You play the hand you've drawn

I had been deliberating as to how I should approach the "about me" page for this blog. I really saw it as a big chore. Even though I write about myself every day, usually I write about myself within the confines of other things, so it's not entirely about me. (Right?....Right?) The "about me felt awkward, contrived and stiff: Which details of my life are relevant? What should the tone be- straightforward? Self effacing? Glowingly self-confident? How do I do all this in third person? And the constant devil in the ear: why would anyone care?

Then I struck genius- or so I thought. Have you ever played Apples to Apples? Good game. It involves noun cards and adjective cards, and throughout the game you end up with a certain amount of adjective cards. Apparently, or at least I've been told, the cards you end up with describe you. If you end up with the cards, "Dreamy, Creative, Morose" well, then you are a dreamy, creative, morose person. So I thought I'd play a game, examine the cards I ended up with, and go from there. What a creative way to approach my about me page....

I ended up having a match of Apples to Apples with Will, my roomate, and her boyfriend, during the night of a particularly vicious blizzard. Snow so thick you couldn't see your hands in front of you. Throughout the game I acquired three adjective cards. Just three cards- usually you get ten or eleven- but my competitors decided to quit early and play Mexican train. "Guys, come one!" I pleaded. "Just a few more rounds! I need to get some more cards here!" Of course, no one payed attention to me. And so this is what I was left with, three adjectives that supposedly describe me:

I'll take the middle one

Obviously, that creative approach went out the window. And though I have been considered all three of these words by certain people at one time or another, I can think of many more accurate terms to describe myself. Terms for today? Inefficient. Long Winded. Exhausted.

I did finally finish my About Me page, about 4 weeks late. It's in the title bar under "The Author."

I know your type, boy!

This conversation just occurred about 2 1/2 minutes ago at the Black Bear Bookstore and Cafe in my new home of Boone, North Carolina.

I walk into the sitting cafe area, a casual setting set up like a living room with a fake fireplace and stuffed chairs. An old man is talking to a young man about investments. With one glance I know the old guy's type- the guy who comes to the cafe without a book, friend or computer, and then preys upon everyone else to be his source of entertainment. With my round face and artless appearance, I've been the victim of this type of person too many times to count. Which is why I've learned never to leave the house without headphones. Even if I don't have anything to listen to, I can shove the sharp end into my pocket and no one is the wiser.

Back to the story, old guy is bantering to young guy about Apple shares and how if only his investment banker would have taken the chance back in 92 to purchase those Apple shares then they'd have 400,000$ now, wouldn't they. It is obvious the conversation, mostly one sided, has been going on for quite some time. Young guy is sitting over a table, trying to read a book, and half heartedly listening. Immediately, I sympathize with young guy.

When I return with my coffee, old guy is getting up and heading outside for a cigarette. Young guy casts me a furtive glance. "I need to go out there to make a phone call, but I know that guy will just bother me." He says.

"Yeah, I bet he will." I said, happy to empathize. Happy, in fact, to be speaking to anyone. I'm new in town.

"Do you know him?" Asks young guy, who is good looking in an Antonio Bandaris sort of way. He's about my age.

I shake my head no. "I don't know him, but I know his type." I smile.

"Well, I don't know him but I don't- I don't think he's GAY!!" Says young guy, backing away from me. Literally, backing away from me. "If that's what you meant!"

I thought -what the hell? I said aloud, "what? the hell?" What was I supposed to say? "I meant- the type of person who talks a lot." But I'm suddenly thinking- is this little conversation inadvertently making me seem homophobic? Do I need to throw in some comment about how if old guy is gay, then I totally support his right to love who he wants to love? Why am I talking to this guy anyway?

"Well, you said you knew his type, that could mean anything." Young guy is walking to the door, throwing his winter coat around his shoulders. I'm still standing there with my mouth open. Young guy is still talking as he steps into the ice storm outside. "I mean, if he is, maybe he is, I don't care cause I'm not that way....I'm not that way AT ALL."

Well, good for you young guy. Good for you.

the convicted felon is in the woods

I was taking a walk to sugar house hill this evening, under phosphorescent skies, and all of a sudden the light had drained out of the sky. I cut through the woods to get to the road, knowing in the back of my head that walking in the woods at dusk during hunting season- posted land or not- was a bad idea. Just as I hit the road I saw the farmer cruising up on his four-wheeler. It had no break lights or tail lights, I could just see the red glowing tip of his cigarette gliding up the road as if it were floating. I froze, trying to melt into the hillside. I liked the farmer very much but he was a compulsive talker, and I wanted to get home.

I saw him ride past, come to a stop, and back up, having obviously spotted me. "Don't shoot me!" I yelled out, half playing, half frightened. I could have easily passed for a deer in the darkness. He swung his leg over the 4-wheeler and started coming towards me. "DON'T SHOOT ME! IT'S ME! DON'T SHOOT ME" I shouted again, springing up from the ground and running towards him.

"Thought you might have been a hunta'." He said, his heavy Vermont accident sinking the end of each word. Although the farmer hunts freely on the land, no one else is permitted, and just like his father before him, he does not take kindly to trespassers. He put his cigarette out and started in on a story of stalking and running off a small handful men from the land in the last few weeks. "This one guy, I seen him here a few times, hes a Knott I think."

"A nut?" I ask him. "Like, a total nutbag? And he's wandering around our property with a gun?"

"No, a knott" The farmer spelled it out. "That's his last name. But he is a nut. He's a convicted felon, not even allowed to carry a weapon." So there is a crazy, dangerous murderer father slapper pope raper of a man wandering around the property....which means the crazy ideas that I harbor between the hours of 10pm-8am when I'm home alone were correct. I asked how he managed to go hunting without a gun.

"Nah, he can't have a rifle, but he can have a bow and arrow."


"and a muzzleloader."

"I see." It was then I resolved to never again roam around in my underwear. So much for that simple pleasure.

"How's that cat?" Asked the farmer, changing the subject.

I told him she was alright but that I had to go. I wanted to get home and lock the doors and- I'm not sure what- sit in wait with a steak knife. But when I got there, with the yellow light pooling out of the windows and the animals lying around fireplace and the VPR pledge drive on the radio, things seemed far less grim and desolate as they had on the remainder of the walk home. The crazy dangerous murder father slapper pope raper stalking through woods seemed, if not anacuous, then somehow far, far away.

Melina's photographed guide to figurative language

I'm going to delve into the underworld of literary terminology here. You ready? Put on your snorkel mask and follow me!

Since I'm teaching AP English I figure I should have a handle on the actual terms of language. Oh sure, I know them- but I don't really know them. If I bumped into them at a party it would be awkward, to say the least. My brain would make small talk while my mind would try frantically to figure out whether I was talking to personification or pathetic fallacy- they're so alike.

Since I love and admire Strunk and White's Illustrated Guide to Style to very much- good bath tub reading- I decided to make my own photographed guide to figurative language, literary techniques and other AP psycho babble. SERIOUS fun!

1. Assonance- repetition of similar vowel sounds:

Though normally Nelson jumps from docks, here he is rotating his torso off of rocks, down in the Rio Trancura.

(I hope this flaunting of my nerd side doesn't make an assonance out of me.)

first night with Smokey Jo

I've got a week and a half to tame, or at least begin to socialize, a feral kitten of unknown age and unknown gender. This has become a fantastically larger undertaking than I had anticipated. (Although I would like to insert here that I did not know I was going to be acquiring a feral kitten, but sometimes these things just happen.) After a week and a half I get on a plane to Chile and the kitten is either an acclimated pet, or it goes back to the farmer and gets shot in the head. So, pressure's on.

It spent most of its first day shivering under the old dresser. We had cooked thanksgiving that day, a month or so early, since I'll be gone for the real thing, and I've got this thing for Holidays. I can't stand to miss them. Anyway, we had a bunch of people over and spent the evening drinking wine and champagne and eating all the good stuff, including these pecan tarts I made that would just break your heart if you could see them. One of the guests was Cassie, my proclaimed 'soul mate' since 7th grade, and the two of us spent the hours post-meal sitting in the guest room catching up. The kitten was at one point, quite mysteriously, sitting up on the bed when we walked in the room, and stayed remained there with us, at a considerable distance and casting furtive looks the whole time, for an hour or so. Other than that she was hiding under the dresser. Cass and I walked up into the field in cold and the dark, wearing our warmest winter jackets and admired the audacious, steely shine of the Northern stars. And then when everyone was gone, I sat near the kitten and read aloud from the entire Patagonia catalog, and then from The Tracker, and then I just talked with her.

I went to bed at 2am and found a despondent Hometeam waiting in my bed. I woke up at 5 to the little beast crying her head off. Back downstairs I went and read aloud from the Tracker. At first she shut up and listened, but after a few minutes she just cried right along anyway. She is a loud thing. Ear peircing howls. Eventually I gave up and trodded on upstairs again to sleep.

I know she or he or whatever is terrified and homesick and misses her mother and probably is going over and over in her mind that terrible moment where it stepped into the trap. It's hard not to be able to reach out and stroke it, an instinctual urge. It's a cute little thing, I mean for god sake's it a kitten, green saucer eyes and the tiny nose and the whole deal, but right now it's just mean and unholy.

We've named it Smokey Jo.

The power of Christ compels you!!

Boot and Spoon as babies: this is NOT monster kitty

I had a blanket, leather gloves, a cardboard box, a bowl of water and some dry kitten food.

What I really needed was a priest, some holy water, and a suit of armor.

I had just trapped a barn kitten from the farm at the end of the road and brought it home. It left behind three siblings, a mother, a bellowing community of cows and the kind of free to roam around a drink milk from the cow's utter that city cats dream about. It wandered into my trap going after the wet cat food and now I had it, hissing and spitting and clawing in the trap.

I'm not a monster. All these kittens are going to be round up one way or the other and shot in the head by the farmer, or brought to the Humane Society, probably the former. So although this little grey and white tiger striped little thing (boy, girl, whose do say?) doesn't know it yet, putting its little paws into the steel trap was the most fortuitous act of its young life. There has been a cat shaped hole in our life ever since Sport runned off and served herself as an appetizer to a coyote, and this little thing is going to fill that hole.

It was the brightest, bluest fall day in history, the day my mom and I let the little monster lose in the guest room for the first time. It went ballistic, jumping around and slamming head-first into the closed windows, leaping up onto the tall bed in one springy motion, darting around the room like lightning. I caught it wearing leather gloves and tried to hold onto it- the farmer told us the only way to tame it would be to catch it and force it to sit still while you pet it for hours. The farmer is a 63 year old Vermonter with hands like raw-hide and I'm sure he would be able to do this. But not me. The kitten hissed, spit and went for my throat. I threw it away from me, it twisted in the air and landed on the ground, then bolted away.

When we caught it again we held it down onto the bed. My mom's two gloved hands and one of mine held down on the little body with all their might, while I gingerly tried to stroke the back of its head with my other hand. It hissed and struggled. And then it started moaning. That terrible moaning of something that is so terrified it either wants to kill or it wants to be dead. Then it squirmed free and took off, spitting.

We left it alone. This was probably the best idea and we should have done it immediately- the thing has never been touched, picked up, or been inside a house before, and we tried to throw it all at him at once. We were just trying to take the advice of the farmer, but that 4 minutes of handling was probably pretty detrimental.

What the hell?!? When we heard barn cat, we thought 'kitten in a box!' The kind that cuddles up in your hand and sleeps under your chin at night. When we heard 'feral cat' we just thought, so it will be spirited! Alright!

Now we've got a little monster demon crouching under the antique dresser in our living room. So far the soothing tones and the disastrous attempt at petting didn't work. On to plan B I suppose: shaking it bodily while dousing it in holy water and shouting The Power of Christ Compels you!!

shout::shout::for joy::rejoice::

i'm home again after

far far faaaaaaaarrrrrrr too long in southern airports and



over southern skies. (and it wasn't even that long.)

how i've longed lately to be home. and of COURSE. winter upon us. but not:
quite wintered in.

sky all sharp and diamond strung. Cold air, and clean. Two dogs, fireplace, VPR on the radio. pile of books taller than myself.

already had a cinnamon dolce hot chocolate and leafed

around a bookstore, eaten an entire loaf of bread.

Getting ready to march around the hills. at night you will find me and hometeam buried under quilts with extra socks on- my friend The Trout puts it this way: this is the closest I'll ever come to religion.

(why do I ever leave?)

just an update from West Virginia

I took the curious kids out the edge of the gorge and peered over. For a few minutes, they stopped talking.

It's been a dramatic few weeks here in west virginia.

now, if anyone wrote that in my writing class i'd slash it out and remind them that abstract weak little words like 'dramatic' mean nothing (same with good, bad, nice, interesting) should always be replaced by the concrete and tangible.

it's been gauleylicious, for some more than others. isn't that always the case.

in the past few weeks there have been some massive NRS pro-orders. Some epic paddling on the lower Gauley with a dream, dodging punchy waves and foaming holes on a scrappy little line that barely eeked me through, excruciatingly haunting and overwhelmingly sorrowful harmonies late at night with Andy and Tino. Some hiking and disc golfing in the surounding woods and raft companies and gorges. We've been swimming in the dried-out dries run of the New River Gorge and sliding down waterslides in tiny canyons.

I've slept under a tarp in front of the embers of campfire at the Gauley put in. And drank pints of beer at Pie slike

I've been teaching about the league of New England Geniusses and pulling my hair out trying to make the kids laugh while learning about Whitman which isn't easy. I watched one girl get eaten alive with poisin ivy and hauled her off to the health clinic where she got injected with a gallon of steroids, then I bought her a chocolate milkshake.

There's been little sleep but a lot to eat. There's been a lot to do, more every day. There's been not very much paddling for me but the ride was good when I got it. The classes have been long and longer. The photo-shoots I take my photo students on have been sketchy in a deliverance kind of way. SATs are creeping up. Today Kara handed me my itinerary for Chile. And that's the update from West Virginia, more or less.

beautiful, outstanding, ecstatic--

My heart was stolen when I was 18. I fell in love hard. She is everything person strives to be- beautiful, outstanding, ecstatic, hilarious, loyal, intelligent, emotional, determined, fierce, gorgeous, witty, disastrous, balanced, talented, tumultuous, self-reliant, a walking firecracker. She reminds me of the seasons changing: reliable yet surprising, beautiful, always changing yet dependable. Even though we're approximately 2, 4641.4 miles apart, I'm still in love with her. And somehow, for some reason, she loves me back. She is my best friend. I'm sorry for sentimentality. I payed a lot of money to go to school to learn how to write without sentimentality, but fuck it! Lisa is turning 25, she whirled around this planet for a quarter of a century, and if that doesn't deserve a little emotional tribute than I don't know what does.
Lisa is a graphic designer, and many other things, for 5ultimate. She studied international relations and Element Ultimate Frisbee for 5 years at UW, half of which time she was on playing field across American and the other half she was holed up at Zoka Cafe writing papers on displaced people and diaspora. Lisa is on her second year as a semi-pro ultimate player on Riot, one of the top women's ultimate teams in the world. She is from Ballard. She's been all over the globe, visiting her parents who are traveling around the world on their boat. She studied in Nepal and India. She's a superstar. She's a heart breaker. And I miss her, a lot. Sometimes I feel her pulling me back to Seattle, a force as elemental as the tidals being yanked inward the celestial bodies.

Wishing you were somehow here again

I put Hometeam in a car today. She's going back home with David and Tino who were heading that way for the Whitewater Symposium. I'm sending her home early so she doesn't have to put up with the airplane I'm taking in a few weeks at the end of the quarter. Since getting into Fern's catfood, she can no longer fit under the airplane seat. Tonight, my bed is cold and my heart is stone. HT, tonight, this song is for you.

Teaching for the national AP Literature and Composition exam

The best part of teaching high school English at a tiny, alternative boarding school is that the overlords of education are not breathing down my neck, and my classes need not comply with the materials on the standardized testing omnipresent in today's public classroom. My Advanced Placement class has to pass the national AP exam otherwise I'll be in a lot of trouble, but it's up to me how I go about learnin' them all the test materials. So far it's involved a huge turkey supper and this Grapes of Wrath Monopoly board game. The best part of Haaken's game was that in the end there were no winners because the bank took all your property and money. I'm sure Steinbeck would have approved.

The horror

It's 11:00pm on a Monday night and I'm cleaning out the New River Academy fridge, hoping to find a place to put the giant pot of turkey stock I made. What the crap is non-fast squeazable spread?? Why must one be able both to squeeze and spread?! Non fat 1/2 & 1/2? I hope that needs no commentary. A giant tub of "smart balance"? What the crap is this stuff?? Who the crap buys this kind of thing??

The Wilder Coast Turns One

A little over one year ago, living in a studio apartment in Seattle, I got up one morning and realized I wanted to do something different. So I gave away most of what I owned, packed up the rest and really pissed off my sister and a few friends by flying away. The tentative plan was to move to Asheville. What happened was a little different. I touched down in Burlington at the beginning of what proved to be the most brutal winter Vermont has seen in one hundred years. I had no plans, no friends, and no job. I didn't know what, if anything, was going to happen. Yet something strong had compelled me to move 3,000 miles and I had a feeling that whatever happened, it might be worth writing it down.

Thus the inception of The Wilder Coast. I was 23 years old when it began. I'm 24 years now but I won't be for long. This thing began as a debate: which coast should I live on, East or West? Seattle or Vermont? Now, things have become a considerable amount more complicated. I figured it might be a good idea, while I was at it, to explore the longest coast as well. The longest coast, those salted shores where Neruda wrote his tormented love sonnets, is also proving to be a good contender for wildest. And I'm being offered a nice oppertunity to live there, forever. But those same mysterious strings that yanked me out of my sweet, normal, caffeinated little life in Seattle seem to be pulling on me again to go somewhere else...without bothering to tell me where, of course.

So, in short, this blog has failed. I was supposed to have figured it out by now, and instead I've gotten thoroughly tangled. In the midst of all that failing, The Wilder Coast has accumulated 109 posts, been viewed by 4,742 people in over 23 countries (including a mysteriously large viewership in Brazil). Thank you everyone who has read, thanks more to those have commented, and the most thanks to my dog, Hometeam, who has been with me through every adventure. Except for those in Chile.

Considering all that's occured in the past 365 days, my brain shakes in my head wondering where I'll be this time in 2010. Whatever it is, it will promulgated here.

Ducks on Gauley

The 2nd half of the quarter is underway. Tino is leading the ducklings down the upper Gauley today. In the rain. It's warm and humid here, like swimming in a soup, an unsettling climate. Yesterday we swam in the dries, swooping down the rock waterslides, building dams out of rocks. All the kids were just kids and the trees were still as green as they were this summer. But I feel restless. I think all the time about the upper corners of the map, the one on the East and the one of the West, where the weather has turned to tang and chill and the fires are lit each night. And I think about North Carolina.

76 rides

Holy shit! Garborator wave came in today, the first time in over 2 years. Most people gravitated over thataways so pushbutton wasn't nearly as crowded as you'd expect on a Saturday. The line waxed and waned. Today was a half day of school which meant I was on the water by 2 and didn't get out of my gear until 6:15.

I was ripping through rides and getting back on the wave so quickly that I started to count to see how many rides I'd do.

In four hours of nonstop paddling, I got 76 rides on pushbutton today. 76 beautiful rides of spins and shove-its and violent windowshades. The wave was so low it had turned completely into a hole, a sticky hole that worked me a few times so hard my helmet came off and my noseplugs broke.

I hit a wall within the mid 50's but pushed on, knowing it was my last few hours on the Ottawa for a long time. It may even be the last few hours in my playboat at all for a while. In the end it was just me and two Airbone Athletics guys, then there were two....then it was just me. It was...glorious.

What wasn't glorious was crawling back to camp exhausted sore and sunburned to hear that dinner was going to be 3 hours late, the brownies the kids made tasted like salt and burning (seriously how do you mess up brownies) and Mid-term grades were due tomorrow. Ugh. But still....76 rides!

another Friday night on the Ottawa

Yesterday was a nice day, I suppose. I allowed myself two cups of coffee before AP and floated through the rest of the day bouncing around and talking a mile a minute. It was cold, cold, cold. In the afternoon I sunk into the chestnut and navy waters of the Ottawa and paddled across the current to the push button, where the air stung my face and bit into my hands. Andy and Matt both gave up and went to wait in their dry clothes on the riverbank where they wouldn't be so chilled. The wave was a sticky angel and I can actually take rides now, long twirly rides full of shove its and spins. We stayed with a few others until we were pale as ghosts and finally too frozen to paddle. The water was warm and soft but the air while waiting in the eddy was cold you might expect it to be in Canada.

In the evening I made a giant pot of soup by frying a whole pack of bacon and saving all the grease. I threw in diced onion and leeks and sauteed them in the grease, then added broth, potatoes, cream, flour and butter, then topped it off with mushrooms satueed in more bacon grease and more butter. I didn't say it was entirely healthy, but it was a hell of a soup. Two of the Boys, Haaken and Alex, made brownies with whipped cream and the kids fought over them to the point where I banned all desserts for the rest of the trip.

At night we walked way down the banks of the river to the survival camp, where the kids have built a moss shelter and a fire pit. Alex was asleep inside the shelter and there was a fire going. That's where we spent our Friday night, until past midnight, telling all our personal stories of tripping accidentally into the spiritual realm. Between us we've got more than our fair share, I'd say. The fire spit smoke and sparks. Ghosts hovered around in the trees. We scared ourselves so bad it wasn't even fun any more. Two of the boys who had decided to sleep outside went running back to the cabins. Only Eric remained outside for the night, already asleep with hometeam buried in the bottom of this sleeping bag.

I slept fitfully, expecting to see Liarona rise from the riverbank and beckon me in towards the rapids that pound away only yards from the hard peice of wood I sleep upon.

Sometimes this job is glamorous and sometimes.....

When I run into friends back home and in Seattle I usually hear, "wow, you've really got the dream job!" And sometimes, it is a dream. Like today, sleeping in, designing my own curriculum for an hour, and then surfing push button wave under grey skies for the rest of the day. But there are many aspects of the job that are not so dream like. Here are a few examples of the slightly aggravating, sometimes strange, sometimes bizarre, extremely un-glamorous moments:

1. Waking up in the middle of the night to the dog struggling to get out of the sleeping bag and throwing up all over the bed. Falling back to sleep. In the morning, strip the bed of the sheets, and sleep the rest of nights on a piece of foam because there are no more sheets and no washing machine.

2.Spending endless hours sitting in a waiting room reading Canadian parenting magazines, while the kids are in doctor's appointments and the ER because it's really easy to get sick away from home.

3. Scrubbing a medley of puke off the floor because in Chile, EVERYONE gets sick at the same time, except for you.

4. Driving yourself to the ER in Tennessee for giardia. Getting lost, because, well, you're not FROM Tennessee and it's 3 in the morning, having to pull over on the side of the road to explode, curl up, and want to die. Making it to the ER and being yelled at by the nurses and then admitted while everyone else gets to paddle the Ocoee, because everyone else already got sick and you waited till you could be the only one.

5. Having five classes to prepare for and little time, and whatever time you have you can't CONCENTRATE because certain boys age 15-17 want to play loud FOOS BALL TOURNAMENTS.

6. Eating a lot of budget Chilean mystery meat and 'goulash surprise' meal after meal.

7. Having to squander away SO many quippy one liners because they could be inappropriate and the last time you did that you got in trouble.

8. 17 hour road trips with cranky teenagers who want to hear "pop it rock it" by Hannah Montana played on repeat.

9. "Turn off the kayak movie, it's study hall." "Turn off the kayak movie, it's study hall." "Turn off the kayak movie, it's study hall." "Turn off the kayak movie, it's study hall." "Turn off the kayak movie, it's study hall." "Turn off the kayak movie, it's study hall."

10. I know we're sitting above the coolest surfing wave in the world and we're going to be on it very soon, I promise, but right now....can I interest you in....SAT VOCAB WORDS?? Anybody? Anybody?

11. Who in H did this to the bathroom? If you don't clean this now, you're not going on the water!? Hey, did you hear what I was-- okay, fine, I'll just leave it. (Then, clean it up anyway.)

12. 7 weeks abroad, 6 pairs of underwear, no washing machines.

13. All those friends back home who live in tidy little houses and get out of work at 5pm...that are your age....that you so desperately miss....

that's love

The other day, I pulled my skirt over my deck and slid into the flat water of the Ottawa. Usually do a warm up and then head across the capacious river to an island. On the other side of the island is mccoy's rapid, corner wave and babyface- contingent, of course, on water levels. As I pushed out into the gloss I heard Hometeam freaking out on the bank. Whenever I go kayaking she wines and wimpers and sometimes wades in after me. Sometimes I'll place her on my skirt and paddle around, which she likes very much. But since I was going out to surf, I told her to be good and left her there.

I was almost to the island when something made me turn my head. And thank goodness, because there was Hometeam, halfway out in the deep river, paddling like mad to get to me. Hometeam is shaped like a 1/2 fat badger, 1/2 sleek sea otter, and watching her swim is predictably hilarious. She looked very concerned to be out so far away from shore but also madly determined.

I had to paddle all the way back and try unsucsessfully to scoop her onto my bow, which I couldn't do, so in the end I just sheperded her back to the bank and locked her inside for the afternoon. She was howling mad. I wish I could have taken her with her, but the thought of her little badger otter body recirculating in phil's hole like a stuffed animal on a wash cycle-spin cycle stops me.