Wednesday, May 28, 2008


It's another nice day. By "nice" I mean relatively sunny, not snowing, etc. The temp was mid-thirties overnite, so not real warm, and it should rain off and on throughout the day, but we'll take what we get. Just hoping it doesn't get cold enough to kill off the garden/greenhouse.

We had our first barge of the season yesterday. It delivered fuel, building materials and liquor for the local liquor store. Probably more than anything else, barges mean summer. With the arrival of the first barge, you know spring has ended and summer has come. The last barge of the season (usually in early Sept.) clearly means summer (and early fall / August) is gone and the real fall, precurser to freeze-up, has arrived.

Barges are essential means of obtaining fuel and freight. Our lack of roads and highway connection make the river and airplanes the only way to get stuff. If you want a car, a thousand gallons of fuel or anything else, the barge is the way to do it. U.S. mail is cheaper for small stuff, but they're generally not pleased if you attempt to mail a 55 gallon drum of gas or a slightly used automobile.

Thank God for the barge. Villages without barge service must get everthing by air, which gets real expensive. Gas there can run 8 or 10 dollars a gallon vs. 5 or 6.

Last week I was helping a guy work on his house. He's building a new log home (see the photos) and it's a big job. Lately I haven't been able to help much because of other time constraints. I'm working on a grant proposal to obtain funding to clean-up our dump, I've been trying to get our summer supply of fresh produce going (gardening), I've been cleaning up around the house (it's amazing how much junk appears when half a year of snow covering is suddenly gone), and other stuff.

This afternoon is the community clean-up day. I will be driving my truck and trailer to haul trash, brush, old snowmachines and anything else to the dump for people (no dead dogs, please). This is the day the community attempts a self-induced facelift, and it's always needed. Rural villages get pretty trashed sometimes so a nip, a tuck, and some botox is always helpful. Since I'll be hauling away junk, I guess you can think of my role as the equivalent of liposuction. Maybe I can get some photos later (of the truck/trailer/trash, not actual liposuction...don't panic)

Hope to have good news soon regarding other grant proposals.



Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's a new day

And it's a bright and beautiful one. Birds are singing. The temp is soaring; today it may hit sixty. Break-up is in the past; no flooding or other major problems so we're off the hook for another year.

Yesterday I took the snow tires off my truck and last night my favorite sports team won a crucial play-off game; both harbingers of good things to come, so I went to sleep with a smile on my face.

Now I'm enjoying a wonderful cup of fresh ground Central American coffee. It arrived in the mail yesterday, ending a several week long drought with nothing better than instant, which, as we all know, is NOT real coffee.

The new flat screen TV for our local Teen Rec arrived yesterday and awaits my installation.

I've finished a months long series of devotions in Jeremiah, so I'm ready to start something else. Something a little more upbeat, like...say...Lamentations. Actually I love Jeremiah. There's a lot there I can relate to. It may surprise you to know I find Jeremiah a Book of hope and encouragement (yeah, I know; I'm twisted, what can I say?); no matter how bad you (or me, or Israel) mess it up, God will work it out in the end. Sure, you may have to endure destruction and captivity for a while, but there is the promise of better things ahead. I like that. And God will deal with the trouble-makers too.

So it's a great day. Forgotten are the things of yesterday, and forgiven is the woman who verbally attacked my wife; blaming all of her self-inflicted problems upon the one lady who is truly here to help her. It's too beautiful of a day to dwell on that.

I'm looking ahead. I don't care if the bugs are getting worse every day; a trend that will continue for the next 5 or 6 weeks. It doesn't bother me that I still haven't managed to fix my 4-wheeler. So what if the list of summer projects is longer than the calendar of summer months. I'm going to finish this exquisite cup of coffee, put down this lap-top and charge boldly out into a new day.

(I suppose I should brush my teeth and get dressed first.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

final update; 5-13; 9pm

The worst is over. The river peaked this afternoon and is slowly dropping. In a week or so the river should be clear of ice and safe for boating. That will open up the travel possibilities, and summer will be in full swing.

There is still some snow to melt, and this morning's temp was 34, but it's summer regardless. The first wave of mosquitoes have already sharpened their little beaks and got to work (I got a couple of bites last night). Oh yeah, it's summer.

Break-up went well; no flooding. In years past we've had to deal with flooded roads, a closed fuel depot (the only source for gas), loss of water (the well went under), no mail or air travel (the road to the airport went under), a flooded dump, etc. I've even canoed down the road when it was impassable to vehicles.

Considering these past "inconveniences", this year's break-up was kinda nice. Hope it goes as well for all the other communities down river.

update; 5-13; 8am

This morning the river continues to raise. Now we have heavy ice going by. The fact that it is moving along is a good sign. If it starts slowing we'll get more concerned. We have room for about another 5 feet before roads and buildings start to go under. Right now my prediction is it will go OK, but you never know. We will know by this time tomorrow. Hope you like the pics.

update; 5-13; 2am

Got a call around 12:45am. Some friends who live in the flood zone were worried about the rising water and needed help getting prepared. The "Flood Warning" issued by the National Weather Service a few hours before had done its job and they were now pretty concerned. I know how they feel; for two years I lived right next door. One of those years we had a flood and our house was surrounded before the water subsided.

Tonight we spent an hour and a half moving their dogs, a truck, a four wheeler / atv and several snowmachines to higher ground, along with making other preparations. The job would have gone quicker if all those machines were running, but we towed more than we drove. Now it's time for some more shut-eye.

Oh yeah, the water is still raising.

Monday, May 12, 2008

update; 5-12; 10pm

The water is still coming up. I got a call from the River Forecast / FEMA team in a nearby village, upriver. He wanted to know how it was going here. He then told me there was "a very good possibilty" of flooding or related problems tonight or tomorrow, based upon what he saw a few hours ago while flying over the area. We'll see. Like I said before, no one really knows, but I probably won't get a whole lot of sleep tonight.


Breakup. It's here....finally. The unmistakeable sign that summer has come.

The river ice broke this morning. It flowed for a while, pushed along by the rising water. Then it stopped, indicating a blockage upstream. Then it started moving again early in the afternoon, accompanied by a rapidly rising water level.

The next couple of days will be interesting, as usual for break-up. The water may continue to raise and cause flooding. It may hold steady. It may drop. Usually it's a combination of all three; up slow, holding, a slight drop, then a rapid rise, slow rise, holding, a minimal drop, another big rise, etc. The trick is for the water downstream to keep moving out ahead of the incoming water. When it does, no worries. When it doesn't, we got trouble.

The key player in this drama is the ice. Ice flows along smoothly or it jams up and holds back the water, causing flooding. Variables such as ice thickness, snow depth, temperature, etc, all have an effect, but the bottom line is one really knows what will happen.

So, like I said, the next couple of days will be interesting. Right now I'll run down to the river and see if it's still coming up.

Yep; still raising.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

May 1st, 2008; "Hangin' out with "GGP"

It’s a nice breezy day in Louisiana; not too hot, not to humid. Just right for sitting outside in a tee shirt. There were a few feet of snow that really hadn’t melted much when I left Alaska. It’s quite a change here. Warm weather with no bugs. Plenty of hours of darkness without the cooler weather we get in September. Our northern days right now are much longer, but colder. There it’s still white; here it’s all green.

My Dad’s house is a semi-rustic two story, (He says it’s “rustic”; I live in a log cabin, so it’s all relative) set on the water; which means it’s a waterfront lot on a canal (I guess it’s a “canal”; it’s not a natural channel) connected to the Blood River, which in turn connects to another river, then a lake (“Mirapau” or something similar), some other rivers, then Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans, the Mississippi (yeah, I used the old childhood rhyme to spell it), the Gulf and thereby, the rest of the world. It’s kinda cool to think I could get in my Dad’s boat and take off for St. Louis, Singapore or some other place. Not sure I’d really want to cross the Pacific in a twenty foot pontoon boat though.

My Dad is currently “cleaning” turkey bones, presumably to make soup. He’ll throw the bones into the water, to feed the fish, turtles, etc. I’m not too sure about that; up north you don’t just throw stuff off the porch, unless you want large, furry creatures to pay you a surprise visit. Here the visitors could be large reptilians (we saw three alligators a couple of days ago, and there are snapping turtles that get big enough to “snap” off toes, fingers, whatever), but Dad’s not worried. Come to think of it, I’ve known Dad for about fifty years and he’s rarely ever been worried about anything. If a gator showed up in his yard he’d probably do a “Crocodile Dundee” maneuver and cook it for dinner (he did that with the last snapper).

The food in this country is killer. When I told my brother we wanted to find a restaurant that served crawfish and other local cuisine, he gave me kind of a funny look. He’d planned a good dinner, which we later ate, that included bar-b-qued redfish, topped with “crawfish Julie-something”, “jambalaya” (whoops, it was “gumbo”, my bad), lots of fresh veggies (which we never get in the village), garlic bread, brownies and down-home Blue-bell ice cream. I’m ashamed to say I ate everything within arm’s reach, then starting asking people to pass stuff. What can I say? I’m a pig, but that was the best feed I’ve been into in a long time. Mmmmmmm, mmmmmmmm!

I probably should have told you about the cool boat ride my bro took me on the other day, but I’m runnin’ out of….whatever….energy? time? I don’t know; I’m tired of typing. Suffice it to say it was a great ride. Alligators, turtles, herons, egrets, old wrecked houses, riverside mansions, even a pirate flag waving in the breeze. I got the weirdest sunburn on only the left side of my legs; very painful and looks so strange I hope it fades fast. My daughter offered her sunscreen (more than once), but “No thanks, I’ll be fine”. Sure! Now I’m hobbling around on two-tone legs. At my age I should know better, but I’m just coming off an Alaskan winter so I’m a little rusty with the whole sunburn thing.

That'll do it for now.

p.s. “GGP” is my Dad (great grand pa); since I’m “Grandpa” to my grandson Aaron)