Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Time in Alaska

Ah, spring time in AK.  The temps spike up to just above freezing (I think we got up to 37 yesterday). People run around in shorts.  The ducks huddle around the tiny, but only spot on the lagoon that isn't frozen.  Moose are out and about grazing.  The bears are just waking up.  The sun has some warmth to it and is high in the sky again.  Sunrise is 7:47 this morning and sunset is 8:27.  My driveway is a mix of slush, ice, and small lakes and skating rinks. Snow is melting everywhere. Birdies are returning.  Spring is the perfect time............the salmon are coming home.  Halibut season just opened.  Net mending orders are coming in........It's an exciting time of year.  The buzz of gearing up for the season.

And, good news!  The Egg sold this week and Marge is all cleaned up and ready to move in.  

Large Marge the Land Barge
That's that haps this week.  Catch ya on the flip side.  Until then, eat fish!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Introducing Large Marge the Land Barge

That's right.  The Egg is for sale and currently listed on Craigslist and Alaska's List:  It just wasn't working out with the Egg.  I mean, it's super cute and all, but sometimes, not all the time, just sometimes, a gal needs more than super cute.  So, we finished 'er up and slapped a FOR SALE sticker on 'er.

The stern & bunk

The bow

Gave it a nautical twist with trim

I think it looks pretty good. I'm a little bummed, now that we did all the hard work, I was looking forward to building a dinette and kitchen, but, I think I'm just going to be happier with something a bit bigger. Especially since I'll be in it for a while.  So, I'm cutting my losses now, changing course, and looking for something bigger to buy.

Last week we hit the pavement, hard, and looked at tons of trailers and motor-homes.  All the good ones go within a day or so.  It got a little frustrating, but then, it was my turn to be first in line.  Vince and I headed out to Wasilla.  We looked at this one RV, a '75 something or another.  It was a no-go, but the guy selling it was quite a character.  He'd been collecting old cars since Fido was a pup.  He had about 10 jags, all is various state of disrepair and all sorts of other little cars that makes the Mini Cooper look like a Cadillac.  After standing in the cold about an hour talking with this fella, we decided to have warm up (it was about 10 degrees out that day) at this amazing Japanese Restaurant called Tokyo.  Who knew you could get good food in Wasillla? It was great.  And the decor!  Rustic Alaskan meets Asian Garden. 

We were about to head back to Anchorage when we got a call that this one trailer was still available.  So went to take a look.  I had some reservations because its big.  Secondly, we'd been looking at overpriced junk all week.  I mean, trailers about to cave in for $1600 or motor-homes with 6 bald, bulging, and torn tires for $3K, etc.  I won't bore you with the details. One the other hand, it was fun meeting all these different people who I'd probably never meet any other way.  But, I digress.  

Anyway, the camper was great! It was the top of the line back in 1988. This is the add:  26' conventional Fleetwood Wilderness camp trailer in excellent condition. Double bed in rear with private door, bath with shower/tub, large 3 way fridge, forced air heater, roof A/C, dual large propane tanks, double sink, stove/oven, sleeps 6 with goucho bed in front and drop down dinette, lots of storage, new tires, gear buddy on rear, latter to roof storage, TV antenna, high snow load roof, NO LEAKS, reflectix insulation for windows, currently winterized, everything works!   OK, I don't know what a goucho bed is and I'm pretty sure the A/C won't get overworked here in AK, but, hey. We've read lots of add that made things sound good, but this time, it was true.  When I buy something used, I think meeting the owner has as much influence on me as the actual item.  I mean, if they are a BS'er, I'm probably in for a ride.  However, if they sound knowledgeable, have a clean garage full of tools, all put away neatly, they probably took good care of things, as was the case with this couple.  And they turned out to be a hoot.  We chatted with them for about 3 hours! They had all sorts of crazy stories! Without further ado, meet Marge.  

Ok, these photos aren't very choice.  I don't actually have photos yet of Large Marge the Land Barge.  We were going to go pick her up today, but the 6 inches of new snow we got yesterday put the kibosh on that.  So, we get her tomorrow.  And I'll have lots of elbow room all summer in Cordova.  Lots of mauve colored elbow room.  So, with any luck, the roads will clear up by tomorrow and we can go retrieve my new home away from home. 

So, that's the haps here.  Eat fish.  Use less plastic and I'll catch ya on the flip side.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Update: Project Egg

It's Pickfish Friday!  And there is so much going on right now.  First off, my heart goes out to all those on Japan's north coast hit by yesterday's earthquake, especially Japan's fishermen.  And everyone on the Pacific coast right now, from Japan to Hawaii, Alaska, BC, Washington, Oregon, California, on down to Mexico.  There are tsunami warnings and advisories all over the place.  Currently, for me here in Anchorage, there is a tsunami advisory.  An advisory means that a tsunami is capable of producing strong currents and waves.  You can gt more information here at NOAA: or at   But doesn't look like any immediate danger. Crazy, though, all the destruction from, earthquakes alone, going on between Christchurch and Japan. With all of Alaska's seismic activity, makes me wonder if we are next.  Also makes me wonder if I have earthquake insurance, I can't remember.

Anyway, on a lighter note, it's spring time here in Alaska.  Which doesn't necessarily mean warmer weather (well, ok, yes warmer, but it's still not above freezing) but it does mean more DAYLIGHT!  We are up to 11 hours, 15 minutes and 49 seconds of sunshine! Yes, we are counting.  I like to count until June 21, the longest days of the year.  I stop then when the days start getting shorter. But, I have to say,  I'm always amazed at this time of year, as if, in the dead of winter, I just can't believe it will actually happen and we'll have daylight again. But, we do and  I've made it though another winter.  Schew.

What else is happening?  The northern lights are dancing at night and very visible on these clear, moonless nights. And let's not forget, IDITAROD!  It's day 5 of the 1200 miles race to Nome.  The local paper does a great job at keeping us all updated:  Go Lance go!  Lance Mackey, the defending champion, is currently in 3rd place.  Updates come in through out the day and can change on a hourly basis.  It's all so exciting!

The other thing happening this morning is there is a moose in my yard. They come into my yard every now and again, they like the foliage.  Plus it's nice and relaxing for them.  Who knew that a condo in the middle of Anchorage would make such a great moose spa?

Moose pruning my lilacs

moose in my yard this morning

don't you just want to scratch those ears?

Those ears do look nice and fuzzy, but I'd curb any impulse to scratch them.  I bet this woman who tried will curb her impulse next time, too. Oops

Ok, I'm stalling on giving the Egg update, because, well.....anyone wanna buy an Egg?  The paneling is all hung and looks pretty good, the bunk is made.  I'm working on a little trim today.  It looks good and I like the Egg, that little gutted 12' camper I bought a few months ago to renovate and live in for the summer when I go back to Cordova.  But here's the sitch.  I found out that the lot where I'll be putting the Egg for the summer has a charge of $114/mo for water, sewer, and garbage.  The fact that that sounds outlandishly expensive is beside the point, but, I figure,  hey if I'm paying for it, I may as well use it.  The Egg is set up with a porta-potty and a slop bucket for grey water because I didn't think I'd have access to those hook-ups.   Plus, the lot will accommodate a 40' trailer.   I'm looking for something a little bigger with a few more creature comforts, like running water and a toilet. So, I regret to inform you the Egg is going. It's mostly finished, but I decided to just cut my losses now instead of putting more time and money into it.  It's kinda a bummer, we had great plans to put in a dinette, closet, and a teeny, tiny kitchen.  Its one of those live and learn moments.  One that will, more than likely, cost me money.  Don't they always?  However, not all is gloom and doom.  At least I still have time to look for another trailer and sell this one.  It would have been a real drag to get over to Cordova, then realize I want something bigger.   So, there you have it.  A change of course.  I won't leave you hangin' though.  I'll post Egg pics when it's all finished, before the bidding wars start. Until then, eat fish and I'll catch ya on the flip side.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fisher Poets 2011 Videos Are Here

Finally, what you all have been waiting for!  My Fisher Poets Vids.  Ok, not all of them are up yet, apparently, this is a work in progress for the technically challenged.  Speaking of being technically challenged, these aren't the best quality vids either.  However, the sound is just fine.  I hope you enjoy and check back, there will be more soon!

Saturday night at the Voodoo Room, a reading titled "The Halibut Diaries" 2/26/11

This one was the first night's open mic night.  I'm hard to see but you can hear me just fine.  This is the poem titled "Fishin' Again"

The other video is an excerpt from the book I'm working on.  It's called "A Fisherman's Commute" and is the story of running out to the fishing grounds on the Copper River Flats, Cordova Ak. 

Jen Pickett @ Fisher Poets Gathering 2011

The title of this story is "A Fisherman's Commute" and is a shortened version of one of my chapter's in my book. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Fisher Poets 2011

Rich, Veronica, Pat, Ron, & Jon
Well, it rocked.  I can say that.  It was great.  Amazing.  You should have been there.  But, if you weren't, no worries.  With any luck, I should be able to post some vids of the occasion.  I hope.

But, allow me to recap first.  It was almost as intense as a fishing opener!  Somehow, with the same amount of sleep, too.  None!  One guy mentioned he'd have to go out fishing just to get some shut eye!

I started off with my flight out of Anchorage delayed about 2 hours then arrived Portland about 7 am on Thursday. The whole plane groaned in unison as we broke through the clouds of Oregon on approach.  All of us were expecting to see green, as far as the eye could see.  What did we get instead?  White. Snow.  Looked just like Alaska.

I was worried  when I got into my rental car, some cute red thing, the radio said practically all of Portland was closed.  School was cancelled, all the city buses had to don chains and could not go faster than 25 MPH, and were all, therefore, late.  This college was closed, that one was delayed.  I think even lunch was cancelled.  I was nervous, I mean, I can drive in snow like the any other Alaskan, but in a new city?  Its intimidating.  Alaska doesn't even have a freeway!  Not one in the whole state.

So I put out, white knuckled before I even left the garage.  And what to I find?  Nothing!  Not a thing.  Sure, it was snowing, a little, but it wasn't even sticking to the pavement!  And, on the grass, there was maybe, maybe an inch.  I guess I shouldn't complain, I think others coming down from Washington did get into some hairy sitchs with the white stuff.  But, not me.  Anyway, I did get lost though.  Then met up with my pal Kris, who I know from my Ohio State Day in the early 90's.  I think that was about the last time we saw each other, too.

After that...........IKEA! What a treat!  We don't have that in AK either.  And they won't ship to us.  I had to use extreme willpower and not buy everything, I still had to pack it back home.  With that, I headed west to Astoria.  After stopping at a few discount grocery stores, another thing we don't have up here! Wine for 4 bucks!

Anyway, Fisher Poets was great!  I was on at the Astoria Event Center Friday night on stage, lights a blaring, in front of a crowd of several hundred people and was also broad casted live on the radio.  No pressure there.  I kept thinking "don't f*#k up, don't f*#k up.....and don't say f*#k!"  I was also interviewed on the radio after my performance.  All the acts were great.  One of my favorites was the Cowboy's Trans-vocational act.  A cowboy gone fisherman, too funny. Then,  I finished out the evening listening to Ray Troll's band at the Voodoo Room.

Ron McDaniel,who's turned "trans-vocational"
Half cowboy/ half fisherman

This just in.  Due to technological difficulties, I'm not currently able to post vid to this blog, but, I have my people on it (AKA, my guy).  Hopefully, it will be up this weekend. Now back to the regularly scheduled blog, already in progress.

Saturday was even better.  I had this amazing breakfast at the Columbia then went to a songwriter's workshop.  I'm not a songwriter, but figured, what the hay.  Turns out, it was amazing!  There was a panel of musicians, guitar in hand, to give advice on songwriting and perform a few of their own.  Allen Estes, from Souls of the Sea,  a band from Gloucester was the first to sing.   And, man alive, were his songs moving.  I don't know if it was because it was the first time I heard them, or if it was because he was sitting about 6 feet in front of me, but his songs had a punch!  I was fighting back the tears.  Of course, they were all about Gloucester men lost at sea, not a happy subject by any means.   Jon Campbell was next, another east coaster, followed by Gordon Bok, also from the east coast.  A few others pipped in, too.  Like Mary Garvey, an amazing  songwriter, a true natural with a great voice, too. They were all great.

Saturday's performance went much smoother for me.  I was way less nervous since I'd had a few open mic's under my belt and an impromptu story hour on stage that afternoon.  Plus, I was at the super cool Voodoo Room, a small, intimate joint. I read a few poems, the one I posted last night and another one called "The Halibut Diaries".  Again, the vid should be up soon.

I think though that Sunday was my favorite.  It was open mic at the Event Center and it was just fun!  Great music, everyone was on stage together, everyone was relaxed, mostly because we were all spent from the weekend.  But, all in all, it was an amazing time.  Not only because it was basically my first time on stage but because of all the collective talent.  There were many great poems and songs, to be posted soon.  But, I think for me the thing that made it most special was the camaraderie, the sense of community.  Being with so many like minded folk, fishermen, and on top of that, fishermen who write and sing, well, it was like coming home!

The Voodoo Room

Cowboy N Moe Bowstern

Pat Dixon & Jon Campbell

Tune in over the weekend and hopefully my technical staff will have the videos ready to go!

Catch ya on the flip side