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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!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – March 23, 2017

Our Town – March 23, 2017

| Children, Our Town, Youth | March 23, 2017

The Soupster reminisces about childhood games with the librarian.

“Here for more of your favorite biographies, Soupster?” Ms. Conklin, the librarian said at the book check-out counter.

“There’s nothing more interesting than the life stories of people,” answered the Soupster.. “Nothing in the whole world.”

“What is it about biographies that so particularly fascinates you?” asked Ms. Conklin.

“The patterns of a life,” the Soupster said, “especially from the vantage point of the future looking back. Minor events that go this way and that hold vast influence later on.”

“Sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” he concluded.

“Pardon?” said Conklin.

“It’s the term they use in math’s new chaos theory,” the Soupster explained. “Small changes at one time mean big changes in another. A butterfly flaps its wings in Beijing and it affects the weather in New York.”

“I find for instance,,” he continued, “that people who excel in certain areas in later life – like music or even finance – show an early talent and interest in related topics.”

“True for me,” said Ms. Conklin. “When I was a child, I actually used to play library. All my friends would play house or with their dolls. I would line up all my books, my desk and a chair and make my parents come in my room, choose books and then check them out. I had a special little bear stamp I would use. I even used to make friends of my parents check out books when they came over to visit.”

“What did you play, Soupster?” Conklin asked.

“War stuff, “ said the Soupster. “A Union soldier trapped behind Confederate lines. Sailors in a flooded engine room trying to plug up the leaks. On another planet against monsters. Whatever hostile dramas we saw on TV and in the movies.”

“My family had no TV, so we read a lot” said Conklin. “Which may explain my library game. I used to play swimming pool, too. I made my parents rent towels and take a fake shower before they could sit on the living room couch. I used to blow a whistle at my father and make him get out of the deep end. They thought I was loony.”

“Were you ever a lifeguard?” asked the Souipster.

“I was never a lifeguard,” Ms. Conklin said, stamping the return date into the last of the Soupster’s biographies. “But I’ve saved people from drowning in some really lousy prose.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 11, 2016

Our Town – February 11, 2016

| Children, Our Town, Relationships, Relatives | February 10, 2016

The Soupster allows a friend to vent about her colorful, frustrating sibling.

Annabella and Adeline – the dueling sisters. If there had been a women’s fencing team while they studied at Our Town high school, the two girls could have comprised the main elements of a perpetual motion machine. Now, even with the whole of the Pacific Ocean as a buffer zone, they’d regularly raise sparks on Skype.

In her mid-thirties, Annabella moved to Sydney, Australia and worked for an Asia Pacific entertainment consortium. She was the one with the personality. Adeline – two years younger – stayed put in Our Town and anchored herself with a house, a husband, a kid, a bookkeeping business and several city advisory committee appointments. She prided herself on her calm, smooth-running household.

Despite these differences, Annabella and Adeline were so closely joined that neither could imagine a world without the giant irritant of the other person. They needed each other like salt needs pepper. And to keep the spicy interchanges going, the sisters spent about an hour a week talking to each other over the video link.

For nearly a year, Adeline’s youngest, Katie, had taken to sitting on her mother’s lap during the Skype sessions. For a time, the two women tried to include the child in their conversations or to censor what they said to spare tender young ears. But the girl was so content to sit quietly at the computer monitor and listen that her mother and aunt soon forgot that she was there.

When Adeline asked young Kate what she thought of her Auntie Annabella, the child said “she’s funny and little.” Annabella felt encouraged every time she heard her niece’s tinkly giggle.

But what made Katie giggle made her mother cross. Over Skype, once a week, Adeline was able to stomach her sister’s larger-than-life personality without much complaint. The die was cast, though, when Annabella announced she was coming home to Our Town for a visit and arrived the following Wednesday.

Little Katie was not prepared for her Aunt Annabella in real life mode. The two sisters locked horns immediately and constantly.

They gave each other awful looks, making Katie put her hands over her eyes. When voices were raised, she put her hands over her ears. Katie said nothing, put her hands over her mouth and ultimately called to mind the statue of the three monkeys on her daddy’s desk.

After one tussle, an exasperated Adeline needed to go for a walk alone to cool off and asked Annabella to watch Katie. Adeline planned to call the Soupster and vent.

“Don’t worry about your mother,” Annabella told Katie after Adeline had left. “She’s been like this since she was your age.” She handed Katie a doll. “Do you like my coming to visit?” she asked.

“I like the little you,” said Katie, taking the doll. “Better than the big you.”

“The little me?” asked Annabella.

“The little you,” said Katie, her exasperation making her appear slightly like her mother. She ran over to the desk and pointed to the computer – “the little you.” She pointed at her aunt – “the big you,” she said, and pointed again to the computer – “the little you.”

“I like the little you way better,” she concluded.

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Comments Off on Our Town – October 22, 2015

Our Town – October 22, 2015

| Children, Money, Our Town | October 22, 2015

The Soupster recounts strategies for dealing with an annual financial windfall.

Originally published October 20, 2005

“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,” said 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!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – April 9, 2015

Our Town – April 9, 2015

| Children, Our Town | April 9, 2015

The Soupster helps a father on a quest.

“I looooove Tristan,” five-year-old Lily cooed about her preschool classmate in a continuous loop. “I want to marry Tristan. We will live in the house next door.”

The little girl was cuter than a bug, but her mother, Sarah, frowned. Strong-willed Lily had been at it about Tristan for more than a week and Sarah was so, so tired of it. She worried that Lily was obsessed. She worried it had to do with their recent move from their former town to Our Town. Lily had talked constantly about missing her friends from their old town until she started in on Tristan.

“Lily is much too young for us to have to be seriously concerned with her having those kinds of feelings, isn’t she?” asked Sarah’s husband Bill, who thought he was agreeing with his wife.

“No, you’re wrong,” Sarah said, “The kinds of feelings Lily is having are fine. It’s just that she’s so driven and relentless about it!”

But a week later, Sarah and Bill would have been only too happy to hear their daughter talk continuously about her happy future life with Tristan. For, Lily and Tristan’s daycare closed suddenly when the woman who ran it had to go South to care for relatives. The two young friends were separated, parceled out to two different daycares. Lily was crushed.

Bill decided that he would save the day. He would find Tristan and arrange a play date for Lily. With Sarah taking the brunt of supporting a little girl who very publicly expressed her sadness, Bill set out to find Tristan.

Now Our Town is a small town, to be sure. But even a small town can be daunting when you don’t know anybody. Bill knew only the guys at work, so he started there.

But when he told his gape-mouthed co-workers his story, they hooted with delight. The whole crew had been looking for some way to razz the new guy, and the story of Lily and Tristan fit perfectly. They started calling Bill “Dolly” — after the matchmaker-protagonist of “Hello, Dolly!”

The experience eroded some of Bill’s enthusiasm, but he kept at it. He didn’t know Tristan’s last name, parents’ names, or where they worked or lived. After striking out for a couple of days, Bill decided to play detective and visit the old, now-empty daycare to see if he could dig up any clues.

He stood outside the daycare building, formerly a home with a semi-attached B&B.  The Soupster, who lived next door, saw Bill and sidled over.

“Quiet, with the kids gone,” the Soupster commented. Bill told the Soupster why he was there.

“Tristan?” said the Soupster. “That kid is a pistol! He was always hanging over the fence wanting to help me with my chores. There was a little girl with him – brown curls? His mother Pam works at the city.”

Bill barely said thanks, he was in such a rush to get back and deliver the good news.

He burst through his front door and saw Lily in the living room, embracing her teddy bear.

“I found Tristan!” Bill spilled happily.

“No, Daddy,” said Lily. “I want to live with Teddy in a house next door to you and Mommy. I looooove Teddy!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – April 10, 2014

Our Town – April 10, 2014

| Abigail FitzGibbon, Children, Guest Written, Our Town, Rain, Relationships, Relatives, Weather | April 10, 2014

The Soupster discovers the secret to aging gracefully.

Living in Our Town as he did, the Soupster had experienced many, many rains in his lifetime. Nevertheless, he hadn’t seen a rain quite as intense as the one that had been showering Our Town for three long days now.

The Soupster stared morosely out of his car as he rolled down his street, fat raindrops hurling themselves onto his windows. Even before the rain, he’d been having a miserable week. He kept finding gray hairs in his hairbrush, he could see more wrinkles on his face every time he looked in the mirror and he’d forgotten the names of three people that he’d talked to today alone. He’d never thought of himself as the type to be paranoid about aging, but he couldn’t stop worrying.

As he turned into his driveway, a small figure – wearing a hot pink raincoat and dancing vigorously – caught his eye. Stepping hard on the brakes, the Soupster unbuckled his seatbelt and leaped out of the car.

As he got out, he could hear the figure’s high, clear voice joyfully yodeling, “-rious feeling, I’m hap-hap-happy ag- Oh, hi, Uncle Soupster!” The freckled face of Winter, his nine-year-old niece, grinned at him, brown curls poking out from under her raincoat’s hood.

“Winter, what are you doing here?” the Soupster asked.

“I’m staying with you while my parents are on vacation, remember, Uncle Soupster?” Winter told him, speaking slowly and carefully.

“I know that!” the Soupster exclaimed, exasperated. He wasn’t that far gone yet. “I mean, why are you dancing in the driveway?”

Winter shrugged. “I was inside, and I was bored, and I’ve heard about dancing in the rain, so I decided to try it, and it’s really fun! Do you wanna do it with me?”

“Thanks, but no thanks,” the Soupster replied, heading for his front door, eager to get out of the rain. “I’m a bit too old for that.”

“Aw, c’mon, Uncle Soupster!” Winter blocked his way, her big eyes staring at him pleadingly. “Mom says you’re never too old to have fun!”

Her words struck a chord in the Soupster. Out of the mouths of babes, he thought. Lately, he’d been wallowing in self-pity about getting older, but there was really nothing he could do about the aging process. All he could do was try to age gracefully – and enjoyably.

Submitted by Abigail FitzGibbon, Age 12

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 6, 2013

Our Town – June 6, 2013

| Children, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships | June 6, 2013

The Soupster learns it’s all in a name.

Aaaahh… marinated black cod sizzling — a lovely sound, the Soupster thought, looking approvingly as his friend Nicolas manned the charcoal grill set up in his backyard…

Nicolas had a cowboy twang to his English when he was happy but spoke perfect Standard American when he was being serious. That never ceased to amaze the Soupster, who knew his friend grew up in the great port city of Antwerp, Belgium. Nicolas had equal fluency in French, German and Dutch.

Nicolas flipped the black cod filets. The smell now tantalized the Soupster as much as the sizzling sound. “Just once,” Nicolas twanged. “I try to flip the fish only once.”

An enormously pregnant Alice – Nicolas’ wife – waddled carefully onto the small raised porch outside the kitchen. “The rice and salad are almost ready,” she said. Alice spoke her English with a Boston brogue and, like most born-and-bred Americans, spoke English only and that’s all she needed — thank you very much for your concern.

“Basmati brown rice and spinach and seaweed salad,” she said to the Soupster, as though he had asked. “Nick’s bread, and local beer if you want it.”

“Great,” said the Soupster.

“How much longer?” Alice asked her husband.

“Funf minuten,” he said in German, holding up five fingers.

“Perfect,” said Alice and went inside.

“Your wife is nice,” the Soupster said. “I didn’t see your kids.”

“Tanya is overnighting in a tent behind her friend’s house and Brian is hiking with the Scouts.” Nicolas said, and then added conspiratorially, “My kids are such landlubbers.”

The Soupster was scandalized. “How’d they get to be landlubbers? With the way you guys take to water, you and Alice have practically sprouted fins.”

“I know, I know,” Nicolas said sadly, no trace of a twang. “I’ve tried to get them out on the boat. No way. I bought two kayaks. No way, no way. I signed them up for diving lessons…”

“No way?”

“No way,” Nicolas confirmed twanglessly.

“But I have high hopes for the new kid,” he said, brightening, “I’ve been reading a lot of sea stories out loud to Ally and singing chanteys night and day. We eat as much fish as Doc Megan said is safe. And we have a secret weapon.”

The Soupster looked up at Alice, who had come out onto the porch to usher them inside. She’d been listening in. “The secret weapon is the baby’s name,” she said.

“Gilbert,” twanged Nicolas. “Gil. Get it? Gill!”

“Or Gilda,” said Alice.

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 30, 2011

Our Town – June 30, 2011

| Children, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships, Trucks | June 30, 2011

“The Soupster says here that he lost a rented movie in the parking lot and he was sure somebody stole it,” Josh Mollison told his wife Mona, as he scanned the “Our Town” column he was reading. “And then somebody found the DVD and turned it in.”

“That’s mildly interesting,” said Mona.

“Seems like the Soupster’s last few stories all involved driving around,” said Josh. “I’m worried that’s all the man does anymore.”

“You’ve just got trucks on the brain,” said Mona, “and I know why.”

“I was putting the boat in the back in April and that old Ford almost died on me, with the Bonnie V half on the trailer and half off and a line of other folks waiting to use the landing,” Josh told Mona for the fourth or fifth time.

“That’s got to be the tenth time you told me that,” said Mona.

“Maybe twice,” said Josh.

“Aw, Honey, I know you think you need a new truck, but we really can’t afford it right now,” Mona said. “You only really need a truck to get the boat into the water in the spring and out of the water in the winter. That’s only twice a year you really need the truck.”

“You don’t understand, Sweetie,” said Josh. “What if I needed to pull the boat out in the middle of season for repairs? Or what if Mike or Steve needed to pull theirs out and their trucks broke down?”

“It’s a state of mind,” he continued. “It’s about freedom and being able to do all the things you need to do. I don’t want to sound like Braveheart, but it’s like a part of the whole being a man thing.”

“There should be a truck rental, just for guys like you,” said Mona. “Or a co-op. The truth is you only really need the truck twice a year.”

Josh tried to change the subject. “Sometimes, the Soupster goes shopping in one of his columns and you go shopping,” he observed.

“I went shopping today,” Mona admitted.

“You don’t have to feel guilty about it,” Josh said.

“I don’t.”

“Show me what you bought?”

Mona broke into a broad smile and scurried out of the room. She came back a second later, beaming, pushing a fluorescent blue high-tech stroller capable of carrying three children at once.

“I don’t want to pick a fight,” Josh said, “but we only have one child. Isn’t that a bigger stroller than we need for one child?”

“But what if we have more?” Mona said, “Or what if Jessica wants to leave Amber and little Gloria with me and I have to take Suzy to the dentist at the same time? It’s about flexibility, Josh.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – November 18, 2010

Our Town – November 18, 2010

| Children, Fishing, Holidays, Nicknames, Our Town, Thanksgiving | November 18, 2010

Greta, aged two, drooled onto the sitting Soupster’s left calf as she clung to him. Across the tidy living room of his friend’s house, Brandon-the-pre-teen regarded the Soupster with a suspicious boredom.

“Nice of you all to invite me for Thanksgiving,” the Soupster told Brandon, who grunted.

The Soupster could hear clattering from the kitchen and the excited voices of Corey and Barb, the parents of Greta and “Don” as he liked to be called.

“Okay,” yelled Corey, who looked like George Clooney, but sounded like Gilbert Gottfried. “Thanksgiving feed bag in the deen-ing room!”

“When I heard you were planning on spending Thanksgiving alone, I said `This is a Crime Against Soup!’” Corey said, as the Soupster and the children gathered around the well-decorated table, with Greta lifted up into her high chair.

“Didn’t I say that, honey,” Corey yelled out, “That the Soupster spending Thanksgiving alone was a crime against soup?”

“You did indeed,” Barb called back.

Corey filled everyone’s glasses with cider, even Greta’s tippy cup. Then Barb appeared from the kitchen holding a platter. “Here’s the `bird,’” she said.

The Soupster stared at the item on the platter she placed in the middle of the table. It looked vaguely like a turkey, but there was no brown skin and the flesh was wrong.

“It’s fish!” said Barb and Greta called out “Fiss!”

“It’s Halmoncod,” corrected Corey, who pointed with his carving knife. “The white meat is halibut, the dark meat is salmon and the Parson’s nose is black cod.”

“The posterior,” explained Barb.

“But before we eat this Halmoncod, we should all say what we are thankful for,” Barb continued. “I’m thankful that the Soupster could be with us.”

“And I’m thankful that Barb let me do something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Corey. “Go to Freezing Man.”

“Freezing Man?” said the Soupster.

“Like Burning Man, except it’s on the tundra,” said Corey, evoking the weird tribal ritual and art show that occurs annually in the Nevada desert. “Instead of making a giant statue out of wood and then setting fire to it, like they do at Burning Man, we bring discarded car and truck tires from all over Alaska and make a giant bear statue. Then we wait for it to get cold enough to make the tires brittle and we pelt the giant bear with stones and sticks until it shatters.”

“I have to ask,” said the Soupster. “Sounds like it needs to be at least 50 degrees below zero to get the tires that brittle. But at Burning Man, a lot of people are naked.”

“At Freezing Man, too,” said Corey. Then he saw the Soupster’s astonished expression.

“Underneath our parkas, Soupster, underneath our parkas!” he said. “We’re not crazy.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – September 9, 2010

Our Town – September 9, 2010

| Accidents, Children, Darkness, Neighbors, Nicknames, Our Town, Recycling, Relationships, Seasons, Storms, Weather | September 9, 2010

The Soupster remembered his conversation with his neighbor’s grandson with some regret. He felt he was a little harsh with the boy when the youngster tried to lecture him about recycling. The Soupster searched his mind for the just right word to describe his own behavior – which was gruff and hostile out of reflex.

“I was `churlish,’” thought the Soupster and because he was alone, he said aloud, “Like a churl.”

The truth was that the boy had hit a sore point. The Soupster’s mental commitment to recycling often outstripped his physical actions. To wit: The Soupster’s mud room overflowed with paper bags of mixed paper, stacks of newsprint, aluminum cans and sheet metal, tin cans, glass bottles and jars and a good-sized sheaf of cardboard leaning against the wall.

“I must get all that stuff out of my mudroom,” the Soupster thought.

But it was night.

And not just night, but a night that signaled the change in seasons from summer to fall. To wit: A particularly dark and blustery night in Our Town, with the rain blowing sideways in good-sized drops.

Nonetheless, to make up for his churlish behavior, the Soupster put on a slicker and cap, filled his arms with recyclables and jammed them into the passenger area of his car. When he was finished, the Soupster had just enough room in the front seat of his car to cram in behind the wheel.

This time of night, Our Town’s real action was in the supermarkets, which blazed in the blackness like little Las Vegases. But the Soupster kept true to his quest and drove by the stores without stopping. He could think of a few things he needed, but what if someone saw the state of his car right now? “Lucy, you’d have some ‘splainin’ to do,” he chuckled.

It being unusual conditions to be using the Recycling Center, the Soupster found himself alone there, surrounded by big metal bins on which the heavy raindrops beat a complex rhythm. One-by-one, he tipped up the metal hatches of the bins with one hand and tossed his recyclables in with the other. Glass, metal, a plastic bag of shredded paper, the cardboard and mixed paper and the aluminum and tin cans. All that was left was the #1 and #2 plastic, which were to be deposited in four-foot high canvas bags supported by sideways wooden slats.

Depositing the bag of #1 plastic went without incident. But the bag of #2, not so much.

When the Soupster tipped over his second bag, the supporting piece of hard plastic at the bottom of his bag fell out and into the bin.

The Soupster tried to bend over the edge to retrieve it, lost his balance and tipped over into the bin with his head among the #2 plastic and his feet sticking straight up in the air. He tried to pull himself out and could not. Slow minutes passed.

Then, the area was bathed in light as another car pulled up to the plastic containers holding the upside down Soupster.

For good or ill, it was Steve “Big Mouth” Larssen, out on a late-night recycling run himself.

“Number two plastic?” said Steve, surveying the scene with his hands on his hips. “Soupster, I’d think you were at least #1.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 26, 2010

Our Town – August 26, 2010

| Children, Eddy Rau, Guest Written, Neighbors, Our Town, Recycling, Relationships | August 16, 2010

The Soupster woke up in a foul mood. Not only was it a drizzly day but he was spending it with his next-door neighbor’s computerized grandson, Johnny, a 4th grader who walked around with wires coming out of his ears.

The first sign of danger was finding Johnny going through the garbage can with little piles here and there.

“Mr. Soupster, where do you put your aluminum? This pile is #1 plastic and this pile is #2. Where are your recycling containers?”

“#1 & #2? There’s a difference? Who recycles plastic anyway? What’s the point?”

“But, Mr. Soupster, plastic is made out of oil! The city sells it to people who make it into blankets and socks and everything. Don’t you understand anything about recycling?”

The Soupster groaned, definitely not his day—socks made out of milk cartons?

He was quiet for a moment, regrouping his thoughts.

“Johnny, don’t bother me about recycling. You don’t really know anything about recycling. I know about recycling. Didn’t my mother make me wash and dry the used aluminum foil and fold it to use again? Could I ever get the used plastic bags can full enough to meet her standards? Didn’t I have to be so careful with the wax paper around my sandwiches that it could be reused all week? Didn’t my mother hang our clothes to dry on a clothes line in the sun or inside on rainy days?”

“But, Mr. Soupster…uh, sir…”

The Soupster glared, “Don’t interrupt me, I’m just getting started.”

“We didn’t throw away our shoes – Dad just took them to the shoemaker to be repaired. Don’t suppose you have ever even heard of shoe polish. He pushed his lawn mower! He picked up pennies from the street. Have you ever picked up a penny?

The Soupster paused for breath and Johnny jumped right in.

“Wow, sir, you have a lot of good ideas. Let’s make a clothes line for you right now! We can go from this tree to the side of your house. Maybe another one inside, from the dining room wall to the stairs for rainy days.’

The Soupster’s eyes rolled to think of actually hanging up laundry. On the other hand, he thought of the McGrowls next door looking at his long underwear hanging in front of their
windows and a devious smile appeared on his face.

“Let’s get started on that clothes line right now, Johnny. We’re going to make this world a better place!

– Submitted by Eddie Rau

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Our Town – June 17, 2010

| Children, Computers, Cruise Ships, Our Town, Tourists | June 17, 2010

Originally Published June 13, 2002

The cruise ship throngs were only recently gone when the Soupster stepped in to the art gallery to see if Gwendoline has survived the latest human deluge.

“I’ll be with you in a minute,” said a voice from the back room. Although the voice sounded like Gwen’s, its timber contained notes of urgency and annoyance, things the Soupster knew Gwen to be free of.

Gwen was the slowest to anger person the Soupster had ever encountered. But once truly angry, she was extremely tough to cool down.

The Soupster stuck his head into the gallery’s rear lair, where some of the stock was kept and computers were programmed to keep all the records of shipping, billing and to keep track of the inventory. In front of a computer monitor was where Gwen sat, her head sunk deeply in her hands. “The only thing more stressful than computer problems was checking for floating log deadheads at night, when I had the boat,” she moaned.

“What’s going on?” the Soupster asked innocently, only to be confronted by a red-faced Gwen who leaped up from her seat and grabbed him by the lapels.

“Whosoever creates these computer viruses are an abomination,” Gwen thundered. “If there was something worse than capital punishment…”

“You have a computer virus?”

“The Klooze!” she shouted. “The insidious, terrible, rotten and really, really bad Klooze virus!”

“Goodness,” said the Soupster. He had read about the Klooze How this computer program entered systems as an ordinary e-mail attachment. Klooze then disabled the anti-virus programs on the computer in order to do its evil work in peace. Then and only then, Klooze devoured the computer’s entire hard drive and everything on it. Byte by byte.

“I don’t what to do,” Gwen wailed pitifully.

“Perhaps I can help,” said someone with a high voice. A young boy came into the room, holding an armful of the daily newspapers he had been selling to passers by just before entering the store. In fact, he had entered in the first place to sell papers.

“Klooze sucks,” commiserated the kid. “But I got it out of Dad’s computer and I know how to do it now.” He pointed at the chair in front of the computer. “May I?” he asked.

Gwen nodded mightily and said sputtered several dozen versions of “Yes.”

“This is an awesome gallery,” the kid said, as his fingers flew over the keyboard. A long, long list of program files scrolled across the screen and then suddenly stopped. “See – here’s Klooze,” said the kid. “Bye, bad, bad virus.”

The kid swivelled the chair. “The virus is gone, but you’re going to have to let the diagnostics run for about an hour. Then the computer will tell you if you need to reformat or not. Have you ever re-formatted your hard drive and re-installed the operating system?”

“Yes,” said a still shocked Gwen, looking at the small figure at her desk with wonder and admiration. The Soupster squeezed her arm. “Re-installing everything took forever,” Gwen said to the kid. “But I can do it.”

“Good,” said the kid, rising from the swivel chair. “Tomorrow I have Little League after I sell my papers, but I’ll try to stop by in between and see how you are doing. Want a paper?”

“I’ll take five… uh, seven!” said Gwen. When the kid left, Gwen turned smiling to the Soupster.

“Who was that masked man?” the Soupster asked her.

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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.

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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.

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