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Comments Off on Our Town – October 22, 2020

Our Town – October 22, 2020

| Movies/TV, Our Town, Water | October 22, 2020

A friend raises the Soupster’s consciousness about “the worst thing”.

“Hi, Soupster,” called a voice from behind the mask.

The Soupster squinted in concentration, struggling to recognize the pleasantly crinkled eyes above the mask. He almost had it… wait, wait…

“Anastasia Anarchy! It’s you!” he finally said triumphantly. “So good to run into you, Stace,” he continued, striving to use his best, Ethel-Merman-projecting abdominal voice, and to enunciate carefully from behind his mask. The last time he’d spoken with Anastasia, she’d shown some signs of a hearing deficit.

“Yes, wonderful serendipity, chancing upon each other in front of this grocery store pop-up cello concert. Though maybe not total chance, eh, Soupster. There are patterns everywhere.”

“Is that your truck over there, Stace? Let’s go chat a bit over the hood while we listen to the music.” They got to the truck and the Soupster glanced down through the open window at the passenger seat.

“What’s that, Stace,” he said. “It looks like a DVD of Wagon Train???”

“Yeah, that it is, Soupster. I used to watch that on T.V. all the time when I was a kid. I was,” she said with twinkling eyes, “especially enamored of the scout, Flint McCullough.”

“Oh, I remember him,” said the Soupster. “Wasn’t he played by a guy named Robert something?”

“Yup. Robert Horton. That’s him. One time, when I was about eight, I even had a dream about him,” said Anastasia. “He was out doing his advance scouting thing and he was fording a river. He was walking through the water towards me, and I walked in to meet him…But maybe I’d better leave it there.”

“I get it, Stace. Sometimes you don’t know what something means until years later.”

“I was fascinated by cowboy movies, Soupster. Sometimes I wanted to be a cowboy and have those special skills – you know, like swinging a lariat and yodeling. Not much to do with guns except maybe twirling them round your finger. Later on, in high school, I learned some basic bow-and-arrow skills, like not hyper-extending my bow arm and receiving a terrible burn.”

“All that cowboys and Indians stuff, Soupster – it was really a thoughtless world I grew up in.”

The Soupster looked steadily at Anastasia and said nothing.

“One time, years ago, when I was working as a young lab tech at the hospital, one day I went in to draw some blood in one of those four-person rooms. I’m pretty sure it was a Saturday afternoon. This must have been, like, back in ’82.

“There were these three older guys sitting around watching T.V. I was getting my tourniquet and stuff ready and I saw they were watching a western. They seemed really quite absorbed in it. A couple of them were older Tlingit guys. They were just, patiently, sitting there and watching the show, and I asked them, ‘Does it ever bother you? Watching westerns like that?’

“And one of the old guys said, ‘Well, some of them are pretty bad, but at least we’re up there on the screen. We’re not invisible. That’s the worst thing, you know. Being invisible.’”

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 13, 2015

Our Town – August 13, 2015

| Craftsman, Our Town, Rain, Uncategorized, Water, Weather, Work | August 13, 2015

The Soupster learns secrets of keeping dry.

“Bang…Bang, Bang…Bang,” sang the hammer, as its owner, Our Town contractor Mike “Curt” Curtis, pounded nails. Curtis was working on the front of a house right on the road the Soupster passed on his morning walks.

The Soupster had taken the same walk for years and had the luxury of watching as the homes and yards slowly changed. Having the time to literally watch the paint peel – well, not literally – the Soupster noticed changes that even the homeowners might miss.

But it would be hard to miss the pile of warped shingles and pieces of soaked and rotted plywood lying in front of the house. Our Town’s ever-present rain had worked its way under the shingles, causing them to warp. The rain then worked its way deeper and deeper, causing the rot.

The Soupster stopped in the street and regarded the pile. Curtis, descending a ladder, regarded the Soupster.

“Grody plywood, Curt,” the Soupster said.

“I wish it was just plywood,” said Curtis, jumping to the ground. “It’s OSB plywood – oriented strand board. It’s made up of little flakes of wood all held together with layers of glue. Soaks up water like a sponge. All the builders here hate it. They call it Beaver Poop* Board.”

* ed. note: Poop is used here instead of another common scatological term that starts with “S” — for obvious reasons.

“Goodness!” said the Soupster, as a few drops of rain struck his bare head.

“Then,” said Curtis, taking off his hat. He smoothed his hair and replaced the hat. “They thought they put enough ventilation in the attic.”

“They thought wrong?” asked the Soupster, as the rain fell harder.

“And with the foundation,” said Curt, nodding. “People don’t understand that ventilating the foundation is important, just like the attic.”

“It is? I mean, they don’t?” said the Soupster, sounding out of his depth. The rain dripping down his face looked like cartoon beads of sweat.

Curtis laughed. “Nervous, Soupster?” he said. “Your house have any secrets I need to know about? I already fixed your porch, right?”

Curtis had saved the Soupster’s house from damage when he noticed that the back porch had been tied directly into the house, instead of leaving a small space between them for drainage. Without that simple fix, rot would have started where water was trapped at the point where the porch connected with the house. The rot would then have spread.

“Well, it’s no secret, Curt,” the Soupster said, “that I admire you and all of Our Town’s builders for knowing these tricks to keep the rain from biting us civilians on our bottoms.”

“That’s nice of you to say, Soupster,” said Curtis as the rain began to pound even heavier.

“Any more good advice for me?” the Soupster asked, raising his voice to be heard.

“I’d buy a hat!” said Curtis

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Comments Off on Our Town – February 12, 2015

Our Town – February 12, 2015

| Our Town, Water | February 12, 2015

The Soupster and Curley love water.

Laura Rhodes was nicknamed Curley because of her luxurious auburn tresses, so “Curley!” was what the Soupster called out when he saw her near the shell of the old library, watching the construction workers.

“The library is going to be fantastic, when they finish it,” Curley said as the Soupster stepped beside her. The two exchanged pleasantries.

“A great library is a real blessing to a town,” said the Soupster. “’Course we got a lot of blessings in this town.”

“Our Town — our whole region — has the greatest blessing anyone could ask for,” said Curley.

“And that is?” asked the Soupster.

“Water,” said Curley. “Plenty of clean, fresh water.”

“You should have been a hydrologist,” the Soupster told Curley, who baked wonderful almond and lemon cakes and was – in the Soupster’s eyes – already an alchemist.

“I’ll answer up to the title of hydrophile,” said Curley, producing an aluminum water bottle and unscrewing the cap.

“Water-lover,” translated the Soupster.

“Water is a unique substance, with a combination of properties shared by no other,” Curley said, as if she was channeling a science text. “I love water.”

But the Soupster didn’t mind. The Soupster loved water, too. Even the freezing stuff that had been bouncing off his hat brim all morning. Even that water he loved a little.

“Water is the only natural substance that can exist in all three states of matter at the temperatures normally found on Earth,” Curley said, steam coming from her mouth as she spoke.

“Solid, gas and liquid,” echoed the Soupster.

“Most compounds are heavier when they are solid than when they are liquid, but not water!” said Curley. “Ice floats. And it’s a good thing it does, or many a body of water would be frozen from the bottom up. Instead, the ice helps insulate the water beneath and allows many organisms to survive the winter.” She took a swig from her bottle.

“Water is unique in a bunch of ways,” Curley continued. “It takes a lot of energy to boil liquid water and you also have to remove a lot of energy to freeze liquid water, compared to other liquids. Water molecules stick to themselves and that gives water a high level of surface tension. It’s pretty hard to break the surface of water, and that helps things float.”

“Then there’s the whole issue of three days without water and you are in very bad shape,” the Soupster added.

“That’s because our body uses water in countless ways,” said Curley. “Depends on water. An adult male human is about 60 percent water.”

“Wow,” said the Soupster. “I should drink more of the stuff.”

“Our Town water!” said Curley, proffering her aluminum bottle. “Best water in the world. Skol!”

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Comments Off on Our Town – August 13, 2009

Our Town – August 13, 2009

| Holidays, Our Town, Water | August 13, 2009

Originally published October 5, 2000

“I hate October! It rains all the time with big wet drops!” wailed the pre-schooler, balanced on the Soupster’s knee. “I WISH THERE WAS NO OCTOBER EVER AND EVER MORE!”

“Don’t say that,” hushed the Soupster. “If October went away, you would be very sad.”

“No, I wouldn’t!” protested the child.

“But if there were no October, do you know what else there would be no?”


“Alaska Day! There would be no Alaska Day!” said the Soupster. “And no Halloween!

“No Halloween!” he went on. “No Yom Kippur for Jewish folks! No Thanksgiving for your cousin who lives in Toronto! And your e-mail pen pal in Christchurch, New Zealand would have to go to school on Labor Day, because those Kiwi’s celebrate their Labor Day in October!”

“Are you a genius?” the clever kid asked, instantly seizing the Soupster’s
point and moving on to the next step. “Where did you learn all that?”

“From a Little Audrey cartoon when I was just about your age,” said the Soupster, glazing over in a Boomer froth of rememberence.

“Little Audrey was tired of the rain — in the cartoon I mean — and she cried out for it never to rain again!” explained the Soupster.

“Did it rain again?” the child asked.

“Not for a long time,” the Soupster answered. “At first, that was just fine with Little Audrey. She went out on a million picnics, hung her clothes right on the line to dry and was never told by her parents that she had to wear a hat.

“But as the rainlessness went on, Little Audrey’s fish started to look a little pale and drawn. And Little Audrey’s potted plant looked droopy and dry.

“Then everything around Little Audrey started to dry up. Little Audrey’s plant was curled and brown. Little Audrey’s fish gasped to breathe in only a thimbleful of water.

“Little Audrey had saved a glass of water and she ran over the parched ground toward her fish and her potted plant holding the glass in front of her and saying `Here, here!’ But then she tripped, dropped the glass and the water ran out just out of reach of her friends.

“So Little Audrey went to the Rainmaker and begged for the rain to start again. But the Rainaker refused. `You said for it not to rain again, ever and ever!’ He crossed his arms over his chest.”

“What did Little Audrey do?”

“She sang,” said the Soupster. “She sang so sweetly and with so much of her heart that she made the Rainmaker cry. She sang `April Showers.’ And the Rainmaker’s tears grew greater and greater till they cascaded past his beard and down his chest and fell to the earth as wonderful, cooling rain.”

“Wow,” said the child. “I’ll never ask for it to not be October or for the rain to stop. But is it okay to ask to make the raindrops just a little smaller?”

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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 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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