Friday, October 31, 2008

Dark Brew

Happy Halloween!!!

For Halloween I'm going to be a reclusive anti-establishment free thinker hiding out in the woods with a pit bull and a black cat, far from the evil world. Maybe cook over some sterno. Spam that is… pass the moonshine. Yeehaw.

Tomorrow begins November, my birth month. I love that my month begins with a day celebrating the dead. It just seems apropos. Here in the Northwet November is beginning as it should, with rain. Lots of rain. Gonna rain straight on into next weekend. I love that too. I like the sense of... hmmm... expectant melancholy that my month brings. It's as if the soul (or maybe it's just my soul) begins to acknowledge the long dark days ahead, nods with a sigh, and takes a plunge into the deep darkness knowing full well that the imagination will take over, making the things that go bump in the night take on new, more lurid qualities. I love that. I'm never so creatively and spiritually extant as I am in the winter months.

Before the dawn of electricity most artists would only paint during the day. However, there were some who (I'm guessing it's partly because they just couldn't shut off the flow) would paint at night by candlelight. You can tell the difference. The paintings done at night have richer, deeper tones and slightly more ethereal qualities. They're lush and as inviting as a whispered conversation behind a closed door - as if they're revealing something we weren't supposed to see. That's the darkness I love.

I don't recall ever having been afraid of the night. I welcome the dark, the bumps in the night, the silent mutter of shadowy things as they play just out of sight, the sideways turn of my imagination, the quiet whisper of stillness. Don't be creeped out... come on down here and sit with me for a bit... shhh... it's not to be afraid of. This is an opulent place; let it take you where it will.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Affirmative Action

It's official. I'm down another pants size - yesterday I wore a pair of pants to work that I couldn't get into a month ago. Last night as I was lying in bed doing my pre-sleep pondering, I rediscovered my ribcage. For those of you who've never been grossly overweight, you can't understand what a glorious feeling that is. But it is in fact a glorious feeling. I figure I've lost 120 lbs or so since July 2007. I've got a ways to go yet before goal, but I'm getting there. It really hasn't been that hard for me to do. For me it's always been a matter of where the head and heart go, the body follows. It's a triune thing - can't have one imbalance without it impacting the others, because then, in a wild geometric turn of events, the equilateral triangle becomes a vicious circle. So, while it does take effort, I find that the greater effort has been in understanding more about myself and working to become the better inner me.

All that arcs on over to something else I've been mulling of late. In my life I've been clever, resilient, resourceful, practical, intelligent, creative, tenacious and ardent in my beliefs. What I've never been is entrepreneurial. It's time. I want to be. I'm so full of ideas and so tired of working for others in jobs that, while I tend to excel at them, leave me somewhat less than fulfilled. So, my new incarnation, my new endeavor, will be my attempt to pimp myself out - to make enough cash to keep the rent paid, the propane tanks full, and the critters fed by doing the things I love. I think I've got what it takes - I'm not nearly as fragile around criticism as I used to be - I know I can do the work. I think my biggest hurdle is deciding which "what" I want to focus on most, and even bigger, finding the appropriate venue(s).

I refuse to have half of a flourishing life (home) while the other half (work) stagnates. Why can't I have both be what I want? Why can't I fully enjoy all 24 hours of the day by being where I want to be and doing what I want to do? At some point in my life, I was put into a box and told, "Do the right thing. Bring home the paycheck. Call it good." But, in April 2007 I made a promise to a dying man that I would strive to become the absolute best I could be. This is part of it. It has to be.

Enact paradigm. Set course. Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Little Dab'll Do Ya

Wow. Evidently yesterday's post (Pass The Ketchup) struck a chord in us all. I received tons of response to that one. Just when you think you're all alone in the shitstorm and all that rot... eh? And it is truly touching how many of you are still clinging to those precious bottles of Brudda J's. I have the recipe, got plenty of empty bottles still, and would love to make a batch for Christmas, but funds (lack thereof - honey and tequila are too expensive for me at present) may prohibit that - plus the fact that cooking the stuff makes my skin and eyes feel like that creepy German guy when he foolishly opens the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones. Reckon I could always cook it outside over the fire... add a smoky essence to it maybe. Hmmm. Wha'dya say, Brudda J? Do I get a nod or a thwap upside the head on that?

Brudda J's... I still like to, in the spirit of John, spring the stuff on the unsuspecting (I call it Pulling a J). I like to watch others experience what John always referred to as "the slow burn." Last time I had the opportunity was a few months ago. Scott's son Mark was over for dinner and was looking for something to add a bit of heat to whatever it was I cooked. He asked for Tabasco, but I was fresh out. But. (Cue: Wicked Evil Grin followed by Low Maleficent Chuckle)

Let me describe Mark first. The lad stands 6'5" and is packing probably 250 lbs of mostly muscle. He's got dark, brooding good looks that put me in mind of Dave Matthews. He's a smartass like his Daddy, is very highly intelligent, and could easily intimidate anyone if he was to try. Fortunately he's normally somewhat mild mannered, but it's obvious he could be one tough hombre, given the right motivation. Point is, he's no shrinking violet. Point is, I wouldn't play in his sandbox without invitation. Savvy? Ok then.

So, I said, "Sorry, no Tabasco, but oh man, Mark. Have I got some great hotsauce for you to try though... heh heh heh... if you think you're up to it. Honey, tequila, habaneros and some other secret ingredients all cooked together in a screamin' melange by the late great Brudda J. Gotta warn ya though, this stuff will make you cry like a little girl." Mark rolled his eyes as if to say, "Dames. Whadoo they know," and gave me the "bring it on" gesture. Again I issued the caveat, "I'm serious. Just put a dab on your plate and try it first. This stuff will strip the enamel off your teeth." Even Scott, noting my underlying seriousness, chimed in, "You might want to listen to her." Of course, Mark being the young, full of bravado, intrepid, adventurous, disbelieving, foolhardy idiot of the day completely ignored my advice and summarily doused his meal with a good couple of tablespoons of the stuff. I stood back, eyebrow raised, suppressing a giggle and biting back a rather largish knowing grin, and waited. Watched as Mark took a tremendous forkful of whatever, hoisted it into his mouth. "Mmm. Not bad," he said around a mouth full of food as he continued to chew. And then, and then, and gentlemen, and then.... the eyes widen, the tears come unbidden, the chewing stops as the mouth tries to create a cavern that will never contain the imaginary flames that are now blazing unhindered around the soft tissue of the inside of the mouth, sweat immediately breaks out on the brow, then an obvious decision toward quick chewing in an attempt to get the stuff sized down to swallowing proportion in a further attempt to just get it done and over with, then the inevitable swallow. Oh, the beauty of the moment... the glorious reward... the cough, the initial exhaling "hooooooo" followed by the fool sucking in a deep breath (didn't anyone ever explain that oxygen feeds fire?!)... and... wait for it.... the high-pitched squeak that would be the envy of any Castrato, slowly, "Ohhhh.... my.... ffffreeeeekin'.... gawwwwwd!"

And me. Just standing there. Classic Black family smirk on my face. "Told you so." Which was followed by a baleful glare from Poor Little Lava Boy as he made his second classic mistake of the evening (the first being: when a woman tells a man something that is for his own good, he should oughta listen. Dammit.). His second grievous error was running for the sink, turning the faucet on full blast cold and sticking his mouth right into the stream for a drink. Hey, honestly, I would have warned him that water only makes it worse but clearly he didn't want my advice, right? See, water only cools the burn for a split second and as soon as you stop drinking it comes back harder and hotter. So, I stood, smirk still firmly in place, as he turned off the faucet, swiped a hand across his brow, unbent and started to say, "That's better...." At least I think he tried to say that. What came out was a very shaky, "Tha bet... aggghhhh..." I waggishly said, "You really shouldn't drink water, it only makes it worse." Fortunately for me the flames shooting through Mark's head impaired clarity of thought, so I was not promptly roundhoused. Instead, he threw open the backdoor and ran out into the yard (oh, son... you can run, but you can't hide).

At that point I let him be, walked back into the living room and flashed a falsely apologetic sweet smile at Scott. "I did warn him, did I not?" Scott merely shook his head sadly and said, "I never could tell that boy anything he didn't want to hear."

John once referred to his sauce as "the gift that keeps on giving." And so it does... think I'll invite some unsuspecting folks for dinner this weekend. It's Halloween and I'm feeling a bit wicked. Gotta pull a J.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pass the Ketchup, Please

... there'd be days like this, my Mama said.

I started yesterday morning by putting a scratch on Birddog when I cut too close to the gate (no need to say anything – I’ve berated myself quite enough, thank you). Entirely my fault, I was late for work and hurrying and not paying nearly enough attention. I bunged my knee in an absolutely unpleasant way (hard enough that I found myself wishing that the pain would actually make me pass out). What followed was a day of bumping into things, dropping things, knocking things off my desk, making mistakes I don’t typically make. I double check my work anyway (any good accountant does), but normally for me, when I make a mistake I see it right away - “bad” numbers jump off the page at me in much the same way that misspelled words or grammatical errors do. I dropped my half eaten apple (the only food I had with me) in the dirt at lunch. I’m surprised I didn’t catch my eyelashes in the paper shredder. My bio-rhythms were definitely off; gone for the day. I can be clutzy and I would never claim to be graceful, but this was a particular case of Shoulda-Stayed-In-Bed Syndrome. Monday with a vengeance; a monster with big hairy teeth.

It’s rare that I have an entire day that just keeps going wrong, and I hate when it happens! What changes? What weird vibe out there in the vast nothing does that? I don’t get it. The whole day had me bummed; the harder I tried, the less I succeeded. I finally gave up and just did what I could, checking my literal and figurative parameters every inch of the way and hoping like hell I would get home and into bed without causing any further crises.

I did make it home unscathed, albeit in a bit of a mood. Top it off, Scott would be sarcastic (which is normally fun for me, but not yesterday... nooooo); Nino was hellbent on proving he really could be a bad dog; Midnight would screech and try her best to trip me. As I was looking for some comfort in the act of cooking up a pot of spaghetti sauce I got a call from a friend/coworker. We spent some time bitching about the day, about the way dingos handle things (or don't) sometimes, yadda yadda, blahblablah, grumble, whine, kvetch. At some point I said, "Yeah, it was just a very bad day."

That's when the big bucket of startlingly cold water got dumped on my head, as from the other room I heard Scott mutter, "You don't know what a very bad day is. A very bad day is waking up having a stroke."

Yowch! Touché, Master. Way to put this grasshopper in her place. Whip my ass and don't even leave a mark. That's some skill. The world flipped and my attitude immediately changed. He didn't even know I heard him and still doesn't.

Perspective is everything. Having to eat my own words (y'know the ones I so glibly toss out... any day above ground is a good day), I found myself wishing I could add a little salt, maybe some ketchup... anything to help choke 'em down. I neither recall the last time I felt such chagrin and such utter clarity, nor if I've ever experienced a moment of such perfect truth. A bad day is waking up having a stroke. A bad day is hearing, "There's nothing more we can do for the cancer but make you comfortable." A bad day is when you can't walk around and bitch and moan and throw things because you're too weak to get out of bed because you're dying. Those are bad days. The rest of it is just inconvenience.

What I had was an inconvenient day. Today is better. I am above ground, after all. Don't know about y'all, but I'm spending this particular 24 hour shift being thankful for getting another day at all - good or bad. Hey, who am I to look the gift gods in the mouth? Now, where'd I hide that last bottle of Brudda J's Hot Sauce...? Y'never know when crow is gonna be on the menu.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Change is Good

Thoreau said, "Things do not change; we change." I've always thought of change as an amalgamation of things internal and external, but ol' H.D. really does speak true. After all, my mountain has been there a long, long time; my river's been carving it's niche for eons; even my humble little cabin stood long before I was a twinkle in my Daddy's eye, and maybe even before he was a twinkle in Grandpa's eye. So... what changed? I did. Over the journey of years and paths. There was always the dream of such a place and time, but I'm not sure I ever believed that it was anything more than a dream. And then, one day, there it stood. So suddenly.

It's now been a month since my exodus to Granite Falls, and I'm still surprised by it every day; still startled at being there; still wondering when someone is going to nudge me and say, "Barb, wake up! You must be having some kind of wild dream given that huge grin on your sleepy puss." If I ever take it for granted, someone please, please, please slap me hard.

I didn't go looking for Scott. I didn't set out in pursuit of him. One day, he was very simply just there and met more points on my mental "laundry list" of a good mate than I even knew existed. Every day it seems like I discover something about him and think to myself, "Oh! I really like that about him!" (Only Laura would understand if I whisper, "He's SO Jamie Fraser!" For the rest of you, go read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.)

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
H.D. Thoreau

It makes me wonder... what else is waiting for me to catch up with it? What else is out there that I've been dreaming of, striving for, and hoping toward that is sitting, silently sturdy, in anticipation of the day that I show up on the scene and recognize it for all that it is? One can't hurry along one's path, else one goes blindly by all the nuance. Still, I can't help but wonder what I'll find just beyond the next bend. Good or bad... it's all meant for me.

I've long ago "lost" my copy of Thoreau's Walden's Pond, so if anyone out there in TV Land cares to send me a copy, I'd be delighted at such a treasure - after all, HD also said, "Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill." In fact, read it before you send it to me... dog-ear the sucker, write notes in the margins... and if you decide to keep it, so much the better.

Friday, October 24, 2008

State of Grace

It's Friday - whaHOOO! Scott pulled more fresh trout out of the river for dinner again last night. (I've loved men for far less - he has my attention. Fully.) His mission today ("Babe, set the alarm for the crack of dawn, willya?") is to snag a couple of rat bastard steelheads. They're hard fish to catch - they're smart and the reason they're called steelheads is because their heads are so hard that the hook won't sink in, and they're fighters. Be interesting to see what lands in the cast iron tonight... ohhhhhhh fishies, today is a good day to fry.

I had a longish conversation with our dear Haute Bisquette last night. We're trying to come up with something marketable (my artwork, likely), a business plan, and a way out of our rather desultory careers. We're both good at what we currently do, but agree that there've got to be far better uses of our talent (both individually and combined) than what we're currently doing. If there's a human on the same intellectual playing field as me, it's probably HB (she will likely disagree, but too bad) - we have great balance in our relationship and would (will!) be excellent business partners. Plus, we're both at a good place in our respective lives to take some kind of leap. If not now, when?

It all has me thinking (as if I ever stop). Things in my life happen when they're supposed to and how they're supposed to. That is, the right things happen in my life - they're not always good, they're not always easy, but they're right. It's something I've never questioned and probably a reason that I don't easily freak out about things. The right person is always there, or the right moment, or the right element. My life has been and is graced. It's something that I've come to recognize in the past few months and something that I've come to... um... hmmm... to not only appreciate, but respect. I owe much to the Universe. (To whom much is given, much is required, no?) Recognition of that is both an asset and a detriment (for me), because while it drives me it also makes me think, "How the hell am I ever gonna....?"

And then it revolves back around to my Dad. Dad's been on my mind a lot lately anyway, between my new home in a place of natural beauty that he'd revel in, the crisp clear Autumn days - a love of which we share, all the talk about fishing (Dad was in his element when he'd fish), and... lots of things. I've begun to realize that of all of his children, I'm probably the most Harold-ish of them all. I'm following a trail of ghostly breadcrumbs... groundwork that he laid but never followed himself. Dad loved the outdoors and the other day as I stood on the porch looking down to the river, watching Nino rock hop and Scott fling a line in the water, I thought, "Oh Daddy... I'm living in a place you would have loved, a place that is so much more akin to who you really were." Artistically too... there is so so so much inside me that needs to get out, that needs expression and release. I can't get enough of it out of me, mostly because of time constraints, but also because there's just so much I want to do. I think that was a Harold thing too. I think he had this same rush of creativity burning inside him (no, I know he did), but he squelched it. He drank it down. Oh, Daddoo... if only you could have found the freedom I feel. I'm so sorry. So, I want to do it all honor. I want to use what I have. It's a gift that was given to me long ago and I'd be a lesser being if I turned a recalcitrant back on it all. I told HB, "I refuse to die wondering."

Well. Pardon my introspective meandering. Further proof that I don't always know where my ramblings here will take me (or you), and that they're often my self-analyzing way out of a bog. And you thought you were just here for the cheap entertainment. Didn't anyone ever tell you? Ain't nothin' cheap in this life. She go da way she go n' we here for da dance. Boogie on, fellow travelers. Boogie on.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Man, A Dog, and Some Trout

I absolutely love this picture. I emailed it to several people adding, "What more could a girl ask for?!" Not much... a good man, a fine dog, and some darned tasty trout is about all this gypsy needs these days.

Yesterday Scott and Nino took off to find the perfect fishin' spot, the great unknown hidy-hole for trout and the elusive steelhead. After several frustrating attempts, he met with success and snagged three fish out of the water, 1-2-3... boom, boom, boom. Within two hours we were eating them. He did an amazing job cooking them - just dredged in a little flour, salt and pepper, then pan-fried (cast iron, best to be had for such jobs) in a bit of butter and garlic. Pair that with my (nearly) famous spinach salad and the meal was very nearly orgasmic. (*AHEM*) Well, it was epic to say the very least. Ain't nothin' quite like eating something that was alive only a couple hours before.

In other news, I've been talking with a shop owner up in Port Gamble. She is interested in carrying my artwork in her store. Port Gamble is a quaint, historic and touristy town on the Olympic Peninsula. People go there to spend money. So, here's hopin' my stuff will find the first of many successful niches. If so, I'll owe much of my successful launch to Scott. He was on the peninsula a month or so ago doing some work, walked into this woman's store, looked at some of the artsy stuff she had hanging around and said to her, "Boy, do I ever have a creative person for you to talk to." I was flattered that a.) he thinks that much of my work (I know, I know, why shouldn't he... but compliments are one thing, hawking the wares is entirely another), and b.) that he would be thoughtful enough to want to promote my work while in the midst of his own stuff. While not artistic (although I do find him highly creative), the man has a wonderful aesthetic and comes up with some very cool ideas for me to implement. He's very much (unbeknownst to him) been my muse over the past several months.

So, I guess this is my Scott post. It wasn't intentional. Didn't I start out talking about fish?! It's just that... the more I get of him, the more I find to admire and respect. He's one of the coolest and yet most unassuming (aren't all really cool people unassuming though?) humans I know. Just another person to cross my path and make me wonder, "Whereof am I so worthy?" Yeah, yeah... maybe I'm cool too, but you know what I mean.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Gypsy, A Dog, and A Mountain

Saturday was beautiful. It was one of those Washington days that'll dazzle the socks right off your feet. It was Autumn in full glory - sunny, sixty degrees - a real knockout. I got up early, did my chores - I'm quickly becoming appreciative of the zen involved in chopping and hauling firewood. It's a chore I actually really enjoy. It makes me feel... uh... what's the feminine equivalent of virile? And why do a bunch of hirsute men get such a great word?! Dammit.

Anyway, I got my chores done, told Nino to hop in the truck, and we went to church.

*pauses while reading public does a triple take*

I spent the better part of the afternoon at the most gorgeous cathedral on earth. It's called Nature and I found a spot that made me feel as though the ground I trod was surely the birthplace of the gods. Nino and I spent the afternoon at Big Four mountain, just a 20 minute drive from my home. The colors of the changing leaves were so beautifully rich that they made my eyes tear up. The air was redolent with the perfume wrought by sunlight on the dewy grass. The birds sang hymns to a sky so intensely blue that it nearly felt touchable. The light breeze whispered a prayer through the trees, frogs croaked amens, and a crystal clear pond reflected the mountain - the altar of the gods. A gypsy and her dog, acolytes both, wandered for miles in this hallowed glen.

After a couple of miles of hiking, we rested in the deep dark hush of the forest before turning back. I sat on a fallen log and ate an apple (Corpus de Matris Terra. Amen.). Nino had a dog biscuit and snuffled around happily in the fallen leaves. I contemplated the interconnectedness I've come to feel with the Universe, with the nature that surrounds me, with my dog (I don't know when I've ever been this madly in love with an animal). I don't need to gather with 100 others in a building of brick and mortar to feel that. I don't need to read laws written and translated and rewritten by mortals to know what is good and right. I don't need an orchestrated hymn to stir me. Just give me a day robed in beauty, a good dog, room to roam, and some quiet contemplative time.

Can one feel utterly grounded and take flight at the same time? I think so. I know who I am.

Friday, October 17, 2008

True Blue Yellow

I'm feeling a little bit melancholic this morning. Only a bit - it's ok. It was two years ago that John was diagnosed. Two years and a lifetime ago. Two years and just yesterday. The tristful look on his face as he told me is still as clear to me as if it were a snapshot sitting on my desk. After he gave me the initial news we both went silent. Truth is, I couldn't have forced words past the lump in my throat if I had tried. He looked down, then back up at me and said, "I always thought I'd go in some kind of heroic blaze of glory... defending some woman's honor, or taking a bullet for someone, yarding someone back from the edge of disaster..."

Oh, Honey... oh Baby, my darlin' sweet man... if you only knew. In my two years of wisdom later, it appears that's exactly what you did. I hope you can know that now. I hope you can understand that. In the movie As Good As It Gets, Jack Nicholson tells Helen Hunt, "You make me want to be a better man." Well, John... you made (and still do) me want to be a better woman. You (your life, your death, your love) engendered in me a woman of honor. The cancerous bullet you took, the bullet that forced me to watch your decline and your fight against it, that compelled me to understand exactly what is and isn't important in this life... the bullet you took freed me. And that freedom is a burden I willingly and joyfully carry. I think I understand its price more than most. You pulled me back from the edge, set me solid and turned my head to see the view. It's beautiful. Somehow, suddenly, I have all of the things in my life that I've always wanted and there's no doubt in my mind that you've played a tremendous part in that.

I was talking to Timothy last night and I made some raunchy crack. We both laughed and I said, "Clearly I spent way too much time with John." Timothy said, "No, you spent exactly the right amount of time with him." After we hung up, I got to thinking about their friendship, got to thinking about how much the man must miss his best friend - and probably often for the same reasons I do. Same reasons we all do. And then I thought, what a blessing to feel such a loss and what a credit to John's honor that so many people still say to me, "Y'know? I just miss the man."

This one's for you John - always makes me think of you... you were so much. "Look at the stars, look how they shine for you..."
Coldplay, Yellow

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dog Ma

Yesterday my good friend Patty (born of the dingo connection) wrote to me, "You guys are the best for giving both Midnight and Nino a home!!!" I thought about that for a few minutes and replied, "It’s Midnight and Nino that give us a home. Without ‘em, it’d just be a house." And that is so true. I "got" Midnight just a couple of weeks after John died because I needed a someone to come home to and the healing quality of the unconditional love that a pet will provide. Before I made the decision to bring her home, I questioned my possible emotionally needy knee-jerk motivation, but in this case I was right on the money. She's been more good for my wounded soul than I can say.

And now my pet family has expanded to include sweet, lovable Nino. He's such a good dog. People seem shocked that I would have a pitbull, but let me tell you, pitbulls get a very bad rap. I've never met a pitbull that I didn't like. As with any animal, it's all about the environment they're given. So, don't you go givin' me any crap about my pup... love me, love m'dawg.

It’s no wonder that The Devine Ms. M is feeling fairly put out. After all, she’s been alpha animal for the past year and a half (she had it all over the long lost fish from day one). For two days she quit eating, drinking, responding to my lovin' affection and just hid in a far corner of the loft. She had me worried. In a (probably somewhat PMS induced) fit of frantic weeping I blubbered, "Scott... my cat is going to die. She won't do anything but hide and she's so freaked out. I don't know what to do." "We'll get rid of the dog then," said the overly pragmatic man. "NO! Don't you dare!" responded the overly emotional wench. So, I had a little meeting of the minds - a little adjustment to the animal mentality so to speak.

Mind you, Scott is really good with animals – has that great gift of knowing just when to be gentle or playful or firm. He thinks it’s a little on the nutty side of things that I have “discussions” with them and more so when I remind them of discussions later (but I’ll swear it works!). Anyway, two nights ago I had a long discussion with Midnight and told her, “Ok sweet girl, this is now the way it is. There is a D O G in the house and he’s staying. I love you very dearly and you will always be my A #1 Very Best Kitty of Them All. But you are making me cry because you’re not taking care of yourself and not eating or anything. I have enough love for you and a D O G, so you will just have to deal with that and help make it a peaceful existence. I promise I will never ever let anyone or anything hurt you. Deal? Ok.”

Then I had a discussion with Nino. “Look Buddy. Here’s the gig. I know you’re a dog and you will always be a dog – you’re very good at being a dog and that’s what I love most about you. But you have to understand that the cat was here first and she’s smaller and more than a little freaked out by you. She would have been freaked out by any dog though since she’s just not used to that. So, here’s what I need from you. I want this to be a peaceful home, ok? You need to chill out on your enthusiasm for the cat. Just let her hang and get used to you a while. Oh, and mind the big guy over there… he’s not nearly as nice as I am, but you didn’t hear that from me. However, whatever rules he lays down go for me as well. And, Nino? That being said, I am very nice, but don’t mess with me or anyone I love (I’m referring to the C A T here especially) because then you’ll find out how un-nice I can be. Do we understand each other? Good boy.”

The rest of the evening, Nino was so well behaved and it was about an hour after the discussions that Midnight came out of hiding. Any time Nino started acting up, I’d say, “Nino! Do we need another discussion?” And he’d just sit down. Animals know, they understand. I wish humans were as easy to deal with.

I'm lovin' my little family-cosm... patchwork quilts have always been my favorites. I have a good man, a good dog, a good cat, a good home, beautiful surroundings, plenty of firewood, good health, sound mind. I'm grateful. Thank you for the grace of this goodness, Oh Universe. Ego ero dignus... I will be worthy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Canis Major

Yowza! Did anyone else catch that crazy moon?! As I was driving to work this morning (can an hour that early really be called morning?), Ol' Mister came out from behind the clouds, bathed the mountainsides in silver, and cast bestial shadows below the pines. It was so pretty in such a spooky way. I could easily see how the Brothers Grimm, up and on the prowl at o'dark thirty, sipping whatever poor excuse for bean they had, came up with the gruesome fairy tails that they did - tales of girls being devoured by lascivious wolves, handsome princes having their eyes plucked out by birds, children being abandoned in the woods by their parents and left to fend for themselves in a nightmarish overload of the senses. Shiver. If only I could have stayed home and worked!

Midnight is very, very slowly warming to the idea of Nino. She actually came halfway down the steps from the loft last night. I was holding Nino’s collar and had one leg wrapped around his chest (that sucker is ALL muscle!). This morning she actually managed a little bit of a purr when I pet her. I don’t know if they’ll ever be friends, but it would be nice if they could at least maybe… uh… reach the shared disdain, but peaceable accord shared by, say England and France, rather than the helter skelter ferocity of the waring factions of the Middle East. I swear, last night I heard her yowl “Kill the Infidel!”

I haven't had a dog since I was 10 years old. I've shared households with others who've had dogs, and even babysat a kennel from time to time in my early 20's. But this is different and I love it. It was so great to come home, open the door and have Nino there, prancing around and acting as if I was his raison d'etre. Grim-faced Scott, clearly the worn caretaker waiting for a break, said, "He's been a bad dog - he wouldn't listen, he tried to chase the cat, he got into the garbage... twice! He snuck upstairs. He... he's been bad." Nino just sat, quivering excitedly and grinning as I patted him, as if to say, "He's not talking about me. I'm a good dog. Good good good. Good only. Look at me. How could this much cute not be good?!" I looked over at Scott and said, "Oh man, is he clever or what. Look at this... barely 24 hours and he's already got us boxed into the good cop / bad cop routine. You spend all day making him mind, then I come home and it's all about the love. We're so screwed." Nino just let out a happy dog sigh and licked my hand. Midnight, staring down from the safety of the loft, muttered, "Stinking Dogbreath Infidel."

I can only hope the epithet was intended for the canine and not either of the humans.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dog is in the Details

What a weekend! Best weekend I've had in a long time.

Scott returned from all his travels on Thursday and finally got to see the homestead. On Friday I dragged myself away and into work, plodded through the day, and finally escaped 1/2 an hour early. I got home and the house had already been warmed by a fire in the woodstove, but there was no sign of the man, and no response to my "Hulloooooo?" Being the bright woman I am, I noticed that one of the fishing poles was missing, so I wandered down the back steps toward the river. Just as I got to the bank, there he was, fishin' pole in hand, rounding the bend and stepping gracefully amid the rocks. I stood back and watched him scope the water and then cast. It was a beautiful scene and my heart slammed in my chest just watching. It's exactly what I'd been waiting to see since I found the place. Before I could blink a new song came to me,
River Song. It's one of the prettiest bits I've ever written, and sums up the mass of stuff in my heart right now.

Saturday was a busy day for me. I hauled a bunch of wood and chopped kindling (man, but I love wielding an ax!), planted tulip bulbs, and made 4 dozen Christmas cards for an order, went for a walk, and just enjoyed the day for all it was worth. I had a sense of contentment that's been missing for a long while. And, gads, but the scent of the trees and the river warmed by the sunlight is flat out intoxicating.

On Sunday Scott headed out for a mystery destination. He wouldn't say. All I got out of him was a secretive look from those wicked twinkly eyes along with a matching grin, and "I'll be back in a while." A few hours later he returned and there was a huge dog carrier in the front seat of his truck. He struggled to wrestle the heavy thing out, opened the cage door, and out slunk a somewhat trepidatious looking dog. No, not just a dog, but a gorgeous beast... a beautiful chocolate brown pit bull. Nino is just the sweetest boy in the world and I love him already. Midnight is feeling less than charitable - how dare this thing invade her space, how dare I allow it!? She spent entire the night hiding up in the loft, curled into as small a space as she could find where the slope of the roof meets the floor, staring down on the living room and clearly wondering when she might wake up from this frightening dream. Sorry kitty... you'll have to deal.

*happy sigh*... I just want to go home and be with my crowd.

Friday, October 10, 2008

In a Fog

It was a gloriously foggy morning out there in the forest at o'dark thirty. I actually watched the mist coming down the mountain last evening after I got home. Just another little gift that was mine to observe for the first time.

It put me in mind of the very first time I was introduced to Carl Sandburg's poetry via his work, "Fog" (read by a wonderful teacher when I was all of 14 years old):
The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

It was also my introduction to the magic of poetry. In those 21 uncomplicated words an entire, and entirely complex vision became reality. In the perhaps 30 seconds it took her to read the poem, I was transported out of that Michigan classroom and stood shivering at the damp edge of the sea. It wasn't just an Aha Moment. It was a HOLY SHIT! Moment. A Defining Moment. In my snap back to reality, I knew that I wanted to be able to do that. Desperately wanted to. It didn't matter to me if I could, if I'd ever be any good, only that I wanted it... the ability to take a few simple words, string them together, and force that far-away look into another person's eyes. Whether I ever have or not, can't say with any surety. I don't (and never would!) claim to possess the poetic acuity that Sandburg did; all I know is that it feels damned good to be able to write. To be able to spill a feeling I can't otherwise define.

And this is what came last night...

An Understanding

like fog down the mountain
your love comes
silent slow
and disarming
you weave this mist
move in me
without a breath
without sound
so blindly
I pick my way
with care
knowing the brush of fir
and scent of morning
© Barbara A. Black - 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Remiss Missive

A good Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) to you all. And in that vein - Mea Maxima Culpa! Please forgive. I just realized that I'm running over a week behind. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What good is a 60-mile walk if I don't follow up with friends and family (and readership) by reminding all of the females out there to check yourselves, get your mammograms. I know it's uncomfortable - cowgirl up and just do it. Ten minutes of discomfort beats the hell out of a lost lifetime. Please take good care of yourselves. There is a wealth of information about breast cancer on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website. And, hey, don't wait until my next big hike to donate to this great cause. It's one of the best ones out there. Even if you don't care to donate directly, find out which businesses in your area will donate a portion of proceeds to SGK and support them. Thank you.

It was pointed out to me that I haven't posted any new artwork in "eons." There are reasons for that. No, my muse has not gone awol - far from it. It's just that between packing things up, moving, unpacking and my current lack of internet at home, I just haven't had the opportunity to fly my new creations here. But, create I have (I love my new studio!), and I'll start posting my artwork again soon. In the meantime, I've added a nifty new widget on the sidebar (thanks blogspot!) that shows a teeny slide show of my artwork, plus acts as a direct link to the Picassa album of all that artwork (so you can ditch the microscope and see it biggie-sized).

Rest assured that I'm still creatively stoked and blazin'. I got home last night, sat down at the piano to plunk around a bit, and ended up writing You Said, I Say. Kind of a nifty little bluesy sounding departure from my usual stuff -none of which I've yet to fit into any particular genre box, although some of it sounds like it should be playable on the airwaves. (Yowch, I just heard someone scream, "And just why isn't is being played on the airwaves?!") I've never submitted any of it anywhere. I know I should just to see what becomes of it, and it's certainly not fear (anymore) that keeps me from it. I just don't know who or where or how.

Also (at long last) I've been working on the outline for my book. Yes. I've taken the step out of the safety of the plane, and so far the 'chute is holding. It seems like forever that I've had the idea for this story in me, I just was never sure quite how to formulate it. But, the other night I was wide awake at 2:30 a.m. and it all suddenly flowed together and became clear. It was as if someone took the jumbled Rubik's Cube out of my hand and with a few deft twists said, "Here's how you do it," and handed it back to me with all the colors just ever so. I may sound glib about it, but this is really quite monumental to me. This is where I allow the inmate to run the asylum. I'm not without trepidation - it's scary, but good scary. However, someone once told me that sometimes the safest place to be is out on a limb.

So, that's what I've been up to when not unpacking, babbling about prime numbers and ignorance, working, laughing, eating, living, talking, loving...

"If it wasn't this, it'd be something else."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stupid is as Stupid Does

Y'know... *heavy sigh*... I don't like to call anyone stupid and I don't like to hear anyone call themselves that. I really, really don't. I think the word stupid is one of the harshest words in our lexicon. It implies mental dullness rather than a mere lack of proficiency on a given subject. (I'm mincing syntax here, I know, but follow my train for a sec.) It's my belief that anyone with a functioning mind can learn anything - they may not become expert at it, but all knowledge is there for the taking. Still plenty of apples danglin' from that ol' tree. While it's true enough that learning comes more easily for some than for others, I believe it's also true that education is attainable for all. I maintain that I can learn and do anything I set my mind to, and so far I've not been wrong. I'm no paragon there, but I'm never stupid, only ignorant. Ignorance can change, stupidity can't. (Idiocy is a whole other subject. I've known plenty of incredibly intelligent people who were total idiots - folks who are highly educated, but ain't got the sense the gods gave a lemon.)

But, I digress. Ok. Meanwhile, back on the train. I've heard a couple of things this week that had me biting the word stupid right off the tip of my tongue. I'm sure these are not really stupid people, but... oy vey, someone please take their voter's cards away. Maybe have them sterilized against reproduction for good measure.

On Monday I was listening to the radio on the drive in to work. The station (shout out to 103.7 KMTT, "The Mountain") plays a game with its listeners called Actual Factual. Marty, the DJ throws out a statement and the listener has to tell him if it's actual factual or false. If they get so many right, they win a prize. In this case he had cruised through a few questions with a listener (I believe her name was Kelly) with no problem. Finally he said, "The 79th element on the Periodic Table is The Element of Surprise." Without hesitation, Kelly responded, "OH! Actual Factual!" There was a moment of silence and Marty said, "Uh. Are you sure?" "Yeah," replied Kelly with absolute conviction. "It's my favorite element!"

Hey, chemistry was never my strongest subject. Do not quiz me on it, you'll only waste your time delighting in my ignorance. I know some basics, particularly when it comes to cooking. I know what needs to happen when there's baking soda in a recipe in order to get the desired rise; I know that the natural iodine in a potato will suck the extra salt out of the accidentally overly salted soup... stuff like that. I couldn't list all the elements on the Periodic Table without looking (and even then, some of the abbreviations would stump me). But. C'mon! I do happen to know that 79 is AU (or gold). I only happen to know this because I sponged up that knowledge somewhere along the way - and, say hey, by the way, 79 is a prime number.

A few days ago I heard another tidbit of anti-knowledge (mustn't call it stupidity... musn't, mustn't) that had me shaking my head in sad resignation. Someone was asked what the Magna Carta is. (Brace yourselves.) With absolute certainty came the answer, "It's a type of champagne." I could have forgiven it had there been some measure of hesitation in the answer, or had it been prefaced with a "maybe." As it was, I felt like calling Gordon Brown right then and there to say, "Yo, GB... hey, you guys were right all along. What the fuck were our forefathers thinking? You can have the country back. My apologies for all this foolishness."

Oh, and in my humble opinion? Saying those three little words "I don't know" is one of the most intelligent things a person can utter. Think about it.

The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.
~Elbert Hubbard

I'll say no more. My tongue hurts from all this incessant biting.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In My Prime

I know. You think I'm all about words. I'm not. Fact is, I've been a number freak nearly all my life. I always excelled in math classes - math has long been a fascinating puzzle to me. Numbers interest me, and I've always had a good faculty for remembering numbers- phone numbers, combinations, etc. I work in the land of accounting and I'm good at it.

A few years ago it dawned on me that my life is filled with prime numbers (numbers that are only divisible by themselves and the number 1). For example, my birth date is 11/17/61; numerically the name Barb adds up to 23; more often than not when I wake up in the middle of the night the clock reads 3:47. I've never though much about the meaning behind it, only that it was interesting. I brought this little personal phenomenon up to my friend Wendi (my sage advisor) a few weeks ago. She asked if I'd ever done a numerology chart of my name or birthday. I barely even know such a thing existed much less considered it. Wendi's been reading up on and following aspects of numerology for years. She proceeded to pull up a site ( on her computer and left me stunned with stuff that rang so true that it's not a stretch to say that I was shook.

First of all,
Wikipedia defines numerology as "...any of many systems, traditions or beliefs in a mystical or esoteric relationship between numbers and physical objects or living things." Now, before you think I've taken a dive off the deep end, let me qualify this by saying that all things with any mystical value interest me, and like any belief system it's all open to interpretation, and ultimately based upon something another human set in place (read: open to fallibility).

Here's what says about my birth date - whether you agree that this defines the quintessential Barb or not, understand that these are definitely qualities that I strive for in my life:
Life Path Destiny: 36 / 9
You contain all of the qualities of the humanitarian. Patient, wise and compassionate, you love in a way that can choose no favorites. You are here to love and to serve all equally and without prejudice. Others are drawn to you as a role model and it is your responsibility in life to be the embodiment of integrity, wisdom and inspiration. You are attracted to the fine arts and philosophy and you seem to have a direct line to higher wisdom. You will always receive all that you need. It is important that you focus your attention on service.

Further, here's what says about the name Barbara Ann Black:
Soul Urge: 5 (Vowels: AAAAA)
Your Soul Urge - The Song of Your Soul - A Deeper Look Into What Motivates You

The Soul Urge number has also been called Heart's Desire and Spiritual Urge. It is our secret, innermost longing. Our dream, our motivation, the fuel that energizes our journey. The Soul Urge number reveals what we secretly strive to be or accomplish.
Variety is what drives you. For this reason travel, the arts, education and self expression are areas where you are likely to be found. Freedom to choose, to move about without limitation, to absorb information and to observe life are imperative to your inner health and happiness. You crave stimulation and may be drawn to exhilarating adventures and death-defying sports. Your sensual nature will lead the way. (Note from Barb: About the only thing that doesn't ring true there is the death-defying sports bit. However, skydiving is on my bucket list.)

Personality: 42 / 6 (Consonants: BRBRNNBLCK)
Your Personality - The Impression You Make upon the World
The Personality number describes the way we appear to the outside world, the first impression people have of us. We may not even be aware of how we are perceived by others because we are so often focused on our inner world, and many times the inner does not match the outer. Personality gives us a peek at some hidden talents we have. The talents that we use to get along in the world and in some instances, protect us from it. It is likened to a bag of tools (jewels) that we carry with us along the way.
People and animals are attracted by your maternal nurturing and affectionate appearance. It feels good being around you, as you are always looking for ways that you can make someone more comfortable. Your home is probably beautiful and welcoming too. You dress to reflect your harmonious and comfortable nature.
Expression: 47 / 11 / 2
Your Expression - Character, Talents and Identity - Your Unique Quality of Consciousness
The Expression number shows us who we truly are, what we came into this life already knowing. This is where we feel most comfortable and how we automatically act. We attract people and situations to us that require our Expression so that they can further evolve. In this way we play the role of teacher. Naturally we are attracted to occupations that we resonate to, so the Expression number can be a strong factor in our choice of a career as well. Our Expression is the vehicle, with all its virtues and vices, that drives us along the path of our Destiny. It is the essence of our identity.
As a peacemaker and mediator, you bring harmony and intuitive insight to all you come in contact with. You have an inborn ability to understand all sides of a situation, and you have the tact and gentleness to express it in a way that it will be received. This talent is the magical ingredient for "Peace on Earth". You are endowed with a high vibrational energy that may be expressed through inspirational, teaching, preaching, acting, art or invention. You have access to prophetic wisdom and your positive attitude is a transformational force in other people's lives. Fame and notoriety is very likely at some point in your life, as your kind of energy gets noticed! Much will be required of you in life when you have a master number (11 is a master number) vibration, because much will be given.

Later, in traipsing about the site on my own, I took it a little further and plugged in the words Black Inkpad, just to see if the moniker was as tasty as I feel like it is. Here's the report that came back (Fascinating, Captain!):
Expression: 39 / 12 / 3Self-expression is the gift you bring to the world. Whether through the arts, writing, drama, music or through some other field, you bring joy and inspiration to all by your sunny outlook and creative talents. You can assume a new role at any time, all mediums are open to you as methods of self-expression.Soul Urge: 11 / 2Peace and harmony is your desire. You are a natural mediator as you are genuine, tactful and adaptable. You tend to put your own will aside for others and it is difficult for you to make decisions. This may cause others to see you as shy, or lacking confidence. Your sensitivity and gentleness can be a great healing force bringing harmony and support to others.Personality: 28 / 10 / 1Others see you as a unique individual who always does their "own thing". Independent, capable and pioneering, you seem to take control of the situation and make it run effectively. You are very concerned with your image and always seem to dress in a way that gets noticed.

There's much more to all this and I'm just taking tottering baby steps. But I do find it extremely interesting and rather satisfying (in a "see, I told ya!" kind of way). What does it all mean? Dunno. It's not like I've discovered things about myself that I didn't already know, but I'm open to whatever wisdom the universe deigns to fling my way. I still don't know, and have found little on the significance of all the primes in my life, but they continue to pop up.
Lubomir Dimitrov says, "There are numbers, which cannot be divided on any other number. They are called prime numbers . These are for example 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 and so on. These numbers represent prime energy - they express something that has never existed before. For this reason they are special..."

Good enough for me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Life Imitates Art

This is "my" mountain. This is Mt. Pilchuck - taken from Mountain Loop Hwy on the way to my house. It's the view I get to see every day on my way home from work. The Stillaguamish ("my" river) winds its way around front of that mountain, and Chez Black sits on this side of the river with that imposing beauty rising from the granite on the other side. No great wonder that I love it out there.

Saturday was stormy weather day as a bona fide Nor'wester moved through the area. We had some kinda wild rain, boy howdy, and it lasted a good 24 hours plus some. So, I spent the day puttering around, unpacked a few things, arranged and rearranged a few things. Then I decided to plug in my Northern Exposure DVDs while I folded some laundry and tried to figure out which cold weather stuff wouldn't look too ridiculously baggy on me (*oh happy day*).

Now, anyone who's known me for any length of time or who's paid attention to my blather here, knows what a huge fan I am of Northern Exposure - the quirky characters, the witty and intelligent writing, the fine acting, and dear gods, the scenery. Oy, the scenery. That's what yanked my chain in the early 90's and got me looking to the Northwest as home. That's what made me cry back then as I watched every episode with the thought, "that's where I belong!" When I mentioned in a post a few days back that my new place is exactly the Northern Exposure / Pacific NW I came looking for, I didn't realize just how dead on I was. Not until Saturday.

I sat, barely paying attention to the socks I was folding and sorting, totally focused on the residents of Cicely, Alaska. Suddenly, there came a scene depicting Maurice driving down a two lane highway and I dropped both my jaw and socks alike. There it was... MY mountain! Mt. Pilchuck. They had filmed him driving down the very road you see in the picture above. My eyes immediately welled with tears and I exclaimed to the indifferent cat, "Holy shit. I really have found it!"

Funny the meandering path that's lead me to this... the dreams, the places, the people. Here I am, right where I wanted to be. And, like all of the good things that have happened in my life, it just fell right into my lap. The Universe gave a great gift to me (again) just a couple of weeks ago, and I promise that I will cherish it for all it merits. I am humbled by the majestic mountain, by the stoic stance of the trees against the wind, by the indomitable rush of the river, by the shadow and light as it dances on the rocks. How dare I... me, Barb Black, the girl from Grand Rapids, Michigan... how dare I stand in the midst of all that and think myself worthy? I'm just a gypsy after all... dreaming by warmth of the fire.

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land?
~Chief Seattle

Friday, October 3, 2008

True Speech

Ok, I haven't said it in a long time so I think I'm allowed. TATFGIF!!! (Thank all the freekin' gods it's Friday!) I'm so ready for a weekend that currently has no plans, no packing (maybe a little unpacking, but only if I feel like it), no moving, no demands. Just me n' my woodsy haven.

In celebration of the pending weekend, I'm going to post some notable quotables that I've collected over the past couple of weeks. Again, these are all spoken by people I know...

"Hey ho!"
"Yo wench!"

You're wasting my minutes.

Did I ever tell you about my friend who named her cat Dildo?

Let's move on to a lighter topic - like how the world is going completely mad right before my jaded eyes

Yeee-uck!! Who made this coffee?! I've sucked soccer player toes that tasted better than this!
(believe it or not, I wasn't the one who said that)

"You moved?"
...and before I could answer...
"She's living in the forest a zillion miles from nowhere!"
"Dang. You're not gonna go Kaczynski on us, are you?"
...and later...
"You need to get a dog out there."
"And I need to get a shotgun."
"Oh Jesus, there she goes."
"Well, I need a fishing pole too, if that makes you feel any better."
"Have you stopped shaving your legs yet?"

Truth be told, I'm drunk and it's barely helping.

Meeting with him is just another bitter pill to swallow (like one of those urinal puck mint things).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Local Color

Small town country life... I love it! Finally, a place that meets what I've been preaching all along - a place where folks aren't afraid to look you in the eye and say howdy, and more often than not beyond howdy and into a knee deep conversation. Granted, some of them would make fascinating characters for a book - the kind that get written into the "odd duck" chapter. Still, it's nifty and once again, just what I'd hoped.

The other day I stopped into the local grocery store (yay, a grocery store and not a *gag* superstupormarket), got to the cash register, and the cashier greeted me as if I was her long lost friend, "Well hey, how are ya? Having a decent day? Whatchya up to?" When I explained that I was in the process of moving to her neck of the woods, she was delighted - gave me a hearty welcome and regaled me with weather need-to-knows. After about five minutes, another customer walked up and we parted ways, both of us with a "Hey, have a great day - see ya later!"

I stopped at one of the local gas stations (way cheaper than "in the city") to fuel up and met the mayor of Granite Falls. Friendly guy, drives an old diesel truck, agrees that real people should have a say in what's being done (or not being done) about the confounded bank "bailouts," welcomed me to his fair metropolis with a hearty handshake (and he's not even up for re-election!), and sent me on my way with a "be careful out there..."

Then there was space cadet Teresa. I was out unloading the truck the other day when a shabby old mini pickup pulled up. See... I'm at a dead end, keep going past my driveway and you end up in the river - no one shows up without being noticed. The scruffy looking hippy-chick got out of her dusty rig, stretched and looked down the slope toward the river. I pulled another box out of my truck, stretched as well, leaned against Birddog and said, "Howdy!" She met me with stoned eyes and a rather sleepy, "Heyy..." We chatted a minute or two about my obvious moving pains. She asked me if I needed a roommate (uh, no thanks hippy-chick... one gypsy in this camp is enough). She proceeded to explain that I'd likely see her around as she is a "rock hound," and comes down to the river to hunt quartz and garnets. She went on her way with a wave and a "Be cool!" (Yes, she really said that!) I am SO getting a rock hammer!

Last night as I was hauling some empty boxes (yay!) and empty beer bottles (also yay!) out to the recycle bin, a gorgeous big mix of what appeared to be collie and german shepard came loping up to me. "Well, hi there buddy!" I exclaimed as I gave him what seemed to be a required pat. Then, "LOKI!" I heard a male voice holler, and I turned to see a woodsy looking fellow walking down the road toward the river, fishing pole in his hand, second equally large dog by his side. "Sorry," he said. "Friggin' beast has boundary issues." I laughed and introduced myself to my new neighbor, Bob. We talked a minute about fishing - turns out my bit of river is a prime trout spot and the steelhead should be arriving any day now. "Good luck," I said as he followed the dogs down the bank. "You too!" he responded.

Life in a Northern town... ah hey, ma ma ma ma.