Barks in the Night

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1:30 a.m. Deep sleep for the first time in a week. Barking. Barking. Barking. As I gradually swim back to consciousness, I realize this is not just making-noise barking. There’s something out in the yard. Fresh from our recent bear sighting, I peel myself off the sheets and hurry barefoot to the door.
I can’t see Annie, but I hear her doing her fiercest I’m-going-to-kill-you bark. Oh, Lord.
It’s dark, clouds obscuring any moon or stars. I can’t see anything, but Annie is under the table at the west end of the deck. Between barks, I hear something else, something growling. “Annie,” I say, “we’re not alone out here.” Bark.
I run back in to get the big flashlight and shine it around. Finally, I see something moving through the deck railing. I grab Annie and drag her into the house, then come back out to take a closer look. A raccoon stares at me, its eyes shining in the flashlight. It appears to be caught between the deck and the chain link fence of the dog pen. These days, weeds and berries have grown so thick that nothing can move in there. If it can’t get out on its own, I don’t know what to do.
I go back in, telling Annie to sleep on the sofa where she dozes most of the time. But no, she wants to share my bed. It’s like having an elephant in the bed, a panting, stinky-breathed, sharp-clawed elephant who wants to lie on top of you with its feet in your face. Pretty soon I kick her out and take another look in the backyard.
My flashlight catches the raccoon hanging off the fence, its feet clinging to the chain link, its head facing downward. Swell. I go back to bed, ordering the dog to sleep on the couch, shutting my door so I can go peacefully back to dreamland. I hear Annie pacing outside my door and decide to ignore her until daylight.
My dreams are a blend of raccoons in the yard and The Bachelorette TV show for which I just watched the three-hour finale. She chose J.P., broke Ben’s heart, walked hand in hand into the sunset.
6:30 a.m. Daylight. Cloudy and still. Annie is waiting at the door. No way am I keeping her in now. We both hurry to where we last saw the raccoon.
It’s gone. Whew. Nothing but weeds in there. Annie sniffs at the fence and deck, then jumps down to the grass and sniffs the whole yard while I go back to bed and try to sleep. No go.I’m awake.
Time for orange juice for me and Kibbles and Bits for the dog. As she does her breakfast dance, I see that she has two shallow scratches on her nose. We didn’t imagine it; the raccoon was here. For both our sakes, I hope it doesn’t come back.
Thank God it wasn’t the bear.

More Oregon adventures can be found in Shoes Full of Sand, my new book, available in paperback and ebook form. Click here for details.

Well, La De Da

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A parade, pies and pups filled the streets of Yachats (pop. 749) yesterday for the annual La De Da parade. With temperatures in the high 60s and a sweet breeze, hundreds of people from all over hunkered along the sides of the roads for the annual parade that is like no other.
Instead of precision marching bands, we had the umbrella drill team with actual umbrellas, a little girl in a wagon celebrating her fourth birthday, seniors doing tai chi, a string quintet playing in the back of a pickup, dachshunds wearing hot dog buns, belly dancers, ecologists dressed as trees, fire trucks, tractors and more. Marchers tossed candy and passed out cartoons and real estate ads.
Poodles, labradoodles, spaniels, greyhounds and every other kind of dog marched or panted on the sidelines, dressed, like their owners, in red, white and blue or tie-dye.
Once the parade had made its circuit from the Yachats Commons—a former school that is now city hall, community center, concert venue and everything else—down past the Lion’s Club and around the bend to where the road overlooks the rocks and crashing surf and back, the crowd dispersed to eat barbecue at the fire department or pie at the commons and shop at booths set up all around. Then they went home to rest up for Fourth of July fireworks over the bay at dusk.
My friends and I adjourned to the Salty Dawg Saloon in nearby Waldport: great burgers, sports on the TV, sea shells embedded in the tables, and a giant photo of James Dean in the ladies’ restroom.
This does not happen in Silicon Valley.
I hate to advertise, but I must. My new book, Shoes Full of Sand, is out in paperback this week. If you like this blog, you’ll love this book. Click here to read about it.

Help, It’s Not Raining!

 We had some freakishly hot days on the Oregon Coast last week. Saturday got up into the 80s. We figure that was summer. Seriously.

Nobody knows how to handle these days. Bugs come out of nowhere, including crane flies and flying carpenter ants as big as hummingbirds. We don’t know what to wear because we finally have to take off our fleece jackets and our fleece vests and our fleecy Ugg boots, and let a little pale skin come out. We don’t even have any suntan lotion; thank God the Dollar Tree reopened yesterday. Our bodies do this weird thing we can’t identify until someone from somewhere else explains that it’s sweat. And my dog, poor Oregon Coast pup, is dragging around wishing she could take off her fur coat.
I remember well getting into my car in California and burning my hands on the steering wheel, walking into buildings just to feel the air conditioning, and getting a new pair of sandals every year. Around here, nobody has air conditioning. What for? All we can do is open a window. I’m used to lolling on my deck as much as possible, soaking up the sun, not hiding from it. I know it was only in the 80s. The temperature got up over 100 on a regular basis from June through September back in San Jose. Eighty was a nice day. It’s all relative. After 15 years, I’ve acclimated.
Anyway, it’s cloudy today. It dripped a couple drops of rain, and I’m hoping it will rain good and hard because it’s muggy, like Massachusetts in August, and I miss my fleece.
On a slightly related note, Friday turned out to be a good day to take photos on the beach. We’re working on the cover for the paperback edition of my new book, Shoes Full of Sand (already available on Kindle, hint, hint) and I decided to take some more pictures. Here’s some of what I came up with. I’m sure people thought I was nuts taking pictures of sand and my own bare feet and my shoes. But hey, it’s Shoes—Full—of—Sand. And they were.