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Comments Off on Our Town – August 25, 2011

Our Town – August 25, 2011

| Animals, Dogs, Guest Written, Jennifer Truman, Our Town | August 25, 2011

“Whoa!” Simon exclaimed, tightening his grip on the leash and pulling his border collie Spruce out of the path of a run-away German shepherd.

“Sorry!” the owner of the shepherd called out as he jogged on by, his dog running merrily ahead, dodging in and out of the bike lane, oblivious to the cars rushing past.

Simon shook his head and continued his walk. Around the next turn he ran into his friend Betty, who was walking her chihuahua LuLu.

“Thank you!” Simon immediately said, stopping next to her.

“Well, you’re certainly welcome! … But what for?” she asked with a laugh as their dogs greeted each other.

“For walking your dog on a leash! I can’t believe what a problem it has become in Our Town – it seems like nobody wants to walk their dog on  a leash anymore,” he explained. Betty nodded.

“Oh, I’ve noticed that, too,” Betty agreed. “It’s kind of surprising, really. Not only is it inconsiderate of other people and their pets, it’s so dangerous for the dog! My LuLu is very well trained, but I would never take the risk of her running away from me, running into traffic, or running into another BIGGER dog! I care about her too much.”

“I feel the same way. Also, if your dog is running around loose it’s not always easy to tell where they’ve gone to the bathroom and now you’ve created TWO problems. There is nothing worse than setting out on a nice walk with Spruce only to end it by walking through someone else’s mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after my own dog, but I don’t like cleaning up after other people’s!” Simon pointed out.

Betty shook her head. “If a person can’t stand the idea of their dog being on a leash, then I would suggest they go to the dog park before walking them loose around Our Town. It’s a nice little area and a great way for dogs to socialize with each other – not to mention the owners. That’s where I’m headed right now to meet up with the Soupster and his new friend.”

“Hey, that sounds like a great idea!” Simon nodded. “How about I join the two of you and let LuLu and Spruce play a little more, and maybe seeing a group of dogs having fun SAFELY will inspire other people to stop by.”

“See? A perfect solution for people who don’t like to use a leash to walk their dogs – and ESPECIALLY for people whose dogs seem to like to walk them!” she laughed, pointing down the street. Simon turned around to see the Soupster heading in the direction of the dog park, waving happily at them while being all but dragged off his feet by one energetic Lab – on his leash and looking happy as could be.

– Submitted by Jennifer Truman

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 19, 2011

Our Town – May 19, 2011

| Animals, Cats, Our Town, Parody | May 19, 2011

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Comments Off on Our Town – April 7, 2011

Our Town – April 7, 2011

| Animals, Cats, Downtown, Fish, Movies, Our Town | April 7, 2011

Decorative tattoos for animals? the Soupster pondered as he walked on the Our Town downtown sidewalk. He had heard the identification tattoos that people put on their dogs and cats had blossomed into an art form. But the previous evening, he had witnessed the unseeable – a cat with the face of Celine Dion smiling up from a shaved part of its foreleg.

And then he had heard the unhearable – the news that one of Our Town’s newest tattoo shops was tattooing pet fish. Naturally, the Soupster had resolved to see one of these tattooed fish forthwith. Ergo, he was downtown early (for him) in the morning.

A goldfish with the chemical symbol AU for gold would, perhaps, be an apt tattoo, the Soupster considered as he passed a store. A printed notice taped to the window caught his eye, from the Local Illness Network Team. Another offshoot, LINT had grown out of a collaboration between Our Town’s foodies and healthies. An official ceremony would be held later in the month, declaring a certain type of fluid-filled growth that appeared on the right flank as a “Sitka cyst” – joining the esteemed ranks of Sitka rose, Sitka alder and Sitka black-tailed deer. It was no joke – it drained and hurt.

Could put a tattoo of the devil on an angelfish, the Soupster thought mischievously.  Betta are the pretty fish with those swirly, airy fins that make them look like they’re flying through the water. What could you possibly tattoo on a betta? he wondered.

Just beyond the cyst notice, the store owners had placed in their window a clever new device for Our Town motorists. “As Seen on TV,” said the lurid poster, mounted adjacent to theWindshield ProjectionTM. The device projected scenes from the most beautiful places in the world – Tahiti, Switzerland, Kilimanjaro, Patagonia – onto the windshield of your car in a way that allowed you to drive safely while enjoying the world-class view.

Our Town already had a world class view, the Soupster judged, but even the most gorgeous waterfront commute could be boring if unchanged day after day. At any rate, there was way more of a chance of his buying a Windshield ProjectorTM than of having the face of a Canadian diva – any Canadian diva – tattooed on the shaved forearm of his cat.

Across the street, the cinema bi-plex offered up two films. “The Sea Lion King,” which the Soupster had not seen, and “Give ‘Em Hell, Herring,” which he had. In smaller letters, for movies showing at the out-the-road bi-plex, the sign advertised “Shallow Halibut” and “Rocky.” Do two bi-plexes equal one multi-plex?

Ooohhh, those little seahorses could sport wonderful tattoos, the Soupster thought, as he continued down the street. A saddle, for instance. Or a tiny jockey. Maybe they should tattoo seahorses on the sides of regular horses?

He ignored the light rain that had started. The Soupster had money in his pocket and no appointments till afternoon. He considered the coves and forest surrounding Our Town as paradise, but with money and time in his pocket, even downtown – even in the rain – seemed like paradise to him.

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 6, 2010

Our Town – May 6, 2010

| Animals, Birds, Leaving Sitka, Neighbors, Relationships | May 6, 2010

The Soupster awoke to the sound of birds – early birds. He heard a number of cars pull into the neighborhood and park in the street. The engines stopped and car doors creaked open. Next came the cawing of 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, Lydia, was re-locating to Hawaii to be with her son and his family. They had already remodeled the lanai into an apartment. Lydia’s daughter-in-law had come into a sizable inheritance, so her son had closed up his not-so-successful Our Town nautical pest extermination business (“Swimming Rats Our Specialty”). Having misjudged their opportunities in the 49th State, the son and the wife decided to give the 50th  a whirl.

The Soupster quickly donned his clothes – grateful for the new 21st Century rule that American and European men no longer need to comb their hair. He 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 store, 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 Mr. Coffee 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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Comments Off on Our Town – September 24, 2009

Our Town – September 24, 2009

| Animals, Dogs, Guest Written, Kathy Ingallinera, Our Town, Pets | September 24, 2009

My old dog, Grizzly, and I round the corner in the park and I spy the Soupster sitting on a bench. I sit beside him as Grizzly sniffs some Cow Parsnip. “Hey, Soupster, you like old dogs or young dogs better?” He reaches over to scratch Grizzly on the head, causing both of them to grin with pleasure, although only Grizzly’s leg starts tapping.

“Well, I like young pups better; so full of energy and doing funny things. They’re a lot of work though, with housebreaking and their constant chewing. What about you?”

“Been awhile since I had a pup. I’ve grown fond of older dogs. They have so much to teach us, if we’re willing to be their students.”

“What do you mean? I’ve heard of taking dogs to obedience school, but never of people being trained by dogs,” the Soupster says.

“Got time to take a stroll around the park with us? Grizzly might teach you a few things I call the ‘P’s’” of senior dogs.”

We walk until Grizzly stops near a totem pole, closes his eyes and lifts his nose into the wind. “The first ‘P’ of older dogs – pleasure. You saw this earlier when you were scratching his head and now as he stops to inhale the smells of the sea. Old dogs take pleasure in small, simple things.”

“Older people do, too,” the Soupster mumbles to himself.

We amble along the level trail for a few more minutes until Grizzly sees a salmonberry bush. “Now you’ll see passion – the second ‘P’.” The Soupster stands back, not sure what to expect. I reach through the picked-over branches and find some plump salmon-colored berries that Grizzly quickly inhales. When the pickings get slim I try to sneak a few ruby-colored ones into his mouth. He spits them right out. “That’s another ‘P’ of older dogs – persnicketyness. Once in a while he’ll eat a red one, but that’s his prerogative.”

Continuing on the trail, I reach in my bag and give Griz a biscuit. A piece of it falls into a hole at the base of a tree, and is partially hidden by the roots. He uses his right front paw to reach in and slowly drag the piece forward until he grabs it with his snout. “That ‘P’ was persistence and Grizzly has it, especially when it comes to food.”

“Tell me about the last ‘P’s’ so I can get back to work.”

“Well, then you should stay with us a little longer. Grizzly could teach you about patience like he has taught me. I walk slowly, glad for every minute he is by my side. There’s one more ‘P’ too – that’s peace. That’s what we share each evening when I give him a kiss goodnight and he returns it.”

The Soupster is deep in thought. He says, “You know, the dogs in our town have it lucky. We live in a beautiful place where we have time for slow walks and good smells and peace.”

“Yes – and plenty of salmonberries!”

– Submitted by Kathy Ingallinera, in memory of Grizzly, who died 9/1/09 under a salmonberry bush

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 26, 2009

Our Town – February 26, 2009

| Animals, Cats, Dogs, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships, Trucks | February 26, 2009

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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Comments Off on Our Town – February 12, 2009

Our Town – February 12, 2009

| Animals, Dogs, Our Town, Trucks | February 12, 2009

Great big men holding tiny little dogs seemed more common in Our Town, the Soupster mused as he encountered his friend Arlen with his dog outside the restaurant. Max, the miniature mutt in question, lifted his wee head and bared his tiny teeth as though the Soupster was treading on controversial territory just by looking at him. The dog emitted a growl, barely audible.

“Maximus!” Arlen scolded, “Stop growling at the Soupster like that. We like the Soupster. The Soupster is our friend.” Holding his dog closer, Arlen stopped strolling out to his parked pickup.

Maximus quit barking and pretended to relax in Arlen’s arms, but when the Soupster came within striking range the little dog leaped — a five-pound ball of fury that lit into the Soupster’s cuffs.

“Maximus,” Arlen sighed, a little too languidly for the Soupster’s taste. “Let go of the Soupster’s pants.” The big man reached down and retrieved his dog. The Soupster heard cloth ripping and a cold wind against his left shin.

Arlen walked over to his parked truck and put Maximus inside. “Sorry, Soupster,” Arlen said. “I don’t know what got into Max today. I think I may have over-trained him.”

“Overtrained him!”

“We worked on his tricks all morning,” said Arlen. “Today, I was teaching him to open and close the locks in the truck.”

“Why ever would you do that?” asked the Soupster.

“In case I ever locked myself out of the truck, Soupster,” said Arlen. “And say I locked Maximus in the truck with the keys in the ignition – that would be no problem.”

“That happen a lot?” asked the Soupster.

“Not yet, thank goodness,” said Arlen.

The two men heard the distinctive “clicks” of two pickup truck door locks snapping into place. Maximus stood with his front too legs pushed against the truck window, looking proud.

“Now he went and locked it,” said Arlen. “My keys are in the ignition. You better light out, Soupster. I want Maxie in a good mood so I can get him to open the doors. He’s not as good at unlocking.”

“But before I go,” said the Soupster. “tell me how Maximus got his name.”

“He’s named for Russell Crowe in Gladiator,” said Arlen. “You know, the movie about the Roman general who was supposed to be Emperor but saved the Republic instead and was an enormous hero.”

“Has the dog ever seen Gladiator?” the Soupster asked.

“Me and Maxie watch it together all the time,” said Arlen. “How did you know?”

“I was just thinking that might be the case.” said the Soupster, who made hay even though the sun didn’t shine and escaped. “Good luck with those locks!”

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