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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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Our Town – April 11, 2013

| Craftsman, Jobs, Money, Our Town, Work | April 11, 2013

The Soupster contemplates the future.

The Soupster sipped a frothy, fizzy, pinkish punch from a clear plastic cup. He and the friends who surrounded him raised their plastic cups to wish the best to Glenn the plumber, who was finally retiring.

One would think a man who had spent nearly 50 years with half his body crammed under a damp sink might be a little stiff in the joints, but not Glenn. Delighted that so many of his friends had come to see him “off,” Glenn flitted effortlessly from one to next like a honeybee intoxicated by a field of flowers.

The only person the Soupster trusted more with his pipes than Glenn was the Soupster’s former gastroenterologist, Dr. Berra. And Glenn was a close second. Over the decades that Glenn had kept the water flowing at Chez Soupster, he had dealt with exploding pipes, leaky water heaters and, worst of all, really, really rusty bolts holding the broken toilet seat on. And he had done so as cheerfully as he now visited with his guests.

“Gonna miss Glenn,” thought the Soupster, “like I miss Dr. Berra,“ who had retired to Gig Harbor the previous year.

A lot of the people in the room were customer-friends of Glenn’s, and a large portion of them practiced other trades. For “birds of a feather” reasons, many of them were near retirement age themselves.

The Soupster did a quick head count and realized with a start that he might soon be losing Burt, his auto mechanic, his dentist Linda, his bartender Tracey, and Big Leon — who could fix anything. And that was only the people in the room!

It’s common knowledge that people don’t seem older to themselves – that they feel like they’ve always been the same person inside. Seeing the people around you get older can be more profound, especially if they perform a vital function. Who’s going to fill your cavity or mix your martini?

The Soupster admitted that he felt some vertigo every time he dealt with an especially competent professional who was young enough to be his son, or worse. Once, pulled over for having expired plates, the Soupster got out of the car with all the confidence of an older and wiser man ready to forgive the impetuous youngster, except that the officer was right. The old Soupster’s embarrassment was punishment enough, evidently, because he was let go with a warning.

In Our Town, the Soupster sometimes got the double dizzies when dealing with an authority figure he remembered as a little kid. The banker who signed the Soupster’s loan was the same kid the Soupster saw win a Hoop Shoot in the 1980’s.

Glenn’s daughter had brought her small children to the party and a few of their friends had tagged along. The Soupster looked them over and wondered which of the little people might morph into authority figures of the future.

Would any of them shoot for the moon someday? Would any of them walk on the moon someday?

A plump, fresh faced three-year-old waddled up to the Soupster. “I want to be an astronaut!” she said.

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Our Town – March 8, 2012

| Our Town, Small Town Stuff, Work | March 8, 2012

Originally Published March 6, 2003

The grocery store was packed. The Soupster had to walk sideways down the Canned Tomatoes aisle to pass the shopping carts parked on the left side and then the right. Unusual for Our Town, a long line of shoppers waited impatiently at the checkout stand.

When the Soupster finally got to the front of the line, he saw the reason for the delay. The young woman at the cash register was as overcareful with each transaction as a cat pacing the rim of a steamy bathtub.

She meticulously rotated each food item in her hand to find the UPC code, and then drew the item across the scanner with a kind of dreamy slowness. She smiled individually at each person in line, looking for validation, then, with effort, picked up the next food item. The Soupster shifted his weight from one foot to the other. So did everyone in the line steadily growing behind the Soupster.

People had started to clear their throats, when a man in his 30’s with a badge that said “Asst. Mgr.” swept up behind the counter next to the cashier.

“Kathy! You are to call for help when the line gets this long,” he said in a theatrical whisper, meant for everyone to hear. “You should never let the line get this long, Kathy!”

“Ma’am,” the Asst. Mgr. said over-solicitously to the woman behind the Soupster. “All of you, come with me,” he pointed to the entire line and they moved with him to another checkout stand.

The young cashier’s face reddened. Only halfway through his transaction, the Soupster stood alone now before her. She went back to her slow-motion scanning of the Soupster’s few items. Meanwhile, the first members of the Asst. Mgr.’s line were already picking up their grocery bags and walking out the door.

“Sorry,” the Kathy said, looking downcast.

“No problem,” said the Soupster. “First day on the job?”

She nodded. “Probably going to be my only day,” she said and, indeed, the Asst. Mgr. was shooting daggers her way hidden behind the bland smile he showed his customers.

“Keep at it,” said the Soupster.

“I said DON’T RUSH ME!” came a loud, deep voice from the other register. The Soupster and the young cashier turned.

A very large man loomed over the Asst. Mgr., who was pinned against the back wall of his checkout station. The man slammed down his wallet and leaned forward in the direction of the Asst. Mgr. who looked extremely flustered and ready to bolt.

“Manny,” said Kathy, the young cashier, and slipped from her workstation seamlessly beside her trembling co-worker. “Manny, Manny, Many, cool your jets,” she laughed and poked the big man in the chest. Manny laughed. The Asst.. Mgr. visibly unstiffened.

The cashier returned to the Soupster. She looked a lot happier than a minute before. “Will there be anything else, Sir?” she asked sweetly.

“I think you got your job back, Kathy,” the Soupster answered.

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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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