Thursday, November 27, 2008


There is nothing scarier than a group of women guarding a plate of fudge.

The man that can control fudge, can control the hand that rocks the craddle, that rules the world!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


My wife says that there will be a short intermission while family’s here for Thanksgiving.

It seems reasonable to me.

I should be back Monday or so.

Meanwhile feel free to comment on anything you like.

And, Oh yeah.....

Happy Thanksgivin' Folks!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mountain Lions and Bobcats.

Okay those that know me, know that I like happy and fun things, so sadly I have nothing happy and fun to say about the Mountain Lion or the Bobcat. My first experience with meeting a Mountain Lion was when I was in school in the second grade, when a person by the name of Floyd Holmes was the government trapper. One day Floyd, the father of my best friend at the time, Charlie Holmes, brought a Mountain Lion to school for the kids to see. The Mountain Lion was quite dead and tied across the hood of an old military surplus Jeep. I couldn’t help but think that it was a beautiful cat, and I was greatly saddened by the experience.

The Cat was killed because it was caught killing sheep. Killing sheep was a capitol offence back in the fifties. Not only was the Mountain Lion not protected, indeed there was a bounty on them. The thinking at the time was that the only good Mountain Lion was a dead Mountain Lion. They were hunted or poisoned with strychnine until they were almost extinct. They used baited “getters” that shot cyanide in the mouths of Coyotes, and they used “compound 1080” to kill meat eating animals instantly. The ranchers didn’t allow meat eaters to be around. If the neighbor was dumb enough to let his dogs run, they were also a casualty. The ranchers thought that was fair, and so did the owner of the offending dogs. Dogs were smart back then and they minded well. They didn’t run off and get in trouble. The ones that did, didn’t come back. I don’t think that people around here today appreciate how smart the dogs were back then. The dogs that people have today don’t mind, and all they know how to do is bite things and crap.

Being raised on a ranch, it was well understood that our livestock was our food and anything that bothered our food died. When it came time to slaughter the animals, the children were not protected from it, and were expected to help with the butchering.

I guess what I’m saying is that I understand why the Mountain lions were killed. The rancher thought of it as “survival”. You’ve heard me use that phrase before.

One of my more humorous experiences with a mountain lion was back when I was in high school, my best friend at the time and I went on a “double date” to the movies, and on the way home we went up to the top of the hill on Old Briceland Road. There was a beautiful grassy point that looked over the whole South Fork Canyon in the Garberville area. The moon was full and we tuned in The Wolfman Jack show on radio station XERB. He was real cool with his wolf howl. And, he played that good old rock and roll music.

It was a hot night and there was a full moon, things were real nice, and both of the girls were leaning on our shoulders. Just when things couldn’t get much sweeter, we heard a blood curdling female scream, It was long and chilling and at the end of it was a cough and a low gurgle, like something had ripped the girls throat out. The girls instantly locked the doors and asked us to roll up the windows real quick.
Well, I thought that it was real humorous that the girls thought that someone was being murdered, and I told them that, no, that was the mating call of a Mountain Lion, and I had heard it before. Contrary to my plan of easing their fears, that only compounded their fears and they had to go home right then. Period. No argument!

My experience with a Bobcat has been similar. Other than seeing them running across a field somewhere. Most of the times that I have seen a bobcat is at the scene of a kill, a chicken, a goose, or a duck. When you find the sign of a cat kill, they are easy to find. Usually you will see their tracks at the scene of the kill. You get your gun and go looking. If you look around near the edges of a log or a rock you will see that they have covered their kill with sticks, rocks, dirt, and grass that they have scratched up. If you go to the spot, you will find that the cat has buried their kill. Then all you have to do is look around yourself in the trees, and you will see a bobcat face peering at you. They will never leave their kill while there is meat on the bones. As soon as they finish that they will kill again. That’s when you take your gun, put the crosshairs between its eyes and drop the hammer.

If you knew me, you would know that I don’t enjoy doing that. But if you knew me, you would know that I have thought these things out, and know that I have to do what has to be done, and accept that I did the right thing, and go on.

So you might guess why I didn’t want to do this post. Cats are not a happy experience for me.

All cats of the north coast are similar in nature, they stay with their kills, and protect it until it is eaten up. Then they hunt and kill again. The Mountain Lion has a range of about a fifty mile radius, and they normally travel a complete circuit once a year. If you see one, chances are you will see the same cat in the same place next year. Cat hunters, that pay attention to those sorts of things usually have no trouble finding a cat to hunt. Due to their speed and agility cats are usually hunted with dogs. The cats will readily “Tree” which means that they will climb a tree. Then the hunter will show up, put his crosshairs on the cats forehead and drop the hammer.

Cats are solitary animals and they call to each other in mating season. The air in the mating season in the country is filled with big scary screams and gurgling, Just like that back alley in the city that’s filled with alley cats. Only the Country cats are much scarier.

We have bobcats in our front yard in Benbow, they live on ground squirrels, cottontail rabbit, jack rabbit, quail, and turkey. Mountain lion live mostly on slow deer, and occasionally a sheep or a calf. Sometimes they will kill a human that is dumb enough to run from them. Running will trigger their “kill instinct”. A cat usually won’t kill something facing them, and looking big, and making noises that convinces them that you will kick the crap out of them. If you look around and see their buried kill, move as best you can, very slowly in the opposite direction. It won’t make any difference how big and scary you look if you are moving toward their kill. They will kill you if you get too close. People are usually attacked when they inadvertently get too close to the cats “kill”. Even a Bobcat will attack you if you get too close to its kill.

So, there you have it folks, the good, the bad, the ugly, the happy, and the sad. Such is the life of a country boy, it’s not always pleasant.

Often seen, seldom proven Critters of the North Coast.

Picture stolen from "Smalfut" (get it?) they go on and on about copyrights and possible actor royalties. The picture is taken from the, now world famous, Patterson-Gimlin Film.

Robin Shelly said...
I was told by a government hunter one time that there are wolverines in the Covelo area.

Old Man River said:
Well, I eat my entry on another thread. I did not see this little critter, but saw the darker version, the fisher...It was a little larger than a large otter, body a bit different, and the rear legs clearly designed more for land than water. Thanks for correcting my memory, and I look forward to telling my other witnesses that we blew the ID. Martens and fishers are very different.

"oldmanriver said...
Thanks for opening the can Ross.I elicited a Bigfoot story from a Piercy local in the 80's. Grizzled fellow who had his sighting between Piercy and the coast. If I can recollect without embellishing...the basic story was a nightime encounter with an unknown creature. The usually fearless dog is intimidated and won't go outside while somethin' big picked up a 50 gallon drum and repeatedly smashing it on a corrugated tin roof shed or animal pen(?). The clincher for me believing him was his description of the rank odor, something I have experienced more than once in my own suspicious encounters. That's another story or two.

Many people have heard stories, or have made honest mistakes about what they have seen here in the Eel River Valley. The thing that I like about having this blog is that I get to hear some of these stories. An honest person will have to agree that these stories are fascinating, even if you really don’t believe them. But, if enough people corroborate the story, you began to believe that they are real, and you must reevaluate your position. Telling these stories, and hearing them, is what I’ve come to call “bullshistory”. Or twice told tales, that are fun to tell whether you believe them or not. Any honest historian, or researcher, will tell you that they want to hear these stories, whether they are real or not, or if it was a case of mistaken identity, and that they add to the depth of their research.

When talking about Myth, Legend, and unusual sightings on the North Coast, Bigfoot will always come up. Before we go any farther here, I want to say that I do I do not believe in Bigfoot. Having said that, deep in my soul I know that there is a possibility that Bigfoot exists, and I would be overjoyed if one was positively identified. But, you are not going to get me to say that “I believe in Bigfoot.” I don’t want to join that most maligned group of North Coast Critters called: “The People That Believe in Bigfoot.” But I listen very intently to what people have to say when they say that they have seen Bigfoot. In the back of my mind I listen for that little tiny bit of evidence that says: “There, that proves it… there is a Bigfoot.”

Some people call Bigfoot “Sasquatch”. They say that is what the Indians called him. There has been so many legends and stories that Bigfoot has indeed become real in the minds of North Coasters. There is a division of science that the newcomers brought us. (They have to have a new name for everything, that’s the only way that they can feel smarter than us) The name for the study of Bigfoot is called “Cryptozoology”, formerly known as “Bullshistory”.

Bigfoot is reported to be a giant and up to ten feet tall. The most common tale about Bigfoot is that he stinks. I’ve not heard a good enough description of the stink to put it here, but maybe somebody feels up to describing it for us. Some say that he makes vocalizations. I’ve heard Mountain Lions and Badgers make noises that would scare the living crap out of you, and believe me they sound way bigger than they are.

Now, the people that know me, know that I’m a hopeless romantic, and I like to believe whatever anybody tells me. Well, I been told that I am a descendant of a great King of the British Isles Called “Bran The Blessed”. He was a giant, (I don’t know if he stunk) and he was big enough that he could wade the Irish Sea and move back and forth from Ireland to England. My name is "Branscomb. A "comb" or a "coombe" is a valley. “Bran” is a Welsh name for “Raven” so all of the ravens were named after Bran. Some say that he turned into a raven when he died. So I've been told that Branscomb means "From Brans Valley". All I know “for sure” is that Brans head is buried in White Mount in London, and there is a Castle there today with Royal Ravens that are protected by Her Majesty Elisabeth the Queen of England. "You could look it up". So, she believes the story, and I also really want to believe the story, In my heart I feel that it is real.

"Well now, you'll be amazed when I tell you that I'm sure that they exist... I've talked to so many Native Americans who all describe the same sounds, two who have seen them. I've probably got about, oh, thirty books that have come from different parts of the world, from China from, from all over the place...." Jane Goodall

Photo from anoymous taken in the Yollo Bolly's.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Things that you dont want to see, Badgers!

Don’t let this sweet innocent “Who me?” face fool you. These are the scariest little balls of fuzz that inhabit the face of the earth. They will fight any kind of animal if there young are threatened. Badgers fighting bears have been witnessed many times. They weigh up to twenty-four pounds, with the male being bigger than the female. They can run up to twenty-four miles an hour in short bursts. Okay, you physics students, what is the impact of a badger weighing twenty-four pounds, running at twenty-four miles per hour? Don’t worry about it, you will die of fright before he hits you.

They are members of the mustelidae family, the same as weasels, fishers, and martens. The skunk used to be a member of the mustelidae family but they kicked it out and gave it it’s own family name of mephitidae. I guess they just didn’t want the skunk stinking up the family name. One other thing that I forgot to tell you about, Martens and fishers stink, and so does the badger. They smell kind of musky, like a dead skunk. Only not as strong of a skunk smell. Throw in a little rotten meat, then make it smell kinda’ sweet. That’s what they smell like. It’s not a pleasant odor. If you were out of your mind, and had one as a pet, the first thing that visitors would say is “What’s that stink” so you couldn’t fool the fish and game if you were hiding one.

When I was a young man, and had just set up my first household, I had a freezer that I kept all my wild food, and stuff from the garden in. One day a rancher friend of my boss stopped by and asked my boss if he had ever seen a badger. My boss said “no” he hadn’t, so the rancher showed him the badger that he had shot on the ranch. He put it in his Jeep just to show a few folks that he had killed one, because nobody would have believed him otherwise. A man has to maintain his credibility! Anyway, as he was leaving, I was thinking the same thing. I thought that nobody is going to believe that I saw a badger. So I asked him what he was going to do with it. He said he was going to throw it in the dump on the way home. I asked him if I could have it. He said “sure go ahead and take it”>. I put it in a plastic bag and stuck it in the freezer.

After that, when I had friends over, I would start a conversation about badgers, I would talk about how mean and vicious that they were. I’d mention that they would even back down a bear. Then I’d casually mention that “we have them right here in the Eel River drainage you know”. Of course that would bring up doubts about my credibility. I would say “Sure they live here, I even have one as a pet”. Then I would say “wait here, I’ll bring him in”, I would go out to the freezer, slip him out of his bag, wrap him up in a blanket, bring him into the house, hold him up to the persons face, then slip the cover of his face and growl viciously. I just loved doing that, the badger died with his teeth bared. So he was real scary.

Now you are probably wondering why the rancher shot him. Well, he found where the badger had dug up several ground squirrel dens. The rancher thought that it was probably a bear, so he started looking around and saw the badger. We all had guns in our trucks at all times back then, just for such an occasion. The rancher figured if it would eat a squirrel, it would eat a lamb. He was probably right. So he shot it. Better to be safe than sorry.

About ten years after that, I was on a refrigeration service call to Alderpoint, after that one, I had a call in New Harris, so I took the old road around the bottom of the hill. About half way across, I looked below the road and saw where a squirrel den had been dug up. I thought about the badger, but in my mind the ground was just too torn up to be a badger. So I jumped over the fence and walked down to look at the torn up dirt. Just as I looked into the hole, the most vicious growl that I’ve ever heard, combined with the most loud coughing and spitting that I’ve ever heard, came out of it. About then a highly pissed-off badger stuck his head out of the hole. Like Rosanna Rosannadanna said; “I could have died!” I turned around and ran back up the hill, grabbed the fence post, and was over the fence in one big lunge, fully expecting to get bit in the ass as I ran. I dove back in the truck and looked back down the hill. The badger had not followed me. I sat there, mentally putting my heart back in my chest, and thought about trying to get a better look, then I remembered my story about how fast and vicious that they are, and decided to be discrete, as you know discretion being the better part of valor, and I made a valorous retreat. Now, when I think about all of the people that I scared with my “pet badger”. I have to laugh at the come-upance that the badger in the squirrel den gave me.

The badger likes the edge of open grassy fields where they are likely to find squirrels, gophers and mice. The can readily dig squirrels out of the ground, and sometimes they dig themselves a burrow just to sleep in. When they are traveling, they might dig a new burrow every night. They store food for short periods in their dens. They are short and wide, and interestingly that is how you can tell a badger hole from any other. They build their hole wider than they are tall, just like they are.
Just the other day, I told the grandson of the rancher, that I saw a badger on his ranch, and he remembered the burrows and seeing a glimpse of it himself and was glad to have me verify HIS story. He saw it when he was very young, and nobody wanted to believe him.

Hardley ever seen Critters of the North Coast.

The first two photos are Martens, the second two photos (at the bottom)are Fishers. But of course you knew that, didn’t you?

“A Fisher is a bigger, stronger, darker, and browner version of its cousin, the Marten. The Fisher has the same general long and low–slung weasel-like body shape as the Marten, but it’s larger and stockier, with thicker fur and a flatter face.”

The Marten that we have around the Eel River drainage weighs about two pounds for the female and about three pounds for the male. The fisher weighs from four to fifteen pounds and the male is up to twice as large as the female. Both the Marten and the Fisher live in, and indeed are highly dependant, on old and rotten conifer forests. Forests with lots of bugs and little scurrying critters, complete with rotting logs tender shoots and abundant food. In other words, (To steal a phrase from Bush…See he is good for something) In other words, a complete and healthy bio-system, as opposed to a clear-cut forest. It would be interesting to know how many trees could be selectively cut without interfering with the health of the complete forest. I’m sure that anyone would agree that one tree could be removed without much harm. I wonder why they don’t do studies about how many trees could be removed without harming complete biodiversity. We need a few trees to build Fred a house, but we will still need houses for the Marten and the Fishers.

The Martens tend to range in the higher elevations of the conifer forests and like to scurry around in the snow and hunt for mice and critters around the edges rocks and rotting logs, under the snow. They like to pounce from above, they actually make it look like fun. One of the things that I have noticed in most all of the photos of a Marten; the little guy always has a dirty face, with stuff stuck all over it like he just rooted up a rotten log. The Fishers like to range in the lower portions of the old growth forest down near the cricks and streams. Maybe that’s why they call them Fishers, because they live by streams, but they don’t actively fish like an Otter does. They will eat anything if they get hungry enough, they will even eat rotten fish when pressed for food. That’s what I call hungry! They have been know to eat house pets up in Canada.

The Fisher have voracious appetites, they are known to eat porcupines. They attack from underneath, and work on the nose and the belly. It takes them about a half hour to wear them out, and wound the porcupine to the point that they just roll over and give up. Then the Fisher enjoys his nice plump, high fat, high energy food.

Both the Marten and the Fisher eat Flying Squirrels, in fact they even raid their dens, The bastards! They can climb trees just like a squirrel, their hind feet turn around backwards, and they can scamper up and down trees and logs, like they were on flat ground.

The pioneers would trap Marten and Fisher for their hides. The pioneer and the Martens had a lot in common, if you were in their way, or tasted good, you were dead. I wonder what Martin stew tasted like. The pioneer was the end of the Martin and Fisher on the north coast. When the pioneers started to move cattle and sheep onto the north coast, there was a very concerted effort to eliminate any form of predator, or even the fear that their might be a predator. If an animal killed a cow or a sheep the pioneer rancher would lace the carcass with strychnine; The ranchers little helper. Strychnine killed bears, coyote, mountain lion, bobcat, marten, fisher, squirrel, rats, and mice, any thing that ate meat was dead. Even more than you know it killed Indians, and competing ranchers. Yep, strychnine the pioneers little helper. But, that’s a different story. What is important for you to know is that there was NO meat eating animals left on the north coast, except a few rats and mice, and they were held at bay. Also, ranch dogs were saved. I think that's the reason that the old breed of ranch dogs that we have here are so smart. The smart dogs, that minded good, were told to stay away from the poisened meat and they did. The dumb ones sneaked away and ate the meat anyway. Those dogs helped to prove Darwins theory.

By all accounts, the Martin and the Fisher were gone. So, if we have any here now, they came from someplace else. It causes me great wonder to think about where they might have come from. Do you think that humans would bring that kind of a critter back? If so what would be the purpose? I mean other than the fact that they are cute.

The resident expert on Mustelidea (Martins and Fishers) in southern Humboldt is “Man Who Walks in the Woods”. His friends just call him “Woods“. He showed up here with rest of the newcomers, and immediately started telling us what was wrong with the logging industry. He found many “rare and endangered plants and animals”. Being the suspicious person that I am, I went about finding out, “Who the hell this newcomer was”, and why he is so ashamed of his family. It turns out that his Name is Robert Sutherland, and his father is a PHD and a Nobel Prize winner. Okay, so that threw the “ashamed of his family” out the window, but I kept an Eye open just in case. But it turns out that he is a pretty credible and thoughtful person. But I’d bet he knows something about the re-introduction of the Marten and the Fisher. And, I would bet that he knows that the Marten and the Fisher have been a bigger killer of the flying Squirrel than the logger ever was. Why isn’t there the outcry against the Marten and fisher? What they do to forest critters is nothing short of genocide. The fact that the Marten and the Fisher could be a bigger threat than the logger to the oh-so-rare Spotted Owl doesn't seem to concern them... Huh?

Martens are from the family Mustelidae, and the genus Martes The genus first evolved up to seven million years ago, during the Pliocene period

P.S. “Why can’t we all just get along?” Rodney King


Friday, November 21, 2008

Okay, totally off the wall and off the subject.

All of a sudden, I can no longer send an e-mail to anybody with an e-mail address. The message comes back as being blocked, and it refers you to this mumbo-jumbo web site that leads you in circles, and implys that sbc global is the greatest because they have figured out how to get rid of spam. I'm not spam.

That web-site takes me here. That one tells me I have to stop looking like a PHISH. That might be all well and good, and I might be able to muddle my way through this, but my eighty five year old mother just wants to e-mail my uncle and her e-mails come back saying she looks like a PHISH, and she doesn't appreciate it. I told her to use the phone. She didn't appreciate that either.

SBC and AT&T say this is for our own good and they are opperating under new government regulations to stop spam. I'm all for getting rid of spam. I get tons of it and I hate it.

So what do I do, change my internet service provider, or fight with SBC to stop blocking me?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Flying Squirrels

Required viewing for Flying Squirrel lovers, Click here

I can personally vouch for these little guys as being friendly. I had some as pets when I was a kid. They are every bit as soft and cuddley as they look like they are. They spend a lot of time grooming. They groom just like a cat, only way faster. To clean their heads they lick their paws and scrub their ears with them. The rest of their body they lick with their tongues. They don’t stop until every speck of their little frame is licked clean. They seem to like being handled. Maybe they like the warmth of the hands or maybe they remember the eyedropper that they were raised with, I’m not sure. They are much cuter in person than they look in the pictures. They are unbelievably soft and silky, they put a chinchilla to shame.

The one that we had was from a nest in a Redwood tree. When the tree was fallen the adult squirrels flew away and the babies were left in the nest to ride the tree down. Dad found a live one and put it in his shirt pocket and brought it home for mom to raise. She raised the baby squirrel with an eyedropper and warm canned milk. The baby was kept in an old bird cage while it was young. It grew up quite fast. Then we fed it mostly peanuts. As an aside we had a small black dog that would steal peanuts from the squirrel. She would bite them to crack them open, then she would roll them around on the floor to remove the brown skin off the nut, then she would eat it. The amazing thing to me is that the dog learned how to eat peanuts from watching the squirrel.

The squirrel became very active and we would let it run around the house in the evening before we went to bed. Then lock it in its cage. The dog never tried to hurt the squirrel and thought of it as a buddy. One of the things that I thought was cute about it was if it wanted to be on me it would run up the couch onto the window curtain and fly onto me. I always wondered why it didn’t just run up my leg.

If we forgot to lock him in his cage, he would run down the counter to the Kleenex box and steal all of the Kleenexes and put them in his cage. In the morning when we came out to the kitchen, there he would be with his cage absolutely stuffed with Kleenex. Some times he would stick his nose out, just to take credit for all of his hard work. Dad liked to put the Kleenex box on one end of the counter, and the squirrel cage on the other just to watch him work to steal all of the Kleenexes. My mother for some reason thought that this shouldn’t happen, that it was a waste of good Kleenexes, and it was teaching the squirrel bad tricks and a few thousand other reasons why it shouldn’t be allowed. Which only made dad enjoy it more.

One night when we left the cage door open, he filled his cage with all of the Kleenexes, then scampered down to my bedroom, went under the door up the curtain, and flew over to my bed. Apparently the fastest route isn’t as interesting to a squirrel as the fun route. Then he proceeded to find his way under the covers and I was awakened to him running down my backbone as a I was laying on my side. I never allowed him to run around the bed for two reasons. First he was nocturnal, and kept me awake, and second I was afraid that I would squish him. So, I would get up and lock him in his cage. This happened every time that we left the door open, so it became a game to him.

Many redwood loggers had pet flying squirrels for the same reason. It’s darn hard to just let a baby squirrel die. So, we had a friend that had a couple of flying squirrels and we came up with this plan were we would put them all in a cage together and have baby flying squirrels. The cage was large and it had a big hamster exercise wheel. They put the cage in my room because that was the only place that it would fit. The wheel never stopped turning all night long. They would take turns keeping it going. When one would tire, another would take over, or sometimes all three would be in the wheel. One would hold on and the other two would propel him over the top time and time again. What fun! Anyway if their was any thoughts of making babies it didn’t show. We think that they were all males. We moved their cage outside under the protection of the porch to give then more privacy, but still no babies. They all eventually died of old age.
One of the little squirrels developed what we thought was rickets, and the vet gave him some vitamins and calcium. He got better but he never really got over it. I know now from the research, that anybody can do on the computer, that a squirrel needs lots of bones and especially deer horns for their calcium.

If you ever decide to keep one of these fluffy little critters as a pet you must accept that they are nocturnal and they like to play at night. I actually enjoyed their little noises in my bedroom and slept better. Play time for them is sundown, up until you go to bed, so there is plenty of quality pet time for a kid.

If you are still reading , don't go away while I drag out my soapbox. As everybody out there might have guessed. I hated what the corporate logging and lumber companies did to the industry. I hated even more the phony "Environmentalist". I say that as opposed to the Environmentalist that knew what they were talking about which was damn few. Talking about the flying Squirrel Reminded me of one reason why I had no respect for the protesters that were here to "save the Redwoods'. they had absolutely no idea of what they were doing. They didn't know anything about the life cycle of a Redwood tree. They didn't know that if you cut a Redwood that many Redwoods come up from stump shoots and suckers. They didn't know that the average Redwood's original plant went back ten thousand years or more. They didn't know the difference between a second growth and an old growth. Most of all, what bothered me is they didn't know that the main loss to falling a Redwood is the Flying Squirrel. They chose the Spotted Owl as their icon critter. When they were not really endangered. When the old growth is cleared, the Spotted Owl starts catching the mice that thrive in the overcut. The poor flying squirrel is the main critter to be hurt, but they are not endangered.

Probably more of these little critters are killed in the logging of a Redwood forest than any other. They are arboreal. They live in the treetops and nest in cavities found from a rotted limb or other hole in the tree.

These little guys are very common in the Redwood Forest, they are so common that the Northern Spotted Owl feeds almost exclusively on them:

"Diet Of the Northern Spotted owl:
Northern Flying Squirrels are their most common prey, but they also eat rats, mice, voles, rabbits, and bats. To a lesser extent they feed on small birds, reptiles, and large invertebrates"

It always smacked as being phony of them to try to save the critter (The Spotted Owl) that wasn't really being harmed, while ignoring the flying Squirrel. And I often thought that if they would just take a few of these sweet little critters to a classroom, or a public meeting, and saying that this is what is being killed when the forest is cut, especially a clearcut. They could have stopped logging overnight.

But, I was raised on a ranch, and I knew all about life and death. We raised the animals that we ate and it was all part of agriculture. Logging is important for our future, as we are all about to find out. Some of the critters will have to be sacrificed for the good of us all, but I think that we should be realistic, and not rape and clearcut, like the cut-and-run corporations did. And, leave some room for my Squirrels!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Rarely Seen Critter of the North Coast

Photo from Wicapedi. Cick to enlarge. Gemboy, check out the rock.

So you think that you have seen everything that there is to see here on the north coast?

This sweet little animal is a Ringtail Cat. They are quite tame and friendly if taken from their mom before their eyes open and hand fed with an eyedropper. They live to about fourteen years of age. They are raised by the mother while the male feeds her. Their eyes open when they are about one month old. They are hard to keep because they are loners, and if they get out of the house they will never return. Which as I understand, can be quite heartbreaking.

They were trapped by the early settlers and kept as house cats to catch mice. The settlers kept them in a box by the wood stove, where they enjoyed the warmth just like a kitty cat does. Most people that kept them as pets, kept them in a very large cage, and only took them out to play with them when they were under close supervision to avoid their escaping. Although they are friendly and fun, they make poor pets because of their desire to be free. The other reason that they make poor pets is because they are extremely active and can climb anything, and nothing is hidden from them. Oh, did I mention that they are nocturnal? And like to scurry and play all night?

The big reason that you have probably not seen them, even though they are said to be plentiful on the North Coast, is because they are very nocturnal. I have only seen three in my whole life.

Back in the early sixties, I built a walk-in refrigerator for a person that lived on a ranch in Honeydew by the name of Bob Shinn. He had one in a cage by the back porch. He took the Cat out several times while I was there just to show me, but they are VERY nocturnal, and the light hurts their eyes. The cat couldn’t wait to get back in his box. Bob said that the Cat was extremely active at night playing in his cage.

They are most closely related to the Raccoon family, but they can scamper around a tree like a grey squirrel. Their hind feet turn around backwards for climbing down trees going forward. They are just a little smaller than a house cat. They are seldom run over in the road because of their desire to be secretive, and because of their dexterity. They are quick like a kitty.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

U.F.O. Sighted Over Benbow!!!

Okay, most people probably will have an explanation. But U.F.O. means Unidentified Flying Object, and I didn't identify it. So it’s a ufo.

Coming home from work tonight I turned off onto Blue Rock Road and I saw a very bright light in the eastern sky, moving parallel to the horizon, from south to north, at about 25degrees of elevation. I checked the time a few minutes later, and I saw it at about 5:36 PM today.

As I turned the corner I noticed a very bright white light. At first I thought it was a headlight on the hill in front of me, but as I got into the clear, I thought it might be a helicopter with a very bright light. It didn’t seem like it was moving fast enough to be a meteor. As I watched it, it started to dim and turn greenish. It started to trail orange flame balls, that winked out behind it. At that point it blinked out completely except for a slight phosfluorescent trail.

Okay, I did decide that it was something that burned up upon entering our atmosphere. So what might follow that trajectory, move that slow, and glow greenish with an orange trail???

Northwestern Indian food was tricky to eat.







More on Squaw Rock

Kym, The Reheaded Blackbelt provided more history on the naming of Squaw Rock and found this tale in historical records. Even though the following story is convincing, Kym gave me an easy way out by saying it's possibly made up. As with all legends and myths, there is always a speck of truth and history, or a great moral to the story.

Thank-you Kym

The following legend of the " Lover's Leap" was read by Miss Fannie Lamar at Mrs. Poston's Seminary August, 1878:‑

"In the deep Cañada through which Russian river comes cascading down with rollicking music from the mountains into the broad valley below, a great majestic rock towers several hundred feet perpendicularly from the bank of the river and slopes off to the westward upon a gentle incline. Passengers and tourists who travel the road which runs near its base, gaze with awe and admiration upon this great monument of Nature's marvelous work, and listen attentively to a romantic legend familiar to those who dwell in its vicinity. The story, as related by a native Californian lady, Miss Chatta Feliz, who was reared near this great rock, and who was a cotemporary with the principal actors in the tragedy, runs nearly as follows: Before the conquest of this country by the United States, and when the old Catholic Missions retained much of their primitive glory and beneficent power, many of the Indians were gathered into their folds for religious instruction. With the holy inspiration of the Church, which these simple children of Nature imbibed, they developed a passionate fondness for the fashions and ornaments of civilization. About ten miles south of the great rock, near where now stands the beautiful village of Cloverdale, dwelt a tribe of Indians, among whom was a young chief, a sort of Prince Imperial, whose name was Cachow. He was a fine looking fellow of faultless physique, a mighty hunter, skilled in the use of the bow and arrow, renowned for his prowess and rich in the trophies of the chase, as well as in the plunder of the battle field. To all this hoard of wealth and personal accomplishments he had added the glamour acquired by a short sojourn at the mission of San Rafael, and many beads and other trinkets, the gifts of the kind padres of that once famous mission. Of course Cachow was, as well as a distinguished prince, and a hero among the braves, a great favorite with the dusky ladies of his own and the neighboring tribes. About six miles north of the great rock, on a beautiful plateau called Sanel, on the bank of the river, were the wigwams of the Sanelanos. The chief of these Indians had a handsome young daughter, named Sotuka, whose small feet and hands, wealth of dark hair, grace and comeliness, and, more than all her extraordinary skill in cooking venison and grasshoppers and making buckeye mush, made her as famous within the radius of her acquaintance as was the Queen of Sheba in her country.
"About the time of which I write, in the early autumn, when the golden harvest of the wild oats had been gathered into the great willow baskets, and the wild fruits were abundant, and the deer and the rabbits were still fat, and fish were plentiful in the streams and easily caught, Sotuka's father made a feast and sent his heralds forth with hospitable greetings and invitations to his neighbors. Among the invited guests was the distinguished Cachow, who, with all his fame and manly beauty and gorgeous trappings, was the cynosure of all eyes, and at once became the idol of the royal Sotuka.
"The juiciest acorns were roasted and pounded with Sotuka's own hands for Cachow, and the choicest delicacies of her basket were selected and prepared for him. In short, while Cachow had completely enthralled the heart of Sotuka, he was not insensible to her great beauty and personal accomplishments; and this, their first meeting, resulted in a betrothal. After an exchange of souvenirs, like lovers of other races, and the festivities being over, Cachow returned to his home with a promise to come back in two moons with a deer skin full of beads for Sotuka's father and make the lovely daughter his bride. But Cachow, like many men who have gone before him and many who have succeeded him, was unfaithful to his promise, and before two moons had waned he wedded another. It happened in the course of events that Cachow and his new love, in making their bridal tour, built their camp fire at the eastern base of the great rock, underneath the precipice. Sotuka had already become apprised of the perfidy of her lover, and while busily meditating and planning revenge, was informed by one of her scouts of the camping place of the bridal party. When night came Sotuka left her wigwam and, alone, hastened through the darkness to the great rock and, ascending the western slope, approached the precipice and looked down, where, by the light of the little camp fire, she saw her faithless lover and his bride fast asleep.
"With the merciless vengeance of love to hatred turned, and the desperation of unrequited affection, she clasped in her arms a stone as large as she could lift and sprang off the fearful height upon her sleeping victims On the morrow, the Sanelanos and the tribe of Cachow held a grand imposing inquest over the dead trio, and, having built a great log heap, they placed upon it the three mangled bodies and lighted the funeral pyre Then, to the music of a solemn dirge, the wailings of the mourners and the roaring of the flames, the spirits of the departed, as the Indians say, rode upon a chariot of smoke to the happy hunting ground. Since this tragic scene the great rock has been known as 'The Lover's Leap.'"

Transcribed by Kathy Sedler.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Betcha' didn't know!

The photo is by my wife Janis, my favorite photographer in the whole world. Her pictures ain't bad either.

The photo is a huge file, so you can click on it and make it enormous, she took the picture for me to put on my blog, so if there is anyboby out there that wants to flat thief it, go ahead. This image is for proof and posterity.

This rock is a well known rock and many of you have been within a stones throw of it many times. Many, many times. Do you know what it is called and where it is? After the name of the Rock is guessed I will give you more info on it.

Meanwhile, don't stop commenting on the commercials you like/don't like in the post below.

Ben and Kym both guessed right:
Well, you are both right. When I was just a wee child my dad had a job hauling lumber to San Francisco. Sometimes my mother and my sister and I would get to ride along. The two things that I remember about those trips are the Golden Gate Bridge and Squaw Rock.

Driving down there, my dad pulled of the side of the, then very narrow highway 101, and ask me if I could see the Squaw leaning against the Rock. I saw this same vision that is in the photograph. I knew an Indian woman in Laytonville, and she had the very same face. After that I always looked for the face on the rock along the road. For a long time the trees along the road blocked the face from view. The other day when I drove down there, I noticed that some of the trees were missing and you can see the face again. Following that trip I asked my wife to take a photo for me because she knows how to make the silhouette stand out. I think that she took a perfect picture don’t you?

One of the things that I think is imperative to say; many times recently I have heard that the term “Squaw” is derogatory. As always when questions like that come up, I have “Indigenous People” (The term comes from an Indian friend) friends to ask. Some are offended, and others say it is ridiculous. Some are proud to be called a squaw, some are emphatically not.
I find it sad that it seems to be true, that any label will eventually become derogatory. I will be glad to start using new terminology when they come up with a proud name for an Indian woman. Fitting to the respect she deserves, and fitting to be a proud indication that she is a Female Indigenous Woman. I have the vision but not the word.

I was never raised to think of the word “Squaw” as being anything but respectful, and I am now shocked to find some think that it is not. Do we have to screw up everything?

favorite commercial

Ekovox recently fessed up that he was the one that made the commercial where the guy rode his horse through the store. He also flatly stated that he was not responsible for some of the most annoying commercials. Which is good! Thanks Eko.

Some commercials are so bad that I make a mental note not to use their product, no matter how bad I need it. A man has to have principles! Fortunately I’ve never seen a bad beer commercial.

Most bloggers go on and on about their favorite books or movies, and that’s been done. So I thought, being the son of a long line of pioneers, that I would open up a whole new genre. (Genre means “field of subject” basically. I promised myself a long time ago not to use big or cute words, and that I that would always speak plain English. Well “Genre” is in the English dictionary, but it isn’t plain enough for me. So, you can only imagine how I feel about commercials that I suspect were made to punish me.)

So, what is your favorite/least favorite Commercial?

Oh…. I will randomly pick a commenter to give the recipe for the corn dogs up there in the corner. There are only four ingredients, unfortunately one of the steps in making them involves catching a cow.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Suvival After the "Collapse!

Ekcovox and The Redhead Blackbelt have me worried with their conflicting ideas of how to handle the coming economic storm.

Being an old country boy, I get my information from watching the signs. When the acorn crop is big it will be a wet winter. If a warm wind comes out of the south, it always brings rain. The north wind always follows a storm. So, I keep my finger to the wind, and stay in touch with what’s going on. I seldom get caught by surprise. Lately, I’ve noticed people saving barrels of rice, corn, wheat, and other food stuffs. So, there must be some kind of collapse coming. They are hoarding Red Winter Wheat, which means that this collapse thing is going to be BIG and long. So I’ve, of course, been planning ahead for the “Collapse“.

Well, you can stick your head in the sand and ignore the impending collapse if you want to, but for myself, I’m saving ice. As you know, I’m a refrigeration guy, and I have an advantage there. I’m not saying that to gloat, it’s just fact. When the electricity goes off, people are going to need ice to keep their beer cold. I figure that I can make a fortune on that alone. They say that wise people can turn loss into opportunity. So, I’ll be making my fortune off all of you losers that didn’t pay attention when you were warned repeatedly, fairly and squarely.

I’m putting away a closet full of bullshit, so my blog doesn’t run out. I have a one-horse power magneto generator that I can put in the place of the back wheel of my wife’s bicycle, and if she pedals hard enough I can make microwave popcorn, and watch the Forty-Niners on television.
I trained the dog to catch turkeys, so I won’t go hungry. She does real great, but I’ve had trouble teaching her to kill them before she brings them in the house. Apparently it’s a housekeeping thing with the little woman. Something about feathers and crap all over. I tell her that it is a real set back for my dog to beat her with a broom, and our life will soon depend on the dog bringing us turkeys, when the collapse comes.

We have several wood stoves with flat tops for cooking, and we have heat collection coils in the stove to heat the bath water. If I run out of wood for the stove, I can move the water heater wires over to my wife’s bicycle. She has been complaining all summer about not getting enough exercise, and her “back there” is getting to be too big. I guess that she will be happy for the opportunity to exercise, sometimes I amaze myself at my thoughtfulness. I don’t know, I’ve told her that her “back there” looks great to me. I try to be complementary, but she never seems to appreciate it. Women! I’ll never figure them out!

I have a lot more good ideas, but somebody told me once that you should not give all your good ideas away, so I’ll also be hoarding some good ideas. As you know, I come from a long line of people, that struggled to survive, so I know a lot of things the hard way already, I feel so sorry for you losers.

Anyway, it looks like the only setback that I'll be suffering when the collapse comes, is after I told my wife about my plans, she said that I would be staying real busy chopping the tree down in the yard. It seems that I will need the wood to be hand whittling my self a new bed to sleep in. The hard part of surviving will be about the same, it will be trying the figure out women. That’s a free survival tip for you people paying attention. The future of humanity will depend on keeping women happy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Island Mountain Copper Mine

This rock was assayed at 20% copper.

Photo Copyright, by Rob Lavinsky. I don't know the guy, or how he came by the photo's of these crystals, but these photos were taken from They are from the Island Mountain Copper Mine, just over the hill from Garberville. I was interested because we have so few gem quality rocks in our area. The description stated that they were up to 2mm. Whatever that means.

The Island Mountain Copper Mine is between Spy Rock and Alderpoint, on the Eel River. The mine is located in the South-West corner of Trinity County California. The mine produced ore from 1915 until 1930. They mined 4100 tons of copper, 140,000 ounces of silver, and 8,600 ounces of gold. I'll bet that you didn't know that the Eel river had gold did you? The copper deposit is part of a sulfide deposit made up of pyrite, chalcopyrite, and pyrrhotite. There is some gem quality rocks and crystals out there.
All of these minerals are found in what is described in wicapedia as a "shear zone in the Franciscan Assemblage" then they included a very colorful and interesting description of the Franciscan Assemblage, which if you could understand the words you already know about it, if you don't you will just be confused.
In researching "Eel River Jade I found this gem in "Old And Sold dot com":
"not too many years ago a huge jade boulder weighing over one thousand pounds was found in California near the area of the Trinity River. The boulder was one solid mass of every shade of green imaginable-and some of it was thought to be imperial green. And in Mendocino County, California, a large deposit of jade was found.
Jade, in both varieties, jadeite and nephrite, ranges in colors from white to dark green, but the imperial green jade is the most highly desired. A necklace of matched imperial beads has been valued at $100,000.
The finding of just one piece of jade can turn family picnics into wild scrambles in search for more. Watch for both nephrite and jadeite-although jadeite is rarer and therefore has more value. But watch for both of them along the beaches and in stream beds, and also watch for deposits of jade.
Watch for the rare jadeite at the North Fork of the Eel River,"

All of the above is pretty much true, and verifiable, but as you all know, I can remember a lot of stuff that I really never paid much attention to at the time, so the rest of this will be pure “Bullshistory” from my somewhat feeble recollections.

I don’t know exactly where the Island mountain Copper Mine is, but I think that it was on what was known, back in the sixties, as “The Simpson Ranch”. The Simpson Ranch was subdivided into parcels and sold off. The part with the mine on it was sold to a mining company. The mining company built a large dormitory type building for their workers and for stockholder visits. They were selling shares in the mining company and they were trying to encourage investors to buy in.

At some point during the reopening of the mine the mining company spilled a large amount of Copper sulfate ladened water into the Main Eel river. I’m not sure what the impact to the river was, all that I remember is the spill. The California Fish and Game closed the operation down, and restained them from any further operation at the mine site until they could prove that they could do it without damaging the river. The investors fled like fleas from a drowned dog.

The mining property was bought by a group of people that started “Heartwood College”, where they taught alternative medicine, holistic being, acupuncture, and massage. They remodeled Dr. Simpson’s house to become the cookhouse, a lunch room, and they held some classes there also. The dormitory was used for housing. They added greatly to the buildings, and have become quite popular, so they have grown. Heartwood was just recently sold to an heiress of the Campbell soup family, who also bought Hartsook Inn. The Hartsook is going to be a branch campus.

The original Simpson house/cook house was built by Southern Humboldt Building supply back in 1970? For Dr. Simpson from Eureka. Some of you Old-Timers will remember him. He was a very, very successful dentist. His add on TV. Was “Call Dr. Simpson, your friendly credit Dentist”. He would fix your teeth on credit, and finance your payments at a small interest rate. He was the largest dentistry provider in Humboldt County. Say what you like about how he got rich, he provided tooth care to people that otherwise couldn’t afford it. People were grateful, and almost always paid.

Let’s see… we were talking about a mine. There is a new potential mine at Island Mountain, a hard rock mine that would provide suitable hard rock for construction in the bay area. It would require the reopening of the railroad to ship the rock. On the surface, it sounds like it would cause a relatively small impact on the environment. And, it would bring those big machines that I dearly love. But I understand the nay-sayers already have gotten wind of it and will probably have something to say.

But if it all goes well, maybe I’ll get to fix the air conditioner on one of these big dozers. They always screw up the air-conditioner when they take them apart to move them. I usually trade my repair time for the opportunity to push a few rocks around. I doooo love machines!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Red Mountain Buckwheat

A while back, while we were talking about Spy Rock and Iron Peak, Ross Sherburn asked if we were going to talk about Red Mountain. That peaked my interest. (The literary among you are now groaning, but I could resist, the rest are saying, huh?)

There are as many “Red Mountains” as there are Salmon Creeks, or Bear creeks. It’s a very common name, but I’m sure that the one that Ross is referring to is the mountain in Northern Mendocino County, down there by Christina, the mountain that had the big fire on it last year, during the lightning series of 2008.

It seems like every mountain on the north coast is distinguished by something. Iron peak is a huge manganese deposit. Red mountain is one of the largest and tastiest deposits of Nickel and Chromium in the United States. They would have started mining it years ago, I think that the big push to mine it was in the eighties, but the environmentalists got it stopped.

The mining operation would have been a huge open pit mine similar to the Kennecott Copper mine in Utah. The thought of all the huge machines tickled me and part of me wanted to see it happen. Imagine huge machines right here in the Eel River. But, wait a minute. Hugh machines in the Eel River? I have to admit, that kinda’ scared me.

The mining companies made many assurances that there would be no environmental damage. That they would collect all of the water that came off of the tailings, and they would treat it somehow. I’m not sure what they were going to do to treat the water, but I couldn’t help but start thinking about the 1964 flood, where a good percentage of the water and snowmelt that caused the Eel River flood, came right off Red Mountain. I just wasn’t sure those city boys had seen a good old Eel River storm.

About the time that they got real heavy into planning to mine Red Mountain, they found a unique plant that only grows there. Yep, just to make sure that everybody knew that this plant was unique, they named it the Red Mountain Buckwheat. Well that plant alone stopped everything, but that didn’t stop the Enviros, they “found” several more plants, and that stopped any thoughts of mining Red Mountain. Poof, there went my big machines.

I liked the fact that I wouldn’t have to worry about our beautiful canyon though, because just between you and me I don’t trust big mining companies, and what can we do if they do screw up our canyon. We might loose our fish. Back then we had Salmon, now the only thing that we would lose would be Squaw Fish. Maybe we should mine it now.

Anyway, the Red Mountain Buckwheat is a plant that grows well on open ground, with poor soil of serpentine base. I would not be surprised if Ben and Kym have some up on their mountain in Salmon Creek. The oaks and Manzanita have been choking the buckwheat out lately, but the recent fires must have solved that problem.

Red Mountain is a very large, slightly rounded on top mountain, that really lends itself well to mining. The railroad is right below it. The industry would have changed the economic structure of the north coast dramatically.

So, there’s your mountain Ross.
(Some More reading)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tag, I'm what???

There is this thing in blogger-world called “tagging”. I don’t fully understand tagging, but I spent most of last night, (while I wasn’t sleeping), wondering what tagging was about, and what its purpose was. I was tagged by Ekovox, who seems to be a great guy, just about anybody would be glad to have him as a friend. I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a try, but first I have to understand it, and figure out how it works.

What I been able to figure out about tagging, just by wondering about it, is that it must be something that bloggers do when there is nothing really going on to talk about. Kind of like newscasters waiting for a breaking story that seems to drag on forever, so they start interviewing each other.

The tagging question was: “post seven things you probably don't know (or don't want to know) about me...Well my life is an open book, so if there are seven things that you don’t know about me, you just haven’t been paying attention.

So, if I’m allowed I’ll just bend the rules a little bit, and I will just tell you a few things about myself with out regard to how you may or may not feel about it.

1- I don’t follow rules all that well. I spend a lot of time wondering how a rule might fit me, and whether or not that rule should really apply to me. I find that most rules really shouldn’t apply to me. So, I make up most of my standards as I go along. I have a rule to never participate in a chain anything, not a chain letter, not a chain gang, not a chain blog post. No chains for me.

2- I’ll do almost anything that someone else asks me to do. I’ve done some really stupid stuff for people because I respect them, like them, or if they ask real nicely. I’ll even participate in a chain post, as long as I think that I’m making somebody else happy. I don’t know what that say’s about me, but I like making other people happy. Even if I have to bend my rules a little.

3-Everything has to “Work” for me. Everything is a machine to me. When someone tells me that God made the heaven and Earth, and on the seventh day he rested. I totally believe it, but in order for that to “work” for me I have to ask “Where did God come from”. I’ve never gotten an answer that works for me. I have a lot of religious friends, but I like them because they are inherently good people, not just because they are religious. And, oh… There are a lot of religious people that I know who are not good people, and I don’t like them a lot.

4- I believe everything that anybody tells me. As long as they look me in the face and use a little sincerity. I’ve never been able to figure out why somebody might lie. I don’t include politicians in that statement, but then, they can’t pass the look me in the face part. So, I guess that they are really not lying to me. They are just trying to get elected.

5- I can’t carry-on a meaningful conversation with most anonymous people, but some of the most thoughtful posts that I’ve ever received were from “Anonymous”, to the point that I wished desperately that I knew who they were. The just-plain-bitter anonymouses, I have no desire to know, I just wish that they would go away, I have even been known to bleep their nastiness. I can’t do business with anybody wearing mirrored sun glasses. That should be a separate subject, but I will have enough anyway.

6- I greatly admire wit and humor, and I find wit and humor in most people that work with their hands, and have a poor education. It pains me if I can’t have a meaningful conversation with another human being. I’m a lot like Will Rogers, “I’ve never met a man I didn’t like.” I found gold in talking to people that most wouldn’t talk to. People that you know had to learn everything that they know the hard way.

7- I don’t like imposing on other people, so I’m not going to pass this letter on to anyone, but I do find that I like replies better than making posts. I make no rules on my blog, and I don’t care if somebody changes the subject, or asks a question on another subject, as long as somebody has something on their mind, I want to hear it. I know by talking to other bloggers that they would way-more provide a forum for a conversation than make posts that the people want to read and leave. So if you want to post your seven things here, please do so. If you want to do it on your own blog, you can say I tagged you. So, Tag your it.

7 ½ -I love this canyon that we call home. But I guess everybody knows that.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Iron Peak

Photo of Iron Peak, by Robin Shelly. Click on photo to enlarge.

Robin must have a million dollar camera. This file is huge if you click on it. Fair warning to you dial-up folks.

The text that she included is "This is for Mr. Sherburn".

The photo appears to me to be taken from the North West.

I went on a service call up there one time, but it was so long ago I don't remember what I worked on. It was a Calif. dept. of Forestry lookout back then. All I really remember is the very narrow road on the last little stretch up the hill and the copper colored jade green rocks. I think that I have one that I picked up in my yard. I don't know why they call it Iron peak, it looks like copper ore to me.

I'll let Robin Correct all my mistakes

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spy's passenger train.

Click on photo to enlarge greatly. thanks.
This is a photo of the two-car passenger train that ran daily between Tiburon and Eureka, this photo was taken at Ridgewood summit between Willits and Ukiah. This is the train that Spyrock mentioned, that traveled the Eel River Canyon. I'm not sure that the train ever had more that two cars, but when I took the train up the canyon back in 1961-2 it was a single car self-motorized.

"NWP Engineer Bill Silverthorn made an unscheduled 12:30PM stop at Ridge this winter day in early 1942. Grabbed his camera and made this wonderful snow scene while his engine's safety blew impatiently. No. 143, wearing her wartime headlight hood, was heavy power for the Tiburon-Eureka day train. The road foreman called her this morning to deal with any snowdrifts enroute, the evidence of which sticks to her pilot. - Fred Stindt collection, NWPRRHS."

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Is this Spy Rock?

photo by  Chris Guenzler.  www.

My cousin "Oregon" and Robin Shelly are having a discussion in my E- mail about whether or not this is really "Spy Rock". The only thing that I'm fairly sure of, if I was allowed to speculate, that it is indeed the North Western Pacific rail route, it looks like a smoky day in the '50's, and it was taken from a passenger train. The tick brush in the foreground and the Oak trees in the background are typical of the Eel River. I’d say that it is Spy Rock, and I’m at least 92% sure. I'm 100% sure it's a rock.

Maybe Spyrock knows, if he is still talking to me. I was a little hard on him about the “name” thing. Maybe he’s still off cogitating about whether or not to use names. But, I sure hope that he keeps posting here, he has a lot of informative and interesting things to say. And I CAN deal with the no name thing. It’s just that I deal with it poorly. My bad not his.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Spyrocks Mom.

Eel River canyon at about the location of Spyrock.
I have a commenter that has amazing tales of history that I’ve not heard about before. He has many stories to tell about his experiences, and I’m fascinated by them.

Being from an old family in the Laytonville area, my ancestors go back to the gold rush on all sides of my fathers family. During family gatherings, we frequently relate stories of ancestry, of who is related to whom, and how all of the valley’s history stories connect. So, to have another link to history, that I have not known about, is like discovering gold to me. But, from an editorial standpoint, I get a little nutty when Spyrock posts here. I have come to look forward to his postings, and they are tales about adventure, courage, dedication, getting by, and stories that fit my own background so completely, that his stories are like telling the story of my life, and the life of Laytonville. The stories fit Laytonville so well that I know they are not made up.

The problem that I have is the same problem that I have with most “anonymous” postings. Names and people mean a lot to me. They are the fabric from which I am woven. “Spyrock” in his need to remain anonymous, and leave out first and last names, is immensely frustrating to me. I’m sure that some of you out there enjoy his stories and the names mean nothing to you, but to me it is like telling a great tale of mystery and leaving out the “who-done-it”.

I’ve come to understand that some people like to remain anonymous… I don’t. I was raised with phases like; “Do your family proud; Make a name for yourself; I’d stake my name on it: Proud enough to sign my name to it;” There is many more, but you get the idea.

I was taught that, good bad or ugly, if you did it, you stand behind it, and take the responsibility for it. You get the credit, responsibility, or blame, if the case may be, and there is no stay-out-of-jail free card if you screw-up.

So needless to say, when the new-people moved in and had names like “The Man That Jumped over the Moon, Woman that walks a Cow, Sally Strawberry, Marymae Earthdancer” and so on, but you get the drift… I didn’t trust them. Real people, to my mind, had real names and real families. I was always taught that if a person was proud of his name, it didn’t necessarily mean that they were any kind of a saint, It just meant that they were proud of who they were, and they had character.

So, when I ask who you are, your name tells me who you are, and your history. If you leave out your name, I might as well watch cartoons on TV for entertainment. It doesn’t connect for me.

Spyrock, you have a wonderful and dramatic history, and I like and relate to the way you tell a tale. I speak your language. You are the kind of person that I hoped to attract when I started this blog. I just wish I knew who you were, and all you families names, first and last, and how you are related to one another.

I know from reading your story about your mom that she would have been very proud to give her name, first last and middle. The people that knew her were so proud of her that they put her NAME on a school so she could be remembered. Do your family proud and give us her name!

The following is from "Spyrock", the amazing man hidden in the mist of mystery.
"spyrock said...
"my mom was born at the indian reservation hospital in covelo back in 1911. her father carried her by horseback 15 miles back to the west side of the eel a mile from spyrock where they lived. my mom and uncle delbert rode a white mule to spyrock school. they lived in a log cabin type house on the south side of shell rock creek just down the hill from the old simmerly house. from the 3rd floor of the simmerly house you could see their house. when my mom got old enough to go to high school, they moved and later my mom lived in mill valley with her aunt and rode the ferry boat to san francisco state which was downtown in those days. she became a teacher but when she got married they tried to hide the fact from everyone and got married in napa because a married woman couldn't teach in those days because of the depression. so she lost her job and got hired teaching school for kids in a hospital that had tuberculosis and rheumatic fever. i still test positive for tb. when the war started, she got a job driving a school bus and eventually got hired as a teacher again. a year after i was born she went back to teaching. a year later she was made the principal of the have to remember, this was back in the days of radio, no tv. the pta meeting was the main event in town back in those days, the whole town would show up. and every holiday there would be a christmas pagent that the whole school would participate in, a great holloween event and so on. this was back in the days of paddles and all the kids were terrified of my mom. they would litteraly run away from me when i was a kid. she had a backup 8th grade teacher nicknamed mr. goodnight who would paddle the bigger kids. so all the kids kept their distance from me when i was young. i was never referred to by my own name until i went away to college. i was always referred to as her son by everyone in town except friends my own age. after ten years of being a principal, they made her a superintendant because they built another school. she could have been the county superintendant, but she turned them down. after she retired, they named a school after her and she served on the county board of education until she was 91years old. no one would run against her. i was never comfortable with this situation. i always had to dress up and be an example for the other kids and if i didn't there was hell to pay.but for growing up in spyrock, my mom achieved a lot more than most women did in her day. she was a trail blazer and i'm proud to be her son."
End story

Spyrock brings a tear to my eye, a tear for the mom that he is so proud of, his Nameless Mom.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


First: Congratulations to the winners and the people that voted for them. There are no losers. The people that truly gave their hearts and souls to work for the candidate of their choice should never be called losers. The candidates that put themselves out there for all to judge, should be held in the highest regard by all American citizens. They have competed in We The People’s most important process. Few people could aspire to such heights. "Change" has happened to us, with or without our vote.

Now is not the time to sit back and see what happens. Nothing should happen without our support and direction. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance”. Thomas Jefferson.

We have reached a pivotal point in all of American history. There is no one out there that does not feel “change” in their bones this morning. It has been the most interesting election in history, and the most participated-in election we’ve ever had. So, by theory, “The People” have spoken.
The country is in the worse mess that it has ever been in, the economy is shambles, we are at war, we have few jobs, and even fewer good paying Jobs. We don’t have enough energy to fuel progress. Our food supply is being poisoned, and we don’t know what is safe to eat anymore. Most of all we have a government that has lost touch with the common American. If there has ever been a time in history when our destiny has been shaped by wealth, it is now. President Obama’s election was the most “well financed” in all of history. Were we bought? Or did we want “change”.

The “iron” has never been hotter, and the need to “strike” has been greater. We need to all learn to participate in elections, and follow up with our demands and needs. Don’t let Wall Street fool us, ever again. We need "change."

I most of all want to hear how people are feeling this day.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Vote, Tuesday November 4th 2008

I don't think that I ever voted for a president that I was really happy with. I have voted in a few local elections that I have been totally happy with, and the candidate that I supported won and did a good job.
Unfortunately when someone is running for President of the United States, they feel that winning is so important that they will tell you anything just to get your vote. I guess you just have to decide who is the worse liar and vote for the other guy. I think that even the most astute student of politics must realize that what the candidates say, just can't happen, so they hold their nose and vote for who they think might be the better of the two evils. Do I sound Cynical? Good! I wish that enough people were cynical, so that we would band together and clean up what is wrong with our electoral system.

Hardly anybody wanted to bailout Wall Street. It was something like 82% against the bailout, but “Big Money” demanded a bailout, and got it. In about a year we will be right back here talking about another bailout. I’m not above saying that I told you so, so look forward to it. Even the politicians know that America needs an economic base to survive, and I don’t see the politicians bringing that many jobs back to America to stimulate the economy that fast. So, next year will be bailout II, look for it.

Did government do anything to help the family farmer? No they let the big corporate farmers take them over. After all of the farms were in the hands of the stockholders they came up with a ridiculous plan to grow corn to make ethanol to fuel cars. The corporate farms are doing great now that the families have been pushed out. If you don’t know what is wrong with ethanol, you haven’t been paying attention. Hint: cost of production is twice that of gasoline, and the fermentation process releases the dread CO2 into the atmosphere.

But I digress. The next thing that they did to the American worker is take his job away from him and give it to a twelve year old Chinese peasant girl, that is willing to work twelve hour days for practically nothing. Instead of insisting on enforcing balance-of-trade laws, our politicians threw them out the window and told us to deal with it, “We live in a World economy now!”. That means that the wall street investors and company CEO’s are making millions on cutting you out of your old job.

Then the politicians decided to give the young and the unfortunate people a chance to buy housing. They made sub-prime (Meaning “Not the best”) loans to people with marginal incomes. They made buying a house sound great. They told them that they would be paying rent anyway, so they might as well be paying for a house. They let them in the door with low payments, and told them that when the higher interest rates kicked-in in a couple of years, that their house would be worth way more that they had paid for it, and they could use the equity that they had built in their home to parlay a new “low interest, fixed rate loan”. It sounded great to the people that had no other choices anyway, they needed a place to live. Unfortunately (I use that word a lot) what really happened is the fat cats were making so much money selling housing to sub-prime buyers that they over built the market, and housing prices dropped instead of increasing. So instead if renegotiating the loans to reflect the new value, they took people homes away, and paid managing companies to maintain the foreclosed houses. Many of which were destroyed by the former owners on their way out. After all they had nothing to lose, they already lost their house and investment.

What is worse, is that the corporate companies that sold the homes to sub-prime home owners, turned around and sold those loans to Fanny May and Freddie Mac. So, the rats that sold the homes to people that couldn’t afford them had nothing to lose, and the wall street investors pocketed the profits off the home sales. Beginning to smell a rat?

Then the final straw was when all of the wealth had been drawn away from Wall Street, because there is nothing “real” left to invest in, wall street started to collapse. Instead of letting it collapse, our politicians decide to bail them out.

You know who is going to pay Wall Street don’t you? It will be those farmers that lost their farms to the corporations, It will be the people who lost their houses to the corporations, it will be the factory workers whose jobs were sold overseas, it will be all the people trying to get by, while the Wall Street raiders are busy figuring out how to put that $700,000,000,000.00 in their pocket. But, because we have no real economy in the United states anymore, and we have no real product to sell off-shore our “bleed” will keep draining our country dry. And the wall street fat cats will get their skim.

They will have it all pocketed in less that a year, and we be back here to hear me say “I told you so!”

So, go ahead, hold your nose and vote, It may be the last thing that we have any control over. Now, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to decide for ourselves who we might like as candidates, without mainstream media and big money telling us who we “need”?