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Comments Off on Our Town – September 9, 2021

Our Town – September 9, 2021

| Crazy Theories, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | September 9, 2021

 The Soupster learns of a bizarre theory.

Submitted by Lois Verbaan

“That you, Fran?” said the Soupster, squinting into the sun as a figure ran towards him.

“Yep, Soupster,” Fran replied. “Good to see you! Enjoying this amazing day?” she asked.

“Sure am!” the Soupster said, as he stood up slowly, hands on his lower back as if to pack the discs back in. “Making the most of the weather before it turns on us. Already the leaves are falling,” he lamented. “Wait, wait, though – there’s something different about you, Fran…can’t quite put my finger on it…”

“Oh, yeah” Fran said, nonchalant. “Probably the effects of my Reverse Training Program,” she declared.

“Your what?”

“Let’s just say I’ve been extra goal-directed lately. Reverse training,” Fran said.

“So, what’s that about?” he asked.

“Well,” said Fran, “it all began a couple of weeks ago, on one of those rare blue days. So much blue that the only thing separating sea and sky was rocky islands and white surf. I was running in the 4K mountain race and didn’t even stop to admire the view. As my feet found their way up the trail, I was struck by how good I felt. And the whole race went like this. Until the end when I crossed the finish line and asked for my time.”

“And?” the Soupster prompted.

“Not good. I’d lost 15 minutes from last year,” she lamented, “which was 10 minutes slower than the one before that.”

“So that explains your false sense of awesomeness?” the Soupster chuckled.

“Eeeexactly,” Fran said. “You go slow enough, and anything can feel easy. That’s when I decided to take action and launch my Reverse Training Program. Basically, that means adjusting your training for an earlier time. Because you are training for an event that has already occurred, your expectations can be more modest,” she said, illogically.

“I see, I guess, ” the Soupster said.  “Just because we can’t turn back time doesn’t mean we can’t cover our tracks — or at least tidy them up. I’ve had similar thoughts. The other day, I saw myself in the library window, looking like a tree leaning a bit too far with the wind. I went in, checked out a book on backs and decided I’ve been walking the wrong way! Who’d have thought there was so much to something we’ve been doing since age one?”

“Are you sure you haven’t just been ducking to keep the rain out of your face?”

“Maybe,” Soupster replied. “Anyway, I’m gliding now, picturing myself as a Tanzanian, maybe, carrying water on top of my head.   Straight spine, shoulder blades back, chin tucked. It’s a lot to think about. I’m surprised I can get anything else done at the same time! But it helps with my vertigo, too.”

“Well, good luck with that,” said Fran.

“And, if I ever do carry a pail of water on my head, I won’t need to fill it at a well,” the Soupster said. “I’ll just walk around Our Town on a rainy day.”

“And I’ll be out there too, shaving minutes off my time in a race that I’ve already run!” Fran laughed.

“Happy reverse training!” the Soupster called out, as Fran turned and began jogging backwards down the path.

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 3, 2021

Our Town – June 3, 2021

| Children, Graphic Stories, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Music, Our Town | June 3, 2021

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 6, 2021

Our Town – May 6, 2021

| Guest Written, Holidays, Lois Verbaan, Mother's Day, Our Town, Seasons, Spring | May 6, 2021

The Soupster appreciates a melding of holidays.

Tulip and daffodil greens poked tentatively out of damp soil, eyeing the Soupster, who relaxed on a bench overlooking the harbor.

Rays of sunshine teased him into a summer’s dream of palm trees and golden beaches in faraway places.

Suddenly, a cold breeze snapped him back to the present, as a large shadow obscured the sun.

“Greetings on this fine morning, Soupster!” a familiar voice rang out. “Amazing weather, huh?”

“Morning!” the Soupster replied cheerily, feigning recognition at the dark silhouette. “How’re you doing?” he asked, stalling for time. The Soupster called it the “30-Second Recognition Rule” in which he allowed 30 seconds before admitting he did not know someone. Any longer and you were trapped forever into pretending you knew each other.

“Dave!” he suddenly blurted. “Yes… a beautiful morning. What brings you out?”

“A memorial stroll between showers” said the other man wistfully.

“Memorial?”

“Well, I’ve dedicated this walk to the memory of the tourists who start turning up and wandering around Our Town at this time of the year,” Dave said.

“I miss the new faces and matching jackets, disposable rain ponchos, and inappropriate fur boots and hats,” he said.

“Yep, the Rona’s been a bummer,” the Soupster said. “But in Our Town we are privileged to be so far ahead of the curve with vaccinations that I feel we’re in a holding pattern, circling until the rest of the world are ready for us to land.”

“Yeah” Dave added. “Have to admit I’ve had a hankering to get off the rock for some time now… Anyway, I’m too busy to leave,” he declared.

“Busy? With what? The Soupster enquired.

“Designing a leprechaun trap,” Dave said.

“What on earth for?” the Soupster asked.

“Well, with St Paddy’s day out of the way, I figure there’re a lot of under-engaged leprechauns looking for a purpose in life,” Dave said.

“What would you do with a leprechaun if you caught one?” the Soupster asked.

“Check its pockets for loose gold. What else?”

“Hmm. Don’t recall anything about trapping in the ‘Recover Your Social Skills in 30 Days’ podcast I’ve been listening to,” the Soupster chuckled.

“Ahh, that’s not all,” Dave added. “Can you think of a more useful or original Mother’s Day gift than a leprechaun?”

“You might be onto something, Dave” the Soupster said. “After all, these little folks are always cheerful, mischievous but hardworking, and have lots of money. What more could a mother want?” he laughed.

“Exactly!” Dave said. “I think leprechauns would sell like Fourth of July fry bread on Our-Town-for-Sale.”

“They’re supposed to be shoemakers. Imagine if we could train them to make Xtra-Tuffs!” the Soupster laughed.

“That would be epic!” Dave agreed.

“Anyway, nice seeing you Soupster, I’d better be off,” he said. “I don’t have long to get this off the ground before someone like Jeff Bezos corks me.”

Adding “I’m Leonard, by the way,” as he strolled off into the sunshine with a spring in his step.

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Comments Off on Our Town – April 8, 2021

Our Town – April 8, 2021

| Animals, Covid-19, Graphic Stories, Guest Written, Herring, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | April 8, 2021

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Comments Off on Our Town – March 26, 2020

Our Town – March 26, 2020

| Animals, Dreams, Graphic Stories, Guest Written, Herring, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | March 26, 2020

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Comments Off on Our Town – October 24, 2019

Our Town – October 24, 2019

| Dreams, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | October 24, 2019

The Soupster recounts his “weird” dream in great detail.

Guest Written by Lois Verbaan

It was the time of the year when we get tired of being inside, yet outside, rain was falling so hard that even the newest rain gear was daunted.

“Do you suppose the other hikers made an earlier start?” the Soupster said, knowing he and Lola were probably the only ones in the forest right then.

“Let’s face it, we’re hard core,” Lola said, squinting through the droplets on her glasses.

The Soupster reached into his pocket and extracted a shiny red apple, bit into it and shook his head. “Disappointing,” he mumbled. “Floury.”

“Aah, expectations lead to resentment,” Lola said wisely.

“All that glitters is not gold,” the Soupster declared.

“How about, you can’t judge a book by its cover?” Lola winked. “Say, I ran into Fran downtown yesterday. She tried to convince me to go on The Library Show on Our Town Radio. The problem is, I don’t read much. Spend most of my time making stuff…or hiking in the rain.”

“Well, you Google, don’t you? “the Soupster asked. “What’s even considered a ‘book’ these days? You can find anything you need to know online. Does it cease being a book when you can see the person who’s delivering the info, like those YouTube videos? How do you think I know how to repair my washing machine, replace the rear window wiper motor in my car, and unclog the vent on the dishwasher?” the Soupster said.

“Okay Soupster, I get the picture,” said Lola, laughing. “I do read self-help books, but the minute I go public to discuss them, everyone will know what’s wrong with me.”

“Or themselves,” the Soupster said.

“True! Anyway, the best way to feel normal is to have weird friends,” Lola declared. “That’s why I like you so much, Soupster,” she joked. “Speaking of which, have you been doing any dreaming lately?” she asked.

“Glad you asked, Lola. I had a fabulous dream just last night. I dreamed that I woke up, made my bed and went into the bathroom to comb my hair. When I returned, I found the covers turned down with my laptop lying open by the pillows. Figuring a pixie was messing with me, I found a deck of cards and laid them out to spell the word PIXIE and left the room again. I came back to find the cards reorganized to spell the word DAVID, which I assumed was the pixie’s name. Then I saw him! Perched on the windowsill, he looked like Elf on the Shelf: About 18” tall, a red outfit and hat, ruddy complexion and round nose.

“He and I went to the grocery store where he gave me a bucket of gold, alarming the Scouts as I tipped it out on their bake-sale table.” Just then, the Soupster paused to dig in his pocket for a handful of sunflower seeds. Tossing them into his mouth, he instantly spat them out again. “Eeeww! Raw lentils!” he exclaimed. “I must have topped up my trail mix from the wrong jar in the pantry.”

“Or your elf friend is trying to change your teeth into gold… crowns,” said Lola. “After all, it is that weird time of year!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 23, 2018

Our Town – August 23, 2018

| Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | August 23, 2018

The Soupster hears a runner’s monologue.

Guest Written by Lois Verbaan

“Another thing I love doing in Our Town,” Jo mused, “is the Alpine Adventure Run.”

The Soupster raised his eyebrows and looked through the steam rising from his mug. “Good for you!” he exclaimed. “An 8-mile run over the mountains isn’t a walk in the park. The extent of my racing involves getting coffee before noon,” he laughed. “How was the run?”

“Super fun! Lots of exercise, amazing scenery, and a two-hour, one-way conversation with no one to interrupt or disagree,” Jo replied.

“Talking to yourself for 2 hours?” the Soupster asked.

“Well, technically, thinking to myself” Jo said. “Picture this: You arrive at the beginning of the race and find yourself surrounded by the fittest people in Our Town, suddenly wishing you’d overslept. Before you know it, the starting gun is fired, and your thoughts are racing faster than your feet…

…Oh no! Why does it always feel like a full sprint at first? Okay, pace yourself. Look at all these people beside the road cheering us on. I wonder if I know anyone? Yep! Better pick up the pace so they won’t suspect I’m actually dying — right here in front of the grocery store.
 
…Okay, here we go. Start of the trail. You’ve got this. Tree root, mud, slippery planks – repeat! A runner slowing ahead. ‘Passing on the left! Cool tattoo!’ Hmmm, someone is not a happy camper. Time for positive self-talk: ‘I feel steady and grounded. I run with confidence. I am Zen.’
 
…I hate stairs. I hate stairs.
 
…Phew! The ridge at last. This sweat dripping in my eyes stings. Goodbye sunscreen. Another runner. Should I make noise, or be stealthy? ‘Whoo-hoo! Whoo-hoo! Keep your eyes peeled in case of bear!’ Yep, that got his attention! I should have had that second pancake for breakfast.
 
…Oh WOW! Sun illuminating bright green foliage and flowers all around me: Fireweed, lupine, dogwood. And look! OH. MY. GOSH. I am in heaven. I love these clouds filling the valleys, and the snow-capped peaks poking through.
 
…Eyes on the trail! Concentrate. Is anyone catching me? No, don’t look back. Enjoy the journey. Be grateful. Run to your own rhythm.
 
… Yes! Heading down. Lean forward and use gravity. Tray tables upright and locked. Good work, knees! Thank you, ibuprofen! On the road, let’s sprint to the finish just around this curve. Whoops! Just around the next curve. Nope. Next curve, for sure. WHERE ON EARTH IS THE FINISH LINE?? 
 
…I hear cheering. What a crowd! Some speed now would be nice. Hello, legs? Are you two listening?

So that’s how it went for two hours and one minute, Soupster!” Jo laughed.

“Well, I broke out in a sweat just listening to all that,” the Soupster said. “How are you feeling today?”

“Great, other than a few aches and pains everywhere below the waist – and the voice in my head is a little hoarse,” said Jo with a smile.

“Ah, I see,” the Soupster replied. “Best get a few days’ rest. It’ll do you both a world of good.”

 

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 24, 2017

Our Town – August 24, 2017

| Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, 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.

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 25, 2016

Our Town – August 25, 2016

| Gardening, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | August 24, 2016

The Soupster hears about a woman whose quest to become a real Alaskan involves getting dirty.

Submitted by Lois Verbaan

Hunched over a large garden pot, examining the contents closely, Jo poked at the mixture of soil and peanut shells.

“Looking for something?” a voice called out from the sidewalk. It was the Soupster, out for his evening stroll.

“Hey, Soupster! I’m checking the moisture level,” Jo replied.

“Trying to grow peanuts?” the Soupster asked.

“Nope, the peanut shells were in the compost. Went through a peanut stage about 6 months ago…think I was depressed…sat at home eating peanuts night after night. What I’ve got growing here is lettuce babies and I’m trying to decide if they need to be watered. It’s hard to tell on a drizzly day. I mean, it looks damp, but it could just be surface moisture.  I would hate to be responsible for either starving or drowning these little suckers. Given my track record, I’m probably not qualified to be their mom. No offence, babies,” Jo said, directing her attention to the pots. “I actually wanted kale, but being the end of summer, it was already sold out.”

“Yeah, kale is the way to go in Our Town,” the Soupster agreed, “unless you’ve got some fancy greenhouse thing going on or a guaranteed slug-free garden.”

“So, Soupster, I hope you like lettuce, because in 45-60 days, generous donations will be coming your way,” Jo chuckled, scanning her 6 pots of soil.

“How about making lettuce sauerkraut?” the Soupster suggested.

“Funny you should say that, Soupster. I’ve just done a canning and pickling course and we actually learned to make sauerkraut!” Jo said.  “In fact, there’s a jar of it fermenting in my laundry as we speak, nestled between 4 crock pots, a pair of winter boots and several kayak spray skirts. Fermented cabbage is supposed to be super good for you… something about gut health affecting brain function via the vagus nerve,” she mumbled.

The Soupster raised his eyebrows. “So, you decided to branch out and try something other than hiking and bike riding?” he said, feigning shock.

“Yes, Soupster, precisely. I’ve got to be more well rounded if I’m going to be a real Alaskan.  Well, to be fair, I have crossed some things off the list” Jo announced. “I’ve made jam, cut black cod collars, owned three pairs of Xtratufs, done a few off-trail mountain hikes and kayaked to the Lighthouse. So really, all that’s left now is to find a second-hand fish tote to use as a hot tub, learn how to can salmon and wait for my lettuce babies to be born.”

“At this rate, you’ll be a Sourdough in no time,” the Soupster laughed. The sky had darkened and it was starting to rain. “You can probably quit your soil moisture check now, and I’d better get going. And, by the way, congratulations on the babies, hope their birth goes well and see you in six weeks with some salad dressing!” He winked.

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Comments Off on Our Town – July 30, 2015

Our Town – July 30, 2015

| Animals, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | July 30, 2015

The Soupster okays an unusual pet.

Submitted by Lois Verbaan Denherder

“Did you know Our Town has bearded drag­ons?” asked the Soupster’s friend Tina.

“It does?” said the Soupster, eyebrows raised.

“Check this out.” Tina showed him her phone. “For Sale on Facebook,” it said.

“Just look at those babies! They are soooo cute! ‘Two Males – one gray and one cream. Born and raised locally and ready for their for­ever homes.’”

“Hmm, won’t be long and these spiky little dinosaurs will be extinct in Our Town,” the Soupster predicted. “After all, they’re both males, right?”

“Soupster! You’re hilarious. If one was a female, it would be his sister. Even you know what’s wrong with that picture”.

The Soupster laughed.

“Says they hatched May 20, 2015. You know what that means, Soupster? You can celebrate their 3-month birthday! Bet you’ve never been to a bearded dragon birthday party.”

“Nope, can’t say I have,” the Soupster admitted.

“And look at this,” Tina continued. “They ‘make great companions, are safe, docile and like to be handled.’

C’mon, Soupster, they sound like the perfect pet.”

“Hmm…” the Soupster mused. “Most dogs I know fit that description. These critters are a bit of an unknown quantity. What’s more, this sounds like a lifelong commitment. Don’t forget, they’re ready for their ‘forever homes.’

“Oh, Soupster, since when were you afraid of commitment?” Tina asked. “Check this out: ‘Bearded dragons are cold-blooded reptiles in the lizard family,’” she read.

“Therein lies the first problem,” the Soupster noted. “Cold-blooded animals are meant to live in warm places and clearly, this is not one of them.”

“Exactly!” exclaimed Tina. “You guys have so much in common! Like you, bearded dragons need a source of heat. ‘Some people use a heat pad; however, beardies like to bask in the sun and a lamp provides a good replica of the sun.’”

“Ok, food” she said. ‘Crickets and dark leafy greens should be two of the main choices. The live food consists of commercially bred crickets, meal worms, wax worms and juvenile Madagascar hissing cockroaches, which you should get at a pet store.’ It is ‘not recommended that you catch the live food for your bearded dragons because outdoor bugs may have been exposed to pesticides.’”

“Well, that’s a relief,” the Soupster chucked. “Have to say I prefer spending my weekends garage sale-ing or fishing. Anyway, been a while since I saw anything on that list around here. How much do you feed them?”

“Good question. Soupster. Finally I detect some interest.” Tina winked. “’As many crickets as they can eat in a 10-minute period.’”

“Interesting. We do have a lot in common. That’s my mealtime philosophy, too.”

“If you need any more convincing, this will do it, Soupster. Bearded dragons ‘have one of the best temperaments of all lizards and can be quite per­sonable and intelligent.’”

“Man, they sound nicer than a lot of humans I know,” the Soupster chuckled. “What did you say that contact number was?” he asked.

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 22, 2014

Our Town – May 22, 2014

| Gardening, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town, Seasons, Spring | May 21, 2014

The Soupster is Inspired by Spring.

Jan’s cell phone beeped. A message from the Soupster. “Just got home. Was that your out there would have been a beach on a table?” it said.

“What the heck?” Jan frowned and picked up her garden hose. Immediately, the phone rang – the Soupster again.

“Sorry – my phone makes up its own thing sometimes. I meant: ‘Is that you out there watering a bedside table?’”

“Sure is,” Jan replied, reaching under the shelf to peel off a soggy Bangkok city map.

“I know it’s been unusually sunny weather an’ all but aren’t you taking spring fever a little far?” the Soupster asked.

“Ha ha” Jan replied. “Doing some spring cleaning…decided to sand my bedside table and give it a new ‘shabby chic’ look. Figured spraying it was the best way to get the sawdust off.”

“What? You took a piece of furniture with a perfectly good paint job and wrecked it?”

“Get with the times, Soupster. It’s not wrecked, it’s ‘fashionably weathered.’ Not everyone likes furniture made out of wooden palettes and ammo crates. By the way, what were you doing sweeping your face over the seedlings in your garden planter yesterday? Nearly crashed my bike trying to figure out what was going on.”

“Aaahh… Yes. Singing chromatic scales to my seedlings. Exhaling carbon dioxide on them is like feeding them a Thanksgiving meal; the vibrations of my voice energize them at a cellular level. Should help them grow faster.”

“O-kaaaay….oh, and hey, I read on Facebook last night that microwaved water has been proven not to kill plants.”

“Interesting. Must remember that. Need all the help I can get when it comes to gardening” the Soupster admitted.

“For one thing,” he said, “I’ve given up trying to start my own seeds. Last year, I tried to give my flower seeds a head start by sprouting them in a moist paper towel on the windowsill. They did sprout but I couldn’t get them off the paper towel so I ripped it apart and planted the bits. Unfortunately, only a few plants made it out of the soil and they spent the rest of the summer struggling to become anything more than two small leaves at the end of a stalk. These days I go for seedlings. I say let someone else get them through the Neonatal ICU stage.

“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Soupster. This is Alaska. I figure if we manage to grow anything at all, that’s a bonus, given the challenging weather conditions.

“True,” the Soupster agreed.

“Sorry, gotta go. Need to get this bedside table into the sun so it can dry. Bye…”

Right away her phone beeped a message. “Sudden dry in the same sentence music Tim I hears,” it said.

The Soupster called again. “Sorry, that was supposed to be; ‘Sun and dry in the same sentence – music to my ears.’ Yeah, I gotta go too. Time to sing a few octaves.”

Submitted by Lois Verbaan Denherder

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Comments Off on Our Town – March 13, 2014

Our Town – March 13, 2014

| Crazy Theories, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | March 13, 2014

The Soupster hears about the powers of the mind.

“Not everyone in Our Town had fun last Saturday,” Ashley told the Soupster sadly. “In fact, you were probably out hiking as I lay glued to a dental chair, plastic retractors stretching my lips to oblivion. Put it this way, childbirth is probably not for me.”

The Soupster laughed, choking slightly on his coffee. “Yep, the myth of the ‘one size fits all’ retractor,” he said. “We aren’t all related to the largemouth bass, that’s for sure.”

“Trapped there and unable to speak, I had time to think,” said Ashley. “Oh, the other things I could have done with that money! The causes I could have supported, the places I could have gone – they all taunted me. But then, I began to panic as saliva welled up in my mouth and I realized my trapped tongue wasn’t going to be much help.”

“Ah, karma..,” the Soupster chuckled. “Maybe you shoulda donated the money to a worthy cause after all, like the Save-the-Soupster’s-Boat Fund.”

Ashley rolled her eyes.

“Anyway, I was still trying to figure out how I was going to swallow or whether it would be a slow death by drowning, when I remembered a documentary I saw about Navy SEALs. Inspired by the SEALs’ amazing mind control, I set out to follow suit. Presently, I was trudging across the desert in full combat gear. A sore mouth was the least of my worries in this OPSEC.

“I was gazing at the late afternoon sun hovering lazily above the dunes when it morphed into a huge pineapple. I blinked and the diamond-patterned light over the dental chair came into focus, but I willed myself back to tropical delights. Soon, the dentist’s spiky gelled hair became palm fronds swaying in the breeze.”

“Starting to feel like I’m in Hawaii,” mused the Soupster.

“Exactly!” said Ashley. “Then, suddenly, I heard a voice. ‘Your wisdom teeth – they totally threw me,’ said the dental assistant.

“A barrage of questions flooded my mind, headed towards my mouth and stopped abruptly at the retractors. What? Why? Aren’t wisdom teeth sightings in a dentist’s office as common as whale sightings in Our Town’s waters? Realizing the futility of my questions, I zoned out again, my mind drifting to alternative uses for the common lip and cheek retractor.”

“What did you come up with?”

“Well, as I lay there, it came to me, Soupster – I had no options – no responsibilities at all but to shut up, listen and croak an occasional, agreeable ‘aah’. That’s right – no questions, no opinions and no lip!

Ladies and gentlemen, rejoice all ye with opinionated friends, argumentative partners and whining kids, for today is the day of the lip retractor!”

“Hmmm, that’s very… creative?” the Soupster ventured. “Well, good luck with the braces!” he said, zipping up his jacket and pulling on his gloves.

“Thanks,” Ashley said, flashing a metallic smile and gulping one last big, tongue-rolling swallow of coffee.”

Submitted by Lois Verbaan Denherder

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Comments Off on Our Town – September 26, 2013

Our Town – September 26, 2013

| Dreams, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town | September 26, 2013

The Soupster hears about a “super weird” night.

“I think there’s a full moon,” Kathryn announced. “Things have been super weird lately.”

“Weird?” the Soupster said, glancing up at dark gray clouds scurrying nervously across the sky. “Got anything to do with fall setting in?”

“Maybe,” Kathryn replied. “Another theory involves my eyesight. Been a while since I could clearly tell deer from bushes, and bears from rocks,” she admitted. “Once, on the ferry, I even thought that a beach covered in driftwood was a village,” she chuckled.

The Soupster laughed. “Makes life interesting, I guess. So, how was last night?” he asked. “Went to that ergonomics lecture, didn’t you?”

“Huh,” Kathryn grunted. “Again, weird. I’m sitting there, listening to the instructor, and he morphs into the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. ‘Anyone know what this muscle is?’ the instructor asks, pointing to a picture of a cadaver. ‘Anyone? Anyone?’ Suddenly a student belts out ‘BACKSTRAP!’ and another adds, “Now, I’m getting hungry.”

“Hilarious,” the Soupster said. “Huntin’ fever. Does weird things to people.”

“Apparently,” Kathryn said, rolling her eyes. “So afterwards, I’m walking home, trying to get cannibalism out of my mind, when our dog decides to poop in the middle of an intersection as we’re crossing the road. The middle? Seriously? Before you could say ‘full moon’ I’d gloved my hand with a doggie bag and scooped up the package. It felt surprisingly warm and I kept massaging it gently to keep releasing its heat.”

“Great idea,” the Soupster smiled. “Never heard Bear Grylls suggest that one,” he said with a wink.

“So I’m focusing on warming my hand, when a shadow jumps out at me,” Kathryn continues. “I turn around, check that I’m not being followed, and then look up to see a one-eyed street pole hunched over the road, peering down at me ominously.  Averting my eyes, I catch sight of a cluster of unkempt, flowerless fireweed – Dr. Seuss characters waving tall, feathery hairdos and mocking me in rhyme.  Beside them, a lonesome dandelion teases me, bobbing its seemingly innocent, fluffy white head. But I know better than to stop, pick it and blow it away. The path curves and a crowd of Indian celery plants ambush me, trying to claw at me with their dry, bony fingers.”

“I quicken my step in the direction of home and soon, I’m approaching the illuminated church billboard with its inspiring message. ‘When you’ve been barbecued, you’ll want to barbecue others,’ I read in horror. Getting closer, the word ‘barbecued’ turns into ‘rescued’ and I breathe a sigh of relief.”

“You had a big night,” the Soupster said. “Go home and have a mug of chamomile tea and try to get some rest,” he suggested.

“Great idea,” Kathryn sighed. “I’m beginning to realize why bears hibernate all winter. Starting to appeal to me, actually,” she said as she turned to leave, veering around a black cat crouching on the road, which turned out to be a pothole.

Submittied by Lois Verbaan Denherder

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Our Town – July 4, 2013

| Airplanes, Flying, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town, Travel | July 4, 2013

The Soupster looks at blue skies without rose-colored glasses.

The Soupster stared out the airplane window. The scene reminded him of a still life: blue sky suspended above a thick blanket of clouds. Only an occasional shudder of the wing and its subtle tilt away from the horizon hinted at the 36,000 ft altitude and 300 mph speed he was traveling at.

“See anything?” asked the woman next to him, craning her neck for a better view.

The Soupster turned to face her, unsure whether to focus on her penciled eyebrows, glossy lips or hoop earrings large enough to be bracelets.

“Blue sky” he replied, turning back to the view. “Blue – sky,” he repeated silently to himself. It had a pleasant ring to it. “Been a while since I said the words ‘blue’ and ‘sky’ in the same sentence,” he said out loud. The woman raised her eyebrows quizzically. “It’s not that there isn’t’t blue sky in Our Town, it’s just that it’s often on the wrong side of the clouds,” he explained.

The woman continued thumbing through her airline magazine. Every other page seemed to show a luxury resort or condominium, edged by beaches and drenched in sunlight.

As the plane dipped, the blue-sky-and-cloud-canopy gave way to snow-capped mountains, which then morphed into dry brown hills. Finally they were circling over a sprawling metropolis: their destination. The grid of buildings and roads, with traffic winding through, reminded the Soupster of a circuit board buzzing with electrical activity.

A few hours earlier the Soupster had been glad to be getting off the rock, but now he realized he was also glad for his return ticket. Closing his eyes, he was back in Our Town, sitting beside the sea, throwing a stick for his neighbor’s dog. She would bound over rocks into the water to retrieve the stick, then flop down in sandy seaweed to gnaw on it. A seiner plied the black, glassy surface of the sound, with a backdrop of forested hills rising into the mist. The Soupster sighed. The fresh, salty air was cool on his skin and a breeze rustled his hair.

“Thank you!” boomed the overhead announcement, shaking the Soupster out of his trance; “We appreciate your choosing our airline…have a great day!”

The Soupster smiled. “A good choice indeed,” he said, turning to the woman to congratulate them both. A mystified look washed over her face again. The Soupster felt obliged to clarify. “Well, considering there’s no other airlines to choose from… I guess we could have taken the ferry… But we’d still be three days away from our destination and probably wandering around looking for the best lounge to unroll our sleeping bag in. Anyway, as they say, the sooner you get there, the sooner you can get back.”

The plane landed and the Soupster strolled down the jet way, into the sea of humanity. “Doesn’t’t take long to know which side of the clouds you belong on,” he thought, taking a deep breath and making his way forward.

Submitted by Lois Verbaan Denherder

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Our Town – April 25, 2013

| Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town, Travel | April 25, 2013

The Soupster and a friend get philosophical about travel.

“How was your trip to Southeast Asia?” asked the Soupster between sips of a creamy latte.

“Amazing!” Kate replied. “I’m still dreaming of Thai curries – green beans so fresh they squeak when you chew them, in coconut milk with ginger and basil. I could have a bowl right now,” she confessed, chomping on her bagel. “And a drink of cold juice straight from a coconut – top chopped off and a straw sticking out,” she added.

“Make that two!” the Soupster said.

Kate gazed at the shiny glass jar of cookies on the counter, deep in thought. “Travelling’s fun,” she mused, but there’s something about being able to walk into a café back in Our Town, see familiar folks, get a big mug of freshly ground coffee with real milk, and spend time visiting with people you know well.”

“It’s true – there’s no place like home,” the Soupster agreed.

“And,” said Kate with sudden inspiration, “there’s no toilet like the one you’re used to – one that’s clean, dry and comes with a seat and toilet paper. It can be hard to figure out bathroom etiquette when your only clues are a plastic scoop and a barrel of water next to a hole in the floor. Actually, I think I knew what to do, but was in denial,” she said.

The Soupster laughed. “I feel quite lost when my mountain of Costco toilet paper runs out,” he admitted. “Desperate times calls for desperate measures – paper towel maybe, but water? Never!” the Soupster vowed.

“Toileting aside, I do have incredible memories” Kate said. “Like, in Myanmar – thousands of ancient Buddhist temples littering the plains of Bagan, a sea of young monks chanting scriptures in a monastery, and a 15-hour trip down the Ayeyarwady River on a steamer.

“In Laos,” she continued, “waking at dawn in a tree house overlooking a misty forest canopy, to the sound of gibbon calls. And crazy bus trips, hurtling down mountain passes with incredible views beyond sheer cliffs.”

“A bit scary?” the Soupster asked.

“Huh!” Kate grunted, eyebrows raised. “It’s nice to know that a bus trip in Our Town isn’t a matter of survival of the fittest, and that drivers use gears instead of stopping every few miles to hose down their breaks with cold water.”

“Also, over there, the women may seem exotic, but it’s nice to know that our daily beauty routine doesn’t involve grinding down tree bark to make a stinging paste to rub in beige circles on each cheek. I’m glad our jewelry doesn’t include a permanent stack of heavy brass rings around our necks, and that a pedicure doesn’t mean dangling our feet into a tub full of hungry little fish.

“Well, Soupster”, Kate concluded, “it’s good to get off The Rock and it’s good to come back.”

“Gotta agree with you there,” the Soupster replied – “like Dorothy said, there is no place like home.”

Submitted by Lois Verbaan Denherder

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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. 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. To submit: Email your creation to shop@sitkasoup.com and put “Our Town” in the Subject line. Or call: 747-7595.

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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