Jeremy & Kathleen arrive in Haines!

IMG_9752Jeremy (little bird) & his wife Kathleen arrived (un-greeted) at the ferry due to an unfortunate sequence of events.  They were in Juneau visiting Jeremy’s sister, Jennifer and came up on the Fairweather.

I  hadn’t seen them for seven years but we had a nice first night together at the Southeast Alaska State Fair.  The weather was Terrible: 50 degrees F, raining lightly.  The walk-ways were deep with mucky Mulch, but we persevered and ate, tacos, burritos, and macho-nachos!

Mark & Luke evidently need more practice smiling at the camera, which is surprising. Oh, well.

Mark learned to ride a bike (without training wheels)!

Sometimes big things happen when you leave the kids behind for a week.  Thanks Uncle John, Blacky, and Papa!

IMG_8526c Uncle John came over this week and taught Mark how to ride a bicycle!  There are, of course, a few skills left to master: turning around, getting started, but he can stop really well and doesn’t often tip over when he locks up the back tire in a slide. 

I’m also struck by the range of skills and tricks one can learn to do on a bike: going fast, going up hill, avoiding cars, crossing intersections, standing while pedaling, standing on the center bar, carrying someone on your shoulders, carrying a passenger on the rear axle, riding without hands, etc. Wow. There’s a lot to learn.

But the big thing about riding a bike is that people mean when they say, “it’s like riding a bike,” is just turning into the direction you’re falling, so that you don’t crash.  (Holly thinks they mean it’s something you can do that you’ll always remember how to do.)

Mark’s first bike was a very small bike with training wheels.  Turns out that bike was almost impossible to ride with the training wheels off, due to the extremely short rake and the angle on the front tire, so Bob and Margaret went out looking for free or cheap used bikes.  They found a bike in GREAT shape, that is exactly the right size and has a GREAT chain guard and tires with plenty of life in them. 

The only question I have is about the colors:  the purple and pink are just about enough to make a grown man print the photo in black and white.  But he loves the bike so much and is so confident and happy to ride it that I just had to swallow my tongue.  Mark doesn’t seem to notice or care about what color the bike is, so I suppose I’ll try to be man enough to save the $160 it would cost to buy a blue or black bike.  I guess, too, that I could use the can of black paint that’s in the crawl space, if I wanted to.

I talked it over with Uncle John, who said that he was initially struck by the colors the same way that I was, but then Margaret told him that his first bike, which he remembers as red was actually pink and white, with tassels on the the handlebars and flowers and butterflies on the body of the bike.  Strawberry Shortcake.

Potty Training…

This morning we got some insight into Luke’s thoughts

Lately, he’s been using the bathroom instead of his diaper.  This is a great trend for our family. Holly and I have always seen the whole process as potty training, or as we say it to Luke “getting him to go poo poo and pee pee in the toidee.” 

Today while he was eating breakfast, I asked him if he was going to go in the toilet, and he didn’t say anything in response for a while.  Then I asked him if he understood what I wanted him to do, he said he did.

“I’m learning to use Pullups.”

After his breakfast, he went in to the living room and asked Mark, “Mark, will you share your pull-ups with me?”

Mark said, “Yes.  I will share them, because by the time you need them, I will be too big for them.”

Luke was JUMPING WITH JOY at that one.

IMG_8469 “Mommy, d’you know what Mark just said?  He said he will share his pull-ups with me!  He said he will share his pull-ups with me!  HE SAID HE WILL SHARE HIS PULL-UPS WITH ME!”

Then he started jumping up and down with both feet (a new skill, really) with a huge grin on his face.  I tried to recreate the moment here on the left, but couldn’t get the smile to appear (use your imagination).

By Luke’s joy at the announcement of Mark’s willingness to share, you can probably see that we are still working hard on getting them to share.  But it sure was a nice time in the family.

Also, it’s interesting to note the difference in outlook towards potty training that Luke has compared to us.  We want him to get some control, so he doesn’t go in his diaper, but goes to the potty in the toilet instead.  But he’s not interested in that at all really.  What he wants is to be more grown up like his brother, who uses underwear all day and then uses pull-ups only at night.

I wonder, in how many places in life the perspective varies like this from what is actually required.  For instance, I wander how many people want to be in a committed relationship but really need to work on being less selfish so that the can fulfill the needs of others.  And how many people want more money so they can buy the things they want, but what they really need is to get some more training or move to a different town or location so that they can get a better paying job.  Also, I wonder, in how many ways am I not seeing what actually needs to be done in my life so I can move forward on my goals.


What about you?

The Bludance anchors in Port Chilkoot. What’s up?


After the men of note practice, a large merchant ship (550 ft long and 85 ft wide), the Bludance, home ported in Malta, pulled into the shelter of Port Chilkoot and dropped her anchor then swung around into the wind.  She sits there now, looking rather conspicuous, if I do say so.  I’ve never seen any ship like her in these  waters.  I googled her and wound up with a link to Jane’s Merchant ships that requires a purchase.

She’s sitting very high in the water and is hanging off her starboard anchor, as can be seen in the photos.  Needless to say, I’m quite curious what she’s doing here in these waters empty, as she is.  It’s tempting to hail her on the VHF and ask what she’s doing, but I’ll probably resist the temptation.  It’s quite windy in the canal today and a number of fishing vessels elected not to head out to Boat Harbor this evening.  Perhaps she’s needing to get out of the wind for some reason.

Uncle John is home!

Bob and Margaret returned from Juneau today aboard the Greta with John!

IMG_8432cIt was sure great to see John again.  They made the trip from Juneau over two days,  anchoring up inside Mab Island last night and continuing on this morning.  Bob and Margaret aren’t prone to anchor up in unfamiliar spots, so it was nice that John was there to show them our favorite spot to anchor during the fishing season.  There was a very stiff south breeze blowing them along so they used the engine for only about 20 minutes or so on the trip home. 

John looks about the same, it seems. I suppose if one looks closely, he’s a bit older, but so is everyone else, self included. In the photo, he’s playing the local young folks in a friendly game of soccer.  Jack did the purchase on the soccer shoes that he’s sporting as he keeps the ball away from Chandler Kemp.  I was on the Windbreaker with the mechanic that is going to install the new engine when they pulled into their slip.  When I went to tie them up, the dingy was in the way and its rope was blocking the cleat, so I flubbed it and she rammed the dock.

The boys were sure happy to see him and play a little ball with him.  Of course Holly and John had a great time yapping about all sorts of things and I shoed him my Motion Computing LE1600 tablet PC and the cool stuff one can do with Art Rage 2.5.  He had a difficult time believing that I did the painting of Chandler, but that’s to be expected.  He’s been reading a book called Micro trends that seems like it would be worth reading.

Margaret fixed a wonderful meal for us and we had a nice celebratory repast.  Then the Men of Note rehearsed for the Saturday State Fair performance which will be at 2 PM.

Time for Breakfast

I’m back in town after the second week fishing with Jim Green, so I was able to eat breakfast with the boys.

We had a good week of fishing, but it wasn’t as profitable as last week–probably because we came home 1.5 days earlier, since the fishing dropped off.

IMG_8388The lame thing is that everyone here at home but Luke is sick with a cough, sore throat, and runny nose.  Now, I’m just praying that I don’t get this lousy cold.

IMG_8406It was nice to see the boys wake up this morning: we go t into town around 12 am last  night, so they didn’t see me arrive.  While Holly was luxuriating in the bath, I fed them the usual meal of oatmeal, warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds.  It’s a good healthy meal that I eat too, PLUS it doesn’t cost very much.  I may start eating this on the boat as all I’d have to do is put a bit of water in a pan an put it on the stove when I go out for the morning set.

Now I need to do some chores on the boat so I’ll hopefully get motivated to do that pretty soon.  There are too many to do, so I’ll have to prioritize.

Fishing Report

I’m home again from fishing.

For some reason, it’s difficult to stay out fishing when the numbers drop off. 

Last week, my deckhand Brian Huntsman quit after 2.5 weeks.  Admittedly, we hadn’t really gotten into the fish when he quit so he didn’t get a chance to see how quickly the money can pour in.  But also, he got seasick fairly easily in combination of small boat and small chop that the Lynn Canal throws at us so often.  He said it just wasn’t fun anymore.  I can now see why many gillnetters will not take a chance on training a greenhorn deckhand.  It’s a real bummer to spend 2-3 weeks training someone, so that they can help out when the fish really hit, just to have them ditch when the fishing picks up.  Experience and dedication count for a lot in my book now.

Thankfully, Jim Green, a good friend of the family wanted to try gillnetting, and agreed to come out for a couple of weeks.  Jim is an experienced seaman and is quite familiar with sailboats and powerboats, but had never been out commercial fishing.  He’s also quite good with boat maintenance and keeping the boat ship-shape. 

We had a good first week together of fishing, but had some major overheating problems with the engine and had to limp through the July 6-11 week.  We were running into some seas and the engine overheated causing the expansion tank to blow out one of its ends and which caused the coolant system to fail–bummer.  Real bummer.  Karl Johnson was nearby and kept us off the rocks until our tender came out and got us.

We figured something went wrong with the radiator cap so that the pressure in the system wasn’t relieved.

We were down for about 6 hours doing a repair with Marine Tex, a very cool epoxy that is used often to fix metal, fiberglass, wood, and other things and has the cool property of setting up fast and keeping its bond in high temperatures.  Then we were able to go fishing.  Later on, after the expansion tank was fixed, I put a cap on the tank that accidentally closed and sealed in the pressure and it blew again.  Boy, did I ever feel stupid then!  Thankfully, we were well off the beach this time and Randy Jackson on the Pappy Frost came up from the postage stamp area to pull us in to the harbor so we could make repairs.  Oddly enough, Mike Saunders was in the harbor working on his raw water cooling system and was able to loan us five gallons of fresh water to recharge our system.

We then discovered that air was being let into the coolant system by the engine causing local hot spots and catastrophic engine over-heats when running the engine hard.  We decided, quickly, not to run the engine hard and to stop every 15 minutes to bleed the air out of the high point in the system.

We also caught about a 4-5 foot dolphin in the net!  Wow that was wild.  It was struggling to stay above water while wrapped in multiple layers of mesh, intertwined with cork-line, weed-line, and lead-line.  We got him out by reaching over the edge of the boat and cutting the web in front of his face so he could swim out.  It worked really well and before too long he was swimming away doing the dolphin kick.

The cool thing about fishing this year is that the grounds price for dogs is $0.55/lb.  Wow.  I can hardly believe it’s that high.  When I first started out gillneetting in 2001, the price was $0.17/lb and we were having to strip all the roe to make it profitable.

We left the grounds on Friday morning after a couple of so-so sets.


Black Hawk Down! NOT!

If you haven’t read the book “Black hawk Down” and you’re in any way shape or form a military buff, you need to get out and read that book Pronto!

IMG_8279 The black hawk airframe, the UH-60 is one of the wonders of modern aviation and comes in many variations: tactical transport of troops, electronic warfare, VIP transport,  and aeromedical evacuation.  We have a few of them in SE Alaska and one that comes into Haines quite often for medivacs.  The coast guard runs them out of Sitka. Mark Daniel is in the orange shirt holding onto the hand-holds on the tail.  I guess they have those there for maneuvering the helicopter while it’s in a hanger or on the tarmac, but I didn’t get to ask the crew.

IMG_8271 On Saturday, we had two of them on the parade grounds for the public to climb around inn.  The military version that we had here today had both wheels and skids for landing pads and had all it’s guns removed.  The coast guard version had two large fuel tanks on the left side, and no spots for gunners.

IMG_8262c I love helicopters, planes, tanks, air-craft carriers, humvees, and military things in general since the second author I got hooked on was Tom Clancy and his military books: Red Storm Rising, Hunt for Red October, and Cardinal of the Kremlin.  I strongly recommend that military buffs read Red Storm Rising if they haven’t yet.  It’s an amazing depiction of how a full scale cold war era third world war may have played out if it had ever come to that and it’s played out in multiple theaters simultaneously.

In all honesty, I’ve never really talked about guns, tanks, airplanes, helicopters, ships, or anything else military or hunting related, except when he asks.  My dad loves guns and has a collection, and my brothers have guns and get new ones from time to time.  I do have a shotgun a “Home Defender” stainless gun, but I rarely shoot it and it has a trigger lock on it when it’s in the house.

I think it’s best when Mark is young to develop a love for nature, so we read him books about animals wild-life almost all the time.  There’ll be time later on to learn to shoot guns and hit targets and such. 

IMG_8282 I did meet the photographer of the coastguard flight crew.  He’s a canon guy who owns his own gear.  The coast guard owns Nikon gear, but he’d rather not use it so he buys his own.  He had a rubber armored Canon 30D with the 17-40 f/4 mounted plus the battery grip. I do talk to the boys about photography quite a bit, as you might guess, and they love posing for photos whenever we go on special outings, as you can probably tell.

TeeBall on Saturdays!

There’s only one week left of Teeball: there’s a Wednesday practice, then a double header on Saturday.

IMG_8251 (2)cToday we went to Teeball and had a great time.  Mark is really coming along, in terms of  enjoying the game, hitting the ball, throwing the ball, catching the ball, and understanding the game.

When he batted, I had him stand back from the base in such a way that he’d hit the ball down the third base line.  You can see he’s a bit back towards the backstop.  As you can probably tell from the green fleece he’s wearing, it was a bit chilly and even a bit rainy this morning, plus we don’t have any grass on the field–but that keeps the bugs down too.

IMG_8303 (2)cToday, we only had four of the teammates show up for the game, so we had five people total on the Reds team.  Almost all of our experienced kids were not there. This was both good and bad, because everyone got to play in an interesting position on the field, and everyone also got to bat three times because we had three innings, and also because we didn’t really field that well, compared with when we have our experienced kids there.

Mark’s favorite thing about Teeball is running the bases at full speed. He knows where all the bases are, how he can get out, where to run, when to stop (when we tell him to) and that it’s not a terrible thing to get ‘out,’ it’s just something that happens to everyone from time to time. 

He does best if I stand right next to him and encourage him when he’s fielding and such.

IMG_8342c Behind the backstop, there’s a huge sand pile that the little siblings like to play on when the older ones are playing ball.  I need to take some pictures of that hill.  Another thing Luke likes to do is pick flowers.  I think that’s pretty cute for a three year old.

One thing you might notice from this picture is that Luke is a ‘lefty’  He’s been that way from the beginning: always preferring his left hand over his right.  He eats left handed, throws, catches, hits, and high fives with it. 

IMG_8278 (2) Mark wasn’t that way.  When Mark was really young, he never showed a preference for one hand over the other. Then when he got to be about four years old.  Some kids don’t differentiate their hands until, say 3rd grade–that can be a problem, especially when they are writing.  It’s good for the brain to settle in to dedicated rolls early so further development can take place.

Looking at these pictures today reminds me that I need to buy those pictures from Steve Vick that he took earlier in the season.  I really liked the one of Mark Daniel and I at home plate where I was pointing to show him where first base was.

Looking at this last picture of Mark, one thing you might not have noticed is the out-of-focus area in the photo.  To me it has a nice quality to it and in photography lingo, that’s called Bokeh.  Bokeh is a Japanese word which has to do with the quality of the image where the image is out of focus.  For this shot, I was at 400mm on my 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6, ISO 400, f/8, 1/500.  These are great settings for stopping action and getting pretty sharp photos of a kids baseball game.  To really stop the threads on the ball and catch the dust in the air in a major league game on a double play with the runner sliding into second base, you’d need a higher shutter speed, say 1/1500 or so, I’d imagine.  but 1/500 is just fine for capturing a teeball game.

John Caleb Meets Senator Stevens!

  I’m not sure what his political leanings are just yet, but we took John Caleb to meet the senator anyhow.

IMG_8255cSenator Ted Stevens is in town to give speeches, shake hands, and dedicate a frog, or some such thing, out at Klukwan.  This is the Second Senator we’ve met this year in Haines.  Cool. Lisa Murkowski was here for the beer festival back near the end of May.

The meeting took place at the Bald Eagle Foundation Building from 7:30 to 9 AM on July 5th and just about everybody who’s anybody (or WAS anybody) in Haines Politics showed up.  Robert  V., Doug Olerud, Fred Shields, Roger Schnabel, Bill Thomas, Tim June, Chip Lende, etc.  It was fun to jump in there at the start of the question and answer time to get a grin-n-click photo with a baby.

PS–in order to get John Caleb to grin at the right time, Holly pinch/tickled his leg, while I made silly baby sounds.