Fishing The Coast, Oregon and Washington
I am absolutely floored to look at my calendar for
December. I just told my kids if they don't have a wish list for
Christmas prepared in two days, Santa will not be prepared by the
Besides our very own Christmas party on the 6th and Christmas shopping
for the kids at Emanuel Hospital, I have scattered medical appointments,
eye surgery on the 16th, and another medical procedure, next week!
Sheesh! I don't know how I'm going to do this!
Check in with me in January. I may still be alive!
Lately, I take more walks on the river without a fishing rod, than
with. I don't have faith that there are many steelhead in, and I'm
growing weary of salmon. Besides, they are spawning, and I hate
to take the chance of disturbing them out back. Don't get me wrong.
There will be fresh salmon coming in until January, but you just
have to sort through them. My shoulder doesn't much like that option,
so I can't wait for steelhead! Steelhead fishing is much easier
on me than salmon. Lighter gear, lighter fish!
My dog, Kilchis, is highly trained, you know. I've spent countless
hours with him in discipline.
One of his many talents is salmon spotting. Kilchis has so much
fun spotting dead salmon in the water. I ask him, "Kilchis?
He has learned which back eddies they are most likely to settle
in. I praise him for "fishing" and he gets all waggly
tailed about it. I'm certain he thinks that finding a dead one more
often than I find live ones, makes him the better fisherman! Lucky
for me he doesn't usually roll in them. He just points them out
to me and acts like "What a fine dog am I."
Kilchis "digs" on command.
I know. All you folks out there work hard to keep your dog
from digging in the yard. Living on the Kilchis river, we have banks of
dirt to spare, and if I reach down, and excitedly say, "Kilchis, dig
dig!" He again gets all waggly tailed and digs to his heart's content.
I hover over him and praise him. "Oh, Kilchis, what a marvelous dog!
What a beautiful dig-dig! Ohhhhh, Kilchis! Good dog!"
Man, I had a tough time training him to do this, and I get hardly any respect
I get a kick out of how he digs faster and deeper, until all that shows
is his waggling backside.
"Can Mommy dig-dig?" I reach down to join him, and he growls!
This is Kilchis's dig-dig and I am NOT welcome!
Kilchis is much like a small child, and I'm enjoying his company.
Come time to really concentrate on steelhead, I am sure to get a scolding
from Bill. The banks of the river look like a torture track. "Watch
your step!" I'll shout. Kilchis's "dig digs" are dangerous
to the bank angler's footing. I just hope we have a high water before Bill
decides it's time to go. Bill just doesn't have much appreciation for a
well trained digging dog.
With it will come a clean slate of riverbank. Both for Bill's fishing, and
for Kilchis's talented tricks.
...and you just wait! Bill will be pleased when he finds out that Kilchis
can point fish!
Oh! Click here for the winner of the fishing
trip. I have a new contest to put out, and it will be up soon! Congratulations,
Hope to see you at our Christmas Party! I think this year will be the biggest
of them all!
Stan Fagerstrom's last column on Silver Lake
is up. I'm sorry to say that Stan is moving from Oregon to Arizona. I'll
miss how close he once was, but I'm wishing him many, many sunshiny days
on the lakes, there!
Please be patient with me! I won't answer e mail or private
messages for a bit.
I am leaving for Portland to a biz meeting, and then the docs. If I don't
get out of the doc appt. in time to drive home before dark, then I have
to stay overnight in Portland.
Meanwhile, how many of you can say you caught three salmon in 20 minutes?
It's five in the morning... the power was out for three hours last night
as we all froze. I had a terrible dry cough all night, that just wouldn't
Off I go, regardless of sleep or good health. This trip too, shall pass!
I already miss Kilchis.
Ah... A day off, at home. Thank God for Pete, who drove me
to downtown Portland, yesterday. I get so stressed out driving in Portland
that I almost refuse. The trip across the hill is enough for my eyes! By
the time I reached Mcdonalds in North Plains, I was exhausted.
Good thing to see Pete, waiting to help me to the next leg of my appointment
We went to visit the home of the ifish server. It is in a secured room with
so many others! Blinking red lights light up like an electric fireplace!
The power of it all amazes me. They have tape drives that hold up to a terabyte!
That's as close to infinity as I can imagine!
I've always wanted my own T1... but how 'bout taking a tour of Opus Interactive's
connection ability, by clicking here?
Now these folks have secured power! I was like a kid in a candy store!
"The data center is fed by both fiber optics and standard copper. Two
telcos provide separate fiber entrances to the building. They have two OC3
cabinets allowing for 311.04 Mbps of available bandwidth over their optical
SONET ring metro networks. We can provide circuits up to DS3 into the data
center for cross connection to customer equipment."
I copied that from their site. What does it mean? It means that I feel secure
in our data transfer!
I put an ifish decal by my rack, and they took a picture of it. I can't
wait to have them send it to me. I'll post it here. I'm proud of it!
Their offices are so cool! On Friday, the employees take turns bringing
breakfast. A full spread of Noah's bagels and cream cheeses of all sorts
were laid out for nibbling.
The building is one of those I've always dreamed of living in, if I were
a city dweller. You see spaces such as these often, in the movies. It was
a huge open expanse. An old warehouse, furnished with trendy new furniture.
Office cubicles were divided by pretty folding wall panels. The whole space
was warm, roomy, and inviting. If you cleared it all out, there would be
plenty of space to play frisbee with Kilchis! We could be happy, there!!
They showed me how Opus can never go down. They have redundant and conditioned
power provided through use of a UPS and an on-site backup power generator.
The people are great, there. I had a great morning.
Anyhow, after that, I went to visit my new neurosurgeon at St. Vincent Hospital.
He gave me a list of new appointments I have to make. One, to a pain anesthesiologist,
one to have a new MRI done, and another to a different Orthopedic surgeon
for my rotator cuff.
Yawn. I'm so tired of doctors... He was very nice, but... I was so hoping
for a one hour visit where he just fixed the problem! Give me a miracle,
Is that asking too much?
I'm going to relax, today. Maybe make it to Freddies for a little Christmas
shopping. It's going to be tough this year, trying to get all things done
by my surgery date, December 16th. But, in a way that will be great! Then
I can just kick back and recover until Christmas Day!
I hope you have a great day! I'm off.
I had this idea that the "Christmas for Kids" Christmas
party at Pietro's was an easy, no frills get together with nearly no planning.
It was! It was that way! Really! At one time!
Last year, in my carefree misconception of the party, I forgot to bring
the ifish name tags. That was when I began to realize that this, too, requires
This year, I will not forget anything!
My garage has a newly created center isle for "party planning."
In it; a picnic bench full of Christmas gifts for the moderators, signs
and banners for ifish, unwrapped Christmas gifts for the kids, a notepad
with lists of people to thank, who have sent me checks to donate to Emanuel.
Notices from the post office that I have boxes to pick up.
I also have stacked decals, books, hats, and the remainder of the Ifish
2004 Kwikfish neatly at the end, for sale at the party.
The pontoon that we raffled off for kids gifts waits for someone with muscles
to lift it into my car.
In my mind, a jumbled array of funds, to divvy up amongst some of the ladies
at ifish, to go shopping for the kids. I hope I have figured the amount
Pete has organized volunteers for both the "meet and greet" table,
and for hauling the toys to the hospital. I, of course, got confused by
email offers of help, and private message offers of help, on the board.
Therefore, I failed to include some members in the tally of volunteers.
Argh! I'm so sorry!
I am going to make this party organized, now, so that I may enjoy the company
at the party, once it begins. I'm going to sit down, and enjoy Pizza and
my friends. I also hope to be able to be a part of the group that delivers
the toys to the hospital. In years past, I have gotten too tired by that
time of night, and have excused myself, early. This year I'm going to plan
a nap, mid day, so that I might... just might be able to make it to the
end! I've heard it's the most joyous time of the event, and I need that
kind of energy!
Today, one of my boys who is learning to drive, will drive me to Costco,
to finish off some Holiday shopping for the party.
After this Christmas party, I will have (count them!) ten days to complete
my own children's Christmas shopping, so that I can have my surgery on the
16th, and be well by Christmas day.
I think I will be doing a lot of online shopping!
Either that, or I'll again "just go fishing" and perhaps give
everyone salmon for Christmas. Wouldn't my kids just love that? I don't
Steelhead prediction: I think it's going to flood by Friday,
looking at the forecast.
I think we have a week off of fishing, here, but if my thoughts are correct,
as it lowers, we are going to be into the steelhead! Plan on fishing week
Get your Christmas shopping done this week! By week after this, we are going
to be into the steel! The Kilchis is very low and clear right now. Almost
worthless fishing, unless you like to hook old darkies. There may be a shot,
depending on if we drop in between systems or if we catch a good day that
is slightly on the rise. But my best bet is week after next... say Tuesday?
May I quit ifish, now? I'm exhausted. Or, at least, a day
Last night at 9:00 PM, I sat in the emergency room of Emanuel Hospital,
surrounded by several big white boxes of toys. Sally from Emanuel met our
delivery team, and we unloaded the toys to take them to their final destination.
It hit me hard. Here comes the tears!
The tears were of joy mixed with sheer exhaustion. Look
what ifish did!
At every stage of the day, I kept thinking, "OK, now the hard part
is done, I will now enjoy myself and relax. That didn't happen at noon.
It didn't happen at dinner time. It didn't happen as the freight truck took
off for the hospital. It finally happened in the emergency room. Tears of
sheer exhaustion and final accomplishment overwhelmed me.
Today, I relax. Today, I can be satisfied that at the very least, children
in the hospital will wake on Christmas Day and have lots of toys!
Many thanks go to all of the people who made this possible. Thank you all
so much for attending, and sharing your love with so many.
It was another great year!
..and guess what? I didn't forget anything! Only thing I had trouble with
was remembering names, monikers and faces of so many giving people!
Alright, so I'm strange. I just don't know how to choose my
emotions when I see all the dead salmon in the river, and laying half eaten
and mutilated on the rocky shores. I find myself staring, trying to figure
out how I feel.
Some are pointed up, statue like, laying in the sticks in the shallows.
But, is it also a joyful thing? To see the end of the journey that they
have fought so hard to complete?
Is it a sad thing? To see life end?
Or, is it just all simply amazing?
Day after day I walk by the river as more and more salmon collect. First,
mostly chum. Now huge chinook salmon that I remember hooking, not too long
ago in the summer in the bays, near the ocean. Shiny, chrome, full-of-life
salmonids, fighting their way home. The energy they once had! I stop to
remember my reel screaming, as they fought their way away from the boat!
Zipping across the top water, their full force body slams that made me scream
Now, the journey is over. Their rotting carcass litter the shores. Is this
where I want to live? At the end of the road?
But--It's simply amazing! All the way from Alaska? What a trip!
Flocks of seagull, accompanied by an occasional eagle, soar up river once
a year for their own style of Thanksgiving. I never know if it's the egg
before the chicken or the chicken before the egg. Every year they show up,
though, seemingly knowing it is time for the feast. Do they follow the salmon
upriver visually, or do they come before, seasonally knowing that it's time
for heavy feeding?
Maybe I'm nuts. For some reason, I keep thinking of the bible verse that
says, "He died so that we could have everlasting life." I know
it doesn't really work, there, but I just keep hearing that.
When a salmon dies, their bodies feed so many creatures with rich nutrients.
There is purpose in death. To start the lives of many new salmon, and to
feed the river and the tall, tall trees that surround it. Every living thing
around the river is fed by the death of a single salmon. The rich, lush
sword ferns, the brightly lit purple flowers that line the bank in the springtime,
and the life that lives in the river, itself. From a crawdad, to a small
The whole experience is spiritual to me. A cosmic mixture of joy, sadness,
curiosity, amazement and fear. Yes, death of any kind rings a hollow fear
in me. But, it all comes full circle, and the realization of the good it
brings balances out... and it settles alright with me.
Yesterday afternoon I walked beside the river, and a haunting calm before
the storm was present. A darkness fell over the water, and everything turned
black and stormy and threatening. The wind swirled the currents backwards.
I couldn't see a single salmon carcass through the darkness of the storm
cast and ruffled waters. This had been my last shot at witnessing the bulk
of dead salmon that would feed the rivers this year.
As the winter rains set in and the full blast of a fifty mile per hour wind
woke me in the middle of the night, I know to expect a clean river bank,
Most of the salmon carcasses will be washed out to sea. A few of them, left
high on the bank, as the water recedes.
They are left there, I believe, as a kind of haunting reminder that won't
let go. Spirits of the river, of the forest, forever. Their memories, hanging
from the bushes in oddly colored strips sometimes, even as the rush of fresh
steelhead arrive and breathe new life into my daily walks on the Kilchis
(Uh oh! Jennie had an aortic dissection and has been
in the hospital for almost three weeks!!)
did it! I wrote a column!!!!
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Even around here!
It's mostly not of my doing. It's like magic! I don't know how to begin
to thank people that have helped us during this awkward time. I even have
I had a very definite plan for when I got home. I remembered after my eye
surgery when I was somewhat incapacitated, I spent hours, just sitting along
the river. It was wonderful, and very healing.
Well, things are not quite the same this time around, and man oh man, am
I having trouble adjusting. I have learned to pray to God on a constant
basis. He has again become my closest and most relied on friend and companion.
I am learning to walk again. Both as a dependent daughter of Christ, and
as a human being, physically making my way from room to room! At times,
it is so difficult, and I have so little energy, that I've found myself
literally crying and crawling to get back somewhere.
My plan to immediately and ceaselessly visit the river has not come true.
In fact, it wasn't until yesterday that I even made it to visit the river.
And no, I could not walk there. In fact, it was late in the afternoon, and
my energy had nearly vanished for the day. Yet, my disappointment in putting
this trip off drove me to accomplish my wish.
Bill packed the dogs in the car, threw in my portable duck seat, and off
we went, through the yard.
Several times during this life changing event, I have been surprise attacked
my bursts of emotions. This occasion was no different.
As the truck rolled to a stop on the high water tossed gravel bank,
I opened my car door. A blast of salmon stench hit me in
the cool, foggy darkness of afternoon.
All seemed so quiet!
"Hello river." I sobbed, as waves of tears poured from my eyes
and the sound of the river song welcomed me home.
This river is going to heal me. That's what I heard peep
out from the around the tops of the trees, and from under the smallest new
agate that peered between my weak and shaky foothold.
Bill picked up my chair as I walked 6 feet and asked him to now set the
New dead salmon were scattered along the creek beds, and huge agates lay
untouched along the sand banks! Oh! Just wait until I can walk!
I had trouble controlling the flow of tears, but you know what? I didn't
care. Let them flow like the river.... I figure I bought and paid for each
one of those tear drops, and it's all part of the healing process to use
them, to feel things, and to acknowledge each and every way there is to
feel, whether sorry, grateful, sad, lost, scared... let me tell you, I've
felt them all.
By the time we made it back into the garage, I had trouble with numbness
in my feet, and I was unable to make it back into the house. I literally
crawled up the back steps, and found my way to a kitchen chair. Now, that's
embarassing and humbling! Kilchis thought it was darn funny, though!
As I sat, though, and poured through thoughts of my visit to the river,
I know I'd not put that trip off again, today. Of all of the feelings I
felt, as I realized the river would come to heal me, the one that left me
the most impressed was how darn glad I am to be alive.
Yes, life is a pain right now, and it's tough, often disappointing, and
very tiring. But, I'm going to make it, and I'm darn glad.
Glad, and very, very lucky to have a river to help to heal me.
O.K., so I've been through a lot. Alright, so I was "under
the knife" for 12 hours. I know, I know... My body is healing. They
used a tile cutter to cut me apart. My heart was outside my body. I know
this and more... that neither you nor I wanted to know, I'm certain!
Still, I'm very frustrated that I can't walk very well. Very, very frustrated.
I mean, I can walk. I just have literally no sustaining energy. Once around
the kitchen. Once from the kitchen to the office. I sit down and it hurts
so bad from exhaustion that I want to cry. I do think this is the feeling
Jane Fonda describes in her exercise videos, regarding, "Make it burn!"
Oh, Baby! It burns! I do not think this, however, is the duration of time
she expects before it happens, and neither do I!
I sit in my upstairs bedroom and stare down at the river. Sometimes a boat
will be anchored mid stream. Sometimes I see a heron. Rarely, an eagle.
You have no idea the strong, loving connection I feel, here. I want to be
there. I don't want to just watch. I want to touch, feel, breathe, walk,
experience, get my feet wet-my hands cold, BE THERE.
I will. With the desire and the passion for it to happen, this strong, it's
sure to happen, soon.
I'll tell you all about what happened that fateful day, as well as I can
recall. It's all a bit of a blur to me, so I'll have to write or call different
onlookers, friends and family to fill in the times and dates more fully.
It will be nice to make full sense of where two weeks have gone.
I remember getting my hair done that day. I remember fishing, afterwards.
I didn't catch anything, I don't think. I don't think I did anything very
After an uneventful dinner, I put on a fresh, soft nightgown. I washed my
face, and headed from the sink to the bed.
It was then that it happened. Pain shot across my jaw, so absolutely unmistakably
that I had no doubt what was going on with me. Within 2 minutes, I said,
"Bill, call 911." His response of course, because it was so out
of the blue, "What?"
"Yes, please call 911." I was very calm. More so than I ever thought
to be. I knew what was happening. I remember having Bill call the kids upstairs
as I lay on the bed. I remember telling them I loved them, and that all
would be OK. I knew that aortic dissections are most often not lived through,
so I told them how much I loved them, etc. I was very, very calm. I remember
LOL. Later, I asked Andrew if he really thought I was sick. "I thought
you were being dramatic." You know, I can see how he'd think that!
I would have wondered, myself.
But yes, I really was that sick, and to this day, the surgeons still have
to look at me and say, "Jennie, this really happened to you, big time."
My aorta burst, and it burst all the way down. The surgeons replaced the
aortic root, ascending aorta, the arch and the top portion of the descending
aorta. which were the most immediately life threatening parts of my dissection.
He said at the time that they did as much as they could do, as much as he's
ever done on a Marfan syndrome patient. Part of his concern was that the
coronary bypass have good blood flow, where they put in the graft from your
They could not fix it all, and to this day, I am walking around with a full
dissection, partially un repaired. That is a really weird feeling!
I'll tell you more, next time. I have to do some questioning about times
Until then, I remain fixed on the picture outside my window. The river.
The river that will heal me.... If I could only get close enough to feel
I have never prayed harder for physical strength, and if you'd like to join
me, I'd be more than thankful.
Last night on television I was watching a moth work it's way
out of a cocoon. They stated that they could open the hole in the tip of
the cocoon for the moth to escape more easily, but if they did, the moth
would not be strong enough to make it on it's own in the world.
So, here I sit, tediously and routinely trying to work my way out of this
burdensome (and seemingly very heavy!) cocoon. It hurts to try and get out,
but I bite my tongue against the pain, and continue my "progress."
What progress? I keep asking Bill, the boys, anyone around
me. "Am I different from two days ago? How? Are you sure?
"Oh, yes, Mom. When you first got home, you'd walk 5 feet, and then
sit down to sob that it hurt." Now you walk twice as far, and don't
whimper as much! You can make it up the stairs, and now you only rest at
the top for 5 minutes. When you first came home, you'd nearly take a nap
at the top!
Who said, "No pain, no gain?"
I'm thinking that this is what this is all about.
So, yesterday I was out for pain. As the pain hit, instead of giving in
to it, I clenched my teeth, and walked past it. I walked past it to water
just one more plant, or to feed the kitties their cat food. I tried to do
"helpful things." Oh, my, but it's difficult for the Mother of
the flock not to be helpful!
As I walked, I kept reciting, "still walking, still walking, still....."
and breathed through it. It worked!
However, today, I think I'm paying for that!
I get so darn sleepy. I can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. In fact, as
I sit here, I fight the sleepies. I just want to sit down and nap, just
for a second! Please!
My doctor said to me yesterday, "Jennie, as surgeries go, one being
simple, and ten being extreme, you had a 10 plus. Be gentle with yourself."
When I went to my surgeon the other day, I complained of the 'numb cold
feet thing' and told him about my fevers, and he said, "Jennie, you
tried to die on us on the table that night. We will work on your problems,
but right now, let's just be happy that we have a girl with cold numb feet
to work on."
You know, I remember times weaving in and out of anesthesia during the surgery,
or after, when I thought and felt, "This isn't worth it. This is too
hard." Plain and simple, I wanted to die. But, I remember the surgeons
and nurses saying, "Jennie! I know this is hard, but this is the hard
part! It's easier from here on in!" They cheered me. I'm glad they
I have a goal for today, or tomorrow. I'm not sure which. yet. It depends
on if I feel I should rest today, or push forward. It depends on my reserve
of energy. I want to be recharged and rested for this one.
I have sat on my bed and stared down at the river for so long, now. I simply
must make it out there. I stare at the river and sing,
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
"It is well, it is well with my soul.
Bill has brought out the portable duck seat. It's very, very
light. I'm not going to wear hip boots, or boots at all. They are much too
heavy. I'm going to put on light, well worn tennis shoes.
I am going to swing the duck chair over my shoulder ever so gently, and
I am going to point myself in the direction of.... the river!
This way, I can rest when I am tired! If I make it down to the river in
8 hours, I'll still make it, and OH! what reward there will be in that!
I will not take a rod. I will take a camera, maybe, just to prove to you
all that I can make it.
...and if I can not make it, I will not be upset. I simply have a goal,
now, and someday, I will be able to make it!
Then, I can count my progress by how many rest breaks in the duck chair
I need on my way.
I'm excited. I think I'll take a shower, and try this. I don't care if I
make it 10 feet and tucker out. I love having something to work towards!
What a reward! The river! Yikes! It's almost too good to be true! You know
that when I get there, the water levels will be on the rise. There's going
to be some tears of joy coming out of this girl's eyes!
FISHING THE COAST
A journal of my life on the Kilchis river.
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