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Comments Off on Our Town – August 10, 2017

Our Town – August 10, 2017

| Lower 48, Our Town, Relationships, Relatives, Seasons, Summer, Temperature | August 10, 2017

The Soupster talks to someone who can’t see the forest, because of one.

 “No, Uncle Bob, I’m not aware,” said the Soupster into the receiver of his landline phone, “just how hot your weather is right now.”

That was an outright lie. In fact, the Soupster knew. He regularly enjoyed playing a weather game called “Too Hot!.” The game involved reading the list of daily temperatures in the newspaper or watching the highs and lows of major U.S. cities scroll by on television and stopping at each one 80 degrees or higher to think aloud “Too Hot!” Starting in the Spring, various cities would pass into the realm of “Too Hot!” until, by August, most of the country qualified. It seemed as though too many cities were getting “Too Hot!” too early in the year and staying simmering too late into the fall. The Soupster knew from his game that Uncle Bob’s area had been hitting triple digits all week – shattering records set in horse-and-buggy days.

“That sounds terrible, Uncle Bob,” the Soupster said to his mother’s brother’s description of clothing turning sweat-soaked in minutes, engines overheating on gridlocked streets, regional power outages making air conditioners and refrigerators useless.

Of all the things the Soupster loved about Our Town and knew he would miss the most, its mild summertime temperatures ranked tops. Our Town and neighboring villages were maybe the last places in the country where the Soupster could live without ever having taken his air conditioner out of the box – it sat in the back of the Soupster’s closet like a survivalist’s cache of water pouches, freeze-dried Stroganoff and space blankets.

“What’s that, Uncle Bob?” the Soupster asked, registering what his relative had just said. “Your car was stolen when?”

During the heat wave and power outage, Bob explained, making it infinitely more difficult for him and his wife to haul ice back to their house to try and save the food in the chest freezer. The lack of transportation made it impossible for the couple to go the lakefront or other cooler escapes. Their usual last resorts – the movie theaters and the International House of Pancakes — were dark because of the blackout. Police found Bob’s car finally – minus hubcaps and, oddly, head rests.

“Why doesn’t it matter anymore, Uncle Bob?” asked the Soupster. “What do you mean `Eminent Domain’?”

Uncle Bob said that he worried about a developer who wanted to build condos right where his neighborhood stood. Meant jobs and higher taxes for the city. In New Jersey, one city had condemned some people’s houses with exactly the same outcome in mind and the U.S. Supreme Court backed the city and the developer. The city always wanted more people. More people just meant longer lines, Bob complained, at the market, the bank – even to vote. Of course, floods and tornadoes threatened, too. Along with the pesticides in the groundwater.

“Uncle Bob, you really have got to consider moving somewhere you find more pleasant.” said the Soupster.

“Never happen, Nephew,” Bob said. “Where else are real estate prices this low?

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 15, 2013

Our Town – August 15, 2013

| Our Town, Relationships, Relatives, Seasons, Summer, Sunshine, Weather | August 15, 2013

The Soupster celebrates Sitka weather.

“No, Uncle Bob, I’m not aware,” said the Soupster into the receiver of his landline phone, “just how hot your weather is right now.”

That was an outright lie. In fact, the Soupster knew. He regularly enjoyed playing a weather game called “Too Hot!.” The game involved reading the list of daily temperatures in the newspaper or watching the highs and lows of major U.S. cities scroll by on television and stopping at each one 80 degrees or higher to think aloud “Too Hot!” Starting in the Spring, various cities would pass into the realm of “Too Hot!” until, by August, most of the country qualified. It seemed as though too many cities were getting “Too Hot!” too early in the year and staying simmering too late into the fall. The Soupster knew from his game that Uncle Bob’s area had been hitting triple digits all week – shattering records set in horse-and-buggy days.

“That sounds terrible, Uncle Bob,” the Soupster said to his mother’s brother’s description of clothing turning sweat-soaked in minutes, engines overheating on grid-locked streets, regional power outages making air conditioners and refrigerators useless.

Of all the things the Soupster loved about Our Town and knew he would miss the most, its mild summertime temperatures ranked tops. Our Town and its neighboring villages were maybe the last places in the country where the Soupster could live without ever having taken his air conditioner out of its box – it sat in the back of the Soupster’s closet like a survivalist’s cache of water pouches, freeze-dried Stroganoff and space blankets.

“What’s that, Uncle Bob?” the Soupster asked, registering what his relative just said. “Your car was stolen when?”

During the heat wave and power outage, Bob explained, making it infinitely more difficult for him and his wife to haul ice back to their house to try and save the food in the chest freezer. The lack of transportation made it impossible for the couple to go the lakefront or other cooler escapes. Their usual last resorts – the movie theaters and the International House of Pancakes — were dark because of the blackout. Police found Bob’s car finally – minus hubcaps and, oddly, head rests.

“Why doesn’t it matter anymore, Uncle Bob?” asked the Soupster, registering alarm. “What do you mean “Eminent Domain?”

Uncle Bob explained that he worried that a developer wanted to build condos right where his neighborhood stood. Meant jobs and higher taxes for the city. In New Jersey, one city condemned some people’s houses with exactly the same outcome in mind and the U.S. Supreme Court backed the city and the developer. The city always wanted more people. More people just meant longer lines, Bob complained – at the market, the bank – even to vote. Of course, floods and tornadoes threatened, too. Along with the pesticides in the groundwater.

“Uncle Bob, you really have got to consider moving somewhere you find more pleasant.” said the Soupster.

“Never happen, Nephew,” Bob said. “Where else are real estate prices this low”?

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Comments Off on Our Town – June 20, 2013

Our Town – June 20, 2013

| Gardening, Our Town, Seasons, Summer | June 19, 2013

The Soupster savors local botany.

“Jack, your yard is like a Greatest Hits of Our Town’s flora,” the Soupster exclaimed, as he followed his friend on the deluxe tour of the grounds.

The plants in Jack’s yard were exclusively of the temperate rainforest variety – devil’s club, Indian celery, ferns, dogwood. Foxglove and fireweed. A naturally-occurring stand of wild blueberry whose robustness Jack pruned, weeded and tended as carefully as Tlingits did with their wild blueberry centuries ago. Big, big hemlocks. Sitka spruce, boughs heavy with bright green tips.

And Jack’s yard didn’t reflect just local botany — local zoology was represented, too. Especially the historical challenges of the dominant mammal – Homo Sitkians.

The Gold Rush? Jack found a gold coin nestled in the crack between two granite slabs poking out of one section of the yard. Five hundred bucks in five minutes and then nothing else for 20 years.

Avalanche? Jack suffered a sort of avalanche in the sloped portion nearest the house and had been compelled to get a speedy Do-it-Yourself education in foundation drainage techniques.

Seismic shakes? It shook the house real good when Jack’s pressure cooker exploded while he was putting up jam.

Maybe the worst was when Jack had been shut out of the Permanent Fund for three years after extending a Mexican vacation and repeatedly messing up the PFD application

The Soupster had only a few homemade Alaska jokes, but one of them was:

Q: What’s more Alaskan that having a backhoe in your back yard? A: Having a broken backhoe in your front yard.

The lushness of early summer in Our Town always made the Soupster happy. Mountains plunging directly into the sea is a pretty heady combination, even during the worst October. But mountains plunging directly into the sea is more compelling with a lush band of lighter green right at the point of contact.

Number two, all the alder leaves and salmonberry bushes covered up the thousands of practical, but not necessarily aesthetic, choices made constantly by Homo Sitkians – like the aforementioned broken backhoe.

No backhoe in Jack’s yard, though, front or back. In Jack’s yard it was just green. Green, green and more green, and occasionally Jack.

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Comments Off on Our Town – July 28, 2011

Our Town – July 28, 2011

| Our Town, Relationships, Relatives, Seasons, Summer, Tourists, Vacation, Visitors | July 28, 2011

Originally published July 29, 2004

It seemed like slow motion to the Soupster watching Red bearing right down on him, then the larger man knocked the Soupster to the ground.

“Whoa, sorry there,” Red said. “I’m running on all gears like a headless chicken.”

“Summer is the busy time in Our Town,” the Soupster commiserated. “Why else would Alaskans take their vacations in the winter?”

Red nodded. “I work May through September and take the rest of the year off,” he said.

“You pack a whole year into four months,” said the Soupster. “but you pay for it on days like today.”

“Oh, it’s not the work,” Red sighed. “Work I learned to handle a long time ago. Up at 4 to get the boat ready, take guests out all day. I’m cleaning up the boat long after they’ve left. And then I find myself up until 10 answering snail mail and e-mails and doing the books.”

“So why are you so crazy now?” the Soupster asked.

“Relatives.”

“Locational hazard,” said the Soupster. “You move to a place as nice as Our Town and you discover relatives you never knew you had.”

“You bet,” Red agreed. “I knew we had my sister and her family coming up this month, but she ran into our cousin in Seattle and guess what? They decided on a whim to come up together! That makes nine people in my house. Bless them, they’re very self-directed. Still though, they want to be sure and visit with me every day and I just don’t have time.

“Can you take them out on the charter with you?” the Soupster asked.

“Wouldn’t be fair to my clients,” Red said. “They’re paying top dollar for my full attention. Hunting fish is serious business.”

“So,” said Red, “I’ve got half a day I penciled out to do about a week’s worth of chores. I’m walking to the bank today and what do you know — there’s my great-uncle Don in the middle of a walking tour. My father would never give me peace if I didn’t show Don the town, so there went my day to catch up.”

“Bet you’re looking forward to your vacation in two months,” the Soupster guessed.

“I’m not waiting that long,” said Red. “My sister goes back on the plane tomorrow and the cousin on the ferry the next day. Uncle Don is getting back on his cruise ship this evening. As soon as everybody leaves and I can get back to my regular 18-hour days, I’m gonna consider it vacation!”

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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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