what I mean.”
“Well,” said the Soupster, “It started a long time ago with the old saying, `Love me, love my dog.’ That morphed into `Hate me, hate my dog.’ Finally, just, `You hate my dog.’”
“Fascinating, your noggin,” said Laura.
“Show me the noggin what ain’t,” said the Soupster.
“Well, your noggin, especially, ain’t ain’t,” Laura said.
“You hate my dog!” said the Soupster.
“Wait just a minute,” said Laura. “Didn’t you just finish telling me that all this had nothing to do with me or dogs or hatred or dog hatred or anything?”
“Ooops,” the Soupster said.
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Soupster’s starlet-in-hiding and the wrongly accused charlatans.
Originally published November 6, 2014
The Soupster stepped out of the rain and into the lobby of Our Town’s airport to pick up an express shipment. He hoped that someday the animal heads and fish lined up along the front beam could be made animatronic, like something out of Disneyland. Visitors would take it as noteworthy, the Soupster surmised, if a 70-lb. king salmon winked at them and said, “Welcome to Our Town!” or “Please come visit Our Town again.”
The gangway swung open and passengers spilled out. The serious travelers flowed right out the front door, having whittled their fashion and toiletry needs down to carry-on size. The rest of the crowd oozed slowly toward the luggage carousel. At the front counter, the Soupster was told he could retrieve his package in a few minutes.
“Hi, Soupster!” said Skye Claire, sideling up next to him. Skye was a professional entertainer who holed up in Our Town periodically to hide from her adoring fans. “How’s my favorite purveyor of miscellaneous items soaked in rainwater?”
“And my best wishes to you, Miss Skye,” the Soupster said with a barely perceptible bow. “What’s new in the entertainment business?”
“I met a talking dog,” said Skye.
“I’m listening,” said the Soupster.
“So, I’m in the office of a talent agent in Seattle who’s trying out new acts for the annual Rainier Review,” she recounted. “I’m standing by the door filling out some contract forms, when the agent lets in the next act for an audition.”
“‘Spartacus, the Wonder Dog!’ trumpets the owner of a speckled black-and-white, longhaired,
medium-size hound. ‘Spartacus will now answer three questions.’”
“What was the owner like?” asked the Soupster.
“A bit forgettable,” said Skye. “Plus, me and the talent agent are busy staring at the dog.
“‘Spartacus,’ says the owner. ‘What do you call the material on the outside of a tree?’
“‘Bark!’ yelps the dog enthusiastically. The talent agent raises his eyebrows.
“‘Spartacus,’ says the owner. ‘Name a three-masted wooden cargo ship from the 19th century.’
“‘Barque,’ yips Spartacus. The agent crosses his arms and looks stern.
“‘Spartacus,’ the owner says a third time. ‘What is the best brand of root beer?’
“‘Barq’s’ Spartacus says.
“‘That’s enough, you charlatans!’ says the talent agent, who comes out from behind his desk and scoots both man and dog out of the office. I slip out with them. The agent goes back inside and slams his door.
“Spartacus looks up at his owner. ‘Henry Weinhard?’ Spartacus says. I almost fainted.”
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The Soupster presents his evidence to the court.
Originally published May 19, 2011
The Story Behind the Story
The Soupster chattered happily to everyone he saw in the store as he bought a quarter pound of Bavarian ham to use to bribe the all-black, long-haired shelter cat the Soupster hoped to adopt. He was on his way to the animal shelter for a visit.
The Soupster believed there was a tribe of long-haired cats in Sitka – usually sporting big neck ruffs, ear tufts and plumed tails – that were almost dog-like in the way they interacted with humans, yet kept their feline independence intact.
The Soupster had lost such a kitty during a January cold snap and had put the word out for another. Pierre (nee 8-Ball) had lost his owner, who couldn’t take him when she had to leave town suddenly. A clever animal shelter person correctly deduced that 8-Ball needed the Soupster, and vice versa.
But having only once been introduced to Pierre briefly, the Soupster needed to formally propose that he and the cat initiate a trial co-habitation.(ed. note: You have to talk this way about cats.) The Soupster thought he would have a better chance to convince 8-Ball that he should change his name to Pierre, if the Soupster was offering Bavarian ham as he proposed the idea.
But what about the humans at the animal shelter? The Soupster noticed some fresh- baked croissants that a person would have to be comatose not to love. Five of the croissants neatly filled a cellophane-topped box. Still chattering happily, the Souspter paid for his loot and left the store.
The Soupster put the big box of croissants on the flat top of his car, opened the door and got in. It wasn’t until he was turning onto the state road and the box flew off the top of his car that the Soupster remembered putting the croissants up there.
(ed. Note: The rest of the story in “Condensed Soup” is basically true, although, obviously, croissants do not explode in a way reminiscent of late adolescence. We would like to thank those motorists (and one biker) who went to great pains not to run over the croissants spread out over the road. The Soupster managed to retrieve all five croissants, dust them off and eat four himself. One croissant and the box did not survive.)
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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.
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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.”
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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!”
796 total views, 2 today
The Soupster theorizes about bear behavior.
The Soupster heard an incredible bear story the other day. It seems his friend Eddie was bicycling to work and, unbeknownst to him, was being chased by a brown bear. A very alert driver saw this and pulled into the parking lot to head the bear off. Eddie never knew he was being chased by a bear until he got to work, when someone came in and told him.
This bear had been a recurring problem in the neighborhood for a few weeks, and there was even talk of euthanizing the animal. The Soupster had his own theory as to why this particular bear was so hungry and bold.
The Soupster’s summer walks had always included the bridge over the river inside the park. And this year, like always, he had closely monitored the humpy run, while striking up conversation with tourists in the park.
So the Soupster, with his daily monitoring of visitors and humpies, is here to tell you that it was a normal-to-very-good run this year. To the delight of the tourists – er, visitors – the river was plugged with humpies this summer, and there was plenty of water to get them upstream as far as they wanted to go. In early August, there were lots of humpy carcasses on the riverbanks for the birds and bears, going all the way down the trail down to the mouth of the river, where it empties into the ocean.
For further proof that this year started out as a normal run, the Soupster noticed that the smell test at the post office was normal. In a normal year with a west wind you can smell the rotting humpy carcasses at the post office. With a southwest wind, you can’t. By mid-September, in a year with a good run, you can smell them way past the post office, all the way to the auto parts store.
So what happened? If you recall, later in August, we got a couple days of near torrential rain. The river went up to flood level and – sadly – all the lovely humpy carcasses were flushed out to sea. The late spawners were all that was left. And that was barely enough for the birds, let alone the bears.
The Soupster further theorized that bears are very territorial and that this particular older bear, not finding his accustomed winter’s stash of dead protein by the river, was driven by hunger to committing the “crime” of being too familiar with humans. Thus, Eddie’s bear had a long rap sheet – chasing Eddie to work, charging a man on his porch, knocking over numerous garbage cans, and breaking into two garages and a parked pizza delivery vehicle.
Perhaps mercifully, Eddie’s bear disappeared shortly after his autumn adventures, and did not have to be put down – but had he chosen to stick around, his fate would have been determined by the fact that you cannot have brown bears living in town and becoming familiar with humans. Bears are just too unpredictable.
– Submitted by Ron Rau
896 total views, 1 today
The Soupster and four colleagues view the astounding
Outside the supermarket, the Soupster occupied the driver’s seat of his car. He waited impatiently for his friend Ted to emerge with the cold drinks the two men had been craving since spending the afternoon cutting and hauling firewood.
He looked at the car’s clock, calculating the time that Ted would take chatting with the checkout person.
In the black SUV parked to the right, a regal-looking dog — maybe some Afghan hound in the blood? – sat in the driver’s seat and peered back at the Soupster. The Afghan looked royally bored.
Up and to the left, a Pug-faced mixed-breed dog also sat in the driver’s seat of his owner’s small hatchback, watching the sliding front door of the market with grim intensity for his human to appear.
In the pickup parked perpendicular, two barking Shih Tzu resembled animated stuffed toys. Their sturdy little legs were propped against the pickup’s window and they barked in perfect unison at landing ravens, passing humans and nothing in particular. The tiny dogs also stared at the supermarket door, waiting for their personal human to emerge.
“Where’s Ted?” thought the Soupster — picturing himself checking his watch and tapping his foot – although he actually slouched in his seat and looked again at the dashboard clock.
The Pug-faced dog had moved to the passenger seat for a better view of the front door. The Afghan regarded that same front door and yawned. The Shih Tzu had switched to a first-one-then-the-other style of yipping, probably to husband their resources for what was turning out to be a longish haul.
They were all trapped, the Soupster thought, regarding his plight and that of his canine peers. All vibrant organisms in tin cans waiting for their rescuers. In the Soupster’s case, he was held by his social bond with Ted. The dogs were even more inextricably bound in their metal prisons, having neither thumbs nor car keys.
Did that make Ted and the dog owners prison-keepers, thought the Soupster?
As people filed in and out of the front door, the Pug-faced dog jumped excitedly back and forth between driver and passenger seats. The Shih Tzu switched back to barking in unison. Even the Afghan joined in with low howling.
“Oh, my,” said the Soupster.
Then a white station wagon pulled into an open parking spot. While the dogs kept up their din, the driver of the white wagon stepped out of his door and opened the rear hatch. Inside was a golden retriever-mix dog. The driver patted the dog on the head, then turned and went into the store – AND LEFT THE REAR HATCH OPEN.
The Afghan was so aghast, it ceased howling. The Shih Tzu, too, were silent, although they still moved their tiny mouths. Only the Pug retained his voice and grunted with scores of questions.
The golden retriever wasn’t tied in. The hatch was open. His owner was gone. Why didn’t he bolt?
The Soupster – and, he imagined, the dogs – pondered the question. Why didn’t the retriever bolt?
But then Ted was in the car with the drinks.
“Long line, sorry,” Ted said, popping his can top, taking a long swallow and registering the Soupster’s far away expression. “See anything interesting?”
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