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Comments Off on Our Town – November 7, 2013

Our Town – November 7, 2013

| Darkness, Fall, Our Town, Seasons, Storms, Weather | November 7, 2013

The Soupster hunkers down.

The Soupster was not damp, but everything outside of the walls of his house couldn’t have been soggier. In Our Town, “Fall” might better be called “Thrown At” because the rain and/or hail of the season seems propelled downward by a force greater than mere gravity.

The Soupster was feeling bored and lonely, so he was happy when Carla called from Minnesota. “Bored and a little lonely, but dry,” the Soupster said when Carla asked how he was.

Carla chattered on about her busy kids and husband Josh and her going back to college and Josh’s new job. Then, she said “Oops, I’m getting Call Waiting, must be Josh or Rebecca, I’m supposed to pick both of them up. Can you hold?”

The Soupster did. With the phone to his ear, he wandered to the door to his back porch, where the portion covered by a fiberglass roof played wonderful rhythms as it hailed. The sound rose and fell like the aural equivalent of those little birds whose large flocks turn on a dime: sheets of sound, rippling and turning, rising and falling.

Carla came back on, “Sorry, Soupster,” she said. “That was Becky who needs another half hour before I get her. So you’re lonely and a little bored?”

“Actually, bored and a little lonely,” said the Soupster. “This is a rough time of the year, weather-wise.”

“Tell me about it,” said Carla. “I’m an Our Town girl. Remember, you just have to make it to Thanksgiving. Then the holiday lights go up and you start seeing friends and having too many places to go. And then it’s New Years and you start to notice the light coming back.”

“Encouraging, Carla,” said the Soupster.

“I hate to do this,” Carla cut in, “But I’m getting another call. Will you hold again?”

The Soupster did. The hail slacked off and a shaft of sunlight cut through the otherwise dark sky, came through the window and fell upon a small ceramic planter in the shape of a fish with big blue eyes and enormous crimson lips. Carla had presented the Soupster with the fish two decades earlier, after he helped her move. This was before baby Rebecca and even before husband Josh.

Next to the fish was a half-scale raven (or full-scale crow) carved out of wood. Steve Jessup gave the Soupster the raven after the Soupster took Steve’s parents out on his boat. An entire dog family, paper mache, stretched out on their paper mache couch – this was on the bookshelves – a gift from somebody. Above the dogs, tucked tightly, signed copies of all the books by Our Town’s writers over the years.

The Soupster touched the arms of his sweater – knitted by Giselle for his birthday. In the pantry, canned sockeye and an array of jams. All canned and arrayed by various friends.

If he wanted to, he could gaze on the paintings and sculptures tinted and carved in Our Town. Or he could pop in a CD cut by one of Our Town’s bands.

Carla came back on the line. “I can see why you feel lonely,” she said. “I keep abandoning you.”

“You know, I don’t feel lonely,” said a satisfied Soupster, taking in his surroundings. “Not anymore.”

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 23, 2012

Our Town – February 23, 2012

| Darkness, Our Town, Seasons, Vampires | February 23, 2012

At the hardware store at closing time to buy a paintbrush, the Soupster said the same thing he always said when he ran into the local vampire, “Hey, Ed, drinking that fish blood still working for you?”

“Fine,” said Edward, who was not hearing the question for the first time. “Hey Soupster,” he countered, “you still eating the flesh of mammals?”

“Not the same, not the same,” said the Soupster, shaking his head.

“That’s right,” said Ed. “I catch my own dinner.”

“All right, you win,” said the Soupster, noticing that Ed’s arms were filled with plumbing parts, building insulation and a large roll of electrical wire and that he wore a serious expression.

The Soupster could hear the background whirring of the cash register at the counter. Customers stood in line to check out. A few other people wandered the aisles, glancing anxiously at the big wall clock.

“Sorry if I seem testy,” said Ed, “I’ve just been vorking, vorking, vorking.” At the Soupster’s questioning look, Ed added. “You know, I’m coming to the end of my busy season.”

“That’s right, you live at night,” the Soupster said, acting as though he didn’t already know that.

“And the nights are getting shorter,” said Ed.

“I have noticed that,” said the Soupster. “I actually tell people during the black nights of late fall that they just have to hold out until February and it’s remarkably lighter by then…Eddy? Are you listening to me?”

“I vas just thinking about the ‘black nights of late fall,’” said Ed dreamily. “You ewoked that magical time wery vell.”

“I know it’s not officially Spring until March 21st,” the Soupster continued, “but it seems like it’s Spring here by the end of February. At least it’s staying light later and later and getting light earlier and earlier.”

“Please don’t vave your depressing theory in my face,” said Ed.

“Which makes sense,” said the Soupster, ignoring him, “because Fall starts on September 21st, supposedly, but in our town — by late August — the alder leaves are falling and the raindrops getting bigger.”

“I have so much to do and so little time to do it,” Ed complained. “And so no time to talk vit you.”

“I’ll try and keep a good thought for you night people,” said the Soupster.

Ed nodded assent. “In the vords of Paul Simon, `One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.’”

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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 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 – 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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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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