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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 – 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 9, 2010

Our Town – September 9, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

But it was night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 26, 2010

Our Town – August 26, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was quiet for a moment, regrouping his thoughts.

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

“But, Mr. Soupster…uh, sir…”

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

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

The Soupster paused for breath and Johnny jumped right in.

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

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

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

– Submitted by Eddie Rau

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 7, 2009

Our Town – May 7, 2009

| Environment, Nicknames, Our Town, Recycling, Seasons, Spring, Sunshine, Weather | May 7, 2009

Drunk on sunshine and happily munching a donut, the Soupster staggered down to a rocky beach near the end of the road. For the first time this year — in homage to the growing warmth and light — the Soupster had tossed his winter coat to the back of the closet and donned a fleece vest instead. This day was so warm the Soupster considered yanking off his boots and socks, setting on a rock and soaking his toes in Sitka Sound until they wrinkled.

But that dream bubble popped when the Soupster nearly stepped on Gavin “Frenchy” Leboyer, who crouched by the water’s edge. The Soupster stopped chewing.

“What gives you ze right to bare arms?” quipped Leboyer, in the fake French accent that earned him his nickname.

The Soupster extended his arms and savored the sun on his skin. “You look like a scuttling crab down there, Frenchy,” he said, laughing. “Le Crabe!” He took stock of his crouching friend. “Whatever are you doing?”

Frenchy was pulling plastic containers out of his backpack, popping the lids and sprinkling the contents – various leftovers – onto the rocks by the water’s edge. “It’s my last two weeks of cooked food scraps,” he said. “Just repaying the ocean’s bounty.”

“That’s got to be illegal,” said the Soupster. “Littering, maybe?”

“I’m a good boy,” said Frenchy. “I’ve been composting my uncooked table scraps for years. But I’ve always thrown the cooked leftovers into the trash and one day I said to myself — `This is excellent food, I eat it myself. I bet something in the ocean will eat this, too.’”

“I don’t know,” said the Soupster. “This brings to mind the bad old days when cities like New York would just load all their garbage into ships and dump the trash in at sea.”

“Not the same,” said Frenchy. “That was all kinds of stuff, a lot of which was poisonous or not food, like metal and concrete. This is the good stuff. I guarantee you there’s some critters who won’t turn up their noses. Or whatever they have on their face that they turn up. If they have a face, that is.”

Frenchy sprinkled the food in a small circle as the Soupster watched. Frenchy reached down and picked up what looked like the last gasp of a partially eaten Big Mac. “I just keep thinking about this hamburger taking the long trip by barge and train to the Eastern Washington landfill where all Our Town’s trash goes. And then it gets buried and rots and belches methane.”

“Except the stuff we recycle,” said the Soupster. “And that’s more and more every month.”

“Look at this,” Frenchy said, indicating the leftovers that the rising tide was already starting to digest. “Think of how disgusting this stuff would be by the time it got to the landfill.”

“You may be on to something, Frenchy,” the Soupster said. “Nature doesn’t waste anything, One creature’s offal is another’s dinner.”

“Just don’t turn me in.” Frenchy pleaded.

“Mum’s the word,” said the Soupster, zipping his lip. Then he looked at the sea. “Le Mer,” he called as he tossed the last of his donut over Frenchy’s head. “Bon appetite!”

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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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