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Comments Off on Our Town – July 15, 2021

Our Town – July 15, 2021

| Children, Graphic Stories, Music, Our Town, Sports | July 15, 2021

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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 – March 11, 2021

Our Town – March 11, 2021

| Dreams, Foreign Countries, Germany, Ghosts/Spirits, Music, Our Town, Zoom | March 11, 2021

The Soupster has a candid conversation.

The Soupster came upon Frank at the stone benches behind the library.

“Shalom, Soupster,” said Frank, his low voice muffled even more by the flowered cotton mask he wore.

“What are you up to, Frank, on this fine morning, or at least, this tiny little break in the weather?”

“Not much,” said Frank. “Just recovering a bit from waking up in the middle of the night to watch a Zoom multi-media presentation from Hamburg.”

“Hamburg?”

“Yup, although people were Zooming in from everywhere – Japan, Moldavia, even St. Petersburg. They wanted to hear the music and watch the mimes. I even danced a bit alone in my living room,” admitted Frank.

“Wow, Moldavia,” marveled the Soupster. “And here you are, in little Our Town. What is it about this spot, Frank?” he wondered.

“It’s like a kind of an outdoor church, Soupster. I mean, it’s peaceful, you have the ocean and the trees, and you’ve got wifi. What more does it take to make a church?” he chuckled.

“You look tired, though, Frank. Your eyes look tired.”

“Well, I am, kinda, Soupster. Though whether it’s because of my crazy hours, my crazy dreams, or my sporadic avoidance of red meat, I cannot say.”

“Tell me about your ‘crazy’ dreams, man,” said the Soupster.

“This most recent bout started with a book I’ve been reading whose main character was thought to be a ‘holy fool’ by some street people.”

“What the dickens is a ‘holy fool’?”

“Oh, it’s an old character – in the humanities, you could say, who tells truth to power yet manages to survive by playing the fool. Sometimes they hear voices. Other times, they announce the return of spring.”

“Oh, I think I have seen pictures of that last one,” said the Soupster. He scratched his head, then replaced his baseball cap. “I am picturing a guy wrapped in a bunch of leaves, with vines growing around his body and even out of his mouth?”

“Exactly,” said Frank. “The Green Man. Other times,” he continued thoughtfully, “the character can be physically modest, even awkward, gangly, stumbling around to make a joke. Or the opposite – physically agile and nimble, like a kind of Ninja. In fact, their whole performance or truth-telling is kind of Ninja-like.”

“Sometimes, they leave us gifts,” Frank said quietly, “and we may not even realize we’ve received a gift until after they are gone.

“Well, Frank, as me sainted Mam used to say,” said the Soupster in his best Irish accent, “the best gifts are those not known by the giver or the receiver.”

“You got that right, Soupster.”

And Frank closed his eyes, the better to feel the rays of the weak winter sun on his face.

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Comments Off on Our Town – December 17, 2020

Our Town – December 17, 2020

| Christmas, Guest Written, Holidays, Music, Our Town, Rachel Ramsey | December 17, 2020

The Soupster longs for a merry little Christmas

By Rachel Ramsey

“BAGH!” Liz exclaimed, tossing her hands up. Frazzled, she didn’t notice her friend at the other end of the long, fluorescent-lit aisle of Our Town’s hardware store.

“Liz?” the Soupster turned his head, recognizing her voice. “Friend, is that you!?” he asked in surprise.  It was! Though they hadn’t crossed paths in many, many months, they recognized one another’s mask-muffled voices.

“Soupster! Gosh,” she laughed, “How in tarnation are you?” The two friends smiled large beneath their masks, approached nearer, stopping short at 8’ apart (yet feeling as near as ever). They didn’t share a bubble, so they were both giddy at the chance to briefly share an aisle.

Liz’s big eyes brightened, tired though they were. Soupster saw the exhaustion, the strain of months and months of life disrupted.

“Not too shabby, honestly.” he replied, as overhead, the holiday shopping music bellowed out a surreal Kenny-G-meets-Black-Sabbath hybrid version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Feeling Liz’s tender energy and wishing he could give her a hug, the Soupster gently motioned his head upward, “Say, what do you think of this version?” he asked.

“You know, Soupster, this song has always been a holiday favorite of mine, though this one’s a bit much.” she admitted.

“Mine too.” The Soupster agreed. Some-times we ‘hang a shining star upon the highest bough’. Other times we ‘muddle through somehow’ and, occasionally, we do both.” He sighed.

“So true. How many holiday tunes do you know that both acknowledge the melancholy – missing loved ones during the holidays – yet remain hopeful and optimistic?”

The Soupster began to mentally shuffle through the hundreds of holiday tunes residing in his memory.

Liz continued, “Judy Garland’s version is the best – my heart cracks when I hear it. She was the queen muddler. Though Sinatra found the lyric depressing and had it re-written, which is why we can ‘have it both ways’ but we rarely do. Seems artists pick one and stick with it.”

“Let’s see…,” mused the Soupster, “Mel Torme, Bing Crosby, even Bob Dylan sings it both ways – muddling through the first verse and reaching the highest bough on the second.”

“Ella Fitzgerald, too!” Liz added. “Though when she belts it, even the muddling through is somehow upbeat, swinging and hopeful.” The sides of Liz’s eyes were lifted in smile.

“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas was birthed during WWII, dark times to be sure.” The Soupster said.

“It’s really something that after 80 years this song still has the power to move us so,” said Liz.

Glad to feel Liz’s spirits lifting, the Soupster asked, “Worst version?”

“This one!” Liz shot back without hesitation and rolling her eyes with a chuckle.

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Comments Off on Our Town – December 3, 2020

Our Town – December 3, 2020

| food, Music, Our Town, Rain, Weather | December 3, 2020

Happy Birthday, Maria, says the Soupster.

Originally published November 8, 2001

Hail pelted horizontally against the snug house that a fisherman friend of the Soupster’s had built for his family. Wind howled with gusts of 60 knots.

“Tell me the story about the pumpkins and the tuba, Poppa,” said Gwendolyne, the fisherman’s daughter, right then the snuggest person in the whole house. She was tucked in the bed her fisherman father had fashioned out of aromatic yellow cedar and her quilter mother had covered with colorful blankets.

The fisherman smiled: he had told her the pumpkin and tuba story many, many times, yet Gwendolyne kept asking for it.

“This young girl,” he began, “grew up on the roof of a house in a fancy city of hills and fog. And when the fog blew away, she could see many stars from the roof.”

As he told the story, the fisherman thought about being on the deck of his father’s boat as a youngster, watching those same stars over calm Northern waters. Him on deck, his father snoring below. “This girl went to a special school,” continued the fisherman, “where they taught you only two things. One was how to make food and share it with other children. The second was how to play a musical instrument.

“This particular girl loved to cut carrots. Although she was small, the teacher let her use an enormous knife. She made Julienne carrots, carrot salad and baked carrots stuffed with avocado and walnuts. Her classmates loved her.”

“Why did she play the tuba?” asked Gwendolyne, jumping ahead in the story.

“This particular girl thought the tuba was lonely because nobody else had picked it,” the fisherman said. “And she was also spirited and wanted to show how she could blow a big instrument even though she was small.”

“The same as she could use a big knife!”

“That’s right,” said the fisherman. “Every year, the whole class would get on a bus and travel to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin for Halloween and to make pies and roast the seeds.

“This particular girl loved going to the pumpkin patch. Even more than cutting carrots. The huge, round, shiny pumpkins with their dramatic green vines were new and exciting.

“Then, the girl went to a bigger school, where she learned to play the tuba better than anyone. And after years and years at the school, they let her teach other children how to cut things and how to share them.”

“And how to play musical instruments,” Gwendolyne reminded him dreamily.

“One day, when she was much older, this particular girl found a job as a teacher. What she didn’t know was that the job was in the very town with the pumpkin patch. Her very first day on the job, they had her take her tuba and play for the great-great-great grandchild of a pumpkin she’d met years before.”

Gwendolyne was asleep.

“After the fish is and iced in the hold,” the fisherman’s father had told him while they lolled on deck, under the starlight, “there’s always time to take a minute out of the rush. To think about who you are and what you’re doing. And who and what you love.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – October 8, 2020

Our Town – October 8, 2020

| Children, Music, Our Town, Rain, Weather | October 8, 2020

The Soupster shares a valuable lesson learned from a cartoon.

Originally Published October 5, 2000

“I hate October! It rains all the time with big wet drops!” wailed the pre-schooler, balanced on the Soupster’s knee. “I WISH THERE WAS NO OCTOBER EVER AND EVER MORE!”

“Don’t say that,” hushed the Soupster. “If October went away, you would be very sad.”

“No, I wouldn’t!” protested the child.

“But if there were no October, do you know what else there would be no?”

“What?”

“Alaska Day! There would be no Alaska Day!” said the Soupster. “And no Halloween!

“No Halloween!” he went on. “Sometimes, no Yom Kippur for Jewish folks! No Thanksgiving for your cousin who lives in Toronto! And your e-mail pen pal in Christchurch, New Zealand would have to go to school on Labor Day, because the Kiwi’s celebrate their Labor Day in October!”

“Are you a genius?” the clever kid asked, instantly seizing the Soupster’s point and moving on to the next step. “Where did you learn all that?”

“From a Little Audrey cartoon when I was just about your age,” said the Soupster, glazing over in a Boomer froth of remembrance.

“Little Audrey was tired of the rain — in the cartoon I mean — and she cried out for it never to rain again!” explained the Soupster.

“Did it rain again?” the child asked.

“Not for a long time,” the Soupster answered. “At first, that was just fine with Little Audrey. She went out on a million picnics, hung her clothes right on the line to dry and was never told by her parents that she had to wear a hat.

“But as the rainlessness went on, Little Audrey’s fish started to look a little pale and drawn. And Little Audrey’s potted plant looked droopy and dry.

“Then everything around Little Audrey started to dry up. Little Audrey’s plant was curled and brown. Little Audrey’s fish gasped to breathe in only a thimbleful of water.

“Little Audrey had saved a glass of water. She ran over the parched ground toward her fish and her potted plant, holding the glass in front of her and saying `Here, here!’ But then she tripped and dropped the glass, and the water ran out just out of reach of her friends.

“So Little Audrey went to the Rainmaker and begged for the rain to start again. But the Rainmaker refused. `You said for it not to rain again, ever and ever!’ He crossed his arms over his chest.”

“What did Little Audrey do?”

“She sang,” said the Soupster. “She sang so sweetly and with so much of her heart that she made the Rainmaker cry. She sang `April Showers.’ And the Rainmaker’s tears grew greater and greater till they cascaded past his beard and down his chest and fell to the earth as wonderful, cooling rain.”

“Wow,” said the child. “I’ll never ask for it to not be October or for the rain to stop. But is it okay to ask to make the raindrops just a little smaller?”

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 1, 2019

Our Town – August 1, 2019

| Guest Written, Music, Our Town, Rachel Ramsey, Radio, Recycling | August 1, 2019

The Soupster riffs with a jazzy friend.

Guest Written by Rachel Ramsey

The Soupster was perusing his favorite thrift shop’s assortment of kitchenware when he heard his name from across the shop.

“Soupster! I’ve been thinking of you all week!” He recognized the joyful voice of his pal and fellow jazz fan, Liz, who approached him excitedly through the crowd.

“Oh yeah? What kind of trouble are you cookin’ up, dear?”

“Ain’t Misbehavin’, Soupster.” Liz replied. “Have you seen the recently discovered short video clip of Louis Armstrong as a young teenager?” Liz knew the Soupster liked his jazz early and hot. Nothing later than 1929 was his jazz preference.

“I did catch that! A New Orleans newspaper boy flashes his grin, and experts have agreed it is likely Armstrong. 104 year-old video – very cool, indeed.”

“Well I’ve been on a solid Armstrong kick since seeing that clip, buddy, and ever since I feel I’ve got the world on a string!”

Liz’s laugh was as infectious as her joyous and kind, ear-to-ear smile – freely shared with all she encountered. Not unlike Satchmo himself, the Soupster thought. Determined to replace his shabby compost bucket, he continued to eye the goods.

“Frankly, Soupster, I cannot stop referencing Armstrong song titles, and it’s driving my kids a bit batty. But I’m entertained, and honestly, I can’t help lovin’ dat man!” Their combined robust laughter filled the shop, turning only a few tourists’ heads.

“Good for you, Liz,” the Soupster chuckled. “Since his career spanned 50 years, that should keep you going strong for quite a while, though if you’re not careful, Someday you’ll be sorry. Before you know it, your hubby will be bombarding you with all the Zappa lyrics you’re oblivious to.”

Grateful that her fellow jazz lover grokked her silly joy, Liz giggled, “We’ve a fine romance, Soupster and It takes two to tango!”

“Aha! There it is!” The Soupster triumphantly exclaimed while pulling from the top shelf a 3-gallon bucket. “Have any shows on the horizon, Liz?” he asked. Liz was a volunteer at their community radio station.

“Sure do – I’m on tomorrow afternoon. Though I did miss my last slot,” Liz explained, “I caught a bug.”

“Gut Bucket Blues?” joked the Soupster.

Liz laughed, “Not quite. Speaking of buckets,” she pointed to the Soupster’s score, “What gives?”

“Well, it’s too good to be true, but I need this because my old Bucket’s got a hole in it. No lie.”

Liz couldn’t help herself, “What can you say – You’re just a lucky so and so.”

The Soupster paid for his bucket and began to mosey out of the crowded shop. He spotted the clouds above parting in the north, allowing sunbeams to permeate through the thinning overhead.

He turned around and called out, “I’m beginning to see the light, Liz! It’s on the sunny side of the street!”

Liz’s enormous smile returned as she laughingly shot back, “What a wonderful world!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – December 16, 2010

Our Town – December 16, 2010

| Christmas, Holidays, Music, Our Town, Songs | December 16, 2010

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Comments Off on Our Town – December 17, 2009

Our Town – December 17, 2009

| Christmas, Fishing, Holidays, Music, Parody, Rain, Songs, Weather | December 17, 2009

Let It Rain
(Sung to the Tune of “Let It Snow”)

Oh, the weather is very snotty.
It belongs right in the potty.
We’ve no need to complain.
Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain.

Oh, the Yule is oft pictured frigid,
But we mustn’, get too rigid.
It’s not so much of a pain.
Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain.

When we finally get dried out,
In our sweet little burg by the sea,
There’s no need to fly way Down South.
In Our Town we’re happy to be.

Oh please don’t make me blubber,
While I swath my bod in rubber.
And sing with me this refrain:
“Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain.”

Xtra Tuf Boots
(Sung to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock”)

XtraTuf, XtraTuf, XtraTufboots,
Footwear of choice of Sitka galoots.
Neoprene-coated and shiny and spry,
On them you’ll rely.

If your calf’s thin,
You just step in
And keep that damp at bay.

If your calf’s fat,
Well then, that’s that.
You’ll have to keep ’em dry another way.

Roll ’em down, slice ’em up
‘ccording to taste.
They work as slippers, too.

They are ubiquitous.
Hope they aren’t quittin’ us.
That’s the XtraTuf —
They are really skookum stuff –
That’s the XtraTufboots.

Rudy the Old-Time Troller
(Sung to the tune of  “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer”)

Rudy, the old-time troller,
Hated electronic gear.
He did not trust depictions
Not made by his eye or ear.

All of the other trollers,
Peering at their laptop screens,
They all considered Rudy’s
Predilections full of beans.

Then one night of woeful gale,
“Rude,” the trollers pled,
“We come to you beckoning,
Won’t you use dead reckoning?”

So Rudy led the trollers
Through the worst of Dead Boat Pass,
But when thcy went to thank him,
He said “Kiss my GPS!”

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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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