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Comments Off on Our Town – February 22, 2018

Our Town – February 22, 2018

| Crazy Theories, Guest Written, Our Town, Rose Manning | February 22, 2018

The Soupster talks and listens.

I was cornered! I had to be quick. I grabbed my books and papers and scurried out of my cozy winter spot in the library. The new glass walls made it hard to be invisible.

Talking Joe was heading straight towards me. Joe was long and lanky and words spewed out of him like a manic fountain pen. Like a lot of Our Towners this time of year, he hunted down people to visit with.

An interesting man, Talking Joe. Curious and self-educated, he looked at old things in new ways and gave you ideas to mull over for days. He often sounded like the speculative science talks on the radio.

“Hi, Soupster!” Joe hailed just when I thought I was in the clear. “Soupster, have you ever noticed – Our Town is yellow?”

“Yellow? Do you mean faint of heart? Scared? Cowardly?”

No, no, Soupster. Just yellow. Well, maybe orangey-red, but it looks like a big ‘ole pumpkin patch.”

“How so, Joe?”

“Well, Soupster. It runs the gamut from burnt umber to the palest yellow to rooftop red.”

“Burnt umber? What is that, Joe?”

“Umber, I’ve read, is a natural brown earth pigment with oxides. When heated, the color becomes more intense and is called burnt umber.”

“And then, Soupster, have you noticed we have miles and miles of yellow ‘No Parking’ curbs? How do they pick these colors? Do they discuss them at assembly or is it just the paint on sale that month?”

“I don’t know, Joe, maybe folks are just seeking brightness. In deep winter here, the forests, mountains and oceans are mostly black, topped by dark gray clouds. Maybe people are trying to add an artificial sun to the landscape.”

“Yeah, Soupster, we all need variety – for example, I have to admit St. Michael’s Cathedral is the little non-pumpkin jewel of downtown.”

“Good things to think about, Joe. Anything else on your mind today?” I asked as I strolled toward the silent sanctuary of my truck.

“Oh, all kinds of things. Like why are the streets so quiet at night? I hardly ever hear anyone cussing or yelling anymore. Maybe it’s too cold to make noise.”

Joe seemed more lonesome than usual today. Ever since his wife passed, he’s been trying to reconnect with friends and neighbors. She was definitely the social glue of the pair. Things got even harder for Joe when his card-playing buddy Ralph moved south to be near grandkids. Talking Joe needed a listener now more than ever.

Sometimes, we all just need to shut up and listen better, and maybe the season will seem kinder and warmer.

“Okay, Joe, see you around,” I said as I started my engine.


“Yes, Joe?”

“I was wondering – why does our town have so many flat roofs? Just asking,” I heard him say.

I pulled away from the yellow curb, slowed down and called back, “Get in the truck, Joe, and tell me what you think about the flat roofs.”

Submitted by Rose Manning

102 total views, 2 today

Comments Off on Our Town – April 7, 2016

Our Town – April 7, 2016

| Guest Written, Our Town, Rose Manning, Seasons, Spring | April 6, 2016

The Soupster inspires a flurry of activity before a dinner date.

I was strolling past the post office in Our Town when I heard,“Gosh darn sunbeams!”

I turned and scurrying by in a terrible hurry was my neighbor Linda.

“Excuse me, but what did you say? I thought I heard you say, ‘Gosh darn sunbeams.’”

“Kurt, I did say it. Darn sunbeams. I just can’t stand them; they are everywhere.”

“Now Linda, why do you have a problem with sunbeams? You are usually a pretty laid back, upbeat person and generally everybody in Our Town is happy to see sunshine.”

“Oh Kurt, I’ve invited Soupster to my special pickled herring and borscht dinner tonight and I am so rushed.”

“Why? You have made that wonderful meal dozens of times. I especially like the ground fresh garlic you always sprinkle on top. You have served it so often I should think you could cook it while practicing your Yoga.”

“Well, back during Our Town’s usual darkness I thought I was all caught up on my work around the house, but now the sunbeams have shown me that my windows are filthy. I just thought it was dark out like always, but all that bright light is showing dirt that I didn’t even know I had. There’s kitty hair all over the sofa, cobwebs decorating the corners, dust everywhere and little motes floating willy nilly about the room. I can’t entertain in those conditions.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sakes, don’t worry about the Soupster. His glasses are always so dirty he won’t notice a thing.”

“Kurt, it is not only inside my house that’s a problem but outside too. I noticed the paint on the porch has faded and there is a streak of mold on the front door.”

“Now Linda, don’t despair. Lots of us have the same damp weather problem.”

“And look at my clothes! When did my best sweater get little balls all over it? And there are spots on my Levis I never noticed before. And the very worst part – I cleaned my glasses and my husband actually has grey hair and wrinkles. I’m sure they were not there last fall. The poor old soul. I can’t wait for a return to the nice dark rainy days of November.”

“Oh Linda, please, please be careful what you wish for.”

“I have to be on my way now, Kurt. I am going to clean until dinner time.”

“Or, Linda, my friend, you could just pull the curtains closed.”

Submitted by Rose Manning

593 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – March 28, 2013

Our Town – March 28, 2013

| Guest Written, Neighbors, Our Town, Relationships, Rose Manning, Small Town Stuff | March 27, 2013

Is there such a thing as too much help?

“Hey, Buddy. Good to see you.”

“How’s life, Soupster?”

“How is life? How can you ask such a question?”

“I am fixin’ to leave this dang town.”

“Oh no, Buddy. Why do you want to leave Our Town?”

“I just have to, Soupster. It seems that nobody can mind their own beeswax. They are always sticking their nose into my business.”

“Whoa, there! It is a small town and it is spring and it is foggy and you know we just use each other for entertainment this time of year. Just what is this business you are talking about, Buddy?”

“Soupster. Everybody is just too dang nice.”

“Did I hear that right? TOO NICE? What is wrong with that?”

“Do you remember when the doc told me to walk at least twenty minutes every day?”

“Yes, I do and I do see you out there sometimes.”

“You got it, Soupster. Sometimes is right. It seems every time I get my shoes on and start out I can’t get more than a half block from home and somebody stops to give me a ride back home. I explain what I’m doing and turn them down but there is always another do-gooder neighborly sort right behind them. Finally, I give up and get all my exercise crawling in and out of cars. As soon as they drop me off and pull away I start out again. I haven’t made it a full block all week.”

“They are such good and kind people, Buddy.”

“Well. That is not my only problem Soupster.”

“Do tell me more.”

“Well you know how my Taurus is always leaking. The trunk is real swampy so on nice days I leave the trunk lid standing open so it will dry out.”

“Does it work?”

“Not hardly. Some do-goody has to walk by and close the lid. I even took it to the airport, thinking it would work out better there with all the strangers coming and going but I hadn’t even finished one cup of coffee before it was shut tight. And there’s more, Soupster.”


“All the young ‘uns are now helping me up the curb and stairs even when I don’t want to go. They also stop and wait to help me cross the road when I don’t want to. I just want to stand in the yard and watch the birds. We caused quite the back-up at the round-a-bout yesterday.”

“Buddy, please don’t leave Our Town. Wait until the weather turns for the better and all the tourists come back. The nice people will get over it and barely have time to bother with you.”

Submitted by Rose Manning

1038 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – February 28, 2013

Our Town – February 28, 2013

| Guest Written, Our Town, Rose Manning | February 28, 2013

The Soupster observes serious business at the White E

Originally published April 10, 2008

At 6 p.m. Monday I was standing in line behind Secondhand Rose, Soupster and a dozen other regulars at the Church of the White Elephant waiting for it to open. We were singing “Praise be to the ladies of the White E, Jan and the holy clan, Lori of the hallowed window and Jeannie of the Monday ministry.”

Well it is not really a church but it does border on a religious experience to many regulars in Our Town.

One of the stalwart volunteers came around the corner with an armload of free books. She told me they have about 75 volunteers with an accumulated age of just over 64,000 years. Each one has a specialty such as pajamas, jewelry, t-shirts, men’s boxers, Barbie dolls, books, front window display, and so on.

“The good gentleman that tests the electronic donations is prematurely gray. He had some bad luck working on home appliances rewired by an amateur. Now we call him Sparky. And did you know that this place has been in business for over 50 years now and all the proceeds go back into Our Town?”

“Yes, Soupster told me that. Just what kind of donations have you been getting lately?” I asked.

“Well last week I found 11 cents in the watch pocket of a pair of levis, a moose hip bone, an African Masaii necklace, a Lionel Hampton T-shirt, a souvenir spoon from Toledo, a wig, and a half a loaf of bread. When folks are making a run to catch the ferry we get everything that won’t fit in the trunk. A coffee pot was donated with a little coffee and the grounds were still warm and a roaster complete with turkey bones.

“One of the boxes was like an archeological dig. The top layer was a big, frumpy housedress, followed by big men’s T-shirts and blue jeans, under that was a layer of toddler clothes and then baby clothes and then maternity clothes and on the bottom a size 6, red fringed, shimmery, sequined, strapless dress, high heeled shoes and frilly under things. It is fun to speculate on the history of some donations.”

“Does the really nice stuff get snapped right up?” I asked.

“Not necessarily. If it is too glam or razzle dazzle for Our Town or too big to fit in small spaces or has only a decorative use it can hang around a long time. But they are the most fun to put on display. The Xtra Tufs last about a minute,” The informative volunteer offered.

“I hear you can sometimes get original Gucci bags, Waterford crystal, White Stag sweaters, and leather biker pants for ten cents on the dollar.”

“Oh, those are rare but it happens. Dumpster diving is the only place you can get things cheaper. Are you looking for anything in particular tonight?” she asked.

Oh, I have a list of things; a piece of fake fur, a teapot and a helmet.”

“You shouldn’t have a problem finding those.Do you need a yarmulke? One came in yesterday.”

The doors were opening so we couldn’t talk unless I wanted to be trampled. This was serious business.

– Submitted by Rose Manning

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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 – 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.”


”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

1243 total views, 0 today

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    The Soupster talks and listens.

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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.

Want to submit a piece for Our Town?

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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