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Comments Off on Our Town – February 23, 2017

Our Town – February 23, 2017

| Airplanes, Flying, food, Our Town, Travel | February 23, 2017

The Soupster eats more fruit.

The Soupster didn’t like sitting in the bulkhead or emergency exit rows on the airplane, so he had selected an aisle seat — Row 23, Seat C — on his flight home to Our Town. He liked to sit in a regular row, so he could stow his day bag – normally filled with must-haves and goodies – underneath the seat right in front of him.

Today his day bag was pretty empty – the Soupster didn’t have time to load the bag with treats. Oversleeping badly, he missed both the airport shuttle and the motel’s free breakfast. By the time he caught the next ride, he ran very late. The security lines seemed endless, the gate a long, long walk.

Like some others, the Soupster was old enough to remember when the airlines fed their passengers as a regular thing. Edible, sometimes pretty good, food was served in square plastic bowls that interlocked securely on the tray. Salad, entree and vegetable, even dessert.

Back in those well-fed days, the Soupster had once been served both breakfast and lunch on the same 5-hour cross-country flight. No sooner had the cabin attendants removed the breakfast refuse then their compatriots started serving lunch at the other end of the plane.

The food kept the passengers docile and in their seats and also provided entertainment. No such distractions now, the Soupster thought. Any food a passenger munched onboard these days was strictly do-it-yourself. The Soupster usually nabbed some snacks in the stores lining the concourses. But running late meant he had to skip the stores today and he boarded his flight empty-handed.

The Soupster took his aisle seat. He threw his bag under the seat in front. A middle-aged woman with a bulging carry-on bag stopped at Row 23 and indicated she had the window seat. The Soupster stood up and she squeezed by with her bag. A stout woman, she and her things seemed to fill both her seat and the seat in the middle. She immediately fell asleep.

But the Soupster was distracted. His one last chance for decent vittles on the flight was to purchase one of the airline’s snack boxes, which came as either “Fruit & Cheese,” or “Old World Snacks.” The Soupster liked the fruit and cheese. The old world snacks — olives and salami — not so much.

Unfortunately, the passengers in rows 1 to 23 preferred the fruit and cheese box, too. As a horrified Soupster looked on and listened in, passenger after passenger purchased the fruit and cheese. By the time the flight attendants reached the Soupster, the fruit and cheese was sold out.

A dejected Soupster bought an old world snack box with slight dread. His mouth wanted to be refreshed, not marinated. He lowered his tray table and opened the box. He took out a package of whole grain crackers and some salami slices. He took out a small bag with two or three kinds of olives.

Looking over his repast, the Soupster sighed. He opened the olives. As soon as he did, the woman by the window began stirring. She opened her eyes.

“Oooh, look at that food,” the woman said. “Those olives look scrumptious!”

She lifted her bulging bag onto the middle seat and rifled through it. “Maybe I could trade you for some of your olives and salami?” she said. “I have fruit.” She removed a sizeable Tupperware and peered inside.

“Would you like grapes, mango or pineapple?”

 

686 total views, 2 today

Comments Off on Our Town – September 10, 2015

Our Town – September 10, 2015

| Airplanes, Fishing, Our Town, Tourists, Travel | September 10, 2015

The Soupster observes unsustainable drought measures.

At the airport for a Goldstreak and a slice of Strawberry-Rhubarb, the Soupster saw Lydia “Wrong Tide” Lerner, weaving her way among the luggage carts stacked high with white cardboard fish boxes.

“Wrong Tide” is an unfortunate nickname in a fishing community and, also unfortunately, what Lerner’s name portended was true – when fish saw Lydia coming, they swam the other way.

Nonetheless, Wrong Tide was an enthusiastic consumer of everything fish-related, was fiercely loyal to the commercial fleet and could mutter under her breath in way that allowed her still to be heard.

But she muttered something now that the Soupster could not hear above the general terminal noise. He called out “Lydia! Wrong Tide! W.T.!”

At last she turned around. “Soupster,” she said. “How long have you been watching me?”

“Just a minute, I just saw you,” said the Soupster, taken aback.

“Oh, don’t listen to me,” Wrong Tide said. “I get all worked up when I see all these big white boxes full of fish. When you don’t catch fish, you get real jealous of them. You don’t want so many fish leaving town with other people.”

“But look at the smiles on all those folks,” said the Soupster. An older woman in a rain jacket blissfully pushed a cart with five boxes of fish, a stack taller than her. “How happy she looks,” said the Soupster after the woman had passed.

“I’m glad for them,” Wrong Tide said, “But those are our fish!” She looked around, then muttered loudly enough for the Soupster to discern, “I better get out of here.”

Wrong Tide left.

Truth was, the Soupster was no stellar fisherman and found himself growing uncomfortable with the long line of people waiting to load their huge boxes of fish. It wasn’t like the Soupster wanted for fish. The expensive species he poached from friends. He kept his freezer full of the cheaper species from the store to fill in any time his poaching failed.

Yet he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was being taken from him personally.

And then he saw it – how could one ignore it? A small parade – or not so small – passing through the terminal’s automatic door. Three young people in identical forest green polo shirts pushed three luggage carts piled precariously with fish boxes.

The Soupster counted 19!

Bringing up the rear was a white-maned and mustachioed alpha predator, pushing a cart with only one fish box. The man kept a close eye on the three green-clad youths laboring with the rest of his booty.

“Sir,” the Soupster called, feeling ornery.
“You really going to eat all that fish?”

The man slowed in front of the Soupster and pointed to the lone box on his cart. “This much fish, I can eat, yes,” he said.

“What about your other 19 boxes?” asked the Soupster.

“They’re not fish,” said the man. “They’re full of water.” He started rolling his cart again to catch up with his crew. “Hey,” he yelled back. “I’m from California!”

 

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Comments Off on Our Town – July 4, 2013

Our Town – July 4, 2013

| Airplanes, Flying, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Our Town, Travel | July 4, 2013

The Soupster looks at blue skies without rose-colored glasses.

The Soupster stared out the airplane window. The scene reminded him of a still life: blue sky suspended above a thick blanket of clouds. Only an occasional shudder of the wing and its subtle tilt away from the horizon hinted at the 36,000 ft altitude and 300 mph speed he was traveling at.

“See anything?” asked the woman next to him, craning her neck for a better view.

The Soupster turned to face her, unsure whether to focus on her penciled eyebrows, glossy lips or hoop earrings large enough to be bracelets.

“Blue sky” he replied, turning back to the view. “Blue – sky,” he repeated silently to himself. It had a pleasant ring to it. “Been a while since I said the words ‘blue’ and ‘sky’ in the same sentence,” he said out loud. The woman raised her eyebrows quizzically. “It’s not that there isn’t’t blue sky in Our Town, it’s just that it’s often on the wrong side of the clouds,” he explained.

The woman continued thumbing through her airline magazine. Every other page seemed to show a luxury resort or condominium, edged by beaches and drenched in sunlight.

As the plane dipped, the blue-sky-and-cloud-canopy gave way to snow-capped mountains, which then morphed into dry brown hills. Finally they were circling over a sprawling metropolis: their destination. The grid of buildings and roads, with traffic winding through, reminded the Soupster of a circuit board buzzing with electrical activity.

A few hours earlier the Soupster had been glad to be getting off the rock, but now he realized he was also glad for his return ticket. Closing his eyes, he was back in Our Town, sitting beside the sea, throwing a stick for his neighbor’s dog. She would bound over rocks into the water to retrieve the stick, then flop down in sandy seaweed to gnaw on it. A seiner plied the black, glassy surface of the sound, with a backdrop of forested hills rising into the mist. The Soupster sighed. The fresh, salty air was cool on his skin and a breeze rustled his hair.

“Thank you!” boomed the overhead announcement, shaking the Soupster out of his trance; “We appreciate your choosing our airline…have a great day!”

The Soupster smiled. “A good choice indeed,” he said, turning to the woman to congratulate them both. A mystified look washed over her face again. The Soupster felt obliged to clarify. “Well, considering there’s no other airlines to choose from… I guess we could have taken the ferry… But we’d still be three days away from our destination and probably wandering around looking for the best lounge to unroll our sleeping bag in. Anyway, as they say, the sooner you get there, the sooner you can get back.”

The plane landed and the Soupster strolled down the jet way, into the sea of humanity. “Doesn’t’t take long to know which side of the clouds you belong on,” he thought, taking a deep breath and making his way forward.

Submitted by Lois Verbaan Denherder

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 14, 2013

Our Town – February 14, 2013

| Airplanes, Airport, Crazy Theories, Flying, Our Town, Travel | February 13, 2013

The Soupster tries to peddle a fishy additive for coffee

The Soupster made sure his tray table was stowed and his seatback in the upright and locked position. Though he recognized several people on the flight, he tried not to meet their eyes. When the plane landed, he hoped to slip away from the airport and back to his house with as little notice as possible. He was a mauled-up animal looking to get back to his lair ASAP to lick his wounds.

The peppy flight attendant with the red scarf came down the aisle holding a white plastic bag into which the Soupster dutifully deposited his trash. Otherwise, he kept his eyes and his hands to himself. He waited for the plane’s wheels to touch the ground.

They did — with a screech and an extra gravity or two pressing on the Soupster’s chest. He felt his usual combination of relief to be home, admiration for the pilot’s skill and wondering if Our Town needed a longer runway.

He joined the line of people prying enormous roll-ons out of the overhead bins and wheeling them out. A deplaned Soupster noticed that “Grounds for Departure” was open and he sidled over there for an espresso.

“Give me a tall latte with two shots and a fin,” he told the barista, whom he did not recognize.

“You must be from here,” she laughed, as she mixed his drink. “This is my third espresso job in three states and this is the only place where people ask for salmon oil in their coffee.” She placed a steaming cup before the Soupster.

He sipped the familiar concoction. “Good,” he murmured. She had gotten the dollop — or “fin” — of salmon oil just right.

“You guys must be crazy,” said the barista. “Salmon oil? In coffee?”

And there was the rub (not salmon rub). For the better part of the previous two weeks, the Soupster had piloted a rental car over hundreds of miles of the Lower United States, trying to introduce his “Authentic Salmon Oil Coffee Sauce” to the owners of scores of coffeehouses and drive-ups. Nobody had been in the least interested. One busy barrista had asked him to leave the premises.

The Soupster carried his drink outside the airport and got into a waiting cab. “Coffee smells good,” said the driver, whose ID said “Simon.”

“It is,” said the Soupster.

“Latte with a fin, right?” Simon said.

“It is,” marveled the Soupster.

“A fin is so good… I wonder why they don’t give you a fin Down South ever,” Simon said. The driver’s words were soothing and poignant music and the Soupster wandered in his own thoughts. “They don’t know what they’re missing,” Simon said, as the cab slowed in front of the Soupster’s house.

“Bet the baristas all over town are busy,” said Simon. “We had a tsunami warning at midnight last night and we were all up evacuating until the all-clear at 2 a.m. Everybody’s been groggy all morning – they’re definitely all going to need a pick-me-up!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – April 9, 2009

Our Town – April 9, 2009

| Airplanes, Couples, Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, 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

1665 total views, 2 today

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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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