Friday, March 14, 2008


I'm not usually a picky person, but when it comes to my coffee, I'll admit, I'm a snob. I'm not talking about the person who goes to Starbucks on a regular basis and drops $5 on a foo-foo drink just to seem important. Point of fact, I will drink Starbucks only when the alternative is worse. No, I tend to patronize micro roasters, who turn out a good product that's not made to turn profit but to share the passion for the ebony elixir with their fellow coffee drinkers.

When I returned home just before Christmas, I spent a couple days in Juneau, the nearest major airport/travel hub to my hometown. Taking advantage of me being in the larger city, I got a request from my family if I'd do a little shopping for a few items that can't be found in the local store. I find myself back wandering the familar aisles of Safeway, where I once did the majority of my grocery shopping when I worked for on small tonnage boats in Auke Bay.

Stopping at the aisle marked: Coffee, Tea, Hot Cocoa, I can't help but smile, this is a definate sign that I'm back home in the Northwest. The entire left side, if you're standing in the front of the store, is dedicated to coffee, Heritiage Coffee (local roaster), Raven Brew, Safeway Select, Starbucks (bleh), Duncun Doughnuts, Seattle's Best, Tully's (another Seattle roaster), plus the usual MJB, Hills Brothers, Yuban, etc.

I take a moment to bask in the earthy armoma of whole bean coffee beconing me to walk down the aisle. A few strides and I'm at the Heritage Coffee display where I puruse the familar shiny black bags trimmed in gold. They list the roasting dates for each blend, a few are old as a week, and the freshest was roasted that day. A few of my favorite blends are held close to my nose as I inhale deeply, aah, fresh coffee. So many blends, so little time and the need for sleep and rest is on my mind for this trip home.

First into my basket is a Columbia Estate blend, a rich medium blend, smooth crisp finish with a hint of chocolate, goes well with a splash of mocha cream. And onto my favorite, Deadman's Reach, "Served in Bed, raises the Dead" is the slogan on the bag. Despite that warning and a drawing of a skeleton holding a cup of coffee by Ray Troll, many a rookie brewer makes this blend strong. Color wise, it's almost a light blend, but taste is smooth almost delicate with a nice sweet finish. But like the slogan says, "raises the dead" it's a "high speed" blend, a little goes a long way and if you're not careful that long way will be wrought with a jitters of a caffine overdose.

I also have to consider that not everyone that stops in to socialize with the parents likes having their heart race after drinking my coffee, so also into the basket goes a breakfast blend. A nice light blend that's perfect for sipping on throughout the day. This blend suites the family well, there's almost always a pot of coffee brewed at all times and the largest cupboard in the kitchen is stacked full of coffee cups. For these colder winter days, it's a way to warm up while stopping to swap stories about local gossip, seek advice for a troubling home renovation, talk politics (which very often turns heated fast), keeping up with the activities of extended family or my favorite, curled up infront of the wood stove reading a book.

Instead, I'm sitting in front of my laptop, sipping on a cup of fresh ground "Deadman's Reach" staring out the windows of my Aunt's house in Seward. The waters of Resurection Bay are blue with the reflection of the sky, but greatly disturbed by the gusts wind blustering down the wind tunnel created by the mountains on either side of the channel. Another cup of coffee and its time to pick up my book, I've been on a reading kick lately.

As one of my maritime instructors announced at the begining of one of many classes, "The Maritime Industry doesn't run on DFM (disel fuel marine), it runs on Coffee!" But that's a topic for another post.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Coming Home

What it looked like when I returned home for a week back in October. I've spent enough time flying in these puddle jumpers that I've thought of getting my private pilot's license as well as my mariner's license. Gonna turn into a Jack of all trades, Master of none.

This view from the edge of the property line is always a good one. There's very little color to begin with but i still thought it looked better in black and white then color. This is what remains of a float a US Forest Service recreation cabin came down the bay upon. Between it falling apart and vandalism, they USFS decided it was safer to get rid of the house then try to keep/maintain it.

This picture is of my step-brother's new boat, his nickname is also Gus btw, the F/V Nighthawk. The mountain behind him is Mt. Fairweather, part of the Fairweather Range outside of Glacier Bay National Park. There are some advantages to having fishing as a hobby.

Forgot to upload this one as part of the other series with the eagles. I've always had a facination with eagles and lately with orcas. My more spiritial of sisters believes that these two animals are part of my animal guide group. How I came up with the name for my blogger address is from my native culture, and an oxymoron as well. Orcas by nature are sociably and family orientated creatures. I, on the other hand, while part of a large family dynamic choose to roam far and wide upon the seas of the world alone. Keet, the Tlingit name for Orca, and the lone symbolizing my roaming alone.

Sometimes I can see the appeal my little hometown has for the tourists that get off the ships. Oh, I think i forgot to mention that a few years back tour ships have now made the town a stop on the longer trips through the Inside Passage. I don't like it, the locals whoring out the culture, but if that's what it takes to keep the economy of the town going, i guess I'll just have to deal with it. It was inevitable that it would sucumb to commercialism, just hard for me to identify with it since I grew up living the culture instead of learning how to make a profit off it.

This is looking "up the bay", which is actually Neka Bay, of what is Port Frederick. The picture above, I believe, is from the White Alice site overlooking Icy Strait, the body of water just north of my hometown. This is a pretty good reason why a lot of the tourists have inquired about buying property here.

under the radar

That's how I operate. stealth mode. I guess the nickname, "ghost", I earned as a dismounted mechanized infantryman is well suited to more then occasion. doesn't help matters any that i'm a night owl, i become more active as the sun starts to set. I ponder how much of that influence comes from the Army where we did everything in the dark of night or from my eyes, despite what my optomitrist says, they are light sensitive. By the time most people realize that I'm home for a visit, it's usually about the time I'm about ready to depart. There are a few social calls I need to make before I head back to Norfolk to await another ship assignment.

I've had to laugh at myself, slipping back into old habbits reflecting my time at home. I'm chomping at the bit to get back on a ship, lest I continue to expand my aresenal more then I already have in the two months I've been home. This is one of the more expenisve hobbies I have, not only the shooting of weapons but collecting high quality ones as well. I'm a big fan of German engineering, and so far all my experiences with Heckler & Koch firearms have been positive. Of course the models I want to buy will require a lot of paperwork and will probably raise some flags that might be cause of re-evaluating my security clearance.
Speaking of my security clearance, the ever efficient Homeland Security finally got around to processing my application for security clearance I filed pre-empoloyment for MSC two years ago. It's also become manditory that by my birthday of this year that I have to pick up yet another Identification Card, which requires a background check fee. Mind you, all the stuff they claim to be checking for is already been done to get my Merchant Marine's Card. Just another way the government is fleecing the working class all in the name of "safety and security." I can't help but recall Thomas Jefferson's quotation "Citizen's who sacrifice personal freedoms for security, loose both and deserve neither." Ok, time to get off the soap box.