I promised myself that I would add one of these stories here every time I told one. I tell them at one point or another throughout the summer. There will be no chronology - not yet anyway - nor will there be much of a schedule. You never know; I might add a story every day and I might not. This is my life. Every day is an adventure.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer's Over

Yeah, my summer is mostly over. Leaves are turning and berries are ripe. It smells awesome out there, like over ripe cranberries (high bush) and rain-washed whatever. The weather was truly odd this summer when talking about river levels. I finally made it to work on the first of June - it sucks that I missed two weeks of work. Because of that there were things I normally do that I skipped this year. I can wash walls next year - people aren't allowed to smoke inside anyway.

Water levels remained medium low all summer long, but as time passed, it became increasingly clear that water levels were rain dependent rather than snow-melt dependent - which is really out of the ordinary. Fortunately there was enough rain to keep the rivers full enough for me to drive to work. I drove a jet-drive through most of the summer because, at first, the water was really scary-low - meaning that gravel-bars I know to exist were sticking up, and some of them were very nearly over my head. Islands that I normally see were small mountains. There was one thing good about seeing the water that low. I learned that some channels where I'd driven for years, had moved, and some gravel-bars had grown (or seemed to have done so).

Other than water levels, which increased slowly, but steadily, my summer went well. I was able to devote time to my gardens, and got plenty of complements because of that. I met some great people, and even sold a couple books. I also passed out a few business cards, so with luck, I sold a few more books that way.

In other news related to work, I bought a soap mold. It has always been very nearly impossible for me to throw away used soap, so over the years, I've accumulated quite a few. The last lodge I worked at and now this one both use Dove soap, and I was stacking it on a shelf in the laundry room. It really rankled that they'd all been used only once or twice, some maybe a little more. They were full sized bars - it was such a waste. I did a little research and discovered that Dove makes half-sized bars, and my boss's wife was able to find some in town. Even so, it was a waste, so I kept those too. When I told her I would take her soaps and remake them into smaller bars, she did a little searching and found some fish-shaped molds. I haven't seen them yet, but then I'm still learning how to do this recycling of soaps. I took all the random (other than Dove) soaps and am trying to refine a recipe. My first effort was a bunch of unmeasured soap that I'd grated up years ago and put in a big glass cooky jar to this end. In a bigger pot (think double-boiler) I tried to melt the soap. The recipe I found online said to add a little water, so I did, adding a little more until the soap started to get soft. What was on the surface of my mass kept cooling to clumps, so I spooned it into my mold and tried to smooth it out. The result cooled quickly and I was able to cut them into blocks, trimming away the ugly edges to be added to my next batch. They are not pretty as far as color, and they are inconsistent in shape, but they are usable bars of soap, so I'm happy. However, my effort taught me that I needed a better recipe.

On to my second effort. I found a recipe that called for 2 cups of soap to 1 cup of water. My stumbling block was, how do you measure out 2 cups of soap. So I did the next best thing, I changed the volume measure to a weight measure. 2 cups is 16 oz or one pound so I weighed up 2 pounds of soap bars and started grating. When I bought my mold I thought I read in the questions or reviews somewhere that it holds 5 pounds of soap, and my first effort didn't fill my mold quite full. So I figured I'd aim for 4 pounds of soap, which (according to my recipe) called for 2 cups of water. I grated up my first pound of soap and added it to my cookie jar and after I added my 2 cups of water, I realized that there was no way my cookie jar was going to hold 4 pounds of grated soap. Cringe. I wanted to drain away that water, but didn't. I should have, but I added another pound of soap and proceeded.

This time, my concoction was more like what they said in the recipes in that I could pour it. It was thick, but was it thick enough? Time would tell. I did learn that 2 pounds of soap is the max my mold will hold. I let the block cool over night and it was solid enough to take out of it's mold, but it's still kinda soft. I cut it into some bars, discovering that my cut was thinner than I like, but it is what it is. Now those bars are laying out on a cooky sheet. According to my research, it's not uncommon for bars to cure for up to a week. Cross your fingers. Worse case scenario, I redo. I still got more soap to experiment on before I get to my boss's soap. I'll figure it all out.

In the mean time - On the first of August, my son who lives down in Arizona came up to visit and go fishing. He brought his two kids, his girlfriend, and her son. It was awesome. They stayed for two weeks and went fishing every day, bringing home nearly 18 fish every day. I also showed the girlfriend how to can fish. I canned up a couple batches to make room in the freezer, but starting a load after I got home from work meant staying up till near midnight. Needless to say, I only did enough to make room.

When he left, my son took a hundred pounds of frozen fish home with him as well as a case of canned, and my freezer was still stuffed. Three days after work was over, I started canning fish. Last week, my other son came out to help pull boats again and he took home 4 cases of fish. I am finally getting to the bottom of the freezer. I have fish thawing out here in the house for tomorrow's canning session and three more bags in the freezer to go, and I have six and a half cases of fish done as of today. That is more fish than I've canned up in a very long time.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Worries Come True

Be ware of rant - sorry.

In an earlier post this last winter, I complained about the lack of snow. I mean, this is Alaska. We're SUPPOSED to have tons and tons of snow every winter. When we first moved out here, it was common to truly avoid stepping off the packed trail unless you had snowshoes. If you stepped off the trail and went in only to waist deep or so, it was considered a low snow year, but still no great cause for worry.

Then Vice President Al Gore, apparently a fierce environmentalist, came to power in 1993, and it suddenly became all the rage to clean up the world. I followed this - kinda - there was really no avoiding it, and to a certain degree, I agreed with the concept. It's only right to take care of our world; it's the only one we have. I do my very best to make sure my little piece of it does not collect so much as cigarette butts.

But then clean-up evolved from global cooling in the 70s to global warming scare it is today. But since I see no sign of coastal cities preparing for those drowning years, I have always had my doubts. And since my life is so weather-dependent, I do try to keep up as much as possible.

The trend I've seen here is that the winters seem to be warmer than what they were say 30 or 40 years ago, but for the most part the temperatures seem to follow a normal path through the winter. Maybe some winters are slightly warmer than others, but then some winters were also slightly colder than others too - over all, there was no change that I could see.

Then Obama came to visit our state back in August of '15. Of course it was all over the news, and in reality I was really ashamed of our president. To be seen standing with two girls, he and both girls holding up fish, but he using thick rubber gloves? That is not a picture to make me proud. The man is a wimp. I don't have much respect for him, but that's not the issue of this post. Then in September of that year, he was on the Bear Grylls survival show where his greatest risk was to drink a little glacier water. I mean, it was almost an insult to the show. The point of the show was to discuss how badly the glaciers were receding. That show, and every other documentary I have ever watched to date involving either the glaciers receding or the polar icecap breaking up, failed miserably to convince me that there was an issue.

To me, the issue with the ice cap can be directly blamed on the fleet of ice breakers they use to keep the shipping lanes open. And glaciers - well, they come and go with the season just like they are supposed to do. Now, don't get me wrong, some glaciers aren't doing so well, but all things change. No. The trouble with the glaciers, and by weather-related connection, the ice cap, is directly related to precipitation coming down as snow. As long as there was enough snow, the glaciers would do just fine.

But those seeking to further the global warming/global change issues can't have status quo when it comes to snowfall in Alaska. That would not further their drowning of coastal cities agenda. I believe Obama managed to accomplish two things during his visit. One was to somehow force Alaska to sign up for his health care farce - we had been holding out until his visit. Another was to look into the glacier issue.

He was not gone from this state for even a week when jets started flying over in force, and they were flying over in a grid - a very obvious square criss-cross pattern. I drive to work in a boat. the sky is wide open to me. I saw this with my very own eyes. The next day or two, and more or less from then on, the air stank.

Now cloud seeding has been around for years. They started trying to modify the weather down in the mid-west way back in the 60s, and they wanted to enhance snowfall in the Rockies too, all in an attempt to replenish the reservoir under the whole nation. Rivers were drying up, and nearly all the farms now used sprinklers to water their crops. The whole country was drying up. Was it working? I don't think so, but what do I know.

What they did up here - with such stinking concentration seemed to do one thing. We had a nasty flood that fall - the worst I've seen for over twenty years. The damage to the area was extensive, but we recovered. We washed the river mud out of our building and we repaired the damage, and we carried on. That winter we still had about 2 or 3 feet of snow here, but other damage had been done too. For the first time in a while, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race was forced to start in Fairbanks due to lack of snow. It's happened in the past - no biggie. Life goes on. So what is several businesses, who'd spent thousands of $$$ to get ready for the big race, lost out on all that income. My life is not the only life that revolves around the weather. For that race to start in Fairbanks two years in a row, due to lack of snow, is unprecedented. Those weather-control dudes had to have been having a field day, celebrating with champagne and caviar.

Thanks to stinky air all through the summer last year, we here on the river were blessed with not just one flood, but four. Lodges were forced to ship guests to town and some closed early. At the lodge where I work, my boss remained open but he was calling guests right and left, telling them of the issue and offering to rebook them for next year - their trip had already been paid for so it was covered. Again, mega loss of business, but the global climate 'change' was paramount. They simply had to starve those glaciers until they went away.

Now, thanks to all their efforts, and more to the point of this post, I should have been able to go to work on the 15th. Take a look at those pictures. See all that sand and where the water is? All that sand should be under water by now, or at least very close to it. Spring melt off almost always causes a near flood to start with - it makes launching the boats easier. This year, even after the ice in the rivers had gone away, there was not enough water to even float a boat, let alone go anywhere, and here it is, very nearly a week later, and I'm waiting for the water to come up. Don't get me wrong, it was coming up a couple inches a day until day before yesterday when it rained. I was lazy that day; I didn't go check the river in the rain. I went yesterday instead. Much to my dismay, the water went down a couple inches. Now, to add to my dismay, last night it frosted. Frost here tells me the mountains are still frozen. At this point that is my only source of river water.

I can see making it rain on dry farmers, but the agenda here is purely political and it makes me want to shoot someone. I am so angry about this, and I feel so impotent.