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Comments Off on Our Town – April 19, 2012

Our Town – April 19, 2012

| Gardening, Guest Written, Our Town, Rachel Ramsey, Recycling | April 19, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

“If we’re lucky,” I interject.

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

“Afraid not. How’d that work?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We sure do! Follow us.”

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

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Comments Off on Our Town – September 22, 2011

Our Town – September 22, 2011

| Bitty Balducci, Energy Conservation, Guest Written, Our Town | September 22, 2011

“I’m in heaven!” Caleb cried joyfully, as he shielded his eyes from the blinding light in front of him. “I finally made it!” he cried once more, falling to his knees.

“Honey, please. After your antics last week, the last thing we need is you drawing more attention”, pleaded his wife, Susan. She walked towards him and turned him away from a glowing orb that resembled the sun. “Besides, if you stare at that thing too long you’re bound to go blind!”

That very moment, a stout woman with hearty cheeks stood up and began to walk over to investigate the cause of the commotion from next door. “Oh my. Susan, what’s wrong with Caleb? I was just sitting on my porch reading the Soupster when I heard Caleb scream. Is he practicing his debut song, “Ode to Joy”, for the monthly grind again?” said their neighbor Mary.

“Fortunately not. He’s fine. It’s just that ever since our neighbor across the street added new lighting fixtures, he’s had the place lit up like Broadway every night. I swear, half the electricity in Our Town goes to his guy. I wish he would only use what’s necessary, especially since electric supply is in high demand these days,” Susan explained, trying to fight her agitation as she wiped the sweat from her brow.

“I hear ya,” said Mary stepping forward. “There are too many people in Our Town that don’t realize just how low the lake levels are and how that will affect us in the coming months. Even though I try to conserve as much as possible, we will all suffer when the diesel fuel charge is tacked on if people like him don’t reduce their electric load.”

Heat rose inside Susan as she began to think about how expensive diesel supplementation would be. “You’re right Mary. We’re all in this together and if people like him don’t cut down their electric load, Our Town will see some serious problems. Like expensive surcharges, and skyrocketing electric bills, and…”

“…rolling blackouts,” chuckled Mary.

“EXACTLY,” stated Susan. “Remember the rolling blackouts we had last year? They were so annoying! Especially since we live all the way out on Saw Mill Creek! Susan exclaimed in a tone of desperation.

“I remember all too well,” said Mary as she recalled the memory of alternating electricity. “Not only is it inconvenient, but it significantly decreases the amount of productivity that Our Town could have on any given day. Think of all the lost business many of our friends, neighbors, and family members experienced because of the rolling blackouts.”

“I’ve heard enough. Let’s go over and explain to him why he needs to reduce his electric load,” said Susan. The two women linked arms, headed across the street – shielding their eyes with their remaining free hands – and disappeared into the blinding light.

– Submitted by Bitty Balducci

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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 – June 2, 2011

Our Town – June 2, 2011

| Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town, Yoga | June 2, 2011

“I started Yoga last week,” Jan informed the Soupster, dipping a chunk of sourdough bread into a bowl of steaming chowder. “Thought I’d better get into shape for summer before it’s over,” she added with a chuckle.

“Manage to get yourself tied up in any knots?” the Soupster asked.

“Funny you should ask,” Jan said. “It all started when Kai, our instructor, suggested that we ‘stretch our tail bones away from our sit bones and bring our kidneys towards our ribs.’”

“What?” the Soupster asked, eyebrows raised.

“Exactly,” Jan said. “I started to panic. Everything got blurry, Kai’s smile seemed to become a smirk and his voice started to sound ‘echoey’ – you know, like that effect they use in the movies to convey altered states of consciousness.”

“Hmm. Kai’s instructions sound like a brain teaser,” the Soupster empathized.  “It reminds me of that thing where you have to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time, which I can do. I can even switch half way and do the opposite.”

Jan laughed. “I was still trying to figure out where my kidneys were when I noticed that the others were ‘bringing their hearts towards the wall’ and ‘allowing their necks to become long and soft.’ I quickly turned to face the wall, and the paint job caught my eye. I deepened my focus, trying to figure out whether the colors consisted of blue on purple, or purple on blue, and whether the effect had been achieved by ragging or sponging.”

“Come to any conclusions?” the Soupster asked.

“Never had time. Suddenly, Kai called for Tadasana or ‘The Mountain Pose’ – apparently a great beginning yoga pose. Finally, something I thought I could do.”

“‘Stand with your feet hip-width apart,’ said Kai, ‘or think of one foot, ten toes’” Jan recalled. “So I spread my feet, relaxed my knees and let my shoulders drop down. Things were going well. Visions of myself – a yoga guru in the Himalayas with a few yaks looking on in awe – came to mind. Finally, I was in the zone.”

“Kai’s voice jolted me back to reality: ‘Let your ribs close, let your vertebrae stack one on top of the other and continue to let your shoulder blades hug your back.’ The echoey voice returned and I found myself dissociating again. My thoughts drifted back to my first driving test.”

“Suddenly, it was time for a parallel park. The cones at the front represented the back of the front car and the cones at the back represented the front of the back car. My subconscious must have figured out what the instructor meant, because I passed the test.”

The Soupster laughed.

“Before long, I found myself relaxing under a colorful Mexican blanket, sacred Hindu chants and mantras dissolving my thoughts. Kai told us to observe our breathing, I’d made it through. I was alive and well. Very well. Calm, present and accepting.”

– Submitted by Lois Verbaan Denherder

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Comments Off on Our Town – March 24, 2011

Our Town – March 24, 2011

| Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town, Small Town Stuff | March 24, 2011

Who’s Who in Our Town?!

“One thing I really like about living in Our Town,” Marci said, “is that after a while you start knowing the people you see and seeing the people you know. A hello here and a wave there makes the place feel like one big backyard.”

“Yeah, but not everyone likes that,” the Soupster pointed out. “My cousin Dave lives in Anchorage because of the ‘anonymity’. His Saturday morning routine includes a trip to Barnes and Noble for a read and a coffee. The irony is that by now, I bet the coffee baristas and most of the regulars know everything about him, except his name… You can tell a lot about a person by what they read. But I can see his point. At least the person at the next table isn’t going to know your family tree or anything else remotely private about you”.

Marci nodded in agreement. “The worst is seeing my counselor in public,” she said. “It makes me feel kinda naked. Like, the other shoppers see this normal adult doing the normal shopping thing; meanwhile, she knows that lurking just below the surface is this crazy animal, just waiting to be unleashed. I scare myself just thinking about it!”

“Counselors are like teachers,” the Soupster reflected. “You forget that they do normal things like go shopping or go to the gym. They probably even see shrinks themselves!”

Marci laughed. “Another nice thing about living in Our Town,” she added, “are the familiar strangers that you get to know. It starts when you keep seeing someone around town. Soon, you find yourself greeting them and one day you start talking to them. Often you find out who they are, but since they’ve never officially introduced themselves, you feel obliged to pretend you don’t know, or else act as if you’ve always known! Strange really…”

“Then there are people who greet you as if they know you, but you can’t remember having met them,” the Soupster said. “In that moment of awkwardness, you’re tempted to return their greeting as a long lost friend. But if you don’t clear the air immediately, let’s say you’ve more or less missed the boat. From then on, you’re locked into pretending you know them”.

“Oh, yeah, and let’s not forget,” Marci warned, “that sometimes we’re greeted affectionately by someone who thinks they know us, when actually they don’t.  That happened to my coworker recently. She told me how she saw my brother Ben down at Crescent Harbor the other day. They were deep in conversation before she realized that he wasn’t Ben! See, it does happen. You should never assume that you’re the one with the bad memory!”

“Hey, I gotta go,” the Soupster said suddenly. “That’s the guy who I’m selling my boat to. Or is it? Anyway if he isn’t, I’m sure I can convince him he is. He sure looks like the kind of guy who needs an old Whaler,” the Soupster said with a wink.

– Submitted by Lois Verbaan DenHerder

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Comments Off on Our Town – October 7, 2010

Our Town – October 7, 2010

| Darkness, Foreign Countries, Germany, Guest Written, Our Town, Rain, Rose Manning, Seasons, Weather | October 7, 2010

“Hi, neighbor Joan. How is life treating you?”

“Soupster, I am fine but it is that time of year again.”

“What time is that?”

“Haven’t you ever noticed; when the rain gets serious and the light begins to fade many of the folks in Our Town start speaking gibberish.”

“What are you talking about? A foreign language, maybe?”

“Well, it might as well be, Soupster. It could be Italian for as much as I can understand. It must be a secret language – ‘Quiltese.’ They throw around terms like slub, bark cloth, feed dogs, round robin swap, ikat, stitch-in-the-ditch, fat quarters, fussy cut and my personal favorite – ‘scherenschnitte’ – that’s German for ‘scissor cuts’ and it’s a kind of fancy paper cutting.”

“Joan, I don’t know what any of it means but I do know some wondrous textiles come out of Our Town. I saw one beauty in white, icy blue and aquamarine sprinkled with bits of cut glass. It was called ‘Glacier’ and almost pushed me to learn the quilting skill myself.”

“Well, Soupster, why not – quilting is not just for women. Many men also enjoy the process. It involves math and engineering along with an artistic eye.”

“I love to hear all the stories of where the fabric comes from – local, of course, and picked up on world travels, from T-shirts won in athletic events, and, of course, there’s always the White E. One number re-created famous paintings of the Virgin Mary from fancy fabrics straight from the dumpster. It’s amazing, Joan, that something so beautiful can be created from discards, plus, it saves them from going in the trash.”

“You know, Soupster, I’m remembering a kind of quilt my great grandma called a ‘crazy quilt.’ It was made with scraps from her sewing. She would sit on the edge of the bed and instead of a bedtime story she would tell me about the quilt pieces. This wool worsted came from great grandpa’s best suit. That fancy, dancy, pink section was from Aunt Lucy’s dress, and we all know how she turned out. The fine white linen piece with embroidered flowers came from a christening gown. There were scraps of plaid flannel, army uniforms, logging pants and a navy blue velvet Sunday-best skirt, too.

Do you have any quilts in your home, Soupster?”

“Well, no, I couldn’t stand the thought that I might get them dirty. They are, after all, works of art. But I am partial to one I saw at last Spring’s Quilt Extravaganza here in Our Town. It had a wildlife theme and a wolf staring out from the center.”

“We sure have some obsessed quilters in Our Town – some even make a quilt every weekend. I think we should take up donations for a new organization. We could call it ‘Quilters Anonymous’ and I bet it would have lots of members especially during these short days and long rainy nights.”

“You’re sure right there, Joan.”

– Submitted by Rose Manning

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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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Comments Off on Our Town – July 29, 2010

Our Town – July 29, 2010

| Guest Written, Kathy Ingallinera | July 29, 2010

While waiting to cross the street by the Roundabout, I turned to the woman next to me and said, “I really like that sweater. What is that color – Dried Kelp?” She gave me a surprised look but said nothing and took a few steps to the side, putting some space between us.

After crossing, I ran to catch up with my friend Lizbeth, who was hurrying towards the library, where I was headed. “Hey Liz, what’s your hurry?” I asked, breathless.

“No hurry, I always walk fast. What’s new with you?” she queried.

“Well, I got a new raincoat the other day; you like it? I almost bought the Milt Green, but decided on Salmonberry Jewel instead.”

“That sure is a bright shade of red. Looks good on you, but I think I would’ve gone with the Milt myself. That would accent my red tresses. Well, gotta run, late for work!”

In the library, I headed over to the new book section, where I ran into the Soupster, perusing the vegetarian cookbooks.

“Hi, Soupster. Hey, new boots?” I asked, pointing to the brown rubber & neoprene numbers he was sporting.

“Yep, what do you think? I like this color; it’s called Brown Bear Scat. They also came in Mildew Black, but I think the brown is more versatile, don’t you?” The Soupster turned one foot back and forth, on his toe, to model the boots for me.

“Oh, brown is the way to go here in Our Town. We could all use a little more color in our wardrobes!”

I headed off to do a few more errands downtown, the Soupster tagging along behind. In the pharmacy I spotted Amy poring over the latest copy of Bride Magazine, which looked heavy enough to club a halibut with. “Looking at bridal gowns, I see,” I said as I peered over her shoulder.

“Getting closer to the big day! What do you think of this dress?” she said as she pointed with a freshly manicured nail to a long lacy white gown.

“Ooh, I love that nail polish. Looks like Low Bush Cranberry! Back to the gown – I like the style, but think it would look better in a nice subtle Halibut Cheek instead of that bright Edgecumbe White.”

“I think you’re right. Can’t blind my fellow Sitkans with something that bright.  Thanks for the advice.”

Amy then looked at me and said, “You know, I’ve used the crayons in the big box, the one with 128 colors, and I have never heard of any of the colors you mentioned in the past few minutes.”

“Didn’t you get the flyer from the hardware store in the newspaper? The paint company has come out with a new line of Our Town colors. All the ones I mentioned are in there and so many more! I’m thinking of painting my house in Coho Salmon this summer.” I looked at the Soupster. “You’re going to help, right?”

“Only if we do the trim in Sphagnum Moss.”

– Submitted by Kathy Ingallinera

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 3, 2010

Our Town – June 3, 2010

| Gardening, Guest Written, Neighbors, Relationships, Rose Manning | June 3, 2010

Neighbor Tom and I strolled down Main Street in one of those constant sunbeams that sometimes envelops Our Town.

“What a day, Soupster!”

“Yes, indeed, Tom, it is special.”

“Soupster, have you noticed Our Town seems to be in a growing epidemic?”

“What, Tom? Epidemic? Are you saying we are diseased?”

“No, Soupster, not that kind of epidemic — a growing epidemic.”

“Oh! Are you referring to those ten pounds everyone seems to gather during Our Town’s dark spell?”

“No! No! I mean growing, growing!”

“More population, Tom? I am puzzled. I thought we were declining slightly.”

“Soupster, can’t you hear? I am obviously not making myself clear. I said ‘growing.’ You know — peas and potatoes, carrots and kale, radishes and rutabagas, food and flowers and I don’t know what all.”

“Oh! You mean gardening.”

“Yes.”

”Sure enough, Tom, I am even thinking of planting a small patch or pot of greenery myself. How about you? Has the ‘grow your own bug’ bitten you yet?”

“Yes, I’ve been thinking about it…but, Soupster, it seems like there are two types of gardeners here. There are the Master Gardeners and the Disaster Gardeners. My neighbor Joanie to the north is a master, complete with a certificate to prove it, and she has a spectacular vegetable spread. She puts crops in their raised beds at the correct time, starting early with the cold weather types and moving to the more delicate species. In May they all get a nice white blanket for two weeks to keep the root maggots at bay and she circles the whole garden perimeter with clever pop bottle slug traps she makes herself.

“And the other type, Tom?”

“Well, Soupster, that would be my neighbor Kurt to the south. He is the ‘disaster’ gardener. He planted his garden in a rubble patch and when he weeded out everything he didn’t recognize, he ended up with a great crop of horsetails. Not a pretty picture.”

“Hey, Tom, come on — what do you say we take a look at the new environmentally correct seed packets, dirt and natural fertilizer and then sign up for a table at the fabulous new Farmer’s Market?”

“Okay, but I will pass on the natural fertilizer. After all, I am just a beginner.”

– Submitted by Rose Manning

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 25, 2010

Our Town – February 25, 2010

| Guest Written, Lower 48, Rose Manning, Shopping | February 25, 2010

Munching cookies and waiting in line at one of his favorite downtown banks, the Soupster saw his old neighbor Kurt.

“Kurt, are those new duds you are wearing?” inquired the Soupster, eyeing his friend’s bright pink-and-green flowered shirt and yellow cotton slacks.

“Well, yes, Soupster, they are new, but how could you tell?”

“They don’t look exactly like your usual Sitka clothes. They are not quite as dark.”

“Yes, I suppose that is true. That is pretty observant of you, Soupster.”

“Are you alright, Kurt? Your eyes seem a bit glazed.”

“Oh, I am just fine. I am just having a little trouble adjusting to the quiet beauty and peace of Our Town. But thanks for asking.”

“You have been away then – I didn’t think I saw you at the local watering hole lately.”

“I have been in the land of abundant sunshine and eternal spring.”

“Oh, so you visited America and did a bit of shopping, right?”

“Yes, Soupster, I did indeed. I was overcome by the bright lights, the 70%-off marketing madness, the rushing to and fro, and especially by the traffic, even though I never saw a single roundabout. I was so taken with the quantity and infinite variety of apparel that I won’t need to shop for at least a year. I think I might even give shopping up for Lent this year.”

“I guess that trip would explain your brightly colored clothes. Did you get a chance to visit any of America’s monuments or tourist attractions while you were away?”

“I sure did. I went to Dillard’s, Macy’s Nordstrom’s, Target, R.E.I., Penney’s, Lowe’s, Whole Foods, T.J. Maxx and many more.  Soupster, can you believe that one store had one full floor of handbags?? There were tiny little jewel-encrusted envelopes and huge, feed-the-horse-oat-bag- sized things in neon colors. It looked like a flower garden. One store had the most amazing home hardware selection–I still dream about it!”

“Tell me, how does it feel to be back?”

“Just wonderful, especially the quiet, but I am excited to see that there is a new store coming to Our Town’s main street. I can’t wait for the Grand Opening.”

“My friend, I thought you were in Shopping-excess Recovery.”

– Submitted by Rose Manning

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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 – August 27, 2009

Our Town – August 27, 2009

| Cooking, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships | August 27, 2009

“I don’t even need to leave my front door to find entertainment in Our Town,” the Soupster thought to herself, raising her eyebrows in surprise as husband waltzed into the kitchen, belting out a tune on his pretend trumpet. “Austin Powers” he proclaimed, resuming the one-line song as he turned on the Kitchen Aid.

The chocolate was melting for the second time, having hardened when husband popped out to the grocery store to get a final ingredient for the Sunday lunch he was preparing. Soon, the smooth, warm, melted chocolate was spooned into the spinning mixture of butter and sugar.

“Whoa!” husband exclaimed, staring down into the bowl in disbelief. “Sounds like you cut your finger off!” the Soupster commented. “Worse!” husband lamented, plunging his hand into the French Silk Pie mixture to fish out the plastic end of his spatula, and a handful of the buttery mixture.

Fingers licked clean, husband cracked 8 eggs into the mixing bowl. Leaving the Kitchen Aid mixing, he disappeared to check his emails.

“Check this out,” husband exclaimed with a hint of envy. “Tanja and Martin have just done a 4 day hike to Machu Picchu.” The Soupster ambled over to look at the screen. Crumbling stone ruins circumnavigated the sacred mountain. Soft, smoky clouds shrouded the surrounding Andean peaks. A road from Aguas Calientes zigzagged tirelessly up the mountain to the ruins.

“Wow!” the Soupster uttered, impressed by the reminder that life still existed beyond the sanctuary of islands and snow-capped mountains surrounding Our Town.

“Huh. Meat and desert…there’ll be a lot of that tomorrow” husband smiled, drooling at the thought of the lunch that he’d enthusiastically agreed to prepare. “Don’t worry, I’ll do some vegetables,” he reassured the heath-conscious Soupster, grabbing a bag of frozen corn from the freezer and detouring to give her a quick kiss. “No time for any more lovin’” he said. “Gotta do my roast now”.

“Honey, where’s the onion packet soup?” husband asked, wandering around the kitchen, opening and closing cupboards randomly. “Why can’t you ever find anything?” the Soupster sighed. It’s a good thing we don’t have a garage packed from floor to ceiling with Costco groceries, too. You’d be lost in it for days,” she chuckled.

“I can’t find things because you keep moving them around,” husband replied indignantly, redeeming his pride and modifying the recipe suddenly with his discovery of the bulk supply of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup.

The fake trumpet blurted out again, announcing triumphantly that the king of the kitchen was exiting, having completed his culinary delights. He had proved himself to be as skilled in the kitchen as out on the huntin’ grounds.

“Goes to show,” the Soupster thought. “You don’t have to rely on hikes to ancient Peruvian cities for entertainment. Just make sure you marry…or live with…or know… a comedian who can cook, Alaskan style.

– Submitted by Lois Verbaan

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Our Town – July 30, 2009

| Ann Wilkinson, Clothing, Crazy Theories, Guest Written, Our Town, Rain, Weather | July 30, 2009

The Soupster hoped the drizzling rain would keep the tourists downtown in the stores of Our Town and not out walking in the Park. The Soupster likes the Park better when it’s quiet. But understands that, for many tourists, this is the one day in their life they can visit The Park of Our Town.

Near the entrance to the walking trails, the Soupster noticed a familiar face, Lizzy, a local nature writer and naturalist.

“What’s all this, Lizzy?” the Soupster asked, walking up to the park bench where Lizzy was sorting large laminated cards.

“Field guides for my students,” Lizzy said, barely looking up from her stacks of cards. “I’m meeting a group of naturalist students here for a walk through The Park. These are field guides to help them identify what-all they see.”

“Good thing they’re laminated,” the Soupster chuckled as he picked up a stack of cards and wiped rain drops off with his sleeve. “Let’s see what you have here, Birds of Alaska, A Field Guide of Southeast Alaska Trees, and one on Flora of the Northwest. Well it looks like you’ve got everything covered.”

“Just about, I want my students to be prepared,” Lizzy said as she added one more card to each of her stacks.

“Would you look at this,“ the Soupster said. “It’s a field guide to clouds and what weather they bring.”

Lizzy laughed, wiping rain off the sleeves of her jacket. “We don’t really need that one. Today, like most days this time of year, we have mostly nimbostratus clouds.”

The Soupster looked at the sky and then the card. “’Nimbostratus: low lying clouds that produce near constant moderate or light rain.’ That’s Our Town.”
Lizzy and the Soupster watched a group of tourists hurry from the Park Visitor’s Center to the canopy of the forest. Another bus load of tourists pulled up to The Park and tourists were scurrying to get out of the showers.

A few locals of Our Town gathered near a totem pole, talking, laughing, oblivious to the rain.

“Those must be your students,” the Soupster said pointing to the small group. “I guess you don’t need a field guide to tell the tourists from the locals.”

Lizzy laughed. “That’s an interesting concept – a field guide of people. Let’s see — the tourists would be identified by their clothing. Impractical footwear, rain ponchos that look like trash bags, umbrellas, and the females carry canvas bags with cruise ship logos. As for their behavior, they are always in a hurry and don’t tolerate rain.”

“And what about the locals?” asked the Soupster.

“That’s easy,” replied Lizzy, looking over at the group of students, “Xtratuf boots, Carhartts, layers of fleece vest and jackets, and no umbrellas.”

“And what about identifiable behavior?”

Lizzy thought for a minute, “Friendly, easy going, and tolerates rain well.”
“That’s Our Town,” said the Soupster as he entered the Park, happy to enjoy the company of the birds, flora and tourists.

– Submitted by Ann Wilkinson

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Our Town – April 9, 2009

| Airplanes, Couples, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships, Travel | April 9, 2009

Having escaped fires, snakes and sharks down under, the Soupster was glad to be heading home. After scanning the plane for familiar faces, she found her seat and settled back to enjoy the last leg of her long journey. The plane was de-iced, and took off into the night sky.

“Have a look at this,” husband urged, shoving an Aircraft Safety Instruction brochure in front of the exhausted Soupster. A woman was leaping through the aircraft doorway over an inflatable slide; an Olympic gymnast, legs straight out in front of her, modestly covered by an unruffled skirt. Husband raised his eyebrows; “You’d think she’d have taken off her high heels first,” he commented.

In the next picture, a plane was floating in the sea, an inflatable slide attached to a doorway. At the end of the slide, a man in the water was effortlessly turning the slide around, converting it into a raft. This time, the Soupster raised her eyebrows, trying in vain to picture herself performing the feat in freezing water.

Another picture showed a floating aircraft surrounded by 4 inflatable slide rafts that had been released. Each raft had 12 people floating in the water, hanging onto its edges. “You want to make sure you’re one of the 48 people who gets a spot on the raft,” husband chuckled. The Soupster shifted her attention to other pictures with warnings not to jump off the aircraft wing onto a raging fire or a pile of rocks.

Suddenly it was time to fasten seatbelts and prepare for landing. It was snowing heavily and the lights in and around our town were invisible.

The Soupster tightened her grip on the armrests as turbulence shook the plane. She checked the pouch on the seat in front of her for the sick bag, and then looked out of the window. At the speed they were moving, snow flakes rushing past horizontally created an illusion of being on the ground, or very near to it. The descent continued. Images of crashing into the sea and swimming around in dark, freezing water, trying to find a spot on a raft were disconcerting. Her life flashed before her, along with the headlines: “Soupster perishes as plane misses runway.”

Suddenly the aircraft changed direction and began to gain altitude. “The pilot was unable to see the runway lights and will make one more attempt to land,” a voice boomed from above. Thankfully, the next attempt was successful.

The air was still freezing and snow still shrouded the landscape. Spring was mostly still asleep. Thoughts of warm, sunny, foreign lands teased the Soupster momentarily. But warm welcomes, friendly faces, loving embraces and feet on solid ground made the Soupster smile. She was extremely glad to be back, safe and sound, in the wonderland of Our Town.

— 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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