Saturday, February 06, 2010

Sorry, Loggers
     The girls on the Crescent Lake Loggers basketball team didn't get named in the photo I sent to the Forks Forum, and it's not even really their coach's fault.
     I'm a bonobo.  We're different than the chimps of the human race.  We don't like noise and team sports.  We don't scream in groups. We don't follow.  We love sex and we get a lot of it but we don't like to watch; we're the ones during the extended sex-scenes in Sundance films who finally yell, "More plot!"
     I managed to stick around at the game long enough to get a photo of the girls, including a shot of one of the Clallam Bay Lady Bruins  reaching for the flying ball while pelting through a gang of Loggers.  It was easy to identify the Bruin -- she was on the home team -- but I couldn't get the Loggers' coach's attention.
      I'm not going to say he was rude; he's a coach for a sports team, after all, and they're like soldiers: too much maturity and brains and the job isn't getting done.  I'm not blaming him for acting like a snotty 16-year-old, because otherwise his girls don't win (well, they weren't winning anyway, but it was the Bruin home court).  It's how the older men men try to talk to women up here; it's like it's 1955 in their own minds.
     But -- people -- here's the rules when working with a journalist, even a small-paper nothing job-trained stringer like me:
      1.  If you want to be in a paper for something good, you have to push your own agenda.  You have to stand still and get your names spelled right.  Those kids are your little bags of DNA and if you don't have time for me as the deadline clicks closer, they'll end up being "unidentified" rather than mis-identified.  They're not my kids, I don't care about 'em further than the bucks I'll get for the photo  and/or article.  My editors know this is only my day job.  They'll pay more attention to the passionate local than the payment-driven free-lancer.
     2.  If you want to be in a paper for something bad, just bleed or do something stupid or very illegal. You don't have to try.
     3.  Nobody "promised" they'd get what you gave them in the paper.  A car wreck can knock the inches that you think might have belonged to your community meeting right off the page.  The only way to put a meeting on the front page is to shoot somebody at it.
     4.  If you buy an ad, don't expect extra coverage in your area unless it's newsworthy.  Buying an ad is like buying a male prostitute -- you get the inches you pay for, and no love.
     5.  Don't ask the reporter, "What paper are you with?" if you're making it a condition for information.  Neither the Paris Match nor the New York Times is going to come cover your piddly little game. You're lucky I showed up.  You and your town are NOT the vortex of the universe, especially when you are complaining and demanding to be treated like the local high-school cheerleader queen.
     6.  If you want to find out just how nice newspaper people are, get a copy of His Girl Friday.  It's still not that far off. 
     That said, thanks so much to the very cooperative people who helped me get the right names for the K-3 kids hand-signing the "Star-Spangled Banner."  And to the folks who called me about the game and the signing in the first place.  They promoted what was important to them, and I showed up and took the photos and got them to the paper that evening.
      Thanks god and their good manners and thoughtfulness that  they sent the stats in for the games; if I had to stay around all that shrieking and running much longer I would have crawled under the bleachers and strangled myself on my camera-strap.
     Front-page coverage!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Now I know how the rooster feels.
     E.B. White may have waxed romantical about hens, but when our hen White is standing outside yelling just to hear her head funnel sound, it's hard to think about anything but braised chicken (yeah, that's right, birdbrain, I'm thinking recipes when I look at you).
     She does these fertility dances with her throat out there whenever anybody lays eggs.  Black doesn't say much, and Red just drops 'em in the pen. But White talks her brains out the whole time like she's responsible for all the production around here.
     We figure all this noise was originally about letting the roosters in the original jungle-fowl flock know there was an egg, and to get him revv'd up to fight off anything under the trees. 
     I'm not using "brain like a chicken" to describe stupidity any more. I don't care what our antique sciences (read: religions) say about animals not thinking, the modern sciences are finding out how wrong that was. Chickens think, and it's mostly about how we're Not Doing It Right.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Land of Eggs and Honey
     We have a problem; too many eggs.
     We can't eat more than one a day each, in whatever form -- they're just too rich -- and the girls are out-laying us.  We'll have to take the excess to the folks who give us salmon.  Poor us.

     The eggs are color coded; the two pale yellow-green (bottom left, top right) are from White.  The large pale brown (lower right) is Black's.  Red lays the dark red with white speckles (upper left).  Black's eggs are the richest -- but she's by far the fattest.  Lift her up and feel the rolls of blubber and all you'll think of is duck-style-roasted chicken.
      After feeding them for a year, was thinking of just buying grown layers next time, but now realizing the rich feeding while they're growing up is what's making them good layers, despite their youth and the season of winter.  We've discovered a source of great calcium; dried-out sea-urchin and crab shells from the beach.  It's where we get the good grit, too, with the addition of sea minerals.  Fat hen + loads of calcium = loads of fat eggs.  Well, d'uh.
     Speaking of feeding animals right to get a return: after years of thinking and research, finally bought a beehive from Sunny Farms.  It has two fully-framed brood bodies and a honey body.  All the amateur -- and I do mean "WTF are we doing?" amateur -- beekeepers up here are listening to me when I tell 'em NOT to feed the bees crappy sugar and corn-syrup to get them through the winter.  Hello?  Colony Collapse Syndrome?  The bees are having enough trouble without being given crummy ersatz food.  Or, to quote, "Thou shall not muzzle the ox that treads the corn," if you need something from that antique-science book. The local Olympic Grays ("Pioneer" bees from Caucasian stock brought in by white settlers over a century ago and gone feral) are pumping out honey and white wax -- from the Douglas Firs, would you believe! -- like little machines.   One keeper has over 100 pounds of honey on one hive. Imagine what fir honey tastes like.  If you like pine-nuts....  At least I'm imagining it; nobody's tasted it yet.  
     My hive is actually painted; I found some neutral base, so the hive can have that nice raw-wood look and still be protected.  I'm not going to buy bees; I'm going to ask one of the local keepers if I can put one of my hive bodies next to his until we get a swam to inhabit it.  Maybe offer him some eggs.

Final Goodbye
     Went back and dug down a bit into Hector's grave, and placed a large butter-clam shell containing a slice each of butter and margarine into the little hole, then poured milk into it until it overflowed.  Covered it back up, replaced the big square beach-tile back on top after scratching "Hector '92-'10" on the surface.
     My brother's cat Holly died the same day. He and I had better have our ducks in a row when we go, or the Old Basement Cats will GET us.  Purr with Bast, guys.
     Dan and I keep looking at the sofa where Hector lay, to check if he's hungry, or comfortable, or needs washing.  Exhausted, emotionally and physically. Now I have a bad case of the 'flu that is turning into bronchitis; will have to have some Skookum tobacco (age-controlled site) on the beach today and actually -- YUCK -- lung-suck it, to kill the germs and clean out the phlegm.

Monday, February 01, 2010

You Can't Keep A Good Cat Down
     First, a poem from Kate Murray:

God bless all pussycats
And keep them safe and warm
Especially those who are in heaven.
Give them a safe path to the Rainbow Bridge
And if they have no human friend help them to find one.
And today especially bless Hector
who showed us that even Basement Cats are full of love
(especially for those who give him smoked rabbit).
Give him lots of prey to chase and subjects to rule with a firm yet gentle paw
and salmon to fress, Amen.

     Thanks to the gods for a hideous head cold/'flu that showed up yesterday morning.  We are much less torn by grief when we're dripping snot out of our skulls.  Digging a deep hole through rocky soil is no fun with aching muscles and a fever, but it's a lot better than trying to do it bawling the eyeballs out of the head.
      Hector was washed down one last time, then formed into a comfortable position on a towel in the cold back-bedroom shelf.  When he'd cooled down (putting any warm cells into a cold hole gives me the willies), his fur looked like it had as a young cat, thick, dark and rich, with only a few grey hairs.  He was wrapped in an old quilt I'd made years ago, and then into an old tatami.  He was given his bowl and plate and bits of nice food, including smoked rabbit, cheddar and milk. Unfortunately, I think I gave him the soymilk.  I will have to go pour real milk on the grave (the cat equivalent of the human bottle of whisky).  I also forgot the margarine and butter.  I'll have to do something about that.  We've dedicated the spirits of all protein we'll eat to him and the other cats.  Or he will be back stomping on my pillow with dirty feet: "WTF??? Fake milk?  Are you high?"
      His grave was planted with white Dutch clover and dark red and pink Columbines.
      Yeah, yeah, he can't feel a thing.  Funerals are for the survivors; ritual is like medicine.  Such as Gratefulness Candles.  Try 'em; they work.
     Then the whole of Sunday was thrown away watching Dead Like Me DVDs. That's another thing that works.