Forget FEMA, we got the Zamboni

Don't let the door hit ya...With only a few fun-filled days remaining until V-AK Day, one dare not speculate what sort of wacky hijinks our future ex-Gov might get into before the Relief Gov comes a-slouching into Bethlehem.   Alas, only time will tell…  Time, People, Letterman, Beck, The Star… all of the ever-vigilant media, that is.

My secret hope is that she follows her own analogy and goes with the flow right out of America’s scuppers; the reality, however, is that she will most likely fall hard into the starboard side of the political lazarette and flip-flop around until someone tosses her over.  Oops.  Well, you read it here first:  I lose more husbands that way.

We were just going with the flow

We were just going with the flow

It doesn’t matter how you feel about Sarah Palin, the bottom line is that she has left an indelible mark on people across the state, nation, and blogosphere.  Possessing a terrifying combination of confidence, attractiveness, unattainability, a flair for secrecy and exotic elocution,  the future ex-Gov definitely emits a certain je ne sais quoi that makes her equally irresistable to fan and foe alike.

One particularly troubling aspect of her rising star is that pesky love-hate relationship with media in all its forms.  She plays to the people but resents the reviews.  According to a well-worn adage of Alcoholics Anonymous, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Or, as the amazing girl from Homer succinctly re-stated in response to Palin’s recent attack on the tv/radio/blog babe, “The Lady protests way too much.”   

This can also happen if you go with the flow

This can also happen if you go with the flow

The bottom line is that a significant demographic of America’s voting populace thrives on a steady diet of virtual reality information that is predominantly gleaned from the internet superhighway in various modes of  hard news, eclectic bloggage, utube, or still-tweeting roadkill.  We aren’t going away and neither, it seems, is Sarah Palin.  That said, she might well reconsider her definition of going with the flow.  Hailing from a comprehensive fisheries background, I can attest with confidence that more than just dead fish go with the flow.   In fact, I am a well-known aficionado of the catch-n-release-significant-other policy, and have no qualms about applying it to my elected officials.  In other words, Miz P, can I call you a cab?

Some WSWomen have nice Zambonis

Some WSWomen have nice Zambonis

As for the incoming Governor Parnell, I am thinking that he will have to arrive on a big-ass political Zamboni if he intends to resurface the image of our State post- Hockey Mom.   This visual does not confound me nearly as much as the really big question:  If he’s coming into position this late in the game, will he still have that delicious new-governor-smell?

In closing, I must digress slightly to something that I recently jacked from the Immoral Minority, who apparently jacked it from u-tube.  I reckon if due credit is given, then it’s not really considered “jacking,” is it?  Regardless, it is brutally funny and too good to keep to myself.

PHOTO CREDITS:  Thanks to this site for the political demotivational poster, to Richard Neubauer for fishing griz pic, to these blokes for the B & W dead fish pic, and finally to youse guys for the Zamboni photo!

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Happy Birthday, I Want a Divorce

Fireworks displays are scheduled to light up the skies around the country this weekend to celebrate the adoption of our Declaration of Independence in 1776.   That singular momentous event marked the beginning of a New World Order of sorts, when Baby America pulled herself off the British tit and began the arduous journey towards self-actualization and Independence.

According to a letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams,

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

(It is important to note here that the aforementioned date moved from July 2 to July 4 because, as we all know, anything that has to go before Congress has to take longer.  It’s the law.)

Happy Birthday America!Fast forward to 2009 – a mere 233 years – and across the land, proud Americans continue the tradition of whooping it up for the good ol’ red, white, and blue by enjoying all the best that summer has to offer.  From the biggest cities to the smallest villages,  there will, no doubt, be some selection of parades, fishing derbies, races, contests, games, BBQ’s, and for many, just a leisurely weekend boosted by technicolor skies and surround sound after dark.

Meanwhile, here in the once-upon-a-time-politically-insignificant State of Alaska, the bells ringing and bombs bursting will be, for lack of a less passive-aggressive descriptor, enhanced, by the July 3rd announcement of Her Majesty Sarah Palin that she is filing for a (cover your ears, kids) d-i-v-o-r-c-e from the State.

Throw Down with Lady LibertyWhile I am loathe to add insult to an ever-growing injurious pile of vacuous remarks, it seems that one might be remiss to not partake in this indisputable opportunity to broach a wee comment on the newest chapter of The Diva Debacle – though certainly NOT intended to insinuate that it’s the last chapter… (After all, isn’t a chunk of our Future ex-Governor’s allure due to the fact that dang near everything she says and does is notoriously vague and mysteriously open-ended?)

So here it is:  What the fuck is she up to now? This announcement, like so many others, alludes to some other unstated, unfinished business… much like tornado alley in the throes of summer heat – that eerie sensation that somewhere a house is about to fall…

ding dong...

By golly gosh, timing is everything: At the precise moment that media-whores picked clean the bones of Michael Jackson, the Gov dropped her bomb.  Oh look, something shiny!  Nonetheless, we might all be broken-hearted orphans if not for the knowledge that Sean Parnell, thank you very much, is calmly waiting in the wings.  As for any speculation on that, only time (and other trusted Alaskan bloggers) will tell.

Meanwhile, have yourselves a wickedly Happy 4th of July holiday.  A warm shout out to the current Gov for being such a maverick by giving us two weeks notice before she clears out.  Let’s get this party started!

Well-Seasoned Babes Know How to Start a Party

Well-Seasoned Babes Know How to Start a Party

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Midsummer’s Eve

Edward Hughes 1908Not a commercial for a feminine hygiene product, the 21st of June is Midsummer’s Eve – an event widely celebrated in the Northern European countries – particularly Scandinavia, however, it is more commonly known elsewhere simply as  the Summer Solstice.

Beyond the obvious fact that it is finally the first Day of Summer, according to G.S. Hawkins in the book, “Stonehenge Decoded,” the historical significance of the summer solstice can be traced to pre-historic times when…

…summer was a joyous time of the year for those Aboriginal people who lived in the northern latitudes. The snow had disappeared; the ground had thawed out; warm temperatures had returned; flowers were blooming; leaves had returned to the deciduous trees. Some herbs could be harvested, for medicinal and other uses. Food was easier to find. The crops had already been planted and would be harvested in the months to come. Although many months of warm/hot weather remained before the fall, they noticed that the days were beginning to shorten, so that the return of the cold season was inevitable.

The first (or only) full moon in June is called the Honey Moon. Tradition holds that this is the best time to harvest honey from the hives.

Honey Moon RagThis time of year, between the planting and harvesting of the crops, was the traditional month for weddings. This is because many ancient peoples believed that the “grand [sexual] union” of the Goddess and God occurred in early May at Beltaine. Since it was unlucky to compete with the deities, many couples delayed their weddings until June. June remains a favorite month for marriage today. In some traditions, “newly wed couples were fed dishes and beverages that featured honey for the first month of their married life to encourage love and fertility. The surviving vestige of this tradition lives on in the name given to the holiday immediately after the ceremony: The Honeymoon.

Upping the uff da! ante, I did some research and found this tasty little morsel:

As indicated by the Swedish Tourism website, FÖRST,

Midsummer’s eve is probably the most popular festival day in Sweden, together with Christmas. Midsummer is an old pagan celebration, dating back to the Viking Era. It was a fertility rite originally, where the May pole was a phallic symbol, “impregnating” Mother nature. It was hoped that this would help to give a good harvest in the autumn. In modern times, it is a national holiday, where family and friends meet, eat herring and fresh potatoes and drink schnapps and beer. The actual day of the celebration is also the longest day of the year (summer solstice), signifying that summer has reached the half-way point.

You had me at Viking… but I stayed for the herring and beer.  Nonetheless, the aforementioned Honeymoon is just beginning.  Here in Southeast Alaska, the summer solstice is certainly, to the best of my experience, a predecessor to the longest days of fishing, the biggest surge of tourists, mosquitos, and irrefutably, the longest morning-after hangovers.

Sitka’s rich history includes the infamous Raid on St. Michael’s, which occurred sometime around the summer solstice of 1802, when hundreds of Tlingit warriors attacked the Russian/Aleut settlement of St. Michael’s, near present-day Sitka, killing nearly all the inhabitants. According to Polly Miller in  “Lost Heritage of Alaska,”

In the carefully planned assault, half of the attacking forces came by canoe and the other Ray Troll Raid on St. Michael'shalf descended on the fort from the surrounding forest. A Russian historian named Kiril Khlebnikov wrote this passage about the attack: The Tlingits “suddenly emerged noiselessly from the shelter of the impenetrable forests, armed with guns, spears, and daggers. Their faces were covered with masks representing the heads of animals, and smeared with red and other paint; their hair was tied up and powdered with eagle down. Some of the masks were shaped in imitation of ferocious animals with gleaming teeth and of monstrous beings. They were not observed until they were close to the barracks; and the people lounging about the door had barely time to rally and run into the building when the [Tlingits], surrounding them in a moment with wild and savage yells, opened fire from their guns at the windows. A terrific uproar was continued in imitation of the cries of animals represented by their masks, with the object of inspiring greater terror.”

Suffice it to say that not everyone is always celebrating in the same manner…

Meanwhile, I took a stroll this Midsummer’s eve beneath a satiny blue sky dappled with graying clouds and just a smattering of white light. Inhaling the wildly fragrant combination of Sitka roses, mountain ash, forget-me-nots, fading skunk cabbage, and a drunk guy urinating between buildings, I realized that winter is already on it’s way.  Uff da!Sirstad Street revisited

* Thanks to Ragtime Piano for the Honey Moon Rag pic

*Be sure and check out the Ray Troll book, Rapture of the Deep, for more of his amazing art!

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No More Waiting With Baited Breasts

BaitedBreastsWhere’s the Well Seasoned Woman?  Word on the docks ranged from marriage to witness relocation program, and even the ever-popular death by misadventure.  The truth, however, being mundane by its very nature,  is that this WSW took an unforeseen hiatus from dang near everything for a spell.

When I wasn’t driving through tourist-infested streets of Sitka – trying very, very hard NOT to, oops, make a Geriatric Hood Ornament out of every dang codger that confuses our main traffic thoroughfare with a Disneyland boardwalk, I was busy sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, and discovering a cure for cancer.  Okay, most of that last part was a big, fat (though impressively ambitious) l-i-e.

Here’s what really, really happened: I quit smoking, ramped up my fitness regime, caught up on years of lost sleep, and spent countless hours contemplating the meaning of life.

I know: Yawn.

The rest of the story is that I ran out of things to comfortably share with such an anonymous audience.  I was hoarding my little anecdotes and two-cent commentaries for The Book.  What book, you ask?  The one I have been threatening to finish for decades.  The Next Great American Novel that somehow got eclipsed by living life – which I reckon is cool because, according to John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while youre busy making other plans.”  (Yup.  Exactly what you might expect from a dead guy.)  So, no more excuses.  WSW is back.  Had no choice:  Waiting with bait on your breasts will just make ’em sag – and I’m too dang proud for that.

Sitka-by-the-Sea, meanwhile, continues to astound with nearly unprecedented weather that includes consecutive stretches of ridiculously HOT temps, an absence of RAIN, and most horrifying: a Big Orb in the Sky that won’t stop shining every day.  For those of us that have lived here too long, the recent run of  robin’s egg blue skies and bosomy-warm weather ironically hints of Apocalyptic warning that ultimately is producing (are you ready for this?) stress and tension.  True.

The Upside of Ominous Weather: Naked Shipwrights

The Upside of Ominous Weather: Naked Shipwrights

Why?  Because the other boot is gonna fall: And when it does, everyone will know who doesn’t shave her halibut-belly white gams.  This sort of thing never turns out well. I am suggesting that we need to focus, people; it may be time to build that ark, mend those groovy galoshes, and by golly gosh, you got to rustle up a warm body that you can tolerate for say, 40 days and nights.  At sea.  And, I daresay, it’s not even winter yet!

I recently attended an incredible seminar led by internationally-renowned Stress Management expert, Brian “Luke” Seaward, that focused on holistic health, stress reduction, addressing latent anger, and a bevy of mind-body-spirit topics.  It was not so much enlightening, as it was validating and inspiring.  Sort of like being reminded to brush and floss between meals by your dental hygienist.  On the same token, while most everybody innately comprehends the fight-or-flight response, not everyone understands how to manage it to their best advantage, i.e., to live a happy, healthy life.  It was a rare treat for Sitkans to experience this utterly engaging guide who shared his vast pearls of wisdom seamlessly laced with humor and eloquence.  I encourage you to check out his website and his blog, Stressfully Speaking, to partake in some of this common sense sagacity.  Even if you aren’t into all the positivity and wellness, I assure you that his nature photography is well worth the effort.

Meanwhile, the current forecast threatens more of the same damn nice weather.  Reckon I should go find some gopher wood before too long.  Or maybe… here’s a novel thought:  Just enjoy it while it lasts.

* One more thing, to everyone that wrote asking on my whereabouts and well-being, THANKS for reminding me that YOU are out there!  YOU are simply amazing!

* Big thanks to Ray Troll for the Baited Breasts pic!  Check out more of his ingenious insanity at http://www.trollart.com

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Easter and The Island

Sac Roe Mountain

These eggs you cannot dye. I tried.

Here it is, Easter Sunday, and there are upwards of thirty miles of herring spawn on the beaches around Sitka Sound and no evidence that the tide is turning anytime soon.  This is fine, and even dandy, because the curiously wonderful stench of rotting roe is authentically indicative of the statement that, around here, “Spring is in the air.”  Finally.

Whales and sea lions, otters and eagles enjoy the bounty right alongside the fishermen and children that are snagging up abundant herring that will continue to loiter about the surrounding waters throughout the spawn time and into the next month or so.  Inland, the skunk cabbage is a-blooming in muskegs and roadside trenches, the rambling alder and rhododendron bushes sporting taut buds, and even the chickadees and wrens are beginning to sing their unique odes to joy.

Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson

Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson

The herring fleet of recent memory has since moved on and my chick posse has shifted their focus to other conquests… things that include peeling back the layers of winter wear to expose the ravages of time spent, perhaps, a bit too well (read: must join gym) in and on the lounges about town.  Enough commiserating, my peeps, we must lace up our sneakers and step out into the light to explore the island in the name of revitalization and hope, which is precisely what the promise of Spring implies: a whole new opportunity to fine-tune the rest of our lives.  Once again.

Here is a poem called “The Island,” that simply and eloquently sums up why we live the way we do:

If ever you’ve lived on an island
if ever you’ve lived by the sea;
You’ll never return to the mainland
once your spirit has been set free.

If ever you’ve smelled the ocean
or tasted the salt in the air;
You’ll know you’ve discovered a hatch
that is uncommon, precious and rare.

If you’ve ever seen the whales play
or watched the eagles in flight;
You’ll remember, again, why you live here
and why it feels so right.

If you’ve ever seen the sun set
as the ferry passed the shore;
You’ve seen the beauty of the island
that will be with you forever more.

If you’ve heard the seagulls
the waves, a foghorn, the winds;
Then you’ve heard the song of the island
and the peaceful message it sends.

Indeed, if you live on an island
if you’ve lucky to live by the sea;
You’ll never return to the mainland
as your spirit has been set free.

-J. Earnhart © ’92

To my peepsAnd there you have it, my blessings to step away from the computer, to leave cyberspace and go play outside.  Meanwhile, WSW wishes you a happy Easter and a dangerously adventurous Spring!  Here’s a fun link to a guy that loves his peeps in an entirely different way!

*Photo cred to James Poulson at the Daily Sitka Sentinel.  Click here for some of his amazing pics from Sac Roe Herring Season 2009!

*Big thanks to Dan Littlefield for the spawned-on branches photo!

*Thanks to Mara S. for the poem!

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Closing the Purse

pinching the purse (seine)Alas, the fifth and final fishery of the Sac Roe Herring season occurred this afternoon as the purse closes on another year of the annual derby here in Sitka.  Harvesters targeted the remaining 930 tons of silvery sac roe containers in the Silver Bay area, south of town, in a typically competitive opening which essentially entailed 15 delicious minutes of hot seine-on-seine action.

To fully appreciate what this means, short of being on location, here are two videos to wet your chops:

As viewed from the beach:

As viewed from the sky:

For anyone wondering about the first four openings, here are the vital stats:

  • March 22                      2,560 tons                Hayward Strait
  • March 24                      4,750 tons                Hayward Strait
  • March 28                      3,800 tons                Starrigavin Area
  • March 31                       2,500 tons               Starrigavin/Katlian

So, what happens next?  Both fishers and fish will glide out of here spawn on kelpincrementally over a span of hours to weeks.  While I can’t guarantee the whereabouts of the fish, I can state with confidence that some vessels will point their bows towards the various spawn-on-kelp pounds while others will simply fade into the horizon with, perhaps, loftier ambitions.

And what becomes of the babes left on the beach?   After the glitter fades and all that remains are a few tender memories, some broken hearts, and perhaps a handful of chicks that might exercise their right to plead the Fifth, I get to debrief every teary-eyed posse pal out there.  Why me?  Because in the Land of BeenThereDoneThat, I am Queen.

We will congregate and commiserate over lonesome booths at various establishments and try to imagine life before the 2009 Man Herring Season.  We will bolster each other with tales of love and loss as we strategically analyze the hidden nuances of every wink and drink over the past weeks.  We will make heros out of herrings.

And then Spring will come, and with it the smell of rotting spawn to pervade our senses reminding us that all things in nature are amazingly cyclic.  That there is an entire year to savor what was and what may never be.  And at the very least, we can get back to the business of drinking ourselves pretty as we ever were!

**Thanks to this chickee for the vintage purse pic!

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Spawn Alert!

SITKA SAC ROE Armpit AphroditeHERRING SEASON is in full swing.  Approximately 5,000 tons of the slippery little silver dollars were netted on the second opening held Thursday, March 26, 2009, which means that roughly half the quota of 14,504 tons remains to be scooped up before the season ends.  Immediate rumours of herring spawn lacing the beaches in the Middle Island vicinity is essentially the equivalent of a code red warning at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, signifying that that everyone else should be getting their spawn on by now.

Normally, I would advise ladies and gentlemen, both, to keep shaving yer backs and shining yer teeth.  It is, afterall, Springtime in Sitka – despite the intermittent bouts of Winter -and that means all the upright critters congregating ’round the watering holes are habitually pairing up to get their spawn on.  As for me, this year, ahem, may very well be the first herring season in history that the WSW opts to participate merely as an observer.

I conspiratorially shared this tidbit of seemingly epic implication to my number one critic, the fruit of my womb, Miz Calamity Jr. (CJ), recently in an exchange that went something like this:

CJ:  Are you in the thick of another big herring season, momma?  Enjoying all your options?

WSW:  Sure, why not?  I always enjoy options… Though, be advised, Jo Mama is swearing off fishermen this year.

CJ: Whatever.  You always say that!  What makes you so sure this is the year that you are going to dodge the boyfriend bullet?

WSW: Because this is the year I quit bathing.  And shaving.  For all intents and purposes, you can color me invisible.  Herring honey non grata.

CJ:  Yeah right! So essentially you are using hygiene as an aesthetic prophylactic?

WSW: Well, lack of hygiene is more like it.  Some ploy, huh?

CJ:  Sheesh.  I thought men liked dirty girls.

WSW: Different dirty, honey, different dirty.

Prior to a couple of husbands ago, I would have never contemplated the implications of utilizing aesthetics as a form of birth control, however, times have changed and so have I.  There comes a day when a gal simply cannot afford to hazard a sloppy peccadillo with any three-legged critter that drags his knuckles across her hearth.  Not even if it’s for the betterment of the environment, the economy, or merely the scratching of certain itches, bitches.

Oh yes, there comes a moment when the smoke clears, the dust settles, and the epic hangover some folks refersilvery dollars to as their lost youth finally wears off.  While your momma might claim that “you’ve finally grown up,” I can assure you that my momma would beg to differ…  Nonetheless, time waits for no one and besides, here’s the thing about Man Herring Season: It isn’t only about harvesting tons of silvery fish worth millions of exvessel dollars.  It is not even about the sudden cavalcade of intriguing skippers, crewmen, permit-holders, and seafood processors that steadily drift into town like so much flotsam and jetsam after a big blow.

What Herring Season most certainly is about for us chickee-babes is the annual reconnection of girlfriends on the heels of a long winter lull.  For while we claim to gather in order to time our menstrual cycles, design quilts, or discuss the latest antics of our collective children, in truth we convene for one simple mission:  to tantalize, scrutinize, anesthetize, and occasionally traumatize, the invasion of fresh meat.

My ladies come together for regular recon missions about town, ceaselessly amused and amazed by the vast array of alpha males, posers, and still-wet-behind-the-ears scooby snacks.   While some of the veteran fleet seem comfortable enough in their skin, the newbies are ever-entertaining in their efforts to appear as gnarly and seasoned as the fishermen of so-called reality television.  Regardless of whatever niche these blokes aim to claim, they are no match for the well-seasoned women of my posse! Out of sheer vanity, in conjunction with the ever-looming realization that several of us are sniffing up the butt of midlife mediocrity, we permit them audience (which is to say, we shamelessly flirt ’em up).

All of this seasonally-enhanced optimism and intrigue, further intensified by the deadly combination of charitable lighting and stiff drinks, combine to yield the ingredients for, either A Perfect Storm – or in the best scenario, some really good fish stories to deny in mixed company.

Water Haul Ladies, I think you know what I’m talking about here:   Your standards dropping faster than the Dow Jones on the heels of the AIG bailout.  It’s about that sort of man that promises his world to you on a silver platter, knowing full well all he has is a boatload of paper plates.  It’s about Springtime in Sitka, where the Official Perfume of the Sitka Sac Roe Herring Season is Eau du’ Me (read: Oh! Do ME!).  The message here is to proceed with caution.

Better a water haul than a sloppy last call.

Oh, I still believe in love.  And fishing.  I am, however, for all intents and purposes, taking this herring season o-f-f.  Perhaps it is time to change the name of this blog from “Well Seasoned Woman” to “Stick a Fork in Her, Boys, I Think She’s Done.”  But only until salmon season starts.  After that, I am all rigged for trolling.

Fishing Buddies of Mine

**Photo cred post-script:  I have no idea who to credit the seine-puppies pic with, however, if it appears a bit grainy, that’s only because I spent an entire winter licking it.

Thanks to The Canooks at Fisheries and Oceans for the water haul pic.

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