Sunday, December 31, 2006

Looking Down the Road to 2007

As 2007 approaches I want to take a moment to look ahead to the good things and to the concerns that all residents of Dried Salmon (Clatsop) County should pay attention to over the next year.

First, on the positive, Jeff Hazen will now be a County Commissioner. Jeff confessed that he reads this blog with his morning coffee, and that’s not why I’m saying something nice about him, (I say bad things about people who read daily as well). In reality, Jeff is a passionate person who has the ability to be objective. He did wonders for Warrenton, which seems to have fallen apart badly without his present leadership. It will be good to have new Commissioner without a “Good Ol Boy” attitude.

Also on the positive Lylla Gaebel will no longer be a commissioner, and let’s hope she doesn’t get elected to the Port Commission. In fact lets hope that no one on the port commission ever gets re-elected as well. (Bastards, rat bastards, all of them.)

Next we all need to be very concerned about LNG coming into our community. Even if you think LNG will work for you, please listen to the opposition and see what they are saying about why it won’t be good for the community. I know it’s hard to change your opinion once you have chosen to be on the LNG side, but in reality it is dangerous stuff, and they are only bringing it here so it can be piped down to California. Tijuana even refused an LNG port, that’s how bad it is. Ask yourself if you have ever been lied to by an energy company in the past. Please let your elected officials know what you are thinking after consider this industry objectively.

The next concern is the Big Box invasion. With Home Depot poised to build on what I once heard was a native burial ground; realize that nothing is sacred. Not our unique life styles, our beauty nor our natural resources. We have to be mindful that Wal*Mart is knocking at the door, and as soon as the sewer is complete in Jeffers Garden you can expect a lot of action in that direction. There are all sorts of Marts and Depots waiting in the wings to pave over farm land and marsh alike with mitigated quasi replicas where no one will ever build anyway. Ask yourself if you really need to buy that cheep crap that is made in China in the first place.

Finally, a concern that keeps rearing its ugly head and that is the Dried Salmon County District Attorneys office. If one reads the forum at Clatsop County Matters, it seems that more and more citizens are voicing their concerns over the things that the DAs office is getting involved with and has been involved in. It is so sad when the citizens lose confidence in the department in which they entrust their justice. Presently the jury pool in this community is tainted by the fact that the citizens distrust this department. This could and will throw their objectivity toward the defense because too many people are aware of the dirty tricks that the DA and his minions employ. If called for jury duty, I for one would have state my concerns and be excused from any jury because of the things I have heard about the DA’s office.

So that's it for now. Be sure to check back tomorrow for an Astoria Rust contest that we all can participate in over the next year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Sense of Smell

The final sense is that of smell. We all have our triggers that will remind us of home, our first love and the first day of school. Humans seem to love the smell of right out of the oven chocolate chip cookies, new cars, leather, fresh bread and I’ve been told by mothers that a baby’s head is a wonderful smell to them.

Once my wife and I spent the night at a hotel in Portland. Upon check-in we each received a large chocolate chip cookie to take to our room. I nibbled at mine until it was finished and her remained on the table. At about 4am I was woken by the smell of the cookie on the table. Hours later she woke up and we prepared to check out. She took the cookie from the table and tossed it in the garbage on the way out of the room. With total shock I said, "How could you do that? That cookie was calling to me and kept me awake all night." She laughed and accused me of having a pooh bear tummy, which is one with a mind of its own I snagged the cookie and put it in its rightful place as we walked to the car.

Smell is a very complex thing that reacts to our intelligence as well to our lizard brains deep within. Pheromones will sometimes invite us and make certain attractions seem perfectly normal. We can’t even smell them but our brains can and we react in primative ways.

Take something that smells good and you can ruin it by adding another scent to it. Something can also smell good, but then become too concentrated which makes it smell bad.

So what scents do I enjoy most? I will tell you, and it’s not pretty. In fact it’s down right weird. It is a combination of three things, and I don’t know, but it is a country thing to me. The combination, and it has to be just right is balsam, wood smoke and horse shit.

Ok, go ahead and laugh, but when that combination comes around I feel an overwhelming feeling of well being. It reminds of times spent in rural Canada with a team of draft horses where wood fire provided heat and warm food, and the air was rich with the scent of balsam. Nuff said...Shut up.

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Sense of Sight

Today I will continue with senses series exploring sight. I’ve seen some remarkable things, as I’m sure we all have. Most remarkable are the Northern Lights, the clear water in a Canadian lake and off South Point, Hawaii. I’ve seen commits and falling stars. I’ve seen famous people. I’ve seen many beautiful faces and especially beautiful eyes. I’ve seen myself as I age. I’ve seen art and nature, whales and eagles. I’ve seen a man get hit by a train.

So how does one come up with a thing of beauty that is best when there is so much competition? It’s hard, but it is possible. I actually have a very odd favorite and this is because of not only what happened, where it happened, when it happened and who I was at the time.

I’ve mentioned that I worked for a Catholic seminary, and I lived on the property as well. The grounds were about 350 acres for the main part, and another thousand or so acres across the river.

Being that it snowed in New Jersey, you had to get out in it or you would get cabin fever by the time February came around. Sometimes I would go Cross Country Skiing, but with all that property at my disposal my friend and I got a couple of snow mobiles. We would ride through the estate and sometimes we would slip over to the thousand acre tract across the river. Once there we could connect up with what is known as the Tennessee Pipeline, which was a 150 foot wide swatch through the oak and maple forests that went on for miles. Actually the damn thing went all the way to Tennessee. Riding the pipeline was fun because we could open the machines up and travel over 60- miles per hour over the snow blanket.

Back then before snowmobiles had heaters one stayed warm by tucking their legs up under the shell of the hood where the heat of the engine would be blown back. We also wore helmets with face shields which not only kept your head warm, but it blocked the sound as well.

One night my friend talked me into taking the machines to Ringwood, a town about 25 miles away. It was a beautiful winter night, and we drove our way through the old roads and paths through the woods, to gain access to the pipe line. We went all the way to Ringwood, where we stopped and broke out the thermos of some hot chocolate and basked in the glory of a winter night.

It was time to get back home, so we started the machines and turned them homeward. As we did it began to snow. It was a nice dry snow, a beautiful snow that didn’t stick to our face shields. Our head lights illuminated our path ahead and the harder it snowed the less of the path we could see. Over the next 15 miles or so it looked as though we were in outer space and snow flakes were like stars shooting past us. Soon all we could see were the flakes. It was an odyssey and a sight I’ll never forget. There was all this white illuminated by the headlights with a night black background.

Sometimes I will be driving back home from Portland and I'll encounter snow on the pass. Sometimes I'll be the only car on the road and the snow will come down like stars. The two headlights remind of my earlier days when there were two headlights of snow mobiles cruising through the darkness of the Ramapo Mountains. I felt so free back then.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Sense of Hearing

Continuing with the senses tour; today I would like to write about the best thing my ears have ever heard. I’ve heard a lot of very interesting music and sounds over the years. Most people if posed the question of what the best sound they ever heard would reply to say the voice of their child, the voice of someone that said, “I love you”, or the sound of rain on a tin roof or maybe the sound of waves in the ocean, or maybe a particular concert they attended. For some it would be the crack of a ball confronting a baseball bat, or a cork being released from a bottle.

My favorite sound is a little less common and less sentimental. I’ve heard a lot of the sounds of nature. Some of the remarkable ones have been loons and whip-or-wills of the North woods. Whistling elks and howling coyotes are remarkable as well.

My favorite sound is that of the Swainson's thrush (Catharus ustulatus) This thrush is an unremarkable bird to look at. It is very good at hiding or blending in. This bird ranges through most of Canada and the Pacific Northwest.

It isn’t a creature of great pulchritude, but its voice is like liquid in an echoing canyon. You will hear this bird in the evenings in July. The day has been long and warm, and when you are about to settle down for the evening this bird begins its song. It is most dreamy and probably the most welcome sound to my ears. You may hear this remarkable sound at the link below.

Swainsons Thrush

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Sense of Taste

Our sense of taste is something that often brings us more joy than all our other senses. Anyone with epicurean interests can probably describe some of their favorite tastes to a degree that would have most people bored to tears in no time.

Taste will often evoke memories of times that predate our ability to speak. Sometimes we will forget the events of a day, but when reminded of the meals we had the events of the day become very present.

So how do I explain my best culinary moment, a moment of surprise and excellent taste that actually rewarded me with joy that I carry with me today? My task will be easier for many of you since it involves something local, particularly the Columbia Café.

My most memorable moment was while having breakfast there several (13) years ago. It was the first time I had gone there for breakfast. I ordered some sort of crêpe, and to my delight I took a spoon full of Uriah’s garlic jelly and plopped it on a crêpe and smeared it around. As the fork entered my mouth, there was some sort of off-gassing event that told my mouth this was going to be good; very good in deed.

The fork with crêpe and garlic jelly landed squarely on the center of my tongue, and the taste quickly spread to every taste bud to the north, south, east and west. It crept along my palate, and my mouth felt as though it was singing with joy.

When I finished my meal I made sure to get one of those little wooden cartons with a pack of three jellies in it; garlic, red pepper and green pepper jellies. I put the jellies on everything I ate over the next week. I had all I could do not to put it on oatmeal. I went online to SOAR: The Searchable Online Archive of Recipes ( and found a recipe and made several pints. I love the stuff, though I haven’t had any for quite some time. This article reminds me I must have some again soon.

It all sounds so strange to value this simple culinary garnish above some of the most amazing meals I’ve had is some of the finest eateries on the continent, but this actually made my mouth feel as though each taste bud was singing; loudly. It was the surprise and the splendor that made this decision easy for me to choose it as the best taste experience in my life so far.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Sense of Touch or Feeling

Yesterdays post got me thinking about my five senses. Over the next five days I am going to explore the events or items that have been the best things my senses have come into contact with. Today I will begin with the most difficult; the feeling of feeling or as some would say touch.

The reason I call it feeling rather than touch is that touch seems like it is on a smaller scale like something on the ends of your finger tips, or a kiss where ever. Many people immediately think of sexual feeling being the best thing possible. For me there was something much more remarkable.

I worked for a place that got their water from their private reservoir in the mountains. I had just become certified in SCUBA so my boss asked me if I’d be willing to make a dive to see if I could find the problem why water was no longer feeding out of the lake.

I rounded up everything I would need for a late winter dive into icy water, and we headed up into the Ramapo Mountains to McMillan Reservoir in a rickety old Jeep.

The water valve and pipe were in this stone structure that was built into the lake-side of the dam. No one who was presently living knew what it looked like inside the stone structure since the dam was built very early in the 1900s and the lake had never been drained. The water was rich with iron so one could never see more than three feet in depth. All that was known was that I could enter the water below the valve or through a water window in the structure that let water into the chamber from the lake. I choose the water window.

I entered the water and immediately a shot of cold water went down my back inside the wet suit. That’s how wet suits work, you get wet and the water warms to body temperature and is kept warm by the nitrogen bubbles in the suit.

Once wet I headed to the water window and I entered the stone structure with my flashlight and I descended slowly down to about 30 feet where I reached the bottom where there was an opening to the north into another chamber where the six-inch pipe was housed. The pipe was chocked with mud and ooze and litter. I picked away at it, but then thought if I clear this pipe my arm is going to get sucked into it and I’ll never get away. My air would run out before anyone realized there was a problem.

I carefully resurfaced to get a crow bar and to have the crew above assure me the valve was closed. I returned to the depths and worked for about ten minutes clearing the pipe, but in the process my flippers kicked up a lot of mud from the bottom, as did my pipe cleaning activity. I could no longer see unless I put my light right up against my mask.

Here I was blind and weightless under 30 feet of water inside a dam. I knew how much air I had in reserve. My job was done, but I lingered for probably ten more minutes in total sensory deprivation. The only sense I had that was getting any input was my hearing. The bubbles make a great deal of noise when you exhale under water. You can also hear a slight whistle when you inhale.

I feel as though I now know what it feels like to float out in the darkness of space.

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Gang of Five

Recently I ended an article with the words, “This place in which we live is a natural wonderland that can awake every sense you possess.”

Having given this statement a little more thought I find it remarkable the effect this area has on our five senses. Those of you who have a sixth sense are on your own.

However, the all around beauty is something we see. The briny scent of the river or ocean, or the smell of the forest is an olfactory delight. We can hear the wind in the trees, the waves at the shore, the sea lions and fog horns. We taste the local food and can taste the clean air. We feel the mist and rain or the warm, but not hot sun on our skin when it isn’t raining.

Living here is a sensory delight, but that is a deeper topic for some post. Starting tomorrow and over the following five days I will explore the senses to try to expose those events that delighted each of my senses most in my 51 years here on Earth.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

My Last Christmas Post

Being a person who openly does not like Christmas or anything that it stands for albeit, religious, pagan or the combination of the two, I am thought of as the repository of all things nasty about the holiday season. Readers such as Rich in Virginia, Syd in Mississippi, Portosan in Cannon Beach and Barb in Canada have been sending me photos and cartoons all month, and I would love to post them all, but that just wouldn’t be fair to those readers with a dial-up connection.

CyberBoo7, that nice, wholesome Canadian girl, Miss Faith, Hope and Love herself, probably shared the most with me. Yes, Barb I have seat 5A reserved for you on our chartered flight to Hell.

Anyway, Barb sent me so many good ones, but the picture from her above just seemed to sum it up better than the rest.

So this will be my final post on Christmas for the season. Wende, it’s now safe to return, but careful, there is a hint of Easter in the air. Can’t you smell it? I can...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Xmas Bambi

I've been saving this photo as kind of a Christmas card to Syd in Mississippi, but the more I look at it I'm starting to think the person in the photo is our very own Moosehead.

Then I found another one...
Yep, it's him alright!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Art and Craft of Fire

During the recent 48 hour power outage I took the opportunity to slow down. Sure there was much to do to keep enough light in the house for reading and navigation and to keep the house warm and to set up the camping stove so we could continue with creature comforts such as warm meals and coffee and tea.

However without electricity one really must slow down. You don’t do a load of laundry. You don’t pop things into the microwave. You don’t check email. You do conserve your energy. You are mindful of your batteries, and your propane and lamp oil supply. You listen to the radio intently. Basically you wake up and consider all that you take for granted.

Spending many hours in front of the fire place, I was able to contemplate the hot coals and realize that real fire is no longer used for much these days. We now heat things with all sorts of electrical power, and the only time one normally sees fire it comes from a gas fuel source.

It seems that few people deal with fire any more, and I think back to the little blacksmith work I did years ago. I think back to feeding a wood fire pottery kiln. I think back to cooking on a wood stove and heating a house with wood as its only heating source. I think about cooking on a camp fire.

Maybe we as humans are evolving away from open flames. They are dangerous and high maintenance, but it has only been in the last 40 years that we have eliminated most of the need for imprecise fire. Perhaps in 40 more years it will only be a true craftsman who will know what to do with it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Warm Bed for Sleeping

When writing a daily blog, one need to constantly come up with content. So I will again use the recent power failure as fodder. With the power out, one breaks their routine and this brings things to mind that are stored deep within our memories.

Our fireplace doesn’t heat our house very well at all. Especially with the bedroom sixty feet North and up a flight of stairs away from the fire place. When we called it a day and went to bed we felt how cold a bed could be when there is no heat. Though it didn’t take long to heat up with body heat, it was indeed cold upon entry.

This reminded me of my mother telling me when I was a child getting into bed on a cold night about what her father did for her. He would heat up a stone or a brick by the fire, and then he would wrap it in a felt cloth and place it under her covers at the foot of her bed. My mother, then a skinny little girl living in the working class Irish section of Patterson, NJ, said she felt like royalty getting into her warmed bed.

The photo above is of my mother when she was seven years old. My mother is now 85 years old. I am still carrying the story she told me of her life in the late 1920s and of a fathers love for his little girl. This story is with me every time I climb into a bed that is less than warm.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Drunk By 10

I recently visited a Chinese restaurant to pick up some take-out. It was early afternoon, and I was surprised to see their bar full with customers drinking as though their lives depended on it. To me, drinking in the afternoon is something that goes far beyond recreation. It’s a sign of a problem.

I am not speaking as someone who is puritanical and as one who has never done it in the past. I have done it, and it always seemed to feel like I was descending down twelve steps into low life. No, I'm not nor ever have been in AA. I don't even like the organization and all their higher power bullshit. To me it just seems totally foreign to be in a bar during daylight hours.

My personal favorite event of my debauchery was when a friend who lived near me in New Jersey was building a house on a lake-front lot in the Adirondacks. I was going through the area on my way to Canada and he asked if I would go to the house and take some photographs for him. I had to find his brother who lived in town by the lake. His brother had the key and would let me in. The warning was that his brother never answered his phone, but I would be able to find him usually at 8am at this bar where he had breakfast every morning.

I arrived there the night before and stayed in a motel. I got up early and drove to the bar to get the key from Roland. I was expecting an up scale place that had a lounge that served breakfast and meals until an appropriate drinking hour came about. This is not what I found. It was instead what people of my parents’ generation would call a gin mill. It was one of those hard core bars with dark and dank lighting. Any lighting was covered by this colored plastic imitation glass. There were no windows, and one couldn‘t see daylight because of the way the inner and outer doors were situated. There was a film of cigarette smoke on everything.

When my eyes adjusted I saw six locals with bellies up to the bar drinking shots and beers at 8am. I thought to my self, “What a sheltered life I’ve been living.” I was just going to get the key and leave, but then I figured, maybe I’d stay for an Adirondack breakfast myself.

I had two or three beers before my breakfast order came out. I must admit the flavor of those eggs and bacon and toast were enhanced with a slight buzz. Then I had another and another, and by 10am I was too shit faced to do anything but to return to the motel. Yes, I was driving while impaired, but I made it and slept until 4pm. I spent another night, but the next morning I was able to go to the house, take the photos, and return the key to Roland at the bar on my way out of town. I was invited to stay for breakfast, but I told my new bar fly friends that I really had to get on my way. I’ve never been back.

I wonder how people who drink that early in the day ever get anything done. Maybe it’s the motivation one needs to never accomplish anything. For some doing nothing is a full-time occupation. I only flirted with that flame.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Immortals

Sometimes (though rarely)I find myself out in a social situation late at night. I look around and see all the immortals and I am amazed that I was once among them.

The immortals are those, usually under the age of 35 who can stay up drinking, smoking, bar hopping, party hopping, finding romance, sleeping for only an hour or two and still getting up to spend a day at work.

Mortality is a concept that one just doesn’t seem to get until later in life. When you are immortal nothing holds you down for long. You can recover from just about everything with a little sleep. When you become mortal a couple of drinks can cloud you head for a week. Physics kicks in where you can see that every action comes with an equal and opposite reaction, plus you start getting reactions for things you did years earlier.

My advice to the immortals, ride that wave as best you can. Remember the good times, and even write them down, because when you become a mortal, your memories will have to hold you over.

Monday, December 18, 2006

STOP LNG (Bonus Post II)

Please attend the STOP LNG meeting, Tuesday, Dec 19 at 6:30pm at #10 Basin St. Astoria at the Union Fish Meeting Room at the Cannery Pier Hotel.

Love Anon Bonus Post

I must say that I love our occasional commenter, “Love Anon.” At the slightest hint of trouble in my neighborhood, my phone will ring. “Hey, they are closing your road due to high water.”, “Hey, there are trees blocking the road out where you live.”, “Hey, the power is out on your road.”

Love Anon has been a dear friend of mine for about ten years now, and I just want her to know how much I appreciate her always looking out for my well being.

Eyes ...Again

OK, the time has come where I need to impose yet another restriction on my life. Yes, I’ve already given up using any caffeine after 1pm. I’ve given up on most sweets, soda (or pop as you call it here) and snack foods. I’ve given up my recreational drug use and tobacco. I no longer stay up past 11pm. I rarely drink alcohol.

As I’ve discussed in the past, my eye sight is getting worse as I age. I’ve skated by longer than I should have, but it is becoming obvious with recent trips to the market. I’ll buy products that I think are right, but when I get them home I see they are not at all what I wanted.

I wanted some plain chicken broth and ended up with a garlic enhanced broth. I wanted ½ and ½ and ended up with ½ and ½ with mocha mint flavoring in it. Anticipating power outtages I wanted to get some lamp oil, and ended up with some sort of potpourri liquid that totally screwed up my wicks.

I can go on about my recent mistakes, and I can perhaps blame some of it on shopping at Safeway and my not knowing where the things I really want should be in that store and the fact that they have a different product line for many items. However in reality, if I had been wearing my reading glasses it never would have happened.

I promise here and now never to venture anywhere outside of my bedroom or bathroom without a pair of reading glasses available to me at all times.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

God and Santa

God and Santa seem to have a lot in common.

With God, if you are good you get to go to heaven. With Santa you get presents. If you are bad with God you are sent to hell, with Santa you get coal in your stocking. With God, if you aren’t baptized you go to Limbo, with Santa, if you don’t believe you get passed over like the Jews. With God there is the Book of Life. With Santa it’s a list of who is naughty or nice. Both God and Santa are pictured as fat old men with beards. God has saints and angels, Santa has helpers. They both live in places where they can’t be found. God floats on clouds, Santa floats in the air on a sleigh. You must confess your sins to God, and you have to tell Santa if you have been good all year.

So maybe God and Santa are one and the same. They are never seen at the same place at the same time (they are never seen). God has a son, but no wife and Santa has a wife but no children. I’m suspicious. I will close with a quote from G.K Chesterton, “The eye with which God I see is the same eye with which God sees me.”

(Yes, I am still an Atheist, but I figured I’d throw a bone to the believers out there.)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Nick Names

I find it odd how rare it is that anyone has a nick name these days. Every member of my father’s family had a nick name. In fact I didn’t know what their real names were until I was a teen.

It may have been that families such as my father’s were first generation Americans and they needed an identity above being children of immigrants. It could also be that nick names are just a thing of the past. I wasn’t able to make sociological observations like that until after 1960 when the hay day of nick names had already passed.

I guess we still have nicknames of a sort, but they are self assigned and have little to do in our real lives. No one calls me Rust, especially since I don’t have red hair. Nor do they call me Guy. It is only here where that is done. It’s kind of like C. B. radio handles, self assigned, and descriptive of something, but not as real as a nick name that one has earned.

My favorite earned nickname belonged to an uncle. He was known as Uncle Goose. The story behind the name was that his mother had geese, and these geese would wander across the road to the brook that was a popular swimming hole for the local kids. The geese would shit over everything, so as a point of retaliation all the neighbor kids dubbed him and “Goose Shit.” By the time I born and met him his name was shortened to Goose. He probably lived for thirty or more years being called Goose Shit. Kids can be brutal.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Friends and readers. Last night we on the Oregon Coast got our asses kicked with a major storm. Just about all roads are blocked. There are utility poles snapped across from my house. Power may be out for days where I live. I hope all my local friends made it through this nasty one. You can bet there will be an article coming up about George Taylor...I will post as long as there is a battery in the laptop. With that said, here is todays's article.

Have you ever met someone named “Bob” who wasn’t crazy? I know, it’s kind of like believing in Numerology or Astrology, but think about it and notice it. When there is a piece on the news about criminals being caught, you can bet that the name Bob is the most popular name on the arrest sheet.

Want more? Who were the main suspects in Twin Peaks? All Bobs (except Leo). The murderer? Bob. What about the movie about the annoying guy, “What about Bob?”
Some Bobs try to hide behind the name Robert, but essentially they are all Bobs.

I once met someone named Sam who was as crazy as any Bob I had ever known. I was very suspicious, but soon found out he went by his middle name and his real first name was Bob.

Now I’m not saying that all Bobs are criminally insane, I am saying that they have a different take on life. One which is slightly out of step with the reality that most people who weren't named Bob,know.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sound Waves

Sometimes I’ll be out on the property in the winter when the day is still and there is a cover of clouds in the sky. It’s almost magic, but I can hear the ocean. There is an audible thunder that can be heard five miles inland. I can best describe it as an organic static. The sound makes its way over the hills and bounced down from the clouds above.

The sound is almost that of a highway in the distance but far more intense. I am reminded of going to the Palisades in Ft Lee, New Jersey above the Hudson River. We would often go there at night and watch the traffic coming and going over the George Washington Bridge. One could feel the traffic in the rocks where we sat. That was the soud of thousands of tires and that sound is different than the sounds of thousands of waves.

Sometimes you can hear a major wave break, or perhaps it is several waves in different places breaking at the same time. The sound is distinct and above the drone of the rest of the surf noise.

This place in which we live is a natural wonderland that can awaken every sense you possess.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Sometimes our technology empowers us with more confidence than we should have. Having made a recent purchase of a new wall calendar, I was reminded of an event of two years ago when a dear friend with terrific computer graphic skills produced a limit edition of calendars. They were absolutely beautiful and tastefully done. I bought one from her and proudly displayed it in my kitchen.

I use my calendar to keep track of all sorts of stuff. I don’t use my computers for anything like times and dates. I broke my Palm Pilot years ago and never replaced it. If I need to do something it gets written on calendar in the kitchen. That is my main memory and I rely on it.

So I hang my friend’s calendar in the honored position, and I use it the way I’ve used all preceding calendars, and it is reliable, but it all fell apart in June. I was invited to a party for Love Anon's husbands birthday on I believe June 22nd. I looked it up and yes there was indeed a Sunday, June 22nd just sitting there ready for marking.

As you can well gather, I am not one who normally goes to parties, but I try to never miss a Love Anon party. On the third Sunday in June I drive out to Svensen, and find a few people surprised to see me. I had missed the party by one day. I couldn’t figure what could have possibly happened. I’m not normally a date flake.

When I got home I took a closer look at the calendar and saw that there was a Saturday the 22nd and a Sunday the 22nd. She had two 22nds. The Sunday was the one that caught my eye first so that’s where I wrote the party down.

I called my calendar friend and told her the problem I had, and she was already aware of it. The calendar was off by one day for the rest of the year. I had to do the unthinkable. I switched calendars in mid year.

My dear poor friend made new calendars the next year and gave each person with a faulty previous year calendar a new one. I tried to comfort her by suggesting new themes for future years, but I think she has totally left that business behind.

One theme she considered (and it was her idea) was Historic Criminals of Astoria. Now that’s a calendar worth buying. Another idea is to create calendars that are totally messed up so one can use them to avoid just about anything and blame it on the calendar.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Tree in the House

Christmas, to me was always a phony event in line with saying “CHEESE” before having a photograph taken. Though the holiday is deeply engrained into the American psyche, I never fell for it. One of the early photos my parents have of me is of my crying on Santa’s lap. Even at the age of two he was as creepy as any clown. I was even creeped out at a young age by seeing Mr. Peanut walking the streets of New York City.

My parents kept Christmas going until I was about 12 years old. One year I realized that we didn’t have a tree. I asked my mother why, and she said it was too much trouble. I agreed so I never had one since, with an exception I’ll mention in a moment.

I was just saying how engrained this holiday is in our psyche. When I moved out here, the first time I walked into the house that I purchased and still live in, I looked at the knotty tongue and groove wood, sixteen-foot high cathedral ceiling, and the flagstone fireplace and the floor to ceiling window and thought to my self, “This would be a wonderful room for a Christmas tree.” I couldn’t believe that thought even came into my mind.

I never had a tree until my wife moved in with her children. Rather than inflict them, the children, with life altering scars, we decided to go with the flow. Christmas is a competition for children. No matter what sort of religious crap you feed them about Christmas they know the true meaning is about what they get. Don't be fooled. I didn’t want to have them become social out casts, and I didn’t want to be thrown out of my own house for a month every year.

We did stop it all when the youngest was around 15 and we’ve never looked back. I find it odd how I’ve bent to whims of society, but without children it is so easy to take on the hard line. Now I just need to find a way to get out of going to stupid pot-luck holiday parties. It’s hard to fain illness for three weeks straight. It’s hard to come up with believable alibis.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gardens and History

It’s funny (to me at least) how similar history is to gardening. If a garden isn’t tended it will revert back to nature in very little time. History if not tended will progress to total misunderstanding, myth or become the forgotten.

Gardens are planted and cultivated, as is history, oft times. How much have we heard about Columbus while we were growing up that we find now wasn’t true at all. How much did we hear about George Washington that wasn’t true? History is most often subjective like the news we get from the news media. Where exactly is the truth? Maybe there is never just one truth.

Some of the plants we grow in the garden are cultivated weeds. Some of these weeds escape and become problem plants elsewhere. Without writers, historians and gardeners, everything would revert back to a natural state. Perhaps it would be better.

How could this be? Isn’t it said that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it? Maybe it’s the memory and bitterness over history that perpetuates wars that have been going on for hundreds of years. Maybe it’s the memory of bad treatment or loss of property that keeps racism alive today.

War can demoralize entire generations. I remember hearing vocal resentment in 1975 about Germans and the Japanese, from a war that ended 30 years earlier. Can you imagine how long the United States will be resented in the Middle-East. If we can hold a grudge for 30 years even after victory in WWII, imagine what grudges will be held for all the culture and history we have destroyed. Ever see a confederate flag. The South lost that war in the 1860s and there is still a grudge against the Yankees, and that’s close to a century and a half ago.

I will agree that it is a historical memory that makes us who we are today, but it is our lack of a “forgetory” that prevents us from moving forward more than a little every generation.

I just wonder what things would look like if we allowed our history to go fallow for a couple generations.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Contrition III

Bless me for I have sinned. I was hypocritical twice this weekend. For one, I aided a business that I detest, but it was totally for my benefit, and I’m not going to say anything more about it because none of you caught me in the act.

Next, I willingly went to a holiday party where Rust was outed. OK, here’s the scoop… It was a party of my wife’s associates and we were sitting at the table with the cool kids, so Amy, who is 42 by the way,(her age has nothing to do with the story other than I told her I'd blog her age) asked if I have been doing any writing lately, to which I replied something like, “Nothing big, but I do work on a little blog every once in a while.” To which she said, “I read this one local blog…something like Rust in Astoria…Is that your blog? That has to be you, it’s your writing for sure…” To which I giggled like a window licker on a short bus. (I thank TLF and Syd for that quote, funnier than shit, and it still makes me laugh every day.)

So now five more people know who I am, including my wife who was probably pretty sure I was working on another novel with all the time I am on this computer, and here I am blogging…I feel so dirty.

Also I misspelled "bite" in the Black Fly Post, but I did correct it.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


I have met a lot of people with different fears over the years. It seems that there is a big difference between not liking something for various reasons and having a down right fear of them.

I know it is nearly impossible to cure anyone of a fear. People normally do not search for a cure for their fears unless it is something like flying and their living depends on them spending a lot of time in the air. The best one can do is to be understanding and sensitive.

I was not aware of my wife’s fear of caves and being underground until we came out of the Seattle Underground Tour. She also fears knives and sword fights, so I didn’t invite her to watch the Kill Bill films with me.

This all made me think about my fears, which I couldn’t really find any. I’m not afraid of heights, though I prefer not leaving the ground, but I have spent a lot of time doing roofing on my house and on the top of a thirty-foot ladder with a chain saw cutting limbs of spruce and hemlock trees. I’m not afraid of drowning, though I have come close to it on several occasions.

Could it be I am totally fearless? I am not, and I recently faced a fear that I have had ever since I could walk. I wrote about going to Macy’s recently, and one thing that I have always had a fear of is escalators. I am not so fearful that I take the stairs, but I am so uneasy getting on them. I closely inspect the hem of my pants to make sure they aren’t dragging on the floor. I make sure my shoe laces aren’t touching the ground (but now I wear Birks full-time.) I stay attentive and transfixed on their teeth (as I see them) and I remain motionless through out the ride. When it is time to get off I bound over the last few feet of the ride. It must be quite a sight.

Out of all the things my lizard brain could fear, I end up fearing escalators. I guess that’s pretty good since I rarely ever find myself needing to use one.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Black Fly

After some recent correspondence with CyberBoo7, about their family home on a Canadian lake, I was reminded of my youth on lakes in Quebec. There was Hawk Lake, Dam Lake, and Pickwick Lake. One thing they all had in common in the spring was the black fly. From May until early July the clouds of black flies would envelop anything that exhaled carbon dioxide. You could look from the center of any lake and see clouds of black flies congregated at the docks waiting for their next victim. They seemed to know where their bread was buttered. They wouldn’t congregate anywhere other than the docks or where they knew people would be.

To go out in a boat you had to be prepared to dash, untie, push off and get the motor going as quickly as possible. If your outboard had less horsepower than 5 HP, you would be certain to have a cloud of black flies follow you for at least two-hundred yards. With 5HP or more you could outrun them after a hundred feet.

The only way one could keep from losing all their blood to them was to dress in layers with no opening to the skin. Fly nets were necessary head wear. If they could find open skin they would bite it and leave a welt. I don’t understand how livestock and wild animals can survive this every spring.

Yes, it is nearly winter and the thoughts of insects should be far from anyones mind, but it is so nice to now live in an area where there are no insects that bother humans in the mass that black flies and North woods mosquitoes do in the Canadian and Alaskan wilderness.

Anyway, there was a cute cartoon and a song recently on Free Speech TV that I found again on YouTube. I dedicate this to Barb, Moosehead and Trish who really understand what this is about. This will show you what a pest these black flies really are without exaggeration.

Black Fly

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Jacket

I had to go to Portland last Saturday for a Board of Directors meeting for a group of which I am a member. Wanting to take full advantage of my trip, I went in early so I could do some shopping for a sport jacket. I know in my case it’s like putting lip stick on a pig, but I do have some pride.

I’ve tried shopping for one locally, and just can’t find anything in my size. I’m not a big slob or anything, but I am over 6 feet tall, and it seems the local shops carry clothing for either little guys or for the morbidly obese. Which brings to mind the Big Dog store, their sub name should be, “Big Dog, For those who have given up on caring about what they look like.”

Anyway, here I am, a country mouse wandering through Macy’s where people are dressed in clothing that they never get dirty. Women walk in some of the coolest, yet stupidest shoes I’ve ever seen. I see products that have little purposes for real living. I pass the make-up counter where women are dressed in lab coats like they are graduate students in the make-up arts.

It was just fun looking at all the city folks shopping, fully realizing I was one of them just 20 years ago.

I was alone, thank goodness. Had my wife been with me I’d still be there. I tell her that she is the only one I know who could actually spend 4 hours shopping for tooth picks. She agrees, and that’s a man V/ woman difference.

So I find my way upstairs to the men’s department and I zone in on the sport jacket rack. I try on two jackets. I take the second, never looking at the price. I like the jacket…but as it turned out a sales person had all sorts of deals where the jacket was 50% off and he shared something else with me that took another 30% off the price. So I got this really cool $250 jacket for $75.

My wife was pleased with my acquisition, and asked how long I had to shop to find a deal like that. I told her that the clock in my truck read 10:13 when I turned the engine off, and it read 10:30 when I returned. Seventeen minutes, and I had to walk quite a distance from where I parked. And find the men’s department. All and all, I suspect that the total transaction from the moment I touched the first jacket to walking out with the jacket in the bag was 2 minutes, 45 seconds tops. This may be a personal best.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

CC Santa

Not being a person instilled with vast amounts of glee, I avoid any holiday parties I am invited to. This wasn’t always the case. I was once young and full of optimism.

I remember a time when I was 18 years old. I was working at a Catholic Seminary, which had amazingly ornate Christmas parties. One of my co-workers was a really hot 30 year old woman named Judy. She and I really hit it off, being we were two fish who really had no business being in that pond.

We were at this party together, which got over early so the older workers could get home to bed before 8pm. Judy said to me that it was too early to call it a night so we should go to her husband’s club for their Christmas party. I was up for it, so we got into my car and she told me to head towards Hackensack. We drove down a foggy Rt. 17 to Rt. 4, and once we got to Hackensack she guided me down roads I had never been on before. We finally ended up on this dark, pot hole filled road with overgrown weeds and trash on the side. We pull up to what looks like an abandoned bowling ally with hundreds of motorcycles parked out side. I’m now nervous…

We walk in the door and are confronted by the loud noise of music, drunken bikers shouting and drinking and bowling. There was a large banner that said C.C. Riders, North Jersey. Holy shit! I had just recently finished reading Hunter Thompson’s book Hells Angles. I walked on egg shells in fear of getting stomped. I stuck close by Judy and Pete. There was no way in hell that I looked at all like I belonged there with my soft 18 year old, peach fuzz, boy face.

After an hour or so I started to relax. All attention was drawn to the biker Santa that came thundering in on a Harley. He got off the bike and sat on a chair by the bar. He shared a few Ho Ho’s and commanded all the ladies to get in line. “OK ladies!” He started, “Come here and sit on Santa's face and I’ll guess your weight!” Oh man, I thought, what the hell am I seeing here? It all turned out pretty harmless. Anyone who sat on Santa’s lap came away with a present of either a dildo or a bottle of beer.

I stayed a little longer, but after two fights broke out I figured it was time to take my 18 year old boy self with the peach fuzz face safely back to safety suburbia where there were nice houses and nice lawns and where anyone with a motorcycle had them cleanly tucked away in their garages with blankets on them waiting for the warm days of spring.

The attendees of the party were used to these sorts of get-togethers where I was not. There is a certain euphoria one feels when they escapes a potentially dangerous situation unscathed. This euphoria stayed with me for days after that party. To this day, when I pass a biker club on the highway and hear their thundering engines bark like lions as they pass, I think back to that night in Hackensack, New Jersey and get a feeling of euphoria again.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bradwood Landing, The Next Trojan

If you get mail in this county, yes even two year olds, you have probably received a slick piece of marketing from Northern Star AKA the folks behind the LNG facility development at Bradwood Landing. Yes, they are burning up the resources to try to convince you that they are really a nice company with their concerns to make (Clatsop) Dried Salmon County a better place for all. They are going about this the same way the tobacco industry thinks that by having a website that discusses the dangers of smoking makes it OK to continue producing their evil shit.

Northern Star was flying below my radar until the recent salmon preservation flier was mailed. Here they claim that the park on the Columbia at Fort Stevens is actually Fort Clatsip State Park, do notice how they spelled Clatsop, and placed a national monument about ten miles to the North West from where it actually is.

Next they left out the island which would have the biggest impact if there were ever a problem at Bradwood, Puget Island.

They mention mitigation, which simply means that they are going to fuck up the environment so badly with their construction and dredging that the least they can do is preserve a scrap of land that the river can reclaim at any time.

They are also going to buy Knappa a new fire station, which will come in handy when recovery efforts are needed. No fire department could possibly do anything if there were ever a disaster at an LNG terminal. Especially if the disaster happened on a tanker heading up to the facility, lets say in front of Astoria.

Folks, think it over. Sure the towns made out pretty well when the Trojan Plant was built a little further up river. New schools and all that, but remember how the public applauded when the cooling tower was brought down.

North Star is an opportunistic company that will do all it can to suck the life out of our community without regards to the safety of the citizens who live here and make their living here.

I wrote to North Star explaining my concerns with their carpet bagging behavior. The only point they addressed in their reply was that they would be willing to take me off their mailing list. I would have gone for it, but I think I’d rather see what else they plan to send out so I can comment further.

So according to them Fort “Clatsip” State Park is on the Columbia, and Puget Island doesn’t exist. These are errors in a well done publication. Can you imagine what errors are waiting for us in their plans when they build?

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Monday, December 04, 2006


Frank Zappa died thirteen years ago today at the age of 53. Zappa was a composer, musician, film maker, satirist, an opponent of Tipper Gore’s PMRC, an attempt to label music and an opponent of censorship.

His body of works spanned a 33 year career; gaining national exposure with The Mothers of Invention. I first discovered the Mothers in 1967. I was 12 years old. It was something very different to my ears. Musically, it was very interesting. It was well thought out and the listener could tell that he wasn’t just noodling around. He wasn’t doing a bunch of love song or songs of teenage angst. He had social content that was before it time.

As time continued, Zappa continued his musical commentary. He was doing songs about the problems with fundamentalists in the Middle East easily fifteen years before it was even a blip on the American radar screen.

During the last year of his life he collaborated with several musicians in recording sessions. I am particularly looking forward to a release (if ever) of his sessions with the Chieftains. Hopefully the family company he left behind will release his previously unreleased work.

Volumes could easily be written on the life and music of Frank Zappa, but I think Wikipedia has a comprehensive look at his life, if you are interested.

Oh, by the way, his mustache/beard style is known as an "Imperial."

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Thinking I am smarter than I really am has always delivered a heaping helping of trouble onto my plate since my earliest memories. In the article Confession and Contrition, I hinted that I have a story behind my going to Catholic school. Well here it is:

I remember my fourth summer on this planet. It was late August and my sister, who was and still is 11 years my senior, was left with me in her charge while my mother was out grocery shopping. I guess that she and my mother had been talking about me starting school that September since I was soon going to turn five.

My sister thought it to be a good idea to enroll me while my mother was out to show her that she was able to handle adult tasks. My sister asked me which school I preferred to attend, Catholic or Public school. I mulled it over, and since I could already read (yes, I know it is freakish, but I could read at age three) I had a full command of the alphabet as well. I knew that the letter C came long before the letter P in the alphabet, so the hierarchy of letters demanded I go with the C so I told her Catholic School.

She took me by the hand and walked me down the street to the Catholic school and we knocked on the convent door. A couple black robbed nuns came out to facilitate my sister’s request, and in only a couple moments and some questions answered I was enrolled. Imagine that happening today, a 15 year old enrolling a five year old without any documentation…

We returned home, and when my mother returned home my sister bursting with pride, shared what we had done. My mother went totally ballistic. She used terms I had never heard before, and some I probably haven’t heard since. She really lost it, and I remember her final words which were. “You two made that decision and you” pointing at me, “you will attend that school until you finish 8th grade.”

I now see that she didn't want to have to deal with uniforms and tuition and all the other life altering stuff that goes on there. However,I served my time in full. Kindergarten plus eight years.

As for the graphic above, my sister never attended Catholic school and is still a devout Catholic. I attended and I am a confirmed Atheiset.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


While growing up I would make sure I was in bed by 9:15. I would be settled in under the covers with the lights off. A thin wire extended from my red hand held Panasonic transistor radio all the way to a tiny ear piece that I would plug in to my ear.

Five nights a week I would hold myself there waiting for the theme of the bugle that sounded the song of the race track. I did this all through the 1960s and the 1970s. Jean Shepherd was on the air on WOR-AM.

Every weeknight Shepherd would sign on and tell stories. He always started with some general gab, and then he would sell some products, but the last half hour of the 45-minute show was theater of the mind. His stories would amaze or frighten the living hell out of you. One could hear stories of coming of age in Holman, Indiana with his friends Flick, Schwartz and Bruner. Or you could hear stories of his travels or his experiences in the Army or working in a steel mill.

“Shepherd, Shepherd…I know that name rings a bell,” you say? OK, I’ll make it easy for you with a quote from one of his books that is now a movie and a play and a neo-icon of Christmas, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

Before Shepherd’s movies ever came out he was an author of several books, and plays. PBS had two series on his work, Shepherd’s Pie and Jean Shepherd’s America. They also did other of his stories for 90 minute PBS movies.

His books:
* In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash
* Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories And Other Disasters
* The Phantom Of The Open Hearth
* A Fistful of Fig Newtons
* A Ferarri In The Bedroom.
I went to one of his book signings back when he published Ferrari in the Bedroom.

Shepherd’s story telling expanded my young mind in ways I can’t even begin to imagine. I am often asked what my inspiration is or what my muse is, and I often think back to my childhood when I was tucked away with Shepherd’s words going directly into my brain. He helped spur my imagination and even today I will experience something and I’ll hear Shep’s voice in my head saying, “Excelsior, you fathead!”

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sick Day VIII

(Special thanks to Portosan for his photo shop work in producing a vomiting Santa for me to share with the readers on this blog.I owe you, Port.)

I AM SICK OF Pink Martini and Three Leg Torso and the Coats (Formerly known as the Trench Coats but changed their name after Columbine). We need some new musical attractions here. The afore mentioned three acts are tired and need to go away for at least five years. Sure the Liberty Theater needs to raise funds, but now I am willing to pay just so I don’t have to see these three acts any more...ever again!

I AM SICK of batteries that have to follow a direction. You would think that after all these years there would be a device other than a flash light where you could put batteries in that all face the same direction. Every damn device out there you have to put one nipple up and one nipple down. If you have a digital camera that takes four or more batteries, you’ve got them going in all directions. All it would take is adding a couple inches of low voltage wire and we could have a standard battery installation in all devices. One can also redesign the battery so it wouldn’t matter.

I AM SICK of Bradwood Landing and North Star. They are sending me more mail than Ron Saxton sent to those who are registered as independents. Stop wasting paper. If you really cared about the environment you would take your money and make things more efficient so we don’t need to use natural gas at all. Invest all your LNG money in wind turbines and wave turbines. You (North Star) are like the tobacco companies that try to show what good people you are by having a website that talks about the danger of smoking. If they really cared they would stop selling their evil shit. If you really cared you would leave our river alone and invest in other forms of energy.

Finally, I wasn't going to make this about Christmas, but I'm sick of all that plastic blow-up Xmas lawn litter. Yeah folks, make your neighborhoods look like shit for 1/12 of the year.