Came from Surf City, 1951…

…oh, yeah; I try to deny it, but that’s where I’m from.

To the tune of, of course, the Beach Boys song about, evidently, going to the southern coast of North Carolina.

NOW, I do not deny that I was born (in a car, during a hurricane) in Surf City, and that my father, in the Marines and stationed at Camp LeJuene, actually owned a house on the beach.  ALL this adds to my credentials (more in my mind than in reality).

BUT, raised in Southern California, I bought into and probably went along with the prevalent (“Surfer” magazine wasn’t really helpful- a few tidbits here and there), if, perhaps, imagined prejudice toward the east coast surf scene.  ADD in the fact that North Carolina is actually in the south and…

…yeah, prejudice.  Sorry.  I’ve changed.

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Not so much, perhaps. That’s me on the left of the photo, with my cousins John and Ronald, and my sister, Suellen.  “Same stomach,” Trish said, after finding the photo on Suellen’s Facebook page; add a mustache; it’s you. Yeah, same attitude, too; more hair.

I discussed the East Coast/West Coast thing with hydrosexual (loves all things water/snow connected) and non-kook Stephen Davis, born in Seattle, raised in Colorado (which I always, he says, pronounce with a valley-girl accent).  It seems we know quite a number of transplants from that side of the country.

We didn’t discuss the south-to-north transplants.  Refugees.  Yeah, those folks.  Please, try to keep an open mind.

Y’all.

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Trust and Sarcasm and Irony and Such

With Whom do You (Dare to) Share… stories of surf trips, where you went and when you started (better trips start pre-dawn, the best end well after sunset), who you went with, why you went (forecasts, buoy reports, some vague longing), road conditions (traffic holdups, police pull-overs, pit stops), perfect (or not) conditions, perfect (or not) waves; waves ridden (estimated number and exaggerated size), selected awesome rides, memorable wipeouts; interesting (or irritating) people encountered, car problems (or not); where you stopped (coming and going), what you ate; and, most importantly, where you’d rank this trip in the banked memories of however trips you’ve taken?

I have actually been thinking about this a while.  For most of us, who we share our adventures with (and don’t even claim to have never even wanted to share something about that surprise barrel you got on an inside section of what you had thought was going to be a closeout), comes down to who you trust not to share this exciting info with someone who will blab it around, or worse, someone undeserving.

If you’ve learned, over years of skunkings and scorings, under which conditions this spot or that spot has worked in the past; accumulated anecdotal information, what you have is, actually, data.  DATA. 

BLABBERS and the UNDESERVING: Why the fuck would you want to give this DATA to some person who hasn’t put in the miles and the hours in the search?  Why would you tell someone you’ve just met at some beach where the waves aren’t happening that they just might be breaking at…?

Because surfers ask.  Because they want to know.  The same surfers who ask what you know might just show up at the beach you mentioned, paddle up just inside of you in the lineup, and say, “MY WAVE!”

That’s the fear.  It has happened. 

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“Erwin…waikiki-crowds told me it’d be good.” “Yeah, that’s where I heard it.”  “My wave!”

SO, HERE I AM, with my (desperately) tiny little website, started as a platform on which to write about surf adventures years and miles away (before I became aware that I have another surf life here and now), and I’m restricted from recounting all the shit from the first paragraph because of the then-listed reasons.  Mistrust and a certain desire to not add to the folks in the lineup the next time I go.

SO (I’m trying to go through this with some sort or sense of logic), my not blabbing is the result of PEER PRESSURE and a certain amount of GREEDINESS. 

BUT, I sort of learned what not to say, what not to show, over time.  Yeah, at first, I did write about where I went, what I found.  I named spots and conditions.  NO. NOPE.  In fact, I wrote, years ago, about my first session at a very fickle spot.  It was published in the local newspaper.  Every surfer who was out that day, and many who weren’t had something to say next time we met up (at another beach or, yes, at a grocery store or pumping gas).  Mostly it was, “You can’t put that out there,” and, “Hey, did you see that one ride?”

NOW, MAYBE, it’s clear that I’m not going to even say there are even (ever) waves on the Strait of Juan de Fuca (from hereon referred to as SoJdF, you’ll see why), I suddenly have been made aware (suddenly because, evidently, despite having a mouth for sarcasm, I don’t have an ear for it) that, maybe it’s not okay to mention that there are ever, EVER, any good waves at (in this case) WESTPORT and/or (by extension) SEASIDE, and/or (by further extension) ANYWHERE.  NO WAVES.  NOWHERE.  NOHOW. 

Oh, maybe somewhere over the rainbow.  OZ.  No, not that OZ.  No waves. Never.  And, I hear, it’s always crowded.

HERE’S THE COMMENT I misinterpreted, from PWA (not his or her real name, I am assuming) in response to my piece, “Sometimes Westport is an Option”: “I was wondering if you had any pictures you could share of those epic empty spots that line Washington’s northern coast. Just asking.”

I wrote back: “Wait.  Checking.  Checking.”

Then, after I’d posted “Cougar- Northwest Spirit Animal, plus…”, PWA wrote, and this is his punctuation: “Be honest im sure you had plenty time to consider the personal ramifications of publishing photos of the epic surf spots of lining SOJDF (see, told you, SoJdF is how I’ll now, forever, present it).  That was a very nice day at WP and you know the internet these days.  So put 2 and 2 together and just because its not your locale try keep on things the DL (Trish told me this means ‘downlow’) a little more thats all I ask.”

SO PWA, OKAY.  AND, UM, THANKS.  I guess I thought Westport wasn’t a secret spot; that it was fair game for mentioning by name.  AND, in my defense, I thought I suggested, at least, that it’s usually not anywhere near epic.  I hope no one went to Westport with unrealistic expectations because of something I wrote.  Sidenote: I get Stats from WordPress; and, to date, nothing on realsurfers.net has ever gone viral.  Oh, there was a cough, once, but it may have been a mistake.

MEANWHILE, up until 1979, and a few times after, there were waves at places like Swamis, Sunset Cliffs, P.B. Point, Crystal Pier, Windansea, Pipes, Grandview, Ocean Beach, Oceanside (pier and harbor, and in-between), Swamis (upper, lower, middles, church), San Onofre, Cardiff Reef, Blacks…

ALSO, I do have a story I’m dying to tell, conflict and conquest and waves and all.  I’ve already passed it on to a few of the people I trust.  Good story.  OKAY, the takeaway is this: None of us own waves; we’re blessed to ride a few.  OH, and don’t ever call my friend (name withheld) a kook.  KOOK.

IN CONCLUSION: Surfers love to tell stories. If you meet me at some beach or grocery store or gas station, and you convince me you can be trusted, I might tell you about that super secret spot that doesn’t ever, EVER have waves.  IF you believe you can trust me, tell me about any spot I’ll never even attempt to go to, and… no, no reason to trust me.  Or, maybe I’ll tell you about the last time I checked out Westport.

It was crowded AND shitty.     

Cougar- Northwest Spirit Animal, plus…

…a potential t-shirt design.

I may have over-amped the color on the cougar drawing.  When I showed the original to Trish, she said she couldn’t concentrate on the cougar, it was just too skitzy on the page. That was fine, I intended to have the cougar sort of, um, non-obvious.

Anyway, here are the two versions:

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Yeah, yeah; looks different in person.  Not necessarily better.  Oranger.  I have more copies; I’ll see what I can do.

MEANWHILE: Here’s a drawing I’ve been working on; possibly for a t-shirt design.  I wanted it to look kind of northwest-native-artsy; and, no, it really doesn’t; BUT I do want to claim some ownership of the potential phrase, “NORTHWEST SURFERS, NATURALLY COOLER.”  Again, yeah; surfers in Alaska and the Great Lakes and elsewhere might disagree.  Certainly.  It’s what people do.  Here’s the drawing:

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SPEAKING OF WHICH, if you cruise down on the site, you’ll find some commentary on several recent posts.  SO, let me give my rebuttal(s):

NO, I hold no animosity toward, nor do I think I’m cooler than P.A. ripper Scott Sullivan (just) because I wear a leash, I’m older, and I don’t grease up my mustache.  We all have our own criteria for determining coolness, and I’m really concentrating on being in some category of Hipster; mostly because no one else seems to, despite appearances, want to be identified as a Hipster, despite my use of the word being in no way derogatory.

EQUALLY, I have no problem with the Surf Shop owner, AL PURLEE, who is about my age; despite having had him tell me, probably ten years ago, that I didn’t want a shorter board. “You’re too old, too fat, and you don’t surf enough.”  AL was RIGHT.  Al was, and is cool; and not just in that automatic coolness one has by owning (or even, by extension, working at) a surf shop; which comes with the added benefit of being able to think anyone who enters your establishment is a kook unless and until proven otherwise.  We all have that privilege.

PHOTOS might prove something, but, when I was asked if I have photos of epic waves and empty lineups on the ‘northern coast of Washington State,’ I had to decline.  Self-centered?  Yes.  I do, however, have some awesome shots of frozen peelers on the Great Lakes.  NOW, those surfers are (even) cooler.  Naturally.

Sometimes Westport is an Option

I try not to go to Westport.  It’s a ways down surf route 101, with a shortcut here and Aberdeen there, and it can be crowded, super crowded, blown out, with an attitude from depression-central to carnival-like.  Sometimes, and maybe it was because Stephen Davis made his first trip there, it can be…

…good.

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If you check the photo, there’s someone bobbing around inside, and someone on the wave in the middle, soup well over his head.  Uh, yeah; this is when the crowd thins out.

The Groins are sometimes (hope this isn’t a secret) an option.  Though it certainly looks rideable, Steve, after getting a few bombs at the jetty, turned it down.

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I might have selected this, but, again, I didn’t go. To round out Steve’s Westport escapade, he made the required pilgrimage to Al Perlee’s SURF SHOP, got some of Al’s cheery/gruff repartee.  “Oh,” I asked, “he wasn’t really nice?” “Not really.” “Well, Steve; all I can say is (channeling “Chinatown”), forget about it; it’s Westport.

ART ROUNDUP- Occasionally I have to put some of my stuff on display; partially because I’m always begging my clients (and non-clients, pretty much everyone I speak with) to check out this site.  I do get more selective each time.

 

 

Another Spirit Animal- Barred Owl

No time to (over) explain this.  Here it is:

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Currently working on a cougar illustration.  I’m checking into the cost/reward numbers for doing some placemats.  I figure I need twelve drawings for a set of six.  So far, it seems a bit too expensive for each one, but, again, and still, working on it.

There are some surf stories to not report.  Okay, the coast is/was/always is experiencing wave action.  I hope you’re having some adventures.  Stay tuned; pretty close on the cougar illustration.

Black Bear and Coyote Spirit Animal Illustration

Because I worry about ruining a drawing that is going well as much as I’m thrilled that it is going well; I stopped the Coyote illustration without a background.  This is the same reason I added the lettering on the Raven after I’d done the drawing, had copies made; and colored some in. So,

But, because I was stuck at the Les Schwab in Port Townsend getting my ball joints replaced (hey, at a certain age…) for pretty much a whole day, I actually started AND finished the drawing and lettering on the Black Bear.

BUT, I didn’t color it in until I had copies made.  SO, here’s where we are right now:

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MEANWHILE (no, it’s more like a ‘So…’) if you noticed that there’s no color on the coyote itself, and not too much on the raven; it’s that Trish seems to believe that the drawings are, um, better.  We’ll see. I’m planning on doing some others.  We just had a big ass owl show up on our ring doorbell/camera.  I know owls are spirit animals in the northwest, but not sure about some of the other animals that show up; raccoons, possums, squirrels, various other birds, cats… haven’t had a cougar yet, but they are known to frequent our area.

SO (more like ‘Oh’), I am planning on doing some more illustrations.  Stay tuned.

Northwest Spirit Animals

I am planning on doing a series of animals that have a history and a spiritual connection to the Northwest.  Of course, I want to tie it in to the waters, the ocean that spreads its fingers into the land.

The illustration of the raven is the first of these.  I can’t seem to quit on any drawing until it’s pretty much over-done, can’t seem to keep it simple.  So, here’s the latest addition to the raven:

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When I’m pretty happy with the progress of a particular drawing, it becomes a worry that anything additional I do may not improve, and might possibly ruin the whole thing. This is the case with the Coyote illustration.  I got the coyote done, maybe, and then worried about where to place it.  I added the butterfly, and then the lettering, and then got copies of that so that, if I ruin one, I can try again.

Here’s where we are:

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There’s one spot under the front feet that is on the original.  Any other random, out of place spots are from the scanner.  I didn’t want to white it out because there may be some added value in having the original.  For example, Trish wants the original of the raven drawing.  It may be too late.  I did the drawing, 11 by 17, got copies; colored in several, got copies and reductions; added the lettering to one of those.  There is, then, the original without the lettering, and the… yeah, confusing.

I am, however, bravely or foolishly, currently adding background to the original coyote drawing.  Water, waves, driftwood.  Sort of scary.

If we compare it to surfing, the best I can come up with is: If you get one of the best rides of a session, one you probably won’t top, do you come in?  What if the first wave, as is sometimes the case, is the best?

WAIT, here’s another question: When you know one is not supposed to share too much information with too many people on where waves are breaking, or that waves are breaking, particularly in real time (and particularly around the Strait of Juan de Fuca); is there (or can there be) a select group of surfers you CAN share the info with?

I sort of think there is.  YES, it does suggest one can have FRIENDS; which then suggests there might be some sort of community of surfers.  Community.  Hmmm.

I have phone numbers for, probably (only) six or seven surfers. I share info with three regularly, a couple more sometimes, and others rarely.  Mostly I get “You would have loved it” text messages, after the fact.  Sometimes there might be some “What do you think” strike/skunk probability discussions/planning sessions.

It kind of comes down to TRUST, and, YEAH, the fallback position is that there are NEVER waves around these parts, but there are ALWAYS waves in… oh; gotta go.

Burning Scott Sullivan (Parts Two and One)

                                                A Second- 2nd Scott Sullivan Encounter/Incident

-PART TWO-

IT WAS JUST A SECOND, really; two Costco shoppers passing in the dairy/coffee aisle in the Sequim warehouse/store.

You don’t recognize people you don’t really know instantly; it takes a second.  We were both in a hurry; he with one of the big orange carts, me with the regular one (slightly larger, you might have noticed, than one at a regular supermarket- or, even, WalMart).

I think it was his mustache.  Yeah, one of those with the ends twisted and skinny, and pretty much brown.

SCOTT SULLIVAN.

I thought, or, possibly, imagined, that we made eye contact. Split the above second. Maybe he thought he recognized me. Maybe.

Not that he might instantly remember where and when we met previously; the first Scott Sullivan Encounter

NOW, I was wearing an ORIGINAL ERWIN t shirt, the baby poop yellow one with the lacy white wave. YEAH, that one (the baby poop thing is from Trish, I call the color ‘golden haze’); and, hey, I do have a possibly-recognizable mustache/soul patch combo of my own, white, with, quite often, coffee-stain brown at the scraggly bottom edges.

I didn’t just do an over-the-shoulder lookback, I DID A PIVOT/HALF TURN, right between the doors for the sour cream/cottage cheese and the one percent milk.

YES, Scott Sullivan; had to be, pushing toward the final goal, checkout, with a cart full of dairy products, flour, other fixins for making PIZZA.

HAD TO BE.

MY FIRST THOUGHT, with both of us, obviously, having gone, as the place is designed, clockwise from the entrance, past the clothing and lighting and pressure washers and furniture and fruit and meat, was how, suddenly, what I wanted most to do, was to CUT SCOTT SULLIVAN OFF! Exclamation point; BURN HIM at the checkout counter, last second, that split second when one must decide which open register would provide the fastest avenue to the next-but-last Costco line, the one at the exit.

“You think it’s yours, Scott Sullivan? NO! DENIED! Hahaha… ha!

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IT ISN’T like I have any animosity toward Scott Sullivan, but it is that…

…COSTCO BREEDS COMPETITION.  That’s been my opinion for quite some time.  It’s a constant jockeying for position.  Picture the gas lines.  If only you could fill from the right side.  Durn.  Oh, you have a regular membership card?  I have a Corporate card.  You go for the optimum parking spot; close enough to either the entrance or one of the cart returns in the lot (in Australia, it’s probably the car park). NO, FIRST, you time your visit to when you believe it’ll be the most efficient.

IF YOU GET THERE at opening; sure, you can power through, fill your cart, cross out the items on your list; only to get to the front with fifty or so other dawn patrollers (if dawn is at 10 am), and one register open.  SIMILARLY, if you go late you will miss the free food samples (hummus or guacamole on various crispy items, soup, trail mix, skanky cheese, whatever; always worth a taste) that advanced Costco shoppers (many way more adept than you could be at the gather, half-stepping as another tray is put forth, swoop necessary to hit every sample offered; aka lunch) will elbow-smack you for. THEN AGAIN, lights dimming, everyone else is at the front, two cashiers (and, really, though it seems like a better idea than having the folks at the food court throw out the leftover item, as required, at closing, a slice of 8:29 Costco pizza is not good pizza), and the people at the register you chose need extra assistance in ringing-up that really big TV, the one you can actually watch from your position three back in the line (elsewhere called the queue, which we, in A-merica, don’t really use because we don’t know how to spell it).

STRAIT SLICE PIZZA, 121 1ST STEEET (that’s 101, really, the one-way going in-to-town), PORT ANGELES, WASHINGTON; SCOTT SULLIVAN, OWNER.

Unsolicited advertising, Scott Sullivan.

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-PART ONE-

I DID WRITE about my first encounter with the well-known Port Angeles restauranteur, surfer, and, evidently, photographer/skier (or snowboarder, or both- don’t really know) on this very site. AND, WHEN I FOUND OUT HIS NAME, I DID NAME NAMES.  Scott Sullivan.

BUT, at the request of a friend I should probably not name, but will (ADAM WIPEOUT JAMES), I deleted the name; Adam’s main argument being that Scott Sullivan is popular with the P.A. surf crowd; and Erwin Dence is, perhaps, not.  FINE. I also did not, and won’t here, reveal the not-really-secret surf spot where I, allegedly, BURNED SCOTT SULLIVAN.  Feel free to guess.

BRIEF RECAP: I was there with MIKEL (SQUINTZ, still the best nickname I didn’t give someone) COMISKEY; and was, actually, one of the first people out.  It got, over the next two hours, crowded. I was, allegedly, catching more than my fair share of waves.  ALLEGEDLY. Squintz had been surfing a different peak, and had been in and out of the water (some of this due to his refusal to wear booties).  I got out of the water about the time Scott Sullivan came powering down to this peak, took off on a wave, and, moving up to a forward trim position, caught an outside edge on the inside; his leashless board nearly hitting a young woman.

That’s not really relevant. BUT, surfers do seem to kind of brag about how they’re leash-free, as if it equates to confidence or ability (and it may), while giving little to no beach cred to folks (me, for example) who surfed, pre-leash, ankle-naked, for seven or eight years before giving in to the swim- (and, often, swimmer) saving kook cord.

SO, now Squintz is trying to convince me, with the wind coming up, that, now that he’s at this peak, more waves will be coming.  OKAY, I paddle back out. AND, A FEW MINUTES LATER, there is, indeed, an outside set. I paddle over the first one, then the second, paddle toward the peak. I turn, start paddling for it.  I AM COMMITTED. That commitment is the key to my defense, your honor(s). 

BUT, SUDDENLY, Scott Sullivan maneuvers closer to the peak, turns, and takes off.

SO, by the rules handed down, unofficial but not unknown (passed through constant lectures and occasional ass-whippings), Scott Sullivan had priority.  PRIORITY. It was Scott Sullivan’s wave.

AGAIN, I was committed, couldn’t really bail at that moment.  WELL, if I did just dismount, the way one would (and I have) if there’s a danger of imminent contact with some kook who decided to paddle out rather than around, this might not be the story of how I BURNED SCOTT SULLIVAN.  I didn’t.  I was COMMITTED.

WHOA!   Okay, I did do what I believe to be the right thing; the thing I would want someone to do if they inadvertently took off in front of me.  I powered down the line, pulled over the top.  NOW, I still believe I heard something behind me, something like grumbling (or yelling- I do wear protective earplugs). 

FORTUNATELY, there was a fourth wave.  I took it.  I rode as far as I could.  PADDLING back (around the break), I observed big, angry arm movements from Scott Sullivan, directed, in my absence, at Mikel Squintz.  When I got back to the lineup, Scott Sullivan was gone, having moved to a position farther up the point.  “Um, uh; guess he’s kind of mad,” I said.  “Yeah.” “I was committed.” “Sure.” “Who is that guy?” “That’s what he asked about you.” “Oh?” “Yeah, he said that you’re not even from around here, and I said, ‘wait a minute, you’re from _________ (my memory isn’t clear on which upper east coast state Scott Sullivan came here from),’ and he just left.  You could apologize.”  “Apologize?” “Maybe.” “Sure.”

Mikel did mention that, even with the increased crowd, Scott Sullivan and I did seem to be getting most of the waves ridden. “And?” “Just saying.”

I did, incidentally, move to the OLYMPIC PENINSULA in 1978, first surfed this very (unnamed here) spot in January of 1979.  With useless California wax, an insufficient wetsuit, and, yes, a leash. 

SO, since I was well past ready to get out of the water, I paddled up toward Scott Sullivan.  “If I, um… if you thought I…” “I go surfing to get away from that kind of shit,” Scott Sullivan said.  “We all do,” I said, and paddled on. 

I’m sure I stopped at Costco on the way home.  I usually do.  Here’s a shot of me, in the ORIGINAL ERWIN shirt I was wearing, just in case,. So non-threatening. 

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WAIT. ABOUT THE  BURNING from Part Two.  Didn’t happen. I had to stop to get peanuts for our yardbirds.  Scott Sullivan was long gone.  He, obviously, picked the right line.  ABOUT THE PIZZA.  I haven’t tried a Strait Slice slice; assume they’re great; I do know where some of the makins come from.  

Ravens are Indigenous, Most of Us Aren’t

Trish and I love ravens. Maybe Trish a bit more.  There’s a reason they’re honored in myth and legend in places where they are indigenous.  Without getting too deep into origin or migration stories, the Pacific Northwest is a place where they are indigenous.  Okay, let’s say locals.  They are locals, and most of the rest of us are visitors, tourists, refugees from somewhere else.

How I got myself into this whole thing is this: I wanted to have a cool title, with, maybe, some graphic lettering, to go with my drawing of a raven.  Ravenswood, ravenscraft, the words I might choose to use were taken up by video games and artisan beer companies and such commercial places.

Then, while watching the pre-season football game last night, coloring-in a larger (can’t be scanned on my printer) version of the drawing, mostly because this previously-colored version was criticized by Trish for being ‘too yellow.’  “And you put color on my raven (wait, her raven?); ravens are black;” I saw a little spot from the Muckleshoot tribe featuring a young woman, a champion middle distance runner, who was bringing attention to Native Women who have been murdered or disappeared by competing (and winning) with the image of a red hand across her mouth.

Powerful.

I didn’t catch the young woman’s name. Sorry. Here’s a related image:

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Okay, I spent another five minutes, found this image of Rosalie Fish taken by photographer Alex Flett:

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Hey, maybe I’m reaching for a connection here. Maybe there’s just too much going on about who belongs where, who’s a local, who’s a migrant/tourist/visitor.  Part of my family’s history (or legend of actual history) includes a connection to Eastern Band Cherokees (pre Trail of Tears), with other connections to Wales, England, Scandinavia – legends of settlers and invaders.  Reaching.  Fine.  Maybe we’re not all migratory, transitory; here, there, and… gone.

Maybe I’m looking for something spiritual among the mundane.

I really just wanted to show my raven illustration.

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I did tone down some of the yellowness.  When I get the later version, “Trisha’s Raven,” reduced, I’ll put out a side-by-side.

MEANWHILE, BONUS! Here’s a recent shot of Stephen Davis kiteboarding:

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If the Waves don’t show…

…get to work.

Here’s a work in progress by Stephen Davis.

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In progress.

I got this on my phone, so, small, and the image (taken from one of many great  photographs he  has taken) was preceded by Steve, who had picked up some new acrylics the day before, describing his latest painting as, “Vibrant.”

“Send it to me.”

On my phone, it was that: Vibrant.

Because Steve and I are quite competitive (that is, 8.5 out of 10), I asked if he’s all right if I attempt a drawing of the same scene.

“Bring it on!”

Okay.

Wait for it.  Wait for it.  Oh, yeah; we’re a little sick of the waiting- bring on some waves!

ARTSY Note: If you look too closely at many artist’s work, at classics; if you look at the brush strokes, try to work out how the colors are blended, or not; if you break down the technical aspects, the layout and the perspective; you’re looking too closely.  Trish and I have one of Steve’s originals, an acrylic image of one of my favorite northwest surf locations, hanging across the room from our bed.  Perfect.  Here are a couple more: