Friday, December 09, 2011

Clallam Bay Totem Returns

Click link to go to Youtube channel, for sharing and comments.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Onion Cakes!

Onion cakes with sweet-and-sour sauce.
 Lots of people up here have traditional, inherited, or invented recipes, from stick salmon (split and held open by sticks for roasting by an open fire) to potato casserole to wild berry cobbler, or just a mess of butter-fried oyster mushrooms, or chanterelle soup.
Recently at local potlucks - with our growing source of exotic foods at the Sunset West Co-op - we've been noshing on things like hot tofu pockets and edamame (steamed green soybean pods). A batch of kelp pickles found an excited gourmand in a young Coast Guardsman who remembered them being prepared by his grandmother.
Cooking from scratch helps in a tight economy. West enders, who have always had more raw, wild and rough food than cash, know that already.
I'm not a great cook; but I came from a place like this, and I can just turn anything I find into something good. Call me a Poor People's Cook; my family couldn't afford to throw anything away, and if you grow up eating those foods, you never lose the taste for them.
I just taught somebody at the food bank that those frozen vegetables and salmon burgers make the base for a delicious salmon chowder. A box of cheap macaroni-and-cheese is transformed into something special at the campground when a cup full of chopped young, fresh nettles are added to the pot. Oatmeal and dried date pieces added to biscuit mix make a robust, tasty bannock or soda bread, so good with hot coffee in the morning. And let's not forget blackberry wine.
Anyway, here's my contribution for surviving in a rural economy, especially if you need something different for a potluck.The Onion Cakes originated as a simpler version of the traditional Chinese coiled-dough green-onion cake. It's pictured here packed up in a bamboo steamer with sweet-and-sour sauce, ready to go to the Hallowe'en parties at the Clallam Bay Inn and the Three Sisters of Clallam art gallery.
First of all, I'm not giving a detailed recipe for experienced cooks. YOU know how to make biscuits, so just replace the "box biscuits" with your own. Throwing a couple eggs into the mix doesn't hurt, either, for binding and crispness.
So here's the "recipe:" Mix up a big batch of box mix biscuits. Chop up any kind of savory (not sweet) onions finely (about a cup to every three cups mix) and and egg. Stir until everything is just moistened; too much stirring will make the cakes tough. Fry up in tiny cakes in fat just hot enough to sizzle without spitting, flipping once to brown both sides. This works great on the wood stove as it heats up the house in the morning.
The sweet-and-sour sauce is apple-cider vinegar, sugar, water, flour, a dash of salt and red food coloring (just for the pretty), simmered and stirred until it forms a piquant sauce. Mix it to taste. Don't lean over the pan too close to taste; hot vinegar fumes will evaporate right into your sinuses. Ask me how I know.
These are really good with beef fat, but since they're for a party I've used a canola/olive oil mix. You never know if Jewish, Muslim or Hindu friends will show up, even out here (or maybe, with the growing tourism, especially out here), and we all have veggie friends, here where there are so many fine wild plant foods to gather and enjoy.
I make these cakes from scratch, and use fine whole wheat bread flour, to lend a nutty flavor. The cakes and the sauce get better as they cool, so you can make them up in the morning and take them to the party in the evening.
Call it my version of frybread. Everybody's got a recipe of their own for that - and they're all good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Taking the Day Off To Play Hunter/Gatherer/Farmer

From left: Mushrooms (Orange Chanterelles, pear-shaped puffballs, Oregon gomphidius, crested coral), Jerusalem artichokes, giant barnacles, potatoes. Not pictured, but gathered the same day: eggs and raspberries.
Northwest giant barnacles. Steam 'em; they taste like crabs.  Well, they ARE crabs.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The 2011 Blackberry Convulsion!

Yes, time to haul out and pick all we need for the year - or can stand to process.  We're after the non-native Himalyas, cuz we need the juice for the wine.  So we take along the loppers, and are merciless, pounding down the hard-spreading commercial variety, and giving trees and native berries a better chance.  Yes, going after non-natives gives us a chance to exercise the human greed-head gene while assisting the natives.  Might as well use it and work it out.  The whole process will take three days.

Day 1:  Picking.

Himalyas in the bucket - non-native, so can pick our brains out.  So to speak.
It takes only a few minutes to fill a bucket.  The Himalayas hang on the vine so thickly, and get as big as a man's thumb.  We have no scruples about taking loppers to the new-growth vines, which can be two inches across, with thorns that could puncture a tire.  Besides that, it helps the bears get in later, when they come back for their feed.  Lots of black-bear berry scat and plowed areas of vines show where they've been working.  We figure we might as well return the favor, and open up new-ripening masses of berries for them.  They can probably do it themselves, but isn't it nice to know somebody's been thoughtful enough to do it for you?  Less work and annoyance, more hibernating fat.

Dan done picking, taking his first chance to gobble blackberries like the bears.
 We don't eat while we're picking -- keeps us working hard.  Then it's time for the Great Blackberry Gorge! Nom nom nom.

A cooler full of blackberries -- about fifty pounds. 
Day 2: Winemaking.

Berries all squashed and strained, first steps in wine-making.

Rich and light versions in my bathroom, caps on lightly to allow bubbling gas to escape. The lighter jugs one the right have less juice, for a milder, more refreshing flavor.  The ones on the left will be luscious.  We even had enough fresh juice left over to pour into a bottle of red wine - scrumptious!
Day 3: Canning.
Final canning of leftover mash.  Cobblers, pies for weeks!
The trick to making Himalayas taste like wild ones - add a little lemon-juice and freshly-grated nutmeg.  The wine-squeezing gets rid of the excess juice that makes the jam too runny.  Yes, if we had a tribe with us, we could process enough for winter.  As it is, we hope this takes us through Christmas!  Whew; all done until next year.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Alders Aren't Native?

There are some people running around up here claiming the alder isn't a native tree.  One of them is even stripping out all the young alders from under a Douglas Fir in a beach area, claiming the alders are sucking all the nitrogen away from the fir, while letting the same ground be taking over by wild rose plants.  

Say what?  Alders fix nitrogen.  They're native.  I think the people doing this must be either playing a logging company propaganda game, or else they've misread Vancouver's journals, which state that alders here "resemble" English alders.

Somebody else poisoned all the alders out of a garden stand of man-planted Douglas Firs on the way out of town.  Everybody up here says they want to live "in the woods," but then why do so many of them keep trying to make it look like the Seattle arboretum?

Monday, August 08, 2011


It's almost time to make blackberry wine.... rubbing hands...  they always ripen on my birthday, or did when I was a kid.  Here, it's about a week after.

Blackberries... which we can't use gloves with because we can't nibble off a handful before working arm back out of the Iron Maiden of vines. 

Oh, who else (female) here ever went berry picking without a bra and leaned stupidly into a bank of Himalayas?

Our neighbor had a bunch of the little wild berries come up next to her porch, and has already picked more than her husband found in the woods in four trips.  

Speaking of berries, the Thimbleberries on the side of our road are popping out now.  My favorite berry; they taste like a cross between raspberries and roses.  Some people think they're insipid, and it takes a lot to make jam, and then they lose that special flavor.  So I just stand and snarf them like a happy monkey in the long meadow.  This is how we're supposed to eat, anyway.  I can't reach into the back bushes -- or I don't feel like it -- so I'm not eating anybody else's share; there are so many berries up here now, every bird and mammal and insect has more than they want.  It's why we're putting off cleaning the outside of the house for the year, until the birds stop bombing the very pale lavender paint.

The signs of spring and summer.  Salmon-berry bird begins to sing when the salmon-berries ripen, and goes silent as the thimbleberries cap red and juicy.  And the house gets decorated with purplish splotches.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Smoking Salmon

Right on Highway 112 in Clallam Bay. Admittedly, they're the pinks they gotta move -- but they're probably still fresher and nicer than any pinks you can find.

Nice, clean fish.

Split, dry-rubbed with my homemade sea salt, lemon juice and cracked pepper.

Heads and a few inches of the tails shanks microwaved for the cats.  Gotta cool!

Salmon wrapped in towels, placed in refrigerator for a couple days, to cure and seep out the excess liquid.

Rinsed of excess rubbing, allowed to dry in the sun a couple hours, and ready to grill.

Grilling over grass, harvested from a gasoline-and-chemical-free yard, dried and soaked in salty rinse water.  Yes, that's a stop sign and a washing-machine tub.

Skin browned, flipped to smoke meat on first piece.

Smoke rousing up on the last two pieces, meat-side-down.

All smoked, finishing the skin brown.  SMOKEEEDDDD SALMONNNNNN.


Dan and I pick up the Clallam Bay beach as we're walking, or at least the mile or so on the east side of the Clallam River.  We're not civic-minded; we just don't want to look at it.  We've hauled off all manner of crap over the years, from tiny to huge, from unknown scrap of plastic to bags of human shit to old rusty lead pipe to an ancient rusty compressor to a complete toilet (we had to break it up and carry it away in pieces).

Dan with all the garbage we found on the entire beach behind him.  Now.  In 2003 when we moved here?  Just imagine.
Yesterday, in passing the Clallam River park bridge, we placed some garbage at the head of the attached ramp, to pick up when we got back, to dump, as we've been given permission, in the park dumpster.  I make no assumptions about whether any of the following people thought a raggedy chunk of fiberglass and a broken tin roof fragment belonged to anybody or was other than junk:

Three catch-and-release trout fishermen.  Stepped over it.

Two blimpish white boys who gave us a dirty look on the beach (we have black hair).  Went around it.

Three aware-looking teenagers. Probably not aware of the junk.

The other side of the river, where we normally can't reach, not even at high tide in summer, now.  Somebody on that end -- and I suspect the owners of the Three Sisters of Clallam Art Gallery and their friends and family -- is keeping it as clean as we keep our end.  Somebody on the road to Slip Point is picking up everything we used to pick up.  The worst pickup on the beach is found 100 feet from the end of the bridge, during the summer.  The attachment is removed during the winter.  Draw your own conclusions - and say "Thank you," if you know those people.

Frank Smith Totel Pole Before

(Since this post, it HAS been refurbished). Frank Smith's work is very recognizable -- I impressed a Port Angeles pawnshop store owner when I recognized a new piece in his store.  I'd recommend buying his art if you find it; the native art market is not going away, and it's not going to get any cheaper. 

The mall totem, originally commissioned by Clallam Bay's Olson family -- represents the Makah "crest" -- Thunderbird and man on a killer whale.  Or close, anyway (totem symbols are very personal; you have to ask the artist and the family that commissions it).

As you can see, the mini-mall is getting an upgrade by the owner, in preparation for the Sunsets West Co-op going in as anchor tenant (don't worry; the Quarter Store isn't going away.  Supposedly.  I take anything the co-op says with a grain of salt.  Heck, I take anything anybody tells me up here with a cup of salt; if they haven't got an agenda, they're rumor-mad; it's  a form of story-telling as sport).

The intent in the condition of the crest pole MIGHT be to allow it to age and decay naturally.  If not, it could use some refreshing.  Only by the artist, please, or permission of his family.

One of the artist's poles is in the harbor at Port Orchard, Washington.  Another in Bremerton, Washington, burnt when the apartment building it adorned went up in flames. 

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Twilight and Immigrants

Okay, so far on this situation.  An immigrant man was killed during a Border Patrol stop outside Forks.  The Forks mayor was startled when fans of the Twilight books and movies were horrified and started writing and showing up (in "droves" -- but in Forks that means there's 50 or so girls and their bored but patient parents in couple of Twilight stores and the van).

Local papers claimed the story hit The New York Times because Forks was so important now.  Maybe so, but not in a way they may want to be.

The mayor of Forks was startled.  I recognized an obvious outcome to the local Invader Americans' terror of the Other.  I know the writer-and-fan culture from long experience, just from my books.  So I posted a head's-up on this blog.

Seattle's Weekly was next to write an article about the incident.

The Forks Forum is a little free country weekly I freelance for. because, to survive, everybody up here has six hats.  I often have to tell people I'm interviewing that I'm willing to leave out bits of information that would get them in trouble with the county -- and the county doesn't want to know either.  They know people have to play with loopholes to survive up here.  My line is, "This isn't an exposé."  So, yeah, sometimes my reports are not quite as complete as they might be, just to keep the local businessfolk, volunteers and artists out of trouble.  Nobody wants to know; this is just a restaurant-and-post-office handout. 

Of the paper's admiration for my work I have no illusions -- I'm the person who saves them gasoline or emergency time up here. They don't pay much, but they pay their bills, and they don't keep me in the dark.  I try to return the favor.

The editor wrote an editorial and posted the cover picture, interpreting what the Weekly did as an attempt to grow its readership.  This is probably a publisher decision (for whatever reason) and my editor is a good, quiet workhorse.  I figgered I might as well put in my two cents so he'd know where I stand.  Least I could do -- the guy is decent to me.

So I dropped him an email:

"Um... just a passing note (with the recognition that editors gotta listen to the publisher):The Weekly isn't a "free tabloid."  It's got some of the best investigative journalism around, and it's only "free" because it gets a LOT of advertising, especially from the club, band and entertainment scene.  It pays its people quite well, too.  They don't need Twilight to up their readership -- their readership really doesn't follow the girl's romance market.  Their readership makes fun of Twilight, when they think of it at all (which is not fair, because we all have our manias and movies).  The movie at San Diego Comicon would take up its own booth and fandom in the midst of a literal small city of booths.At best, The Weekly using the logo to ironically introduce a "dark underbelly" article.  At worst, they're making fun of it.  

 The Border Patrol isn't going to scare anybody outside the area with the "illegal immigrant" boogieman.  Least of all the Twilight readership, who are all about the girl getting hooked on the unusual stranger.  The Weekly people are like bloodhounds -- they can find out everything, and they WILL.Many Hispanics also have the blood of native peoples in them.  It's gonna happen..."

He knows this, but papers here are the toys of the publishers, and an editor's gotta eat, too. 

Just sayin'.   We have real, live tribes up here, and we're not the only ones.  The first time an "illegal" immigrant raises his or her hand and claims tribal membership, all hell is going to break loose.  This is not over.  It's been four (five?) hundred years coming.

My readers know how I write -- I know a snowball and an avalanche when I see one.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

On The Beach

Just some photos of wandering on the beach, limbering up after painting the house and getting exercise.  It's usually a pebble beach, but in the summer we get a collection of sand -- and the other end is sand, by the river.

It's the "Injun's fault" there are no fish -- not the out-of-town fishermen who flip lethal Styrofoam bait packets into the water.  And we never find these things until summer.  It's also the Injun's fault there are baby diapers by the side of the road all summer -- I guess the Injuns stay in Neah Bay except in the winter, huh? (Where would we white people be without the Injuns to blame?)

Gull tracks!  The California and Heermann's gulls are relaxing on the beach right now, splashing and swimming in the river.  The river used to get filthy during the summer because the mouth would close up due to stupid human engineering (more Stupid White People Tricks).  Now it's found a more natural mouth it looks like it might flow all summer and stay clean.  Those are my fancy toes -- in the summer I do too much sloppy and dirty with my hands for polish, so my flip-flopped or bare feet get all the attention.  You see this with the Makah -- the women get fancy feet at celebrations, with polish, cool flip-flops and sandals, even jewelry and tattoos.  Kind of leads to Shoe Envy at the Neah Bay graduations.

Wading pools in the Clallam River!  My favorite thing in the world on a beach or stream is those very shallow, clear wading pools.  It's a kid thing.  I just adore it.  Now there are all these immaculate, clear, clean pools to splash in.  But watch the kids -- there are some deep holes in this river.

July 30, 2011, and the river mouth is still open.  It doesn't have to fight its way past the high embankment on the other side of the wooded "island."  See?  Stop fiddling with nature, and she rights herself, like a good sailboat.  It will be like having a whole 'nother river up here for fish runs -- one in the summer as well as the winter.

You snooze, you lose.  I spotted these oyster mushrooms on a log.  I squatted down and stuffed my pockets.  On the path, I ran into a guy we'd seen on the beach, running back with a plastic bag. I asked him if he was going to collect garbage like we were (it's becoming something of a hobby thang up here).  He said, "Something," and kept on.  We realized he'd seen the oysters -- and gone back for a bag.  And he was wearing a hat!  Mushroom hunters are ruthless -- all I left was the mycelium. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kelp Pickles
Down at the bar, for some reason the subject of old-time food came up.  Somebody mentioned kelp pickles.  A guy's eyes lit up: "My mom used to make the best kelp pickles!"

Caught a big bullwhip kelp (= caught on the hook, dragged in, grumbling).  Decided, "Screw it, I'm making kelp pickles."

Take a big bullwhip kelp -- or a hunk of one.  For me, the beach and water is a refrigerator, so I just pick up what I need when I'm low on pickles (or fish, or scallops).  Note: this piece is too big and old!  Get a piece that is no bigger around than 3/4 of an inch.  The following pickles are too tough to be used for anything but relish -- but they sure taste good!
Chop into bite-size pieces, including the bulb.  Pour boiling water over it (turns bright green!), let set 10 minutes.  This kills the enzymes so the kelp won't go slimey.
Mix some pickling spices (black pepper, whole cilantro, dill), some sugar, some apple-cider vinegar.  If you're making garlic dill, leave out all but a dash of sugar, add garlic, tumeric, dill, black pepper, tarragon, instead of the sweet mix.  Oh, you know how.
Heat to simmer, pour over kelp pieces.
When cool, bottle and put in fridge for a couple weeks.  Really nice.  My neighbor gagged at the idea of kelp pickles because she'd had them and they were nasty. Bet the person who made them didn't BLANCH them!  Note:  I haven't tried to heat-seal them yet.  If you do, please let us know!  Suddenly, everybody wants a taste. 
Photo credit: Roberta Gregory (whom I'm teaching layered color in GIMP while I'm writing a pickle blog; I am such a techno-hick).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Salmon Berry Bird singing; now it really is summer.

If you can't hear this bird in this summer, you're probably not really in the Pacific Northwest woods.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cloud With A Mountain In It

Was that or was that NOT a helicopter going "OH SHIT!" out of the fog and nearly bashing into Bear Kill Ridge behind us yesterday? Dan says he thinks it was. It was kinda duck and cover around here as we wondered how many helicopters and where the hell they were. Classic Cloud With A Mountain In It.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Deer crossing the Clallam River at low tide.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Forks, Washington, lets the border patrol sit on the highway outside its town and try to catch naughty Hispanics.

Forks is the scene of the Twilight novels.
The novels portray Indians as cool people.

Lower-income Hispanics tend to be Indios, or First Nations.

The New York Times reported on a murder of a local Hispanic man.

Now the Forks mayor is wringing his hands and going, "Whad we do?  Whad we do?" as the nasty emails from appalled fans come in.

Maybe they'll think again before letting the border patrol run through town like wild dogs.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ancient Fish Traps

Finally took advantage of a low tide to scramble over the rocks to get to the fish traps below the Spring Tavern.

This is the photo I took earlier the same day.  It's somewhat ironic, that this ancient technology is framed by modern power line.

Fish traps were often built at the mouths of rivers.  The Clallam River, now that folks have stopped messing with it, is gradually working its mouth westward along the shore.  Could it be heading back to an old mouth that came out across the fish traps?  It's just now uncovered a set of big rocks that have been under a sand ridge for decades.

The right-hand trap is rather shallow, and quite weedy.  The left-hand one, however, is clean, knee to thigh deep, with a bed of clean sand.  There were no fish in either of them.  If they were closed off, they wouldn't threaten any fish that were ever trapped in them, because they're full of water, even at low tide, and the water is deep enough in the left one to remain cool between tides.  The left one would be rather delightful as a wading/swimming pool for the little kids.

However, they're really only accessible, at least easily, by canoe, or down a rock slide toward Sekiu.  Over there is what appears to be another fish trap, but with larger boulders.  The ones around the Spring traps look as though five to six people could have moved them, using fulcrum points and small logs.  It's definitely a community, or CSDI, project (Chief Said Do It).

I'm sorry, I'm hanging around too many First Nations folks up here, and their sense of humor is rubbing off on me.  Which is kind of like my Dad's, who grew up in Colorado, and picked it up there.   As in:

What did Custer say when he saw all those Indians coming around the bend at the little Big Horn?

"What's wrong with them?  They were all right at the dance last night."
Old River Bed, Old Glass

This piece of old glass came out of the ground when the Clallam River ran through an older mouth.  

Top of a lamp, perhaps?  From the old cabins or houses (differing reports) that used to stand on the river?  All that remains of them is the occasional worn brick.  Dan and I found all of the old rusted pipe and pulled the last of it out at least three years ago.  This year we dragged out and dumped the old rusted compressor.

One of our very nice bartenders at the Clallam Bay Inn, to whom we showed the piece our way back from the beach, said I should post it. 

Yesterday we found a piece of an old flivver tire, but in condition not so good.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Deer tracks on the beach.  Out for the morning wander, probably to lick up salt.  Or like us, just to enjoy the sunshine and mess around buy the river.  Wild animals do what we were all meant to do: eat, sleep, enjoy themselves and try to stay out of trouble.

Speaking of trouble, yesterday I had my binoculars trained on a river otter, that was happily gobbling and throwing around chunks of fish.  It suddenly stared at me, then - and there's no other way to describe this -- did a double-take and ducked under water, as my tiny view filled up with adult bald eagle.  The eagles are hatching chicks right now, and no doubt it would have taken fish or otter, whichever course it could have pulled onto the table.

Day before yesterday, we walked in a wide arc around a gull.  It was settled down on the sand in the chill mist.  It looked sick or old.  But it was out of the wind; any shelter, no matter how low or inconsiderable, makes a huge difference when you have no place else to go.
Yesterday we found its dismembered and plucked body.  Today I picked up one of its wings and placed it in a tangle of dried roots, out of the sand, in the wind where it belonged.

The Clallam River changed its course this winter, back to its original bed, now that people have stopped trying to open it too early with bulldozers.  Now most of the really nice sand beach is on our side of the river during the winter.

That's Vancouver Island beyond the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Bear Kill Ridge and Slip Point on the right.  Or Radio ridge, because of the Coast Guard and Verizon towers.  Every generation has its own names; we call Mussolini Head, on the stony beach around the ridge, "Octopus Rock."

Dan and our Junk Tree.  We drag heavier items to this buried tree, by the end of the closed bridge (right).  When the bridge is opened every spring by the Lion's Club, the heavy garbage is dragged to the dumpster in the park.  Usually the Lion's Club beats us to it.  Bless their souls.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


We found an oil lamp on the beach.

There are a lot of rocks with holes in them, from where pebbles have been worn out of the hard bedrock.  This one had a perfect hollow connected to a hole that allowed the use of a cotton wick.  The first photo shows the rock by itself, with the 1/2-teaspoon of oil it can hold.  I think the Clallam people who had their village on this beach here used stone oil lamps with seal or bear oil; who knows if this is a worn-down remnant of someone's household lamp?   I pretend it is, without making any historical claims.  We keep the beach clean; it's the least we can do.

This is the lamp propped upright by another pebble in a Pyrex bowl, filled with plain vegetable oil.  The bowl has a delicate pattern around the rim, which projects this beautiful little sunburst.  It uses about a quarter-inch of oil in 12 hours.


This basket of shells helps us identify different species.  From left to right, they're: Eastern Softshell, Cockle, Native and Butter.  Butter clams hold onto Red Tide toxins for two years, so it's important to know which is which. 

Monday, February 28, 2011


So scared the chickens were not going to be all right in the bitter cold -- but they're out there eating popcorn for a treat & drinking the freshly-replaced water AM & PM, & still laying. The crows insist on their own big bowl of popcorn too, and swear at me if they don't get it.  Whadaya gonna do?  Now I'm a bird flunky as well as a cat servant.

I was worried about the poor cold chickens and was trying to figure out how to warm them, when I realized if I did, they'd lose their natural resistance to cold.  It's like losing your night purple after using a light in the dark.  The best cure for cold for outside animals is lots and lots of good food, so they can lay on lots of fat.

Wild animals all have houses; their own tough skins. WE lived in deserts, lost all our hair, had to wear clothes against the sun.  It must explain why nudity is a sin in the middle-eastern religions; it's DANGEROUS to run around naked in equatorial deserts.

The more "purebred" Makah up here run around in sleeveless t-shirts on miserable, cold, rainy days.  It's the 70-degree days in summer that make these big guys miserable.

People have asked me, "What about coyotes?"  Have you never heard of the miracle of chicken wire? The local Cooper's Hawk skidded to a hover over the cage and we pointed and laughed; you've never seen a hawk drool.  This is the same bird that got into a neighbor's cage and ripped the head off a chicken.  She'd left a hole the size of a football in the chicken wire.  

If we're going to raise farm animals near predators, we have to be aware of these animals' versatility.  In a film taken with a camera on the back of birds of prey, we see what the Cooper's largest relative -- the goshawk -- does with small spaces at speed (there's an ad, but it only lasts a few seconds).  Makes me wonder if people who have been animating movies about flying on dragons haven't referred to the real thing.

Remember, if a predator gets your domestics, it's your fault.  Don't think you can ultimately solve it by killing stuff; everybody doing that has decimated natural animal populations.  And if you're raising stuff to sell to eat and taking shortcuts by killing wildlife -- what ELSE won't you take a shortcut with?  And why should I buy your stuff?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


On our long beach walk today, found two sets of deer prints wandering in the sand.  Followed them to a broken bank, which is where I wanted to go anyway as the easiest way to get to the marsh and walk over to see how deep the ford in the river is.  Or what looked like a ford, opposite what might be the very rotten remains of the old wooden bridge.

After discovering the ford was quite deep, and that a young Douglas Fir was using one of the old bridge posts as a nurse log, I continued along the river shore, and noticed the deer prints continuing ahead of me.  Reaching the end of the mini-peninsula in the river, I started back up what I thought would be the easiest way -- and looked into the face of the deer.  Who seemed to say, "So, now what?"

After saying "Hi there!" I turned around and headed back through the underbrush and trees, picking the easiest trail.  Or as easy as it gets, ducking through Devil's club and brambles.  Upon reaching the other side of the peninsula, I spotted what looked like an easy break in the brambles that would allow me to scramble back down the cliff.  There I found another broken bank -- and at the bottom, imprinted in the mud of the lagoon shore, more deer prints.  

Evidently people and deer all go along the lines of least resistance.

A Cooper's hawk leapt into the air ahead of me, with what looked like a rat in its claws.  We'd seen a stripped crow's wing on the beach earlier this week.  More bloody bones on the sand told us the hawk had been eating well.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


This is what a typo in a browser URL can lead to: crazies in the woods.

Makin' money and acting nuts in the woods the GREEN way.  Your comments (and laughter) welcome.

If anybody had any brains they'd harvest the knotweed, organize with Ric Polumbo in Clallam Bay to take it to Seattle with his fish, and make a mint selling Mountain Vegetables to the Japanese restaurant and overseas trade.

They gotta do SOMETHING to stave off the developers and get the cancer chemicals out of the water.

Okay, this may seem too much in my playing pioneer, but:

1.  It's not as hard as it sounds.

2.  It's incredibly cheap.

3.  It gets rid of all that plastic you have to pay so much to dispose of in packaging.

4.  Clothes come out soft and sweet and -- if you mix 3/4 cup soap gel with a quart of water, you get a dish-soap that will soak the crap off anything.  No more scrubbing ANYTHING.  

5.  It makes a helluva lot of soap out of about a cup and a 1/2 of ingredients.  Double it and don't make soap for a month.

Those of you with sensitivities in you or animals may want to try it.  It's really super.

Homemade Laundry Soap
1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of soap, as listed above
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax powder 
~You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size~

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.   Now add your soap mixture and stir.  Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  You use ½ cup per load.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

At least the mail isn't in a pile in the woods.  YET.  I know somebody who had that one.

We've got a situation up here, where occasionally the mail goes insane.  I've got all my billing on email notification and payment now, which loses the post office more money, but whadaya gonna do?

Some neighbors have solved the problem by transferring to another post office in another town, but we really don't need to lose the post office here, especially for people without vehicles.

Rather than transferring your accounts to the other town, call the USPS and start a case file on lost mail, bills and/or medication.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

The phone number is: 
Call 1-800-ASK-USPS®
M-F - 8:00am-8:30pm ET
Sat - 8:00am-6:00pm ET
Sunday - Closed

Or go to the site.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Yearling elephant seal on the Clallam Bay Beach.  Gender unknown.

They were hunted down to about 100 individuals, according to the Marine Mammal Stranding System station in Joyce.  They're in recovery, but they're very inbred.

So I waited until it slid back down off the beach this morning before posting this.  First elephant seal I've ever seen in the wild.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Up here is seeming more and more as I read accounts of America, at least as viewed by its citizens, in 1910.  America, in its own opinion, was still young and vibrant and faultless, and God had put all those trees and animals here to harvest for his children's good.  The main newspaper has a Women's Section; one almost expects the people being interviewed to wear daytime corsets and picture hats.
John Aubrey in his Brief Lives writes, "My grandfather Lyte told me that at one Lord Majors shew there was the Representation of the Creation of the World, and writt underneath AND ALL FOR MAN." (sic)

At a rather nice little pastry shop in Forks (from the North, take the first right after the True Value) , I was having fun with a tiny blackberry cheesecake and a rather ferocious cup of coffee, and the amusing gentleman who hangs out helping with the bread was discussing the locals ("gossiping," is, I believe, the correct term among those of us who practice the art).  He complained that The Park (Olympic Peninsula National Park) was denying The People their rights on the land.  To paraphrase the conversation:

"When these parks were established, it was for the People."

I answered, "Well, maybe it's time we rethink how we view what's left of our wild lands.  We'll be extinct someday, especially at the rate we're going, and these creatures need a refuge until we're gone.  Maybe it's time we lock up this land and stay out of it, so these creatures can survive.  We at least owe them that."

He didn't say a lot after that.  He seemed to be thinking.  I can't tell if he was upset, weighing the idea, reviewing the future, or all of it at once.  I'd had too much rather good coffee; what did I know?

I tend to think about whether there's enough for everybody, including my fellow creatures, before I start grabbing.  I've heard a couple of kids who've begun hunting deer -- hopefully to provide food, and not in the spirit of triumphalist conquest over nature -- described as "killing machines."  I've seen men strip the fillets off live fish and throw the carcasses back in the water to swim away.  

The animals die daily so we can live; how did we lose the ability to respect them?  We've stolen a phrase for our religion, placing to the credit of of one of our mythological characters the idea that "He died so we can live." The poor plantation and scrubland that exists outside the parks is even despised by the people who go in after the deer.  One man sneered, "I hate trees."

How do we hate the lungs of the planet?  How do we hate that which helps us survive every day, just because it gets in our way?  When did the earth and what's on it become The Enemy?  Yes, I know the arguments about older religions that were plugged into our beliefs, and the dangerous belief that all is either evil or good.  How long are we going to fall for that?

Recently an animal was treated as a toy or a piece of wood, and I had to get involved.  I have my own life; isn't it enough that I have to rescue other people's cats when they wander off on the next stage of their lives, because it's not convenient any more?  I was told that the person who had obtained the animal, a young puppy, and left him tied with a wire out in the freezing cold, with inadequate shelter and frozen water, had to deal with a family emergency.  

"People come first," was the reason.

Isn't that exactly what's gotten us into the mess we're in on this planet?  The local people do not know what they've got -- what scraps and evidences of the original wealth that was here -- and they're just throwing it away with both hands.  They despise cities, and yet they seem to be going right down the same road they claim they want to avoid.  They have a golden place, here -- or at least the broken remnants of one -- with capability to restore it to the wonder it was, at least in part, or at least to prepare in their lifetime for the future, and all they care about is whether they can kill an elk with a heavy rack or if the Seahawks win.  They don't seem to worry that any timber industry is dumping toxins into the water, even as the cancer rates up here sky-rocket.  

In strictly economic terms, they have the opportunity to build excellent nature tourism, including the fact that the area has been named an Audubon area.  Instead, they want to look back to 1910, and the days when they could kill all the fish they wanted,  Now they squabble over what remains, even blaming seals and eagles for what they've done themselves; nobody up here seems to have a mirror.  As Vancouver Island begins to tap the big-leaf maples for syrup -- a permanent forest-products industry -- the local logging companies are going after those same trees like piranhas.  It almost seems like a pattern; anything that provide the local population with an alternate, and permanent, livelihood, is taken out of the way as quickly as possible.  This isn't a professional study; it just seems to happen every time.  

One of the logging companies decided the Scenic Byway on Highway 112 was an opportunity to show Dem City Folks how a working forest looks.  Yeah, that's a really effective conversion tool, isn't it?  My father's prejudice as a long-haul trucker may be coming into effect in me, here.  But I really should have gotten a photograph of the giant tree a couple of the local maroons stole out of an old-growth area so they could be on Axmen, as though the television producers weren't going to figure out they were dealing with theft.  But none of this attitude toward the local life is new; they have an historical culture-hero up here, who supposedly went out and set up a life as an independent man of the forest -- but what he was really doing was living on predator bounties, until he'd cleared out as many of the local cougars as he could get his paws on.

A local farmer continued that attitude, but he had help.  Three young cougars came poking onto his land and were trapped in boxes.  Cougars wander more than they should, here, as clear-cuts drive them out of their habitat and into local neighborhoods, always with the death of the cougar as the result, as the locals panic (hell, they panic over and face off with rutting territorial mountain goats, but that's another story).  A "forest ranger," as he said, told him the cougars couldn't survive if they were shipped elsewhere, so the three animals were shot in their trap-box and buried.  There are options for other possibilities; why didn't that forest ranger make the effort?  Has he fallen victim to the local feeling of conquest, with its adjunct, helplessness and fear in the face of nature?  Who knows?

I shouldn't talk about the people up here as though they were born in the Pacific Northwest, as I was.  A lot of them are from the midwest and other points east.  Whenever they can't stand the rain, they head for the desert.  

Maybe they can leave the desert where it is, and go visit it when they need it, and not try to bring it here?