Tuesday, May 31, 2005


While living in Bremerton, didn't listen to KPLU.

Didn't like jazz. Grew up hard rock.

We moved to Clallam Bay. Couldn't get KPLU. Didn't care.

Then one day, it seemed to open up on that end of the band. They'd extended the transmission network.

And suddenly -- all we wanted to listen to was the cool jazz station. We were tired of rock, and tired of classical. But the jazz just fit everything we needed. It even calmed us down and made us feel better.

Do we get cool when we get old? Or was it a change of air?

Keep up the coolness, KPLU Tacoma (88. 5 or 6 or thereabouts...)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Babysit My Kids For Free

Okay, NOW I get it.

I've wondered for a long time why parents are so desperate to make sure that the rest of us be forced to act like the parents of their kids.

We're to have our books, our media, the internet, even our bedrooms and who we sleep with monitored so it doesn't infringe on the way they see their kids should be interacting with their environment.

I finally GET it -- and I have a family in Clallam Bay to thank for that!

Oh, awright, it's a family that was up here from Port Angeles for the Scholarship Auction.

There was this one woman doing the usual A Cat Attacked My Kid spiel.

You know the one -- the parent describes the baby grabbing the cat, or cornering the cat, and getting a quick slap around both sides of the head.

Then the cat is killed, or abandoned, or any of the other bullying nasty things a big omnivore can do to a small animal. Because we can, or some other reason we should be ashamed for.

But did you get it up there? "Grabbed the cat." "Cornered the cat."

That's right.

Mommy or daddy stood right there, brainless and starry-eyed, and let their soft, hairless, vulnerable, soft-eyed offspring crawl right up and grab --


Sat RIGHT there and let the kid crawl up to an animal that is on the constant alert NOT to be grabbed or harrassed -- that has buttons in its head that make the knives come out and the attack-arms flash out -- and then got all surprised when the cat popped the kid!

And they should be grateful that ALL the cat did was a little quick warning slap. That the cat spared the kid in ways the parents can't even begin to realize. That the cat exercised EXTREME self-control on a kitten.

A friend of mine once tried to rescue his two big Siamese from a raccoon they were backing off the yard. He picked them up. Did they hear him coming? Did they know they were about to be boosted? Did he even realize he'd set off the flash-attack switch in their heads and spinal columns?

42 stitches. 42 STITCHES. He looked like the mummy.
And those cats never meant to hurt him. That was just a defense mechanism. The guy did no more than step on a land-mine.

He didn't blame the cats. He knew it was his fault. He's the human -- he's the responsible one.

But parents who let their kids play with predators? That don't teach their kid not to torment animals?

Talk about lazy. Talk about irresponsible. Talk about self-absorbed. Talk about a kid in danger -- and not because of a little animal.

These are the same people who dump their kids off in libraries, and bookstores, and then patrol the freedoms of adults, because they've wandered off to do their thing, and left the rest of us to deal with their kids.

In their eyes, the rest of society is just a free baby-sitting service, and they can turn their backs on their kids any time they like, just dump them out there without supervision or care, because WE'll pick up the tab.

I get it.


Saturday, May 14, 2005


A reader just asked me how the fishing is going.

Well, a couple weeks ago, after the Hat boys -- three or four plump interchangeable kids with red hair you could read by -- and Richi (the Makah kid who lives with them) headed down to the beach and 20 minutes later came back with three nice big black rockrish, I decided I was going to have a try, too.

The boys told me that they'd used a salt-and-pepper jig - a plastic fake fish/squid whatsit - to catch 'em.

While at Neah Bay for the new Chamber of Commerce meeting, I picked up a clear plastic silver sparkly jig.

Yesterday, my extremely accurate horoscope, that I read in the Peninsula Daily News, told me to go do social things today. So, today, instead of packing up the last of the Diamond order -- Dan had begged for a break from bagging books and writing addresses on boxes -- I decided to obey the stars and go fishing.

I threw a bunch of jigs -- white, red, and that silver dude -- in an old plastic sour-cream plastic, and Dan and I headed out for low tide.

On the way, we ran into an old Japanese guy ("James" -- the name he uses so round-eyes can call him something), up from Tacoma, and he asked where to go for fish. So I said, c'mon along, I'm new on this beach too, let's see if we all get lucky.

We tromped out along the pebble beach, and then out to the end of the reef point. On the way, we ran into another Japanese guy ("Jim") and turned out they knew each other. Cool. So, with Dan tailing behind watching Eagles, we continued on to the point. J and J are nattering away in Japanese -- the old guy sounding like Takashi Shimura in the Kurasawa movies -- but I keep hearing a lot of "san" this and "san" that, so I figure they're Talking About Their Friends. Don't we all...

We found a nice deep hole amongst the kelp, and said hi to a big grizzled bull sea lion who came by to bark at us and wish us luck.

We rigged up some white jigs and started throwing them into the hole and reeling them back. My jig wasn't going very far. Jim said that I needed a heavier jig. The only hook I had was a big ol' weighted head, really too big for the little silver jig. But I threaded it on anyhoo.

I'd no sooner flipped that thing out there and was slowly reeling it back -- and I got a strike.

NICE fat black rockfish.

I pulled out the hook with my Leatherman and dropped him into a pool in the rocks behind me. Oh, I should mention here I was squealing like a little girl. My dad and the neighbor used to take me fishing, and they caught lots of black rockfish, but I always got skunked. Okay, except for one baby salmon that fought like six rockfish, pulling down the end of the pole and amazing us all when the dinky 9-inch thing came to the surface. We let it go, of course, but if it had been any bigger, it would have taken the boat down.

By this time the Hat boys and Richi show up (oh, hell, when I say the Hat boys, I mean the bunch -- and that includes the little plump Hat girl, although she's all of a sudden shooting up into this tall thing with long legs who the other day I saw WEARING HEELS, so she's officially no longer one of the Hat boys). They're as delighted with my fish as I am -- but that just means the fish are biting.

So now we got two Japanese guys and me and three kids flinging lines off the same rock, and Dan watching eagles behind us with the fancy binoculars they gave him when he retired. I doubt I'm going to catch any more, but with this many jigs, somebody's got to hit.

And I do.

I'm the one gets the next one!

Even bigger and nicer than the first. You've never seen anybody do the Little Tappidty Dance on the far end of a big slippery reef she could have fallen off of into a deep current-sucking hole.

About now Jim decides to go down to the FAR point to see if there are any more fishing holes. And the current turns and brushes the kelp into our hole, and all we start catching is sea-otter salad (Sea otters munch kelp because, like us, they can't produce vitamin C). The eldest Hat boy shows me how to cut the fishes' gills so they'll bleed out and die quickly. I string 'em on a piece of rope I found on the beach and always bring along. James and I leave the kids behind, waving at us from the point.

Dan offers to carry my fishing pole, which is a good idea, because you need a hand to brace yourself in case you slip on the rocks, and one of my hands is hauling fish. About 10 pounds of fish.

Two hours, and we get in a long hike, two fish and all cleaned, filleted and in the freezer. I'm collecting fish for a party I'm having in August, and burying fish fillets in ice. Except for the skeletons -- which always have so much meat on 'em I save 'em to fry. Which is what we're having for supper tonight, with homemade bread and kosher dill pickles. And maybe a nice glass of blush wine.


Beginner's luck, huh?

Now, I will admit something.... whenever you ask fisherguys what they're using for bait, they'll tell you. They'll show you where to fish. They'll tell you what sort of rigs and gear to bring. They'll teach you to cast.

But they won't tell you the Secret Trick they use to catch the fish. That the Hats and the J's didn't see me using while I was rigging the new jig.

And I'm not telling you, either.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Kitty Pretty

One step further into helping all these yard/wood/street cats.

I won't say how, but an act of very unexpected and great kindness has provided me with a brand-new Havaheart trap.

As soon as the vet gets back next week, it'll be kitties going down to see him and taken out of the gene pool. By fixing all these guys. They'll be much nicer without all the kittens.

It's not a population control -- up here, there's only one queen and a bunch of toms. If there aren't enough queens to form a kitten-protecting pride, the toms kill the kittens. So no kittens ever survive.

This is a normal population control with cats. But it's upsetting to humans who have to live next to it. We like our peace and quiet.

Pumpkin is healing nicely. Hopefully by next year he'll have lost enough hormones not to get his head crunched open by Goucho -- and Goucho won't feel any need to do it any more.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Cathead Puke Theater

Dan just told me that he'd found a pool of pus about 6 inches across in the driveway.

"Yeah, the cat was just sitting there with pus dripping down the side of his head into this green pool."

Dan did time in the infantry and as a doorgunner in Vietnam, and he said he just wanted to get away from looking at the cat.

He said that pus is toxic and dangerous, and it's just natural we don't want to be around it.

Again, the cat is just fine now. Nice clean dry wound.
And me without a spoon...

Well, that's it.

Gonna have to catch and fix all these feral cats.

Been putting out food for starving cats all winter, mumbling about catch and fix. Got the SNAP program up here -- Spay And Neuter Your Cats.

Cats were all well-behaved and purry all winter. All glossy come spring.

And then came May....

Oh, God. Cats screwing in the middle of the road (trucks slowing down and the drivers and passengers laughing their fool heads off). Cats screwing on our porch and under our car. Our old cat, Spuds, stepped outside, sat down with an appalled look on his face, and demanded to be let inside again. Well, he's one to talk with his ragged ears. Nothing like a retired roue for being ultra-prude.

Then Pumpkin (I named 'em so I could talk to Dan about 'em) showed up with a HUGE swollen abcess on his head. I'll bet Goucho did it. Size of a tennis ball.

Now Pumpkin used to be real friendly, I could even pick him up -- but a hurt cat is a wary cat.

Moose Parker let me borrow his live trap. Didn't even know me. All he said was, "What are you going to do with the cats?" "Fix 'em and release 'em," I said. "And take one of 'em to the vet, because he's got a big ol' abcess on his head."

That was okay with Moose.

And all I did was catch Creamsicle, and then didn't manage to get him into a cat carrier. Rats. So now he's even more nervous.

Meanwhile, Iki, the little plump long-haired tabby-point Himalyan kinda thing, is prancing along, fluffy tail in the air, her big BLUE eyes just as wide and innocent, with all these toms paying court and humping her like a basketball team. Oh, she is such a CHEERFUL little slut. A regular bitty Mae West.

Anyway, I had to take the cage back Saturday, because Moose needed it again (is it the only one in town?). And the vet was out of town all next week. I spoke to his wife about how generous and trusting he had been and she said, "That's Moose for you."

Then I tried to grab Pumpkin.

Got him by the scruff and back, and he turned over howling. I couldn't get the blanket over him -- and he leaped loose.

And that abcess sent a flying spurt of green pus a foot out of his head.

Oh, gag. Oh puke. Oh I about fainted.

I can gut fish and clean up shit and all, but that much green pus -- I will never be a vet.

Pumpkin seemed much relieved. First pus, then red matter dripped down the side of his head. Then he got it clean.

A couple days later, he has a nice, flat clean scab about the size of a silver dollar. And is back to calling Iki to the food bowls.

I'm going to get my own live trap -- and then ALL these damn cats are getting fixed and released.

I'm not dealing with any more pus.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Death by Lipsynch

Drove up to Neah Bay on 112. Incredible shimmering bright day, woods full of brilliant new green, the Strait still and glimmering. Attended the institution of the Neah Bay Chamber of Commerce. First First Nations C of C in I don't know how many miles of coast.

That night, attended the Sekiu Community Center Tea. "Dress to impress," said the flyers.

At the door, a pretty teenage girl asked me if I would like an escort. Well! Very elegant. I hooked my hand into her proffered elbow.

Inside, tables set diagonally were covered in green cloths. One of the retiring teachers had lent part of her huge tea-service collection for the event. Everyone had a different teacup and saucer. It was like tea with the Desert Peach. Gardens from all over had contributed bouquets -- so there was a lot of rhododendron and lilac. Student projects along the walls, including a couple of nice quilts made by a local boy (don't you love how the kids are dumping those stupid sex roles?).

Poetry, essays.

Fashion show.

Funniest damn fashion show. Wonderfully elegant dresses, including a black wrap-around over cobalt blue embroidery. One VERY tall skinny kid (musta been a van Riper) in a brilliant white suit and little round black sunglasses. Girls walked as they usually did in blue jeans, and everybody was giggling their heads off. A boy all in black tried to keep his face straight reading very haut coiture descriptions of the outfits, but, as he'd said before, "I don't do dresses." He got most of the words right, anyway.

Then they all came out to take a bow, and the band started a dance on the runway area.

God. FUNNY. They were doing all sorts of comedy dances. In these long formals and fancy suits. Tromp and jump and stamp and just howl with laughter. Log-camp dancing in fancy dress. They asked audience members up. I could NOT stop laughing. Across the runway, I saw a woman in her '70s's, and she was laughing as hard as I was. The sense of put-on was just tooooo delicious.

Afterwards, when everybody had stopped gasping, three boys and a teacher got up. In stupid wigs.

"The girls were going to have a lip-synch contest," one said. "But then they decided not to. So we'll just do this."

Okay. THE funniest -- and most spot-on -- lipsynch of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

Teacher on air piano. Another kid on air guitar.

Two huge kids doing the lyrics.

By Mama mia, mama mia the audience was laughing so hard it was crying. I swear. I mean, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I've had my endorphin shot for the whole year.

Finally they tore off their raggedy outer shirts and revealed the Bruins' (local highschool) Football Team T. Howls and stomping and even more laughing.

Who says we don't have a club scene?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Clarice Doorknob

Well, I've found another way Clallam Bay is more civilized than Port Angeles.

Jury duty yesterday. Sitting reading Les Miserables (finally -- huge thick book you can't get through in jury duty), in the Port Angeles Courthouse.

Nice little old lady and nice little old man had the following conversation (I'm not bothering to point out which was which. It's equally nasty, but you can probably guess from the tone):

"Oh, the way those indians stopped the graving yard. I mean, what is wrong with them? That would have been lots of jobs. It's just spiteful."

(The Port Angeles port was going to just go ahead and put a graving yard on top of a native graveyard, but the natives stopped them. Mostly by bringing to light the nasty racism that's still going on in that town. As these conversations illustrate).

"They've had all this welfare all these years. They want to live in the best of both cultures."

(Yeah. Being forced to be on the kind of sour-faced stingy welfare our mean-spirited government gives. Oh, that is SOOOO the best).

"The government should just take away all those reservations and just make them citizens. And what's the problem with the bones? I don't care what they do with my body."

"Neither do I."

(Oh, right. Just throw 'em out in the yard for the dog to eat. I'd like to see what their relatives and friends do then.)

"They should be happy with a few of those bones for museums. What more do they want?"

I'd like to buy those two a clue -- the Indians will forgive US the theft and destruction of their graves, way of life, land and water when the Jews forgive the Germans the concentration camps -- FOR THE SAME REASONS.

Okay? Does that put it into perspective?

You never hear that crap up here. It's because so many people are related to the natives. Their kids play together, and go fishing, and everybody owns the same dogs.

And the Makah are the funniest and nicest people on the planet (I'll bet the Elwah are, too).

But you know white people -- if somebody else has a mouthful of water, or food, or an inch of land, or a tree that WE want, then we go to pieces.

Greedy, greedy, greedy.

I wonder why we don't just get rid of the eagle and take the ravening hog on as our national symbol?

I couldn't butt into this conversation, of course, or start vomiting, (I wasn't raised in a barn), but today I realized how I could have expressed myself (They sure as hell were!).

Fake cell-phone call. Who would know? People set those things to Vibrate these days.

"Yello. Yeah, we're still waiting. No, I decided to catch the bus. Was great -- got to look into the woods all around Lake Crescent, saw all kinds of cool streams."

(I'm usually the driver. Don't get to see anything.)

"Oh, and I picked up some great dialogue for the next book."

At this point, repeat the nasty sludge Mr. and Mrs. Master Race were spewing.

"Yeah! Oh, I've got her named already. Yeah. Clarice Doorknob. What? (Laugh). Chester Butthead! Naw, that's a little too obvious. But it's great lines. People ask where I get dialogue. Why write it when it's all over the place? Yup. I told 'em I needed to catch the 5:00 pm bus. Pick you up some apples? Will do. Okay. See you tonight -- or earlier if they let us out."


Quietly go back to my book.

And if they get all appalled and try to butt in -- glare at them and snap, "Do you MIND? I'm on the phone here! These minutes add up!"

And you know they would have hated it. Take comfort in this -- no matter how nasty somebody is in private, he or she knows it's wrong and don't want it published.

So we DO have a sense of decency as a species.

At least when somebody offers to tell somebody else.

(How to stop nasty email: "I have a long email list. And a forward button. And a SHORT TEMPER." They'll take the clue.)

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Last night we were all dancing at a benefit.

On a hill, behind huge fir trees. In the Community Center

13th Floor and Mandana. Sound Garden influence and hard hard old rock.

Non alchoholic event (which meant everybody had these paper cups... and dark stuff in coke cans...)

Between midnight and 1:00 am, everybody on the floor, all ages, dancing their brains out, lights hung in all the windows and flashing overhead.

Old women dancing like girls. Old men teaching women the two-step. Boys leaping up and down before 13th Floor like Watusi. Girls stamping, arms linked.

Four women bumping in a very kinky foursquare around the bliss-faced UPS driver. He's gonna drive funny all week.

Ain't no spooks gonna get us.