Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tomorrow will be kinder

A post shared by Tim Jones (@orcahonus) on

     Ever had a day when everything you touch seems to go wrong somehow? The climactic event for me yesterday came when the little sled I use to haul firewood to and from the piles under the house got away from me and slid down the hill. I gave up in disgust and went indoors to pour a glass of the expensive single malt I had purchased on a trip out earlier in the day.
     Today dawned in a better place. I went about the usual chores of wood and water and sweeping and such, all the time aware at some time I was going to have to go down the hill for that sled.
In time I did. And I understood if I had gone and retrieved it right away I could have avoided the torment.        
      You see, it went only about 50 feet until the tow rope snagged on a single thin twig standing up through the snow. If that twig hadn't caught the sled it would have gone at least another hundred yards into snow so deep I would have had to snowshoe to grab it. And fortunately the sled was empty or it surely would have bent the twig and possibly shed firewood along the way careening down the hill.
      Lots of conclusions could be drawn here, feel free to apply your own.

ABOUT THAT PHOTO: The surveyors' tape marks the saving twig so I can remember. You can see the track whre the sled stopped and to the right, the hill it would have gone down

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The sun also sets

Eighty degrees in the sun on the deck. Comfortable chair, feet up on the generator box, five feet from the feeder. A mediocre scotch in hand with a tight-fisted chunk of snow to cool and temper it mixed with a few birch chatains to give it that woody flavor.
Action is brisk at the Chickadee Singles Bar as we all wait for the grosbeacks to come by for their afternoon set. One even landed on my boot.
You know, I write a lot about the birds, but I am not a real birder. I mean if somebody says there is a tufted titmouse in the neighborhood, I am not going to grab my binoculars and camera and race out the door. I like the ones who come to me, the ones I feed, and the few individuals I recognize as I watch them and try to decipher what their behavior means. Think about this. It is so quiet in the woods I can hear their wingbeats as they flutter about and the clicking of their feet as they land on the plastic feeder rim.
They have been checking the ventilation holes under the eaves, I think for nesting spots and it makes me glad I took the time to put screening over them when I built years ago. It's not that I wouldn't love to entertaiin a nesting pair or two, but I would rather not have them tearing into my insulation. The other day I watched one explore the whole front of the house, even once clinging to the siding. How I wished I had had a camera when it perched on the fin of the killer whale decoration on the door.
So I watch them now, the day's work done, a big chunk of the wiring project completed, even a light hanging over the kitchen, and firewood packed away. I split and stacked three sledfuls and brought out one for the next 24 hours. And, satisfied, scotch in hand, I can relax and enjoy the sun while it lasts.
I had an interesting revelation today. Someone came out to that neighboring cabin I can see these days. Whoever it was didn't stay the night and I got the idea he was just checking on it. The same thing happened last weekend. I got to wondering why, and if anything were missing would I be the chief suspect. Giving it some thought, I realized there is probably nothing in that cabin I would want. I did a mental inventory of this place and realized I really have everything I could possibly want. Short of a hot woman or a couple of sitcom DVDs, nothing. I have it all. How many people can say that? If this keeps up I might need another bottle of scotch, though, but no need to break into someone's cabin on the off chance I might find one. I can afford a trip out and a good one if need be.
The sun is heading into the trees now, so it might be time for a little dinner and a movie. I am thinking Moulin Rouge, the new one with Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman. Did I ever write about the night I chatted with her for a few minutes online one night, just a couple of days before her marriage to Keith Urban? Honest, I did. Jokingly I told her I had this great script with a part prefect for her. I could almost hear her mind snap shut. I told her I was only kidding, but she only came back a little way.
Well with dinner and a movie in the hear future, I am guessing the following applies.
With two more weeks to go, I think I am going to have to go out for another bottle of scotch. This one lasted 30 years. I might as well pay the money for a good one this time.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

I love you Padme

This will take a minute. My son was the right age when the second three Star Wars movies came out. We joked about which woman we liked. He liked Princess Amadela; I liked Padme, never mind that they were the same person. Somewhere along the way he acquired some action figures and among them was the Padme character.   I immediately confiscated it. Over the years she disappeared and reappeared and somehow ended up with me here at the East pole, standing Titanic-like on the bow of a model tugboat I used to demonstrate tanker rescue maneuvers. They are on a shelf above my desk here.
Fast forward to tonight. When I first moved in to the cabin at the East Pole, I bought a bottle of scotch. Here I am thirty years later and I finally opened it. Listening to music and watching the sunset and moonrise change Denali. I chanced to turn and look out the window over the desk and there, silhouetted by the twilight sky stood  Padme, defiant and proud on the bow of that little wooden tugboat. A striking figure at once symbolizing strength and an overwhelming attraction. It took a moment to come back to reality, but I make no apologies.

Sent from my iPad

Friday, March 10, 2017

Atlasta trail

A post shared by Tim Jones (@orcahonus) on

Peoiple who have been to the East Pole know how tough it has been over the years getting up the hill all the way to the house and being able to turn back down the hill without  manhandling the heavy snowmachine.
Well, yesterday the answer came, and swiftly. While I was horsing the machine around to go down for another load of firewood I got tangled with a couple of sizeable birch sapplings in the yard. When a twig snapped back and nearly hit me in the eye, it was the last straw. In a fit of anger I got the chainsaw and cut down both last straws.
   When I finished and cleared the devastation, I was looking a a whole new open area right in line with one of my trails. Holey  easy peasy Batman. Next time up I had a trail to within 10 feet of the steps with the machine aimed downhill. It only took thirty years to figure that one out.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Strangers in the night

Around 11 o'clock last night there came a knocking on my door. This is not good form in bear country even in winter. A strange, out-of-place noise on the porch the first thing a guy grabs is a gun. So, I called through the door, "who's there?" A rather timid voice called back somethiing like, "I am cold. Could I come in and warm up?"
     I cracked the door open carefully, checked him out from head to toe, didn't see a weapon or for that matter claws and gnashing teeth, in fact I saw a human being who appeared to need some help. I had just started my going to bed routines and wasn't really looking for anything that could delay that downhill slide into sleep.
     Nevertheless, I welcomed him in and closed the door behind him. I moved a chair close to the wood stove where he could sit and warm himself.
     We chatted a little and slowly his story came out. He had gone to a nearby lake ice fishing with his cousin. At some point the cousin had gone out to the trail head on his snowmachine and left this guy to walk to the cousin's cabin.
    In the dark, the fellow missed the cabin and had walked two miles along the trail before he saw my lights and decided to seek some shelter.
     I had looked him over for signs of hypothermia, the temperature had dropped to about 5 degrees, but he seemed all right. At least he was suitably dressed for this journey. I put some water on to boil to make him some hot chocolate and as it was coming out that the cousin was returnng at some point, I asked him if he had a flashlight. He didn't. Fortunately the moon illuminated the woods sufficiently. He said he had been using the flashlight app on his iPhone but his battery was down to 15 percent. He used some of that 15 percent to call his cousin. I had not turned off the generator yet so the cellular signal boost was still functioning and the call went through.
     The cousin had made it to the trailhead and was ready to head back. I could hear the cousin arguing about things rather than figure out how to meet. I didn't have much respect for the cousin to begin with – leaving this guy alone walking in the dark through unfamiliar territory. The guy was trying to explain where he was and how he had missed their cabin but all the cousin did was shout insults.
    The charge on his phone probably fell dangrously low at this point and I asked him what kind of phone it was. Perfect I had my iPhone connected and charging and my cord fit his phone and thankful again the generator was still running, we plugged his in.
    By this time the water boiled and I mixed some cocoa for him. He described where he had been and what he had passed while walking and I was able to figure out the general area of the cabin's location.
    I drew him a map showing all the landmarks and where he was and the time and where he needed to go and also showed him a map on my iPad to give him a better picture of what I had drawn.
    We decided the best thing for him would be for him to walk back down to the main trail and be on it when his cousin returned and they could go on together.
    I suggested he call the cousin again so we could get a time line for when he ought to be on the trail. Via texts we learned he was just starting out, so I checked the clock to get this fellow going in about half an hour.
    We sat at the table and chatted while he sipped his hot chocolate and as subtly as I could I asked more questions in another attempt to ascertain any hypothermia symptoms.
     It turned out he had grown up in Alaska but a few years ago he had ventured south, ending up in Southern California where he worked as a painter on movie sets.
     I shared a little of my life but being wary of strangers, not too much. I kept my eye on the clock and when half an hour had passed, I gave him the map I had drawn, a cheap spare flashlight and a bottle of Ensure for some energy on the trail just in case. I had him enter my phone number into his phone in case something went wrong. By then it had reached 45 percent charged, a little better margin for him, again, just in case.
    I watched him walk down the trail. When he reached the area I had been hauling firewood from he followed the wrong trail for a moment; it was a small loop that took him back to the main trail after a little laugh, I felt he was on his way on the correct trail.
    I shut down all the noisemakers in the cabin so I could hear a snowmachine down on the main trail. After about 15 minutes I heard it and went out onto the porch to listen. Soon enough it stopped and then I could hear voices talking. Connencted again, they drove away deeper into the woods.
    I went back to my going-to-sleep routine and it was then I noticed, such a small thing, but an indication of character. With all that was going on and the worries about what was ahead, he had thought to put his cup into the sink with the other dirty dishes. I had to smile at that. It told me he was probably going to be all right.

Interesting quotations

· "You want to feel alive until the day you croak" – Frank Gallagher Shameless

"Smooth is good but sailing takes a brisk wind" – me

"I'm a drinker with writing problems." ~ Brendan Behan

"Religious Freedom is not about stopping persecution; it’s about being the one who gets to do it. Glory!" – Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's best Christian

It doesn't matter what you write, it only matters that you write.

"Give someone a book and they'll read all day. Teach someone to write a book and they'll spend a lifetime mired in paralyzing self doubt." – internet meme

"It's been a long time since I heard my backbone crack – Chuck Berry

“Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.” – JD

"I was the only person up on the hill with both racing numbers and a handicapped placard." – Kitty Delorey Fleischman, a grandmother who occasionally still races her Porsche in hill climbs.

Like most writers, I feel like a reprobate who does not deserve to live on any day that I do not write, but I also feel that four or five hours is enough to earn my stay on the planet for one more day. – anon

"Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool." – Mark Twain

Shit happens; you just come up with a different plan. – Kitty

Your body is not a temple. It's an amusement park. – Anthony Bourdain

Never too late for a happy childhood – Berkley Breathed

A real writer doesn't just want to write, a real writer has to write. – Internet meme

"It was like the aftermath of an orgasm with the wrong partner" – David Lagercrants, "The Girl in the Spider's Web"

The non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

We never comprehend how heavy the things are we insist on carrying until we set them down. jd

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio talk show host

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

Color guy: "First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout." Play-by-play guy: "That's true."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve