Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Few Words About Sox- Not Sex- Sox

Today I would like to say a few words about socks or sox if you prefer.  While speaking of sex might be a little more amusing, nonetheless socks have their own bit of wonder and amazement. To say that socks aren't sexy would be mis-characterization.  While technically not socks, I've seen some ladies stockings that for want of a better phrase, really knocked my socks off. However, if you were to mention fifty shades of grey around me, I'd probably think you had been peeking in my sock drawer. I may have one or two pairs of black or white socks, but they're mainly left overs from a different era. Back when I was in junior high the fashion trends had changed and wearing white socks became a fashion taboo. The only time they were acceptable was during gym class, and there you got dinged if you didn't have on a pair of white athletic socks. During those years I discovered that J C Penny carried a line of black dress socks that were thick and comfortable and reasonably priced at $1.00 a pair. Every time I passed by the Penny's store I would drop in and buy a few. The nice thing about having all your socks in one color is that if you lose one, or it gets a hole in it, there was no problem finding a mate for it. The biggest downfall with black socks for me was that I was a nervous kid and my anxiety chose to express itself via the sweat glands in my feet. My shoes were like Easy Bake ovens, but instead of tasty little cakes, all they ever produced were the most foul smelling stench to ever grace the earth. If I'd had a little more experience in marketing, I might have been able to come up with a brand new type of carp bait, boil a little corn meal and anise oil and wrap in a black sock that his been worn for a week and you wouldn't be able to keep those carp away with a stick.  Before I started with this post, I thought I'd do a little research. It seems that socks in one form or another have been around for centuries. According to a web site titled- A Brief History of Socks, the earliest ones were worn by cave men, most likely  animal skins tied around their feet and legs. Apparently during the 8th century BC, the ancient Greeks were wearing matted animal skins called piloi. I  hate to even entertain the idea. By the 2nd century AD, the Romans were wearing  socks called udoms, made of woven fabric and pulled over the foot. Udoms. Sounds almost obscene. The earliest known knit socks were found in Coptic Egyptian tombs  in the 3rd to 6th century AD. By 1000 AD woven knit socks or leggings were worn by nobility in Europe, though feet weren't added until the 12th century. It was love that stirred the creative juices that provided the first knitting machine. It was invented by an English clergy because the woman he loved would seldom look up at him from her knitting needles. Either she really loved knitting or he was uglier than an old sock. Apparently, Queen Elizabeth I  refused to give the inventor, Mr. Lee a patent, because the wool socks his machine produced were too coarse for her royal ankles. She was used to silk stockings from Spain. I checked out another web site in my pursuit of the story and found The Lonely Sock. I really wish I had more time to elaborate here, but I don't. According to the author of this site, The Bureau of Missing Socks was formed by the Union Army during the Civil War. The man in charge was one Major Smithson, a haberdasher by trade before joining the army. According to this site, he was a lousy soldier, but a great businessman and took his position very seriously. His idea was to replace any damaged socks that a soldier brought in with a new sock. Unbelievably the owners of the mills who supplied the socks to the army got all up in arms fearing that they would lose business if only one sock was being replaced. Long story short, the bureau was still going strong at the end of the war  and perhaps still is. It is reported that there were enough socks purchased by the army to outfit the soldiers of both World War I and II. Unfortunately men had gotten bigger since the time of the civil war, so they only fit men who wore a size seven or smaller. After WWII, as part of the Marshall Plan, socks were passed out all over Europe as the result of the excess from the Bureau of Missing Socks.There was such an excess that everyone was allotted twelve pair.  I do hope that you'll take some time to check out  the web sites mentioned. It sure beats watching TV. This past Christmas I was the lucky recipient of several pairs of very good quality socks, one of which I'm wearing now.  I have to say, that one of life's greatest small pleasures is putting on a new pair of socks. If you're having a bad day, don't go home and take it out on your spouse; go buy a new pair of socks and see how much better the world seems.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Old Salmon Can Labels

  At one time there were canneries scattered up  and down the West Coast as well as British Columbia and Alaska. They were established to take advantage of the huge salmon runs, and I assume for the purpose of canning tuna as well, though I don't know for sure. Prior to Alaska becoming a state it was legal for the canneries to have fish traps on many of the points were salmon would congregate, and often canneries would spring up close by. When I spoke to some of the old timers, they mentioned that there fish traps all up and down Icy Strait, and I believe Chatham Strait as well. Each cannery had it's own label, and some were really beautiful. A few weeks before Christmas we had an open house, and I invited my friend John Kveum  and asked if he would bring his book of cannery labels. Of course I couldn't include all of them, so I chose a few that I found especially striking. I like old time artwork, like that found on these labels and posters advertising the circus or encouraging folks to buy war bonds back during WWII. Of the five species of Pacific salmon, the most common to make it into cans were the Pink or Humpback, Red or Sockeye, and Chum or Dog salmon. John mentioned that King salmon don't can particularly well, nor apparently do Silver salmon, although there have been some attempts made at both. There isn't a whole lot more that I can comment on here, as I have limited knowledge of the subject- imagine that. In any event, I hope that you can enjoy the artwork of days gone by. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Eve and Shoe Box Dinners

 For a number of years now, I can't really say how many because they tend to all run together, my daughter Jennifer has been hosting family and friends at her house on Christmas Eve for shoe box dinners. Jen is an elementary teacher and all elementary teachers worth their weight in salt have all manner of fun projects up their sleeves to make learning interesting to their students. I'm not sure where she learned about the shoe box dinners, but it's one of my favorite traditions during the holidays. She wraps shoe boxes with colorful Christmas paper, including the lids, and fills each one with some chips, a soda, a couple of mandarin oranges, some candy and a small gift for each person who is attending. While the gifts may be small, they aren't inexpensive, especially when she is getting something for a number of different people. This year I had several packs of hoochies in my shoe box. Our friend Mark received a flashlight, complete with a laser pointer. I can't remember what everyone else got, I was too caught up in eating my crab melt sandwiches and thinking of what fish I might catch with the hoochies. Our latest addition to the family was present this year, the gal who made us great grandparents, Evalee. She was passed around more than a joint at an Eagles concert. Babies really have to develop a toughness if they are going to survive in this world. They get man handled, kissed, hugged, squeezed, patted, rocked, jiggled and spoken to like they're some alien beings who have to be cooed at  more than any other species on earth. Can you imagine if adults had to put up with that behavior? All the bad breath you would have to tolerate, the ridiculous baby talk, the rocking and having toys and fingers shoved into your face and mouth. The only time anyone wants to put you down is when you start to stink. As soon as you're clean again, folks ( especially the ladies) want to scarf you up and start the whole process all over again. It's a testament to how well God made babies. They take a lickin' and keep on tickin'- just like Timex watches. This year we were blessed to have my daughter Autumn and her husband Aaron visit for Christmas. Autumn has inherited my sense of humor, for better or for worse. Since she lives in close proximity to Anchorage, she has access to various items that I would never have. Things like the book on bowel movements that I mentioned in a previous post. In case you can't read the cup  shown above, it states,
Dear Mom:
Thanks for putting up with a spoiled, ungrateful, messy, bratty child like my sibling.

Love, Your Favorite.

She is definitely a chip off the old block. Her and her husband left today, so needless to say, it will be a lot more quiet around here. Not a totally bad thing. As I age I find myself needing more quiet time. However, much like the See's candies, Christmas cookies, and re-runs of It's a Wonderful Life, it will be nice to see them again when the time comes. It is because my son-in-law was gracious enough to look at my computer and do whatever wiz-bang stuff he does that I'm able to do this blog post tonight, so I'm most grateful. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. If was anything like mine, you've been blessed indeed. If you're one of the millions who are traveling still, I hope you make it home to your loved ones safely, with pleasant memories to keep you company on your travels. Stay safe. God bless you and God bless America. Good night.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Little Toilet Humor

The other day my wife, Jan decided we needed a new toilet seat. I'm not sure why. The old one worked just fine, no splinters or anything, but nonetheless, she didn't like it, so we're now sporting a new one. With my arthritic back and knees, I was thinking that if it hasn't already been invented, a hydraulic toilet seat would really be nice. When you were done with your business, as soon as you flushed, the hydraulic rams would automatically kick in and lift your behind right off the potty. No doubt it's the next billion dollar idea.
  I spent ten years at a farm here in Alaska where there were no indoor toilets. We all had some manner of honey bucket in our homes for use during the night. As I've mentioned before, I never really had to avail myself of those once we built our house out in the woods. My closest human neighbor was over a block away, and the squirrels, deer, martens, bears and other woodland creatures never lodged a complaint when I just stepped out onto the porch and let fly. It was quite liberating, not worrying about having to find a bathroom or needing to go and finding the only bathroom in the house occupied. We did all have outhouses, which,while they will get the job done, don't hold a candle to an indoor toilet. There are a number of stories from my time on the farm involving outhouses, potty barrels, slop jars, honey buckets and whatnot. I remember Liz telling us many years after the fact that her older sister Jen made her pick up the contents of the honey bucket after she slipped in the snow on her way out to dump it at the outhouse. With sisters like that, who needs brothers? Liz is also the child who was totally distressed after a trip to the outhouse. She came in crying and distraught one summer day because the flies were feasting there. There's nothing like feasting flies to put a damper on your day. The top picture is a cup shaped like a toilet that my number five daughter, Autumn, bought us. She seems to be infatuated with toilet related items. Because the cup is a little awkward to hold, we opted to use it to hold our toothbrushes. No doubt we would create quite a few interesting conversations if we used it to drink out of, but after all, we're not dogs, so we don't drink out of the toilet. Autumn also bought me a book with an all brown cover that addresses what your bowel movements mean, complete with drawings. By far the fellow sitting on the john, strapped in with a seat belt and with flames shooting out of the base like a rocket ship with the caption #3 was the most entertaining. It's not the kind of book you want to have out on the coffee table when you're hosting your pastor's family. Actually, it takes a special kind of person to enjoy that brand of humor. Of all places I think she bought it at the Anchorage airport bookstore.  The roll of toilet paper with the twine was a gift given to us on Friday by some guests at our open  house. I really like practical gifts.  If you want to be a blessing to someone, give them something they'll use- like toilet paper. Perhaps the giver had overheard a conversation I'd had with my daughter Jen. I had commented that every time Jen comes to visit, she almost always without fail stops in and uses our bathroom right before she leaves. Her house is less than a two minute drive away, but miraculously she always has to go right before leaving our house. I figure that down through the years, she's probably used the equivalent of a case of  Charmin. She mentioned that she had given me a six pack of Kirkland not long ago, in hopes perhaps of shutting me up. I had to point out though that it wasn't a six pack- she only had five rolls left in the package, and it runs in my mind that before  I left her house, she decided she needed another of the remaining rolls to get  her through the night. Amazing. In any event, I'm delighted that ol' Thomas Crapper had the foresight and ingenuity to design such a practical contraption that would allow us to remain inside and take care of business. No doubt an accomplishment worthy of a Nobel prize.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Well, it's Monday morning. That means back to work for the masses after a long Thanksgiving weekend. If you were one of the multitudes who decided to brave the long lines at the airport or the unbearable traffic on the roads, I hope that you've made it home safe and that you found your excursion worth the effort. I, on the other hand, didn't go anywhere. I did leave the house with my daughter Jennifer though, on a walk out to the beach. In celebration of Thanksgiving, when the main dish in many American homes is a turkey, I decided to wear my chicken hat. Had I owned a turkey hat, I would have worn it in honor of all the unselfish birds who gave their lives. As it was, I felt fortunate to have access to a chicken hat. I only wear it on special occasions, like Thanksgiving. Frankly, if I get any bigger, I won't be able to shove my fat head into anymore, and I'll have to give it to one of my kids or grand kids I suppose. I'm fairly certain that they'll all be fighting over the chance to be the owner of such a fine piece of apparel.As you can see from the picture above, I'm quite at home with the hat, but Jennifer looks like she's been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. She has that deer in the headlights look. Unfortunately there were few people around to enjoy that fine hat on Thanksgiving. Everyone was either inside eating or watching a football game I assume. Just as well, I wouldn't want to be mobbed by people clamoring to touch the hat, hoping that the same bravery that it took to wear it would rub off on them. I would like to point out that there are probably few places in the world where a man is free to wonder the streets with such fine head gear. Is America great or what? No doubt you're wondering where I was able to purchase such a unique piece of clothing. Well, I'll tell you, I bought it for the unbelievably low price of ten dollars at a school carnival several years ago. I was helping my daughter set up her booth selling hats. I don't know why hats would be something that would be popular at a school carnival, but apparently they are, and when I spotted it my heart was filled with lust for that hat. I couldn't believe that they just ordered one. Had they purchased dozens, the amount of profit would have been through the roof. Being the crafty fellow that I am though, I convinced Jen to save it for me so I could buy it when the carnival opened. I could see the looks of envy of the other patrons as I walked through the school gym with my fine purchase. There were quite a few people staring as I passed through their midst. I held my tongue, but I really wanted to tell them that it takes a special person to be able to wear a chicken hat. Dream on folks. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Give Thanks

 This Thursday will be Thanksgiving. It's hard to believe that it's that time of year again already. I was listening to several Christian broadcasts on Sunday, and of course the theme was on giving thanks, which is always appropriate, but seems to take center stage during the week of Thanksgiving. I believe it was Dr. Charles Stanley who mentioned that when we thank God in every situation, even when we don't really feel thankful, just the act of thanking God can bring about a change in our attitude, and sometimes even in our circumstances. For the past few weeks I've had gratitude on my mind. I'm a fairly negative person by nature. I can find the worst in just about any situation. If I catch a lot of fish I can start feeling unhappy because I have to clean them all. If I should make a good bit of money on my catch, then I have to pay more in taxes. With that kind of attitude, it's hard to win at all in anything. However, as I mentioned, I've been thinking about gratitude, and asking God to give me a grateful heart. I think it starts when we acknowledge that we have been blessed with multitudes of blessings, especially here in America. Aside from the every day things that I enjoy, the air that I breathe, the ability to walk around, being surrounded by an uncommon amount of beauty, we've been blessed with things. I have money in the bank, our pantry is full, the fuel tank is filled up, our house is paid for as well as my boat and my truck. Granted, we don't own anything fancy, but what we have gets the job done. It's a tremendous blessing. Last weekend Jan had a little sort of yard sale. We went around and gathered up some things that we've had sitting on shelves and in closets and the attic. There was a ton of it. Things we haven't used and didn't need and things we want to get rid of before we decide to make a move. We were just scratching the surface. We aren't wealthy by any means, but we had STUFF! I remember my friend Buffalo Bob speaking about losing everything in a cabin fire up around the Delta area of Alaska. He said that within a year he had as much stuff and more than before the fire. Americans have access to so many things. When you get to my age, you struggle to find something that you need so that friends or family members can get you a gift for Christmas.  What a contrast to the rest of the world. I received a catalog from Samaritan's Purse, the Christian organization that was started by Billy Graham's son Franklin. They go around the world supplying the needs of people who have been left without the necessary things to support life, whether because of war or natural disaster. For several years now we've received their catalog and it's filled with gifts that you can purchase to help out people who have real needs. For example, for $7.00 you can feed a  child a hot meal for a week.  For $25.00 you can provide warm clothes, a coat and shoes for refugees. I don't know what it's like where you are, but it's darn cold here. I can't imagine going outside without the necessary clothing to keep warm, and yet for countless people, that is their reality. $60.00 will buy an emergency shelter for a family who has lost their home due to natural disasters in places like Nepal, Haiti or the Philippines. A mere $8.00 will buy soccer balls and other sports equipment, blankets can be purchased for $6.00 baby chicks to provide eggs and food for a poor family, only $14.00. Right here in America there are a number of military families who are struggling to stay together after our heroes have been wounded in combat and are suffering mentally and physically. Operation Heal Our Patriots brings the husband and wife together for a week for counseling and fishing and building relationships at a lodge run by Samaritans Purse in Alaska. Around the world we can help by purchasing fruit trees and livestock, farm and garden projects, fresh water wells and equipment to clean otherwise undrinkable water. When you look around at the great need that is in the world and then take a look at what we have, not being grateful just isn't an option. One way to express our gratitude to God for all that He's done for us, is to help to meet the needs of those who have so little. I can promise you, you won't out give God. I hope that you have a blessed Thanksgiving, that you are safe if you are traveling and enjoy a wonderful day with family and friends. God bless us all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Old Man and the Baby

Great Grandpa Tom and Evalee

Grandma Jen


I'm not exactly ancient of days, although there are days when I wake up and certainly feel like it, but apparently I'm old enough to be a great grandfather, which is good I guess, because that's exactly what I am now. Yet another title to add to my resume. A few months ago, my oldest granddaughter, Ashia, had a little girl, Evalee and another new member was added to our family. I was  reflecting on how this could be, me being a great grandfather at sixty four. Of course I know how it happens, it just doesn't seem possible. I'm not even retired yet, although people observing me might be surprised to hear that. When I think of being a great grandfather, I think of someone who is wise from all their many years of experience on this earth. I guess I need to put in a few more years and hope wisdom is forthcoming.Having white hair and wrinkles doesn't automatically qualify a person as wise. My mother is still alive which  makes her a great, great grandmother. Because of Alzheimer's I doubt if she really grasps her title, but she did receive some pictures of the baby and she apparently realizes that she's somehow related to the baby in the picture. In many ways the very elderly and the very young have a lot in common. They are both dependent on someone else for so much of the care they receive. They both need to be shown that they are loved and there are times when they both kind of smell funny. No disrespect intended, it's just the facts of life. I'm really hoping that I will be spared the ravages of old age. What  I'm experiencing right now is plenty enough, thanks. I'm in no rush to pass on, there's still a lot of life to be enjoyed, but the bottom line is, while my granddaughter and her daughter still have most of life ahead of them, I'm on a downhill slide. I have to hope that the foundation has been laid in the lives of my granddaughter and her husband that will provide for her children and grandchildren and generations to come. From what I've seen so far, the future looks bright.