Archive for the ‘memories’ Category


He was born in Buhl, Idaho, on May 27, 2007. He died in his backyard in Oregon City, Oregon, on September 1, 2017. The dash between those dates contains a full life, a lot of heart, and many friendships.

He came to live with his family in August of 2007, when the Jarbidge country south of the Idaho border was going up in flames. The fire was known as the Murphy fire, for Murphy Hot Springs. Between the fire and the funny blaze on his forehead, Murphy had a crafted AKC registered name, but he was only known as Murphy or Murph. He also answered to “Dammit!” and “Stop it!”

Murphy was always the darling of his human father: they learned how to hunt upland game birds together, they hiked, they did trail work, they camped out. No dog has ever been as excited to see the orange shock collar than Murphy: it meant only one thing: an adventure somewhere! He loved to hunt Chukar in the Steens Mountains.

Murphy had a checkered history with his human mother, from the moment he rode home in her lap and ate her hairbrush. He ate her glasses in a show of affection one night. He didn’t understand hierarchy, and had to learn that he was Number 3, after Mom. Mom frequently referred to him as “Dammit!”, “Getoutoftheway!”, or “Stopit!” Murphy was always excited to see her, and could sometimes coax her to play “stick” with him, a sort of fetch game he made up himself (“Catch me if you can! combined with Okay, now you have to throw it!”).

In June of 2010, Murphy helped adopt his little brother, Harvey. They were instant packmates: Murphy, the Alpha, and Harvey, the lackadaisacal. They had few disagreements, and only one spat: gravy. When it came to gravy, Harvey was the Alpha and Murphy walked away with blood on his ears. Murphy tried his best to teach Harvey how to play, and even succeeded to a small degree. The week before Murphy came down ill, he tried to get Harvey to play, but the Harvemeister has lost all energy for such trivial pursuits.

It was expected that Harvey would be put down long before Murphy would. The sudden onset of congestive heart failure in Murphy stunned everyone. There were no classic warning signs: Harvey has the signs, but no enlarged heart and no arrythmia. Murphy went from a dog with an acute sense of humor to collapse within the span of seven days.

In his lifetime, Murphy made his first retrieve in the same spot he would later die.


He discovered snow, pools of water, and the freedom of the wide open spaces. His first emergency room trip was due to anaphylactic shock after running into a nest of yellowjackets while hiking: he forever held a grudge against all bees, wasps, and hornets. He loved beer, and would sing for it. He considered it an honor to sleep on top of someone, preferably a human (Harvey was something of a grouch about that). He ate tissues and paper towels, sticks in the yard, and probably something poisonous at least once. He was ever on guard against cats, rats, moles, gophers, crows, tweety-birds, people walking on the street past the house, and anyone not watching their plate of food at a camp-out. He loved to roll in smelly things, but he learned to draw the line at skunks – but only after the third bath in hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and tomato sauce.

He adored Charles (his human dad’s hiking buddy), Chrystal’s various boyfriends and eventual husband, his human grandchildren, and anyone’s crotch. Yes, sorry, that had to be said. he adored crotch-sniffing. That may be when his mom called him “STOPIT!”


In his youth, he joined Trail Advocates with his human dad. They spent hours with Charles, locating and documenting hundreds of old CCC trails, USFS trails, and Native American trails throughout the northern Cascades. Murphy was a better “bird dog” for finding trails than any human (possibly because he was lower to the ground and could go under rhododendrons). He will be sorely missed by his comrades.

He made his last trip to the Doggy ER on August 31st. The attending veterinarian gave him a choice: die now, or have an EKG in the morning to see how damaged his heart was. Murphy declined both, indicating his preference to die outside, in the open, with family. Murphy collapsed during the night, and his human dad spent the night with him in the same spot he once made his first retrieve.

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A wake was held on the morning of September first. Attending were: his human dad (Donald), his human mom (Jaci), his little brother (Harvey, who now outweighed him by ten pounds), and two rufous-sided hummingbirds. The hummingbirds were especially curious and close.

Murphy is mourned by many. The outpouring of love on Facebook, Instagram, and by email has been overwhelming for his family. The hummingbirds don’t know what to make of their new-found freedom at the feeders. Murphy’s hiking buddy, Charles, wept openly on the phone when he heard the news. Only Harvey seems unaffected by the loss, and that is possibly due to the fact that he is a dog and self-centered. He does know he hasn’t been challenged for a dog biscuit in three days and that noone has bugged him to try to play recently.

The Presleys have actively avoided being home for the weekend, so they didn’t have to face the empty house and quiet backyard. The crows tried to entice a fight with Harvey, but left disappointed. The honey bees, bumble bees, and wasps have gone on doing their thing, unaware of how close they came to annihilation during Murphy’s lifetime.

Guests may now enter the Presley home without a TSA-level crotch sniffing.

Murphy has been cremated and his ashes spread to whatever wind. The veterinarian who made the house call announced after doing a heart check, “There’s no one in there now” and “he’s off chasing chukar in the Steens now.” There’s no better epitaph than that.

Thank you to all who supported us during this time. We know Hurricane Harvey (so mis-named as Harvey is in no way a hurricane nor a storm) and the threat of wildfires, Hurricane Irma, and North Korea are considerably more than the loss of a dog. But a dog is everything. Anyone who has been privileged to be loved by a dog so loyal knows.

“Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”
Dean Koontz

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
Will Rogers (actor, Connecticut Yankee [VHS]

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.”
Gilda Radner (comedienne)

“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.”
Robert Louis Stevenson (author, Treasure Island)

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88 year old Charles Fosterling was cleaning out some of his things. Maybe his wife passed away, or maybe he was getting ready to move into a retirement center or assisted living. Maybe, he was just reminiscing. He sorted through papers and old photos, and stumbled upon one of the house his parents built in 1930, when he was just a toddler.


“I wonder if it is still standing,” he mused.

“I would like to give this photo to whoever owns this house now,” he told his daughter. She agreed to entertain his idea, and they set off to see what they could see.


The dogs started barking out at the street, and begging to go into the house. Harvey’s tail wagged the way it does when he sees someone he wants to meet. Irritated with the pair of them, I let them in and followed them. Sure enough, there was a blue sedan parked out front, the passenger wheels on our little strip of greenway. A tall blond woman was walking up and down the street, holding a piece of paper in her hand, and staring at the house.

I went back out the back and met her by the driveway. Could I help her? I wondered if she was lost.

She held up the photograph and said, “My father is looking for the house he grew up in. He wants the owner to have this photo.” Then she added, “Would you like to meet him?”

I spent the next five minutes or so, sitting on the lawn beside the blue car, talking to Charles. His parents purchased the property from Mr. Charman, he said. They had to burn the scotch broom off the land, and they owned quite a large piece. What they owned then, is occupied by 8 homes now. They built the house and sided it with asbestos siding, which was popular in the 1930’s, and was inexpensive.

The land around was all forest, and Charman Street ended there by the house, continuing on as only a dirt track through the woods. This house was the only one up here at the time, according to his memory (the photo seems to show a house in the hack, perhaps on the next street over, as the Fosterlings owned everything over to that street. There was a maple tree out front.


I tried to take my photo from the same angle: the living room has an addition, otherwise, the house is still a basic Cape Cod Bungalow. The front door is in the same place, but the stairs turn to the side. The asbestos shakes are gone, replaced with wide siding planks.

Charles slept in the living room, and his parents had the back bedroom, one of two bedrooms. The second bedroom was up the stairs, and they were narrow, steep stairs. At some point in remodel, the stairs were taken out and resdesigned to code, creating a “Harry Potter” closet where the old stair case was. There’s a mended spot in the softwood floor under neath my desk in the studio: that is where the chimney came through. The fireplace or wood stove was in the center of the house.

Charles spent wonderful years here, exploring the woods and roaming the fields. He was happy to see the house is still standing, and to know that the people who live here now love this house. He doesn’t get around very well anymore. I would have invited him in, but I couldn’t handle the two big dogs and he wasn’t up to trying to walk to the door. He told me that his birthday is April 9, and he was born in 1928. He’ll be 89 next Sunday.

After they left, I scribbled down some notes, trying to remember the story. Charles lived here during a time when many homes sat empty due to the Great Depression. I know the next owner was Barney Schultz, and Barney made sausages in a building out back. Barney died in 2000. When we first moved in, one of Barney’s sons dropped by and told us that much. I believe Barney built the addition to the living room and the garage.

The house was then owned by a young couple who did some major remodeling, including the kitchen, windows, bathroom, laundry, and electric. They removed the chimney and altered the stairs, and opened the loft. We purchased the house from them when they faced some life changes and had to move.

It’s a wonderful old house, a peaceful old house, a house with a lot of fond memories of the people who have lived in it. The rhododendrons out front were planted by Barney, as were the multitudes of peonies. Lots were sold off over the decades, Charman Street pushed through, and Mr. Charman passed into the local history books. Only my neighbor to the north remembers Barney now. She’ll be 89 this year as well. She bought her land from Barney.

This house has seen so much, and it’s beginning to give me its secrets.

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I have been thinking about this all week: how to commemorate the 17th anniversary of my little sister’s passing. Then a friend commented on something relating to horror flicks: “I’ve basically been done with genre since ‘Night of the Lepus'” (Or something similar.)

I laughed. Out.Loud. “Night of the Lepus” was something I held over my sister. “Night of the Lepus” was EPIC. “Night of the Lepus” can never be replicated. It had a bit part in the movie, “The Matrix” (the children are watching it on t.v.).

“The Night of the Lepus” came to the drive-in theater out on the highway to McGill, Nevada, north of Ely. The year was summer 1973, even though the movie was released in 1972. We didn’t get first-run movies in Ely, Nevada, very often. I know the year because I had my driver’s license and my 1961 American Rambler four door sedan, and I took my sister and her friend to see the movie.

They got stoned before we left the house. I didn’t know that at the time, but on reflection, I know that. I was still rather innocent in 1973: cheap wine was my biggest sin, but my little sister had already experimented all over the board. Weed was cheap. She was often stoned.

The movie was epic. It was based on the 1964 book, “Year of the Angry Rabbit” by Russell Braddon. Some lab in the southwest of the United States tried to help some rancher in Arizona battle an invasion of jack rabbits by giving him a “special” poison. Jack rabbits, which are hares, ingested it. Then they disappeared into their burrows and all seemed well.

Less than two months later, it all fell apart when giant bunnies (rabbits, not hares, and domestic ones, to boot) dug their way to the surface. Only these adorable bunnies weren’t after their normal vegan diet: they wanted blood. Specifically, they wanted human blood. thousands of blood thirsty, adorable, domestic bunnies of gigantic proportions were loosed upon the earth. Think bunnies the size of wolves. Think bunnies with rodent teeth that slash human throats and leave victims bleeding out. Thousands upon thousands of giant black and white domestic bunnies of giant proportions flooded the Arizona desert.

Around the time the bunnies hopped their way into a drive-in picture show, hopping over cars and wreaking havoc, I realized my sister and her friend, Linda, were hiding under the dash in my car. The movie had freaked them out. Stoned, paranoid, and unable to discern the lack of reality in the movie, they were cowering under the dash in my old Rambler.

It is, perhaps, one of my very favorite memories of my sister. Cruel, yes. Hysterical, indubitably. Something to blackmail her with… FOREVER.

She never denied the movie scared her. She went on to love the horror genre, and raised her toddlers on movies I wouldn’t let my kids watch: “Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Friday the Thirteenth”. I never let her forget she hid under the dashboard when domestic bunnies hopped through the drive-in.

It was epic. It was sister-sister epic. And here’s the trailer for the movie.

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Imagine that! I set this blog up to record our wilderness adventures, then I haven’t been camping since last July. I think I’ve been out in the woods once in that time period and not at all in the high desert. I’ve felt like my world was slowly closing in on me, suffocating all the life out of me.

With the 4th of July rapidly approaching and all the noise associated with it, we thought we’d best be out of town with Murphy. He isn’t afraid of firecrackers, thunder or loud noises. He even sleeps through thunder and lightning. But what he is not immune to is the other dogs barking at the firecrackers. He rages from one end of the yard (or house) and back again, barking loudly and furiously at all those other frightened dogs. We really did not want to put up with that and I really needed to get out of town myself.

Our destination was a place we’ve visited before: the first time when Arwen was just a year old and still riding in the fancy REI baby back pack. That was the year I dubbed it “It’s Just A Quarter Mile From the Road Honey Lake”: Don assured me this was a short hike into a lake he found on a USGS map. We were new to the Mt Hood National Forest, fresh from the eastern side of Oregon and high desert. So we parked at the base of the hill and loaded up: one of us carried a daypack with 2 beers (one for each of us), some snacks, and miscellaneous survival stuff we always carry. The other one carried our marshmallow baby (so called because she didn’t help you carry her: she marshmallowed into the pack and became dead weight). The dog we had then was a mutt named Rosie, and Rosie took the lead.

The hike proved steeper than anticipated. When we reached a lake, it was a glorified newt hatchery – and on the wrong ridge. Somehow, we’d ended up to the south of where the lake we sought should have been. I was tired. We were hot. Surely this would be over soon. We drank our beer and put our empties back into our pack, hefted the baby and headed out on the sidehill. After clamboring over deadfall, rocks, and a small stream, we found another lake: a marshy little number that was decidedly further up the hill than we thought it should have been. No more beer left, so we drank some of our water. Then we headed out over even more deadfall, steep gullies, and another burbling little stream forded by more deadfall. Finally, we began a descent and I thought our ordeal would soon be over.

We came out on a road. A road on top of the ridge. We still had a long way to descend back to our car. Don decided we should follow the newest little stream back down, assuming it didn’t suddenly descend in waterfalls over granite. We stumbled through a maze of rhododendrons. Don tends to forget I am behind him, and lets go of the branches right as my face is level with their natural habitat. The dog was running circles around our feet, but the rhodies were so thick, I couldn’t see my feet. They grabbed my feet, tripped me, pushed me back and slapped me in the face. I began a life-long hate relationship with wild rhododendrons. To heck with Big Foot: the Pacific Rhododendron is out to kill people.

And there it was: the lake. The Lake. The one that was just a quarter mile from the car. Four hours, many scratches and bruises later, just a few hundred feet from a road ON TOP OF THE RIDGE, and full of shiny beer cans. BEER CANS?! What idiot 200-pound man carried his full beer in and then couldn’t pick up the empties to haul back out? This 110# woman can (I was 110# then – I am not that now)!

Another two hours later, we were back beside our car pulling ticks off of the baby and the dog. 17 ticks off of the dog to be specific. I keep detailed journals. The lake? It really was only a quarter mile off the road, but it was also only a few hundred feet from the other road, the one on TOP of the ridge.

We’ve been back several times since, always via the upper road. It’s an old logging spur and there’s a small spot where you can pull off and pitch a tent. A nice fire ring backs against the berm and if you walk a hundred feet to the north, you come out on a ridge with a view.

I almost died there. That was the year we renamed the place “Mossy Rock” because we explored more to the east and discovered the more fascinating aspects to the topography: ancient old granite boulders so covered in moss that they form a soft bed, a hollow of old growth timber with dead falls forming bridges over the gullies and rocks, and a myriad of cedar trees that have been scratched by some large predator. We imagined it was a cougar, but I suppose it could be a bear. In some places, the scratches are ten feet up the base of the trees. We uncovered the complete skeleton of a four point white tail buck (we have the skull in our possession but left the rest of the skeleton where it lay).

On our last day there, I meandered down to the view point to have my cup of coffee and enjoy the last smoky view of the upper Colowash River and North Fork Clackamas River basins. Our little weekend jaunt happened to coincide with opening weekend of deer season, but we hadn’t seen any hunters. Heard a few echoing rifle reports, but nothing to get excited about. Don was walking out of the trees when something sounding very like a missile came rocketing down the ridge, whistling in its mad descent, and passing just over my head. Had I been standing, it would have knocked me off of my perch. There’s an early scene in “Dances With Wolves” where Kevin Costner is hunkered down under a split rail fence and bullets come whizzing over his head. I jump every time I hear that sound.

It wasn’t my time to die. I lived.

I relate all of that to get to the point: we returned to Mossy Rock this past weekend. It’s been three years since my brush with fate. 23 years since we first ascended that miserable granite maze of ridges and angry rhododendrons. We’ve hiked into the fishing lake several times and dropped lines in the water. Once, we hiked back into the second lake (what a miserable hike that was)! We’ve taken three dogs into this country: Rosie the mutt, Sadie the Pointer, and Murphy.

This is a great place for a picnic: soft as a down mattress, yet it’s all granite underneath that moss! This was a short hike on Friday, just in and around camp.

Later, we stumbled down to The Lake, only to find the level had dropped significantly. I didn’t have my camera with me: we were just checking out the trail from camp into the lake and found the trail obliterated by downfall. The rhododendrons tried to wrap their long arms around my feet again, and pulled my hair, slapped my face and constantly tripped me. They’re worse than poltergeists.

The boys atop the last ridge before the upper lake. The hike was a s miserable as I remember it, but this fifty-plus year old body held up to the climb. Mostly, that is. I was huffing, puffing and crying by this point. Then I remembered I am always huffing and puffing and crying by this point and that made me feel better. I mean, if I am now 50 years old and still able to get to this point, that’s a heck of an accomplishment! Of course, there’s no rhododendrons to try and trip me up. Only old dead trees and wind blown logs.

This is some of the stuff we climbed to get where we wanted to be. You can either walk the logs or go up and down the draws. My balance isn’t what it used to be and the hiking boots I was wearing were not trustworthy on slippery objects: I climbed up and down instead of over. Murphy ran back and forth over.

The upper lake was not much more than a mud hole this year. Murphy still sank out of sight. Don and I rested here before heading back to The Lake and the circle of rhododendrons protecting it.

Ta da! We sidehilled back toward camp and dropped down low enough to come back out at the earthen dam end of The Lake. It’s much lower than in previous years – more of a pond now than a lake! We did see one lonely trout in the bottom.

Murphy is the first dog we’ve owned that loves to swim. He jumped out into this log dam and then climbed back up on the rolling logs. He was having a blast in the water and not doing half-bad at playing like a logger.

This is a killer Pacific rhododendron in bloom.It is deceptively pretty. But just try to walk against those long branches! Bwahahahaha!

Tomorrow: How hard it is to find a good campsite and Wednesday: all the pretty flowers!

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We’re getting ready to leave for nine wonderful days of camping. I’ve arranged for the housesitter already and the list of things to take is getting short as we cross off things.

I’m excited for several reasons. the first being: I really need the time off and camping really clears my mind and settles my spirit. The second being: we’re picking up The Dog. And the third being: we might actually drop down into Jarbidge, NV. Don was perusing hot springs we might go to on our way to pick up Fido in Filer, and he saw Murphy Hot Springs. Well, I just happen to know that place well – or I did some thirty plus years ago. It’s just a hop from there to Jarbidge.

I grew up in Jarbidge. That’s not a claim many can make. In 1957 my dad was assigned to the Humboldt National Forest, destination Mahoney Ranger Station (that’s a long O sound). We also stayed at Pole Creek (say crick, not creeeek) RS. In 1959, my little sister was born in Elko, NV, but they printed Jarbidge on her birth certificate. I have vivid memories of Jarbidge and we visited for years after we moved away. I think the last time I was there was in 1970. My dad still owns property there.

My brother and I ran away in Jarbidge. I was actually the unwilling partner, just a toddler sitting in the little red wagon as he huffed and pulled us away from Mahoney. He was mad at my mom and told her we were going to go live with someone else. So she followed us at a respectful distance in the car, eventually going on ahead to wait for us to arrive in town. Me, I was terrified. I sat in that little red wagon and I could hear bells in the aspens and all I had to hold was Teddy. My brother assured me the bells were just the bells on the cows a local owned. I knew he was right, but it scared me anyway.

We kept in touch with neighbors with a crank phone. My mom would crank it a couple times and then talk to the operator. After they finished gossiping, she’d be put through to her party. Yes, I am that old.

I was terrified of the Ranger’s office at Mahoney. I just knew bears lived under it (my dad worked for Smokey the Bear, after all). I should have been more afraid of the rattlesnakes, but I honestly never saw one. Everyone else watched me walk blithely past a few while we lived there, but I never saw them. Our dog killed a few (and rubber boas and bull snakes), but I never saw a live one. I was also terrified of the inside of the barn at Mahoney: my dad kept traps set there and once my brother and I sneaked in and I saw a packrat in the trap. It was far from dead and pretty ticked off (not nearly as mad as my dad was when he found out we’d been in the barn, but at least he didn’t use the .22 on us. Only the packrat).

I was never afraid of the remuda. I remember looking up through the legs and tails of horses into the surprised and suddenly fearful eyes of some hand tossing hay from the loft into the corral. I was probably 2 at the time and I just wanted to be a horse. I never did it again, so I probably got a whalloping.

Pole Creek was another special place. My brother ran into a moose on the trail once (he was just as surprised as the moose and both went the other way rather speedily). We had horses there, too, and my dad’s favorite mustang mount, Smokey. But it was special for more than that. Every summer we’d visit Jarbidge and the surrounding areas and this particular summer when I was 11, there was a reunion of sorts at Pole Creek. One of the rangers got out the horses and started giving kids rides. Of course, I was thrilled. And I stood in line, waiting my turn. But when my turn came, he declared the horses were tired and the fun was over, and I was the only little girl left out. My sister even got a ride!

While the other little girls followed the horses to the other side of the pasture to continue the fun (smart horses: they booked for the far side as soon as they were free). They stood and hand fed the horses and giggled little girl giggles.

Me? I was steamed. I knew it meant more to me to be able to ride than it did to any one of the other little girls (selfish creature that I was), and I felt it highly unfair to decide right before my turn that the horses were “tired.” More likely the dad was tired.

I followed a footpath that led between sites at Pole Creek, losing myself in the aspens and the lighting. I could hear the revelers below and I knew where the other girls had gone, but I was alone in the woods. Then I heard other voices coming down the path. Deciding I did not wish to speak to anyone or to be observed, I slipped off the path into the woody seclusion of the aspens. There, in the filtered light, I could watch people walk by, but they would likely not see me.

And there he was. A big mule deer buck, standing still in the mottled shadows, head up and ears forward, watching me. I froze and stared into his deep eyes. He was taller than I was (I was pretty small at age 11). Probably a three or four point buck, I wasn’t counting. I was only noticing how close we were and the way his sides moved in and out with his breath.

Then he took two steps back into the underbrush and disappeared. It was as if I was watching a magic show and the magician made the lady disappear: the buck vanished into thin air. I blinked. He couldn’t have simply vanished! I let out the air I’d been holding in my lungs and slipped forward to see if there was a track. There was: I had not imagined him.

While my sister regaled about hand feeding the horses that night, I had a better story: I had the encounter with a buck, just feet from me, and just a few more feet from the path. I like to believe he came, just for me.

I don’t know how I can relate all these emotions surrounding Jarbidge to my husband, but I so want to go there. I don’t expect it to be the same. George and Youra are dead, the Murphys have moved on, and the SLOW CHILDREN sign is probably long gone as is the Rocket (a pile of junk on the south end of town), but the memories hover and echo in the ruins of the mining camp. I can hear the clink of chain against a pole at the old abandoned school yard and smell the gas fumes mixed with oil at George’s garage. Butterflies gather around the mud puddles on the street and june bugs rub their legs together to create a raucous noise. As night falls, the bats swoop down.

And somewhere in those mountains, the giant Tshawhawbitts is buried in a cave. Wonder if he was a Bigfoot?

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