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Comments Off on Our Town – April 5, 2018

Our Town – April 5, 2018

| Animals, Cats, Dogs, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships | April 5, 2018

The Soupster meets an interesting couple.

Originally published July 25, 2002

The dog, a dark brown Labrador retriever, looked as dignified as any dog ever has while sitting in the driver’s seat of a car and the Soupster said so out loud.

“Thanks,” the dog called half-absently, resting its paws on the sheepskin covered steering wheel of the blue and grey pickup truck parked outside a key Our Town place for sandwiches and drinks.

The Soupster ambled over to the truck cab’s open window. “You talk?”

“I’m supposed to listen, right?” said the dog. “I hear that all day from your kind.”

“You drive, too?” the Soupster asked.

“You think the truck would have a better chance of parking by itself than I have of handling a 3/4 ton vehicle,” the dog sneered. “Tell me you don’t think that.”

“You probably hear this a lot,” the still-stunned Soupster sputtered, “but I can’t believe I’m talking to a dog.”
“Go ahead,” said the dog. “Ask me.”

“Ask you what?” said the Soupster.

“If a police officer pulled me over, which license would I give him?” the dog said. “That’s what you were going to ask, right?”

The Soupster’s cheeks turned bright red. “Actually, I was thinking about what kinds of music you listen to when you drive.”

“`Bark, the Herald Angels Sing’ and “Oh, Dem Bones’” said the dog, curling its lips to approximate a smile. “And my favorite movies are `Riding In Cars With Dogs” and “10 Things I Smell About You.”

“Do you…?” started the Soupster, but the dog cut him off.

“Yes, I stick my head out the window when I drive, to answer your question,” the dog said. “And, yes, I – like all dogs – will get mad if you blow on my nose. Why do dogs like one and not the other? I don’t know. We just do.”

The Soupster stared at the dog, absolutely speechless.

“I used to run with a sled team out of Skwentna,” the dog continued. “Then I decided I should get behind the wheel, instead of me being the wheels.”

“Regrets?” the Soupster asked.

“For a while, I had this recurring dream of scaring a bunch of cats in the crosswalk. Make ‘em scatter good,” said the dog, again approximating a smile. “If I do that now I’ll lose both my licenses! Oh, here’s my wife.” The dog started the engine.

The dog’s wife, a cat, carried a foot-long sandwich in her mouth.

The dog scrunched up his nose. “Oh, no,” he said. “She got tuna again! Tuna and mayonnaise and no veggies. I like veggies. She really doesn’t know the meaning of `to share.’”

“If you hate cats so much, why did you marry one?” said the Soupster as the cat slipped in the truck cab on the other side with the sandwich.

“I’m a patient creature,” said the dog, dropping the truck into reverse and backing away from the Soupster with a comradely, if unseen, swipe of his tail.

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 18, 2015

Our Town – June 18, 2015

| Eddy Rau, Fishing, Guest Written, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships | June 18, 2015

The Soupster ponders alone time.

Guest Written by Eddy Rau

The Soupster cozied into his first class seat. Using his upgrade from Seattle was a great idea. The reunion of his writing class had been interesting, and now his eyes drooped as he thumbed through the magazine, waiting for take-off. Apologies for the hold-up came from the loudspeaker, as two guys walked in and took the seats behind the Soupster.

“Hmmn…looks like they’re out of a Patagonia catalog,” was his thought as take-off commenced.

“You must have clout somewhere to get a 737 to wait for you!” said a deep voice from behind.

‘Well, this trip is costing me a bundle.  Seems my wife equates ten days fishing in Alaska with ten days in Paris. Say, Jake, how do you get away with it? You’ve been going fishing every year.”

The Soupster’s ears perked up. This sounded like a story – it already had politics and economics with overtones of women’s lib.

There was a pause and finally the deep voice replied. “Leland, you were smart to deal with your fishing right up front. Remember that trip around the world Susan and I took a few years ago?”

“Ha-ha, don’t I just? I still get, ‘How come Jake and Susan can afford it and not us?’”

“Well,” said Jake, “my story started when I had to go up to Prudhoe Bay with that spill settlement. It was thought a little fishing stopover might be in order. Then, Susan got all excited about meeting up with me. Instead of saying it was an all-guy fishing trip, I dropped the subject. So, she thought it was just work.”

Jake mused, “I had so much fun with those guys – fishing and drinking and being out on the water. I kept going every year – Susan thought it was all business. That worked for about five years. Then, one weekend, at a barbecue, that damned Al Krankins started in about the fish.”

“Where’d you get this fish? Tastes like real wild salmon!” Blah, blah. “You have friends in Alaska?”

Jake’s voice got wistful. “Susan gave me ‘the look.’  I felt the old bank account shrinking. But, I like a peaceful life, so three months tripping around the world was a small price to pay.  Now we negotiate in advance. Susan’s on a New York shopping trip with our daughters.”

The Soupster marveled – was this calculated negotiation a feature of all marriages? It sounded exhausting – not for the first time, the Soupster thanked his stars that he had only himself to answer to. He drifted off, thinking of the nice, quiet evening he would soon be enjoying.

Finally, home! The Soupster walked into the terminal. There was his buddy Sheila, come to give him a ride. He gave her a big hug. And then, the shouts started.

“Hey, Uncle Soupster!!”

“Hi, you old dog!,” said Sheila. “Guess what – my family came up for a surprise visit, and the best part is, they get to stay for a whole week! Will you barbecue fish for us all tonight?”

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 6, 2013

Our Town – June 6, 2013

| Children, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships | June 6, 2013

The Soupster learns it’s all in a name.

Aaaahh… marinated black cod sizzling — a lovely sound, the Soupster thought, looking approvingly as his friend Nicolas manned the charcoal grill set up in his backyard…

Nicolas had a cowboy twang to his English when he was happy but spoke perfect Standard American when he was being serious. That never ceased to amaze the Soupster, who knew his friend grew up in the great port city of Antwerp, Belgium. Nicolas had equal fluency in French, German and Dutch.

Nicolas flipped the black cod filets. The smell now tantalized the Soupster as much as the sizzling sound. “Just once,” Nicolas twanged. “I try to flip the fish only once.”

An enormously pregnant Alice – Nicolas’ wife – waddled carefully onto the small raised porch outside the kitchen. “The rice and salad are almost ready,” she said. Alice spoke her English with a Boston brogue and, like most born-and-bred Americans, spoke English only and that’s all she needed — thank you very much for your concern.

“Basmati brown rice and spinach and seaweed salad,” she said to the Soupster, as though he had asked. “Nick’s bread, and local beer if you want it.”

“Great,” said the Soupster.

“How much longer?” Alice asked her husband.

“Funf minuten,” he said in German, holding up five fingers.

“Perfect,” said Alice and went inside.

“Your wife is nice,” the Soupster said. “I didn’t see your kids.”

“Tanya is overnighting in a tent behind her friend’s house and Brian is hiking with the Scouts.” Nicolas said, and then added conspiratorially, “My kids are such landlubbers.”

The Soupster was scandalized. “How’d they get to be landlubbers? With the way you guys take to water, you and Alice have practically sprouted fins.”

“I know, I know,” Nicolas said sadly, no trace of a twang. “I’ve tried to get them out on the boat. No way. I bought two kayaks. No way, no way. I signed them up for diving lessons…”

“No way?”

“No way,” Nicolas confirmed twanglessly.

“But I have high hopes for the new kid,” he said, brightening, “I’ve been reading a lot of sea stories out loud to Ally and singing chanteys night and day. We eat as much fish as Doc Megan said is safe. And we have a secret weapon.”

The Soupster looked up at Alice, who had come out onto the porch to usher them inside. She’d been listening in. “The secret weapon is the baby’s name,” she said.

“Gilbert,” twanged Nicolas. “Gil. Get it? Gill!”

“Or Gilda,” said Alice.

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 30, 2011

Our Town – June 30, 2011

| Children, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships, Trucks | June 30, 2011

“The Soupster says here that he lost a rented movie in the parking lot and he was sure somebody stole it,” Josh Mollison told his wife Mona, as he scanned the “Our Town” column he was reading. “And then somebody found the DVD and turned it in.”

“That’s mildly interesting,” said Mona.

“Seems like the Soupster’s last few stories all involved driving around,” said Josh. “I’m worried that’s all the man does anymore.”

“You’ve just got trucks on the brain,” said Mona, “and I know why.”

“I was putting the boat in the back in April and that old Ford almost died on me, with the Bonnie V half on the trailer and half off and a line of other folks waiting to use the landing,” Josh told Mona for the fourth or fifth time.

“That’s got to be the tenth time you told me that,” said Mona.

“Maybe twice,” said Josh.

“Aw, Honey, I know you think you need a new truck, but we really can’t afford it right now,” Mona said. “You only really need a truck to get the boat into the water in the spring and out of the water in the winter. That’s only twice a year you really need the truck.”

“You don’t understand, Sweetie,” said Josh. “What if I needed to pull the boat out in the middle of season for repairs? Or what if Mike or Steve needed to pull theirs out and their trucks broke down?”

“It’s a state of mind,” he continued. “It’s about freedom and being able to do all the things you need to do. I don’t want to sound like Braveheart, but it’s like a part of the whole being a man thing.”

“There should be a truck rental, just for guys like you,” said Mona. “Or a co-op. The truth is you only really need the truck twice a year.”

Josh tried to change the subject. “Sometimes, the Soupster goes shopping in one of his columns and you go shopping,” he observed.

“I went shopping today,” Mona admitted.

“You don’t have to feel guilty about it,” Josh said.

“I don’t.”

“Show me what you bought?”

Mona broke into a broad smile and scurried out of the room. She came back a second later, beaming, pushing a fluorescent blue high-tech stroller capable of carrying three children at once.

“I don’t want to pick a fight,” Josh said, “but we only have one child. Isn’t that a bigger stroller than we need for one child?”

“But what if we have more?” Mona said, “Or what if Jessica wants to leave Amber and little Gloria with me and I have to take Suzy to the dentist at the same time? It’s about flexibility, Josh.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – November 4, 2010

Our Town – November 4, 2010

| Darkness, Marriage, Neighbors, Newcomers, Our Town, Relationships, Seasons | November 4, 2010

(Originally published Nov. 17, 2005)

The knock on the Soupster’s door turned out to be Bob, the Soupster’s new neighbor, who wanted to borrow a flashlight. Bob needed to do some outdoor plumbing and, new to Our Town, he still felt uncomfortable about running electrical cords outside in the rain.

“Cleve,” the Soupster told Bob. “Cleve is your man.”

Cleve was another of the Soupster’s neighbors and known for his lights. Cleve had gasoline-powered pedestal klieg lights as well as key chain lights whose bulbs were guaranteed beyond eternity. Cleve had lights he could strap to his head, his shoulder, the crook of his arm and his shoes. He had old diving lights that ran on massive lantern batteries, one than ran on a fuel cell the size of a dime and one that you could crank to operate.

The passage between the Soupster’s house and Cleve’s ran through some thick brush, and the Soupster could see Bob cringing from the even deeper dark that cloaked the path.

“Light,” said the Soupster. “Can you even remember the middle of the summer, when it never got dark? We’re paying for that now.”

The light-starved Bob took up the conversation – after all isn’t food — or the opposite of it — the favorite subjects of famished people? “The desert is dark, notably dark,” he said. “A winter I spent outside Shiprock, Arizona taught me that. But wet dark is somehow worse.”

“Wet dark is like double dark,” the Soupster agreed.

“On a tour of Alcatraz prison, I volunteered to be locked in solitary confinement,” said Bob. “When they closed the door, that was the darkest I could imagine.”

“Cleve’s yard is equipped with motion-sensor lights all over the place,” said the Soupster. “Don’t be startled. I can show you where you can just wave your hand a little out in front of you and set off the whole array.”

On the edge of Cleve’s lawn, the Soupster waved his arm a little out in front of him and the whole area blazed into daytime. Awash now, the two men staggered blinking up the walk. Cleve was already at his front door, tipped off by the lights.

“Can Bob check out one of your flashlights to do some plumbing?” the Soupster asked, indicating the new neighbor.

“Sure,” said Cleve, who disappeared briefly. He came back with a three lights — a carabiner micro-light, a waterproof million-candlepower portable searchlight and about six feet of luminescent piping. “Use the piping for brightening up the area where you are working,” he explained.

As Bob stood examining the lights, the Soupster turned to Cleve. “Poor guy,” whispered the Soupster. “This is his first November.”

“He’ll do okay,” Cleve said. “It’ll soon be Thanksgiving and the city lights will go up on the utility poles and the people in the stores and houses will start decorating.”

“Can I borrow all three lights?” asked Bob.

“Better than cursing the darkness,” said Cleve. “For sure.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – October 21, 2010

Our Town – October 21, 2010

| Birthdays, Holidays, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships, Telemarketing | October 21, 2010

“Lon Struckhausen, that’s the silliest thing I’ve heard this week!” roared the Soupster.

“I know it sounds crazy, but my sweet Laura loves her little Schnitzel like he was her baby,” said Lon, picking up the receiver on his early touch-tone avocado-colored kitchen wall phone, while the Soupster sat at the kitchen table.

The Soupster looked across the table and regarded Schnitzel, the ferret, perched upright on his haunches, looking like an annoyed and furry ornamental pepper grinder.

“Hello, is this the Snuggli company?” Lon said into the phone. “I want one for pets, extra-small.” He have his payment info.

“What?” Lon shot a surprised look at the Soupster. “But my credit card should be fine!”

Lon hung up the phone and brought his laptop computer over to the table. “Let me just log into my credit card account… wait a minute.”

“What’s wrong?” asked the Soupster.

“It won’t recognize my ID,” Lon said. “Laura must have changed it.” He went back to the wall phone and called the credit card company.

After punching in a bunch of numbers to navigate a rash of options, Lon reached a live human being. As the Soupster listened, Lon had to recount his high school team colors (navy and green), his mother’s maiden name (McNulty) and his favorite pet (not Schnitzel).

“My wife’s birthday?” said Lon into the phone. “Why, it’s September 18, 1968.”

“Really?” said Lon, glancing over at the Soupster. “Only 3 percent if husbands can correctly name their wife’s birthday without counting on their fingers? That’s in your experience?”

“And 100 percent of wives immediately know their husband’s birthday, again in your experience?” Lon said. “And you have 20 years working the credit card customer service phone lines?”

“Wow,” said the Soupster to Schnitzel, who ignored him.

“And most of them also know their husband’s social security number by heart?” said Lon.

“I guess that’s admirable,” said the Soupster to no one in particular.

“I think they learn it in Girl Scouts,” Lon said. “There may be a badge.”

“What’s that?” asked Lon into the phone. “When they separate the boys and girls into different gym classes?” Lon laughed and hung up.

“That guy thinks they have the boys playing dodge ball,” said Lon, “while the girls perfect advanced memory skills.”

“Just order Schnitzel’s Snuggli,” said the Soupster.

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Comments Off on Our Town – May 20, 2010

Our Town – May 20, 2010

| Finland, Foreign Countries, Marriage, Relationships | May 20, 2010

“We always meet in the middle,” Jan-Erik told the Soupster, as the two waited at the soda fountain for milk shakes. “That’s the secret to my marriage. Me and Dolly, always in the middle.”

“You two do seem happy,” the Soupster conceded.

“Well, don’t say that like it is a foul thing,” laughed Jan-Erik.

A group of eight or so boarding school students studying here from way north of Our Town pressed by the Soupster. He and Jan-Erik and murmured to each other as they pored over the menu and chose shakes and sundaes. Nodding at the small, but growing crowd, the two men shot each other looks that said “I’m glad my order is already in.”

As far as the students hailed from, it was not as far as Jan-Erik Lajunen, who in his 20’s  moved to Our Town all the way from Finland. A handyman at first, he stepped into the historic role of carpenter, then home builder – as other Finns had plied their trade to the Russians long ago. Jan-Erik was intensely interested in the downtown street Finn Alley and would walk its short (and one-way) length seeing if he could pick up any vibrations from the past.

Dolly was born in Our Town – that is, Dalisay Bahaghari was. Everybody called her Dolly, except her parents. Mr. and Mrs Bahaghari, very traditional, had insisted that for the wedding Jan-Erik wear a barong Tagalog, a Filipino dress shirt that was worn untucked. At the nuptials, Jan-Eriks red-blonde hair on his long neck sticking out of the barong’s low collar gave the impression of a nervous rooster.

“How’s the latest project?” the Soupster asked.

“Four new houses out toward the old mill site,”’ said Jan-Erik. “The new California yogurt kingpin wanted a big house out there. I decided building four was as easy as building one in some ways.”

“Like repeating yourself four times,” said the Soupster.

“Not exactly,” said Jan-Erik. “The three others are quite a bit smaller.”

“I decided the name of the road,” he continued. “I chose Dailsay Court, after Dolly. Her name means `Pure’ in Tagalog. Dolly wanted to name the street Bahaghari Court, which means `Rainbow.’ I thought `Pure Rainbow Court’ was too much name. We met in the middle.”

“The secret of your marriage?”

“Yes,” Jan-Erik said. “Her family is from the Philippines and mine’s from Finland. We’ve been meeting in the middle from the moment we met.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 27, 2009

Our Town – August 27, 2009

| Cooking, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan DenHerder, 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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Comments Off on Our Town – July 2, 2009

Our Town – July 2, 2009

| Computers, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships | July 2, 2009

The Soupster was (yet again) marveling at the beauty of the view from the rear of Our Town’s library. Tsk, tsk, so many gorgeous views in Our Town and so little time. The Soupster always did his best to stop and smell the coffee – even if it sometimes turned out to be tea.

He was on his way to borrow (yet another) graphic novel about a serious historical event. These novels contained page after page of comic-book-like art and dialogue telling the story of some awful occurrence — like being in Hiroshima while it was bombed. These were not children’s books — they gleaned elements from both written novels and live-action movies to tell their ghastly, true tales. Their pages made the Soupster think of the story boards many movie directors draw to plan each shot before the cameras roll. The graphic novel format made the subjects more accessible to the reader than either of the two other mediums, the Soupster thought.

As the Soupster headed for the stacks he was grabbed by the ankle by Roddy Updike, sitting on the floor with his back against the wall. Roddy was famous for his electronic-filled semi-annual garage sales. “If you don’t need state-of-the-art, Roddy Updike probably has one he’s not using any more,” the Soupster had been told, although he had yet to avail himself.

“Soupster,” whispered Roddy. “Did you hear they’re going to make some of downtown wireless? Like if you’re waiting on line at the bank, you can check your email.”

“Great, Roddy,” the Soupster quietly answered.

“But don’t try and steal any of the little transmitter boxes, because they can trace the signal back to you,” Roddy said.

“I promise I won’t,” said the Soupster. “What are you here for?”

“My wife told me to get offline and go for a walk, so I walked to the library,” Roddy said. “She said my skin was looking sallow being inside all the time. But when I got here, all the computers were booked for the next two hours, so I’ve been sitting here waiting. Sometimes somebody gets sick and has to go home early. Maybe I’ll get lucky.”

“What’s so important?” asked the Soupster.

“Oh, nothing,” said Roddy. “I’ve been spending some time on www.TheSpouseTheyCameUpWith.com. The site tracks people who have moved away from Our Town after they used to be married to somebody here. Like Facebook without the faces. Quite an elaborate website. I’ve got to find our who does it.”

“I’ve been analyzing the data from TheSpouseTheyCameUpWith.com,” Roddy went on, “ and, evidently, the school district is leading the way with the most entries… per capita, I guess. Followed by the aviation industry. My wife says I have a morbid fascination.”

“You do tend to overdo things sometimes,” the Soupster said gently.

Roddy started to answer the Soupster, but stopped and reached into his one pocket and then another. “My cell phone,” he said distractedly. “It’s vibrating. I set the phone on vibrate to keep it quiet in the library.”

“Take your time,” said the Soupster. Roddy produced his phone and read its tiny screen.

“It’s a Tweet from the baker,” he said. “The Parmesan Chipotle Sourdough bread is fresh from the oven.” He rose to his feet. “With a loaf of that under my arm, my wife can’t help but let me back inside!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – April 9, 2009

Our Town – April 9, 2009

| Airplanes, Couples, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan DenHerder, 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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Comments Off on Our Town – February 26, 2009

Our Town – February 26, 2009

| Animals, Cats, Dogs, Marriage, Our Town, Relationships, Trucks | February 26, 2009

Originally published July 25, 2002

The dog, a dark brown Labrador retriever, looked as dignified as any dog ever has while sitting in the driver’s seat of a car and the Soupster said so out loud.

“Thanks,” the dog called half-absently, resting its paws on the sheepskin covered steering wheel of the blue and grey pickup truck parked outside a key Our Town place for sandwiches and drinks.

The Soupster ambled over to the truck cab’s open window. “You talk?”

“I’m supposed to listen, right?” said the dog. “I hear that all day from your kind.”

“You drive, too?” the Soupster asked.

“You think the truck would have a better chance of parking by itself than I have of handling a 3/4 ton vehicle,” the dog sneered. “Tell me you don’t think that.”

“You probably hear this a lot,” the still-stunned Soupster sputtered, “but I can’t believe I’m talking to a dog.”

“Go ahead,” said the dog. “Ask me.”

“Ask you what?” said the Soupster.

“If a police officer pulled me over, which license would I give him?” the dog said. “That’s what you were going to ask, right?”

The Soupster’s cheeks turned bright red. “Actually, I was thinking about what kinds of music you listen to when you drive.”

“`Bark, the Herald Angels Sing’ and “Oh, Dem Bones’” said the dog, curling its lips to approximate a smile. “And my favorite movies are `Riding In Cars With Dogs” and “10 Things I Smell About You.”

“Do you…?” started the Soupster, but the dog cut him off.

“Yes, I stick my head out the window when I drive, to answer your question,” the dog said. “And, yes, I – like all dogs – will get mad if you blow on my nose. Why do dogs like one and not the other? I don’t know. We just do.”

The Soupster stared at the dog, absolutely speechless.

“I used to run with a sled team out of Skwentna,” the dog continued. “Then I decided I should get behind the wheel, instead of me being the wheels.”

“Regrets?” the Soupster asked.

“ For a while, I had this recurring dream of scaring a bunch of cats in the crosswalk. Make ‘em scatter good,” said the dog, again approximating a smile. “If I do that now I’ll lose both my licenses! Oh, here’s my wife.” The dog started the engine.

The dog’s wife, a cat, carried a foot-long sandwich in her mouth.

The dog scrunched up his nose. “Oh, no,” he said. “She got tuna again! Tuna and mayonnaise and no veggies. I like veggies. She really doesn’t know the meaning of `to share.’”

“If you hate cats so much, why did you marry one?” said the Soupster as the cat slipped in the truck cab on the other side with the sandwich.

“I’m a patient creature,” said the dog, dropping the truck into reverse and backing away from the Soupster with a comradely, if unseen, swipe of his tail.

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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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