Simply A Quote

Jessica Page Morrell is the author of one of my favorite books on writing, Between the Lines. I love this quote from the book, as both a reader and a writer.

‘…a compelling narrative often lies between the lines, in the quiet moments and the subtlest techniques, where fiction lifts off the page and settles into the veins of the reader.’

Haven’t we all been lifted off the page and settled deeply into the dream world of a fantastic story?

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An Old Fart And A Cat

The tiny town I lived near for many years was inhabited by a lot of unique characters. A few still live there, but the town has lost a lot of its character with the loss of those characters.

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View from the bridge named after another old fart

Some of them were old farts. My father included. But here’s a story about Old Fart #1.

He lived in an alley, in a small house with a large quantity of cats. There were assorted outbuildings also full of cats. Many were feral but those allowed in the kitchen were favorites.

He had a lot of favorites.

A local woman had taken on the job of helping Old Fart #1 get his house clean and to help him get health care. Both were in bad shape and she was (and is) a brave, compassionate, and caring woman.

The first time I met O. F. #1 was the morning after a night I’d spent hunting for a woman screaming. He told me it was a cougar. He was right. Then there was the time he was sitting on the bench outside the general store when my future husband and I walked by. At that time we were fellow firefighters going to the store for drinks, with no romance on the horizon. O.F. #1 said, loudly, ‘Looks like you roped yourself a fine heifer there!’.

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View from the General Store bench

This was back in the days when I was still cutting people’s hair. The compassionate woman asked me if I could cut O.F. #1’s for him. I agreed.

The kitchen was a smelly disaster. Dirty dishes, food debris, stinky cans of half empty cat food stacked everywhere. The distinct smell of cat pee and over-used cat litter. As I pulled out my scissors, he pointed out a dainty little gray and white female cat just out of kitten stage. She was lying on the floor and  in obvious distress. The conversation went somewhat like this. Somewhat because I remember my exact words but not his. Horror does that to memory.

“See that cat? I stepped on her. Broke her back leg.”

“Are you going to take her to the vet?”

“No, vets don’t know anything. I want  you to fix it.”

“Me? How?”

“Just take your little scissors there and cut her leg off.”

“WHAT? I’m not cutting her leg off!!!”

“It’s easy. Right there above the joint.”

“I’m not cutting a cat’s back leg off!!!”

At that point I didn’t even want to cut his hair off.

If I remember correctly, the compassionate woman I mentioned got the cat to the vet. And got the kitchen clean.

Eventually O.F. #1 got his hair cut. The cat survived. So did the old fart, who upheld his status in town for a few more years.

I feed feral cats in his memory.

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Kind of empty with the old ones gone. And their bench.

Wolf Moon

The beautiful January full moon shining on deep snow right now is a Wolf Moon. Which reminds me of a story.

Many years ago when we first moved to this area, a couple guys from the Department of Fish and Wildlife came to our cabin wanting permission to cross our property for two things. One, they wanted to count returning Coho salmon in the creek that bisected our place. My father gave them permission and told them he’d have the salmon stacked neatly to make their counting easier. They weren’t sure if he was joking or not.

They also wanted permission because they were tracking a pair of tagged, denning wolves on our property, on the ridge. They asked us to not talk about the wolves to anyone because at that point in time they were still endangered and it was rare to have them in the area.

A few weeks later I was working on our water wheel down by the creek. I looked up and here was a wolf watching me. He had used the log foot bridge to cross the creek and stood only a few feet from me, just watching. And yes, I know the difference between a coyote and a wolf, and domesticated dog breeds and wolves. I knew exactly what I was looking at.

This guy was huge. And just standing there calmly watching me. I stood up, and he simply turned and went back over the bridge and into the woods.

That was the moment when I not only knew the definition of a word, but felt the definition of ‘awe’.

I’ll never have a moment like that again, looking into the eyes of a wild animal for a stretch of time with only wonder and no fear.

Granted, after the wolf left, I ran for the cabin yelling for our little toy fox terrier to get inside. Jello would have been a snack-size treat for the wolf. But before reality hit, there was awe.

I know that pair of wolves are long gone, though I don’t know whatever happened to them. But I hope their spirits are out there on the ridge under the winter moon.