This tree is a dawn redwood (metasequoia) that I got in the mail. I had two of these two years ago, but they failed to flourish (which is to say, they went to the great compost heap in the sky). I am going to try again – this time, I think I’ll not put them out in the damp until they’ve had a year to establish themselves as indoor plants first.
This tree was alarmed by an interloping excavator.
Richard, the excavatorer, seemed a bit on edge yesterday.
Richard does excellent work and is highly competent – he knows the “right way” to do things and works efficiently – but he is difficult to communicate with, because he has very strong opinions which he believes to be facts. Sometimes you just have to let him do it “his way” and adapt to what he’s done afterward, similar to dealing with natural disasters.
You will have noticed the lack of Fishing Report features on this here blog, this summer. I have avoided going out fishing with Arthur through the last several months – though Arthur, too, has been avoiding, in his spectacularly non-communicative way. But now that Wayne is here visiting, you would think there would be fishing reports.
Actually, Wayne and Arthur have just now gone out fishing in the boat for the third day running. And I’ve avoided going with them. This has forced me to acknowledge a very difficult emotional truth about myself:
I hate fishing.
I didn’t used to hate fishing. I used to rather enjoy it, I think.
But nowadays, Arthur’s spectre hangs over my shoulder and whispers to me, inevitably, that I am doing it wrong. That was Arthur’s habit in the best of times – he’d tell me I was doing it wrong, or worse, just barge in and take over, because he wasn’t always great at explaining how to do it right. He was better at demonstrating. But at least in the past, his telling me that I was doing it wrong was accompanied by an effort to teach me how to do it right.
The last vestiges of that mentoring behavior evaporated last summer. It was in that moment when he announced to me, forlornly, that he’d forgotten how to deploy the downriggers on the boat. That left me doing everything, while he just watched sulkily.
And yet… he still found it in himself, later on that same trip, to tell me that I was doing it wrong. I think it broke something inside me.
So there is just no way I want to go out fishing with Arthur. Nevertheless I have neither the self-confidence in my own ability, nor the cruelty toward Arthur, to somehow go out fishing without him.
So I’ve been miserable. And I’m done fishing, I guess.
That’s too bad.
I’ll be glad when fishing season is over and the boat is back in the barn, and the people around me stop talking about fishing constantly.
This tree was on the shore while Arthur and Wayne went out in the boat to try to catch fish.
It was nice to have a break. As I’ve mentioned before, fishing with Arthur, for me, is not actually fun at all. Arthur has strong feelings about how fishing should happen, and he doesn’t have any confidence in my ability to navigate or assist. I’m still a 12-year-old kid in his eyes, often times. But with his cognitive and physical challenges, these days, he isn’t really equipped to actually be the captain of the boat. So going out in the boat with him is a huge emotional challenge. He gets mad and has tantrums, or he just gives up and sulks. Or he gets obsessed about one issue or another, like the time we spent 40 minutes circling a spot in the water because we’d dropped a bucket in the water and he insisted we try to get it back.
Anyway, I expect the dynamic with him in the boat with Wayne would go differently. Art and Wayne are peers, firstly, and secondly, Wayne is the person who actually taught Arthur much of his fishing skills and boat-craft, many years ago. So Arthur will not distrust Wayne’s suggestions or skills.
Regardless, I could tell Wayne was tired from their half day out on the water together. Simply communicating with Arthur is exhausting – the combination of incipient deafness and difficulty with language processing combine to make it a slog to interact with him.
I haven’t been avoiding going out in the boat with Arthur – if anything, he’s been avoiding going out in the boat at all. He seems vaguely aware of his issues and limitations, at some level, and so he spends a lot of time making up excuses for why we don’t need to go out fishing. And I’ve been happy to enable him. And I was happy, today, to let Wayne take it on. I feel guilty that I was happy about that. Living up here, it’s very hard to explain to the people around me that I have come to actually rather strongly dislike fishing. But that’s what’s happened. I’m sorry.
They caught a few salmon, and a ling-cod.
This tree is about one inch tall. I think I germinated a cypress tree seed in my greenhouse. I’m not completely sure on the identity, but it’s the only thing I planted in that bucket. I will try to grow a cypress tree.
This tree saw that I had repaired the boat-trolley.
This is the boat trolley that Arthur engineered and built some decades ago, that allows us to put the boat into the boathouse without having to use the boat trailer or a regular boat launch ramp.
I had to fix the bolt-axles for the wheels. They were badly corroded.
This tree is a cherry tree I planted as a seedling over a year ago. Last fall, the deer-pocalypse came and they ate almost the whole tree, but I thought it might survive, so I put a cage around it to protect it, and sure enough, it’s making a strong effort.
This tree had to take a back seat to a grandstanding bald eagle standing by the side of the road looking for a ride to town (or so it seemed).
I had to drive to town twice today. I’m trying to solve plumbing problems and needed to get supplies, and didn’t plan well what I needed. So I made two trips to the hardware store in town, where I spent money on plumbing fittings.
I’m finally working on solving the long-standing “pipes freezing in winter” problem we’ve seen sporadically the past two winters. The water intake for the whole house is exposed to the air where it enters the boatshed (the basement of the house). So when temperatures are sub-zero, the water will freeze and the house loses water. Interim solutions have involved running a hose (through snow drifts) from the well to the house, and also running a giant kerosene heater outdoors in the area where the pipe enters the house. A long-term solution requires digging up the pipe a bit, changing its configuration so it won’t freeze in the winter.
This tree (the one on the left) had 3 eagles in it (sorry it’s a low-quality photo).
This tree is outside a newly added glass window on my treehouse. At this rate, I’ll have the treehouse windows completed sometime around the summer of 2030.
This tree (probably the one kind of barely visible on the right) was there when I finally got the tablesaw moved over from my treehouse to my greenhouse-shed-thing. It was quite difficult to move – too heavy to carry and not able to fit through the treehouse door without extensive disassembly – but I moved it and reassembled it successfully.
You might wonder why I had the tablesaw in the treehouse. I’d put it up there a few years ago because a) I was working on the treehouse a lot and it was handy, but more importantly, b) because I was terrified Arthur would do something with the tablesaw under one of his sudden compulsions to be “handy” but where he doesn’t remember how to operate it safely.
Art and I spent a very long, tedious afternoon at the clinic. He had an appointment – it was just a follow up on the lab tests from before – but the doctor was running behind and so we had to sit around a lot.
This tree (the one out across the water, I guess) was there while I got the engines started on the boat for the first time. We’re not going out in the boat yet, I’m just doing maintenance on a sunny day, since those are pretty rare.
This tree experienced a moment of illumination.
I got some baby lettuce out of my greenhouse, thinning the patch somewhat.
Art had a doctor’s appointment this morning. Just some lab tests, nothing related to changed diagnosis. It took a long time because they wanted a urine sample, and that’s not something Art does on demand these days. I’ve always felt he’s chronically dehydrated, but I simply cannot convince him to drink more fluids.
This tree was hanging out with some other trees on the outskirts of Thorne Bay, off on the other side of our island.
It’s about an hour and half drive from Rockpit to Thorne Bay. I went there because our new neighbors (who bought the lot where the house burned down in 2019) arrived by boat from down south, and they needed a taxi service over to Thorne Bay to pick up their truck with trailers, which was delivered via barge. All the barges to the island land over there – it’s more convenient on the east side of the island, directly adjacent to the Alaskan “inside passage”.
When I got home, I found a zucchini flower in my greenhouse, despite the persistent rain and obstinately gray skies.
This tree is hoping for a bit of sun in through the window. There is a maple tree and two bay laurels, which I got a few months ago via the internet. I don’t want to subject these baby trees to the unending damp of an outdoor life in Southeast Alaska just yet – I have noticed that exotic saplings seem to have a hard time with that aspect of the local climate, more than issues with the lower temperatures or lack of direct sun. Too many of my saplings have died of “too much moisture” – mostly due to concomitant mold / fungus, I suspect.
This tree had a mountain behind it.
I built a shelf in my greenhouse. I was particularly proud of the fact that I used entirely “found” and “trash” items to build it – wood abandoned on the side of the road, some particle board shelf pieces found in the dumpster at work. I get a “Robinson Crusoe” feeling when I can do something like that, which pleases me.
This tree stood by while a duck swam northward (small light-colored speck on the water near the exact center is duck).
This tree wore green.
I’m very tired today. Either I’m coming down with something, or I’m just burned out after a long (-er than normal) week. There was Arthur’s doctor’s appointment, yesterday. But we also had (another) water system crisis at home last night. Our water cistern (3000 gallons) had become surprisingly empty. It turns out there was a massive leak down at the dock – there’s a water pipe that runs out to the spigot on the dock, and it had burst. So basically our water was running out directly into the sea, under the dock where no one could notice. I was up late finding the leak and then finding the spigot that turned off the water line to the dock (it was literally buried in several inches of dirt in a hole beside the boat shed). Then I was setting up and refilling the cistern – a 7 hour process, in total, using water from the new well and a garden hose.
This tree was behind the burned-out woodshed of the neighbors house that burned down in August, 2019.
This tree saw its view blurred by heavy rain.
The rain was so heavy that the leak-catching bucket in my treehouse overflowed, even though I’d emptied it yesterday.
There was a small flood in my treehouse.
This tree is the tallest on lot 73.
Here it is illuminated by a rare fragment of morning sunshine. That sunshine doesn’t reach the ground, this time of year, because of the mountain’s shadow.
This tree is a guest tree from my past. I took this picture looking down from my apartment window in February, 2013, in the Juyeop neighborhood of Ilsan, South korea.
It was a dumpy apartment, but I liked that it was very close to work and the subway. It’s where I was living when I was diagnosed with cancer later that year.
Today I spent part of the morning fixing the septic tank aerator pump. Well… not fixing, exactly – more like replacing. The old one seems to have died, so I put in a new one, that I ordered on Amazon. The new one is installed, below – the old one is already removed.
This tree was near the bridge at 7-mile. There is still ice on the road there, despite 3 weeks of almost continuous rain and above freezing temperatures. Clearly there was a lot of ice, and clearly rain at 36 degrees isn’t enough to melt ice properly.
This tree is growing out of a stump that has a hole in it where a dog stuck her nose.
Later, this dog found a dead animal carcass lying by the road at the pond (the spot I call “Rockpit City Park”). Of course she tried to eat the carcass. Subsequently, almost instantaneously, she vomited and had diarrhea, but soon she was feeling fine again.
It really makes me angry how people leave carcasses by the road. It’s irresponsible and disrespects neighbors.
The gift store owner, Chad, is aware of my background as a former resident of Korea. He and his wife apparently have membership in some kind of international junk food subscription service. It’s kinda of eccentric and cool.
So they bring in to me, the other day, this box full of Korean junk food – the kind you’d see at any 7-11 in South Korea. There were these one snacks in that box that I remember buying quite regularly in the store in the first floor of my apartment building: 쌀떡볶이 [ssaltteokbokki]. It was quite amazing, to get a package of these in Craig, Alaska.
So I got them and ate them, and it made me nostalgic.
Chad and Kristin are very cool bosses.
This tree has an eagle looking down at me.
I went in to work today, not a normally scheduled work day. But Santa was scheduled to appear. The store was quite busy, and children came through. We sold stuff at the gift shop.
Jan and I are wearing our uniform “elf hats”. The children are the owners’ kids – the owner Chad is kneeling at right.
I was driving to work the other day, listening to my music, and I had a tragic epiphany.
I almost never listen to music anymore. That day, listening to music, as I drove to work, was that sort of exception that underscores the rule.
All my life, I’ve been accustomed to having a “soundtrack” of sorts. Which is to say, I’ve very often had music in the background – especially when I’m alone. And given the circumstances of my life, I’ve certainly spent the majority of it alone, for substantial portions of each day. I’m also capable of a more engaged type of listening – consuming music in focused fashion, as a concert, or just listening carefully to something I’ve decided I like. I think of these as quite different activities – and the types of music I listen to in these two different activities aren’t necessarily identical sets. I never use classical music for background listening, for example. On the other hand, some of the quite banal euro/techno crap I listen to as background music often is startlingly incapable of engaging me. So it’s just a background thing. There’re even whole subgenres that admit that: the various types of “ambient” tracks that can be found. But they work well as background music.
There are also immense fields of music that can be either/or. Mostly these fall into the pop/alt/rap/country genres of yore, though I think my use of those terms might date me, as our culture’s ways of thinking about music and genre has evolved past my comprehension. I have no “playlists” – that’s not how I listen to background music. I have a single folder of “tracks I like” which is a subset of my entire collection, and I have the mp3 player on my phone. And I push the shuffle button and off I go. It can be anything: a k-pop track followed by some weird German dark industrial techno followed by a 70’s disco bit followed by Taylor Swift. Et cetera. If something that comes on the “shuffle” doesn’t match my current mood, I’ll just hit the “next track” button and move on. But what I enjoy hearing one day isn’t what I’ll fixate on the next. And none of this rises to “engaged listening” except on the rarest occasions. Mostly it’s old, familiar stuff that I’ve acquired over the years, where more recent acquisitions tend to be more likely to be what I want to hear.
This was my style of listening even before the advent of mp3 players, to be honest. It was just a bit more laborious to mess with CDs (in the olden days) or cassettes (in the oldener days) or vinyl (in the oldenest days) to get the effect I was so pleased to discover once the “shuffle” button came along. I suppose there was more of a tendency , back then, for the “shuffle” effect to be at the level of albums or mix-tapes than to be at the level of individual tracks. But if I made mix-tapes for myself, I’d certainly work to maximize the randomness of it, from among the music I considered to be my back catalog.
The artists and tracks that have existed for the longest in my catalog are some (but no means all or even most) of the music from my childhood: Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Arlo Guthrie, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band are probably the most notable. Then there are a few from a period of exploration in my high school years: mostly Talking Heads, David Bowie, certain individual tracks (but rarely artists’ entire oeuvres) from the pop radio of the era (hence fragments of disco, punk, and such).
I acquired a lot of music in college – as most people do. And some of it remains the most resonant for me. Depeche Mode, The Cure, more Bowie, some early rap (eg NWA), some bits of “club music” of the 80’s.
Some artists in high rotation in that long-ago era have since failed to survive. I remember the Beatles, from my childhood, used to be invited, but at some point I lost interest. I remember thinking highly of Dire Straits at one point, but for the last several decades I can’t stand them. I exiled Aztec Camera for a few decades, but they made a comeback at some point. Tastes change.
There were my years in Latin America (actual and later “de facto” as a graduate student of Spanish, where my day-to-day life was at least 50% in Spanish even though I was living in Philadelphia). That contributed artists such as Cafe Tacuba, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, or Silvio Rodriguez – each as diverse from each other as any are from any North American music. I have tracks of Nuyorican rap, Cuban folk, Mexican punk.
Much later, my time in Korea was a period of a rate of fairly high discovery of new music. That’s because of the invention of the internet, and the existence of streaming radio stations, and the emergence of Youtube and its endless suggestion algorithm. I acquired lots of little bits of k-pop (from my students – naturally) but also quite diverse bits of stuff from all over. German techno and industrial, US alt rock, Röyksopp (Norwegian, I think), strange pop anthems in unlikely languages: Arabic, Georgian, Japanese. Many of these discoveries are actually documented on this blog, which I was maintaining once I’d moved to Korea. I had my “What I’m listening to now” feature, or as I sometimes called it, “Background noise”.
Then I came to Alaska.
It’s not like the internet went away. But circumstances changed. The internet here is still abominably slow. Streaming internet radio or more contemporary streaming apps and services (e.g. Spotify) are out – they don’t seem to have been engineered with the idea of an “offline” mode in mind (e.g. there’s no “download and listen later” option). Youtube suffers the same shortcoming. Sometimes it works.
Really, though, those are just excuses. I still have my mp3 player (nowadays an app on my phone rather than a standalone gadget, as I had in the early 2000’s).
In fact, rather, there’s a quite straightforward reason for the loss of soundtrack. I no longer live alone – I live as a caretaker with my uncle. And he gets up to mischief, sometimes. I can’t be “tuned out” listening to music – not on speakers and certainly not on headphones or earbuds. I need “situational awareness”. This has paid off more than once. Like the time a few years ago when I caught him toting the 32 foot ladder out to the dock, on a windy day, because he’d suddenly decided he needed to “fix” something on the dock arch. That was only possible because of the clatter of the ladder carrying up to the attic where I worked on my computer. Or the time just two days ago late at night when he was stumbling around in the basement (where he likes to sleep) having gotten disoriented (possibly a bit feverish from our recent vaccination). I stay “tuned in” to the sounds in the house. Always.
That means no music at home.
I’m not really able to listen to music at work, either. I mean, when Chad comes in (the new owner), there’s music. I get a pleasant background of Christian Rock and Christian Country. Actually, some of it grows on you – it’s not so bad, especially if you avoid engaged listening and just use it for background music. But I’ve resisted putting on my own soundtrack when Chad’s not around, because I suspect my tastes in music might antagonize the customers (e.g. “What’s this foreign crap doing playing in here?”). So the only time I listen to music is when I’m driving – and only when Arthur’s not riding along, because it would make communicating with him even harder than it is already, with his incipient deafness and cognitive challenges.
Half the time, I don’t bother then. The drive to town is only 25 minutes, and firing up the mp3 player on my phone and linking it to the car’s speakers is just enough of a gumption trap that I don’t do it.
I’d estimate that my music consumption is at about 3-5% of what it was when I lived in Korea. And my rate of new music discovery is even less. Perhaps this is one reason why, impressionistically, I often compare my current lifestyle to life in the military, despite the fact that there’s almost nothing similar about it. My time in the military was the only other time in my life when my music consumption was so low. That palpable absence lends the same “feel” to my day-to-day existence.
Sometimes, I miss it. But I’m not sure how to solve it.
What I’m listening to right now.
THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK
One thing I sometimes spend too much time worrying about is whether Arthur will burn his house down – by accident, I mean. The thing is, Arthur is used to considering himself supremely competent in the management of combustible materials. After all, his career was careening through air by managing a carefully-controlled, ongoing explosion (the helicopter engine). There have been incidents before.
One time he was messing with the propane heater in the kitchen, something wrong with the igniter, and he was lying there with the thing half taken apart, mashing the ignition over and over and meanwhile he hadn’t turned off the gas. I could see that going wrong.
There was another time when he was trying to use his little propane torch to loosen the bolts on the boat trolley. They were almost glowing orange. And he was banging away while still running the torch. I could see that going wrong.
Arthur hasn’t adapted his self-perception away from the self-image that he’s good at working on stuff, including burning, combustible stuff.
Last night, I knew he was feeling much better. How did I know? I had just fallen asleep, and I awoke to the sound of banging down in the basement (boathouse). He had decided it was an excellent time to “repair” the Toyo kerosene heater that’s down there. The strong smell of heating oil was rising up through the house. He’d had a “spill” when trying to manipulate the removable tank that inserts into the heater.
I suggested we’d be better off working on it the next day (today), and finally he shuffled up the stairs to sleep in the main bedroom. I put the pile of kerosene-soaked paper towels that he’d left on the floor outside.
This morning, I repaired the stove – it was showing an error code “EE8” – which I looked up online as being related to the exhaust fan not working right. I found a crack in a hose leading to the exhaust fan, and there was crud in there that had to be cleaned out.
Arthur told me he hadn’t even noticed the error code, and had simply decided based on past experience that it had to be a fuel problem – that’s why he was messing with the fuel. I wonder if he just likes messing with flammable materials?
I might start keeping my most important documents in the car.
As Arthur put it, as we headed back at around 1 PM: “another perfect score.” His meaning was: zero fish caught. The wind was picking up, snapping waves at the boat as we entered Port Saint Nick via the south entrance.
Of course, we started out too late in the season, didn’t we? Anyway, we should have been able to catch some halibut – there have been reports from other fishers I’ve talked to, at the gift store, about catching halibut. But we only had one halibut pole (Arthur forgot to fix the other one, which was declared broken a few outings back), and the place we’d been lucky last year didn’t work out. We caught two of what I call a small “uglyfish” – some kind of bottom fish or rock fish, that we returned.
We’d tried for halibut after an obligatory troll down the east side of San Juan Island. That was utterly fruitless, too. We caught a lot of kelp.
We hadn’t started early – maybe we left the dock at around 8:30. But the sea was very calm and some heavy fog made our navigation out the inlet a GPS-based untertaking. It had lifted by the time we reached the open waters of Bucarelli Bay.
Overall, nothing really went wrong. It was just what fishing would be like, if it were an overly dramatic sigh.
- Coho: 5 (minus 1 lost at dock)
- Kings: 0
- Halibut: 0
- Other: 0
- Too-small fish sent home to mama: 5
This tree in the foreground is a young oak tree I was trying to grow. It was doing well. It has been outdoors all summer, it had lots of leaves. I planted it in the ground about 5 weeks ago. Last night, some forest beast (I’m assuming a deer) came along and ate all its leaves, leaving only a few. I’m not sure it can survive this.
We were skunked.
I kept waiting for Arthur to say he wanted to go fishing again. He never did. I suspect he finally picked up on my frustration with our efforts and putting up with his “drama” (as Alan termed it), and it’s easy to just keep procrastinating – he’s still Arthur, after all: the erstwhile emperor of procrastination.
Anyway, the other day I pointed out that the weather was looking promising (for a change), and so we set Sunday as a day to try fishing.
We departed the dock at 8 AM. It was quite windy – there’d been a rainy deluge in the predawn hours, as we’ve been having quite a few of, lately. Instead of getting the usual drizzle-all-day pattern of rain, we’ve been seeing these massive deluges of an hour or two, broken up then by spots of sun and strong wind: a more “midwestern” weather pattern.
So it was windy and between deluges. We went out to the north end of San Juan Island, and started trolling. Here is a picture.
We trolled down the west side of the island, rather than our typical east side, so as to stay in the lee side of the island. Not a single bite on our trolling hooks. We stopped at Diamond Point, on the southern tip, and crossed over to Tranquil Point. I was proud of crossing to exactly the point on just visual dead reckoning, not using the boat’s GPS navigator thingy intentionally.
We trolled more but found no fish. The wind calmed and the sun came out for a bit, but Arthur seems to be content with a half-day of fishing, so we headed home at noon, and were docked and stowed at 1 PM.
There was no drama, nothing went wrong, but there were no fish, either. A neutral day.
- Coho: 5 (minus 1 lost at dock)
- Kings: 0
- Halibut: 0
- Other: 0
- Too-small fish sent home to mama: 3