Thursday, August 8, 2013

Getting Your Man-Space Skookum

Not so long ago I slagged old guys who polished the floors of their garage. Now I get it. You're retired; you've got time on your hands. Getting your Man-Space in skookum shape is at least as good as many other ways you could spend your day.

I've been thinking a lot about Time with-a-capital-T lately, now that I have so much of it to spend, waste, pass, or God forbid, even kill. But wait, these aren't the words I need. In this post-Economic bliss of retirement, where it seems I have all the Time in the world, I can use it at my leisure.

I. This past Sunday I sat on some rocks at the shore and noticed the tide slowly rising as I tried to divine a pattern to the swells. You've probably done this yourself: you find a distant trough moving darkly below the brim of the biggest wave you can see. You follow its billowing disappearing act until it breaks at the shore.

Don't they say that every seventh wave is a big one? I find that it's actually more like every third or fourth...but maybe that's because this Sound is a hell of a lot smaller basin than the ocean. You can ponder conundrums like this until you lose track of all reason. Then there's only the simple meditative repetition of the act......

Hey! How about I let the tide table dictate the timing of a daily migration to where my favorite configuration of barnacled rocks mimics the ergonomics of an Adirondack chair, there to sit and look out at the water doing its eternal thing?...

"Put that on the calendar, Jeeves! Greater harmony with nature!"

The planes and colors of the bridge really knock me out.
II. I took a ferry ride on Monday, its terminal just down the beach from where my helpful wife was volunteering at our nearby senior center. Those of us over 60 only pay $3.85 round trip--what a great deal for a half hour's scenic voyage each way to an even smaller port than the one in which we live.

I was reconnoitering for a conjugal visit in the coming weeks: a half-day jaunt on the cheap around a tasty lunch at the village brew-pub.

It may be a little too quaint; we'll see. But on the way back we can always lose ourselves in the patterns of the sun sparkling like a happy posse of ducks on the water, the clouds--the way they hug Mount Rainier, the penile towers of Seattle rising above the distant shoreline's bluff.

"Put that on the calendar, Marge--Quality Time!"

Click on one of these last two pictures and...
III. On Tuesday my thoughtful wife and I visited a local Indian cultural center and nearby casino. You can see the takeaway from this jaunt in the accompanying two pictures. Separated by about 150 years they juxtapose the predominant livelihood the Tulalip people have gained from this place--then and now. Salmon to slots. What a difference Time makes, heh?!

A lot's been said and written about Indian casinos but to me they seem mostly like a boon, not only to the welfare of the red people, but also to numerous entertainers who would otherwise be hard up for good paying gigs.

...toggle between them. The same people. Astounding!
IV. I had lunch with my dear older daughter yesterday--another activity in which it's been ages since I engaged. Next week, we will volunteer to kayak around the large urban lake that reflects the city's towers and hills. Equipped with garbage bags and litter-grabbers we will cruise the shoreline, picking up beer cans, the odd bit of styrofoam, and things you'd rather not know.

V. Today my delightful, task-oriented wife and I are talking about how we might become more involved in our community's service and cultural life. This brief discussion is only the precursor though, to our day's main goal: counting the number of trains we hear passing by, on their way up and down the coast. We will count twenty-seven trains between 8AM and 10PM--fourteen hours, so an average of about two trains an hour--nearly fifty a day. We mark their passage by the the whistles we hear blown by the breeze coming up from the shore.

We must hear as many patterns in their warning whistles as there are engineers, but a common one is: two long and pause, until right before the crossing, then two short. After the crossing, there's usually another long...But I'd check that, to be sure.

All these very different ways of occupying our time--barely beginning to even scratch the surface.

Monday, August 5, 2013


Facebook style. Facebook style.

There’s been a bit of a drama tonight with the earwigs. I just killed at least a dozen of them. I hardly ever kill anything but I hate earwigs. I swear to God everyone hates earwigs! 

Just the name is freaky and scary! Like they’re crawling through your hair into your ear with those big pincers! I think that really happened; I think I read it somewhere. 

I did it outside; I wouldn’t have done it indoors. Just to think of their smushed bodies on the bottom of my shoes on the floor right now is Yuck! I think I wiped it all off on the grass. I hope.

When I flicked over the black canvasy thing that covers our Weber, they scrambled out. It was like a jail break, with everybody scattering in different directions, but as fast as they scrambled I stomped on them with the toes of my McFasties. I went back at them if any were still alive and really dug into them until they couldn't move any more. That’s what killing’s about.

I wouldn’t have done it though--as much as they’ve always freaked me out--if they hadn’t been conclusively implicated in the decimation of our basil. That was the tipping point. 

Plus, who wants them breeding on the cover of your grill?

If I see them again, I’ll kill ‘em. 

They’re disgusting.

[After reading this, I realized it was so in the style my dear youngest daughter uses for her Facebook posts.]

Friday, August 2, 2013

Memento Mori, Part Two

Annette's view of her namesake lake
For our final homage to Annette we again took her image in a sandwich bag as a token to leave behind. I realize that its arguably jarring presence pinned to a tree at that pristine site may be akin to driving down a sleepy street with car speakers booming loudly.

And when I step back and think about it, creating a petroglyph in Annette’s honor, or even elaborating the tree carving I made last year, would have been much more fitting remembrances. Or this new picture could have been the centerpiece of a shrine with ribbons and what-have yous. Shiny objects. Mickey Mouse ears.

Well, “What’s done is done,” as my good mother would have said. Mea culpa--my bad. At least I picked a sweeter, much less suggestive picture than the one we put up that first year (and which I can no longer find on Google search).

Note the blue staple gun
After Our Lady of Voluptuous Innocence is snugged to the bark with a staple gun, Bob suggests we say a few words. They will remain private. Suffice it to say that Bob’s heart is more pure than my own. The hike that day, and the lake, were even more beautiful than they had been the first year, but I had felt dyspeptic from the start; I wasn’t in much of a mood for all this.

After lunch we headed back down to the car.

If you are at all like me, at some time in your life you’ve experienced a confluence of events that seem more divinely inspired than coincidental. Something comes from out of the blue to affirm your connection to spirits that are moving invisibly. To try explaining it any other way just doesn’t seem to honor the fullness of our existence. That's what happened on our way back down from the lake.

Memento mori, in situ
We were cutting through the hundred-yard wide low-cut strip under the p-o-w-e-r lines, when Bob, who was behind me, called us to a halt. He had seen the dull and regular sheen of a small black plastic object on the ground, just off the trail.

"Look at this," he said, with excited incredulity. Picking it up, he had turned it over and seen the dirt encrusted face of Mickey Mouse.

I envied this find. Part of me wanted to snatch that geegaw for my own, but as I listened to Bob exclaim I knew I didn’t deserve it. “She heard me,” he chattered. “It’s a sign!” I had to agree, and I knew that little mouse was Bob’s to discover as validation for his greater sincerity and faith.

Like I said, at the time, I wasn't really feeling it.

If I were pressed, right now though, to explain our purposes, in reasoned hindsight I'd say they were to 1) show that someone still remembers Annette Funicello from a half century ago, 2) inform people of her recent death, and 3) ask them to join us in wishing that she rest in peace, to which end there's a heavenly view she has through her pixeled eyes of this natural wonder Bob and I like to imagine is her namesake.

Annette Funicello, 1942-2013, R.I.P