“It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks,“ or so-claims an old saying. And then there’s its even-more fatalistic alternative, “You CAN’T teach an old dog new tricks.” I’ll bet there are other old dogs like me around who DO learn new tricks from time to time. Like the one I discovered last fall while hunkered down, doing my part to lessen the chance of catching Covid-19, or passing it on to others if I unknowingly carried it myself.
Being saved is the foundation of being a Christian. Essentially, it involves honestly comparing my thoughts and behavior with God’s criteria for how we humans are supposed to live our lives, as described in the Bible. Most people who think of themselves as Christians will admit that they fall short, but then point to a time when they first started believing in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. To put it personally, I admit I don’t consistently do God’s perfect will in my life. Far from it. I then decide to be open to the possibility of needing to change my behavior in some way ( i.e., to repent), and ask for and accept God’s help in doing so. Meanwhile, in my journey through life, I accept God’s ongoing forgiveness for not measuring up perfectly as my life progresses.
An inescapable part of life is that sometimes things don’t happen as planned. Using knowledge and experience, one may plan for the future, but sooner or later unexpected twists will thwart those plans. Such was the case that began in early August 1995, when I signed the contract with a small Alaskan boat-building company.
Thomas (not his real name) got his start building aluminum boats with Grayling Marine, a longtime Anchorage boat builder, but had been on his own for a couple of years. I saw his boats on the Sound and liked their clean, functional lines. I visited the Anchorage boat show that spring, and I was glad to see that Thomas was there with one of his boats. I talked to him about my dream of upgrading to a bigger boat from the four-passenger Lavro Sea Dory I was using. When I mentioned that the boat needed to be beachable and wheelchair-accessible, his eyes lit up with interest. The clincher for me that Thomas was to build Sound Eco Adventures’ (business name) new boat was that its cost would be quite a bit less than the figure Grayling Marine had quoted me.
Foreword: This installment updates an earlier post (A Real-Life Spiritual Experience), and adds examples of Al’s intervention when the boat’s bow deck was under water.
My first experience of being vividly aware of being protected by an “unseen force” happened while transporting four hunters back to Whittier from Naked Island, where I had dropped them off a week earlier. Naked lies 40 miles from Whittier, about in the geographic center of the Sound. The morning weather forecast on the day of the pickup called for a small craft advisory, with northeasterly winds. I left Whittier mid morning, traveling close to land along the north side of Wells Passage as much as possible, which afforded some protection from the wind. Once past the protection of Axle Lind Island, the seas were running four to five feet in height, and were fairly far apart, so they were not especially steep. The seas came directly from the northeast as the forecast had predicted, putting them on the boat’s port beam, or left side. It was a fairly tolerable ride as the boat rose up over the crest of a swell, and then descended into the trough between the crests.
I have a guardian angel I named Al. I haven’t always been aware of Al, but he has definitely been there for me when I needed him the most. The name comes from my middle name “Albert,” after my Uncle Al, my Mom’s number two brother. I believe that Al has always been with me, but it was only after experiencing close calls while boating in big seas in Prince William Sound that I became more aware of him. With my being an adventurous sort, there have no doubt been times from childhood on when Al intervened on my behalf that I was totally unaware of. However, there were also times when I miraculously evaded calamity that I remember all too well. Continue reading →
Note: I first wrote this January 2, 2015, while camped in southeast Arizona in a camper van I had at the time.
Ten different cats have been a part of my bachelor household for different stretches of the past 36 years. As any cat owner knows, their pets are individuals and can be independent little cusses, some more than others. Then occasionally, one joins the family who seems to be maybe not so much independent as just slow. “Slow” is a kinder term than stupid. One of my current two cats, “Lighter,” as sweet as he is, is just such a cat. I adopted Lighter (an orange tabby) and his fraternal twin brother Darker, as kittens in 2008 while I lived in Whittier, Alaska. Darker died from a wasting liver disease summer 2014, but Lighter is still going strong, along with Boots, my old-girl black-and-white “tuxedo cat.”
Genesis 1:21 (NIV) So God created the great creatures of the sea . . . And God saw that it was good.
I see whales as gifts from their Creator from a couple different perspectives. First is the fact that they exist — they are alive on earth. Similar, but on a deeper level, is the capacity of some people to appreciate them for the magnificent creatures that they are. Just seeing whales in the wild can inspire peoples’ feelings of happiness, excitement, thankfulness, and even awe. An up-close encounter with a creature half again as long as the 30-foot boat one is watching from is an unforgettable experience, likely to turn many people into instant whale fans and conservationists. Continue reading →
Foreword Note: Words for this piece first started coming to mind in 2005, when I lived in Whittier, Alaska, in a water-side apartment on the 12th floor of Begich Towers. As often happened when gazing out over Passage Canal and the mountains beyond, my mind sometimes wandered to memories of other areas and happenings from the Sound. That’s what first inspired this, and there have been lots of re-writes ever since. I intend to eventually overlay this piece into a Ken Burns-style video that will show with photos what I try and describe with words.
Ode To Creator God
Oh Lord my God, how I adore you.
Oh Lord my God, how great You are.
For when I see Your great creation,
Your mountains, Your waters,
my heart inclines to You, oh Lord my God,
for You have made them all.
Oh Lord my God, for these I praise Your name. Continue reading →